Saturday, April 19, 2008

Standing on the steps a journey begins
a little boy wearing cowboy boots
and lots of attitude
as he looks at life.
He can not imagine what awaits him.
He can not predict the weather
in each of seasons of his life
that lay ahead in the seasons
spring, summer, fall and winter
that messure the years and changes
that will shape him him, please him, tortment or tease him and
fill him we heart racing, quick passing, all embracing love.
His experiences have only allowed him to read
the first pages of the book that will contain
all of the chapters of his life.
Some believe that each sentance is written by the stars.
I watch them read their horocsopes each day in the newspaper.
Others believe that a divine hand has touched their lives
and left fingerprints on their souls and has made a specific plan
that will guide them through mortality to a promised land.
When I wore boots and lots of attitude at the tender age of five
I met God, my creator, and I knew the reason for my life,
and I defied the rules and the tradition of my church
just eight years old was I, and formally baptized.
I knew then that my life was not an accident,
that I was chosen and called by God
to wear the yoke that Elijah the prophet
and Paul the missionary evangelist wore.
Later I learned that God knew each of us before the dawn of time
before God created the world and blew into the clay the breath of life
and first living being, the first human being, became a living soul.
Later I learned that God knit me together in my mother's womb,
and already had seen all of the days of my life, that I am still living the pages in the chapters of the book of my days that were written with with great love and compassion.
I have read pages from future chapter in advance on occassion, which means that I have had visions, and they have come to pass. I have come to new places and I recognized everything that was there.
You will shout to me, "What about free will?" I will answer, "There is God's will and there is the will of an evil enemy who seeks to seduce us and destroy our lives." There are moments when we are free to choose God's will, or become slaves of our worst mortal enemy, but not every moment is a moment of choice. Something must awaken us, and soften our hard hearts, and shout to us, "Whoever Jesus Christ sets free is free indeed."
Frredom in error, false freedom, is believing that true freedom is doing whatever we want to do. That is the freedom of folly which come from a place in our hearts that caused angels to fall. I call it intellectual suicide because the wisdom of man is foolishness compared to the Wisdom of God.
Too much attitude must humbled on our knees as we surrender our will to God,
and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. Only then can we live and experience that pages and chapters that God wrote in each of our books, long before the dawn of time.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pride, Posture, Pain and Purpose
The Reasons for Heresy

We have the freedom to give any meaning to God's Word that we choose. Our response to what we read depends on several things. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Many people have opened their hearts to God because God's Word never comes back void. I'll give you scripture references/bible verses in mt next blog.

When our hearts are open we can find the true meaning of God's Word as it speaks to our personal circumstances. We experience who God is and we discover how much God loves us. We find God's gifts of mercy, grace, and forgiveness and we have the opportunity to recieve them.

Jesus often shared "Those who have hears let them hear and those who have eyes let them see." God is willing to open our eyes and ears so that we can see who God is and so that he can speak to us and allow the Truth to set us free.
God has chosen to give us free will, and allows to decide if we want to see and hear.

I learned early in my life that we can't make anyone see or hear God. Four things often get in our way: our pride, our posture, our pain, and our pupose

Pride has to do with how we see ourselves. Some people believe that they are intelligent enough to discover all they need to know on theor own. Others believe that they have wealth, power, and success because of their own efforts and don't need anyone's help. Life for them is the survival of the the strongest, the smartest and the best. Pride prevents them from asking anyone for help. They see God as a security blanket for the weak, for the losers, for those who don't have what it takes to make it, to succeed. The Word of God is unimportant to most of them Some rewrite it to justify what they want to do or how they live their lives. Some preachers have turned the bible into a instruction manual for those who wish to be rich, famous, and powerful. The bible says "Pride comes before a fall."

