I am wealthy

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It must be nice to have the luxury to debate these issues

“the Biblical vision of gender”

My Beautiful One

Rebekah wrote a post that connected with immediacy and clarity.

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We are rich in time and, boy oh boy, how we like to waste this wealth!  We are rich enough in time to sit and verbally spar with each other.  We are rich enough in time to dump static opinion and beliefs over each other.  We are rich enough in time enough to examine spiritual “belly-button-fluff” over which we obsess.

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Riches are referred to in the bible over which we obsess.

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And I have found that wealth is taken literally.  Riches are “stuff” of money and purchase.  A big car.  A fine house.  The best jewels.  The finest wine.  All “stuff” we can hold and touch and count and store.

Yet I am rich in so many ways that is nothing to do with I can hold and touch.

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A family living in a place of safety.  A family living in good health.  A family living with excellent and free healthcare 24/7.  A family who takes for granted three meals a day.  The freedom to write words like this and press send to the whole world.  The freedom to be bored, to be restless, to be distracted, to be yearning and spontaneous.  The freedom to live as I wish constrained only by my fears and timidity.

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It must be nice to have the luxury to debate these issues.

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The bible for me becomes ever more simple, ever more connected, ever more immediate.  Call it what you will, debate it as you will … dismiss it as you will … for me there is one great truth that is rejected ONLY if I fear this truth:

‘Love them, me AND you.  Unconditionally.”

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What is to fear?

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Well I used to fear love.

I used to fear not controlling, not measuring, not counting, not receiving, not being in charge.  I used to fear losing all those “riches” I thought of as “love”.  I relied on rules and law and commandments.

Because if I was going to treat you okay I wanted an enforceable contract that said you were going to be grateful and that you were going to treat me okay.  But I wanted a contract with get-out clauses.

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Like … familiarity breeds contempt.  Like … the grass is always greener on the other side.  Like … what I found attractive in you now repels me.  Like … I reserve the right to count whether or not you give me more than I give you.  And the biggie …

It’s only wrong if you catch me in the act

(and even then it’s your fault I felt the need to do it)

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And all of “that” is NOT fear … ?

All of that we think IS “love” … ?

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It must be nice to have the luxury to debate these issues.

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‘Love them, me AND you.  Unconditionally.”

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Riches are riches.

I am wealthy.

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What am I doing with this truth?

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We all travel if we allow

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Few of us really and truly follow our dreams.  Too scary.  Too uncompromising.  Too much having to give up too much.

Usually “control” as we like to kid ourselves.

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Our son and his girlfriend are in Canada.

Saved for a year.  Gave it all up.  Took enough clothes for every season.  Blagged a business-class seat across there.  Bought a van.  And now adopted a dog (very unplanned!).

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We have watched their journey with love and affection.

We have no control.  All we can do is share their journey.  With love.

All we can do is to share their journey in instant texts, video calls, emails …

And then this …

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“The Worst Thing About Vanlife”

“But most of the time you’re all of these things at once because not having to work and having to travel is you as a human in your most raw, vulnerable position: fragile and welcoming, high-strung and excited.”


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I love “travelling”.

We all “travel” if we allow.

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Paul

 

This tiny ten-letter-mustard-seed-phrase

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There are certain word-strings that stick a pin in me.  A very real “ouch” word-string.  And then I have to find out why.  GSHJ does that from time to time.  I can be reading something and “ouch” followed by “What was that for?

It happened with this:  “Have We Made Bible Study Too Simple?”   The first “ouch” was the word ”study” followed closely by another with “we”.

It was Don Merritt who made me aware of me using a “straw-man” in some of my writing: A fictional “they” in order for me to tear down this fictional “they” as evidence for the point I was making.  And the use of “we” is the most-used straw-man.  Because “we” is (almost) the same as “they” – with a twist.  “We” is me being right and you (who should be one of “we”) having to agree with me – because “we” are correct and “they” (who say – incorrectly – that they are “we”) are not.

Ouch.

Then the word “study” in front of “bible”.  Bible Study.   A phrase used so often it is now its own “evidence”: bible study.  This tiny ten-letter-mustard-seed-phrase packed full of institutional religious baggage like this (from the “About Page”): “Missio Alliance began as an initiative of Ecclesia, a relational network of missionally-minded churches and leaders that takes a primary interest in encouraging and equipping church planters.”  Which screams: “We are God Qualified” – unlike like me.  Unless “me” is God Qualified – and then I might be “we”.

