Sunday, December 25, 2011

OH MY GOD, the movie....2

This afternoon, Keith and I watched the movie I mentioned in my last post.  Oh My God.  It was a documentary....just like it advertised itself to be.  I was intrigued by the far flung and diverse opinions of God expressed by the folks around the globe....from many walks of life.....believers of many different religions. It included the opinion of a devout fundamentalist evangelical Christian (Tim LaHaye) and the almost carbon copy, other side of the same coin.....devout fundamentalist kill the infidel Muslim (who both were quick to express their belief that anyone from another faith system...other than theirs, of course....were going straight to hell. 

Another part of the movie that intrigued/repulsed me was the sacrifice of a live goat....snapping the bones....skinning it.  Pretty much what you might have seen if you stepped back into the pages of the Old Testament when blood sacrifice was rampant.  The group was an African tribe...who had converted to Christianity but still believed sacrifices were necessary. 

It showed one particularly unlikely pair of friends walking hand in hand....arm in arm.  A rabbi and a Muslim cleric....outside of Palestine....where Jews and Muslims are not supposed to be friends. 

If you get a chance it's worth the 90 minutes it takes to watch the movie.  It doesn't give definitive answers...but stimulates questions that just might lead us a bit closer to our own answers to the question the movie revolved around....."what is God?"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh My God! the movie….

This morning on Facebook, someone posted a quote from "Oh My God," the feature length documentary by Peter Rodgers, The premise of the movie intrigued me. 

In every corner of the world, there’s one question that can never be definitively answered, yet stirs up equal parts passion, curiosity, self-reflection and often wild imagination: “What is God?”

Filmmaker Peter Rodger explores this profound, age-old query in the provocative non-fiction feature Oh My God. This visual odyssey travels the globe with a revealing lens examining the idea of God through the minds and eyes of various religions and cultures, everyday people, spiritual leaders and celebrities.

Keith checked to see if it was available on Netflix and indeed it was.  It should arrive sometime the end of the week, in time to watch on Christmas afternoon. Our Christmas Days are usually quiet....the kids head off to their dad's about noon and we eat leftover Chinese food and hang out.  Everybody has to have their traditions, afterall.

I will post a review of sorts after we watch the movie. It did not get very good reviews for content.  (although the photography is described as stunning) so we'll see.....

There is also a book called the "Oh My God Chronicles" written by Rodger.  There is an excerpt from the book to read PDF style on line.

He talks about his father, famed photojournalist George Rodger, known for his photographs of WWII that were published in Life Magazine.  He was with the British army when they liberated the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp on April 15, 1945.  His photographs were among the first "proof" of the atrocities committed by the Germans. Of the scene he witnessed, he says this....

Under the pine trees the scattered dead were lying, not in their twos or threes or dozens, but in their thousands.  The living tore ragged clothing from the corpses to build fires, over which they boiled pine needles and roots for soup.  Little children rested heads against the stinking corpses of their mothers, too nearly dead themselves to cry.  An emaciated man approached me.  "Look, Englishmen," he said.  "This is German culture." And he fell down dead in front of me.  Bodies with gaping wounds in the region of the kidneys, liver and heart testified to the cannibalism that had been resorted to, degradation begetting degradation.  

Which brings us back to the oft asked questions of theodicy....a question way beyond the scope of this post. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How the Light Enters and Shines….

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. –Rumi

I came upon the Rumi quote as I was stumbling here and there on  (where else) the internet this morning.  It reminded me of a devotional I saved from a book of devotionals by Joni Erickson Tada.  She talked about the light of Christ falling on the broken pieces, the shattered pieces of our lives....and how God can turn the shattered ruins into a kaleidoscope through which his light can shine.  I think it is majorly cool when two people as different as can be....from different eras and cultures and belief systems convey the same deep truth.  Joni said it this way.....

Shattered glass is full of a thousand different angles, each one picking up a ray of light and shooting it off in a thousand different directions. That doesn’t happen with plain glass, such as a jar. The glass must be broken into many pieces. What’s true of shattered glass is true of a broken life. Shattered dreams. A heart full of fissures. Hopes that are splintered. A life in pieces that appears to be ruined. But given time and prayer, such a person’s life can shine more brightly than if the brokenness had never happened. When the light of the Lord Jesus falls upon a shattered life, that believer’s hopes can be brightened.

Your life may be shattered by sorrow, pain, or sin, but God has in mind a kaleidoscope through which His light can shine more brilliantly.

Bonus quote:

With a closed mind and heart, the light cannot enter.

