All Things Hold Together

 

“For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up, the Universe will end in ice.” Saul Perlmutter, astrophysicist

~~~

I find it interesting that light tells us where we have been. Astrophysicist and Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter and his team of astronomers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory focused the most advanced telescopes on 80 super luminous Type 1a supernova. Using red shift (a Doppler-like effect, the wave lengths of light rays increase towards the red end of the spectrum when the source recedes from the viewer) to determine the speed of recession of distant galaxies, Perlmutter concluded from the data that the universe was accelerating its expansion-the universe was expanding faster and faster. 

And since the known universe has only about 20% of the mass density needed to affect a slowdown and then a stop and a re-Bang, Perlmutter concluded that the universe must be infinite.

Guess who stands at each end of infinite?

Guess what Light has no red shift or shadow of turning?

Guess which Cosmological Constant is greater than the one once proposed and later rescinded by Einstein and is now back on the table after scientists learned about Perlmutter’s findings?

Sound trumpets. Now tympani. Start your crescendo all instruments of praise…

“I am the Alpha and the Omega…” Revelation 1:8

“I am the first and the last…” Revelation 1:17

“Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13

Guess Who will meet you at every level of your existence and at any time during your existence and at every question you have during your existence?

Guess Who you will meet when you study biology, chemistry, anthropology, origins, genetics, physics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine and engineering?

Guess Who you will meet when you think science and faith are acting incompatible and seem to be accelerating in opposite directions based on cultural shift readings?

See the above. The audacious claims that Jesus makes in Revelation mean that…at the beginning of any sequence and at the end of any sequence is the Person Jesus. In the middle of the sequence is the Person Jesus.

At every level of study, in every field of science, in every atom, quark, super-quark and boson, if you go to infinity and beyond…you will encounter Jesus. The Hound of Heaven is looking for you there.

Let’s get personal for a moment, as did the Psalm writer.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139: 7-12

Perfect love casts out fear, so start here:

“Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts” 139: 23

 

~~~

You wonder if God is silent. You watch a movie about God’s supposed Silence based on a novel written in 1966 by the same name. Like the main characters, you may even stand on the face of Jesus and commit apostasy because you think that God doesn’t hear and doesn’t see what is going on in your space and time. You behave as you think God should behave in that situation. Your perception of God, as observed through the prevalent Epicurean/Deist worldview, is reaffirmed: God must be off somewhere in the cosmos and not involved in man’s day to day life; God won’t save his own; we are our own salvation and other’s salvation; God is silent, therefore we must act.

You watch a sci-fi movie about the Arrival of aliens. The main character must learn the language of the aliens to gain the alien’s purpose for coming and to learn whether or not a threat to earth is imminent. Near the end of the movie the main character has a salvific vision. In the vision, time is shuffled as a language and an understanding barrier are overcome, vertically and horizontally. A world saving decision is made. Then, at the end of the movie, a personal choice is made, the ends of which are reconnected to the beginning of the movie.

 

Two movies. The one reveals a lack of personal knowledge about the Alpha and Omega. This accounts for a lack of faith and for actions done out of fear. The second movie attempts to show that a personal encounter with another that is completely other. The main character seeks to understand the other’s language. Full understanding comes from a personal encounter with the alien. The acquired personal knowledge brings about saving transformation for everyone involved.

Now imagine the personal knowledge that you would gain from this lesson: you are the bride at your wedding. Your head server tells you that you are out of wine just when the party is ready to get on the floor and dance. At that moment the Beginning and the End does a work of transubstantiation: Jesus turns the physical properties of water into wine.

For your personal knowledge, here is a poem about the centrality and supremacy of Jesus, from Paul’s letter to the Colossian church:

 

He is the image of God, the invisible one,

The first born of all creation

For in him all things were created,

In the heavens and here on earth.

Things which we can see and things we cannot-

Thrones and lordships and rulers and powers-

All things were created both through him and for him.

 

And he is ahead, prior to all else,

And in him all things hold together;

And he himself is supreme, the head

Over the body, the church.

 

He is the start of it all,

First born from the realms of the dead;

So in in all things he might be the chief.

For in him all the Fullness was glad to dwell

And through him to reconcile all to himself,

Making peace though the blood of his cross,

Through him-yes, things on earth,

And also the things in heaven.

Colossians 1: 15-20

Now, one may read this and say, “this passage is all about Jesus and not about me and my worries”. I say to them, “Read the passage again, but this time see that “all things” includes you and your worries.”  ”And in him all things hold together…”. Wherever you are broken, confused or lost Jesus is there to heal and make whole.

 

Fear often paralyzes us. Then, as we sit in the dark unknown biting our nails and thinking that God is uncommunicative, we act. In so doing, we deny the Alpha and the Omega an encounter with the beginning and the end of our fears. We also deny ourselves a personal knowledge that will sustain going forward. Consider Peter walking on the water until fear kicks his legs out from under him.

Perhaps your universe is expanding faster than you can keep up with it. When there is change and accelerating change, remember that God was there when it began and God is there when it ends.  If God can hold all things together in the cosmos, why not hold onto God-The Ultimate Theory of Everything– for the ride of your life?

 

Meditate on this:

Jesus said, “ἐγὼ τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω”

The “Anything Goes” Flood

 

