Posts Tagged ‘salvation

06
Apr
10

Eternal Inheritance

So, Tit for Tat invited me over to comment at one of his recent posts (here) and some of the commentary has me putting on my dual hats…one marked “faith” and the other one marked “skepticism.”

I can think on both sides of my brain…I can think on both sides of my spirit, too.

There is a lot of talk about “Why do we need Jesus to save us if the story of Adam and Eve is likely allegorical and thus there is no original sin?”

I’m not going to go there precisely. I’ve already made some comments over there and probably will have the chance to make more. But I did want to put into perspective some related issues, and follow Jesus’ lead by doing it parable style.

“Son, I have a great inheritance for you…a trust that shall be yours…but I need you to do certain things, and act certain ways to take charge of it when you are of age. If you cannot do these things, I cannot let you inherit it.”

“Why, Father?”

“Because I need to know that you are ready for it, and equipped to learn those things you will need to know to use and manage it wisely.”

“All right Father.”

But the son did not do what was required of him, and it was clear to his father, who wa patient, that he would not.

“Son, because I love you, and because I know you have faults and the world is full of distractions, I offer you a way to make right on what you have done, and correct your course, so that you can still show yourself ready to inherit what I offer.”

“Thank you Father.”

But despite his opportunities to do so, the son did not correct his ways, and eventually found himself imprisoned for some of his wayward actions. After he had been in the prison for some time, with every opportunity to examine those things and that had led him to this point, his Father asked, “Do you understand now, and are you ready to change? I love you, and wish to see you do well. But you must choose your path, for you have no more chances.”

That’s it. No big exciting finish. Because the fact is, the end of the story is unknown and isn’t the same for everyone. Some people don’t even have to get to that last step to get the message.

God gives us a path to follow. Christianity is not the only faith, and as much as I fully believe it is the best path, and that it is the culmination of a plan that God put in place to show us the way, the fact is that many faiths touch upon the same basic themes. Many of us talk about those things as if they are natural parts of our morality and as if they are things that exist outside of spiritual teachings. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But isn’t it interesting that we’ve traditionally gotten those lessons, through the ages, in the form of spiritual or religious doctrine.

And yet we still turn away from the path we’ve been shown, and we still refuse to reach out to God and explore our spirituality. We still refuse to acknowledge our very fundamental failings and we show no remorse for having stepped off the right path. We have no shame. No repentance. No desire to change and grow spiritually. Instead, we focus on ourselves, and how great we are, and how flawed everyone else is.

And yet God gives us another chance. He sends his son, who lives the right way and teaches us the core things we need to know. And we kill him because in the end, many of us don’t want to change and don’t want to hear what he has to say.

Now, this is a point at which, as I’ve noted before, people say, “But if the Garden of Eden is allegorical, we don’t need Jesus.”

But we do. That’s just it. We didn’t change on our own. We aren’t willing to. So we have an example, and someone who is able to be a true intermediary between humans and God, and judge fairly. We have someone who paid the price for us. The price isn’t paying for original sin, but for all sins. The sins we continue to commit, the ones we’ve committed before, the ones we are going to commit in the future. Jesus wasn’t a sacrifice for some single original sin but to repair the rift between God and man that has almost always existed. Even if you can’t see his death as making sense in washing away sin, at least see it as yet another example God sets forth for us:

I sent my son, to teach you in peace and love, and show you by example, and heal you, and do miracles, and still you killed him rather than listen.

Jesus is the example of just how far gone we are. And the symbol that even then, after we kill him, he and God are still there for us. That they haven’t given up on us.

And so people ask, “If God goes through all that trouble, then why have Hell? He should be willing and able to give us chances until we get it right.”

Why?

At a certain point, we simply have to choose. We have to show that we are ready to change and grow, just as in my clumsy parable above. Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows my views on Hell and what its purpose is, and that I think there can be redemption even from that place…up to a point. But eventually, there is a final choice. The question “Have you learned anything yet?”

And many are not going to repent. Or be critical of themselves. Or take the steps necessary to move on and grow.

I find it highly unlikely that our purpose is simply to go to Heaven and be a bunch of lazy bums. I think God has many more destinations and plans for us. He is preparing us to take on responsibilities and powers. If we have the spirit of God inside us when we become born again, then that means power. Power to use constructively and creatively, I believe.

But power requires responsibility to be used well.

