G'ampa C's Blog

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Dream

I was awakened after 1:58 this morning in a bit of a cold sweat. I had had a dream, the same dream, for at least three times in the past few weeks. I seldom remember my dreams past a few waking minutes these days, but this one stayed with me and I was wide awake. I'm taking some meds right now which help the sinus infection, but keep me from sleeping much more than just occasionally.

This dream is a doozy.
When I woke up, I was being asked by Jesus what I would do with my life. Is that a strange question for someone who turned 51 today?
I had a sense of going back to the beginning. A clean slate. My parents had little, I think, but yet I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, in a spiritual sense. I started kindergarten while I was still 4, but I knew what the Golden Rule was, I knew something of who God was, and something of who Jesus was, and I was involved with that knowledge. I knew the memory verse that I should love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. (KJV, of course.)
I learned that some of the world around me, both in the church and out, did not always operate on the Golden Rule, but another rule that was self-preserving and self-protecting. Survival instincts. Through life, many people are plunked into the world around me, and my slate becomes awash in people. Some really good, some not so good, some really best described as awful. (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT.) The people around me whom I considered "good" got the Golden Rule a lot of the time, others did not. (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT!) Not so, Lord! These are not deserving of the Golden Rule. (WHAT GOD HAS CALLED CLEAN, DO NOT CALL IT UNCLEAN!)
Jerry Taylor was in my dream this time, talking about racial injustice in the world and the church. Discrimination and reverse discrimination. My small group was there, my wife was there, my children were there. Then there were so many, many others. Church members who are very like me, and those who don't see things exactly as I do. Widows in India holding up Abilene bags, folks who are "difficult", folks who love me unconditionally, and those who do not. Folks who have hurt me, folks who have treated me or my close loved ones without love or respect. Folks who go to church but are not really churched.
Racial injustice is visible, tangible, and clearly without God's Truth. Some of these other injustices are more pervasive and sneaky. They are easy and slide right into the way I live. They all boil down to pride of self and a failure to love first.

Do I really claim to love the poor, yet change nothing in my life to help them much or at all? Or is that a prejudice I cling to internally to keep them away? Couldn't they just get a job?
Do I really love the brethren of the church who are more "conservative" than I, or more "liberal" than I, while I sneer just a bit at their "lack of sound judgement"? How do I deal with those whose convictions about truth are not exactly the same as mine? (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT!) What arrogance and pride surround my kindly judging of those who don't agree with THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO ME.
What about my enemies, here and abroad. Did anyone besides me get a feeling of maybe satisfaction when our military bombed our enemies with such accuracy and then rooted Saddam out of his cellar? Did anyone aside from me feel a sense of "in your face" when the Muslim world got so excited about it? This is an issue of racism which departs so far from the Golden Rule that it flys in the face of Jesus and his death. The church is clearly devided on the point of war, but tries to be careful to support our troops. What we have missed is what Jesus did not miss. So far as we know, Jesus NEVER talked trash about the Roman political arena. Why not? They were the enemies of the Jewish nation, weren't they? Yes. But they were also loved by God. The same God who so loved the world that he gave his little boy for them. What would change in this country and the Muslim world if our churches, small groups, children, televangelists and politicains prayed for those who hate us? What if the church could unite in praying for our enemies to be saved by Jesus? When God answers that prayer with a yes, the war is over. BUT....Do they deserve that prayer? Just as much as me, I think, but I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Was it not Jesus who said to LOVE my enemies? To pray for those who abuse me?

God, I think, is calling ME to rise and eat: to participate somehow in the love he has for the lives around me; lives of those he sent his son to redeem. The Muslims. The different, the disagreeable, the poor (both spiritually and financially), the brothers and sisters who are compelled to leave Highland because of their convictions or because they are not ready for some things, or compelled to leave because things are not happening quickly enough and they are too ready. Those who see things differently than I do. Those who are much like me. Those whose skin is not like mine, those whose histories are not like mine. Those whose denomination is not like mine. Those who outwardly avoid me in church gatherings. Those who are needy, yet will not accept help. Those who are needy and I have never tried to help. Those who are in tough circumstances but view my attempts to help as judgemental or maybe snobbish (and maybe, accurately so). Those I just don't like very much. Those who are concerned about my beads, flip flops and Hawaiian shirts. All this came rushing out at me from this dream.
And Jesus was asking me what I would do with my life.
Cold sweat, indeed.

For years my wife and I have been troubled about what might happen in our lives if we hit it big and became the Abilene Hillbillys. (she more than I, partly because for years she was more concerned about our spiritual welfare than I) That can happen in the oil business. If I can give the right answer to the question of Jesus, that is no longer a concern. The money is his, not mine.

If I can answer his question correctly, I will grow to see those different than me with new eyes. Why did Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners? Why did he talk to prostitutes and foreigners, even though his "religion" considered them unclean? Jesus was not blind to differences of race, gender, wealth, cleanliness, spirituality, disease, profession, age, or civic importance; on the contrary, he was highly attuned to those differences. He did not need to touch the lepers to heal them: they needed it. He did not need to associate with the poor, sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors to teach them: they needed it. He changed lives because he took the first steps in showing love. He did not wait for the "different" to come around to his way of thinking so they could get along. He loved them first. I don't know what that might really look like in my life at this moment, and it makes me sweat a bit.
As I look back on my life, though, I don't think real spiritual growth has ever come without some pain and sweat.

