It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Monday, September 28, 2009

While At The Fair

I came across a church service. Well not really, quite the opposite actually, it is just that it sounded exactly like a modern church service. Not an everyday (everySunday) service, just one of those special ones, those emotional ones, those ones that get "great results."

Our Vicktory Farm & Gardens display is always in the north end of the J barn, in years past during 4-H week when the sheep were in the J barn, Pierce county was always at the north end. The north end of the J barn and I are well acquainted. When you hang out at my end of the J barn, you can hear the goings-on on the Coca-Cola stage nearly as well as being in the bleachers.

In the old days of hanging around while the girls worked on their sheep, I have listened to the likes of The Shop. Now what is left of the band is Vocal Trash and they sound pretty good, even from inside the J barn in the Turkey pen while I sprinkled sawdust on the turkey poo.

There are other performers that entertain from the Coca Cola stage but those I just vaguely listen to because their gig is nothing I find appealing but over the years I have come to know who is on the stage. I was vaguely listening on Thursday as I was sweeping during a lull in the crowds, somewhere between the school Howdy Tours and family hours.

What I was hearing began to remind me of something, oh I knew what it really was, but what I was hearing was just like the end of a great church service: a stirring sermon, the worship team being called up back up front, the congregation really getting into singing the last slow song again, the repeated part repeats and repeats and then the pastor starts to speak over the instruments and the last singers and hummers. It is that part, the pastor speaking over the music, that came to mind when I was listening to what was going on on the Coca Cola stage.

The music goes all soft and easy and the pastor speaks over it in a prayer or talk, its been a while but I remember those services and so many times they resulted in folks coming forward, whether in an old fashioned alter call sense or an evangelical's version of the confessional. They were always stirring and most often draining, even if you stayed in your seat. And this stuff going on up on the stage late afternoon Thursday sounded exactly like it.

When you hear something that sounds like something else, sometimes when you hear it again you realize that you were off base and that it really wasn't like the thing you thought of at all. When this particular performer returned to the stage during the rest of my time at The Fair, I listened with that idea in mind: that the time I heard it and was reminded of a church service was a fluke and that it really didn't sound like it at all. Unfortunately the more times I heard it the more it cemented in my brain as a "church service" sound-a-like.

I had my reason to not want to hear a "church service" in it. I didn't want to connect what I was hearing coming from the Coca Cola stage to church. Because what had been playing on the Coca Cola stage late Thursday afternoon when I thought, "Wow, that sounds just like a church service," happened to be a hypnotist.

When I was in college I spent sometime in a department that was doing some brain studies with different types of music and sound. They pretty convincingly (electrodes on the brain) found that some music causes most brains to be clearer, and thinking and rationalization skills to pick it up a few notches. Some music, just sounds actually, can cause most brains to become susceptible to suggestion.

And now I was standing in the barn at the Puyallup Fair wondering a lot of things. But mostly thinking that I was glad that I hadn't experienced a conversion moment during one of these services or even a huge leap in my journey with God. Not that I think someone should doubt their salvation because of how they came to it or doubt the validity of a major repentance in their life because it happened during a certain type of church service. But I am saying for me, I am glad I hadn't and I am glad I do not "attend" those types of services any more.

God can use all sorts of things to get to us. Even after I changed, and my life began to head in a totally different direction from the devastatingly sinful one that I had immersed myself in during high school and shortly after, I still wanted to monkey around with not going wholly back to the Triune God. It took a Zen Buddhist to tell me that I couldn't have it both ways or a bunch of ways.

He straight up said that if I believed in God and His Son and Holy Spirit then that is what I had to believe in completely. I couldn't run around like the irritating little New Age-rs in Philosophy of Religion class and take a little of this and a little of that, all the easy, peaceful, non-violent things of different religions, and build a pseudo belief. For those hard words from a Zen Buddhist that sent me fully back to my Lord and Savior, I will always be grateful and I will always recognize that God can use anything to get his people to wake up. But I would never advocate hanging out with a Zen Buddhist in order to get closer to God.

That hypnotic music and use of the human voice may have made some feel closer to God, Christ, but I am not so sure it is a good thing.

A hired consultant may actually be able to help your church get over some magical number it can't grow past, but I'm not sure it is a good thing.

Re baptising someone may help something about your getting to mega church size, not sure what really, but I'm sure it could have some sort of effect on a congregation that could be construed as helpful in some way, but I am not so sure it is a good thing, it's not a God thing.

God can use a lot of things to get at His people. I'm not so sure we as God's people should use a lot of what we are using to "get at" folks.

