Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whisperings Out of the Dust....

I have a series planned in my head on the carnal/natural/spiritual man. A comparison of...pondering about....musing over. I've read some stuff, saved some stuff, thought about some stuff. Eventually it may come to fruition.

Hmmmmm....a series planned. Whenever I talk about writing "a series" the term hoity-toity comes to mind. Seriously and truthfully, I have an unknown number of series popping around in my head at any given time. I've devised a way to keep track of them....a somewhat meticulous, detailed multi-step process in keeping with those anal retentive tendencies I seem to have.

But, more often than not, deciding what to write about on any given day is a process akin to picking the winning numbers in the lottery. Whatever ball (idea) I happen to grab is what I write about.

So anyway...I think Preston Eby nails it as far as a Biblical description of the carnal man.....or as Eckhart would refer to it...the egoic mind. The following excerpt from Eby's The Heavens Declare Series...Number 18:

In Genesis 3: 1 we read, "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" The word serpent in our language comes from the Latin "serpo" meaning "to creep," but the Hebrew term has no relation to the form or motion of any external attribute of a serpent The word used here for serpent is the Hebrew word NACHASH which is a primitive root meaning "to hiss or whisper." It, furthermore, means "to search or scrutinize closely, to find out by experiment, to practice divination, augury, incantation or enchantment." According to Webster incantation means "the chanting of special words or a formula in magic spells or rites," Incantation may speak in addition of hypnotism. The Serpent, then, is a HISSER, a WHISPERER, a DIVINER, an EXPERIMENTER, an ENCHANTER, a MAGICIAN, and a HYPNOTIST! And, I might add, so is the carnal mind!

The old adage, If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably IS a duck fits here. To my way of thinking

carnal mind = egoic mind

Same as, either or. Many of the things Tolle points out about the ego and its tricky ways are mirrored in Eby's studies. I like the way Eby brings out the nuances of the words in the original languages of scripture. Layer upon layer of truth has been buried in the Bible. Those who take it literally miss the whole point!!! Whether they be atheists who use the literal interpretation to "disprove" the Bible's authenticity or fundamentalists who defend its inerrancy to the point of downright silliness...they are both great examples of the egoic/carnal mind at work.

So anyway, he goes on to say:

In Isaiah 8: 19 the Holy Spirit has recorded for our learning a most significant exhortation. "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead?" The same inspired prophet penned a prophecy concerning Jerusalem under the prophetic term "Ariel," saying, "Thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be. . . out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust" (Isa. 29: 4). Here we read of spirits that "peep and mutter," which speak "out of the ground" and "whisper out of the dust." Is this not reminiscent of the Serpent in Eden, the hisser and whisperer, calling to Eve and speaking hypnotically from the dust realm?

Whisperings out of the dust — there is something sinister in the thought, but beyond the evil that is suggested, there is also the thought of subtle suggestion — a whispered temptation — something so subtle one could wonder from whence it comes, a word so low and so whispered as to be almost imperceptible —or is it a thought, a desire, a command from an inner nature These whisperings ARISE FROM THE DUST OF THE CARNAL MIND, OUT OF THE GROUND OF THE ADAM NATURE where lies the Serpent! It is significant to note that "the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made" (Gen. 3: 1). The contrast is drawn between theGarden and the field Adam lived and walked in the Garden, and his responsibility was to "dress and keep it." Garden is from the Hebrew GAN, meaning a fenced or protected area. It was, furthermore, cultivated and tended. Field is from the Hebrew SADEH, indicating that which is spread out; flat land; wild farm or wilderness. The field where the Serpent dwelt was an unfenced and uncultivated area. This field bespeaks of the mind of the flesh — the unbroken, unharnessed, unbridled, untended, unplowed, unprocessed, undisciplined, unprotected sphere from whence the Serpent "whispered out of the dust" — the subtle voice whispering enticingly from the unexplored wild lands of the FLESH! This whisper, this tantalizing hiss is communicated through the thoughts, reasoning, desires, passions, plans, hopes, fantasies and cravings of the CARNAL MIND! In the first age of Adam's creation, God used the Serpent to reveal what lay dormant, undiscovered and uncultivated within man's innermost being — a CUNNING NATURE — EGO — SELFHOOD independent of God. If by the grace of God you can see the truth of this, you will then plainly discern in all the propensities of the carnal mind the CREEPING, SLITHERING, WHISPERING, DIVINING, ENCHANTING, HYPNOTIZING SERPENT OF EDEN!

