• What I learned from Pluto!

    My favorite pet was a Cocker Spaniel named Pluto. Pluto always had his nose up in the air or down to the ground. He was always sniffing around for something. He never walked or ran in a straight line. I would call him and he would start across the yard and suddenly he would turn this way and then that way. That dog ran in a zig-zag pattern all the time. I don’t think he ever went anywhere in a straight line.

    He had an ADD sniffer. He could get so excited about some of the most insignificant things. He would find joy in the most insignificant things. However, his greatest joy was when he found me. He always came to me! Generally after a he had ran all over the yard. Exhausted he would come, yapping for my touch. Moaning with delight as I stroked his back (or tummy, he wasn’t picky). I still miss that silly dog. He taught me a lot about living in the moment, finding joy in everything, and patience.

    He and I formed a bond. A bond that really went beyond what I thought was possible with a pet. I had a number of pets growing up, but not like Pluto. We shared life with each other. We enjoyed each other.

    In spite of the manying warnings (from my wife) I fed him continually from my own dinner plate, (he was very fat). I would protect Pluto from what I viewed as unkind behavior. I really could not tolerate people talking bad to him or about him. I did not like it if you hurt his feelings (and he had plenty of them). He was my friend.

    A friend that could take the most interesting paths into my arms. And yet no matter what his journey, no matter how long it took, I was always filled with joy when he arrived. I loved to hold him and reward him with his favorite food.

    Know one else could do with Pluto what I could. Even though I really never did get him to do tricks or train him (I wanted him to catch a frizbee, but NO). I formed him with love. He knew who he was, he was my dog. He knew I loved him unconditionally (and he me). Even though other things would divert his attention from time to time, ultimately he knew my love was the best thing ever. He was formed in and by that love. When he went to heaven (oh yes there is), I was a mess. I still miss him.

    For a few years I was resistive to another pet, in fact I had to be tricked by my children to “love again” (that’s a whole other story). However, now I call Lilly and she looks up and starts towards me — then she darts off after the squirrel or something!  I smile and wait, because I know she’ll soon remember me and come back my direction.

    She’s on a journey (not the one she thinks) back into my arms. She’s being formed! She’s being formed by love. It’s a good, (no a great) journey into the mystery of love. Love that doesn’t teach you tricks, or train you, but forms you, gives you your identity!

    I smile, I hear His voice, and I start towards Him. What was that, I look (run in that direction), it’s got my interest, it’s … – but wait – I remember, that voice! I turn my head towards that voice — there, here, in this Presence, I’m being formed. I’m discovering who I am … as I’m discovering who He is… the I AM!

    Life is really about all “formation.” Whatever, whomever we continually return too is forming our lives. Pluto taught me that. Or maybe Someone used Pluto to teach me that. Life is really a journey that transforms.

    The tricks we learn or the final destination, though valuable and important, may not be as important as who we become. And who we become just might depend on who we love, or rather whom we are loved by.

    Yeah, I just wrote about a dog! I’ll try to return to more “heady” stuff next week.

  • Prophetic Imagination!!!

    Yesterday I wrote these words;

    In my personal prayer this morning I had an epiphany…. “I don’t merely speak in tongues — I THINK IN TONGUES!”

    What that means is that my mind thinks in a spirit of supernatural possibility….. The Holy Spirit opens my imagination to see, to dream, to expect and to experience the naturally impossible; to believe!

    This “thinking in tongues” is a Pentecostal Paradigm, worldview, perspective, or simply a way of looking at life. Suddenly I am overwhelmingly grateful for Grandma Jessie who taught me to see life, to imagine, to think in tongues!

    I now realize that many Christians were not blessed with this way of thinking, this way of seeing…. Pentecost — “spirit-filled” — Christianity is to have your mind filled with new possibilities, new solutions — that are above and beyond human design.