“This is the lie that is at the heart of our society, the lie that encourages every form of destructive self-indulgence to flourish: for while we ascribe our conduct to pressures from without, we obey the whims that well up from within, thereby awarding ourselves carte blanche to behave as we choose. Thus we feel good about behaving badly.” ― Theodore Dalrymple, Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

~~~

Warning! Mixed Metaphors Ahead!

So last night I had a dream…

The past several days I was made hyper aware of the inundation of God’s world with a flood of “the world, the flesh and the Devil.” We know from Scripture that God promised to never flood the world again. His promise would be signified by a rainbow for all to see. God will keep his promise even as the level of man’s inhumanity and depravity rises again.

This last Friday in particular, I sensed the overwhelming “Anything Goes” flood waters of a world system that detests Jesus as Lord. I decided to take Friday off from work, as my workload had slowed. As usual I went to the fitness club to work out first thing in the morning. Inside, the background noise turned foreground noise – a percussive sound – was so loud and so overwhelming and so meaningless in content that I had to use ear plugs and listen to the TV on the elliptical machine to drown out its convulsive effects.

After working out I ventured over to my favorite breakfast restaurant, the one I visit every weekend. The waitresses know me. The service and the food are good. The background music, not so much. And then there is Liz. Liz has waited on me many times. When Liz fills out the check it is impossible for me not to notice the creeping scrawl of tattoos that cover her arms. Liz asks me if I want the usual (what I’ve ordered over and over for three years, now). I say yes. Liz repeats the order to me and gets it wrong. Every time, she gets it wrong. “OK”, I said to myself again, “life is hard”.

After breakfast I went to a large grocery store, a store like Target. I needed to pick up a few things before heading home. Again, the background pop music is flooding forward into the large cavernous room bringing with it cultural rot –lyrics (not the right descriptor) that slither around an accelerating tribal dance beat.

I go home to rest. I turn on the TV to check the stock market news and sure enough commercials flood the room with their raised volume level and carnival barker announcements of products that will fix whatever ails your modern life. Everything is for sale in our culture.

Later in the day, I decided to go out for dinner. The temperature outside was 90 degrees. And, I cook every day, so I tell myself, “Why not go out for a change?” I check out a new “Modern Japanese Cuisine” restaurant in town. I enter and see the hostess looking deeply into her Smartphone. Out of the corner of her eye she notices me at the door and picks up a menu while looking at her phone. She throws the menu onto a table that is between the only two tables in the restaurant where people are eating.  There are about hundred open seats elsewhere. No matter. I pick up the menu and move to a table I like.

Minnie, the tattooed waitress who looked barely 21, came to my table. I asked about a certain Sake. She couldn’t answer. So, I asked based on the pricing, “It looks like the smaller price is for a glass and the larger price is for a Sake carafe?” She couldn’t answer. I then said that I wanted to try a small (I used my fingers to show her small!) glass of sake. Five minutes later and she’s back at my table to ask me what size I wanted, of the two sizes. I go along and tell again, using sign language and words.

Minnie brings the Sake and takes my food order: a Bento box with teriyaki beef. (I like sushi, but I haven’t had teriyaki in a while and besides, I saw that the Sushi chef had tattoos.) Fifteen minutes later Minnie returns with my Bento box. She uncovers the box. The meat portion looks teriyaki-ish so I don’t think there is an issue. But then I pull off some of the meat with my chopsticks and realize that she brought me teriyaki salmon instead.

It took several attempts, in the almost empty restaurant, to flag Minnie down. When I told her my dinner order was wrong it was like I slapped her out of a trance. I was starting to see a pattern develop.

~~~

Last Friday I experienced only some of the effects of what I see as the flood waters “of man’s inhumanity and depravity rising again”. Look around, carefully. You will see TV shows called “Real Housewives of…” which depict mostly women clawing and fighting to be top cat. You will see TV shows of the Kardashians where women preen and fawn over themselves before you, the mirror. You will see sitcoms which trivialize God and exalt man (and his social science). If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

You will see movies of fantasies – superheroes who save mankind within two or so hours and who need to be recycled to save the world again and again (for profit). There is also the trio of leave-nothing-to-the-imagination-PC-approved characters who presume to speak for God in The Shack fantasy (see my previous post). If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

There is the upcoming Chicago Gay pride parade on June 25th with its flood of manmade rainbows meant to stave off judgment for its celebration of inhuman behavior. If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

Christians are so inundated by the world system that it is easy for them to take it in and accept its sashaying flirtations with evil as just “fun and peace and love”, to accept gays as being “differently ordered” instead of “objectively disordered” (a change in terms for the Catholic Church as directed by Pope Francis)

I could write a whole lot more about the rising level of inhumanity, about abortions, euthanasia, homosexuality, about Disney’s social justice animation, about climate change population control, etc. Suffice it to say, if the Spirit of God is living in you, you will experience the dissonance: the unrelenting and pummeling sounds of this world system demanding submission and the voice of God asking you to follow here and now.

 

One example of a response to the latter:

 

Important Note: In writing these things, I am not judging these people. I am observing that this world is hurting. I and all believers are a royal priesthood who stand between earth and heaven to intercede for a world that is hurting. When I see the tattoos, I pray for the person. When I hear commercials, I pray for those who are in pain, in need, who seek relief for the struggle of everyday life. When I tweet debate a homosexual I pray for their emotional and psychological needs and for the seed of the Word to be planted and to take root. Within every situation I encounter I am learning to pray in the Spirit for the person before me.

~~~

Keep in mind the words (and mandate) of those around the throne:

 

“With your own blood you purchased a people for God and made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5

 

Keep in mind this warning from the Apostle Paul in his circular letter to the churches around Ephesus (Chap. 5):

“So don’t get involved in the works of darkness, which all come to nothing. Instead, expose them! The things they do in secret, you see, are shameful even to talk about. But everything becomes visible when it’s exposed to the light, since everything that is visible is light. That’s why it says:

Wake up, you sleeper!

Rise from the dead!

The Messiah will shine on you!

So take special care how you conduct yourselves. Don’t be unwise, but be wise. Make use of every opportunity you have, because these are wicked times we live in. So don’t be foolish; rather, understand what the will of the Lord is. And don’t be drunk with wine; that way lies in dissipation. Rather, be filled with the spirit! Speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.

Note:  the “Wake up, you sleeper! quote Paul uses is likely from an early Christian poem or song.

~~~

So, last night I had a dream: I am sitting in the backyard of what I perceive to be my house. I am sitting next to someone I perceive to be my spouse. I look up and in the kitchen window of my house are two men in dark suits with guns. I perceive they have taken over the house. Next, I see them tearing up our passports. My spouse says to me, “You need to take care of this.” So, I get up and go look for my handgun which is in my car in the driveway, but then I sense that my car is parked at the train station. I then felt helpless against the two men. I wake up.

Sin is a Symptom

(or, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Idol)

“In most popular Christianity, “heaven” (and “fellowship with God” in the present) is the goal, and “sin” (bad behavior, deserving punishment) is the problem. A Platonized goal and a moralizing diagnosis—and together they lead, as I have been suggesting, to a paganized “solution” in which an angry divinity is pacified by human sacrifice. The zealous theological Boy Scouts have gotten it wrong. Humans are made not for “heaven,” but for the new heavens and new earth.

“The human problem is not so much “sin” seen as the breaking of moral codes—though that, to be sure, is part of it, just as the headaches and blurry vision really were part of the medical problem—but rather idolatry and the distortion of genuine humanness it produces. These two mistakes go together, reinforcing the basic heaven-and-earth dualism that continues to haunt Western theology.”