Ever wonder what Peter felt when he heard it? (RISE, PETER, KILL AND EAT!)
Ever wonder what Peter felt when he understood what it meant?

Not one of us is exactly like another. It is clearly human nature to associate ourselves with those who are most like us, though, and that is what we have done so well. But... Haven't we been called to cast off our human nature and put on Christ?

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Reason To Get Up Early

This morning I awakened before 5:00am to that old familiar feeling... a twinge of pain in my side that slowly becomes the enormous, inescapable pain of yet another kidney stone. This was number 15, I think. After an hour and a half of pacing, kneeling and fighting the pain, I think it is gone. But...
The passage of stones always leaves me weak but also very sensitive to things around me. Maybe it's the intense pain, I don't know. As I walked outside at dawn, the morning was soft, warm and the air was still. A few clouds, a few stars. Birds singing like crazy, especially doves, cardinals and jays. The people sounds even seemed friendly, somehow. Cars on the freeway almost a mile away, traffic on the next street, the person delivering papers, someone is jogging. Then it dawned on me:
"Be still and know that I am God." calls for a state of spirit, not a circumstance of decibels. When I am used up, He makes Himself known. When I have nothing left, He has plenty. When I have become "i" small case at the end of my rope, I finally lose my grip and fall six inches into his hands. The reward for the draining, exhausting pain is a keener sense of God and his presence; a reason to get up early.
I'm not so clueless that I think this is a pat answer to suffering, but I have been made aware this morning that suffering can produce great reward from God.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

My wife and I traveled to Lincoln, NE last week to help our daughter move to Farmington, NM. We put about 2600 miles on our car and got to spend some time with Matt, Laura and Kyleigh. Kyleigh rode in our car in the car seat some 1,000 miles and was a real trooper. What a cute kid she is! She chatters baby talk practicing the inflection of words and phrases while sometimes the words are not quite there. Some of the words are easy to get, though, and are so funny. She is very, very lovable. I walked around with her quite a bit while the others were doing other things, and she often puts her head down and snuggles in. That's really nice. All in all, I love that little girl quite a lot.
After last week, I know a little more about being a grandparent.

What a compliment that God considers us his children.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another Communion Post?

A significant amount of dihydrous oxide has passed under the spanning archway since my last post on the Lord's Supper. Looking back on it, I have left some things out.
I will plod along with them as I can.

When the Lord started the whole thing on the night he was betrayed by Judas, he knew what was up. He was going out to die on a cross. He knew his disciples needed to be participants in that event, participants in his promises. He and the disciples were grounded in the Passover with all its nuances and covenants, and they had a history with a whole nation of people. When he made it his new covenant, he invited his disciples (then us) to be his people, his nation, his royal priesthood. Just as he knew Peter would deny Him, he knows we will disappoint him too, but He invites us, anyway, gladly, hopefully, proudly. His love for his disciples and for us is such that he invited Peter as well as Judas, to the meal. He does not expect us to be perfect to participate. When he calls us to assemble to break the bread and share the wine with him, he is calling us to Koinonia with a capital K. Every way that Greek word is translated to English, he wants it with us and wants it between us. Sharing, communion, participation, communication, in short: Intimacy with Jesus the Saviour, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Body of Christ. Intimacy beyond friendships, beyond family members, beyond earthly understanding. As Paul describes, we are feasting in His temple, participating personally in his death and rising, and joining Him and each other in His Kingdom. We are becoming one in and with the single most important event in all of history and the One through whom it occurred. It is monumental, it marks the redemption of all the Saints by the blood of the Lamb, and Jesus invites us to the celebration. It shows that we believe he did actually die, he did actually rise from death, and therefore his promises to bring us to eternal life are 100% reliable. Communion calls us not to boredom and naval contemplation, but to celebration with our brothers and sisters that WE ARE VICTORIOUS IN HIM!! Jesus went to Hell with our sins and beat Satan on his own turf, even with those handicaps. Then He came back for us. Our team just won the Championship game. Do we sit quietly while we contemplate the meaning of a personal foul? Do we get up and file quietly out of the coliseum? Do we avoid eye contact and communication with others lest we disturb the tranquility?
I'm not proposing irrational frivolity in our worship service. But... if winning a simple ball game brings us to our feet screaming and clapping and passing high fives all around, should we not be called for a little celebrating over our eternal salvation? The battle has already been won for us!!!
Every time we take the communion, it should be like New Year's, Christmas, and birthdays all rolled into one. What a gift we are passing to our brothers and sisters! What a gift they are passing us! We need a realization that it is not just a sign and not just a symbol, it is the reality of Christ's body and blood, it's evidence.
It's evidence that we still believe. It's evidence that we are players in the game, not just spectators. It's evidence that we have something in common which transcends all the categories which divide us. We are participating once more in the New Covenant Promises, with a Master who never, ever breaks his word. It's evidence that Jesus walked here and told us his body is truly bread and his blood is truly drink, and if we eat and drink of him he will give us eternal life.
If we can really do that in silence, without some mild celebration, without a knowing look deep into our neighbor's eyes, without watching those around us as they take the antidote for sin, without tears and laughter, without longing to tell each other what Jesus has done, then do we truly believe eternal life is real?