Redemption isn’t about kissing God’s ass and behaving because he tells us to or because he’ll punish us if we don’t. Redemption is about seeing what’s wrong with us and wanting to fix it. Asking for the help of God in making us better than we are, and better than we ever thought we could be.

Because we don’t seek improvement, not really. Just look at how we approach life. We look for cures to problems that we wouldn’t have if we lived right in the first place. Why create ways to burn off fat or vacuum it out when we could have stopped heaping on our bodies to begin with, long before? Why do self-help gurus so often tell us to look for the things in our past that shaped our decisions, but so rarely ask us to explore what the fuck is wrong with us that we let those past events dictate future behavior. Humans don’t like accountability. And yet it’s exactly what God is looking for.

That work begins on Earth, ideally with going to God through Jesus. But the process doesn’t stop there. Too many Christians think it does, and too many non-Christians think the Bible tells us that once we’re born again, we can do anything and be forgiven.

Redemption isn’t carte blanche but rather a sincere step in doing the right thing.

The question is, will you take that step early on, or will you wait until you’ve gone through hell and back (perhaps literally) to clue in?

That’s a choice every person makes for themselves. But there is nothing wrong in God expecting us to make that choice for ourselves, and ultimately giving us the kind of inheritance that we have earned.

05
Jan
10

Savior Synchronicity by Miz Pink

Yeah, I love Sting and I especially loved The Police, so I’m listening to “Synchronicity” right now. Maybe I’ll follow with a totally different artist and get the other half of the title covered with “Personal Jesus.”

Anyhoo here’s what this is all about: Has anyone (believers that is) like me considered how oddly perfect the arrival of Jesus was in terms of timing? How many ways that things just add up to say “Hmmmmm maybe there’s something to this Jesus guy?” while also leaving room for serious doubters or people who look just at the surface to say “It’s all made up!”

What do I mean?

Well firstly God operates from that whole faith thang. This has been the situation since he really started things going with Abraham even though it really goes back to Adam and Eve and telling them, “Just trust me.” But with Abe it was when he started making it clear that what he wants is our trust in him. Later this would evolve to having faith in God’s existence in the absence of him always having to pop up and do something dramatic. God doesn’t seem to want to do that and when he has to it usually meant all sorts of problems for the Isrealites, ya know? If God had to step in there tended to be ripples that weren’t always pleasant.

So secondly we have Jesus pop up at a time when historians are just really starting to become a force. Its a legit profession and all and people look to them to tell the story of what’s going on. So there are historians who mention Jesus’ existence. Even one who noted some of the strange environmental things that supposedly happened when Jesus gave up the ghost. It tend to be awfully dishonest intellectually speaking to say Jesus didn’t exist even if you deny his divinity.

This is important. As Deke has noted before several times we take at face value the fact that old documents of historical nature are accurate and good sources even though diligent historians were not as much in supply or in vogue as in Roman times. How many raggedy old historical documents do we hang on to know about the lives and accomplishments of ancient people. People who were around longer back than Jesus. Historical records that aren’t as numerous as the various copies and pieces of the gospel.

And what about that? No printing presses folks and yet so many copies in so many languages of the gospel. Why did people care enough to spread that word?

So thirdly the fact that people close to the time the gospels were written believed and yet no one in the power structure said “Jesus was a fake.” Blasphemer yeah. Sorcerer yeah. But no one said “He didn’t do those things he said he did and we the Jewish leaders of the time tell you he was a charlatan.” There were ample opportunities for people in power to debunk Jesus and no incentive for people to carry on his work and his message. I mean really the apostles? If my main man died when he told me he was the son of God I would run like hell and disavow him. There is no incentive to cash in and no reasons to keep following him. Almost all of them would ahve done what I would: curse the fraudulent bastards name and distance themselves for their survival.

Jesus’ message and legacy carried on because people had to have some sign that he was real. Coming back from the dead would be a good way. So either he did it (came back from dead) or he pulled off the biggest Elvis-style hoax around and vanished into the desert alive and well. Consdiering how good the Romans were at crucifixion and how much of a rabble rouser Jesus was the the Jewish religious leaders and local politicians, I don’t think he snuck off the cross folks.

And so we’re left with a guy who have an indelible mark on the world, his message spreading against all odds in an age without high speed communication or printing presses. And yet at the same time, enough loose ends and ambiguous stuff that naysayers can make a good case too that its all a fairy tale.

