Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Searching for God

What is mankind looking for in his pursuit of God? Is he looking for an emotional experience that covers up or assuages his pain? Or, an intellectual answer to questions of the soul? Does he desire to know what is beyond the veil of death? How about a sincere desire to experience life as originally intended? The answer is, all of the above and hundreds more.

Mankind's searching for God reveals his inherent need. Which need is universal and well documented. Just because we search does not mean the search will find the truth. Experience teaches that we will fill the void in our soul with anything, or everything, we think will bring us the peace and answers we need. Countless numbers of people have given voice to lives filled with empty and vain attempts at filling the soul-void. The list of substitute fillers is endless, yet they all have one thing in common, failure.

So, empty people, which is all of mankind, need to experience God. In turn, all people fill their soul with something, no exceptions. Even people who confess, no-belief, or atheism, have a belief. It may sound absurd to say, but, Atheists' believe in their atheism. Some believe in non-belief. The search is on, always will be, and can't be turned off. Out of this need, mankind has been, and still is, susceptible to false, incomplete, or even evil, teachings and beliefs.

As mankind searches for contact with God and His truth, what is he really in need of. To answer that question honest and sincere people need to agree that there is a problem with man that fuels the search. Because if man had found the truth the void would be filled and the search end. My experiences and understanding of human nature brings me to this opinion: Man knows his character is flawed and broken. We know we are not what we can be, or should be. Within ourselves we know of the failure of vain attempts to fix the problem.

The paradox of the search is obvious. The more I try to fix the problem the worse it gets. Emptiness leads to a deeper emptiness. A failed solution leads to others until, for some, a failed or wrong solution is better than nothing. That tragedy is, the incomplete, failed, or wrong solution, answer, become a prison with no light.

What belief offers to mankind the truth that contains the answer to the real problem? What god-road will lead me, and you, to the answer that will transform our character and bring us into direct contact with God. That will be the substance of the next few thoughts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Evil- A Malignancy Brought Down

Evil found its origin in the original sin of pride and arrogance found in Satan. When he was cast out of his heavenly position he was exiled to his new domain, the earthly cosmos. By cosmos I mean, the spiritual and physical realms of the earth and sky.  Yet, even in exile he has opportunities to present himself before God, that is evident in the book of Job.

At his fall and exile Satan underwent a radical and progressive depravity. His nature was corrupted to the point of a malignancy that willfully infects and destroys everything that is susceptible. Old and New Testament words describe his nature, character, and actions. Such as, malignant, depraved, rotten, worthless, putrefying corruption. Such evil is a habit of the mind and produces willful harm to others. So, due to his condemnation he desires to spread his spirit to all mankind. Satan wants to spoilt the creative beauty of God.

We find the creative power of God finding culmination in the creation of man. Scripture tells of his creative process of, "being good". When He created man he said it was, "very good", and then he rested. In man, we find the most magnificent of all of his creation because of, "rausch", the breath of God. His breath gave man life we share his likeness. A likeness of spirit, ability to touch, commune and listen to. Indeed, a fellowship not equaled in the universe.

The spirit of evil was, and is, intent on spoiling, causing corruption to, mankind. God's desire to have an intimate fellowship with man will never go unchallenged. Satan's desire is to ruin every Godly pursuit and desire. The origin of sin in mankind takes place in some very similar settings as Satan's. Both were settings of beauty, the heavenly realm and the created garden. Both were God's abiding place, He walked with Adam in the cool of the morning. Both were places of assigned responsibility. Adam was to tend the garden and Satan was a messenger.

Both Satan and Adam answered to God and were restricted in some degree. Adam was restricted from the, "tree of knowledge" and Satan was restricted in his thirst for power and glory. The similarities are quite surprising, yet shouldn't be. Mankind's fall and subsequent moral collapse did not come from from an action, eating the forbidden. The temptation flooded the senses of the fallen. The fruit was attractive, was appealing to the intellect and the most powerful aspect, pride. You will become like God, knowing good and evil. All spiritual beings, human and angelic, were, and are, susceptible to the original sin, pride.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Origin of Evil

I believe that even skeptical people would agree that evil is real. The evidence surrounds us every day. Innocent people suffer unspeakable horrors at the hands of their fellows. History is very vivid in details of cultures greatest moments and their darkest. I am not going to detail, to a great extent, the evidence of such actions. I will however detail a few, evil on a massive scale and on a very personal one.

The question at hand is, the origin of evil. Did evil always exist? My opinions and beliefs will be based upon my experiences, biblical understanding, and again, minor historical information. This may come as a surprise, I do not believe began with our first inhabitants. I refer to them as Adam and Eve, as found in the book of Genesis. Evil had its origin prior to Genesis and most likely before the created order was called into being.

