Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Driving is Getting Me Nowhere

"Move over", I said. "I want to drive."
"Sure, you know where you want to go with your life", said God.
Some time later He checked back with me.
"So, How's this going for you?"
"Ummm, I am kinda stuck. Think you can get me out of here?"
"Sure, I know where you need to go, always have, always will." God gave me a wry smile.
"Just one thing" He said. "Don't try to be a backseat driver or I'll pull over and let you out faster than I came back to get you out of this mess."

Why Do We Laugh?
Why Do We Cry?
Why Do We Even Think About It?

Forget Darwinism. Forget creationism. Let's be practical. We don't know the origin of life on earth. We have theories and we have some facts. Some facts are grounded by theories and some theories are grounded by facts. Shall ever the twain meet? I doubt it. Humans have a limited capacity to know everything all at the same time. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the how and why of the universe is limited to the facts we can scientifically prove and the beliefs we believe have been revealed to us by The God, many gods or an inner god we acknowledge but cannot prove. Some say there is no God in response to those who say there is. But beliefs are beliefs. We all have them. If we choose not to believe in something or nothing we are believing in not believing.

Whew, with that circular argument out of the way I will get to the belief I know to be true to myself based upon all the evidence I have gathered for my analysis on November 23, 2009. (My gathering of evidence is limited to what I have limited it to. So I, like so many others who have gone before me have really only scant evidence of all that is out there for me to digest, *Belch*)

We can follow the fossil/geological record and extrapolate certain facts about the so far discovered life on Earth that was able to leave evidence of its existence. Mostly it has been bone that has been turned to rock. But recent discoveries have shown evidence of soft tissue, maybe even DNA (maybe) within the bones. I believe that the evidence of biologic life on earth is older, many times older, than the writers of the Bible or other ancient scholars could have imagined. The Biblical story of Noah saving all the types of animals makes a good narrative that God wanted to save his creations in the animal world but wanted to start over with humans is a good analogy , but not factually practical.

Sorry Creationists, your story doesn't hold, err, water. A single Brontosaurus was bigger than the entire ark as described, let alone a pair of them. Too bad the authors of the Old Testament did not include a Paleontologist with a Star Trek Trimeter that beeps and flashes the secrets of the universe.

It is now known (known by whom?)( The scientists most of us trust, put our belief in, who make these decisions) that over 23 million species discovered and alive today in 2009 have not been named, let alone the ones who have died out. Let's move on...

No one has been able to prove or disprove the point in earth's history where an animal became a human being, if such a distinct example exists to be discovered. I define a human as a being, who is self aware and cognizant of being something beyond his own instinct to survive. As such, humans have a unique desire in the animal world (such as we know it to date) to define, communicate, and have a personal relationship with a being/spirit that is beyond the ability of our own power to create. Yes, we can reproduce other beings similar to ourselves, but not one who transcends it all, whose concept of past, present and future sounds quaint and un-enlightened.

I don't think apes and dolphins spend much time thinking about God, though they do exhibit self awareness. Maybe the discovery of Lucy or Australopithecus’ "Ardi" try to fill in the Darwin model of evolution of human from ape. But, they are only bones of an animal, maybe a self aware being, that exhibited human being like physiology and maybe even mental evolution, but we cannot know what they thought of themselves; If they thought of themselves at all. That link to self consciousness cannot be currently, scientifically proven.

Evolution of humans is more a mental process than a physical one. Our beliefs about what is real and true change more quickly mentally/socially than physically/environmentally.

The more we try to prove through science the origins of life and its manifestations, the more we find unknown and unexplainable questions to answers found based on supposition, dare I say it, faith, that today's theories will be proven true some time later on?

Are we so vain as to claim that our knowledge of life through science in the last few hundred years will not be eclipsed by new discoveries that change reality thousands of years from now? How about 50 years from now? How about tomorrow?

Did Noah have any dinosaurs on the ark? Did the Mayans need supercomputers to predict the alignment of celestial events a thousand years later? Did Galileo need the Hubble space telescope to determine the earth orbited the Sun and be put in prison by the church for his heretical thinking?

Did Paul and most of the disciples of Jesus die horrible deaths because they lied to themselves and everyone else about seeing a man rise from the dead and believing His promises of a life hereafter and a better life while we now live? Did the discovery of nuclear arms and the possibility of creating our own planetary destruction bring peace to the world?

Did you contemplate today what would happen if your next breath or heartbeat was your last one? Why? Why not?