-Shelby Taylor Weaver

Monday, December 12, 2011

Time to dust off the Christmas letter again….

I’ve posted the following “letter from God to his children” the past few Christmases. I’m posting it again….spurred on by a visit to the AFA website where they are, once again, bravely defending Jesus in the ongoing Christmas Wars. Again. Another year.  SSDD. 

They are “naming names” of the merchants who don’t use the specific catch phrase for this time of year, the ONLY true north statement of the season. 

Merry. Christmas. 

OR…they don’t use it appropriately. 

OR…they don’t use it often enough. 

Happy Holidays doesn’t cut it.  Season’s Greetings….nope. 


Petsmart was named way back in October…yes….October because their advertising and their website set up seemed to slight Christmas.  They groveled sufficiently to warrant a move from the “Companies Against” to the “Companies For” Christmas list. 

Yes, they have a list.  

They have a button too….!!!

But I digress…..

And Walgreens was on the verge of the shit list….but they groveled too.

And so keeping with my annual tradition…along with reading the Christmas story in Luke (several times)…a story that always brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat….I am posting this annual letter from God to his children. 

I don’t know who authored this brilliant letter….but he certainly deserves a high five, a thumbs up and a wish for the “happiest of holidays.”

Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My Son's name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I didn't send my Son in December, it was some of your ancestors who decided to celebrate My Son's birthday at what was, in ancient times, a pagan festival; although, I do appreciate Jesus being remembered...anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate Jesus' birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My Son's birth, then make room on your lawn for the nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all my followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can remember me anytime you see a tree.

Instead of fusing over trimmings and traditions, consider giving My Son one of the gifts below this Christmas…

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George (Barack) complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone who's hurt you in the past, forgive them, and give them the gift of a future-free from the pain, shame, and guilt of yesterday's yuck.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. Be sensitive to the needs of others. A few cans of food or a simple gift can go along way towards good will on earth.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Please, if you love me, love my children-all of them, especially the ones that challenge your traditions. I'll take care of all the rest.

Invite others to a Christmas festival that has more to do with eternity than all the trimmings and traditions of December 25th.

"Merry Christmas!" means: "I love you." – God


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trust the Catcher – 2

And I came upon another quote I snipped somewhere, sometime that continues this train of thought.....

That Being, who gave me existence, and through almost threescore years has been continually showering his favors upon me, whose very chastisements have been blessings to me ; can I doubt that he loves me? And, if he loves me, can I doubt that he will go on to take care of me, not only here but hereafter? This to some may seem presumption ; to me it appears the best grounded hope ; hope of the future built on experience of the past. ~Benjamin Franklin

which reminds me of a verse from Isaiah that I used to use as my signature line….

Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4

Indeed he will….

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trust the Catcher….

I've been cleaning up some of my "database." Files, snippets, quotes, old emails....etc...scattered all over the on my computer, flash drives, Evernote, SpringPad, Zoho Notebook, AOL Mail and Windows Live Writer. (What can I say….I’ve tried a lot of note programs)  Sometimes when I go back through files, I find treasures I've forgotten about.  And snippets....far flung and diverse....seem to fit together.  You will see a few upcoming posts birthed because of this "spring" cleaning project.  Some, like this post, will rely mostly on words written by others....

There is a story told by Henri Nouwen in his book Our Greatest Gift: Meditations on Dying and Caring

"The Flying Rodleighs are trapeze artists who perform in the German circus Simoneit-Barum. When the circus came to Freiburg two years ago, my friends Franz and Reny invited me and my father to see the show. I will never forget how enraptured I became when I first saw the Rodleighs move through the air, flying and catching as elegant dancers.

The next day, I returned to the circus to see them again and introduced myself to them as one of their great fans. They invited me to attend their practice sessions, gave me free tickets, asked me to dinner, and suggested I travel with them for a week in the near future. I did, and we became good friends.

One day, I was sitting with Rodleigh, the leader of the troupe, in his caravan, talking about flying. He said, "As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher, The public might think that I am the greatest star of the trapeze, but the real star is Joe, my catcher. He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump."

    "How does it work?" I asked.

    "The secret," Rodleigh said, "is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything: when I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar."

    "You do nothing!" I said, surprised.

    "Nothing," Rodleigh repeated. "A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him."
    When Rodleigh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus flashed through my mind: "Father into your hands I commend my Spirit." Dying is trusting in the catcher. To care for the dying is to say, "Don't be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make your long jump. Don't try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust."