From The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion by N. T. Wright. (Emphasis added)

David Hockney, Untitled, Portrait of an Artist, Pool with Two Figures, 1971 © David Hockney

 

Artemis of Ephesus

Artemis of Ephesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ox and the Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~

“The church is never more in danger than when it sees itself simply as the solution-bearer and forgets that every day it too must say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and allow that confession to work its way into genuine humility even as it stands boldly before the world and its crazy empires. In particular, it is a problem if and when a “Christian” empire seeks to impose its will dualistically on the world by labeling other parts of the world “evil” while seeing itself as the avenging army of God. That is more or less exactly what Jesus found in the Israel of his day. The cross was and remains a call to a different vocation, a new way of dealing with evil and ultimately a new vision of God.” ~ N. T. Wright

The Dream Weaver

 

Jack opened the door and rolled his suitcase into his apartment. He put the bird cage down on its shelf by the window. He threw his keys onto the Feng Shui bowl of rocks.  There was no cat to greet him. He didn’t like cats. There was no dog to greet him because he traveled 90 percent of the time. There was no wife to greet him. His wife divorced him because she needed someone 200 percent of the time. There was Henry, the parrolet, and the recliner and the comforter his mother made.

Jack switched on the answering machine.  The last message: “Rid your lawn of weeds and brown spots. Have a thicker greener lawn today! This offer is for a limited time only. Act now!”

After apologizing to the cactus, Jack watered it. And then he remembered he hadn’t eaten since Atlanta.

The freezer held empty ice cube trays and a cheese pizza. Tomorrow he would buy some groceries for the weekend. He’d be on a plane again Monday morning. Pizza would do.

After setting the oven temp, Jack sat down and poked the remote. The same old nothing was on the TV: political back and forth that was going nowhere; commercials for drugs to put a smile on your face if you could stomach the side-effects; dramas of cops and robbers and adventure flicks about mayhem and superheroes to undo the mayhem. Jack settled on a baseball game, his version of Feng Shui.

“Order now.”

“What?” Jack looked over at Henry. “Does my sister must leave the TV on all day long, Buddy Bird?”

“Order now.”

“We’ve been apart too long.”

“Order now.”

“Ugh.”

 

Jack wasn’t about to watch Andy of Mayberry again. He watched Andy and Barney almost every night that he was on the road.

Jack found Andy of Mayberry on a channel in his Ramada Inn room in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. He found Andy and Barney on his room’s TV in Rio, Brazil. He found Andy on his TV in Bialystok, Poland, and in Seoul, South Korea and in Hermosillo, Mexico and in the rooms of the fifty states he traveled to for his job. The program was Jack’s version of a friend, as was Henry.

Now Henry stayed with Jack’s sister Linda when Jack traveled. Linda loved Henry’s tiny robot-sounding voice. Until tonight, “Like it?” was Henry’s standard answer to any verbal cue. He would bob his head up and down as he said it over and over. Linda would keep the conversation going for several minutes, bobbing her head up and down, parroting Henry. Jack figured they were both entertained while he was on the road. He had Andy of Mayberry and the endless commercials telling you to order now before it’s too late.

The oven was ready. Jack unwrapped the pizza and placed it on the oven rack. He set the timer and then sat back down.

“Order now.”

“I ordered my pizza, Buddy Bird.”

“Order now.’

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Order now.”

“I wish this catcher would order a fastball right now.”

When the oven timer went off Jack shut off the oven. He removed the pizza and sliced it into quarters. He plopped down two slices on a paper plate and sat back down.

“Oh, that was a beauty.”

The pizza filled him and made him tired. Jack’s eyes watered. His eyelids, heavy, closed. Then, a weird commercial played.

“If you order today, you will have a friend for life. But hurry, this is a limited time offer. Our inventory is going fast, but if you order now, you will have a much-needed friend.”

Jack roused when the game announcer yelled, “He got back to first, just in time”.

But his eye lids and now his stomach felt heavier. Jack laid his head back down on the recliner. He pulled the comforter up to his shoulders. He dozed off in the dimly lit room.

The room where he found himself was dark except for a vignette of kitchen table. Sitting across from him at the table was a familiar face. Ken spoke. “If I win this hand of poker I want you to put on this Speedo and be my houseboy, my amusement. I want you to clean up my house. This offer is for a limited time only. Act now!” Then Jack saw himself face down on a bed and Ken trying to rope him to a bed frame. Jack broke free. He began riding his bike as fast as he could, his heart pounding faster than his feet could pedal.

Jack lurched upright in the recliner. Then his legs kicked straight out. As they did they almost knocked over the TV tray. Jack shook his head as if to shake the dream out of his thoughts. “Man!”

A commercial for window cleaner was airing: “Your windows will be spotless, your view spectacular. This product has been specially formulated. Buy one bottle now and get the second one free. That’s right! Buy one bottle now and get the second one free. Shipping and handling will apply.”

The game was over. Jack got up and covered Henry’s cage. He sat back down and covered himself in the comforter. He watched the news.

“The Peruvian mudslide has left thousands homeless. Intense rains over the last several days have dislodged acres of soil swamping homes in mud. An eyewitness had this to say:”

“There’s a person there!”

The on-the-scene reporter walked over to the man and spoke to the camera: “She is referring to this man now completely covered in mud. We learned that he had just dropped his two daughters at school and was feeding his pigs with his wife when they were pulled into a landslide. The man’s wife told us that they had climbed a tree but the trunk broke.”

The news program broke to a commercial. Jack blinked his eyes several times hoping to stay awake. He just got home from a long road trip. He wanted to savor being home. He wanted to submerge himself in home.

As he let himself sink deep into that pleasure an image came up. He saw himself in his old dorm room lying on his bed. He turned over and saw his college roommate staring at him. Tim was sitting next to his bed watching him sleep. Tim climbed into his bed and threw his arm over Jack. Tim whispered, “I am in the business of love. This night has been specially formulated. Shipping and handling may apply.” Then Jack saw himself scurrying out of his 35th floor dorm window and climbing a tree. Then the tree broke and mud washed over him. “Help! There’s a person here!”

Jack awoke with a chill. The comforter was on the floor. “Man! What’s going on in the ether tonight?” He shook his head to discharge the dream. He shut everything off and went to bed.

 

On Saturday Jack finalized his travel plans. He’d get up early Monday morning and try to beat the snow storm out east. The weatherman was forecasting a winter storm. It would affect the northeast. Jack took note, as he would travel to Albany, New York on Monday. “Oh, great. More airport lounges,” he thought out loud.

 

Sunday evening Jack drove to his sister’s house. He was dropping off Henry.

“Hey. Here’s your favorite bird.” Jack lifted the cage and showed Melanie. “Go easy on her Henry. She can only handle a few words,” Jack teased his sister.

“Mel, no more commercials for this guy. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.”

“Shakespeare it is for you Mr. Henry.” Mel smiled. “To be or not to be.”

“Like it.” Henry chimed in.

“Are you asking or telling?” Jack queried the bird.