    I wrote that in the early hours of Sunday morning. I wrote them and then hurried off to service. A service where fellow sojourners “looked up” — not around — to see what was beyond!

    Following service I engaged in the holy ritual of “playoffs.” Games designed around rules. Games that applaud the performance of humans. The contrast of those two experiences has even jolted my thinking further.

    Once again as I prayed in tongues it was my mind that moved into the Kingdom of Heaven. Here in my little study suddenly the “Kingdom of Heaven” was here and I understood what Grandma spent years trying to explain.

    “Quintin, I know that I know that I know! I know down in my knower!”

    Somewhere beyond all the rationalism of modern society, somewhere beyond human reasoning, beyond the arguments of theologians, there is a Kingdom whose maker is God and He is beyond our mental constructs.

    A kingdom where our performance is not the main event. A kingdom where His reign of love is the focus of all creatures. A place where value does not come from ones talent, but rather from the applause of the One who created you to be loved. Rapturous, filled with wonder, in awe of His love — I sit and enjoy this moment.

    Slowly, the fog lifts and I see the culture around me. A culture who generally believes that the essence of a human being is his/her ability to think and perform.

    This culture has forced upon us the idea that what really matters is what can be thought — and what can be thought is what can be calculated, deduced, and articulated in formulas. Formulas that can produce products. Products that can be sold.

    This, however is a slippery slope towards the “computerization” of knowledge. What matters today is “knowledge,” a knowledge that confirms and conforms to what calculable standards of logic demands. In other words, what counts as knowledge today is only what can be reduced to “information” or “data.”

    Data or information that can then be used to accomplish the goals and aspirations of human design. The creation of a human heaven.

    Thus, the assumption that reason or thinking is what is the essential basis of humanity has led humanity to look for an absolute of rational thought.  So what makes sense or is “rational” must be universal or the same for everyone. So that everyone can be socially successful.

    This path of hyper human knowledge has left many people frustrated, feeling marginalized by the reductionism of rational thought to a universal construct.

    Pascal says, “the heart has reasons of which Reason knows nothing,” (I think Blaise knew my Grandma.) There is a way of “knowing” that cannot be reduced to cognition or intellectual perception, and certainly not to “data” or facts.

    There is a knowledge that is not to be used to produce products for economic advancement, but rather for relational enhancement. The knowledge of another person that would allow us to grow in our friendship, that is real knowledge.

    There is a “kingdom” that is beyond our thought, our construct. And interestingly enough more and more of the human race need that to be true. A government that is not of our making. A structure that cannot be duplicated by man. A language that cannot be “hacked.”

    Behind the “fire-walls” of eternity there is hope. Even unbelievers want to believe this. Yes, even the most ardent unbeliever is tempted with faith.

    Faith that there is a mystery — a code that cannot be broken. Something beyond the human universal, rational mind. Something, someone, wholly other! The author of wonder and awe.

    You are probably wondering — “what does this have to do with thinking in tongues?” Am I right?

    Well, I am beginning to understand that if you have received the benefits of the formulas of human rationalism then you really have no need for “thinking in tongues.” After all you’ve preformed, and produced and have created your own utopian kingdom. But if you are part of the multitudes of humanity of the marginalized masses you many need to appeal to the “holy other” Kingdom.

    “Thinking in tongues” really is about imagining a higher and greater governmental structure. It is counter-thinking! It is counter-culture! I real terms it is “Cross – cultural.”

    It is a PROPHETIC MENTAL PRACTICE! It is when the imagination is directed by the prophetic promises of a loving God.

    I’m wired to know! Down in my “Knower… I know that I know that I know.”

    In my prophetic imagination I can see a future that is other than what the human universal rationalism declares…. there is a coming kingdom whose language is foreign to human reason.

    There it is…. I’m thinking in a foreign language! Imagining in a foreign construct. It is beyond rational reductionism!

    Wonder… Mystery… here in my “knower I know.”

    Join me! Let us “think in tongues.”

