.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

pursuing the upward call with fear and trembling

just a 44 year old man seeking to share my meanderings with the world at large or the blogosphere at small

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Marco Polo

I came across an article entitled Hide & Seek God which was dealing with how God can appear to be silent so much of the time and even be hidden so to speak. I like the idea of marco polo with God as well. You all must have played the game in a pool at some point right??? Whoever is *it* calls out marco and everyone else calls back polo so the *it* can try to tag them and make them *it* Of course the ones responding with polo try to change their voices or throw them to confuse the *it* A fun game to be sure. i found a site called www.questioningfaith.com via ivps website and it has a very cool feature where people can ask questions or share stories of various faith struggles and issues, and someone gives responses, personal responses. I definitely related to alot of the posts left by the questioners.

God may be silent to us at times, not give us a direct line to Himself in a way we hope or expect. But just because He does not respond the way we want or wish or think we need, does not mean He is not there and He has abandoned us. Thoughts and feelings are tricky things. As humans we can be quite adept at the art of self-deception,denial and forgetfulness. So easy when things go awry and we feel pain to turn focus inward and forget the ways God provided when all was hunkydory. This is true for me anyway. I think He has really given so many answers to my constant facing my fear of death and how to overcome it. I just have let my own self-preservation take over and blind me to His answers. Accepting my limitations and faiures and weaknesses are another whole part of it. Fearing He is angry over my having fear and trying to escape it as well as pain and suffering which are just part of life for all of us, causes me to spiral down in all kinds of crazy notions and feelings of anxiety and dread. As I wrote before, my inner judge is always saying, *why dont you just live in faith and obedience and love God He took care of death accept it* which is my utmost desire to do. So why have i and do i have fear about it??? Because i have not been perfected in love. I pray God will do so and i will accept and rest in His love as He desires me to. Do you experience this need??? Do you feel you do rest in His love??? Love to hear as always.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jesus & Wonderland

I wonder if Jesus would sit with the caterpillar and try the hookah or get the cheshire cat to break out in uncontrollable laughter. Actually my title is meant to contrast how Jesus turns things on their head so much as we follow Him in the Gospels. His statement that you must lose yourself in order to find yourself is the one that really has hit home inside me. A total paradox in which you do the very thing you least want to do in order to recieve the thing you most want. In the musical play Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus sings a song right after His entrance to Jerusalem on the donkey with all the people singing hosanna. Jesus sings, *Neither you simon nor the 50,000, nor the romans nor the jews, nor the priests nor the 12 nor the scribes, nor poor doomed jersualem itself, understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all. To conquer death you only have to die, you only have to die*

The words are so crucial to me in that they hit upon our deepest existential struggle which is knowing one day we will die. This has been, as i have spoken of so often on here, my biggest bugaboo, and for varying reasons. Death symbolizes all thats bad to me, it has even with all i have learned about how it was overcome and is really only a life transition now. I saw my dad and touched him as he lay in his casket. He was stiff and cold. He was gone forever. I hated death for doing that, and i hate it still, but in doing so i feel I have been its slave because i have always felt it was after me. Part of me just cannot understand the part of me which has this obsessive compulsion with death. I cannot in all honesty think about any time where i have not had the notion of death happening in some way or another, and how do you LIVE like that???

That is another piece of my puzzle. Have I used death as a shield to avoid the pain and risk involved in living??? I mean i have accomplished alot of things over my 48 years, but then I feel like I have not accomplished anything because this fear-obsession has always been with me. Not to mention bringing God into the mix. I have sought to live a committed life to God & Jesus since i was 16. Many ups ands downs along the way of course. I had my atheist roommate in college say i was the best example of a christian he had ever seen. I wondered if somehow i had a clone i didnt know about!!! lol I still am blown away he said that because i was always just myself around him. Never tried to convert him, just shared life as a roommate. How does someone who is seen by an atheist as best example of a christian struggle with fearing death??? How does this person struggle with living life and all its pain and risk it holds??? Wish i knew all the answers. I feel like i have always been 2 people as far as who i am with others and who i am inside myself. I treat everyone, or try to , with love grace humor and compassion. Myself- I beat myself up for any and every flaw and mistake and sin whatever it may be. No matter how many times i tried this inner judge never lets me go and always holds my fear against me. The worst of it is, I have declared myself and sought to show myself as a true workman for Jesus, flaws and all, yet this inner judge keeps me on the hook and says my fear makes it all a sham and i just better hope somehow,someway I can stay alive cuz death will be the worst. This is my bare-all struggle, the hope that God and Jesus know my faith and hope despite all this somewhere inside me, even a smidgeon. Thank you all who read this. Any comments always valued and wanted.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hopeful Universalism

There is soooooooooooo much being written out here in blogland. Alot of very deep,challenging,emotional upheaval and thought-wrenching stuff. The title of this post is where I find myself to be theologically speaking right now. I have never been one who held hardcore to the belief in hell as place of eternal torment for all nonchristians. I have questioned and pondered about how it fits in Gods plan, and the understanding that gehenna was the actual word and which meant something to the people of Jesus day very specifically has reall helped me in comingto grips with hopeful universal reconciliation.