To me this speaks of God moving definitively and giving us signs but also staying out of sight enough that we still have free will. We still have choice. And we still have to look around for the truth. Not everyone finds the truth of Jesus. But I believe it is there to see even if we look critically and think deeply.

08
May
09

For the Hell of It

galaxy-blueSo it was just a couple days ago I posted on My Black and Secret Heart, and as I noticed in the comments, and as I’ve encountered before, there is a point of view that the idea of Hell is incompatible with the idea of a loving God.

I would disagree. In part because I think we attach too much tradition and perhaps incorrect assumptions about Hell. Really, it isn’t described in detail in the Bible. Its role isn’t fully explained. It doesn’t even seem to be permanent, as it apparently gets tossed in the Lake of Fire eventually. And the Lake of Fire, for that matter, has to be at least somewhat allegorical, because I doubt that God is literally maintaining a huge lake of flames in which to toss everything.

Now, one might argue: If Hell isn’t a punishment for not following God’s rules, then why doesn’t the Bible tell us that explicitly? Well, note that the New Testament talks much about love and a relationship with God, whereas the Old Testament treats the relationship more as a master/servant or lord/subject model. And yet, God didn’t start out in an authoritarian mode with Adam. What we fail to see is that God had to snap us to attention when we broke trust, and He had to call attention to the error of our ways, and He had to bring about a way to heal the damage. It would be nice to think that the New Testament would just say, “Hell isn’t about punishment; it’s about the choice between growing and being part of God’s plans, or separating yourselves from those plans because you don’t like them.”

But you know what? That would have been kind of a hard and huge transition for the Jews of the time, or even the Gentiles. I think we are expected to have grown in our spiritual outlook and divine God’s intent to bring us into a family mode. The New Testament was written in a time of transition from the old convenant to the new convenant.

So, with that notion in mind, I’m not so sure Hell is about suffering or punishment. It may be. But I think we shouldn’t assume that. I do think that at the very least, it is separation from God, for either a very long time or forever. Again, I couldn’t say for sure either way.

But what if Hell isn’t about making us pay for our sins but about protecting creation itself? Bear with me here, as I make a slight aside.

If you haven’t seen the movie Defending Your Life, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a brilliant romantic comedy, in my opinion, and poses some interesting theological questions in the process of tickling the funny bone. The basic premise is that when we die on Earth, we go to Judgment City, where we basically stand trial to prove we have overcome our fears in life. If you prove that, you move on to the next intellectual/spiritual plane and evolve to the next level. If not, you get reincarnated to do it all over again.

Albert Brooks, sitting in the office of his Judgment City defender, is confused about all this. His defender explains that the universe is like a big machine and people are the cogs. The universe doesn’t want faulty parts, so people get sent back until they get it right. Appalled to find out just how many times he’s been sent back already through the ages, Albert Brooks’ character asks, basically, “So if I don’t prove I’m over my fears, I just get sent back over and over and over again?” To which his defender responds, “No. Eventually the universe will just throw you out.”

My point?

God doesn’t need or want people who are broken and want to stay broken. He doesn’t need people who are going to be contrary to his purpose for creation.

Let’s remember, for a moment, that we are “created in God’s image.” The angels were not. So what sets us apart from them in Heaven? I suspect it’s the fact that we have the power and potential to access and alter creation in much the same way that God can. We are far from God’s level, but imagine what we each could become, given eternity in which to develop.

Imagine what damage could be wreaked by selfish or hopeless people with even a smattering of such power.

What if the point of Heaven vs. Hell is the decision as to whether you want to move on and evolve or whether you don’t give a damn. If you don’t want to move on, you won’t. And that, I believe, is when you go to Hell.

Do you get a chance to rethink? I don’t know. Maybe in that decision you are basically saying, “Just throw me out, because I don’t want to change or grow.” Maybe you are simply erased at that point; a faulty part that had to be thrown away. Or maybe you are placed somewhere you can’t do any harm, but can continue in that static existence that you won’t shrug off.

God isn’t trying to keep people out of Heaven, but I do think He wants to ensure that those who go there really want to be there, and to be there for the right reasons.

Hell of a thought, eh?

27
Jan
09

Two-fer Tuesday: Respect by Deacon Blue

For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans, chapter 2, verse 11)

It is also said, in relation to the above passage and related ones in the Bible, that “God is not a respecter of persons.” Or, in more modern language translations (unlike the King James version above), “For there is no partiality with God” or “God does not play favorites.”

family01Critics of such sentiments would point out that plenty of people get different treatment in life, including among Christian circles or Jewish or Muslim ones, so that God we worship, if He exists, certainly must be playing favorites.

