eyes on God


There are times I am caught and held in the moment of a word, a scent, a sound …

This post caught me – moved me one way with sadness and then another with joy. Even today it seems we have to break free of reading the bible right. Maybe especially today.

And it is moments like this post which remind me we keep on doing it to each other! And I have no idea why.

Thank you Rebekah!


Unconditional Love – (XI)

Grandchildren and their bugs!  Why are their “bugs” less precious than their smiles (hack splutter hack splutter hack …)?  And after a couple of days recuperation – it’s good to see you all again!  Let’s go …


I wonder if deconstructing “The Bible” (as I was taught it) requires more confidence than I was taught (to have in God).  Because the God I was taught – the bible I was taught – is very black-and-white.  Both are very easy to “get” – although wrapped up in the (taught) mystery of God.  The simplicity is this:

I am a sinner and always will be. We are all sinners and always will be.  Adam and Eve were the cause.  Jesus was the cure.  God is a bit remote and black-and-white.  God is quite happy for Jesus to do all the talking.  God requires us to be saved.  We do that in Church.  We obey and serve God.  We go to heaven when we die if we are saved.  When we are saved we don’t ask questions – unless they are the “right questions” – God doesn’t like the “wrong questions.”  I am different after I have been saved.  I will live and behave differently because I have been saved.  The bible tells me how to be different.  And because love is never enough – we need the bible to tell us how to behave.

And “the mystery”? We don’t know why.  God never said “why” (explained by repeating above until one of you gives up).

I understand that different people will have different variations on that.  We all seek the “why” and we find our own answers.  Maybe.

But that list is what God is and was over quite a few decades of my (present-absent-present) Christian life.  And it is the reason why I walked away from it.  Because as much as I was a religious toddler, I was also a fully functioning human being – and the two were not compatible for me.  Free will, choice, invitations, desire, unconditional love, grace – all of that is/was pretty cool and personal.  Except for the reality.  The reality is must and should and will and do – the bible says so – because the church says so – that is how God and the bible was/is taught.

And lately I have found the concept of “making disciples” to be applied in regular church attendance, willing agreement to those who know better, volunteering for as little as I can get away with, bible studying in some shape or form, having a prayer life (ditto), enjoying academic theology (and if not – bowing to those who do).  Of differentiation.  Of saved and sinners.  Of this behaviour (publicly) but not that behaviour (publicly).  Of “sheep” who will always be sheep (unless they are called and take the prescribed route in God qualifications).  Of “shepherds” who will always be shepherds (and who rarely ask whether their original calling still applies).  In short – that this “deconstructed hierarchy” Jesus walked and taught and just “is” has become another “God mystery” for disciples – so we all ignore the reality/mystery.

Which is why deconstructing the bible – as I was taught “the bible” – is life changing in the best of ways.  Nothing is now off-limits. Nothing is “bad or good” – everything is up for grabs again (and again and again). And THAT is what good Christians seem to struggle with the most: Change.

The inerrant and infallible bible requires a static God and a static bible. An answer for all circumstances. A checklist. A legal list. A book of laws. A book of compliance. A God of condition. All of this with a “parallel belief universe” of validating those conditions with “the mystery of God”.  The very same God who created this universe zillions of years ago.  This God to whom we have been attached for a few minutes of that time span.  This Bible written by those who spent only a speck of dust in this same time span.  This bible written by those whose speck of dust was zillions of years before our current specks of time.  The bible has become inerrant and infallible because we have (man)made it so. We have applied our current “speck of dust perspective” to satisfy our need for a black-and-white answer to every question we will ever have in the minutiae of our own (short) lives.  Which is odd.

Because if God is God and Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God then THIS is (also) God:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today .” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Isn’t this the One True God taking a black-and-white “them” perspective (as illustrated nicely by “all who saw it began to grumble”) and trashing it.  Time after time God trashes every addition to the list of black-and-whites of their time as their answer to their own “life’s minutiae”.

So just why am I still taught this “unchanging bible that is a factually accurate history of God” (complete with the (parallel) mystery of God)?  Because I read these verses today and see neither them nor us.  Not through God’s eyes.  Through God’s eyes I see individuals.  Just not me.  No one can ever be me, nor me them.  But neither do I see ministry and kingdom work either.  I just hear His voice and question for me today:

“Who are you, Paul – what are you, Paul?”

And much as I would like to – I know that I won’t find the answers in the bible – nor will I find them in church.  That is where I will find contradictions, amendments, and reversals.  That is where I will be able to prove whatever I wish to prove.  But is that what we really want of our bible – is that what we really want from our church?  Because – if so – just how does that allow God to change me?  How does that allow God to change you?  How does that allow God to allow any of us to be His creations?