More on this...tomorrow.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ray Prinzing and The Shack....

I came upon the following quote on one of the many...(too many?) blogs I have stashed away at Bloglines.  The name of the blog is Baxter's Ongoing Thoughts.  The post was entitled "Two Gods." 

Since Christmas I have been working around the clock on a book on The Shack. For the next stretch I will be posting some of the material I am working on. By now, The Shack has probably become the best selling book in history, apart from the Bible, or at least it is close to it. Well over 11 million copies have been sold in about 30 languages. At least ten more translations are in the works. The wild, global popularity of The Shack in itself tells me that there is serious spiritual hunger in people’s hearts. I hope and pray it is a sign of the passing of the Augustinian captivity of the Church. Perhaps I am too critical of Augustine, but he is the Father of Western Christianity, and that version has handed down the deadly quagmire of deism, legalism and rationalism—the unholy trinity of the Latin West.

So much has been written on The Shack (pro and con) but I think the vast popularity of the book speaks for itself.  The world is desperate for the God portrayed within the pages of The Shack.  Listen up, world!!  Good news!!!  Great news!!!  He is that God!!  The Good News of the Gospel...if you've seen me, you've seen the Father!!  Hooray.  But...I digress. 

Upon reading this blog post, it reminded me of a post of my own that I started to write a while back comparing a point of theology between a quote from The Shack and a quote from kingdom minister of yesteryear...Ray Prinzing. 

It touches on the total sovereignty issue....a horse I've beaten to death in my mind many times!!  I am dredging my post from the queue....

On EU there was a recent thread called Salt and Peace.  It was a long thread...and honestly, I only had a chance to skim over some of the posts. The topic?  The problem of evil. Exactly what is evil?  Where does it come from? When we deem something evil are we eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?  How about when we deem something good?  Same tree?

Some of the posters seemed to look at evil as an illusion.  That really doesn't work for me.  I look around me and I see evil in the world.  If it is an oh man, is it ever convincing!!

Does evil come from the hand of God?  Great minds have pondered THAT question down through the ages.  So following are two of the many things that have been said and written about the POE.  The Problem of Evil.  

Are these two unlikely folks ("Papa" from The Shack) and Ray Prinzing expressing similar thoughts?

The Shack:

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.” 


Ray Prinzing:

So, what about the evil we suffer?  Did God cause this?  Certainly not in the sense that He would speak a word into a man, saying, "rape this child." Absolutely not! We will not "charge God foolishly." (Job 1:22).  However, as Creator, HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS CREATION, so the ultimate charge is laid at His feet. 

If He allowed it, in a sense He is responsible for it.  He has, however, given man a limited amount of freedom for self-expression, and it was out of this evilness in the wicked heart of man that the deed was wrought.  An example: you have a man with a dog on a leash, and the dog bites a child.  The man did not deliberately bite the child himself, nor did he command the dog to do so, yet, because the man held the leash, we lay the ultimate charge on him.  Satan is the dog on God's leash.  God has the power to control him, yet He allows the adversary to cause much havoc.  So what is the answer?  Look past the dog, look past the leash, and SEE THE HAND OF GOD IN ULTIMATE CONTROL!

Prinzing's message is usually total sovereignty but he back pedals a bit here when asked flat out by a woman who was repeatedly sexually abused during her childhood.  Did God plan it or not? 

More fodder to ponder on this issue that used to haunt me, hound me, torment me. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Get the hell out of my church...."

Another uplifting video from our bud, the Baptist preacher (Steven L Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona)This one is short and to the point.  This guy is shouting about how Barack Obama is a devil.  Someone from the congregation says something in opposition (can't quite make out what he says) and the preacher gets really pissy then.  "If you don't like to hear the truth then......get the hell out of my church!"  Emphasis of course on the word MY.  And don't let the door hit you on your way out...

Geez....If I had been the heckler, I think I would have made my exit with the utmost haste...with little chance of the door whacking my "hinder parts"....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On ALL People....

Dena posted an article this morning on EU. Adam, Eve, Original Sin and Mythology. It is written by Dennis Diehl and focuses on how a literal interpretation of the Creation Story(s) in Genesis promote a patriarchal society/ religion/ mind set. Thus there are laws and rules and total unpleasantries (especially for women) that are required to keep that system in place and running smoothly.