“Order now.”

“Ugh. See you next Friday kiddo.”

“Have a good trip.” Mel hugged Jack.

 

Once back home Jack packed his bag and set the alarm for 3:30 AM. He cooked himself a steak and settled down in front of the TV.

He laid back and began thinking of his travel plans. At one point he thought he should get up and check his flight online again. But gravity was holding him recliner bound. He fell asleep.

And that is when he saw himself standing in the hallway of his dorm. The RA asked him to come to the lounge to talk. The RA told him that Steven his new roommate had been killed in a car crash on the way to his wedding rehearsal. The RA said a snow storm caused the crash. Then Jack could see the snow. He could see the crash. And then he saw himself at the bottom of a deep well. Aunt Bee was there. She was showing Jack the comforter she had brought for him. On the comforter was a tag which said “I knit all things together for good.”

Jack then realized that he was holding a large bucket in his left hand. The overflowing bucket was sobbing. It occurred to Jack that the bucket contained loneliness, pain and suffering. Jack looked over at his right hand. A hand in his was pulling him up. Another hand placed the comforter on his head like a shawl. The weight of the bucket in his left hand was causing a terrible strain across his arms and shoulders. He cried out, “Help me dad!” Jack was in so much pain he couldn’t speak. But there were words without words. His speech had turned to loud groaning.

Then, out of his insides came a rush of anguish and sadness so great that he thought that he would be turned inside out. His legs were now being lifted off the ground. He stretched them down to touch the earth. As he did he felt a painful contraction in his left leg. Jack let go of everything and when he did he heard a warning sound. His eyes flashed open.

The alarm clock was beeping. Jack tapped the “Off” button. He noticed as he reached for the alarm clock that there was a severe cramp in his left leg. The stabbing pain made him cringe. He messaged his leg for a minute and then pulled himself out of bed. Other than the pain in his leg, he felt strangely warmed.

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Onward Christian Fortresses?

 

Viewed from the six lane highway, the structure appears to be a brick fortress surrounded by acres of treeless grass and a vast moonscape of parking lot. The function without form building inspires no awe, no upward glance and no transcendent thought. The surrounding barren landscape contains no greenhouse, no food or flower gardens, no observatory and no animal shelter. There is nothing of nature’s bounty in my view, only the requisite shrubs to offset the stark landscape. Behold, another mega-church built to feed the souls of six thousand; another unadorned mega-church in a far western suburb of architecturally savvy Chicago.

Every other Saturday I visit someone several towns away. As I do I pass this mega-church going and coming, typically between 10 and 11:30 am. This Saturday, like all the other times before, I saw, again to my astonishment, that there were no cars in the parking lot. There was no activity whatsoever. I wondered at a stewardship that builds a Scripture fort surrounded by acres of asphalt parking that is to be filled only periodically by the six thousand. The transmutation of creation into an austere block complex hurt my soul to see. And, what about the transmutation of the six thousand?

As a child, I first attended a Baptist church and later, Bible/Free churches. Beauty was a no show at these churches. There were, of course, colorful Sunday school materials – what is considered Christian education resources – for the kids. And with a constant pamphlet diet – a three point sermon with alliteration – there was no hunger for intellectual activity. I observed, as did Mark Noll in his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind“: The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” I saw extreme resistance to obtaining knowledge. The pews were there to be used, but scholarly books, not so much. It would not be too far off to say that understanding was gained by and strictly limited to what the Bible ‘teachers’, self-help pablum and popular seminars say the Bible says.

Over some fifty years I have heard the same bad theology passed down from generation to generation. Not once in the Bible church did I ever hear a sermon or a class talk about the Kingdom of God being here and now – a major thrust of the four Gospels. The sermons, to an Amen, were, “You need to get saved so you can get to heaven. If you are saved then you need to come forward to rededicate your life. Then you must think seriously about becoming a missionary. Everyone must get to heaven because this world will be judged harshly.” Imagine how our world would change if we prayed for and practiced “on earth as it is in heaven”, and prepared for the return of our King? He will be bringing heaven down to earth to join them together.

There was and is also the highly profitable Rapture fantasy series based on a mis-reading of the Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. And, of course, there is the teaching of a literal six-day creationism. Science must be eschewed as being antagonistic toward God and His Word. I learned otherwise on my own.

And, there is the constant reiteration of the mis-understanding of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Sadly, Romans, since the Reformation and the Enlightenment, has been reduced to a quirky systematic theology – all about us. Paul’s circular letter to the Christians in and around Rome speaks of God’s plan to redeem his creation. The letter is a well thought out dissertation reminding Jewish and gentile Christians in Rome of God’s covenantal faithfulness, his righteousness. It was meant to reinforce an Old Testament understanding of God’s plan for redeeming his creation that was in place all along.

I never heard this at church. Instead, I heard the four spiritual laws imposed onto Romans. And with this I was taught that God imputes – gives – his righteousness to me, sinner that I am. But, this thinking has no basis in Romans given its Scriptural context of Genesis 15 and the Abrahamic covenant. Regarding my righteousness: I am made righteous in the law court of God by God’s exercise of His covenant faithfulness and his desire to put the world to right.

I don’t recall anyone over those years, except for a few visiting professors, who seriously studied theology, N.T. Greek or Hebrew to understand the context of what was written. Often, the visiting seminary professors would reassert the same bad theology using highfalutin terms and out-of-context proof texts.

I have heard countless sermons based on poached verses to create a ‘relevant” topic to preach on Sunday mornings. Relevance and accommodation are apparently key to mega-ness. The mega-church I’ve mentioned offers two services: traditional and contemporary worship. As such, this church divides the Body of Christ into sects for mega-accommodation.

Am I jaded about the Evangelical church? After many years of being involved with these Bible churches, in some sense I am. That is perhaps why I can see the six thousand continuing to come back to the mega-church because it looks… bigly: “There has to be something for me inside this Yuge Assembly of Bricks Church.”

If the election of Donald Trump, supported by the many Evangelicals who voted for him tells you anything, and if the existence of the mega-church tells you anything it is that the Evangelical assembly line approach to Christianity must go onward. And, Bible fortresses must be built.

~~~

A coincidence? I found this audio link on Twitter this morning:

Reflections on horrible preaching

~~~

“The day-to-day services of the Christian churches are embarrassing reminders of the fact that religion is losing its sublime godwardness, and turning instead towards the world of mass production.”

― Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture

“Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as though it did not matter.” ―Roger Scruton, Beauty

What is revealed to me in the experience of beauty is a fundamental truth about being – the truth that being is a gift, and receiving it is a task. This is a truth of theology that demands exposition as such.” ― Roger Scruton, Face of God: the Gifford Lectures

“The point of Christian scholarship is not recognition by standards established in the wider culture. The point is to praise God with the mind. Such efforts will lead to the kind of intellectual integrity that sometimes receives recognition. But for the Christian that recognition is only a fairly inconsequential by-product. The real point is valuing what God has made, believing that the creation is as “good” as he said it was, and exploring the fullest dimensions of what it meant for the Son of God to “become flesh and dwell among us.” Ultimately, intellectual work of this sort is its own reward, because it is focused on the only One whose recognition is important, the One before whom all hearts are open.” ― Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

What is Faith?

 

“Let all things be done decently and in order” I Corinthians 14:40

 

The above verse was repeated so often by my father that it became a joking family rejoinder to whatever was askew at the moment.

My Dutch grandparents epitomized the verse. Their tiny two-bedroom bungalow in Bellwood, Illinois was immaculate. The bungalow’s smaller yard was well-manicured and well-guarded by a chain link fence against intruders of all kinds including rabbits that munched on Marigolds.

My father, before I was born, left the Dutch Christian Reformed church and what he considered its old-country austerity, an austerity that seemed to be reinforced by his hot-tempered foul-mouthed truck-driving father, who “cleaned up” for the Sunday Morning service.

My Swedish grandparents and my mother belonged to a Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church in the Andersonville area of Chicago were they also lived. Like Dutch immigrants, Swedish immigrants were very concerned about cleanliness and presenting a proper and well-kept image to their neighbors. These two immigrant groups were thrilled to be in the New World. The Old World had become too unyielding to make a decent living.

At one point my parents met (in a decent and orderly fashion, of course) and my father aligned himself for a time with the church my mom attended. They would soon marry and later attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. That is when and where I was born. The word became flesh and was placed in a crib over a Chinese take-out restaurant.

Fast forward to eleven years after my birth and I am sitting in a Bible church hearing the Four Spiritual Laws for the thousandth time, during a Vacation Bible School assembly. I decided then and there that I would ask Jesus into my heart. My friend did so at the same time. We both received a new Bible after we came forward. The New Bible was the draw for me at the time. A kid will take anything that is free, except peas and carrots.

 

Now, why am I telling you this? Everything in life emerges from relationship. Everything!

 

When someone considers God, they view God through a lens of their worldview or weltanschauung. Most, I suspect, view God through the relationship they have or have had with their parents. The parental relationship may be one of ‘happily ever after’ or one of rancor, division and divorce. A child’s view of God may become skewed when only one parent cares for him or her and the other parent is out of the picture most of the time or all of the time.

The person considering God may also have their view of God reinforced by whatever authority is in their lives, whether it be benevolent or malevolent. He or she may further view God as distant or absent or a non-issue. He or she may view God, as I believe most do, as himself or herself projected. Much of what is called social justice today is a projection of “what would Jesus as me do?” And, he or she may view God as “values-adjusted-God” to reflect one’s compromised ‘ethical’ life, as many Christians do.

But, what about God external to all rational thought and emotional bonding? Our limited minds, our limited reasoning can only summon the past to outline what it is we think we know in the present. And then such determination is a matter of interpretation, whether affixed on atheism or on theism. I suggest that relationship is key to knowing what it is you know and to what you don’t know. And yes, not knowing (meekness, teachableness) is a matter of acquiring humility in today’s Post-Enlightenment world. For a Christian worldview, holding rational thought, paradox and mystery in tension is, I believe, essential. Truth-seekers require both left and right brain hemispheres to be put to work. Why?

The Left-brain does not know what it does not know. The right-brain looks at the big picture and sees that there is mystery. It receives the paradox and supplies the left brain with context the Left-brain doesn’t see. The left brain sees detail and seeks certainty to manipulate the world. The right brain sees the big picture and hands off the context to the left brain for processing.

The Enlightenment has pushed thinking including the consideration of God, into the realm of black and white “certainty” and away from paradox and mystery, away from big questions. The media’s constant barrage of images, of ad-hoc fantasy overwhelms the right-brain, hindering its imagining of a cosmos greater than a tweet or 1440 x 2560 pixels.

Truly, the medium is a message evangelist. The perverse rapid-fire images that we view daily in anonymity enjoin us to paganism.

And as reflected, today’s Epicureans say the gods are distant and so I’ll surround myself with friends who will let say what my truth is and I’ll find sensate pleasure to offset any questions or concerns.

The many atheists (they call themselves “atheists”) I have engaged in conversations all at some point demand certainty. They will ask, “How can any rational mind accept that there is a God?” Well, a purely rational mind cannot know that there is a God. The Left-brain hemisphere will always seek certainty and never find it. The Left-brain hemisphere will always see fragmented pieces of data that mean nothing in themselves. The right-brain ‘sees’ the whole picture including what it doesn’t know and is OK with what it doesn’t know. The right-brain intuits that there is more that can be known while the left-brain balks at such ambiguity.

In my debates with atheists I say that I cannot prove that there is a God but that there is a very high probability that there is a God based on the design of Creation and the extreme fine-tuning of the universe. I mention the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity. All four finely adjusted constants make life on earth possible.

I go on to say that we only are aware of 5% of the universe and there is 95% of it that we don’t know about, including dark energy and dark matter.  I ask them that “if they can accept the mystery that light is both a wave and a particle why can’t they accept the mystery of a God beyond their understanding?” They are held in check for a moment. They expected me to “blather on about what the Bible says”.  I go on then to tell them that I have a personal relationship with the Infinite-Personal God that is reinforced by my reading of Scripture and my knowledge of the universe and prayer. (This is experiential knowledge that is at least equal to any atheist experiential knowledge). At this point, the atheist will often resort to calling me names and dismissing me out of hand. Out of these many conversations I have come to see that these same folks reject any notion of a relationship with God. Their worldview blocks all other light. So, I try to present a reasonable doubt for the case an atheist presents to me

 

I didn’t know it at the time but my eleven-year-old acceptance of Jesus would become an intimate relationship with Jesus. The big thrust in those days was to get saved and get your ticket to heaven and be ready to get raptured out of here. Sure, there was mention of Jesus as your personal Savior, but the personal part seemed to be that “Jesus died for you and you better behave before you leave this earth on the day of rejoicing”.

As I recall those days, the rigmarole surrounding being “saved” seemed artificial and trite. I heard the same salvation message week after week after week. I was starving for more than the reduction of the get-saved-and-get-the-hell-out-of-here salvation-gospel into 140 characters. As an eleven-year old the only big-ticket ‘certainty’ I had was the intuition that there was a Creator God who loved me. And, my intuition told me that the Eucharist was where to find the immediate reality of Jesus. After all of the twists and turns and sinful trajectories of my life I found a church where the Eucharist provided me the True Reality I sought.