…..and the related snippet....from a very favorite author of mine...Max Lucado, in his book, When God Whispers Your Name.  He tells the story of a game he played with his five year old daughter...leaping from the bed into his arms.  I've seen versions of this game played in my own house....participants.... my own kids and their dad.  Jump from a high step......jump from the top of the refrigerator.  The leap was always accompanied by shouts and gleeful giggling.

They played a variation of this game sometimes.  He tossed them in the air...they soared to great heights. Way. Up. There.  There were a few close calls but he always caught them.  They loved it.  Me....not so much.

But I digress.

Max sums up how we can learn to have the faith of a little child in the trustworthiness of our Father's arms and be assured of His ability to always catch us.....


Part of the answer can be found in Sara’s little leaps of faith. Her older sister, Andrea, was in the room watching, and I asked Sara if she would jump to Andrea. Sara refused. I tried to convince her. She wouldn’t budge.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I only jump to big arms.”

If we think the arms are weak, we won’t jump.  For that reason, the Father flexed His muscles. “God’s power is very great for those who believe,” Paul taught. “That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead” (Eph. 1:19—20). Next time you wonder if God can catch you, read that verse.

The very arms that defeated death are the arms awaiting you.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Body, Soul and/or Spirit?

This body, soul, spirit thing in whether we are two dimensional beings (dichotomy) or three dimensional beings (trichotomy) ....has been a controversy for quite a while.  How come I didn't know that?

It goes way back.  Way, way back.  As far back as Plato who toyed around with theories about the "tripartite soul." And St Augustine who identified 3 Laws....Divine Law. Natural Law. Temporal Law. Or his 3 Characterizations of the "Soul"...Memory, Understanding, Will.  Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa, Luther, Oswald Chamber,  T.Austin-Spark, Watchman Nee all came down on the trichotomy side of the debate. It is also one of the main "go to" beliefs in kingdom ministries.

Two verses in scripture came to mind when I stumbled across this subject this morning. 

1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself  sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 -
For the  word of God is living  and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,  of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Far too often, in far too many versions of the Holy Bible, the English word chosen to convey the meaning of the word in the original language is....ah....way off.  Sometimes when you check the Strong's Concordance it doesn’t even come close.  I’m obviously not a Biblical scholar but it doesn't take a Biblical scholar to check out what the King James says a word means against what the Strong's Concordance says a word means….and come to your own, hopefully spirit led, conclusion.


Sometimes the translators will use the same English word to translate different Greek or Hebrew words.  Or visa versa.  Sometimes they will use different English words for one word in the original language.  Sometimes this accurately conveys the meaning….other times….not so much.

But in both verses above, the word translated spirit is the Greek word Pneuma.  The word translated soul is the Greek word  Psuche.

The Scofield Study Bible says this about the distinction:

Man a trinity. That the human soul and spirit are not identical is proved by the facts that they are divisible.

…the distinction between spirit and soul may be traced. Briefly,that distinction is that the spirit is that part of man which "knows" 1 Corinthians 2:11 his mind; the soul is the seat of the affections, desires, and so of the emotions, and of the active will, the self.

“Because man is ‘spirit’ he is capable of God-consciousness, and of communication with God (Job 32:8; Psa. 18:28; Prov. 20:27);

because he is ‘soul’ he has self-consciousness (Psa. 13:2; 42:5, 6, 11);

because he is ‘body’ he has, through his senses, world-consciousness” (The Scofield Study Bible, page 1270., a triune being, has the potential to bridge the gap between the two realms, the physical and the spiritual.  He is linked to the visible realm....the earth....the material world with his body and he is linked to the spiritual, "other worldly" realm, beyond the veil…. by his spirit. The soul is sort of the swing vote.  I can submit to be ruled by the spiritual man and be "seated with Christ in heavenly places"....or allow the carnal man to "be the boss of me." (My friend “Kansas Bob” wrote a post a while back that talks about how we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit to accomplish this)

I found the following quote in an article called "Discovering Your Identity."  Disclaimer...there are parts of the article that I don't agree the spiritual warfare kind of view about "the enemy"....and there is a rather blatant altar call toward the end of the article....but he has a really interesting way of explaining the body, soul, spirit concept. 


With the union of man's body and spirit, he became "a living soul." The soul is that aspect of man's being that, like a photographer's dark room, develops the impressions of the external world around him, which have been gathered by his physical senses, into distinct expressions of thought, emotions, and desire.

1. Man's spirit is the seat of his God-consciousness - where God dwelt!
2. Man's soul is the seat of his self-consciousness - where self dwelt.
3. Man's body is the seat of his world-consciousness - where his senses dwelt.


Makes sense to me…….