I have never really given a lot of thought to misogyny...the disdain for women....or its sister, gynophobia...the fear of women. I know this is very real and that in many parts of the world women are abused, mistreated, tortured and killed at the hands of men. Honor killings etc. I am not making light of any of this, however it is not the focus of this post.

When I am reading something, quotes jump out at me, and get the creaky wheels in the noggin' moving in a direction not necessarily related to the gist of what I am reading. Several phrases caught my attention this morning as I read this but for the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on one of them....

This is what literalist Christianity does to people. Literalist, Patriarchal Christianity thrives on division. If it has no enemy, it has no purpose or motivation. There can be no "we only" without a "not them". There can be no "chosen" without the "unchosen" . There can be no "converted" without "the unconverted". And certainly no "true church" without the "false church". about the classic trick of the egoic mind. It is strengthened by finding an "other." Its concept of "me" is bolstered when it forms the concept of "you." And it works so much better when the "me" can find a reason to make the "you" an enemy. in evangelical, right wing Christianity (the kind we hear in the rhetoric of Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, James Dobson) is exclusionary and always, always has an "other." It needs an enemy to rail against...someone/something to damn to hell. Muslims, left wing Democrats, homosexuals.

Evangelical, right wing Christians are the guys holding the rocks...while Jesus, their namesake, their "reason for the season"...the one whom their religion is supposedly all about...well, he's the one squatting down, writing in the sand saying those who have no sin should be the ones to make that first pitch.

Jacques Ellul said people try to take possession of God. Christians especially try to take possession of God. But he refuses to be confined in the box they keep trying to stuff him into. God loves all of his children.

Do you really think, as some have argued, that God will be saying: "You know, that guy, the Dalai Lama, is not bad. What a pity he's not a Christian"? I don't think that is the case — because, you see, God is not a Christian. —Desmond Tutu

The following photo from Loci Lena's photo stream on Flickr fits well with the musings in this post. It is part of an extensive collection of stained glass photos that you really should take a few minutes to check out.

God said he would pour out his spirit upon all people. And he is doing just that....whether we like it or not.

I will pour out my flesh Loci Lenar flickr

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

"He That Pisseth Against a Wall...."

I followed a link this morning to a total joke of a sermon...that is, sadly, not meant to be a joke. It is not a parody. Using the 6 verses in the Bible that refer to a man as one who "pisseth against a wall," this Baptist preacher goes on and on about what it means to be a "man." The problem with this country is that too many men don't pee standing up like men are supposed to. You know...those translators of the NIV, the New King James...those guys who take out words like hell and judgement etc....well, they all pee sitting down.  Nobody wants to hear the word of God anymore.  It's not, real men don't eat quiche, anymore.  It's not even Real Men Don't Apologize anymore.  (compliments of Jim Belushi) No...the real truth...the Biblical truth is that a real man does not pee sitting down.  He "pisseth against a wall" or in other words, he pees standing up. 

Nevermind that these verses in the Bible talk about killing these in

1 Kings 16:11  And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, [that] he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.


1 Samuel 25:22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that [pertain] to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

as those sissies at the NIV say:

May God deal with David,* be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”

It seems these macho guys all end up dead...which brings to mind the verse that declares "those who live by the sword, die by the sword."  That thought would require a whole other post to muse about. 

So anyway...below is the video.  It is less than 5 minutes long. 

And for a more secular, quite humorous look at this issue check THIS out

And tomorrow...another joke of a sermon from You Tube.  Again not parody...proving once more that truth is stranger than fiction. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

That You Might Have Life....

I've oft mentioned Lynn Hiles on this blog. He preaches the "finished work of the cross" and his message has impacted me greatly through the years. I was introduced to his ministry by my husband, Keith who has followed his ministry for quite a few years. We've gone to the conference at his home church in Berkley Springs, WVA three or four years in a row. For the past month or so, Lynn has hosted a half hour TV show, "That You Might Have Life." This week's guest was Justin Phillips, a pastor from Lake City, Tennessee. I've heard him preach quite a few times...and during a conference we attended at Joyline Ministries in Patton PA where he was the featured speaker, I saw one of the most touching moments that I've ever witnessed as he "spoke a word" over someone. Check out this week's its entirety HERE. And remember...God's not mad at you :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pituitary? Pineal?