I'm not sure most of the "modern church" nonsense is a good thing, much less a God thing. Much of what I am thinking about, that I have heard that the modern church is doing or practicing, sounds like the hypnotist, sounds like Madison Avenue, sounds like Simon the magician.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Something I Scratched in My Bible a Couple of Weeks Ago

When heading to risky and dangerous behaviour, according to the World's standards, because we follow the voice of God, the fear of looking foolish or being hurt will keep us from doing amazing things in God.

How much do we trust God to take care of our body, defend our dignity, or give us pleasure? How much do we trust Him to care for our very soul?

Lately a friend of mine has been asking a question of Christians that he knows, it goes something like this; "Are we to be led by the Holy Spirit in all things or just when we think we need help?" He hones it, when when he discusses it further, to where the person is at. But mostly he is challenging those around him that maybe we ought to reconsider how quickly, or slowly in most cases, we listen to the voice of God. He is coming to the conclusion that most Christians feel that they can just handle God's work and he is sure they cannot.

I will be unable to say anything here even if I could organize all that is running through my mind just like dust bunnies in a house with fourty-four toddlers, I just don't possess a big enough dust mop at the moment. Nor will I be around to visit anyone after tomorrow and even tomorrow it is dicy because I have so much to do to get us down to the fair and looking fairly descent. If you're in Puyallup stop on by The Fair, we'll be in J barn from Wednesday morning (bright and early) till Sunday night.

And know my Dear Reader, God is right there with you, above you, below you, on the left, on the right, in front and behind, and He desires to speak with you, if you would only please put your agenda aside and listen, if you listened close enough and repentant of your own ways enough so that you could participate in His Kingdom.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So Where In My Mind Do Start?

Well I guess the biggest hurdle is that I'm sorta tired of the mishmash I hear, and see. I want to taste the Truth, everywhere I go.
Oh, I know, I live in a fallen world, the devil hates Jesus and the Father of Lies has been busy, but God has built his Church and the gates of hell shall not, can not, prevail against it. I meet her every where I go, or at least that is what I'm told.
I want to roll the ganache that is the smooth and lustrous beauty of God around in my mouth and swallow a mouthful a hundred times over from one spoonful. I want to savor every corner of His word. I want my head to explode like it does when the dark richness lets a migraine break through. I want my mind to expand beyond the boundaries of my tiny little skull.

Lately, my standing muscles have been thoroughly tried. Some of my stand up routines have gone swimmingly well and some, not so hot. When the not so hot ones hit, a little of that thirty-five year habit has flared and I've wished I could ride the fence once again and call a bunch of stuff grey areas, or semantics or some horrible misunderstanding most likely blamable on the shoddy translation that I was using. (I say, always keep those questionable translations handy for just such times.)
So where do I start Dear Reader? Heck, lets start with a couple of pieces of shoddy thinking from this week and work backwards. This week, not to dissimilar to other stand up instances, the garbage is nothing new and nothing I haven’t spoken against before, things that have caused a further deeper search for the truth and to avoid the deceptive philosophies of this world that the Church has allowed in through her sweet doors.

