It is what it is

“It is what it is.”

Said John as he teased another thread from the mess of threads.

“But it’s not fair!”

Said Bill as he flung the whole mess across the room.

“It is what it is.”

Said John as he quietly collected the bundle and teased another thread from it.

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“Two more years of THIS”, Jnana’s Red Barn

 

A lovely gentle reflective post which prompted that thought and this post.

Thank you Jnana.

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The Gospels come to mind.   This fella Jesus we love to read about, pore over, study every word, every inflection … This fella we love to teach and preach about …  I wonder if his teachings can be summed as: “It is what it is.”  This fella who needed only three letters … “I Am”.

That’s all.

Right now, there is much wailing and sorrow.  But not from those grieving the death of a loved one – the noise is from those saying we are fed-up, we want to be free, we cannot handle being told to behave like an adult …  Those who still think “me” rather than “we” … And who chant in every possible variant:

“It’s not fair!”

The Gospels come to mind.  This fella Jesus again.  Who plopped into a time and place when “fair” wasn’t part of any common currency.  When might was right and death was cheap.  When “it is what it is” was exactly how things were.   Just the same as today – just the same as always: it is what it is.  And yet he seemed to make the best of it.  He walked in his safe place wherever he walked.  He talked from his safe place with and to everyone.  AND he avoided the obvious dangers of those who wished him harm – he journeyed away from danger in his safe place.

And all the while he lived the life he found – the life of it is what it is.

Right now we can all walk in our own safe place.  A place we can choose to carry with us – to be us – to be at peace with all around.  A place that avoids the obvious dangers not out of fear but out of love for ourselves and others.

A place that is of we rather than me.

And should that last another two years then it will still be what it is.  And we can still choose to live in our safe place – or we can choose to call out how unfair this all is …  How we should be free but are not – how we should be able to but are prevented from – how the government or the state should or shouldn’t – how we need a haircut – a restaurant dinner – our gym to keep fit – a coffee shop for our poison addiction – a club in which to dance …

All that “stuff” we can’t live without.

The Gospels come to mind.  That fella Jesus.  He had nothing.  Yet WE make him the perfect role model.  The one who died for OUR sins.  The one who is grace FREELY given.  The one who meets US where WE are.  The one who set US free for all eternity.  The one without whom WE are all screwed (for all eternity).

Yet this fella Jesus had none of this “stuff” we shout about – he shunned all the “stuff” we cannot live without … All the “stuff” we want back – all the “stuff” we cry has been taken from us … All this noise about how it’s all so unfair!

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Doesn’t that strike anyone else as odd?

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Love is allowed … wow!

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This weekend will be the first weekend of enforced (or voluntary) isolation.  For many still working (remotely, on-site, or any other way) these two days are when we “do stuff”.   Stuff usually outside the home – stuff together – the stuff of getting-together and being together.

Usually.

This week has been frantic!  A week of work trying to find assistance for the temp-team we pay week after week after week.  Who were told there is no more work as London offices shut their doors (literally).  A bunch of wonderful (and skilled) human beings whose contracts are for “services provided” rather than for “employment”.  And so are left without any financial aid.

As they have watched those who ARE employed OR self-employed being helped.

These are real people we “employ” in all but contract.  Whose tax we sort out, whose sickness we sort out, whose work problems we sort out, whose names we know, and whose lives we are part of.  People who look to us to “fix this” for them as we fix things every week.  People we know as colleagues, friends, and superstars.  People we have seen grow in their “temp career”.  And yet all we could do was work feverishly behind the scenes trying to bring their plight to the notice of those who can offer aid.

We were not alone in that.

Temp workers (with contracts “for services provided”) number many thousands.  Yet “our temps” are not numbers.  Every “temp” is a person who knows us as we know them.  What a privilege that is!  What a compliment to be more than a source of income.  What an honour to be part of their lives in a personal relationship.  And – in times like this – what a responsibility to provide more than “our doors are now closed”.

>>> On Thursday we called every client to find out how they were coping.  I came away humbled.