Life on earth does not depend on our theories, experiences, scientific revelations or spiritual beliefs. But, life on earth as we know it does. Were human beings created from scratch as brand new beings? Are we the culmination of billions of years of trial and error? Are we a finished product, or just a new model year refinement from last year? As we evolve mentally and spiritually will we look back on homo sapiens fossils as scientific curiousitys?

I laugh at those who take this argument seriously. I also cry because events like world wars and ethnic cleansing are carried out because of it.

I think the most important questions are the one not asked. They are: Why do humans laugh and cry? Why do humans think about life and death? Why do humans contemplate the possibility or impossibility of life before and after we are born and die? Why do we even feel the need to ask and try to answer these questions?

a Robservation, 11-24-09

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How Far is God?

Sometimes I have to step back, waaay back, to see God.  I tend to get caught up in the details and forget to see the big picture.  However, at other times I get lost in the clouds and have to look very close to my heart to see Him?  Is there any difference? It depends on my attitude and altitude.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Can Joy co-exist with Suffering?

Take a look at this picture.
What kind of feelings does initially it evoke? It is not a very beautiful picture. The trees are bare. It looks cold. You are looking up a steep hill and can’t tell what is on the other side. Maybe you get a feeling of being lost in the woods on a cold winter day? If you are not wearing winter cloths and have been out there for a long time you may well be suffering from exposure, hunger, thirst and getting pretty anxious to find your way out of there.

Now look at this scene another way. Since the trees are bare you can see through them. You can see that the top of the hill is not very far away. From the top of the hill you may be able to see how to get out of the woods. The sky is clear and bright so you know there is no storm threatening and you have plenty of daylight left to get back home. You might even feel a little joy that you can see your way to the top even while your tootsie’s are freezing off.

In the summer the trees and thicket would be covered with so many leaves you would only be able to see a few yards ahead of you and the sky would be blocked. Even though the woods may look more pretty and inviting in the summer you would have no idea how much farther up the hill you must trudge to get to the top. You may be warm, but you are still hungry, thirsty and most of all lost. The situation may look better but you are still suffering (especially if the mosquitoes are attacking you from the poison ivy you just walked through).

We normally think that we will either experience joy or suffering, not both at the same time. An enlightened way of seeing this winter scene is an analogy of what Paul is talking about when he wrote from prison that he could feel spiritual joy even while physically suffering. Joy can co-exist with suffering if you perceive it in a new way, by a new light, by His light. The trees may be bare and not very attractive, but it is their bareness that lets you find your way out of the woods. Paul experienced joy while suffering the bareness of his imprisonment by living in and sharing Christ’s light to his guards, letters to fellow Jesus followers and, by virtue of those letters to the rest of the world as a major part of the New Testament.

Another related analogy. We too should be willing to bare ourselves to others. When we strip away our self protective leaves and let them fall away we are willing to show others our bare limbs, our faults, our sufferings... and our joy of being able to see clearly through the trees and avoid the obstacles in our path to the top of the hill by light of Christ. We help ourselves and help others because we are allowing the light to shine through us onto them.

Most people would rather spend time looking at a forest of beautiful trees, green in the summer and colorful in the fall. But, since it is winter and there is nothing but bare trees to photograph, I decided to find the beauty of my circumstances by looking at the bare woods through a Jesus camera. Instead of waiting for spring to photograph the new buds, blooms and foliage I found some beauty in the bareness. I also almost froze my ears and fingers off while tromping about in the frozen woods, so I hope you found some joy through my suffering to take the photo and write this story. If all I did was make you suffer through this story, I take no joy in it (grin)

a Robservation

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Fog of Prayer

As I was returning home from the hour of prayer this morning at Church of the Highland’s 21 days of prayer I crossed over Lake Purdy. The sun was just rising and a heavy fog hung on the lake. For some reason it reminded me of the saying “The fog of War”. When I got home I looked up the term on Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia
The fog of war is a term used to describe the level of ambiguity in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.
The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversary capability and adversary intent during an engagement, operation or campaign.
The practical experience of the fog of war is most easily demonstrated in the tactical battlespace. It may include military commanders' incomplete or inaccurate
intelligence regarding their enemy's numbers, disposition, capabilities, and intent, regarding features of the battlefield, and even including incomplete knowledge of the state of their own forces. Fog of war is caused by the limits of reconnaissance, by the enemy's feints and disinformation, by delays in receiving intelligence and difficulties passing orders, and by the difficult task of forming a cogent picture from a very large (or very small) amount of diverse data. When a force engages in battle and the urgency for good intelligence increases, so does the fog of war and chaos of the battlefield, while military units become preoccupied with fighting or are lost (either destroyed by enemy fire or literally lose their way), reconnaissance and liaison elements become unavailable, and sometimes while real fog and smoke obscure vision.