First, holiness, righteousness, purity, all virtues, had no beginning point in time. As God Was, Is, and Will Be, His character is timeless. Everything lovely and Godly always has been. Now, scripture gives us an understandable, though slightly veiled, picture of evil and its origin. It would be very helpful to all of us if scripture explicitly told us that at such a time and place all angelic beings were created. We do not have those details. But, what we do have is understandable.

The prophet Isaiah speaks about a being falling from heaven. Known as, Star of the Morning, Daystar, Lucifer, this spiritual being (angelic) was considered to be the most beautiful and magnificent of all angels. In Isaiah, chapter fourteen, verses twelve through fourteen, this angelic being is cast out of the heavenly realms down to earth. His sin of pride and arrogance led to rebellion and the original sin. So, I believe the source and spring of evil find their source in Satan, prior to mankind.

As in the world today, actions have reactions, results always follow thoughts turned to actions. At the rebellion and desired overthrow of God's authority, multitudes of angels were cast out with Satan. These angels took on demonic character as their nature was corrupted. The Second Epistle of Peter, as well as the book of Jude tell of God casting down the rebellious angels.

many people reject the idea of an angelic being corrupted by pride and arrogance, thus bringing evil into a present reality. That being so, it is my belief and understanding that evil, as a malevolent force, originated before mankind. This source of evil, Satan, is and always will be, consumed with thwarting God's design. Evil has a spiritual origin. Satan was created to be a spiritual messenger and his condemnation was based on the sin of the spirit, pride and arrogance. He did not want to serve, he wanted to be served. He did not want to listen, he wanted to command. He did not want to subject his spirit to God's authority, he wanted all to be in subjection to him.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beginning thoughts on Searching for Divine Truth

Many people have questions about religion. What faith or church is right or wrong? Do all religions lead to God? Will all people who believe in God spend eternity in heaven? All of these questions have been asked by honest sincere people for hundreds, probably, thousands of years. Some people probably found an answer and some did not.

In order for me to have a clear and convincing thought on, "The real source of divine truth", I must need to understand and then explain mankind's need to find truth and God. To my knowledge, the yearning in man's heart or consciousness, to know and understand God has been documented in every culture. It is a universal need in the life of mankind. Also, the knowledge of, and experiencing of, good and evil has long historic evidence.

This series of postings will continue over an extended period of time. The more I write, the more I will need to write. I might inject a few pieces as we get closer to Easter. I will try to address comments or thoughts as they come. Please remember that all of this is but my attempt to know and understand God in a more clear and intimate relationship and give voice to why I believe.

The major thoughts in the posting will center on, "The cosmic source of evil", "Mankind and Christ", Christ as the revealed source of divine truth." If, at times, what I am writing seems like nonsense, it just might be. I will ramble at times and get carried away as well. I just hope and pray that this series will be a source of clarity and hope, for all who read.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Death Swarm pt2

Before the death swarm laid me waste, like barren dessert or parched and dry riverbed, I didn't realize how deep my roots penetrated the earth. Down deep in the soil I sensed life movement. Ever so small, threadlike root fibers were moving, drawing nourishment, living, not dead. In the darkness and noise of the death swarm the power of clattering jaws could not reach my roots.

The sensation of life is faint and fragile. Faint, fragile, my clutch on life continued for seasons. I knew that I needed to protect my survival. I feared that anything could come, steal away the little I had left. Oh, again just existence, afraid, afraid that even a small storm would snatch away the last, weak, and desperate signs of life. Stubble and death haunted me.

My end did not come about, though at times it would have been easier to give in and allow disease and death to find their completion, their ultimate triumph. Yet, I knew, No, my roots knew, that life must find its way back to the surface. Slowly working towards the surface, life is surviving, growing.  I am still filled with fear. Fear of the paralyzing buzz filling my ears. Fearing I could never survive another attack. For fear has clamped a vice around my throat, causing my stomach to churn. Realization also brings another fear. Realization that I must live, but in living would have to find some sense in fresh horror.

Questions begin, unanswerable, haunting and without end. Questions pile up all around me. Soon even the questions block my vision. I argue and argue, I search and search, the answer of, no answer haunts me. The swarm, clacking of jaws, stubble, despair, and now, life, why God?

I must find that resurrection is taking place. How long it takes, meaningless, how much pain, meaningless. If it takes a day or a lifetime my resurrection will be complete and whole. When that understanding finds place, my questions begin to cease. Understanding brings about the ending of the questioning nightmare. Not the understanding of all things. For me, a better understanding of the deep issues of living, not mere existing. The issues of pain, suffering, despair, hopelessness, yes, even longing for death, all take on new purpose and meaning.