In a recent post, I quoted from Anne Lamott's book, Traveling Mercies. In the excerpt, she talked about Jesus visiting her one night during a frightening, traumatic (self induced) situation. He was most definitely an unwanted guest because even though, at that point in her life, she believed in God, becoming a Christian was out of the question. Her view of being a Christian? What a totally hokey thing to do...perhaps THE hokiest thing one could ever do. So she willed him to leave and tightly "squinched" her eyes shut so she could not see him. BUT...that didn't help because her eyes were not "what she was seeing him with." That is the profound snippet I mentioned in a recent post in the assemblage of posts pertaining to conversion stories.

The snippet begs the question...So what do we "see" Jesus with anyway? For sure not our physical "jeepers, creepers, where'd you get those peepers." We "see" him with some kind of inner eye. An eye whose vision most of the time...for most of us... seems cloudy and unclear....out of focus? Following are the lyrics to one of Charlotte Torango's songs, which I happened upon while leafing through their song book at a conference at Galen Winebrener's church. My first reading of the lyrics produced the highly spiritual thought of...."huh?"

Hermetically sealed this people now be
The lid is shut tight so no carnality
Can ever again seep in to cause pain
This light I have sealed within your own brain
The pituitary gland is now harmless to thee
A spiritual eye is now open you'll see
If you can believe I'll leave you just light
Hermetically sealed away from night

The line about the pituitary gland stumped me. I pondered it quite a bit...mulled it over...talked to Keith about it...asked my buds on EU. The best answers came from Gary Sigler's Heart to Heart Message Board. Let me quote some of them below.

From shonda:

the pituitary gland is the seat of the ego.....
it hides/guards the pineal gland lying below over a gulf....

the pituitary is protected by a bony structure....
and is thought to control homeostasis....the control of everything human!
well being as well as poor being...while the pineal is the JUST BEING.

Hear that these words bear witness to the Awakening within US....
So we no longer walk in flesh...but walk after the Spirit...Christ Within US!
See the pituitary gland is where the voice of the deceiver dwells...speaking lies to we not know that we are the Sons of the LIVING GOD...and there IS NO OTHER

Cindi you can go to Wikipedia and look up the physical/scientific words for Pituitary Gland...but they are only a shadow or pattern in the wilderness...
It is a Holy Place to stand there.....
the last place that exist within before we leap ov'r the gulf...
inside the hidden gland called pineal...God was in THIS place (within us human thinking body) and I did NOT KNOW IT!

And from Barbara Symons:

Pituitary governs the physical body - Pineal governs the spiritual body

And from summerland


i retrieved the above addy from my is a comprehensive study of the pineal gland and what Jesus himself said about it, along with other information that I found fascinating ever since I read Genesis 32:30 and my interest was sparked by Jacob's name for where he had his dream...peneul (pineal)...seeing God face to face...

So what Charlotte Torango was saying in the lyrics of her song was that we need not be weighted down to the pituitary gland...the lead anchor that docks us to the flesh nature (ego, carnal, adamic nature) but that we can live out of the pineal gland...the center of all things spiritual.

Come to think of it...I wrote about some of this stuff a while back, spurred on by a quote from Frank Laubach. I wrote several posts about Frank, an extraordinary missionary, visionary....child of God, mover and doer, maker and shaker, humanitarian. If you are interested you can heck out the whole slew of them...HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE (links not necessarily in chronological order. I wrote a lot about this guy!!! And I was quite taken by the fact that even though he was a modern day mystic, he was not the least bit airy fairy and accomplished great feats in this physical realm) The post about Laubach with the quote that intrigued me told about a vision in which the Lord came to him and invited him up to the next level of relationship. The name of the post was The Vision. (catchy title, eh?)

In the early 1950's, at age 70, Laubach had a vision of God and Christ together in a long room. Christ showed him how to deepen his minute by minute attunement by focusing deeply at the point between the eyebrows. Jesus spoke to him, saying it was time for him to take "a long stride toward becoming a full grown son of God"

"Your game with the minutes, " He said, was in the right direction, but tonight you are going beyond that game into the game with moments. To be fully grown means to spend your life, day and night, with the door wide open into the secret audience room with us."

"The audience room, " He explained, "is in front of your head. When you wish to consult us, lift up your eyes a little and there we are, not beyond the stars but just over your own eyes."

This post is getting a bit long so I feel compelled to say....more to follow.....