Ouch.

Then this from the post: “At the moment I was a bit taken back.  This shut down the conversation.  It was before my days in seminary and honestly, I wasn’t equipped with a good answer.”

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I get a lot of this Paul – I got a lot of this from you in your “early days”.  This dependence on you and your own cleverness – to fit-in – to be seen to have a “good answer”.  To be able to win the argument – to successfully argue me out of the bible and into another (allegedly).  See the infamous Pharisees and Sadducees – all the “sees and cees” (now reborn as “ologies and isms”).  It’s all about cleverness – being seen to have the right answer – to win hearts and minds for me.   And in the process to split and divide – to maintain the God Qualified as gatekeepers for me – to maintain “them” relying on “we” to explain me.

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And I have just created my own straw-man.  The God Qualified (of seminary and theological college).  My direct conversation with God Soft Hands Jesus – my “baggage” of “dividing” those who believe in the same God Soft Hands Jesus as I do – but not “exactly” the same as mine.  My appealing to those who have a similar train of thought – and in the process dismissing those who don’t.

Because if any of us (or they) really lived this “All Are Welcome” fiction – none of this would matter.  It wouldn’t matter what I (or you) believed if we really lived being capable of love without condition – really lived that love can only be love without condition.  Really believed that “love” split into four (God Qualified) Greek words … is putting cleverness in the way of God … causing another to stumble … perhaps a child who loves without condition because love IS without condition.

And that makes us all false teachers – makes us all use and abuse the bible – because we all look at “sinners” and “sin” as some external force to be beaten – we all look to God to save us.

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And there you go again.  Who is “we and us” – and what were you saying about using “we and they”?

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And he is right.  As is the (possible) rebuttal that “Church folk have to talk to church folk – so using a common language saves time.”

Except that I bumped into this “common language” and the language is not “common”.  It is institutional and God Qualified – it is the language of “seminary Church”.

And that keeps me from you – and keeps us ALL from God Soft Hands Jesus and living love that IS love without condition.

Him, you and me.

“All” without condition.

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Takes me back to the good old days when it was just the “sees and cees”!

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Love without the small print

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I have a weekly commute to London.  It keeps me in touch with the general populace in this part of the world.  A populace drawn into their own personal smartphone screen.

Music.  Emails.  Instant Messaging.  Interminable Indulgent Instagram.  Social Media.  Less and less (thankfully) those intrusive “Can you hear me?” phone-calls on (what used to be called) mobile telephones.  Voice calls much less popular now keyboard and lens replaces the need for actually speaking.

And the biggest draw of these wonderful gadgets … ?

We can all look down.  We can avoid the need to pretend we are alone.  Avoid the discomfort of not making eye contact.  Avoid all the embarrassment of not having to speak to someone face-to-face (or kneecap-to-kneecap).

I remember my younger sister commuting regularly in London years ago (before smartphones). She reported how wonderful it was to see so many people praying for such extended periods. She couldn’t comprehend that closing one’s eyes when commuting in cramped spaces was simply the accepted way of avoiding eye-contact. I still chuckle remembering her face when she found out that praying wasn’t such a common occurrence in The City after all!

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My Godmother’s husband was a chatterer.  An embarrassment.
In any situation he would strike up a conversation.  Loudly.  What we (used to) think of as “The American Way”.
That genetic malady which ignores everyone else’s comfort zones … which rides roughshod over others’ expected-and-defended “personal space”.
But the odd thing was that the majority of those who suffered this intrusion seemed to enjoy the experience.
We just cringed in the background.  With a little envy.

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And as I look out and see the headlines … the (current) forensic analysis of the (another) horrific terrorist attack on London Bridgethe repeated claim of (all) government who have “allocated £xxm in additional funding” (to fix every problem raised) the noise of right and wrong (as we reduce our planet to one giant overflowing rubbish bin)the permanent public arena of “gladiatorial protagonists” spewed out for our entertainment in news and “social meeja”the increasing and inextricable “looking down” and away from so much that unites us

I wonder what other species is quite so self-absorbed.

I wonder how we have detached ourselves from who we really are.  How we made “religion” just another science.  How we made science just another “god”.  How we manage to convince ourselves that “being connected” (to this wonderful self-healing-home) is no longer relevant to us.

