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Surrender is the only option

Surrender is the only option

Surrender is hard, but sometimes necessary. To surrender is “cease resistance” or “abandon ones self entirely.” The world talks about surrender, but generally as an emotional bastion. While that is likewise true in the Church, it is so much more. For the warrior surrender is often the last resort. A way to wager for ones life, or the lives of those whom they lead and mentor. When one surrenders they often end up facedown with their hand bound behind their back, or kneeling with their hands on their head. The soldier also has to option to refuse to surrender and perhaps still survive.

This is not true of the Christian Warrior. Something that is difficult to remember sometimes. While it is natural to desire to lead upright and with the appearance of strength, this position is often perilous for the believer. Especially those that are leading the fight. 

In this current time, there are so many things that attempt to overwhelm us. It is tempting to project strength of self. This leads to pride, here I will take a little piece of one of my favorite stories and adapt it to what I mean, in Frank Herbert’s Dune, there is a Litany of Fear, I will paraphrase it in to one about pride: 

 

I must not be proud. Pride is the soul-killer. Pride is the little-death that brings total separation. I will face my pride. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And while it is passing I will turn to listen to God and see His will. When pride is gone, there will be nothing. Only God will remain.
Litany against Pride (paraphrase of Bene Geserit “Litany against Fear”)

 

As some of you know I serve at a church and while I don’t have a lot of responsibilities, that is growing. Today on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, I found myself at the altar. This is not a totally unfamiliar place, but a very uncomfortable one. Lights, sounds, a guitar in my somewhat capable hands on a church stage, is a battle I am eager to fight. Ask me to solo, I got that. Ask me to sing, I can probably do that too. However ask me to pray blessing on the body, or honestly participate in the sacred rite of baptism for my children and I am more than a little petrified. In my head I hear that voice, “what if you aren’t good enough, what if you mess it up?”   Like the children who visited Narnia, and became much more in that world than they are in all because of a Lion that guided them. I, you, we have Lion that protects us and guides us, and a Lamb that brought us Atonement. 

I am also blessed to have a Bear. This Bear is one of the strongest creatures I know, and while physically strong, it is his belief in me and through me that I find the most astounding. He picks me up when I broken. He feeds me physically and spiritually. Through the story that we have lived and that we are now living together, i am finding strengths that I didn’t know I had, but only through surrender to self and to service.

I am learning that a beautiful vessel and a broken one, are sometimes the same. In fact, often both seem to be useless. A repaired vessel has a story, it doesn’t just sit on a shelf and is perhaps better for having been broken and repaired. I am reminded of Japanese practice, kintsukuroi, which illustrates this:

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When the pieces are rejoined with with gold, the vessel becomes more beautiful, more complex, and more valuable. This is true of life in Christ. The broken believer is filled with the preciousness of the blood of Christ, and through that union is made invaluable to Heaven. Unconditional surrender may save the warrior’s life on the battlefield, but it will certainly save and strengthen the Christian Warrior. 

 

Until next time. Fight the Good Fight…. Fairly

T. 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2020 in church, Jesus, Things about God

 

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Hozier’s “Take me to Church”: my analysis

“Take Me to Church” by Hozier, an infectious gospel infused blues track, has definitely made waves in the current music scene. It was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Additionally it was nominated for 5 awards at the 2015 Billboard music awards: Top New Artist; Top Rock Artist/ Song/ Album, Top Streaming Song (Audio). The title is a sentiment that we as believers can affirm. However, this is not Hozier’s intention at all. As one reads through the lyrics and perhaps watches the video there is another message entirely. The underlying message seems to be contra-church.

My lover’s got humour
She’s the giggle at a funeral Knows everybody’s disapproval

The “lover” is
disrespectful and light-hearted, she simply doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

I should’ve worshipped her sooner
If the Heavens ever did speak
She is the last true mouthpiece
Reversal of the
paradigm, the lover is the object of worship. She is the metatron, the voice of
“god;” if there is even such a thing as god.

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week ‘We were born sick,’ you heard them say it

The church tells us we
are broken and sick. We go every week and it just gets worse. (Objective
morality)

The only heaven I’ll be sent to

My church offers no absolutes
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’

Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen
The “lover” is the
acceptable church. She offers no judgment, just sexual pleasure. I was made for
hell, I am broken and I don’t care, the “lover” is the only heaven I can depend
on.  (Subjective morality)

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death Good God, let me give you my life

At first glance, this

chorus appears to be saying that lyricist wants to be saved. On further
investigation, he is mocking the church. The lover makes him free, you offer
only bondage and judgment.