Posture has to do with how we treat others. Satan fell because he believed that he could be a god. New age religion offers that opportunity, and it appears that there are many levels that may be achieved. Scientists believe that they what they have discovered is the truth, that we have evolved from lower life forms. Science seems to be their god and the bible is a book filled with myths. In our country success has become a god, along with wealth, power, fame and a higher standard of living. Those who have more, win more, are more popular, tougher, and so on, are better than others. Those who have less deserve less. Our heroes are those who win and winning is everything. It matters who wins or loses. Winning is what life is all about. There is even a label for this. "the best of the best." Jesus challenged the posture of the scribes ans pharisees and said, "If you want to be first in the kingdom of God you must be the servant of others." Many preachers measure their success by their salaries and the size of their churches. Some of Jesus' disciples argued/fought over their position and rank in Jesus' group of twelve. His response was to wash their feet.

Pain is a common reason for rejecting God. A young man shared with me that he was raised by his mom. She asked the pastor for some help and he said he would send some one over. No one came. When she asked her pastor about that, he had nothing to say. A woman lost everything because her husband decided to divorce her and marry a younger woman. Her friends at church stopped having lunch with her, and she lost her position/volunteer job in her church. Her church rejected her and abandoned her. Victims of rape, incest, physical abuse, and a variety of painfull trajedies often blame God and ask, "How could a loving God allow this to happen to me.

Purpose is our plan, goal, or lack of both. What we choose to do becomes our destiny, our future and our tomorrow. That is the essence of the most important decision of our lives. If we choose Christ we must surrender our will and serve him. That requires sacrifice and it may include pain and suffering. We can choose what the world has to offer: wealth, power, fame, and a opporinity obtain success.
That requires another kind of sacrifice, our souls, our salvation, and our intimate relationship with God. The phrase, "To thine own self be true," can create a selfish attitude. It an also embrace the life of a humble servant of God.

Heresy is born in the womb of four mothers: pride, posture, pain, and purpose. They often determine how people experience God's word, by making them blind and deaf. They prevent us from seeing God and hearing his Word for our personal circumtances and God's offer of grace, mercy, love and salvation.

