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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The Good Samaritan?

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Follow-on from yesterday …

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“Perhaps that is why the “Passing By On The Other Side” parable is timeless.

When we don’t know the “other” it is easier to do or not do – to care or not care – to convince ourselves that not doing and not saying is the best response. Never admitting it is the least costly response.

“And that is why LOVE costs.“

Whether it is with a stranger or one of our own.”

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Just what is the cost of love?

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“And am I disagreeing with myself (again)?”  That is the cost of love

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See here for the full post.

Thank you –

 

Paul

Kitchen Table Conversation: Justice … (whose justice?) … !!

JUSTICE!!

“For a word that’s used so often, its precise definition is still a topic of debate for philosophers, theologians and legislators. Justice is often used interchangeably with the word “fairness.” In any situation, be it in a courtroom, at the workplace or in line at the local bar, we want to be treated fairly. We shouldn’t be judged more harshly because of our skin color, we shouldn’t be paid any less because of our gender, and we shouldn’t have to wait longer for a drink because of what we’re wearing. We feel we deserve equal and impartial treatment … For a victim, justice may be seeing a criminal put behind bars, or it may be monetary — the goal is to make the victim feel equal again.”   http://people.howstuffworks.com/what-is-justice.htm

JUSTICE!!

Justice statue, Old Bailey

Justice!!

forensic-sciences-and-miscarriages-of-justice-copia-2-728

Justice … !

“WE come now to justice. A specific habit differs from a specific faculty or science, as each of the latter covers opposites, e.g. the science of health is also the science of sickness; whereas the habit of justice does not cover but is opposed to the habit of injustice. Justice itself is a term used in various senses; and the senses in which injustice is used vary correspondingly. “

Aristotle, 350 BCE.

Justice …

(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’

Mark 7:3-5

Whose Justice?

“So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

Mark 1:39-41

I have a question:

Where do I find

Unconditional  Justice ?   

Social Justice? Judicial Justice? Secular Justice?  Religious Justice?  Universal Justice? Static Justice … or … Dynamic Justice? Justice for all … or … Justice for the downtrodden? At what age does Justice apply … to which demographics … to which cultures over another … how do we define Justice  … how do we define whose Justice? 

I am very simple and

this is all very complicated.

Let me show you

not just “justice” …

Let me show you 

– : – Love Unconditional – : –

and then let’s talk about

Justice

(please click on the “YouTube” icon on the bottom right corner, thank you)

My knee is God

There is a conversation happening right now. It’s about “munn-nee” – it’s about weird ideas – it’s about God. It’s about “why God” and “how God”. It’s about a concept that I have been pondering for a long time. It is about prayer, it is about worship, it is about church, it is about all these words we spray around in the misplaced confidence we are speaking clearly.

It’s about when I say “Money is good” and you hear “My knee is God.”

Many years ago before money was invented (but way after my knee was looking good), how did one “buy” anything? Were there any shops? Would there have been any “customers”? Would the very concept of “paying for things” been more than a joke? Would “Black Friday” have been more than an odd weather forecast?

“Munn-nee” – what’s that all about – we don’t need that – we are all doing very nicely thank you – keep your weird ideas to yourself, thank you!”

What is munn-nee – or my knee – or money? It’s not gold any longer. It‘s not necessarily piles of paper and coinage any more. It’s not anything really. And yet I can count numbers and know we are going broke. I can count numbers and know we are solvent.

“Solve ant” – what’s that all about … “

Before money was invented how would I explain that “money” is not really “anything” at all – but it is! And how would I illustrate that I was rich? How would I explain to someone that I was rich when all I have is a few grubby coins in my pocket – and a piece of plastic?

Would I show them my computer?

“Come put her” …. Where?  And … why would you want to … ?”

Would I show them my bank account online, all the transactions in and out – and the surplus left over? Would I take them “shopping” and “buy things” and watch their confusion grow as this “piece of plastic” is handed across and back again? Would they think this piece of plastic was God? That I carried God in my pocket and didn’t even worship Him? Just took God out when I wanted something? And then shoved God back in my pocket with all the other tat? Would they be convinced I was totally sane? Would they think I was God – oh crap … now there is a thought! What if they worshipped me and not my plastic? What would I do then?

You see Paul, when you are “unconditional love” and always have been – you kind of take it for granted. So I understand when you get all hung-up on the trivia. I can see why you might worship the “wrong things” in the “wrong way”. I understand that “unconditional” is a weird “munn-nee” concept.

So what would you do if you were Me? “Exterminate them” for getting “it wrong”? Run in the other direction as fast as you could? What would you do – what do YOU do?

If they and Me connect, if they and Me relate, if they and Me talk … they might just allow. They might allow Me – or they might allow darkness. Because once you “connect” – you always allow something. And that is where you come in. That is where all of you come in. That’ what this “make disciples” malarkey is all about. It’s about connecting.

But you are no more able to “convince” than I am. You are no more able to “close the deal” than I am. And I will NOT “close the deal”. Nor should you. Because you have here a small glimpse of “munn-nee” as money. But you have such a smaller glimpse of love as “LOVE”.

So when you try and explain LOVE … how do you explain what it is, why it is, what it can do, how it can do, where it can do, why it can do? Love is just like your “munn-nee”: Where is it? How do I touch it? How do I know it is Love?”

Thanks, God.

I wonder … story-time …

A bunch of us are completing some fundraising for a friend. This fellow has over 300 Facebook friends! This fellow has met all his Facebook friends personally. That makes him “celebrity” in my book!

And this fellow is the friend with whom we stay in Turkey. And he was in need. And his “friends” were thousands of miles away not in Turkey. And we offered our best wishes on Facebook as you do.  But He whispered: “Fundraising … crowd-funding … JustGiving … Paul.”

So I did. A page of words with a number. A page on a computer screen. Press a button and by magic it is on your computer screen. Those same words and that same number. And all the people who were offered those words chose to pass by or to respond. My friend has over 300 Facebook Friends. Those words and that number were read by many (many!) more.

So far 85 have responded with munn-nee. And it is enough. The number has been met (and exceeded). And that number is munn-nee. Money that will make a massive difference – it already has and they (he and his family) have not yet seen a penny. The words and the number and the response of so few (or so many?) has already made a difference. It has connected something deep in each of us with something deep in each of us.

And what was important throughout was to offer a journey.  To embrace those who joined this small journey.  To allow all to join the walking together.  And to celebrate community.

But what about those who “passed by”? Are they not wrong?

Let me ask you this …  in a world full of need, in a global community all asking for help for someone or something … how many times do you pass by?  I know I do.  I pass by many times.  And sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I connect.  This occasion it was “CONNECTION” for me.  But not for all.  Does that make “them” wrong? I don’t think so.

So this morning I wonder – does my story make any sense in this confusion we call “God” … ?

“When you try and explain LOVE … how do you explain what it is, why it is, what it can do, how it can do, where it can do, why it can do?”

Let’s allow – not disallow. Let’s connect – not insulate. Let’s be gentle with each other. Because when we do – we might just see what is deep within each of us.

And then we won’t need words.

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NB:
Where is the conversation taking place? My little chatter today is prompted by the wonderful comments below this post: Secret Santa Worship Day II

What is the fundraising all about? If you are interested in the details, here is the link with an explanation
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