Saturday, October 27, 2007

From Daniel on Prayer

Daniel is a friend on Emerging Universalist. He is somewhere in the vicinity of 70 years old and is filled with the wisdom of a life long walk with the Lord. Many of us on the list look at Daniel as a mentor in this somewhat off the beaten path journey with an off the beaten path view of God, and life, and our relationships with each other. Someone on the list brought up prayer again...with a question akin to what Yancey asks....does it make a difference. This is Daniel's view....

This may be way too simplistic, but it's an analogy that I hope at least hints at an aspect of prayer in time of trouble. Such prayers help us to remember that God is right where we are regardless of the appearance, God never forgets us, but it's easy sometimes for us to forget God.

If I want to watch TV I have to turn it on. Praying for it to come on without making the connection would be fruitless. The TV broadcast is there but I must make the connection. in a like manner, God is with us all the time, but we must make the connection by our conscious awareness.

I think if I should pray for God to give me something or get me out of something it can serve no real purpose except hopefully to remind me that God is already here and needs no instruction from me about what I perceive as needs. And then I can pray aright:

You are with me always; You will never forsake me. You go before me to make the crooked places straight. You lead me and guide me, and I shall fear no evil. My prayer changes from a petition to a realization that I have God with me, and there is never a need for God AND something else. There can't be something else. That's when I'm "plugged in to the broadcast" and on the right channel!

When turmoil or crisis arises, I am very likely to cry out, "Lord, deliver me!" But the very cry reminds me of the Presence of God. And when I don't know how to go in or come out of praying aright, I cry "Father, pray!" and let God take over the how and what. Then I can get to the prayer that cannot fail: "Thy will be done."

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Calvinist's View of Yancey's Book

I am sure I'm breaking all kinds of blogging rules by linking to a post that is over a year old,  but if you are interested you can check out a discussion on Yancey's book on Prayer ...along with lots of comments at  This is a blog by a guy named Tim Challies.  When I was researching "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" his post came up on a list of  links at Google Books.

It's a very impressive site...lots of posts, information on how to purchase his book...some stuff on web design.  He writes from what seems to be a reformed /calvinistic viewpoint and has information about conferences that feature speakers  like John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur.  From my stint in a true blue five point church, I know these names as hallowed proclaimers of reformed "truth."  

He criticized Yancey's book on several points which included Yancey's  allusions to a belief in open theism and quoting Mother Teresa too often (to the exclusion of some of the above named teachers.)  He does mine out snippets of quotes from the book that are priceless and thought provoking.  More tomorrow on this.  Although this seems painfully short for a post on my blog, I've got to run. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another view of the Old Testament Atrocities

Lest you think I will get wrapped up in Yancey and forget to finish the post on the Old Testament atrocities, here is the other view I came across.

The other series of articles I read also made many valid points to indicate that God's words and actions reflected more of a desire for Israel's enemies to leave. Again, that it was more in the spirit of a deportation than a slaughter. The authors cite evidence that these enemy nations had ample time and warning to get the heck out for several CENTURIES..and that many of the truly innocent people had indeed fled. The "innocent" people who were left were, in most cases, far from innocent. The list of the practices these peoples participated in are amazing. Many of their religious rituals were decadent..and involved incest, homosexuality and bestiality....not to mention child sacrifice!!! Add to all the above the fact that they also were hostile, aggressive, cruel nations who had attacked the Israelites many times over and the atrocities do not seem nearly as atrocious.

The article also lists the boundaries and stipulations of battle that God set for the Israelites such as:

Unlike the early Amorites, Israel was NOT supposed to destroy the cities and buildings (Deut 6.10ff). [The main exception was Hazor--the 'nerve center' of Canaanite culture and trade--cf. Joshua 11.10

Unlike the Egyptians, they were NOT supposed to destroy the vegetation and the trees (Deut 20.19).

They were restricted from attacking Esau's land--

Deut 2.4 Give the people these orders: `You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. 5 Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. 6 You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.'" [Notice that Esau 'got' that land the same way as Israel did--by conquest (Deut 2.12, 22; Josh 24.4).]