Religious Unity...1

Retrieving a post from the queue...somewhat unrelated by not exactly since it also quotes Anne Lamott....but about a bit of a different topic.....but that ties in sort of in a round about way that I will point out tomorrow's post.

As I try to sort out exactly what it is I believe (like that is ever going to happen) and how the "Christian World View" fits with an all inclusive God, I often remind myself of the little conversation Jesus had with Peter. You know...when Peter, upon hearing what would be required of him in his walk of faith, points to John and says..."hey...what about him?" And Jesus pretty much said...MYOB. "YOU follow me." Perhaps that is what I have been called to do...mind my own business. Ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within me....but not to push my calling on my brothers and sisters.

I, as in me, myself and I...have been called to follow Jesus. I read a Christianity Today interview with Anne Lamott not long ago. In the interview, when questioned about her universalist leanings, she said:

“Only Jesus has come to me, and I experience God's love in an immediate and personal way through his companionship."

(And by the way….she is a universalist. In the interview she says:

Some people have been too starving, attacked, hated, or full of hate to experience God's love," she says. "Sometimes I think God loves the ones who most desperately ache and are most desperately lost—his or her wildest, most messed-up children—the way you'd ache and love a screwed-up rebel daughter in juvenile hall. A 5-year-old girl or her mother in the mountains of Afghanistan, a junkie in L.A., Mother Teresa, you, me, children in Gaza—God created us all and loves us and brings us home, into what may be the first shalom we have ever had the chance to experience."


Those in other countries and cultures "feel Divine Love come to them through more local teachings, through other expressions of that love."

So anyway…Anne, me too. Only Jesus has come to me. I have not had any kind of personal experience with Buddha or Krishna or any of the other “faces of God” down through the ages. I have read stuff from other faiths and damn if I don’t hear the voice of God…yes…even the voice of Jesus in some of those texts…but not in the same way…to the same extent… that I hear his voice in the Gospels. But….

It is not my place to decide...dictate or debate the calling that has been placed on the heart of another. I know this does not fit with fundamentalist Christianity at all. Their view is that they have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is their duty of push the truth as they know it on look for opportunities, to make up cram their truth down the throat of any and all who do not know their Jesus. Forget this "taste and see if it is good" stuff. It is a fistfull down the throat.

Fortunately I am not a fundamentalist so I do not engage in their "duty of love", however I have been the recipient of that fistful of truth...crammed down my throat. I hate it. My grandparents (especially my grandmother) did it years ago...with forced Bible readings and forced prayer. I have also been cornered by other Christians down through the years with their attempts to make me believe their truths.

But the tricky thing about truths is that they change from one Christian denomination to another. The truth preached at a Pentcostal Church is way different than the truth preached at a Catholic church. Our beliefs become set in stone if we if we are convinced that our religion (and more myopic still…only our denomination) proclaims the whole truth and all of the truth...and the ONLY truth. Perhaps if we look at the bigger picture, we can see that there is a common thread running through most religions.

Via an article that annie posted on EU a while back, I found Stephen Knapp's website. There is quite a collection of writings on the site. E-books and a long list of interfaith articles with a focus on the Vedic path. Two articles, When Religions Create Divisions and How to Avoid It and Religious Unity: Why There Could be a One World Religion fit with the subject of this post. More on this to follow.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

“All right. You can come in.”

At the end of my last post, I quoted CS Lewis' as he told the tale of his conversion.

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.

**Warning** "F-bomb" alert!!!!

I recently read two of Anne Lamott's latest books. In Traveling Mercies, she tells the tale of her conversion. Like Lewis she was indeed reluctant...adamant, in fact, that it just wasn't happening. Like Lewis, her belief in God came first...then she met up with Jesus....

After a while, as I lay there, I became aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I had felt over the years when I was frightened and alone. The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light to make sure no one was there—of course there wasn't. But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him as surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this. And I was appalled. I thought about my life and my brilliant hilarious progressive friends, I thought about what everyone would think of me if I became a Christian, and it seemed an utterly impossible thing that simply could not be allowed to happen. I turned to the wall and said out loud,”I would rather die.”

I felt Him just sitting there on His haunches in the corner of my sleeping loft, watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, but that didn't help because that's not what I was seeing Him with.