Every organisation has done we have done: dispersed its staff to their own homes with the equipment and connectivity to carry-on.  Almost every organisation is “business as usual” – just without any confidence things will stay this way.  Expecting and receiving the trust that – even though now “out of sight” – each person continues to bring the same commitment – that people were expected to do the right thing and are.

None of that has made the news.  Just as no organisation has bitched at the cost of money, time and energy to make THIS happen.   And THAT is unprecedented – that is GOOD NEWS – that should be recognised because that is ALSO each of us helping each other.

These five days have seemed a month.  But yesterday we were told our temps would be supported the same as the employed and self-employed.  So the next five will be as frantic making that happen for these real people.

THIS is not about making a profit (although it soon will be).  This is about helping each other survive and perhaps even thrive (in “non-balance-sheet” ways).

This week I have walked our dog to the applause of strangers on their doorsteps acknowledging the human beings of our National Health Service.  I have witnessed queues an hour-long of “socially distanced” human beings waiting patiently for their turn (and beginning to find shops fully stocked again).  I have seen billions (of every currency) committed to supporting almost every sector of society.  I have walked under skies free of the usual vapour trails down streets quietened of their usual traffic through parks where we each say hello (as we keep our distance).

And I read of death coming ever closer to our front door.
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I wonder if this is a time for faith rather than a time for love. 

Because I see love in every sector of society … “#clapforcarers” spread from Europe just as this pandemic spreads … recognition that THIS is about all of us is spreading FASTER than any pandemic … Love is being displayed in so many ways!  So if I have faith and you different or none …

Does THAT really matter? 

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I look out and see so much kindness being ALLOWED!   

By street and community … by country and continent … by this culture and that …

Kindness is being allowed … LOVE is being allowed!  

And, whilst I have nothing against “faith” (and live-streamed services and fellowship), isn’t THIS bigger than THAT?  Isn’t THIS when “the greatest of these” CAN be unleashed AS the greatest of these (just without the usual small-print)?

Some see the end-times.  Some see gathering in church to be immune.  Some believe immunity because of faith.

I see Love.

I see Jesus seeing Love as I see Love everywhere right now.  I see the bible as inviting each of us to pick up Love in preference for our comfort-blanket of faith.  I see this not as the end-times but as a time where Love is Allowed.

Death will always be us.  And I am taking all the precautions I can to be of Life.

Life that sees video calls allowing a new silence.  Where filling the silence is irrelevant.  Where hide-and-seek with a wee one can be played by pointing the lens at a wall before “suddenly” appearing with a “BOOH!”   Where “being” is becoming fashionable again.  Where “virtual-being” is becoming the same as “face-to-face being” … gentle and unhurried.

I am learning how to be the me I want to be even in these new and changing times.

And that is a precious gift!

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paulfg

Wrong shape, wrong, size, wrong “something”

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I can think of a handful of people who changed me.  Outside of immediate family that is.  People I met.  People I hadn’t known before or knew after.  Who came into me life and left leaving me changed.  Family I think of – in this context – as the soil, the air, the sun and rain.  But those who enter and leave again – they are sowers of seed.

Jesus is a sower of seed.  The bible is a seed.  Church and church life, all the fellowship, community, programmes and “service” are the environment.

Those people who changed me didn’t know they had or did.  Sowers of seed don’t start with that expectation.  They live with hope.  Hope that something good might come of what they sow.  Hope that some might allow that seed.  Allow a personal fermentation and sprouting.  Because a seed can live for years in a sterile environment.  An environment that keeps a seed a “seed”.  Never taking root, never dying as a seed to become something greater.

Sowers of seed cannot dictate the environment that seed finds.

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I think that is where we struggle with church life and “religion”.  We confuse seeds with environment.  We think we can grow crops, we think we can modify seeds to produce greater fruit, we think we can count the seeds we offered as plants that we grew.  But no one has ever “grown” a seed in me.  I do that.  I am the environment in which a seed lands.  I am a sterile environment or not.  And sometimes seeds can rest within me for years untouched and unnoticed.  Until I am the right place and time for that one small and tiny seed.