They were restricted from attacking Moab (Lot's descendants)--

Deut 2.9: Then the LORD said to me, "Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession."

They were restricted from attacking Ammon (Lot's descendants)--

Deut 2.19:
When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot."

They were NEVER allowed to take the cultic objects--with the precious metals and stones--

Deut 7.25f:
The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.

They were REQUIRED to offer peace to nations at a distance--

Deut 20.10-16:
10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

1. There were restrictions on how Israelite men treated female war captives (from distant nations)--

Deut 12.10ff:
When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell ot treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her. [Scholars have noted that this was an unparalleled benevolence toward women, in warfare in that area.]

Two of the articles are very is over 35 printed pages and the other is probably 26 or so pages..but for anyone who is troubled by the God of the OT, I think it would be worth at least looking over. The author uses many sources for his arguments including scripture, historical writings, meanings of the original words along with common sense and logic. The articles are too long to go into thoroughly in the scope of a single post (even though you know how long winded I can be!!!) so for a more in depth look you will have to read the articles.

How could a God of Love order the massacre/annihilation of the Canaanites?

Shouldn't the butchering of the Amalekite children be considered war crimes?

These articles are from The Christian Think Tank. There are many other articles on a wide variety of subjects on this site. They are written from a scholarly, mostly traditional point of view. Another similar site is Tektonics.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yancey and Prayer:

Yancey wrote the book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference about a year ago, so I know this post is somewhat dated. I read through most of the book shortly after it came out. It is on the bookshelf with about 5 or 6 other Yancey books....just a few feet from where I am sitting. Yesterday, while surfing, (dang, I did a LOT of surfing this weekend) I came across some excerpts on Google Books that caught my attention. I thought a post or two about the book (quotes from it and comments about it) might fit nicely with some recent discussions about prayer. Since a quote of Yancey's was the subject of yesterday's post about the OT, he was probably in my thoughts. He does have some deep, insightful things to say about prayer so I think a post or two about the book would be appropriate. I did, afterall, write a post about C.S. Lewis and his views about prayer, so this is quite a bit more current. Yancey has the same heart wrenching questions and doubts all the rest of us have. In an interview On the Faithful Reader web site he was asked:

What made you decide to write a book about prayer?

He replied:

I could give a lot of answers, but the honest one is that I felt so inadequate in my life of prayer. As I talked with other Christians I realized that I’m not alone. We have this enormous privilege of communicating with the Lord of the universe, and yet we struggle mightily. I began with a list of questions, my questions. Why are some prayers answered and others not? Why do I sometimes hit a wall of God’s silence? Does it matter whether ten or a hundred people pray for someone’s healing? Does prayer change God or change us? Why tell God something God already knows? These seemed to point to the question in the book’s subtitle: Does prayer make any difference?

Later in the interview he was asked:

At what point do you find you have no answers and have to rely on trust or faith about prayer?

At almost every point, frankly. I can never resolve the mystery of prayer. Why didn’t God intervene at Auschwitz, and in view of that how can I expect God to intervene with the relatively unimportant matters of my life? I don’t think anyone can answer those questions. In essence, prayer is a declaration of trust. Jesus gave us the model in Gethsemane, his prayer moving from “Take this cup away” to “Not my will but yours be done.” Alone, his friends asleep, surrounded by enemies on an alien planet, he too sensed some of the alienation and desperation we sometimes feel as we pray.

He went on to say:

I would go back to the disjunction between God’s reluctance to intervene in big things (like Auschwitz) and the Bible’s exhortation for us to pray for small things. I can’t put those two together.

I can so relate. My next few posts will be about quotes and excerpts from this book...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Philip Yancey on the Old Testament

I've been looking through some old files lately and came across a quote I saved from Phillip Yancey's book about the OT. (The Bible Jesus Read) Brother daniel on EU recommended the book during a discussion about the OT. I read it en route to the conference Keith and go to in the spring at the home church of Lynn Hiles, a traveling ministry we support. I read until the passing landscape flying past the window.... in my peripheral vision.... started to make me queasy. I never did finish the book but I read long enough to glean this great quote.