Uh-huh...sure...okay. Apparently, at that point, she hadn't heard of "irresistible grace" ala Calvin. She hadn't heard the parable of the good shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep to find the wayward one, or the widow who tore her house apart to find the one lost coin or that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. And at the time she was lost indeed. The story above happened after she had complications following an abortion. She was still a drunk (a word she uses throughout the book to describe herself ) and was using drugs...and she made some really poor choices with men. But Jesus hounded her (you know, as in "the hound of heaven")...only she doesn't use a canine analogy but rather the the analogy of a feline...a little cat...that relentlessly follows you around, rubbing up against your legs, trying to get in, being a total pest. But she knew that the total pest who wouldn't go away...was Jesus.

I began to cry and left before the benediction and I raced home and felt the little cat running along at my heels, and I walked down the dock past dozens of potted flowers under a sky as blue as one of God's own dreams, and I opened the door to my houseboat, and I stood there a minute, and then I hung my head and said; “Fuck it, I quit.” I took a long deep breath and said out loud, “All right. You can come in.” God did not knock her off her donkey...nor did he blind her for a few days....but he did get her attention. And now she is a unique and delightful part of the body of Christ...touching many with her down to earth, irreverent essays that reveal a heart in love with Jesus and offer the reader profound snippets of spiritual truths. At some point, I plan to write a series of posts about some of those snippets. In fact, there is a snippet in one of her quotes right in this post that I find profound. As I reread this post....with the intent of editing out redundant ramblings and unnecessary phrases, alas, I ended up ADDING TO rather SUBTRACTING FROM it. So much for succinct. BUT as I was "editing" I came up with a profound snippet of my own. Profound to me anyway. And so much for succinct!! More to come.....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Most Dejected and Reluctant Convert...

I have 15 minutes before I have to get in the shower and get ready for work. Ugh (and who am I kidding anyway....I always stretch the 15 minutes out to 20, 25...even 30...and then I am scrambling and running around....scolding myself for sitting here with my laptop...way too long.  But today...the peanut gallery...who was too sleepy to comment on Michel Quoist's writings in my last post, just might have a thing or two to say (My brain always works better in the am)

I see a common thread in these past few excerpts from the conversion stories of others.  Some of Quoist's thoughts seem to merge with the story of C.S. Lewis' conversion

I am afraid of saying “Yes,” Lord.
Where will you take me?
I am afraid of drawing the longer straw,
I am afraid of signing my name to an unread agreement,
I am afraid of the “yes” that entails other “yeses.”
And yet I am not at peace.

Oh yeah' I can so relate. I will never be the one at the front of the class, waving my arm wildly back and forth....."Here I am Lord. Send me!!!!" Nope...that's me.....back there in the last row, eyes down, hoping to remain unnoticed and for goodness sake's "uncalled on." But alas, not only in circumstances surrounding our conversion, but also in our day to day walk God pursues us.  He could aptly be described as a nag.  I also get the "not at peace" part. 

You pursue me, Lord, you besiege me.
I seek out the din for fear of hearing you, but in a moment of silence you slip through.
I turn from the road,
for I have caught sight of you,
but at the end of the path
you are there awaiting me.
Where shall I hide?
I meet you everywhere.
Is it then impossible
to escape you?

Ahhhhhh...yeah. Impossible is a good word.  C.S. Lewis says it this way:

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — 'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises', as Herbert say, 'fine nets and stratagems'. God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous".

Quoist continues with the same thought....

I am hemmed in, yet I hide.
I am captured, yet I struggle,
and I fight
knowing that I am defeated.
For you are the stronger, Lord,
you own the world
and you take it from me.

And he can do that, dammit.  David declares...and Paul echos the sentiment....that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof"....."the world and they that dwell therein."  So it is actually his to give...or take. I don't like that one bit by the way, but without a relationship with him...everything seems empty...

Everything seems empty,
Everything seems hollow,
You have made a desert around me.
I am hungry and thirsty,
And the whole world
cannot satisfy me.

Vanity, vanity, it's all vanity.  Only God can plug up that god shaped hole in our hearts....and seal it so tightly that the drafts of discontent can not blow through the cracks. 

Lewis goes on to say...

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.

Yep, he will do whatever it takes to win us over.  The most dejected and reluctant convert?  Hardly.  Tomorrow another conversion story.  Anne Lamott's rather irreverent tale of how she bowed her knee and conceded that "Jesus Christ is Lord."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More from Michel Quoist

Okay...where did the weekend go?  It slipped away from me...and I am yawning, and tomorrow is the start of another without further ado, I will let Michel Quoist write today's post....without much input from the peanut gallery.