For me the bible is a seed.  And when I try and live in that “seed” I confine both myself and the seed.  When I live for the bible and of the bible I don’t become the great big tree in which others live – I become tiny like the seed itself.  Scared of change.  Scared of becoming something bigger than I think I could or should.  Scared of being something that looks different, that smells different, that thinks differently – that is different from the seed.  That must be different if the seed is to be anything other than a “seed”.

I see that same confusion with the coronavirus.  We are scared of change.  Scared of the unknown.  Even when the unknown is not that different to the known: that those who live with less health and greater age live a more precarious life (despite medical science and miracles).  But our usual repressed fear sprouts in such times.  We are scared we might be without.  Scared we might not have all the comforts we regard as essentials.  We remain seeds scared of what might “get us” – scared of all that is outside our comfort zones.  So we withdraw (prep and panic buy) and isolate ourselves (literally in some cases).  We pull-in and focus on “me me me” even more than usual.

That has comparisons with the church life and religion I have known all my life.  Because against all the taught “advice” of a lifetime … the more I don’t read the bible – the more I know the bible.  Just as the more I don’t read all the panic news about coronavirus – the more I know the virus (and I am one with “underlying issues” and “age category” against me).

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Just as against all the taught advice of a cultural-Christian lifetime, the more I don’t go to church the freer I am.

Free of the constrictions of guilt.  The guilt of am I doing enough – am I a good Christian … ?  Free of the constriction of faith – a constriction of believing the same as others  … do I fit-in (so that I can make a difference) … ?  Free of the need for compromise between family-who-won’t/don’t and church-life-that-does/must … How much do I give and to whom and how and when … ?  Free of a diary always being double-booked and massaged …  Free to allow “seeds” to grow as big (and as weirdly) as they allow.

As I allow.

I read that @ 30% of farm produce never makes it off the farm and into our shops.  Wrong shape, wrong, size, wrong “something” … all because it won’t look the same as “proper shaped and correct size” stuff (we do see on the shelves). 

I find that horrifying. 

That we talk about saving the planet and climate change and plastic … yet 30% of the very fuel of life we keep out of sight and discard.   And yet that 30% comes from the same seeds as the “proper and correct” ones.

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The seeds I have allowed make me who I am.

I have no idea if I am of the 30% (wrong) of 70% (correct and proper).  But why is that even relevant?  I am who I am.  And more and more I find the moment to be seeded with all I need. 

For that is where Love lives and growth happens.

If I allow.

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Holiness and Christian Hygiene

The closer you get to Jesus, the more everything else seems so unimportant.

To truly love Christ is not only to desire to be more like him, but to honor him in duty and character. My God is HOLY ♥

Yes, God is LOVE, and that is so integral to understand, but HIS Holiness is of equal if not more importance. HOLINESS looks like something, HOLINESS acts HOLY, HOLINESS loves with a HEAVENLY love, HOLINESS lives a life that honors GOD, and furthermore HOLINESS does not turn on and off, it is there in the dark and in the light, it is there at home, on the street, and church, and on social media, or Snapchat. HOLINESS honors their elders, and treats the house of God with reverence. HOLINESS holds onto the things that are important to GOD.

It is not an exploitation, a ticket to popularity, or self-exaltation. HOLINESS is always HUMBLING.

My brothers and my sisters, it is that HOLINESS that sets us apart. When we seek the face of God there should always be a pulling to separate ourselves from the things that don’t look like him! The more I know him, the more I love him, that much MORE am I aware of my unholiness, Lord let us be more like you!

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A friend recently ran across this in a Facebook post from a neighborhood church, sent it on to me, and asked what I thought of it. She said there was something about it that didn’t sit right with her, although she didn’t disagree with anything specific in the words.

I could not agree more with all of this. Even a brief look at Isaiah 6 fills the soul with this tremendous sense of reverence at the intimate unmediated presence of the HOLY.

Jesus preached constantly of the HOLY. Of the immediate presence of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. Lots of the people around Him thought they understood what HOLY meant. Obviously… HOLY means wearing the proper godly clothes, carrying oneself in the proper righteous manner, associating only with those religiously and morally acceptable, vilifying those who were unclean, irreverent, unholy, or sinful, and certainly behaving properly in/at the Temple… respectful of her customs and leadership.