I detect in the OT a gradual but certain movement toward grace. The Hebrews lived in wild, barbaric times. Their laws, which may seem harsh to us, represent a great softening compared to their neighbor's laws. They established basic rules of warfare and enshrined in their laws respect for the poor and care for the environment. They set limits on revenge and guilt.. Cities of Refuge. We must remember as we look back on a time of blood vengeance, slavery, polygamy, and contract marriage with a brother's wife, that God had to work with people's moral condition at its given stage. In the writings from this period lay the seed, but only the seed, of God's grace. "These are the Scriptures that testify about me." Jesus told the Torah-readers of his day, then added pointedly, "yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

"As nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to "lisp" when speaking to us," said John Calvin. In the OT especially, God "lisped." Speaking in language that could be understood, God gradually edged his people toward a different way. He took the side of the oppressed and promised a Suffering Servant who would redeem not as the perpetrator but as the victim of violence. For a time he allowed behavior that he disapproved of, "because your hearts were hard." Meanwhile, albeit sometimes in zigzag fashion, the long vectors of history pointed steadily toward his Son, Jesus, the final revelation of God in human form. In Jesus, God no longer lisped; the Word spoke loud and clear.

I really like that quote and it fits well with some of what I've read and pondered and thought about over the past year or so. (along with all my wonderful friends and fellow seekers on Emerging Universalist) It also reminds me of a verse in Psalms that I stumbled upon a while back:

Psalm 18:35 - You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.

And thank goodness he is willing to condescend to where his children happen to be on their journey....

Friday, October 19, 2007

What About This Old Testament "Killer God"?

In the comment section, Debra said

"one of the issues I've always had with GOD is the apparent changing nature between OT and NT."

And indeed the change is almost incomprehensible. I’ve come across articles that explain away the change in God's personality and dealings in two different ways than the views expressed in the Voice of the Good Shepherd. They both seem to be a plausible way of looking at things. They see things either from the viewpoint that God did indeed order the Israelites to wipe out the other cultures or that he permitted them to...BUT.....they put the scope of it.....and the reasons for it....and the consequences of it, in an entirely different perspective. Either of these views soften the horror of what is recorded in the OT. Either view "let's God off the hook" a bit.
I've pondered these different views for several years and lately have come to find peace in the view presented in the Voice of the Good Shepherd. (I talked about it at length in an earlier post by the same name) I am not dogmatic about it but eventually we must simply “pick a lane and stay in it” until it is clear we are supposed to turn around or stop or hang a left or right. In the past, I have been the proverbial double minded man James warns of concerning this and many other issues. I've gotten better.

In this post, I’m going to focus on an article from a website called The Good News About God, owned by Lorraine Day. What About This Old Testament "Killer God?" is the name of the article. There are parts that I chose to simply ignore because they seemed a bit far fetched, bordering on paranoid. The whole Y2K thing came to mind. There are writings about end times events, weather control and medical conspiracies. If any of these things are of interest she has plenty of articles on her site. It is not my intent to criticize her beliefs or her writings. In fact, I am very grateful to her for helping me see things from a different paradigm.

One of the things this article points out is that it is plainly stated in scripture that God planned to drive the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites out of the land using, among other things…..HORNETS!! I am sure that some of you more studied Bible readers know all of this but it was news to me!!!!

Following are the scriptures that refer to this:

Conquest of Canaan Promised
Exodus 23:20"Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.22"But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will bean enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.23"When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and theHittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites,and I blot them out, 24you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillarsin pieces. 25You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. 26None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. 31And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. 33They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

So apparently this could be taken to mean that God did not purpose for them to slay their enemies because HE was going to run them out…it even says little by little in one place.
Following is a quote from the article:

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, they came out without weapons. God delivered them from bondage by His methods, without them having to fight anyone. They crossed the Red Sea and escaped from Pharaoh's army without any combat of their own. We have no record that the Israelites left Egypt equipped for war. "The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes." (Deut 1:30)
When God finally brought Israel to the borders of the Promised Land, He proposed to drive their enemies out by sending hornets, not by warfare. (Ex 23:28) But somewhere along the way, Israel obtained weapons. It is surmised that they may have gathered them when they floated up on the shore after the drowning of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. The question is this: If Israel chose to be a military nation in spite of God's wish to protect them in His own way, would He not then have rejected them?