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

That they may be One

I have been musing this week about what separates us and what makes us one. When I muse, I often write to sort it out. Here are some excerpts:

Jesus prayed in the garden before he was betrayed. He knew what was coming. He had anticipated it all his life, but it was not going to be easy. What was so important that he spent his time in prayer that night over it? He prayed for the cup to pass from him, he prayed for his disciples, then he prayed for the church. He prayed for all who believed in him through the disciples message ("believers"). He prayed for us to be one.
We are called to be one, in the midst of our differences. Jesus, as he prayed in the garden, said he was one with the Father, yet he wanted something very different at that moment. Did he not pray "Let this cup pass from me." and "Not my will, Father, but yours" (the implication being that they did not want the same thing)? The human side of Jesus wanted out, and it was not in agreement with God's will. They didn't agree, but they were still one. How does that work, exactly, and why has that not always been so clear? They were one, not because they had no differences, but without consideration of their differences. Differences between us do not limit or control oneness, they simply limit and control sameness. They were one because God loved and Jesus was prepared to die. I am one with my brothers and sisters because God loved and Jesus died. Period. Because I am in Christ, I am one with my brother in that event, the single most important event in history. What we share in that event makes everything new between us. Our differences in worship, traditions and preferences have no relevance. We are in Christ together.
As humans, we tend to notice how others are different from ourselves, but we take it a step beyond when we begin to believe anyone different from us is wrong. We hear the call of Christ that we be one, but we have defaulted to being the same. Sameness and oneness are not synonymous; they are not even close. Seeking sameness in our churches and religion divides us at every turn, because WE CAN NOT BE THE SAME. We have tried for two thousand years completely without success. It is quite impossible. We, as humans, are not spiritual robots. God does not make us all the same, like some mass-produced windup toy. He gives the freedom of choice, even at the risk of our salvation. Having that freedom means we will each be different. If I am to seek to be one with my brothers and sisters, it must arise not from our sameness, but in the recognition that God loves and Jesus died, without consideration of our differences. In the sharing of that recognition, I find the peace to seek oneness with those very different from myself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Victory in Jesus

I have been thinking this morning of a little lady we sang with at Hospice years ago. She was always dressed and ready to receive us on Thursday afternoon, and was there for several weeks. She was so gracious and pleased to have us there, and there was a kind of Spirit around her that was almost physical. The song she wanted to sing was "Victory in Jesus". When we got to the chorus, she would smile and cry at the same time and look up at the ceiling. I expected the Lord to pick her up any second, his presence was so strong in the room. Funny how she ministers to me even now, and I don't even know her name.
Oh, victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever.
He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood.
He loved me 'ere I knew him, and all my love is due him.
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.


Friday, June 08, 2007


Over Memorial weekend I was blessed to get days off to visit with my mother, sister, nephew, and Kyleigh (with her Mom). Stacie graduated. Man, that was quick.

Kyleigh is a lot of fun. She talks and walks and carries on a little chatter to herself. What a cute kid! One of the things I did with her was to raise my hands above my head and say "Wooo- Hooo!!" She would hold her hands up and mimic a perfect but very tiny "Woo-Hooo!" I'm afraid she thinks that is my name, because she sometimes just did it when I walked into the room.

If her mormal response to me ends up being "Wooo-Whooo!!!"when she sees me, then I think I can live with it....

What a blessing to have Laura and Kyleigh home to visit.

Back Home at Last

After spending about 7 weeks out on a job in New Mexico, I am really, really glad to be back home. Being gone so much (actually leaving Sunday nights and coming home Saturday morning each week) I am really out of touch with all my family and what's going on. That close contact with everyone I treasure here is becoming more and more important to me; probably a result of heart tenderizer applied by the Lord despite my armor-like hide.
During this job and the many windshield hours, I have asked some questions.

What is it that makes us desire a relationship with one person but not another? Some folks (even those very unlike me) seem to attract my friendship like a magnet, while others simply do not. Is it just a willingness to seek a connection? Is it a timing and circumstances event? Or is it more?

I have made overt attempts to seek close connections to a number of people the past couple of years, simply by inviting it over and over, taking the initiative to approach. It is amazing what has blossomed from my meager efforts, so amazing, in fact, that I am certain the Spirit is involved. That is not to say it has been 100%, because some have just not worked. But... I have made a dozen+ new friends that are already very special friends. I have known most of them for some time and we never hit it off, so it seems a little effort and a little Spirit do significant things.

Sometimes I think the Lord has all these huge treasures for us, but we spend most of our efforts investigating the box in which they're stored.