Here Jesus came… not only talking… but WALKING a lifestyle that appeared (to those who were the most expert in godly holiness) entirely UNholy… associating with fallen women, embracing sin riddled lepers, freeing demoniacs from their bondage, healing or telling others to carry forbidden things on the Sabbath, even discussing sacred things with pagans and women, defending the morally irredeemable like fornicators and adultresses.

And yet… scripture makes clear… HOLINESS does, indeed, have an appearance. The Father is utterly HOLY. But only ONE knows what that looks like… “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.” [John 6:45b-46] Jesus, in fact, NEVER ONCE uses the word “Holy” as a descriptor of the Father. This word HOLY, (ἅγιος, -ία, -ιον), appears only 40 times in the Gospels, Twice referring to the City of Jerusalem, once describing what is not to be given to dogs, once describing a location for the Abomination of Desolation, once uttered by a demon addressing Jesus, once describing John the Baptist in the knowledge of Herod, twice describing angels, once as an angel describes Jesus, once describing the prophets of old, once describing the covenant of the law, once declaring the firstborn male of all species to be holy, and once referring to God in Luke’s rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew’s rendition uses the word “hallowed” (ἁγιάζω), more often translated “sanctified” or “rendered holy”. Every other Gospel referent to the word “Holy”, primarily spoken by Jesus, is as part of the phrase we translate “Holy Spirit”, (hagios pneuma – ἅγιος πνεῦμα).

So what? Why take so much time to look carefully at what Jesus, the Gospels, and the Bible have to say about Holy and God? Simply that humanity has a tendency to think we know better than God. That God can say something simple, like Jesus’ and John’s revelations that God IS LOVE, and that we will be known as Christians not by our apparent self-righteousness or image of holiness, but by our love for one another. [CF 1 John 3:10-5:3; John 13:34-35] Frail and foolish humanity, all too often deceived by the “appearance” and “status-driven” appetites of power, politics, economics, and social esteem, tend to look upon the “appearance” of the self-righteous and holy-sounding, without seeing the heart as God sees people.

Jesus was both grieved and sickened by such hypocrisy. One day, the religious leaders (whose job they felt it was to defend the Holy at all costs), pointed out the sinful way Jesus and his disciples were eating, having neglected to wash properly, thus disrespecting what they called the “tradition of the elders”. Jesus names them outright, “hypocrites”, quoting Isaiah’s excoriation of them and stating, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men… You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’;, and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God); you no longer permit him to do anything for his father and mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many such things as that.” [Mark 7:6-13]

Those consumed with religiosity and theology, tend to succumb to the arrogance that they can “define” such words as “righteousness” or “holiness” as things in themselves… free standing concepts apart from the character and nature of God Himself. The problem is, such concepts have true meaning only WITHIN the character and nature of God Himself.

Both Jesus and John assure us that LOVE is not simply a “characteristic”, or an “accidental or subsequent descriptor” of God. Love is not just “one among many features” of God. Love is an essential NAME of God. And SO is HOLY, by the way. And so is RIGHTEOUSNESS. None of these words, these concepts, these names, have meaning or can reflect Truth, without being grounded in one another.

That is… without Love, there is no Holiness. Holiness is one expression of Perfect Love. And Love is one expression of Perfect Holiness. Righteousness is an expression of Love, and Love always expresses itself Righteously… never by corruption or exploitation or cruelty.

I agree wholeheartedly with the initial thesis of this post… but it seems incumbent upon any careful scriptural scholar to hasten to point out that just as God is Himself Indivisible, so too is His Nature and are His Names.

Fortunately, for those of us who diligently seek to know, love, and see the face of God…

Philip shared that passion. “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:8-15]

An Ultimate Definition of HOLINESS Perhaps?