The answer is found in an example in the later history of the nation. God never intended Israel to have a king, other than Himself. But He did not reject them when they demanded one. Why did they want a king? "That we may be like all the nations" (1 Sam. 8:19). God warned them of the results of their choice, but He did not reject them for it. God's response to Israel was similar to His response regarding their practice of both polygamy and slavery, which were never God's ideal will. But He still did not completely reject Israel because of these practices. When Israel practiced these heathen customs, they distanced themselves from God and could not enjoy His fullest blessing, but God continued to protect and guide Israel as much as they would allow Him. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Israelites themselves could have chosen a military defense against God's ideal will, without His rejecting them for it.

This line of reasoning only seems to work if you adhere to the limited free will line of thought, however, the author believes in total determinism ….which is one of the inconsistencies I see in the article. If you believe the Israelites desire to fight was put there by God in the first place and he let them have their own way, this line of reasoning doesn't make sense…..although the author does try to make it work. To me, it just seems to use those same tired, old contradictory arguments total determinists often use to make their point. In order for this theory to work, I think you have to look at things in a way that does allow for some play….for some degree of choice on the part of man and some degree of God’s permissive will in action. Not just his perfect, inflexible, "carved in stone" unchangeable will.

When expressed this way, it does make sense and seems to soften the outrage of the OT atrocities. The incredulous cry of “How could God do such a thing!!" They wanted it, they whined for it (like they whined for a king rather than a judge time after time after time) God told them it was the wrong path, yet they insisted so he relented and gave them over to their own wills, and he did not desert them.

Since his purpose was for the Israelites to inherit the land he promised to Abraham and for them to be separate and not intermarry in order to prevent them from absorbing parts of the culture as their own, he helped them carry this out, even though it was not in his perfect will for them to fight.

To those of us who believe in UR, death does not carry the same terror as it does to those who hold a more traditional view. How would you come to terms with the thought that God ordered the slaughter of the women and children and then sent them all to hell. We universalists believe his dealings with us are not finished at death and that ultimately these women and children... and even the men who were the warriors......will all eventually be reconciled to God.

This article puts a different slant on where the responsibility for the Old Testament atrocities lies. Of course, God is ultimately responsible for everything since he has the ultimate veto power but God's words in scripture (taken from the point of view of this article) reflect more of a desire for Israel’s enemies to leave….that it was more in the spirit of a deportation rather than a slaughter. The atrocities originated in the heart of man, not the heart of God.

It seems I have a lot more to say about this article and this topic, but since this post is already way too long, I will save it for another time. In the meantime, take a look at the article and the website. Interesting......

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hebrews 9:22

On Beautiful Heresy the subject of sacrifice was recently discussed. Someone brought up Hebrews 9:22. I have some articles saved in my favorites that deal with this verse. I was looking through a few the other night (ala google). There were some that discussed Girard's view of Hebrews. In one of his books (Things Hidden, I think) he pretty much excluded Hebrews as a valid book in scripture because it seemed to condone rather than dismiss the sacrificial system. He also thought that it was the only book in the Bible that did not expose mimetic violence and the resulting sacrifice of a scapegoat. He has since reversed that opinion. There were several articles written which explained Hebrews from a non-sacrificial point of view. I was too tired to delve into them. You know...when you read the words but none of them light in the brain?? As to Hebrews 9:22, yes....I have wondered about it. I find something curious about the verse but I have not figured out the significance of it yet. In most of the translations it emphasizes that it is the law...according to the law, under the law, the law requires the shedding of blood.