This week, I was hit with one more round of "we all have dry periods."
Explained, not so dissimilarly to other times this concept has been espoused, as a time that God, for whatever reason, removes himself from us.
Key in the sound of that needle scraping across the vinyl that my mind so often hears.
What the heck, did that not follow directly on the heels of the reading of scripture: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Jesus' words in Matthew 28! (emphasis mine)
I did not read in my suspicious translation, "And ya know, surely I am with you most of the time. But sometimes you might find that I've sort of left you, well as much as an omniscient, omnipresent, indwelling, immanent sort of God can. I'll do it so that you buck up and grow a little and want me more. Consider it sort of like a legal separation in marriages these days, you know how much I love to use marriages to compare our relationship, well you folks have really got that whole absence makes the heart grow fonder crap down pretty stinking good, well except for the times those separations end sorta ugly like Paul will warn you about in one of his more stirring letters I help him write, but hey lets ride with the analogy for now. I will move out, or so it will seem, I might be hiding in the closet, who knows, so that you will miss me and try a little harder when I'm back yakkin' at you full time. Now I'm not talkin' here about the times Paul will tell you to toss some rebellious, blatantly grossly rebellious dad's-wife stealer out of your church so that he will repent, I'm just talkin' takin' a powder from letting you feel my presence."
I don't give a crap what your experience has been.
And my experience does not trump your experience.
But what does tell me to call hooey on your experience or this opinion that “we all experience dry times at the hand of God“, separate from our own choice which is usually from wallowing in sin, is that no where in the Bible, in the New Testament, in the crucifixion and resurrection Reality and Word, does God promise that He will remove His presence from striving Christians to make us stronger. No where.
In fact the way I read it, and you know what, I'm not going to sit here and cite scripture, it is all through the New Testament, and I am going to paraphrase sumpin' fierce, the way I read it is that we are only, only, made stronger as we abide in Him and He in us. It is through Him and Him alone that I am strong enough to do all things, or everything or anything or what He calls me to do. So where does one read that the removal of God's presence grows someone? Or that He does indeed remove himself?
Another thing for tonight, and this one is going to be harder for me to explain because it will slightly sound to the half asleep mind that I am contradicting what I have always said, well in the last twenty-eight years, that there is no sin, none what so ever, that God can not forgive. He is just that big. That huge, that powerful and that mighty. None of our sin, even mass murder, is bigger and more powerful, more evil, than He is good.
That said the other thing that came out this week is that same ol' same ol' crap of "ya, that's the goal sure 'nuff, but we all sin, its just a big circle, down we go into sin, up we come, down we go. It is what it is."
Holy shoot fire, you're sure God is okay with that freakin' attitude? Oh ya, that's gotta come from that whole misreading of Romans 7. Read it again folks, but this time read it from chapter one on through to the end. Blow on past the end and read a bit in Philippians and some of Paul's other inspired letters and maybe, just maybe you'll get the sense that the helpless guy is the guy under the Law, not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. No, we are not without sin, not saying that, but we sure as heck are not freakin' slaves to the "Circle of Life" that includes dippin down into sin and coming up for a little God-air.
So this is me, not having learned to be very graceful over summer vacation: Get over yourself. Get over yourself and help me get over myself. Don’t tell me anymore that my sin has an excuse if only the excuse that “we are all sinners.” Ya but, should I be wallowing in it or scheduling it into my cycle?!
And stop wringing your hands or being complacent even about these imagined dry times. There is no such thing. God is willing to yap your ear off. It is just that He is most likely saying things that make you warm under the collar, make you wiggle in your seat, make you question your conformability, make you consider disrupting your life. Perceived dry time? It is not because He is withholding, it is we that are withholding, we are the ones who are cheating on the relationship, it is we who look for a sweeter lover, not God. He chose us, He wed us, and no matter how horrifyingly skanky whorish we are He is never leaving us even for a trial separation.

But we oughten to come at God and demand that we have our way, our time of disobedience and then our forgiveness, our endless chats about ourselves.
Hope you've settled into the easy chair Dear Reader, there are many more chats about ridding ourselves of the mishmash, the deceptive philosophies of this world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Would You Mind Terribly?

Vacation in the mountains was great. No, I did not end up getting sick (vitamin C, calcium, vitamins A and D and a little Salmon Oil thrown in). But would you mind terribly Dear Reader, if I didn't tell you all about our amazing trip and the berries we picked and the dog we almost lost in a near snow storm (not a complete repeat of last year but within inches or degrees rather)?

Would you mind terribly if I didn't tell you all the things around the farm that I am doing or that I'm not getting to or that Dirt and the girls are or are not doing? Would it be a bad thing if I didn't report the concrete things of my life? Didn't tell you of all the things we are doing to get ready to be down at the Puyallup Fair next Wednesday morning? Would you mind terribly?

Because I just want to plop my Dear Reader down in the middle of my mind. It has a lovely easy chair in it and a little side table set with some little goodies; fresh fruit, some cookies and a toasty cup of Earl Grey along with a tall glass of ice water.

We've danced around the room of my concrete tangible life and done so quite a bit and we, you and I, have actually dabbled in the doorway of my mind some, but if it wasn't too scary and you knew you could pick up and leave anytime you wished, that I hold no one to any sort of social contract, would you mind coming in and sitting a spell in my mind?

It, my mind, has been chewing up a lot of ground lately. A lot prompted by events or things others have said. A little peep into the window: when in Christ, is there or ought there to be anything we see as futile? Should we voluntarily participate in perceived futility or perceive difficulty or such as futility?

I actually do have to go and do something right now Dear Reader so I'm going to leave you here, with my question for you and someone's question for me, well a statement actually, that I then turned into a question and answered nearly immediately and emphatically.

I'll be trying to take a spin around the neighborhood while I "pen" out some of my thoughts of late. But remember I hold no one to a social contract. Because I visit, listen and enjoy, doesn't mean I hold you to what others may see as "fair trade." I know my "stuff" can be convoluted, hard to chew through and just doesn't make a hill of beans to the majority of lives not to mention I can be just plain boring. So, even if you tell me you wouldn't mind if I got all thoughts and feelings-ish some what poetic maybe and pretended to be profound, I won't make you stay if I go where you never suspected a person could go.

So there you have it Dear Reader, that's where I'm at journal-wise, now I am going to slip out to the kitchen to make some Lanny-ized Chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner for some impromptu company while you mull that over. Sneak out when ever you wish after you tell me what you think, or not, and I'll catch up with you in the next day or two, maybe not all of your ten thousand posts my G. Reader tells me is waiting for me, not even close, but I will swing by your place for a bit.