Holiness is patient, Holiness is kind and is not jealous; Holiness does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Holiness never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. [CF I Cor 13:4-10]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Binary choices

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I was taught that computers work in binary – 1 or 0
I was taught computers can do stuff but not like we can
I was taught we are far superior to computers in so much
I was taught computers do the bean-counting

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Yet the more I see, hear, and feel
The more I think it is not that
The more I see, hear and feel the more
I think we choose to become computers

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We love binary.
We love either 1 or 0
We love black and white
We love a yes or no “issue”

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We are either right or wrong
Correct or incorrect, false or true,
Saved or unsaved, lost or found,
Good or bad, church or unchurched.

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We have stopped saying “I Don’t Know”
We have a problem with saying “Sorry”
We reject the in-human-ity of computers
Yet copy so much of what we program.

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And if it be true that we become what we think …
I think we fearfully choose to become

Artificial (1) 

Intelligence (0) 

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Letting the rest “rest”

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What might Christianity look like if the Gospels had become ink before the Epistles?  … “The Good News” – Andrew Blair

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I have heard many “let’s go back to The Early Church” exhortations.   I have thought it myself.    Seems to me that replacing much of the “Temple Industry” practices/preferences still endemic in religion today with a “pure” faith (like what Jesus taught) to be an exceedingly good idea.

Except at what point do we drop the flagpole of The Early Church … ?

Before or after The Cross … Before or after Paul … ?  If before The Cross where would the “The Big Reveal” of evangelising be?  And if after … would that be before or after The Ascension – and if after how much after – and if before … why?

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What might Christianity look like if the Gospels had become ink before the Epistles?

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What a profound question from my blog partner!

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For The Early Church was riddled with as much dissent as we have now – just that we prefer to paper over the cracks as we do today.  The Early Church writings have as many tellings-off and “scandals” as today.   The same “role model” churches as today.   As much missionary work as today.   A Head Office structure just like today.   And – just like today – it was (and remains) a numbers game …

“How many have you brought me?”

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I think it another good reason for going bible-blind.  For being selective not in finding proof-verses that kill debate, but in finding the essence of the bible and letting the rest “rest”.

We are addicted to bible study, bible teaching, bible preaching.  We have created an academic-theological language more complex than the most difficult of The Difficult Verses.  We have idolised the verses of burden and sacrifice and hardship and persecution – idolised the verses of soul-saving-counting – made it all such hard work!

We have gone bible-blind in the same way as we have gone Love-blind –  we read the bible and prefer to see darkly – we cannot live without sin and choose to Love sparingly.  And we have that wonderful mantra written on the hearts of every believer:

“We are all but sinners saved”

Which is the get-out-of-jail-free-card used again and again as an excusing of our own weaknesses (or addictions) – along with the superstition at the end of almost every prayer “… in the name of Jesus we ask, amen”.  Or else we won’t get what we ask for!

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What might Christianity look like if the Gospels had become ink before the Epistles?

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I think worth thinking about.

Thank you, Andrew.

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What is sin?

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Is perhaps, for me, now the most irrelevant question to debate.

We have The Law and the Old Covenant.  We have The Cross and the New Covenant.  We have this Book and that Book.  We have the Scales of This and by the Grace of That.  We have prayers of intercession and repentance.  We have The Garden and our unworthy impregnated genes ever since.  We had the ability to NOT sin taken from us (allegedly) … and if that isn’t enough – we make  the ability to Love (without condition) part of the sin package – so make the ability to Love (without condition) also beyond our wherewithal.

In fact – if I was to believe all the religious teachings I have been taught – I would think myself stripped and neutered of our Creator’s intended template and very much faulty-goods.

I used to think that.

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But then I got to thinking.

Why do we excuse ourselves … ?  Why is it that Love (without condition) is the remit only of God and not me … ?  Why must I wait until I die before I experience/become Love Without Condition … ?  And it’s all because of what I was taught.

So either I was unlucky and had a load of false teachers – or The Teaching I got has the seal of approval from God.

It can’t be both.

But more than that – I got to thinking that Sin is the fuel on which religions and faiths (of all creeds and colours) run …
* All require me to be indebted to a God.
* All require me to seek forgiveness (on a regular basis).
* All demand my obedience and sacrifice.
* All promise – in return – that I will live for ever.
* And all because of Sin.