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. KJV

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

ESV and the NASB translates it in a really interesting way:

And according to the Law, {one may} almost {say,} all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

When I looked up the meaning of the word translated as "law" in the verse in the original languages I found the following meanings.

anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command

a) of any law whatsoever

1) a law or rule producing a state approved of God a) by the observance of which is approved of God

2) a precept or injunction

3) the rule of action prescribed by reason

b) of the Mosaic law, and referring, acc. to the context. either to the volume of the law or to its contents

c) the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love

d) the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the OT

Hmmmm......phrases that stick out to me are

"of any law whatsoever" whose law? Man's law or God's law?

"anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command anything established"? By who?

"anything received by usage"? From who? A custom? Whose custom?

"A law, a command"? Again, whose law, whose command?

"a precept or injunction" originating from where?

"the rule of action prescribed by reason? Whose reason?

His ways are above our ways...his thoughts above our the sacrificial system was prescribed by whose reason? Man's or God's??? These are all just things I am musing about. So many things to muse, so little time in which to do it!!! Feel like I am on spiritual overload sometimes....mulling over these things in my mind... These definitions, of course, are only part of the meaning of the word as used in scripture but I think they should give us pause....especially when we consider some of the other verses that clearly tell us God abhorred the sacrificial system....and that he did not command it or desire it.....but rather desired "Mercy Not Sacrifice"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Voice of the Good Shepherd from God Quest

God Quest is a site I highly recomend for those who want to see God "outside the box" that most of Christianity has tried to cram him into. I came upon this rather eclectic site over a year ago. It probably turned up on google when I was searching for my hot button topics (free will vs. sovereignty, suffering and the atonement) I have downloaded and read (at least once) most of the writings in the essay section and have since exchanged a few emails with the owner.

The Voice of the Good Shepherd and A Grand Experiment are probably my favorites. They both are similar in subject matter but I will focus mainly on The Voice of the Good Shepherd. I've recently reread (and reread again) The Voice of the Good Shepherd. The premise of both of these two articles is that there are two voices running throughout the OT. One is the true God....the other is the voice of the "destroyer" (satan) who has been given the power to impersonate the real God in this world. Both articles discuss two similar situations that involve Elijah and Moses......when God passed by them and allowed them to (really) "see" him. The author gives other examples where he sees evidence of the actions of "another" (false ) god.

The idea that there are voices of two different gods heard in the Old Testament is really not that far fetched. Is there anyone who has NOT wondered about the stark differences between the God of the OT and the God we see depicted in Jesus. I heard it said once that it seemed as if God "got saved" somewhere between Malachi and Matthew. Even today in the church system there are sincere believers who seem to hear the voice of a different God. The article presents the viewpoint that one voice depicts the "true" God.....the savior of all, condemner of none. The other voice is the one we learn to discern only through the holy spirit.....and realize that it is NOT the voice of the true spirit of God. Without delving into the sovereignty issue.....and with the assumption that God is in charge of everything whether he allows it or causes it.......part of the purpose is for us to learn to discern the true nature of God....shown to us in Jesus......under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

I randomly went through the Strong's meanings for some of the Hebrew words that are translated God....Lord in the OT. (It was very random.....and focused mainly on several verses in Exodus that were mentioned in the one article) It was interesting that one of the words (elohiym sp?) can be traced the singular form of a plural word that has "false god" as one of it's definitions.......back farther to an unused root word meaning (among other things) "to twist". Not enough to base a theology on for sure but enough to pique my interest. I know how the names of God reveal the nature he is trying to demonstrate yet could the names not also reveal a nature that is not "his" (although he is responsible for what this entity/being/god does)? Following is a quote from the article:

Running through the sacred literature of the three monotheistic world religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the voice of two “gods” may be heard. In what Christians call the “Old Testament”, the good God was identified as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” In the book of Job, a second ruling spirit-being is identified, called Satan. The two gods (or “Lords”) converse and transact in the first two chapters of the book. The origin of this second “god” is further stated in Isaiah 14, called “Lucifer.” He is further identified in Ezekiel 28. An examination of these chapters reveals that the good God by sovereign decree has legitimated the worldly rule of Satan. He is free to impersonate the true God (do things in his name) and free to “deceive the nations.” Satan is a “minister” of the good God and subject to Him, for God is sovereign over all. Satan is the instrument by which the true God has “committed all humans to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all” (Romans 11:32). When the devil (also called, the tempter) came to Jesus, he said to Him that he would give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory.” Though Jesus told Satan to “beat it!” Jesus did not deny that Satan indeed did have this kind of power to bestow.