I was taken with how closely the description matched similar problems I have experienced while in prayer. At times it feels like the more earnest I am in prayer, the more the enemy tries to distract me.
I am sure you are like me. I may be praying for patience, or healing or selflessness and all I can think of is what all I have to get done today, doubt that He will make me (or others) well, or how much I want those shoes that are on sale. (Yes, I am a guy who has a closet full of shoes, but they are all brown or black, so don’t think I am light in the loafers.)

What I have discovered to counteract the enemy’s attempts to disorient me is to utter the powerful name of Jesus. I simply order in His name for enemy to leave me alone. “Get thee behind me Satan” I also pull out my illustrated, laminated bookmark that Susie gave me of Ephesians 6:10-18 and pray the armor of God, especially the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith. Poof, my focus is restored and the fog lifts. Satan is now lost in the fog and cannot find me. It is like when God provided the sand storm to protect the Hebrews as they fled Egypt. He turns the fog from a barrier to God to a barrier from Satan.

The next time I get caught in the Fog of prayer I will think back to this morning as I watched the mist rise on the lake. Instead of getting lost in the fog, I will use it in Jesus’ name to hide Satan from me.

A Robservation

21 Days of Prayer - Time For a Long Soak

How much time do you spend each morning in the shower or bath?

I’m a guy so I can be in and out of the shower in less than 10 minutes. Sometimes, especially if it is cold or after a good workout I will simply stand under the steaming hot water for a few minutes and enjoy the sensation of the water warming me up or soothing my achy muscles. But, usually I just stand under the water long enough to get wet then begin the ritual of soaping up and washing off.

This morning was no exception except that I had to get up much earlier than usual in order to get to church by 6:00am to begin 21 days of prayer our church holds in January and August. This is an hour from 6:00-7:00am where we have a mini sermon, sing a couple of songs and spend an extended time in prayer. Since I hit the snooze alarm too many times I was rushed more than usual to get showered shaved and dressed to make it in time.

During the hour of prayer and worship we are to spend 30 minutes in personal prayer. After about 10 minutes I ran out of things to pray about and found myself looking at my watch to see how much longer I had to be in communion with God. It was then that it occurred to me that my prayer habits were much like my showering habits I spend about the same amount of time in the shower as I do in prayer; about 10 minutes a day. I rush to get in and out of the shower and I rush to get my prayers and petitions heard by God.

I began to think about how good it feels when I take the luxury in my shower of just standing under the warm spray of water without doing anything else. I thought about the last time I took a long soak in the hot tub at the gym. There, I allow myself to drift off and just enjoy the experience. If I was a women I might think of my last Calgon moment in a bubbly bath.

Spending time in extended prayer is like a long soak. I don’t have to be soaping, scrubbing and rinsing the whole time. I can just sit back and soak it all in. Once I realized this I just let my mind float. I quit talking to God and just listened. God took that time to wrap me in His warm embrace. The music that was playing in the room surrounded me and lifted me up. I could feel all the other people praying around me as soapy bubbles that soothed me. My mind slowed down. My heart became soft. My pride went limp. My thick skin became supple.

Before I knew it the 30 minutes was up but I wanted to stay in my spiritual bath a little longer. When I left the church I felt renewed and refreshed, ready to take on the day.

In our daily lives we take the time to get our outer bodies ready for the day ahead. Usually we are forced by our schedule to take as little time as necessary to make us feel clean and look good for the day. During this 21 days of prayer I am learning how to spend the necessary time needed to make my heart and soul clean and looking good for the day ahead. 10 minutes is not enough. I need to take a long soak in God’s presence to allow Him to seep deep into my pores and clean off all the crudge I accumulated yesterday.

Tomorrow I will try harder to not hit the snooze button but take that time instead to just stand under the shower for awhile. It makes no sense to rush to get ready to go to church and try to quickly slow down for an hour of prayer. If I am already kinda soft and wrinkly when I get to church it will take less time to sink into a long, warm, bubbly time with God.

If I am clean and fresh on both the inside and the out I am better prepared to take on the dirt of the day.

Grace & Peace, Rob