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Us the alpha species … the species no longer a “species” … a “species” now having outgrown itself.   Now entitled … now complacent … now detached from the very connection that gave birth to each of us … on this planet that nurtures us … that heals us simply by the sound of a breeze – the sight of all those stars – the smell of freshly cut grass – the taste of cold icy water.   These simple things that connect us – heal our restlessness – our searching – our very souls.

I wonder what other species despises its own kind so much that it chooses to look down … chooses to detach … chooses to “talk” to someone on the other side of the world (in preference to someone sitting right next to me).

Is it fear – and if so of what?  And if it isn’t fear then … what?  Arrogance?  Entitlement?  Ignorance?  That “you aren’t interesting enough” … ?

What is it that means we each choose to look down more and more?

Even church.

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That (default) looking down when “talking” to the being who is loved and loves.  The default (of “worship”) that is now the default for (“talking” to) everybody.  The default “nice smile” that is the default for everyone in every (unexciting) conversation.

I think church has a very important role to play in the world today. 

A role to encourage “looking up” as THE default.  Making eye-contact as THE default.  Finding excitement in the ordinary (that is each of us) as THE default.  Drawing ALL together as THE ONLY default. 

(because the preaching of correctness … of sin … of division salvation … of judgment salvation …. is the default of looking down)

And “the default” of looking up can only start by looking God in the eye.   By not bitching about sin all the time.  By making Love the beginning AND middle AND end of ALL conversations.  Real love.  Unconditional love.  Inclusive love.

Love without the small print of religion and correct (rule littered) teaching”.

We need to teach THE default of looking up.

Because if the church really is “the people” …

We are ALL “the people”!

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When that kicks in – loves checks out

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I think loving me the hardest of all.  I don’t mean the “I can’t be bothered.” … the “I could never do that.” … the “Let someone else do it.”   Nor do I mean the “I am better than anyone else.”… the “I have rights.” … the “What about me.”

I mean loving me as I would love my own child … my own partner … that stranger in need … that best friend I have known for ever … that special someone I would walk over hot coals for …

That kind of “loving me”.

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The greatest of these.

God?  Well loving God comes in all shapes and sizes.  Initially like a stranger who must be obeyed.  Then, perhaps, as a wonderful deity who can only be worshipped and praised.  Then, maybe, the most important relationship in my life.  Then, possibly, a friend – a best friend.  No longer the detached “up there” gaseous ether.  Now someone I trust.  Not to “fix things” all the time.  That is my role – just like no friend expects me to “fix things” in every part of their life.  That would be just plain weird!  Just someone who will always think the best of me.  Never give up on me.  Always have an ear for me.

I heard someone who does daily marathons for a living say that we rarely – if ever – really know what we are each capable of.  I think that lack of knowing underpins this “The Greatest of these” …

Others?  Well loving others is pretty easy too.  An odd donation … I am praying for you … My thoughts are with you … perhaps even a volunteering of my time – my skills – my resources – my heartbeats – perhaps even my whole diary!  Which is like giving my life for you (the “others” we must love).  Except that is a weird kind of love.  It’s an obligation kind of love.  A duty kind of love.  A service kind of love.  A bit like a God kind of love.  I should (if I am a good Christian).

I heard someone say that “We are a broad church”.  That the buildings aren’t “it” that “we are” it.  But I still don’t really know what “it” is.   Or why I am expected to go to “it”.   I think “it” gets in the way of “The Greatest of these” …

And then me.

What I have found over the years is that when I consciously register that I am “doing” love (in whatever moment of my life and with whoever that moment is with) … It is no longer love.  It is me “giving”.

And I have learned that when I think “giving” I think “getting” (in some weird default can’t control it kind of way).  I have found that when this “The Greatest of these” is a “commandment” … giving AND getting become involved.

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And when that kicks in – loves checks out.

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And as I absorb the essence of (what I think) is the point of the bible … I find that “commandment stuff” less and less relevant.  Along with all this “transaction” faith we have created … The need to sign-up for the creeds stuff.  The “I believe” stuff.  The hierarchy stuff.  The “institution” stuff.  The “religion” stuff which includes creation and sin and a lot of deaths and more sin and atonement through more killing innocent creatures bred for the purpose of “their blood shed for me”.

And then the great “reset”. 