As you can see in this quote it points out that Jesus never told Satan he did not have this power....just that he told him to get lost. This article blames the "god of this world" for many of the OT atrocities, the sacrificial system, the Law etc. Not that the true God is just sitting back ringing his hands saying "Whatever will I do" but that for some reason this realm was subjected to futility and he allows the destroyer to carry that out. However, it is important to him that we know his basic nature is incompatible with death and destruction because he clearly states that "he created the destroyer to destroy". Both articles are very interesting...and there are quite a few other articles on the site (many written by the site owner) that offer a unique, makes you think, perspective. I exchanged a few emails with the author/owner of the website. And since this the post is already too long, I will add a few other snippets from the article....and bring this to a close.

There are many abusive and cruel things recorded in the Bible done in God’s name that certainly were not done in his nature and were therefore not directly of the true God, though allowed by Him. Jesus said it is possible to discern between these two personalities by “their fruits.” Discerned through the eyes of faith, there are certain things that the true God will and will not do. The object of our faith is God himself, his character, nature and personality, not necessarily that which was recorded as being done in his name. If we cannot bank our all on God’s personality and His reputation for doing only good—then we are left with nothing to bank on at all! The litmus test to determine which “Lord” is speaking one need only think of Jesus: would Jesus do the thing?

It is a thought provoking article with much to think about. You really should visit the site and take a look.....

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More about Prayer

I came across the following quote in the hospital's newsletter:
The end of prayer is not to win concessions from Almighty Power but to have communion with Almighty Love. Percy C. Ainsworth

Then this morning there was a post on EU from daniel. It was a reply to a rather long thread on prayer. His thoughts really blessed me:

However it looks, I get the same feeling quite often. It seems easier to pray for others. For myself the most appropriate prayer always seems to be "Your will be done." Yet what petitionary prayer for anyone and everyone could be better? "Your Will be done" is surely the never-failing prayer. I have similar feelings with the beloved 23rd Psalm as a prayer. Once thought turns to the fullness of the very first verse, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want," what more need be said? The Shepherd is all we need.

Nevertheless, prayer is the soul's sincere desire, just as the old hymn proclaims. God already knows our wants and needs, and surely searches our hearts however we outwardly pray. If Grace and Love be true, surely every cry for help is met with Divine Love. The problem for us might be that if we keep on crying for help without taking the time to rest in the Silence and listen, we might not hear the answer.

I love the story of a mother who heard her little daughter one evening softly repeating the alphabet. When she asked what she was doing, the little girl said, "I'm praying." "Why honey, you're just saying your ABC's." "Well, I don't really know what to say, so I just say the letters and let God put them together in the right way."

Now I lay me down to sleep,
A B C D E F G....

Thanks, daniel....

Seeing double?

On John Frye’s blog Jesus the Radical Pastor, there was a a four part series of posts inspired by Scott McNight (of The Jesus Creed website ) and his latest book…. A Community Called Atonement. I haven’t read the book (or any of the other books this author has written) but the blog series about the book was really interesting. Another post on the blog was called Jesus: Do You See Who I See?

In it he talked about stereopticons.....where each eye sees a different image (in the "natural"an example would be the equipment the eye doctor uses to check your eyes...those huge lenses) but only one image registers in your brain. Because of your cultural and historical prejudices you do not see the other image. The example given...a group of Latin Americans and US Americans were shown two images simultaneously...a bullfighter and a baseball player. One image in each eye. The Latin Americans "saw" the image of the bullfighter, while the US Americans saw the image of the baseball player. There are huge spiritual similarities that can be drawn using this example, don't you think?? Anyway, the author of this blog goes on to give a spiritual example. Anyone know anybody that fits this description? Actually I think we all know a bunch of people who fit this description.....
Perhaps....not in quite the same way....I am one of these people......Nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