We do live in a world of change. That is the only constant. And when we insist the bible doesn’t and mustn’t … I have a question …

Who are you – what are you?


And on that note …  I have more antibiotics to take – one of God’s major miracles right here and right now!  See you tomorrow (hack splutter hack splutter hack …) …  

Unconditional Love – (II)

My dad always had a broadsheet newspaper delivered.  When he was working there was only time for a brief glance at the headlines and then a bit more at lunchtime, and maybe some in the evening.  Once he retired, reading the paper took up most of every morning.  Those were the days when asking him a question would be answered without any eye contact and a distant “Hmmmm … ?”  My dad enjoyed his paper.

The very same Dad who would fume over (selected) local news: “That’s not how it happened! I was there (or some friend or colleague was there)!”  It was another of life’s conundrums: how could the local news (some) be so shabby – and yet the national news so absorbing? Were the national news hacks endowed with truth … were the local hacks second division … what meant one’s story was more or less truthful than another?  Hmmmm …

My Dad was also a bad Christian.  All the churches Mum and he attached us to (as we moved around following his jobs) said so.  Dad asked the wrong questions they told us.  Dad stirred things up they said.  Dad was a rebel they said.  Dad gave me my own bible when I was seven years old – the first “present” of my birthday.  Along with bible-notes, and a lesson in how to read the bible, as well as how to pray on my knees with my eyes shut.  He did that with each of us when we were seven.  And the having to go to church on Sunday (and even Christmas Day!), and having a breakfast quiet time following our own quiet time, and not watching rude things on tv, and not saying bad words around the house (or ever) – that kind of Christian.  One I would now call a good Christian.  Just goes to show how much I know.

Anyway … back to family.  I can’t remember seeing my Dad much around the house.  He was working at his proper job, doing jobs around the house, or away doing church stuff.  And yet my memories of my childhood are stuffed to overflowing with happy times, fun times, great times – just not much Dad times.  Should it have been different?  No.  It is was it was.  All of it.

And something else …

I spent the last three months of Dad’s life with him (hindsight).  Mum died before Dad did.  When I “moved in” he was doing what Dad had always done – living his life his way (apart from not being able to accommodate the physical changes cancer and cancer treatment brings).  Doing physical stuff is what Dad had always done.  And not doing “them” (and being supported) didn’t sit well with Dad because he was the same Dad – still in control – still “Dad” – just not with Mum anymore.  Just slowly dying of cancer.  I had no idea “why me” then.  We had a large family.  We all had our own families.  Why me?

I have my own answers now.  But they are not the facts.

After Dad died and life returned to normal I told my story of those three months.  Some agreed.  Others disagreed.  Others fumed.  Because your own family – own brother or sister – own parents – own child … the death of a loved one … that is a “key moment”.  That is a moment when we each seek the “only” truth – the facts – try to make sense of it all.  In those moments we need the truth to be “the truth” – our truth (hindsight again).

Because our own (normal) family story has always been digested through the many family photograph albums that Dad collected, collated and catalogued.  We all still love sharing the memories contained in that collection.  The same Mum.  The same Dad.  The same family.  The same family history.  Our family’s story.

The truth … ?

Our truth comes mainly from this collection of albums (because photos don’t lie).  Yet we each know that each picture is a millisecond.  Many the result of posing and rearranging.  The ones we share surviving the editing, cutting and deleting in making up an album.  All of us were so attuned to the “instant smile” as a camera was pointed at us yet again.  All of us were so practiced at grimacing inside whilst smiling outside.  And these pictures are the result.  “That” is our shared family history – because pictures don’t lie.

Which gets in the way.  Because each of us also have our own individual recollections.  And those clash with that of others (even our own a lot of the time).  The truth is we are family.  That is the only truth.  So if we each wrote our own family history there would be massive differences as well as similarities (and none of you would be at all surprised).

Because each one of us – all of us anywhere and throughout time – have our own family identity way before we might write (or don’t write) anything at all.  We all have (mostly) those pictures, those conversations, those holidays, the doing stuff together and apart. We all have (mostly) the extended family and their visits, their memories and their pictures. We all have friends (mostly) – friends with some but not others – but “family friends”.  And family friends are always friends “of the family” – their memories are “of the family” (even though they may not remember one or another of us).

What matters most is “family.”

Why don’t we all open our bibles at this point … ?