Years later, I have learned to trust the Lord’s covenant faithfulness, which is the righteousness of (not from) God:

God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith.” Romans 3:22

What is faith then?

I observe God working in my life daily and in the lives of others I pray for. I see and wonder at the intelligent design of the universe as unfolded over 14.8 billion years. Prayer, mediation and contemplation through music, art and literature informs and strengthens my relationship with the Lord. I hear God speaking to me. My worldview, once colored by projections, has become less opaque, less cloudy, as I am led by the Spirit.

You see, faith is an eye-opening relationship in the absence of logical certainty.

 

“I pray that the God of King Jesus our Lord, the father of glory, would give you, in your spirt, the gift of being wise, of seeing things people can’t normally see, because you are coming to know him, and to have the eyes of your inmost self opened to God’s light.” -the Apostle Paul writing to the churches around Ephesus, 1: 17

~~~

My parent’s life verse speaks of relationship, of covenantal faithfulness, of things working out decently and in order in God’s purview:

“We know in fact, that God works all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

~~~

Open thou mine eyes

Open thou mine eyes and I shall see, Incline my heart and I shall desire, Order my steps and I shall walk In the ways of thy commandments.

Open thou mine eyes and I shall see, Incline my heart and I shall desire, Order my steps and I shall walk In the ways of thy commandments.

O Lord God, be thou to me a God And beside thee let there be none else, No other, nought else with thee. Vouchsafe to me to worship thee and serve thee According to thy commandments In truth of spirit, In reverence of body, In blessing of lips, In private and in public.

 

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

A Post in Times…

 

Let’s begin with a few quick scenarios – reflections on life in 2016 into 2017:

Scenario 1:

The mayor of a major city publicly welcomes illegal immigrant “dreamers,” under the rubric of not seeming unwelcoming. The mayor wants to appear humane and magnanimous as he freely gives out the keys to our city, much like German Chancellor Angela Merkel has done (to the regret of the women molested and raped by the welcomed immigrants). In so doing the mayor and the city council has and is welcoming into our city a group of people who are not all like Rahm Emanuel’s sentimental sop would have us believe:  parents and grandparents just like his or just plain students.  Rather those ‘welcomed” in our city include the likes of fleeing felons, ambitious drug dealers, hiding sexual predators, indoctrinated jihadists and territorial gang members. Included, also, are those with mental health issues.

What do you think these ‘dreamers’ dream of doing? And isn’t violence, not relationship building, their modus operandi? The mayor and the city council of Chicago have naively (?) welcomed in the lawless with their penchant for violence, including violence with stolen guns. It should be noted by all that those who would break the law do not register gun ownership as law-abiding citizens do. Those who would break the law do not want to be caught. This common-sense thinking is not something one finds in the ways and means of Chicago’s mayor or city council. Instead we find that nothing has changed except an increase of violence due to the promotion of the lawlessness of illegal immigration.

I see the local news every day. The news reports detail the fact that the south and west sides of Chicago are permeated with violent types. The news reports show mothers weeping over children being shot and killed. The news reports show community marches demanding the violence be stopped. Enter the gun control meme pushed by the media’s talking heads – “Gun Violence Erupts Over the Weekend.”

Nothing, of course, is said in the media about the kinds of people found on our city’s streets. Instead, the media’s headlines distract from the illegal immigrant problem and so many other inner city social issues such as mental health and the dehumanizing effects of being on welfare long-term. Often, idle hands do tend to the devil’s work.

The hyped solution for those in positions of political power: the promotion of “gun control” laws, including a gun registry rather than an illegal immigrant registry. Again, who signs up for a “gun registry”? Only those citizens who obey the law sign up. The bad guys ‘know’ better.

“Gun control” is the mayor’s and the city council’s ‘means’ to deal (read: redirect attention from their own actions and to pacify the crying mothers) with the unintended consequences of placing a “Welcoming City” banner over our city. It is now open season in Chicago. By the way, “Welcoming City” hokum is meant to maintain Federal government subsidies for a city and state struggling to make ends meet during the mass exodus of its citizens.

When a drunk driver kills someone, does the media call it “car violence”? No. Does the registration of all drivers and cars mean that drunk driving will not occur? The pols and media pick their opportunities to control the narrative surrounding their existence in a place of power.

Scenario 2:

Are you a libertarian who demands legalized drugs and the “right” to do drugs like marijuana, cocaine and even heroin but has no thought as to how in the future you or others will pay for and obtain those drugs without using violence once addicted? Are you a citizen who is OK with a citizenry addicted to drugs and that uses society via robbery and violence to feed addictions? Do you believe that taxpayers should subsidize your drug addiction?

Scenario 3:

Presented above are three real time scenarios. If you watch the news you are aware of what is going on and what is going on is much more than what I presented above.

~~~~~

As one walking around on resurrection ground in the Kingdom of God on earth, I have wrestled with the notion of owing and using a gun for self-defense. Here are some of my thoughts. You can share your thoughts in the comment section…

Recently, I listened to a discussion about guns on a Moody Radio program called Up for Debate. The title and bylines are as follows:

Should Churches Hire Armed Guards?

Violence is increasing not only on the streets but also in the sanctuary. We only have to look to the headlines of last year’s shooting of parishioners during a Bible study in Charleston and this summer’s slaying of a priest in France during church services. The violence has some in the clergy wondering whether they should arm their security teams. This Saturday, on Up For Debate, Julie Roys will explore this issue with Rev. Mark Woods, a pastor who believes that arming churches sanctifies violence and Carl Chinn a Christian security expert who believes churches and their parishioners are safer when their security team is armed.

You can listen to the program>>>

~~~

Here are some questions that came to mind while listening to this “debate”:

Is it OK for a Christian to own a gun for sport and for protection?

Does arming a church “normalize and sanctify violence”?

Are you not trusting God for your safety with armed guards around?

Do we need a specific threat to arm ourselves or can we act preemptively?

What is the difference between local police protection provided by the state and armed and trained Christians being present?

Does the difference between local but not present police protection provided by the state and armed Christians being present matter in the moment of life and death circumstances?

Does “turn the other cheek” imply passivity or a type of non-retribution self-denial?