My son, Tom drew a picture of Apollos for my book. You are free to find your own meaning for my son's creation. God has given us free will. Each of us must choose how we will use it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mimesis is a Greek word which is used to explain the transformation of experiences, feelings imagination, and thoughts in to images, poetry, sculpture, creative writing and art. It is the "geist", or effort of apprehension that results in something new, that no longer belongs to the artists sculptor, poet, writer, or designer. What is created, belongs to the reader, the viewer, and those that are able to both see and touch a sculpture. I shall call this our response to art, to every form of art. Music should be included. Even a cooking recipe, or an architect's design of a new building or a cooks new recipe is art. Those that experience art are free to assign it meaning, and thus bring the art into existence. Without an audience to experience the art, it has no meaning. Authentic art is always created for an audience, a reader, an observer, and most of all, a person willing to fully experience the artist's creation.
In that sense, all of the literary critics, art critics, theologians, cinema reviewers, "expertise" is nothing more than the meaning that exists in their experience of the the art.
Though they say, "This is what it means," and add one of their many labels to the art, every artist's creation takes on its own meaning once the artist has finished his/her creation. The purpose of art is not to establish a correct interpretation, but rather it is the pursuit of new meaning. Only the audience has the power to establish the new meanings for a work of art.
In my search for new meaning I discovered sixteen interpretations of the famous Moma Lisa. One was a sketch by my son, Tom, two of them were photographs, and thirteen of them were paintings. I found two punk Mona's, a Starbucks Mona, an Elizabethan Mona, a robot Mona, a Mac Donald's Mona, a van Gogh starry night Mona, a Gothic Mona, a heavy metal Mona, a native amercican Mona ans so on. They helped me to understand what happens when we fully experience an artist's creation through our humanity, our imagination and intellect, our life experiences, our souls, and our intimate realtionship with our creator.
The artist may be a master of the elements, emotions, shared human experiences, and feelings that invite new meanings, and may understand how to blend them skillfully, but art always goes beyond its creators finest effort. Art is a creation that continues to give birth to new meaning.
Helmut Rheder would call this significant form. All creations are significant forms, as unique as the finger prints of their creators. Every experience of an artist's creation is signicant form, because it bears the fingerprints of each person who experiences it and gives it life.
Calvin wrote that the Holy Spirit is the pair of glasses which allows us to read and understand the scriptures. New Christian denominations and independent churches were born out of a the meaning a preacher, theologian, or bible student assigned to one or many scriptures.
God is a master artist and his Word continues to create new meaning which a very diverse group of people are able to relate to. It is not heretical to say that Christians continue to discover new meaning in God's art. Perhaps that is why God assigned a diverse group of people to receive his Word and offer it to all of us as God's art. God's Word relates to both shared human experiennces and unique human circumstances. Our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to discover God as we enter into the fullness our experiences with God's Word. The results of the new meanings that we discover include faith, healing, joy, love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and Wisdom beyond the depth of our comprehension.
Those who believe that God's purpose was to create a legalistic document confined to the interpretaion of bible scholars aand thelogians have missed the whole point. They would have us experience their experiences of God's art. rather than allowing each of us have an intimate experience with God's Word.
Lomg ago, when I was a young preacher, I discovered that my sunday sermon should allow the people to experience a variety of new meanings. Of course I held myself accountable to God as I created my sermons. I also prayed that the Holy Spirit and the souls of my congregation would join together in a unique opportunity to discover many meanings. I was determined not to reject the meaning that any person found in my sermon. A true sermon is God's art and a creation that belongs to each person who experiences it. It can never be a text which must be read because God, the listener, and the preacher all participate in the experience. It is not just words, but rather a union of our humanity, our faith, our souls, and God. In truth, the experience is not a creation of the preacher. He or she may provide the opportunity for new meanings, but he or she does not create them.
Heresy does exists. I will explain why in my next blog.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I took a photograph of a barn when I was on a walk with my wife. I like the picture because the old barn, weathered gray after many years still stood proudly for all of us to see. I had the opportunity to use a Coral program, which transformed my photo into a painting by tansforming it into brush strokes. It looked different, but it was still the old barn.

Everyday life changes us, transforms us through the brush strokes of time. We look different, but we are still ourselves. Like the old barn, I have stood the test of time, but I am still standing.

My students looked at my engagement picture and then looked at me. They couldn't believe that the young man without a beard was the old man with a gray beard that they see every day. The young man was in the spring season of his life, and I am in the winter of my life. The young man was beginning a new journey, an exciting adventure. He had his whole life ahead of him and was strong and vital. I am moving toward the end of my life and parts of me don't work as well.
I go to a physical therapist twice a week and he works on my back, my wrist and a finger on my right hand, which has the beginning of arthritis. Yes, he has an approach to taking the stiffness out of my finger and my back, and a way to strengthen my wrist. His treatments have helped to push back some of the brushstrokes of time, but time continues to work on my body each day with new brush strokes.
I used to enjoy loud, large gatherings of people. Silence and solitude seem to be more attractive now and I enjoy being alone with myself. Of course, I enjoy family gatherings and time with my grown up children and my wife. I don't see my family as much.. Myself and my wife are more available. Brush strokes of time also change all of our lives.
Our lives are all like a painter's canvas and our pictures change with new brush strokes. A young man who supervises my exercises during physical therapy grew up without a father. We are going to play disk golf together, new brush strokes on my canvas. Life changes and offers us some new and good things. Each person has opportunities for some good brush strokes. We enjoy the colorful brush strokes, but they can fade in time. Winter isn't as colorful as spring, but there are some flowers that arrive in the winter, like the desert cactus which blooms in winter.

I discovered that we can find new colors in our lives, even in our winter season. Perhaps this blog will be like that.