If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side She demands a sacrifice
To drain the whole sea Get something shiny
Something meaty for the main course That’s a fine looking high horse
What you got in the stable?We’ve a lot of starving faithful
That looks tasty That looks plenty
This is hungry work
The second verse starts

out as a sort of invocation, a prayer to the lover. I will give her anything; do anything she asks of me so that she, my “Goddess,” will sustain me.

The church, high-handedly takes everything and gives nothing but judgment in return. The masses are left hungry in the mud by it, when there is plenty, those below are expected to hold it up and support it on broken backs and starving stomachs.

No masters or kings when the ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human Only then I am clean
Amen. Amen. Amen
The last verse defines
the sex act, the worship of his lover’s “church.” There is no one
metaphorically over the other. The “sin” is its own absolution. It is only then
that he/they are complete, it is only then that they are not longer judged.  

 While this song is clever, it is also disturbing. It quite popular and further evidence that we must be vigilant and watchful over our children’s and our own input.

Until next time, Fight the Good Fight…Fairly
T.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in church, Things about God

 

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Chameleon Evangelism

For though I am free from ALL, I have made myself a servant to ALL, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become ALL things to ALL people, that by ALL means I might save some. I do it ALL for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings  – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (emphasis my own)

In 1 Cor. 9, Paul tells the church that he is bound only to God, that Paul is releasing his rights. He then goes on to tell the church that while he is free he subjects himself to the requirements of sharing the Gospel. It is in the sharing of the Gospel that Paul find reward, not in financial security or his own desires. Although Paul does tell the church in v. 14 that is only right that one should be supported financially by the proclamation of the Gospel, but that is for another time I think.

Paul’s desire to share the Gospel is universal. Repeatedly Paul uses the term “all.” He is not beholden to anyone save God, but he voluntarily subjects himself to the strictures of communities for the sake of the Gospel. He becomes a part of the community to which he is speaking. He gets inside a people group and understands  them and is then understood in turn.

What does this mean for us? I was once taught a maxim, “all means all, that is all; all means.” Paul tells us to “be all to all, so some will believe.” Paul’s statement about the Law is telling, his understanding was binary. You were either a person under the Law (Jew), or a person not under the Law (Gentile). It is an enormous leap of love and commitment to make the statement in 1 Cor. 9 for Paul, and honestly a great exemplar for us. Christ told us that Love is the greatest commandment, and it seems we miss this mark often.

It is easy to say we love another, that we are unconditionally committed to them, it it quite difficult to actually demonstrate that love without condition. We, the Church, looks as sinners with disdain. They are the unforgiven, and we pay them at best lip service. Jesus would have been there with them, showing them His love. Yet, we don’t do this. Instead we tell each other what good believers we are, we turn Church into a social club that is locked from the inside.

I propose that to follow Paul and Jesus we need to heal from the inside out and open the doors of the Church both physically and personally to the lost. We need to welcome the lost into our midst, but more importantly we need to go into theirs and be a light.

Be All, to All, so that Some will come to believe.

Until next time…Fight the Good Fight…Fairly

T.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Universal Mafia

I heard a question the other day posed to a Catholic, “why do you pray to the saints and not just Jesus or God?” The Catholic answered, God/Jesus are so in demand and busy; so we pray to the saints because we know a guy that knows the Guy. The Guy (Jesus/God) is very busy, and we don’t wish to waste His time with trivialities.

Are the saints nothing more than a go-between, for humanity and the Godhead? Should we see a heavenly kingpin in the person  of Jesus? Do we need to go to the saints to get to the Guy?

If any of the above is true, then Jesus was a liar, and His sacrifice is greatly belittled.

Jesus came and lived as a man among humanity. He “poured out” His God-ness for a season, so that He could be like us in every way. He tells us that “you know me, so you know the Father also.” That sounds pretty relational and open to me. Jesus is called our “advocate” to the Father. Again, it really doesn’t sound like we need a go-between to reach the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is our Paraclete, literally “called alongside one”. This seems to imply that the Holy Spirit is never to busy or overtaxed to be there to help. So, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit seem to already make the Godhead all-access. 

The term “mafia” has specific implications. I use the term in this sense, “a closed group of people in a particular field, having a controlling influence.” Another way to see this is a hierarchy of organization, which is certainly the case in heaven and all of God’s creation. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church one might point to the College of Cardinals and the Vatican for examples. They are certainly a closed group in a particular field. The Holy See, the Pope, is selected from the College of Cardinals, He is “made” by them as God’s presence and voice on earth. Most of the Popes are canonized, made into saints, and continue to do their work as a go-between for earth with heaven. Throughout all of the clergy of the RCC the idea of go-between is encouraged. 

One must go to Mass to commune with God, it is not possible to know God outside of the consecrated priest. It is through the service of the Eucharist in the RCC that one is saved. The elements of Communion served by a consecrated priest brings redemption. Last Rites are required as a last entreaty to heaven for the soul of the dying. Without these things the individual could be lost, or at the very least know additional suffering in the afterlife.