A contingent of evangelicals (decreasing monthly I hope) are still holding to "the myth of objectivity." They seem to think and speak and write as if they are above the fray and are not at all culturally-conditioned. In the ghetto of their minds they find safe haven. As far as they are concerned, they come to the Bible with pure, uncluttered, unconditioned, unbiased, untainted minds. Thus, their pronouncements have the tone and inviability of bomb-proof certainty. You get the feeling that not only is the Bible inerrant, but each of their statements are, too. How can they be wrong since they are so "objective"? They, and they alone, have "the biblical position" on whatever the topic is at hand. They are clueless to the condescending arrogance they project. Nit-picking sawdust out of others' eyes as they haul logs in their own. It's silly really.

That reminds me of the well known saying “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Yeah right.
It wasn't until I googled it that I realized my great uncle used to have a collection of antique steroptiscopes along with the special pictures you viewed in them. Quaint...but I think I prefer U-Tube :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Sins of the Father

So what do we do about the crappy parenting skills that have been handed down to us? Are we destined to repeat the patterns of our parents simply because we don't know any other way? That question came up in class and right about the same time it came up on EU too in a series of posts titled "another report on Jena." It was afollow up post about the Jena 6 and was a discussion about how racism is passed down. It turned into more of an overall discussion on how we learn to parent from our parents...and how we tend to emulate the way they parented us. Even if we hated the way they did it...and vowed we would never follow in their footsteps, oftentimes we find ourselves trapped in the same patterns of behavior. That is the cycle of abuse. Abusers were abused. We repeat what we know simply because we do not know any better. But many have escaped that trap and gone on to find healthier ways to parent.

On EU one poster said:
"i've had some unfair things happen in my life. i consider it the ultimate revenge, the ultimate "up yours!" to satan to do all i can to make certain that others do not experience the same unfairness."

Another poster said:

my mother was a violent, unloving, drunk, and like you, i determined i would do it differently...and sometimes it was hard. to learn to touch in love when you have not been touched in that way doesn't come naturally you have to prompt yourself every day. so many things i did/read/discussed with my kids because i "wished" someone had taken the time with me.

She went on to say:
eventually it became a part of me, this touching and loving and supportive, talking person that i really wasn't when i first had bethany put into my arms at age 22. so even if it doesn't come naturally to a person, they can purpose to change the course of that downward roll life sometimes has and stand and say, not with me it won't.

In the parenting group, the leader mentioned that she had a friend who came from a very, very dysfunctional family. She said her friend would often call her simply to ask if something she was thinking of doing...of letting her kids do or not do....was "normal." She had nothing to base "normal" on. Another women in the group mentioned that everyone in her family were heavy drinkers. ANY occasion was an occasion to drink and party. She said she had to consistently seek the Lord for his will, saying, "Lord, I know that I've been taught this is okay, but do YOU say it's okay?"

As far as my own life, my family pretty much provided an example on how NOT to do it. There was neglect akin to abuse. There was alcoholism, drug abuse, promiscuity. You name it, it was there....and in my late teens and early adult years, I repeated the pattern. Since I have had my own kids, I do things very, very differently than my parents did. My first husband and I eventually divorced, but it was nothing like the embittered, mean spirited fiasco that went on when my own parents divorced. My sister and I were the weapon of choice for my mother. It had life long repurcussions....leading, I think to the really mixed up life my sister led and a lifestyle that contributed to her death at age forty from lung cancer. It is simply by the grace of God that I have done better with my own kids.

We have weathered (and are now weathering) some pretty serious circumstances. Truly, I do not know what to do....but God is faithful and he is paving the way for me to take one step at a make the next step. Once step at a time. Peering at circumstance through the lens of my growing up years, it is hard to discern the "right" thing to do when so many areas are gray and my upbringing is such a shaky base to use as a benchmark. I have had to ignore advice even though it sounded right because it did not "feel" right. I am trusting the holy spirit to lead me through the I don't pass on those "sins of the father" to my kids.