If we knew how to listen to God, we would hear him speaking to us. For God does speak. He speaks in his Gospels. He also speaks through life--that new gospel to which we ourselves add a page each day. But we are rarely open to God's message, because our faith is too weak and our life too earthbound. To help us listen, at the beginning of our new intimacy with Christ, let us imagine what he would say if he himself interpreted his Gospels for the men of our day.

Michael Quoist

When I read this, I thought of the story about the disciples on the road to Emmaus....

Luke 24:27 Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him. MSG

      Previous File: jmRoadToEmaeus_1_10.psd
'Road To Emmaus' lightened

And another poem/prayer by Quoist....

Help me to say “Yes”

I am afraid of saying “Yes,” Lord.
Where will you take me?
I am afraid of drawing the longer straw,
I am afraid of signing my name to an unread agreement,
I am afraid of the “yes” that entails other “yeses.”
And yet I am not at peace.

You pursue me, Lord, you besiege me.
I seek out the din for fear of hearing you, but in a moment of silence you slip through.
I turn from the road,
for I have caught sight of you,
but at the end of the path
you are there awaiting me.
Where shall I hide?
I meet you everywhere.
Is it then impossible
to escape you?

But I am afraid to say “Yes,” Lord.
I am afraid of putting my hand in yours,
for you hold on to it.
I am afraid of meeting your eyes, for you can win me.
I am afraid of your demands,
for you are a jealous God.

I am hemmed in, yet I hide.
I am captured, yet I struggle,
and I fight
knowing that I am defeated.
For you are the stronger, Lord,
you own the world
and you take it from me.

When I stretch out my hand
to catch hold of people and things, they vanish before my eyes.

It’s no fun, Lord,
I can’t keep anything for myself.
The flower I pick
fades in my hands.
My laugh freezes on my lips.
The waltz I dance leaves me restless and uneasy.

Everything seems empty,
Everything seems hollow,
You have made a desert around me.
I am hungry and thirsty,
And the whole world
cannot satisfy me.

O Lord, I am afraid of your demands,
but who can resist you?
That your Kingdom may come
and not mine,
That your will may be done
and not mine,
Help me to say “Yes.”
Michel Quoist: Prayers of Life

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lord You Have Seized Me.....

Another "I'll relentlessly and tirelessly hunt you down until I catch you" (thus saith the Lord) poem/prayer I came across was written by Michel Quoist.  He was a French priest who wrote several books of prayers and other books on living the Christian life (from a sort of priestly, Catholic perspective). One of his writings, Meet Christ and Live, is available online HERE.   I really like this prayer....


Lord, you have seized me, and I could not resist You.

I ran for a long time, but You followed me

I took bypaths, but you knew them

You overtook me

I struggled

You won...

When I stood there trembling like one defeated before his captor

Your look of love fell on me

The die is cast, Lord

I can no longer forget You

In a moment You seized me

In a moment You conquered me

My doubts were swept away

My fears dispelled

For I recognized You without seeing You

I felt You without touching You

I understood You without hearing You

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Late Have I Loved You....

The next few posts are going to be about know, as in, "when were you saved?"  With some of us, it was kind of a gradual thing. God snuck up on us. That is pretty much how it was with me.  He wormed his way into my heart ever so slowly...yet there was one defining moment when it all gelled.  I ran across the following quote by St. Augustine a few years ago.  It caught my attention because I, too, came to him late.  In my very early forties.

Everyone has probably heard the cliche' about the god shaped hole in our hearts that only he can fill.  Pascal referred to it as "an infinite abyss" that can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."

One advantage to having lived for years with that gaping hole is that the emptiness and hopelessness...the apathy and the vain, almost frantic attempts to plug it up with something...anything...can be easily recalled...and relived.  The stark contrast between then and now...before and after is not a distant memory.  The quote from Augustine follows:


I Came to You Late

I came to You late, O Beauty so ancient and new. I came to love You late. You were within me and I was outside where I rushed about wildly searching for You like some monster loose in Your beautiful world. You were with me but I was not with You. You called me, You shouted to me, You wrapped me in Your Splendour, You broke past my deafness, You bathed me in Your Light, You sent my blindness reeling. You gave out such a delightful fragrance and I drew it in and came breathing hard after You. I tasted, and it made me hunger and thirst; You touched me, and I burned to know Your Peace. St. Augustine of Hippo