Is Christianity a “new ethic of non-violence”?

~~~

Due to the acted-out intent of evil doers such as gang members, drug traffickers and thieves, a constant scapegoating phrase is heard in Chicago’s media: “gun violence”.  To come to a Kingdom understanding about guns and their use and especially since the populace is constantly barraged by the media’s lockstep negative annotation of guns I believe that we need to separate those two words – “guns” and the ubiquitous media modifier “violence”.  I believe we also need to discuss the matter of guns outside of the political hothouse where opinion grows out of proportion to reality by constant emotive watering.

Consider the following from Morissette v. United States (1952): “The contention that an injury can amount to a crime only when inflicted by intention is no provincial or transient notion.””

The obvious:  Guns are inanimate objects.  Guns require intent to be used. A gun can be used as a weapon of violence when the user’s intent is to aggressively attack another with a self-serving purpose. The intent of such an aggressor is similar to another person who drives their truck into a crowd with the objective of running down people down. Intentionality aims and pulls the trigger or points the knife or the car or the…, whether for benign reasons or for malevolent reasons. The intent of a person using a knife may be to slice some bread for dinner or to deliver a death wound into someone’s gut (knife intifada).  Beyond an individual’s rationale, of course, some objects do reveal their intended use – a pipe bomb, for instance.  And, as you must know, the media reveal’s its own intent, its own agenda daily.

Our local media’s constant word association -“gun violence”- has, I believe, created a public fear of guns by projecting violent intent onto the object itself. Often, media reinforced fear-driven thinking is taken to the extreme.  The demand to ban all guns is pushed under the rubric of ‘we’ don’t know your what your intentions are” and “we are not that kind of people”- a hubristic mélange.

~~~

Does arming a church “normalize and sanctify violence”?  Maybe a better question is “Does disarming a church “normalize and sanctify violence”?” For those with evil intentions, disarming the public is an effective means to an evil end. “Gun free” signs give the public false assurances that someone with criminal intent will think twice and not enter a gun free zone.  Yet, don’t crimes of passion occur without a second thought?  Have we not see that terrorist acts occur with malice aforethought and without regard to a posted sign? Do not “Gun Free Zones” in effect “normalize and sanctify (to set apart) violence” as the unrestricted means for an aggressor?

Some general thoughts and questions:

This topic is not a black and white topic. Nor can this topic be confined to a short post. This topic requires knowledge and a lot of introspection about one’s intents. This topic opened up many avenues of thought for me (subject to modification) as you will read:

The spirit of fear

I hear some say that we should trust God and, in effect, do nothing to protect ourselves – God will intervene (or not, que sera sera).  There is a spirit of fatalism here and not of faith, it seems to me.

If a bear or a lion or a mentally unstable person attacked, would you not defend yourself and your child?  Or, do you accept the attack as God’s will and submit to it without resistance?  If a deadly virus was around do you take precautions? Do you vaccinate your child? Are taking precautions a lack of trust in God? Is defending yourself from imminent danger not trusting God? Is defending yourself against evil holding a gun not trusting God? And, isn’t learning the Scripture and walking in the Spirit proactively defending yourself against heresy?

We are told that we have not been given a spirit of fear and also to put on the whole armor of god. A sword is included in the list and in Hebrews 4:12. We are to arm ourselves:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrew 4:12

This verse reminds us that thoughts and intentions matter. The weapon, the word of God, is used to bring out what is hidden beneath the surface by using its finely-honed razor sharp cutting edge. Jesus made sure that his disciples knew that his Kingdom was not about the violent over throw of the Romans. Rather, the world would learn that truth was more powerful than violence. Consider what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in an early church setting (Acts 5:1-11). Truth happened.

~~~

“Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was a pacifist”:

Do not put Jesus into your safe space. Put yourself into his ‘unsafe’ hands. To make a false understanding of Jesus (e.g., Jesus as an anti-war hippie guru) the lynch pin of anti-gun ethic is dangerous. As was said of Aslan:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34-36

As the passage from Hebrews would later reinforce, Jesus said that he came with a sword, a divisor. Thoughts and intents would be exposed. Relationships would be severed because of him. There will be those who will reconciled to Him and to others and there will be those who will not reconcile at all. Those who do not want to be reconciled with others often use violence to obtain what could have been gained in relationship.

Jesus wants us to set his kingdom in motion with our peace-making forays before he comes to reign on earth as the Prince of Peace.

~~~

Jesus’ command to “love you neighbor as yourself” and to seek happiness in being a peacemaker means, in my estimation, seeking to be reconciled with your neighbor when there is a conflict. It also means to never seek revenge for a wrong done to you. Revenge is a common theme on cable TV and in the movies but it has no part in your Kingdom life. You turn the other cheek to say to your neighbor “the wrong you have done to me is already forgiven by me two-fold. Let us be reconciled.” Forgiveness is not passivity or pacifism.  Rather, forgiveness is an aggressive part of loving your neighbor.

Many today take umbrage at the slightest perceived offense. Then they proceed to slander, malign and mock their ‘offender’. Turning the other cheek says I know who I am and what I am about. Your words can come into either ear and do not change what I am hearing from the Lord.

Being a peacemaker: aren’t we told to meet our neighbor on the way to court so as to resolve matters with your neighbor instead of by a judges’ ruling? Aren’t we told not to sue each other in court?

Not once are we telling our neighbor “It is OK to do whatever you want to us.” We are saying, “Whatever evil you do to us breaks our relationship. I am willing to forgive to mend our relationship and to show you the full extent of love.”

I can read the same scripture as you:

Meet your accuser before going to court to settle matters

Seek peace and pursue it.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

As I read these passages I see in each of the statements an equation of relationships. Two or more parties are involved. And the Christian in that relationship is the one who proactively makes amends to resolve the conflict the other has with the Christian.

~~~

Violence – doing harm to the other with the purpose of “winning” or gain -is not the Kingdom way of living as taught by Jesus. Of, course doing violence to another also includes bearing false witness, gossip, stealing, adultery and murder with intent to deprive someone of life.  Violence done to others also includes abortion, a suctioning off of human life that is now called “a right”, while the right to own a gun is denigrated as violent intent.

~~~

What if you neighbor embraces evil?  We are told in Scripture to abhor evil and cling to what is good. We can never be reconciled with evil and should never try. This is a situation where the Scripture and the Holy Spirit must inform your decision to defend yourself. Maybe you move away. Maybe you surround yourself with Christian friends and prayer. Maybe you should buy a gun and learn to defend yourself. Maybe do all three. Evil knows no bounds; it knows no “Gun Free Zones”.

~~~

“Sell what you have and buy a sword”. I find it interesting that Jesus knew that Peter was armed – with a sword – when they were in the garden of Gethsemane praying.  Prior to Peter whipping out his sword to defend Jesus, we don’t hear Jesus ever telling Peter to get rid of that sword.  But once Peter pulls out that sword to harm another in an act of aggression (Peter’s intent was to keep Jesus safe for the Kingdom Peter so desired) then Jesus tells Peter to put away the sword because “those who live by the sword die by the sword.” This is no mystical saying.

Consider that if you use violence to get your way you can be sure that what goes around comes around. If your intent is to harm someone to ‘put things right’ then there will be no end to the violence. The other who is harmed will want to ‘put things right’ with violence. Jesus wants us to stop the cycle of violence. That is why seeking to reconcile and forgiving are imperative in his Kingdom.