Take away Sin and there is no reason for all the embedded/correct transactions and conditions.  But keep Sin embedded/accepted … and Love (without condition) becomes unattainable because of Sin.  Because “Love (without condition)” I was taught requires no Sin.  And as we are all “sinners” (I was taught) I cannot Love (without condition).  Catch-22 (or biblically correct).

Now call me unqualified in God, but the God I know hasn’t a bad bone in his vaporous body …

I haven’t been baptised … I don’t pray (in the taught way) a great deal … I am known to use the odd swear word or three … I am not perfect but neither am I imperfect BECAUSE of sin … I am “imperfect” because there are a load of different ways of seeing/doing the same stuff – a load of different conclusions/actions depending on who you ask.

So whatever I do (or don’t do) someone else would do it differently.  And when I am deemed to have been “wrong” or “bad” … ?  It’s a hop-skip-and-jump to “I have sinned”.  Because I always will.

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And then we are straight back to “what is sin?”

“When I was bad doing that – was it sin” … “When I was wrong to think that – is it sin … ?”  And then what level of involvement do I need from God … ?  One hundred Hail Mary’s or a spiritual slap on the wrist and don’t do it again?

And so I walk this earth confused AND convinced both at the same time.

Confused as to will I ever get out of this “sin-quicksand” I am taught that I am in – Convinced I never can get out because God says (allegedly) that I must live in this sin-quicksand my whole life.  Is it any wonder I consider myself incapable of Love (without condition)?  Is it any wonder that “I” cannot stop reaching for “my” selective proof-verses that prove(!) why “I” cannot Love (without condition) – and that “I” must sin?

It’s because God says – that’s why.

I am unqualified in God.  I have no pieces of paper from any earthly seminary or theological college.  I cannot speak Greek, Arabic or any other “biblical language”.  I don’t read the bible much, I don’t pray much, and I don’t go to church much.  I tick many boxes of a sinner of the Lost World – perhaps worse than that – perhaps a false teacher.

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But the God Soft Hands Jesus I know never sees me that way.  Never judges me that way.

GSHJ seems content to walk my wayward walk.  To be with me on Sundays when we both should be in church.  To talk with me about the bible without ever opening a page.  To celebrate the good in me and comfort the bad I can and am from time to time.  God Soft Hands Jesus has all the time in the world for Love without condition.

But has little or none for sin.

Isn’t that The Way?  Isn’t that being a disciple? 

Isn’t that what he spent three years teaching and living?  Isn’t that why he took the established “church” to task so often?  Didn’t he find being “biblically correct” something incorrect?  Didn’t he question “privileges of service”?  Didn’t he focus on Love (without condition) with ne’er a “how many times have your prayed” …read the bible … attended church … volunteered for this that and also the other … how much have you tithed … are you dressed appropriately … are you a man (you are welcome) or a woman (cant lead I’m afraid) … ?

We see Pharisees only in the bible.  We see The Law only in others.  We think we are correct in our bible understanding.  We buy-into being a mature or immature Christian.  We love our Christian celebs and writers.  We praise ourselves for our ecumenical broad-mindedness.  We think the pews in church should be full to overflowing.  We think our church better than their church.

Even when we read the bible we don’t “read the bible” it seems.

But we do worry about sin.

We don’t think we can ever escape it.  Nor do we think we can Love without condition.  Which means this wonderful planet will always be a sin-riddled-cess-pit to us.  All because we obsess over sin.

All because we need sin more than Love.

Thank you.

Paul

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Religion like in the good old days

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HEADLINE: “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace”

OPENING CONTENT: “The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade.”

Who thinks Christians are a Resource …?

The samples from these political polls are not as large as the Landscape Studies (even when all of the political polls conducted in a year are combined), but together, 88 surveys from 2009 to 2019 included interviews with 168,890 Americans.