The death swarm moves about freely, searching for prey. Guided by some evil reckoning, it senses the weak or susceptible. An such life on this cosmic orb is potential feed. Hundreds, thousands, yes, millions of unsuspecting, tender living plants are targets of the evil swarm.

I will always cringe at the buzz, images may always fill or cloud my vision. I know the potential that comes with the noise. But, there are lands filled with the unsuspecting, the innocent, the naive, lives that have not heard the buzz or clacking. The buzzing and clacking that brings stubble, debris and death to a land once fertile.

Must they wait helpless, unsuspecting, ignorant of the death swarm that moves about so freely? I survived, would they? My roots held my life. Do they have roots that go deep? My roots speak of my Creator who sustains, nourishes, resurrects. What do they have?  When the swarm comes upon them, and it will, will they survive? And, what about the young and tender, just breaking through and reaching, stretching sun-ward. Enjoying sun, drinking in the gentle rains as they fall fro their Creator's carefully designed canopy. Many of them will fall to the clacking and the buzz. They will have no idea of the sound that approaches them. No idea how one turns to millions. How clacking of jaws and buzz of wings leads to death and desolation.

I will tell of my survival. I will tell of my Creator's power deep within my roots. Yes, tell of His life that kept me alive. His life force, living in the fibers and threads of my existence. I responded to His great desire to see me become. I responded to His timeless plan to resurrect me to a new sense of being whole and complete. Oh, that I would sing a song of my Creator's grace. A song I could have never given voice to before that great and terrible day.

I will tell of my story. Some will listen, sadly some will have no understanding of my message. You that understand, in some way, the death swarm has come near you. The buzz, demonic clattering jaws, all wanting your death. Darkness, a great and thick darkness, overcame you. You despaired, cried, even welcomed your own ending. But, your Creator, your God, had, has, will always have, a greater design for you.

Will you join me, join my voice and spirit, proclaiming to all of creation the resurrection that our God gifted us with? The message and song of today is so different from yesterday. The song of tomorrow is designed to be different than the one of today. Come and join me as we proclaim victory over the death swarm.

I wrote this piece during one of my darkest seasons. For me the death swarm was despair and an utter overpowering sense of hopelessness. If I had to define, Death Swarm, it would mean any influence that attacks your soul, in subtle beginnings or ravenous flood. Millions of wonderful people live with the life and joy devoured from their soul. Despair, hopelessness, anxiety, fear, anger, many are the names that the death swarm uses.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Death Swarm pt1

If you know of a person who suffers from depression please read this with a new sense of understanding.I began the first writing of this piece about seven years ago. At the conclusion I will give some background and points of understanding.

My life was like a blade of wheat. For, within me was the desire and the potential to reproduce and feed multitudes of hungry souls. I knew that was my ordained purpose, in fact, my only reason for being. The soil that surrounded me provided nourishment and stability. The falling rains enabled me to grow, at times rapidly, other times, slowly. My roots penetrated deep into the earth. I grew strong and my strength helped in the storms.

And then, a day of destruction and death came. Oh, the day started like so many, a sweet morning dew glistened and sparkled in the early morning sun. Later, not much later, came a distant sound. The sound, like a faint buzz, like the buzz of a bumble-bee. I wasn't able to tell what direction the noise was coming from. Gradually the noise increased, building momentum, sounding like a giant swarm of bees.

The sky to the south was growing dark. I sensed that some type of storm was going to descend. I had endured many storms, but some type of disturbing and anxious vision told me this was to be different. The first one landed only inches from me. It's jaws clacked, like two stones striking each other. Now, its ravenous appetite powered jaws at an insane pace. The first leaf and blade, next to me, full of life, was gone in an instant. The second and third landed, their clacking jaws soon joined a number beyond counting.

The noise filled the air, it was impossible for me to hear anything but the evil ravenous clacking and their results. The sky was black, sun blotted out, extinguished, by millions of hungry murderous locusts. Their jaws, clacking, chewing, untiring in their destruction of every green thing. My world was covered. My eye's couldn't see anything except evil destroying life. My ear's couldn't hear, but, the clacking, clattering of jaws, roaring of wings and the faint cry of blade and leaf, being devoured. Horror wrapped itself around my world. All I love, all I knew, all I held so close, was being consumed by this death swarm from hell.

Time seemed suspended, each bite, each jaw movement, from the green flying demons took forever. Each leaf, blade, eaten ever so slowly by the unstoppable clacking jaws. As if signaled, the black death swarm lifted into the sky. Millions of wings joined together in a deafening death dance. In a single movement the death swarm moves in concert to devour another unsuspecting field. A field, like mine, full of life and potential. The death swarm will not stop, consuming the living and leaving behind stubble, desolation and death.