But that misses the point. Some are granted blessings for various reasons. Some get blessings which don’t seem that great in comparison to someone else’s, but which could be just as powerful if the person recognized, tapped and ran with that blessing. Also, not all the things we get in life are because God said we do or don’t deserve it. Life is life, and it goes on because of our actions or inactions, our faith or lack of it, our selfishness or our selflessness, etc. God doesn’t manipulate every string directly.

We have a world to live in and we are expected to live in it. God would like us to shape a world that was building around goodness, but we choose not to. Those with power and money choose not to look beyond their own greed. The masses of people who could call them to task sit on their asses. The people who have no ability to stand up and fight wonder why the masses of people who could do something don’t give them a little assist so that they could all make some positive change together. Mostly, though, I suppose it’s greed and apathy that keep our world in its current state.

But I digress…

God’s grace and salvation for us is without partiality though, and that is the point of Him not being a respecter of persons. Are we expected to do some things or be willing to give up our own conceits or whatever to get that salvation? Sure. But the point is that it is available to everyone. God would like to see everyone saved. And I think He does his damndest to make sure as many of us can be who are truly desirous of being something more than this shallow, sinful and selfish flesh.

God doesn’t care what social class you belong to. He doesn’t care what clubs or organizations you belong to or donate to. He doesn’t care what color you are. Or gender. Or age.

There are rules to be certain, but the gift is there for everyone who will reach out for it and open it.

That was a shocker in the early Christian church, when Jewish converts who accepted Jesus as messiah saw Gentiles coming to the faith as well. It startled them that they weren’t special; it wasn’t just the Jews who were going to get this gift.

As the apostle Peter noted, “God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35).

OK, so maybe you’re one of my readers who still thinks that if there is a God He is still being too restrictive and unfair. Or you believe that my faith is simply me holding to a fairy tale. Fair enough.

But I think we can agree that “not showing respect of persons” is a good thing. Because what that really means is to respect everyone.

In the King James version of Acts of the Apostles, where it says, “God is no respecter of persons” (similar to the passage from Romans that I started with), that Greek word translated as “respecter of persons” is, apparently prosopolemptes, a word that refers to a judge who looks at a man’s face instead of at the facts of the case, and makes a decision based on whether or not he likes the man.

We are told that this isn’t how God operates. And neither are we. In fact, there are several passages in both the Old Testament and New Testament that make it clear we shouldn’t be playing favorites ourselves.

  • 2 Chronicles 19:7: “Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
  • Job 34:19: “Yet He is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands.”
  • Romans 2:10-11: “[B]ut glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”
  • Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
  • 1 Peter 1:17: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.”

We shouldn’t be looking up to people just because they seem important and we shouldn’t be looking down at people thinking we’re better than they are.

If we can’t agree on God’s fairness, let’s at least agree that the sentiment is the right one. God, and Jesus, are examples and an ideals that are worthy for us to aspire to. The overriding theme of their existences and missions is to build a better world and one that is ultimately just. That can be messy at times, but it can be done. What it requires is both respect and not being a respecter of persons.

07
Dec
08

I Don’t Have a Problem

darknessI see a common argument among people who dislike evangelism or dislike Christianity in general, and it goes like this: I don’t need to be saved. I don’t want to be saved. I’m insulted that you even think I need to be saved (even if you don’t say so). Stop trying to act like you have any clue how to save my ass that didn’t need saving to begin with.

OK, fair enough. But then again, I’ve never been the kind of person who gets into your face and says, “You need the saving blood of Christ.” Yes, that is what I believe, but I’m not into confrontational encounters where I try to browbeat a person into choosing Jesus.

And before anyone starts, this blog doesn’t count as being in your face. You don’t have to come here and you can leave here any time you like. I haven’t trapped you in a corner or pounced on you at the office trying to proselytize to you. This blog is here for me to muse about spiritual matters, to share my thoughts, to show people that Christians aren’t all from the same cookie cutter, to perhaps get people thinking about Christ, to expand my own thoughts, to entertain, to vent, and other such things.