    Prophetically imagine what God has prepared for today, and the future!

  • Live in the “Question”!!!!

    “I am no longer an atomist. The things of faith do not stand alone nor do they stand still. The Fathers of the church have taken me back into a dynamic worldview, an understanding of the interrelationship of all things. The faith, which once looked like an alphabet with everything standing independently and in a row, now looks like a majestic tapestry.” (Robert Webber)

    There was a time in my life that I searched for answers. My faith needed answers. Answers that were fixed and absolute were the foundation of my faith. The last few days has reminded me that my faith is anchored more by “questions” than “answers.” I needed to have the answers. I needed to be “certain” of what I believed in order to feel secure. However, when the answers proved to be inadequate, my faith was shattered. In the midst of “shattered-faith” I discovered a Jesus who was NOT asking me to solve the mystery, but leading me rather, to “celebrate the mystery.”

    To live in the “unknown” and yet know that “all is well” has somehow renewed the passion of my faith. It was Webber who opened my heart to the possibility that faith is not individual nor is it fixed. In my journey I have come to realize that a static view of faith must be replaced with a more dynamic view. My faith has led me away from the old debates that once divided Christians. Instead of debates where we are unified around “answers,” I long for dialog where unity is found in the “mystery” of the question.

    It is in the mystery of the unknown that I have discovered family. In the Presence of the “One” that cannot be fully understood, I am at peace with those who stand by faith in His Grace. It is here where my faith is full.

    I want to celebrate the mystery of Christ who leads me, lives with me and who I can trust with answers that are too great for me to know. I want to invite all who stand in awe of the “mystery of Christ” to join me in singing:

    Christ, as a light
    illumine and guide me.
    Christ, as a shield
    overshadow me.
    Christ under me;
    Christ over me;
    Christ beside me
    on my left and my right.
    This day be within and without me,
    lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
    Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
    in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
    This day be within and without me,
    lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
    Christ as a light;
    Christ as a shield;
    Christ beside me
    on my left and my right.

    I have no answers for those of you who ask me how it is that I know that God is with me, but I know that he is …. not only with me, but also with those who ask the question!

  • Read the Directions!!!

    A few nights ago I could not sleep, (not that I didn’t want to).  I have been “getting over” whatever this stuff is that we are all “getting over.” I was confessing, and praying and now I was laying there reading my Bible (digitally), almost mechanically, when the words jumped of the screen, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV).  I know I have faith. I know there are times when it is palatable and times when it’s not, but I don’t doubt faith. I closed my eyes and opened my hears, “what was the word of Christ saying to me?”

    I got up and went to my study and dug around on my shelf until I found the Bible I wanted. Several years ago (more than I want to tell you) I had spent some time studying health and faith. I remembered something that the Lord had spoken to me and I had written it down on the inside cover of this Bible!

    “When a doctor gives you medicine, the directions for taking it are on the bottle. The Word is my medicine and the directions are in it!” I quickly turned to Proverbs chapter four:

    Prov. 4:20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Prov. 4:21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; Prov. 4:22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.

    There they were, four “directions” for taking God’s “medicine.”

    First, ATTEND! I must give undivided concentrated attention to God’s words as I read them.

    Second, INCLINE THINE EAR! To incline my ear would indicate a humble teachable attitude. I must lay aside my own preconceived ideas and receive with an open mind what God is saying to me.

    Third, LET THEM NOT DEPART FROM THINE EYES! I must keep my eyes focused on God’s words. I must not allow them to wander to statements from other, conflicting sources, that do not align with the Scriptures.

    Fourth, KEEP THEM IN THE MIDST OF THINE HEART! Even when the actual works are no longer in front of my eyes, I must keep meditating on them in my heart, thus retaining them at the very source and center of my life.