~~~

I do not think for a moment that God intended us to lay down our lives for the sake of laying down our lives. That would be suicide. What is your intent? Hopefully your intent is to stay alive.

~~~

We live in a violent universe: Big Bang, Gamma Ray bursts, meteor strikes, floods, hurricanes,… How do we explain the Lord’s “Blessed are the peacemakers” to such a violent world?

~~~

Violence forces change through coercive power.  Love is not coercion but an offer to redeem and to be reconciled. When violence and love meet, they do not kiss like when justice and mercy meet. So be for-armed.

~~~

What is my relationship with guns?  After the age of eight-years-old I attended several different Christian camps over several years. These camps are where I first came into contact with an actual gun – a .22 gauge rifle.

At these camps I was shown how to load the rifle and how to aim and shoot at a target. And not only did we use guns, we also learned archery, horseback riding, swimming – all sorts of activities, some considered as “unsafe” by today’s hand wringers.

I now own several guns, a FOID card and a CC card.  Contrary to what is often implied in the media, to obtain these licenses my background had been extensively checked by federal and state authorities. To obtain my CC license I was required by the state to take 16 hours of classes: 8 hours of Illinois CC law and 8 hours of gun training. A written and target test were taken after the eight-hour sessions.

As a Christian, I enjoy target shooting at the range. I practice for accuracy. I hope I never have to shoot anyone in self-defense. If I do I hope to be able to shoot the aggressor so as to only disable him or her. God knows the intent of my heart.

 

As a Christian, I believe we can be ‘unsafe’ and good at the same time, like my King.

 

http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/12/mexican-official-immigrants-are-flocking-to-chicago-before-trumps-inauguration-because-its-a-sanctuary-city/

 

~~~

Shooting someone in self-defense is no small thing. It is traumatic and it may end up ruining your life with all of the legal ramifications. It is best to know the law and to not think you have any right whatsoever to shoot someone in self-defense. Know the law in your state.

A great legal resource:

The Law of Self-Defense, The Indispensable Guide for the Armed Citizen by attorney Andrew F. Branca target-practise

His website:  http://lawofselfdefense.com/

I’ve Been Happy in 2016. Happy New Year 2017

 

You make me happy! ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

You make me happy!
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Looking at Life in All the Wrong Ways

 

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

-Screwtape, a senior demon, writing to his nephew Wormwood, also his apprentice. From C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”

 

~~~

Foods for thought?

The package of corn chips found in the health foods aisle noted how not un-good the contents were to eat: “No Artificial Ingredients” “No Artificial Flavors” “No Preservatives” “Certified Gluten Free” “NON GMO Verified”.

The package of drama found on the cable channel noted how not inhuman the program was: “For Mature Audience” “Adult themes” “Adult Language” ….

~~~

“Fantasy covets the gross, the explicit, the no-holds barred display of the unobtainable; and in crisis of the display the unobtainable is vicariously obtained.

Hard-core pornography provides another instance. Indeed, modern society abounds in fantasy objects, since the realistic image, in photograph, cinema and the TV screen, offers surrogate fulfillment to all our forbidden desires, thereby permitting them…The ideal fantasy is perfectly realized, and perfectly unreal – an imaginary object which leaves nothing to the imagination.” – from Fantasy, Imagination and the Salesman, Roger Scruton’s “Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture”

~~~

The fantasy objects removing the sacred from our view? A short list:

Movies and cable TV programs showing ‘snuff films’, violence, mutilation, slaughter, wanton sex, promiscuous sex, misogyny, the profane.

Video games engaging you in violence, mutilation, slaughter, wanton sex, promiscuous sex, misogyny, the profane.

Movies which employ special effects to convey a larger than life experience titillation while offering nothing of value for real life.

Social media – each media element readily offered and responded to, and obtained remotely, removing one from true community towards self-isolation

Animation – the shadowland of phantom cels

Marriage as a secular convention to secure benefit from another up to and including the commodification of the partner’s wealth, insurance, emotional dependency and sexual organs.

Socialism as Utopia

The Social Justice Narrative of “Diversity” and it cognates, wrought by the iron fist of “equality”

Homosexuality, the phallic and misogynistic, and its associated bacchanalia (e.g., Gay pride parades)

~~~

Imagination gathers up the hard-won gold of reality, submits it to the refiner’s fire, allows it to be molded and then offers the higher karatage gold as sincere praise to God.

Fantasy gathers up the hard-won gold of reality for smelting and casting into the golden calf of ephemerality, of likeness, of certainty…

~~~

“The contrast here is between the active work of the imagination, which points to a God beyond the sensory world, and the passive force of fantasy, which creates its own god out of sensory desires…”

– from Fantasy, Imagination and the Salesman, Roger Scruton’s “Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture”

~~~

nicolas-poussin-the-adoration-of-the-golden-calf

The Adoration of the Golden Calf 1633-4, Nicolas Poussin

~~~

One wonders:   does the left brain seek certainty and see fantasy as that certainty while the right brain is dismissed as flaccid and unreliable?

 

De profundis

 

De profundis

 

So, she leapt through each night, to each waking dream saying,

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for the multitude of my sins”

“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for the multitude of my sins”

 “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for the multitude of my sins”

In the morning, she headed out the door saying,

“I commit this day to you, O Lord, and the works of my hands”

“I commit this day to you, O Lord, and the works of my hands”

“I commit this day to you, O Lord, and the works of my hands”

She fell asleep saying,

“Thank you, O Lord, for your lovingkindness and tender mercies”

“Thank you, O Lord, for your lovingkindness and tender mercies”

 “Thank you, O Lord, for your lovingkindness and tender mercies”

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

~~~~

Psalms 130. De profundis. OUT of the deep have I called unto thee, O LORD;  Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears consider well  the voice of my complaint. If thou, LORD, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss,  O Lord, who may abide it?  For there is mercy with thee;  therefore shalt thou be feared.  I look for the LORD; my soul doth wait for him;  in his word is my trust.  My soul fleeth unto the Lord before the morning watch;  I say, before the morning watch.  O Israel, trust in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy,  and with him is plenteous redemption.  And he shall redeem Israel  from all his sins.