The cross and resurrection – and a conundrum.  The “blood shed for me” being the biggie – with the “resurrection” being the proof it’s all good.  Because if the blood is “it” then why the need for the resurrection?  And if the resurrection is “it” why the need for the killing and blood?  there is loads of healing and bringing others back to life – loads of “your sins ore forgiven”  – all without a cross in sight …

And why the “facts and evidence” we have now made all of this.  The “But God Says” (in the bible).  And the bible is The Word of God (but the Koran isn’t).  Nor is (just) the Old Testament.  Nor is  the continuous political meddling relevant – other than it proves the bible IS God inspired (really???).

Why that “need” for the bible to be “it” – unless it is so the church can be “it” – which means I get to be “it” by being saved and believing in all of “it”?

The Greatest of these.

Two words have become more and more powerful in my journey with The Greatest of these …

“I Am”.

I

and

Am

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The Greatest of these is I and Am.

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(what else can top that?)

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What does “We need builder-uppers” really mean?

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“I have come to realise that many Christians question much that is taught (and written) in and of the bible but … privately. “ 

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“Needing to know the bible”

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“My bible teaching started young with The Nice Bits.   Even “The Most Important Bit” is  airbrushed beyond recognition.   Being “washed in blood” has only ever been (and remains) a gratuitous-gore-fest-of-senseless-killing … unless it is The Story of The Cross.”

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“Bigging-up the bible” has to be done in the right way, or else it is “knocking the bible”.   And then we open up that “we have enough criticisers” – we need “builder-uppers”.   And – of course – the qualified-in-God “facts” of what God and Jesus actually meant by sin and saved – all the “correct” (builder-upper) bible stuff.

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“Being scripturally correct … The devil does it … atheists do it … Christians do it … we ALL do it … We ALL screw with the bible.  And yet the bible remains The Way.”

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Want to read the rest?.

“Needing to know the bible”  – justmebeingcurious

.Might not be what you expect.

Thank you –

Paul

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The Great Awakening

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Whoaah!  Where am I – what am I – who am I … ?

Relax Paul.  You are here with me.

Where … who .. . why …

What you call “dead”.  What I call “alive”.

Dead … heaven … me … ?

If you like.  Definitions and labels are so cumbersome I find.

So you are … “God” … ?

As I said I find definitions and labels cumbersome.  But for the sake of your well-being – yes I am God.  Welcome to heaven.  Can I get you anything … glass of champagne … warm towel for your face … a phone call to your wife … ?

Later God – later …

Paul you are a naughty boy!  All that “love without condition”.  You really were breaking as many rules as you could your lay your hands on weren’t you?  All my commandments in the bible.  All those certain words I need you to say.  All that “biblically correct” teaching I needed from you – and which you turned away from.  All that worshiping and praising you never did to my expectation or rules.  All that not gathering together inside a great big church building that you should have done.  AND all that never tithing or giving much to the building of church at all.

You shouldn’t really be here.

You never believed in me correctly at all.

So is this like a departure lounge –

I either turn left to first class or am told to turn right to economy with an eternity of gnashing my teeth and hellish companions?

Sigh … … 

I have to say that that is one the most common responses I get at this point. 

This bible you all waved in each other’s faces – this “inerrant and infallible” lump of dung you elevated to idolatry – this “scripturally correct” paper and print you all bleated on about …

Wow!

“Wow”?

Wow, Paul.  Like as in how come you missed the point?  Like how come you preferred all that crap?  As in what is the point of any of all of that?  Or, Paul, to put it another way:

How come YOU thought it was okay to love without condition when you shouldn’t have?

How come you thought I loved without condition when I don’t? 

How come you thought it was “correct” to take just one bit and make it your “all”?  To take “love” and make it your guide to me? 

How dare you be so bold – how dare you ignore all that other stuff about not doing this and not doing that – how dare you assume that everyone is loved without condition without ANY (or all) of this “right belief” and “believer stuff”?  How dare you think all that is NOT the required for entry into heaven? 

Why did you even dare to believe that I did NOT impose or expect ANY of that … ?

… …

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God you crack me up!

YOU are EXACTLY who I thought YOU are!

🙂 🙂 🙂 

Well thank you my son. 

But I ask only one thing … That you tread lightly here. 

There are many here who think they earned their way in.  Just as there are many who think they earned their way in by NOT believing in me.  And there are some like you.  A few.  Who never thought it was about earning anything at all. 

Give them time, Paul.

Each has all eternity to eventually “get it” for themselves.

Thanks, God …

Now about that champagne your mentioned …

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