Do we need a go-between? Perhaps, but not because we need a “guy that know the Guy.” Rather, it seems we need someone to vouchsafe our place in the hierarchy of heaven. Through Jesus, and Him alone, are we granted this privilege. Then each of us becomes the “guy that knows the Guy,” and we need no other. Jesus conquered death and sin for us. A personal relationship with Him is literally all that matters. Do you have to know Him, or believe that He saved you? No, you have a choice. Jesus made you a deal that you can refuse, but you shouldn’t. The Heavenly Mafia want you, but it is up to you to believe it and become a re-“made” man.

Until next time, Fight the Good Fight….Fairly

T.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Jesus, World Religions

 

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Have you Pi, it’s irrational.

Today, 3.14, is Pi Day. Pi is a mathmatical constant and an irrational number. In the first case it is necessary for geometry and trigonometry and much of our understanding of the physical world would have not been possible without it. In the later it is difficult to express exactly as a common fraction and it is a transcendental number, meaning it is a non-algeabraic.

  Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity is much like Pi. Jesus’ sacrifice prima fascia seems irrational, yet it was/is necessary for the possibility of humanity’s justification. Likewise, Jesus is transcendent in His divinity. For a time he “poured out” out that divinity so that we might have an acceptable “constant” as a sacrifice. 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Jesus, Things about God

 

What Do You Look Like?

What Do You Look Like?

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When people see you, what do they see? Life is about image and perception. Gene Simmons of the band KISS made this statement, “ Sweden has a king…do you know what he looks like? No? But all of Sweden knows what KISS looks like. 

The members of KISS developed 4 larger than life personas, and figuratively took over the world. They proclaimed themselves as the “World’s Biggest Rock Band” and then they became  the embodiment of that idea. Was it hard? Absolutely! Was it worth it? No doubt.

Image is important. Who do people see when they look at you? Do they see a broken, helpless person; or do they see a son or daughter of the King? In medieval times warriors were associated with personal or household armorial pictograms. The idea of uniforms as identification is still  strong in the militaries of the world today. One can fairly easily identify country of origin and branch just by the clothes of the soldier.

So, arguably we are who people perceive us to be. Often outside perception is what makes or breaks us as individuals. First, in Christ, we are never individuals, we are always part of a unit. When we identify with Christ, our reflection and actions are judged as His. Just like when a Marine does wrong the Corps is seen in that light as well and its reputation is injured by the association.

Our actions matter. Christ’s reputations matters. We might not know what the king of Sweden looks like, but the World should know what Christ,the King of Glory, looks like. Jesus isn’t  the artist representation European representation. Rather, the world should see Christ proclaimed and embodied in you and me. We may be the only representative of Christ that a person sees. 

Do they see just you in a shirt with Christ’s emblem on it , or do they see Christ? 

Until next time; 

Fight the Good Fight….Fairly

T.

 
 

Book Review: Legend of the Monk and the Merchant – Twelve Keys to Successful Living

I love this book! The twelve concepts in this short book are paradigm shifting. Most of them are common sense, but unfortunately such sense is no longer all that common. 

From the first words of the Foreword by David Ramsey, to the last words of the final of Nine chapters, I was completely hooked. There are far more than the indicated 12 concepts at play here. Of those the most important is to share the knowledge of this book with others. 

I have already done so and frankly I intend to continue to do so. This book should be required reading for every person. 

Booklook.com provided a complimentary review copy of this book.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

Book Review: The War on Christmas – Battles of Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression. Edited by Bodie Hodge

I did not really like this book. In fairness though, I don’t think it was written for the serious scholar.

This book is intended to drive home one single point; “No Christ, no Christmas.” In so doing this book is extremely repetitive, to the point of making it difficult to read through the 144 pages of text and illustrations.

A variety of issues contained within the Christmas stable are addressed: Christmas star, Wise Men, and Christmas tree. The thread of the argument is that these things are not essential to Christ, but are part of the Christmas celebration. I was interested to see the unusual opinion that the Magi were most likely not believers, but rather astrologers who had seen signs and portents in the sky.

The one serious bone I have to pick is the explanation of pagan religion’s development in Chapter 4. While the explanation is somewhat possible, it seems to me to be largely untenable. It is certainly true that some pagan religion is based on ancestor worship, but there is little evidence to indicate that such practice is the root of all pagan religion and practice. Helen of Troy is connected to Elishah, and regional syntax is given as the reason. The idea that all the personages of pagan religion are descended from the children and grandchildren of Noah is a little far-fetched.