When the attack was over I was numb, living in a timeless state. Did this really happen? Did I really experience such horror and callousness? How long, this state of near death? My life, once green, growing, now only stubble. In the soil surrounding me I find only debris and death. Is their any life in me? Has death come and I am cursed to watch what was? My senses are gone, is their any hope at all that life might exist? Have I been like this for days, months, years, or just fleeting seconds? I just don't know.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Understanding

It would be nice if God revealed his purposes and desires in plain and succinct ways. I would love to wake every morning and hear with my ear what God had to say for the day. I say that because, I like it easy. Easy, though, would take anticipation, expectation, discipline, faith, and possibly love, out of a relationship that is designed to deepen.

On Good Friday of 2006, another season of listening, waiting, and understanding entered, unwelcome, into my life. The week prior to Holy Week I had been experiencing severe pain in my back. Pain so bad it was debilitating, and did not respond to some really strong drugs. A test indicated a rupture of a lumbar disk and my doctor told be to stay on my back for the week. Three days before Easter the problem became an emergency. A scan gave a picture that the x-ray did not. The L5 disc was pushing closed my spinal cord and I was in trouble.

Donna drove me the 150 miles to the hospital in Saginaw. Waiting for me was one of the best neuro-surgeons in the country. He was called to Washington when President Kennedy was shot. So, Easter Sunday morning he is performing surgery and removed the disc. He told us the surgery went well and he expected that I would make a full and normal recovery.

My recovery seemed to be going very slow. The periodic followup visits with the doctor were still optimistic. At six months since the surgery there was still very little progress. I had to deal with severe damage to the nerves that traveled down my left and right leg. My left leg was about 75% dead, dead to pain or sensation in the muscles. My right leg was worse with about 90% damage. My personal doctor ordered me to undergo an EMG test, to verify his concern regarding the amount of damage and how permanent it was. Well, the EMG tests, they made my legs flop and jump around like giant frog legs. It hurt Donna more than me, I watched her cry as they inserted the probes deep into my muscle groups from feet to, well, guess.

God, what was I supposed to be doing now with my life? I had to learn how to walk with muscles that would work but felt nothing. Going up and down stairs was hard at best and dangerous to an extreme. I realized I could not perform my pastoral responsibilities and faced the fact that I would have to resign. Things were going to become very difficult for us financially. Donna was substitute teaching, on call, with no benefits or guarantee of class time.

I applied for social security and my doctor told that 90% of all initial applications are denied. He was right, mine was. Now a serious time of financial distress was upon us. My appeal for social security could take up to two years. I had no idea how, but in my spirit I knew that God was in control and my life, the life of my family, was in His hands. He was going to provide for us in some very clear and plain ways. My outlook was different as I faced this crisis. Before, I was filled anxiety and a very deep despair.

Now, I knew that God was in control, He was present and He was involved in the affairs of my life. I still didn't understand the, "whys". I didn't need to understand now, the insight and understanding would come. Not to seem contradictory, I did desire to know what God was leading me into at this season in my life. It is just, it wasn't driving me nuts. I loved preaching and congregations confirmed that God used my gift of communication. Get this, the church that I had to retire from, their board asked me to preach longer. Who ever heard of such a thing.

Today I wait for doors to open and paths to stumble on. Knowing that He is in control and my hearts desire is to be found faithful. Friends who read this, please pray for me. I want to find a path to tell others about my God, who sheds light where darkness used to cover and dispels the shadows that brought fear.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lifted Up

Feet Near The Earth, Crowned Brow To The Skies,
God's Arms Outstretched Mankind's Savior Dies.

On The Death Post and Beam,
His Precious Life Blood Does Gleam.

Three Iron Spikes Hold In Place,
Spotless Lamb, Now Dirty Sacrificial Face.

Voice, Whispering, Cracking, Groaning,
Pouring Out Life, For Sinners Atoning.

Parched Throat, Dry Lips, Mercy Please,
Cheap Wine On Hyssop, Creator They Tease.

Deep Into The Heavens Does He Gaze,
Searching, Praying Father, Nothing But Haze.

Completion Of Redemption, He Cries,
Wounded, Bruised Head, He Bows, He Dies.

Cold, Granite-Like Men, Face Death,
Watch, Remark, Christ Of God Gasps, Last Breath.

Now, Their Hearts Hard As Stone,
Strangely Moved, Even Their Sin Atoned.

For They Have Watched Countless Die,
Limp, Lifeless Bodies, Suspended High.

Men, Now Close To Post And Beam,
Ugly Truth Transformed To Beauties Gleam.