The barriers to this hope are the whole notion of repentance and conversion. If God will save all ultimately then why is repentance called for?? Why evangelize and seek conversion??? Why not everyone just live however they want since all will turn out equally in the end??? I have no answers to these questions as they are the very questions i struggle to wrestle with myself. I see verses throughout Scripture which can support both sides. Some can lean toward a universal reconciliation, others can lean toward an exclusive reconciliation. If you have a decided upon position then naturally you will choose to focus on the verses which support your side, it is pure human nature to do so.

The love chapter in 1 Corinthians as well as verses in Romans 8 challenge me to accept my hopeful universalist position. Love always hopes,always perseveres, keeps no record of wrongs, love never fails. That is a condensed exposition of those verses but makes my point. An eternal hell where all suffer consciously for eternity seems to contradict what Paul says love is and does. God is love is the ultimate trump card to me, as Paul declares when speaking about every other attribute, including faith where he says it is all empty if you have not love. Romans 8 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ. Who is paul saying that too??? Dont even get me started on saying, *why the elect of course* LOL

Just a short sharing on where i am right now. Hoopefully anyone choosing to comment can stimulate more discussion and more thinking. I know similar themes are being talked about all around the net, just good to share my own 2 cents worth. Hope to hear from any and all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Comfort and Easy Are Not What He Promises

Long title there I know, but hits the nail on the head for me. I hope someday i get to meet Martin Luther in heaven, so I can share with him the struggle I have had with self-flagellation like he did. Even though the good part of my mind knows God does not want me to beat myself up in all kinds of ways, I still do it over and over again. Brennan Manning talks alot about how we are living paradoxes most all the time. We can go from seeking the deepest spiritual depth to the lowest sensual depth in a heartbeat, one moment joyful,next moment despairing. Who says the Psalms are not applicable to today???

There is quite a ruckus within evangelical Christianity currently. Response to Brian Mclarens book, * A New Kind of Christianity* indicate this struggle. Brian has been declared total heretic and many more punitive names, while others declare him to open up a new land so to speak where fresh winds of the Spirit blow and stir up new energy and vitality which the Gospel is really all about. Devoted,committed,lovers of God and Jesus are on both sides of this divide, which makes it a rock and a hard place for real. Basic differences in entire approach and understanding of Jesus and His message are being revealed here. Does God save everyone??? Does hell exist??? Can a God who reveals Himself as Love and Who left eternity to become one of us and then die for us, also want to let anyone perish in hell or annihilation???

These are not easy questions and they cannot be handled with simplistic answers. Jesus and the Gospel writers, as well as Paul and Peter, refer to the difference between earthly fathers and our Father God. Would our earthly fathers, assuming they are not psychos or wackos, lol hold a gun to our heads and say *choose me, believe in me and obey me or die endlessly forever and ever*??? These are the wonderings I have been seeking to deal with in my own self as i read the struggle going on amongst believers in the larger christian culture. Universal reconciliation..... is it truly what God wants??? A lot more to ponder about this, but some early thoughts on it all. Let me know what you think, if some of these issues hit home with you.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Just Thoughts

A lot of different things floating around inside lately. Seems to be 2 different views of the Gospel and just exactly how its applied to us now. One is that Jesus did what He did and calls us to follow in imitation and obedience, seeking to live in holiness as He desires all to imitate Him in committing all to God the Father. Other view sees Jesus as having fulfilled everything for us because we never can ever and He has made it possible for us to be free from any expectations of moral behavior but to seek to live out of the love He has shown and given. Not sure i said that right, just have this uneasiness inside me about living up to a certain standard and how to do so. In Gospel of John Jesus talks alot about obedience. Of course He was talking to His apostles, but His words are meant to be universal for all time aren't they??? Just how to live out the obedience He wants is the thing.

Calvinism believes in limited atonement. Jesus only came to save the elect. The problem I have is just how do you know when your safely in that *elect*??? We are called to holiness, to being filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, to imitate Jesus in thought.word,feeling and action. We all fall short though. We all have thoughts and feelings, as well as words and deeds that fall far short of the bar of Gods perfection. No matter how high we can jump, the bar will always at some point be to high. Paul I believe says that he who seeks to live by law must keep the ENTIRE law. Only Jesus has ever done so. He came to bring Good News...... so does that mean He just holds and iron fist for us to try and live up to His standard now instead of the law????

Inside myself I have this struggle, which is exacerbated by fear which also carries with it guilt and shame. Fear of not living up to how i should, even the call of living love. Guilt and shame over not doing so, which messes with my head and then certain verses take on meanings that make me feel like i have totally failed Jesus and God and possibly never did become one of the ones who know their Shephards voice and whom the Father will not let be snatched out of His Hand.

But then i go back and think how Jesus performed it ALl perfectly and understands my constant human weakness, no matter how much it happens. He knows, understands and accepts. He takes me as I am and with all He knows I will be, failure to perform and all. I can live in freedom knowing He loves and accepts me forever as I am because of what He did and who He is, not because of what I do for Him. May take more contemplating to say all i want to say. Definitely want to hear all your thoughts. You identify with any of this?? You ever feel somehow your left out no matter how much you want to accept you are not??? So glad God is gracious to let me share no matter what the struggle may be.