    God’s Word is “life and health.” You can have the “medicine,” but if you don’t follow the directions you won’t necessarily get the desired outcome from the prescription. In keeping with my own personal experience with God, there was not a sudden or dramatic change. I have not experienced what would be called a “miracle.” But after following the directions, I could sense “faith” coming and growing stronger. Slowly little by little I could sense a change.

    In Romans 10:17, Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Christ).” Paul uses the word rhema not logos (the Word) when he writes this verse. This is important because it indicates that hearing is the results of a spoken word. In other words, faith comes or grows when we hear — a living voice speak to our hearts. In 2 Corinthians 3:6, Paul says, “…the Spirit gives life.”

    If we “pay attention” to the Scriptures the Holy Spirit will speak to us personally. The Word will become a living voice. The Word will become flesh! The Word will unite us with God. If we follow the directions the words on the page will become — a life giving voice. The flesh, matter will always respond to the literal voice of God. Through rhema (The Spirit) the logos (The Word) is infused into our lives.

    ATTEND!

    INCLINE YOUR EAR!

    LET THEM NOT DEPART FROM THINE EYES!

    KEEP THEM IN THE MIDST OF YOUR HEART!

    If we follow these simple directions our hearing will change. It will become Rhema, an individual, direct, personal, living word from God. It will have a specific purpose for a specific situation! Of course this assumes an ongoing, relationship with God.

    I do want to point out that A rhema that is given to one believer may not be appropriate for another. He is directing our lives specifically. Secondly, it may not be appropriate for this stage in your journey. A rhema word is always personal.

    Jesus reveals how we are called to live continually dependent upon God’s “voice” when he answered satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word (rhema) that proceeds form the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). The word “proceed” is in the continuous present tense, which means literally “proceeding.” We are called to live in an ongoing conversation with God. I could say that we are to live energized by “the breath of his mouth,” (the Holy Spirit). This is our “daily bread” — always fresh, always “proceeding.”

    Faith comes by hearing …. fresh words life from the Holy Spirit. These are the directions for receiving God’s Word. “they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.”

    I am well aware of the idiom “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but maybe you can remind him of some….!

    I was reminded that we can not take our “faith” for granted. We must continually “pay attention” to God’s Word. I have been reminded to “follow the directions.” Keep feeding myself with the “living conversation.”

  • “The Striking Appearance”

    Epiphany — “the striking appearance of the divine.” He spoke and the light appeared! Creation followed the light!

    “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4).

    The “Life” wrapped Himself in flesh and came into the midst of creation. God revealed Himself to us so that we could have the “light” that would allow us to be re-created! Today we celebrate the manifestation of the Christ in our lives.

    Some people remember the “Wise men” and their gifts! They came to give gifts to the King. In their giving the identity of the child was revealed.

    Some remember His baptism by John, as He entered into our lives, He embrace our circumstance and entered the water. He identified with us in every way.

    In fact both events help us to recognize the identity of the child of Mary. The carpenters son was more than many suspected. This child born in Bethlehem was more that a Christmas story.

    Christ is more that a story to be celebrated once a year and then forgotten. Christ is appears, makes Himself known so that creation can be “re-created.” He has come so that all things can become “new”

    I hope that we do more than remember the events in history. I hope that we bring our gifts (ourselves) to the King. I hope that we allow the King to enter fully into our lives.

    It is in these two things that we will continue to experience the Presence of the Light (THE LIFE OF GOD) in our lives. In is here in these things that creation is made whole. It is in the bringing of ourselves and in the receiving of the Christ that “Light” breaks the darkness and Life overcomes death.

    It is here that miracles begin! Water is turned to wine. The lame walk. The blind see! The dead will rise! The enemy is defeated! Sin is destroyed!

    It is now that the Kingdom is at hand!

    Today is the day of His “appearing.”

    This (and every day we are given) is the day the Lord has made: “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Let us sing and dance and shout out loud: “Great is the Lord and Greatly to be Praised!”

    May we follow the led of Mary! “Let it be, Lord Let it be!”