So let’s slice and dice …

Religious “nones” are growing faster among Democrats than Republicans, though their ranks are swelling in both partisan coalitions … Furthermore, the data shows a wide gap between older Americans (Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation) and Millennials in their levels of religious affiliation and attendance …  The data suggests that Christians are declining not just as a share of the U.S. adult population, but also in absolute numbers …  Catholics no longer constitute a majority of the U.S. Hispanic population …  There is still a gender gap in American religion …  Religious “nones” now make up fully one-third of Democrats …  The religious profile of white Democrats is very different from the religious profile of racial and ethnic minorities within the Democratic Party …  The share of U.S. adults who are white born-again or evangelical Protestants now stands at 16%, down from 19% a decade ago … 

 

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

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Is this what it’s all about?
The labels and percentages.  The numbers and the affiliations.
Keeps them from seeing Love.
Keeps you from being Love

You think you are persecuted?
You are a Resource.

 

 

Just like the good old days.

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I was confusing care with treatment

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“I was confusing care with treatment”

A post with that in the middle is worth a read.  Confusing “care” and “treatment” – and this from a qualified practicing professional?

“People who we had believed weren’t able to speak started speaking,” Thomas said.

This post is about one working with older folks-dementia.  That familiar “the lights are on but no one’s home”  fear which many have at some point:  Will that happen to me? … Will I die to those I love before I die? …  Will I know those I love will still love me?  …  How will that happen? …  How does that work?

The title of the post … “Making lives meaningful in old age”, Otrazhenie … is too specific for me.

Smacks of function and form.

“Meaningful” suggests value is only found in contributing, in functioning as we expect (whatever that means).

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But “I was confusing care with treatment” applies to me and how I live with others right now.  Not as a qualified professional but as a human being amongst human beings.  As one who is the same more than I am different.  One who needs no qualifications to “meet you where YOU are”.

One whose “qualifications” can often get in the way.

Confusing care with treatment is something I do right now every day: “You have a problem, let me fix it … You look distracted, let me refocus you …. You are bored, well get off your butt and start living again … You just want to be “heard” – that’s it? .… You don’t want to talk about it – well I can’t help you then … Open up to me – I am on your side … How dare you treat me like that – you make it hard for me to love you … I think you owe me an apology!”

I confuse care with treatment fixing things.

Fixing things is what we do: “Problem, solution, outcome … Don’t thank me – it’s what I do!” And we move on to the next problem.  And where there are no problems to fix we I so often find one: “Are we really as happy as we should be … We seem to be plateauing here … We don’t talk like we used to talk … Are you bored with me us?”

“They laughed their butts off,” Thomas said…. They were so patently incompetent that most everyone dropped their guard and simply pitched in – the residents included… “

Being qualified in God is accepted as a calling, a vocation, a necessary step into being a pastor, a shepherd, a priest , a vicar a minister – one able to lead (those who want to be led).  But what about those who don’t.  Who see no reason or need to be “led” from a Lost World of sin and depravity to a “woke” world of salvation and service?  A world wherein burden and sacrifice figure highly.  Where “fitting-in” becomes even more important than before.  Where “treatment” of the lost soul takes precedence over “care” of another human being.

Religion trains “treatment” – trains fixing things – trains leading the lost to salvation.

“People who we had believed weren’t able to speak started speaking,” Thomas said.

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We can all speak.  But we are taught to remain silent.  And (if we are being really honest) the training of qualifications in God demand silence.

Demand the leader leads and the led listen.  For what use is a shepherd if the sheep are all over the place?  Isn’t that where the old anecdote about a shepherd breaking the leg of a rebellious flock-member so the rest of the flock can be kept safe comes from … ?

That is “treatment”.

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None of us have to be qualified to be “qualified” …

Love IS the great leveller.

Which is why Love is ALWAYS the greatest of these.

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Wowwwwww!

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We fight so much over the bible and whether what we believe is correct or incorrect.

We fight so much over the wonderful gift we have been given.

We fight over this so much we create it a problem.

We then attack each other with “love” because of this problem we have created.

And in the process make “love” a problem too.

And we waste so much.

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Cruising Facebook as you do I came across this video.

It has overlaid slushy music.  It has the “inspirational” tag.  

Yet the ordinary extraordinary ordinary human being at the heart of this video …

This ordinary human being who never mentions the bible or God or all that stuff we fight about …

That we make a problem …

That we can’t forgive …

… … … 

One word:

Wowwwwww!

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(see what you think)

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Thanks –

paulfg