In conclusion, there is certainly a war of thought in play today. Christmas is part of that war. A good deal of this book seems to be well researched and its message is certainly laudable. However, I would be careful whom one recommends this book to. It functions as a decent overview of the salient issues. It does get preachy at times, and sometimes the claims are simply the stuff of fantasy. Even for that the core message is the same; No Christ, No Christmas.

Disclaimer: This review was written as a member of the War on Christmas launch team.

 

Chart: Jesus in other religions

I found this chart at http://www.religionfacts.com/jesus/religious_views.htm.

I thought I would share it here to start out a proposed series on Jesus’ identity in other world religions. Sometimes the best approach is to know what the people in our lives think about the person, Jesus, we hold most dear. In this way we can better show them the truth of Christ, and help them through the falsehood they believe as gospel.

 

God or Man?

Who Jesus Was

Jesus’ Purpose

Resurrection
Happened?

Traditional (Nicene) Christianity Both: “fully God and fully man.” Second person of the Trinity, incarnation of God, Son of God, Savior. Die for the sins of humanity. Yes
Arianism A created divine being. A divine being, but created by God and inferior to Father. Son of God. Savior. To save humanity from sin. Yes
Baha’i Faith Man A “manifestation of God” and prophet. Since superseded by Muhammad and Baha’u’llah. To reveal God’s will as part of progressive revelation to humanity. Only spiritually.
Buddhism Man Wise and enlightened man who taught similar things to the Buddha. To teach humanity wisdom and the way to enlightenment. Not addressed
Christian Science Man Wise man especially attuned to the divine Christ. To teach humanity, heal, and overcome death. Yes
Christadelphians Man (or half-man, half-God). Son of God but human, because mother was human Mary. Lived a sinless life and died sacrificial death. To show God’s love for humanity and redeem humanity from sin. Yes
Gnosticism God Divine being sent from the supreme God. To rescue humanity from the material world by revealing true knowledge. Most Gnostics reject that Christ died at all. The human Jesus was ordinary and did not resurrect.
Hinduism Views vary Incarnation of God akin to Krishna, or wise man. Not addressed Not addressed
Islam Man True prophet sent by God, but superseded by Muhammad. To reveal God’s will in a progressive revelation that ended with Muhammad. No
Jehovah’s Witnesses An archangel Son of God, Word of God, God’s first creation, Archangel Michael. Teach about God, provide a model for right living, die sacrificially for human sin. Yes
Mormonism (LDS) Man Son of God, Savior, originally one of the spirit beings that all humans used to be. Has a physical body. To teach about God, provide a model for living, die sacrificially for sin. Yes
Theosophy Man Great teacher.   No
Unitarian Universalism Man Great teacher, faith-healer, “incarnation of God’s love.” To demonstrate God’s love for humanity and teach about justice and compassion. No official teaching; most do not believe physical resurrection.
 
 

Adoption: Are we a mirror?

The idea of adoption has a sort of stigma. One feels less for being adopted. It seems that a person must be unwanted, and discarded to be eligible for adoption. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If one is unwanted and discarded, then it is quite possible that rebirth and reshaping is possible. This is especially true of the Christian life.

    I was reminded of this by a passage in Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist. A child born from a soldier taking advantage of a character’s soon to be wife is adopted by him. This child goes onto be characterized as resembling him, taking on his mannerisms and expressions; to the point that it was often almost impossible to remember that they are not biological sire and son. Rather, this child has become a scion, an implant, a figure that is spliced into the family. So close as to be mistaken for the biological child of this man.

    We, as followers of Christ, are likewise scion. We are grafted into the tree of life, and should appear to belong. It goes far beyond appearance into every aspect of being. We need to become like Him; Jesus was and is the exemplar for our daily behavior. As disciples we need to strive to have behavior that is indistinguishable from His.

    As I trained in martial arts, I often used a mirror to see if I was doing the motions correctly. Also, I often mirrored the motions of those more advanced than me. Both these practices are important. In the Christian life it often comes down to the failure of the disciple maker and often that of the disciple as well in mimic the demonstrated behavior. It is very easy to get lost in the shuffle of belonging without belief. It is the belief that makes one want to mirror the action of Jesus and the Father.

    Just like the warriors, we need to learn how to mirror. We need to become so close to the action of Jesus that we cannot be told apart from Him. We need to resemble Him. We need to take on the mannerism, expressions, and habits he set forth or would approve of. In so doing we will become so like him that adoption is a non-issue; that belonging and belief are intertwined. Only then will we as warriors be in tune enough to lock shields and support each other in a phalanx of belief. It is this behavior and lifestyle that allows for battlefield brothers and sisters to be a family of protection.

Until next time…

Fight the good fight, fairly…T.


    

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Chivalry, Things about God

 

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