I find it interesting that some folks here and there still seem to want to paint me as at least slightly judgmental because I believe in Hell. Believing in Hell doesn’t mean I feel warm and fuzzy about it or derive any kind of satisfaction out of anyone who does go there. It’s like saying I’m judgmental if I were to say that having prisons and courts is a necessary thing. Hell is the spiritual equivalent, like it or not. Or believe it or not. Don’t paint my opinions or my attitudes solely on a belief in Hell and judgment of souls. A slice of my beliefs doesn’t give you enough to go on about me. It would be like me judging a person’s intelligence based on the fact they like some empty headed pop music.

But, on to the point of today’s post, which was inspired by a post at another blog, Tit for Tat, titled  Are We So Bad We Need to Be Saved? It’s a short post, so I’ll just paste it below, but check in at Tit for Tat’s site using the link above anyway, because there will be comments to that post, most likely. Besides, you might find some interesting, edifying or entertaining stuff at other posts there. But here it is:

After several recent conversations, it got me thinking(again). Are we really such bad people that we need to be “Saved”. I mean ,like really, do the majority of us continually do crappy stuff to each other, everyday all day long? I like to think that my fellow Human has just as many Good moments as they do bad, and if that is the case then why do many Christians feel the need to see themselves as inherently bad? Im wondering fellow bloggers, do you see yourselves as inherently bad or good?

His general point is a good one to ponder. Are we really so bad? But I would submit that it isn’t so much about being good or evil. It’s easy to couch sin in terms of good vs. evil but that isn’t necessarily always the best way. It has its places and uses, but sin and salvation are a lot more complex than that, which is why I rely on metaphors and analogies a lot around here.

And yes, I’m about to do so again.

Let’s look at sin and damnation/salvation and sinning/being saved from a different angle. Not whether we seek to be good or embrace unfettered badness. Not whether we see ourselves on the side of light or darkness. Not whether we believe in God or not. Let’s consider the alcoholic instead, as a stand-in for the sinner.

Alcoholics comes in all sizes and shapes and types. Some get violent, some get silly, some get unconscious, others get all sorts of other ways. You have constant drinkers on one end of the spectrum and binge drinkers at the other. An alcoholic may drink to excessiveness, or may simply drink constantly at a very low level.

Alcoholism causes problems. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as killing someone while driving drunk. It doesn’t have to be hitting a spouse or child while under the influence. It can be as simple as wasting family money on too much drink and hurting your household in that manner. It can be the fact that your little buzz every night when you come home from work to unwind is robbing you of opportunities to bond with your family. It could be the slow destruction of your liver. But the fact is that an alcoholic chooses to drink, despite doing so to his or her own detriment and sometimes also the detriment of others.

But what all alcoholics share is a problem. It is in part a sickness and in part a choice. And it can only be solved when the person admits that he or she has a problem.

Sin and damnation are very similar.

We all sin. Even born again folks are sinners. They are simply like alcoholics on the wagon. No alcoholic ever stops being one. In fact, in terms of sin, people are worse than alcoholics because even those who “take the cure” will in almost 100% of cases still sample sinful ways, whereas a committed alcoholic in recovery might never again touch a drop of liquor.

The problem of sin isn’t so much being evil. It’s a matter of whether we recognize we have a problem and seek the solution to that problem. That’s the crux of Christianity.

Sin is a departure from God’s plan and it causes us to separate ourselves from His grace. It is the admission that we are sinners that puts us on a road to getting back in connection with God.

Just like alcoholics, there are sinners aplenty who will maintain that they don’t have a problem. They don’t need help. They are mostly good. They can quit being separated from the divine any time they want. It’s not just atheists or agnostics who do this. It isn’t even people who believe in other religions. There are so-called Christians who do the same thing.

But they do have a problem, even if they don’t admit it. All of them. All of us. The reason the Gospel is there is to provide a mirror for those people to look at and, hopefully, see the problem, desire to solve the problem, and take the cure. That cure would be Jesus.

Just like an alcoholic being confronted with their problem and getting help. What is the reason they should seek recovery? Not because they are browbeat into doing so. Not because the law tells them to or else. Not for any other reason than this: They have chosen to do so, and want to do so.

24
Nov
08

The Eternal Question

eye_of_godWhen questioning the judgment, sanity and/or intelligence of Christians, the array of potential critics (atheists, agnostics and religious non-Christians) have several tried-and-true avenues of argument they can fall back on. Two of the of the better ones, of course, are to simply argue the silliness of the concept of an all-powerful “invisible man in the sky” or to argue that we as humans couldn’t possibly have enough grasp on reality to know the true path of the spiritual, since too many people disagree.

Not going to argue either of those today. Instead, I’m going to go for what I consider to be the second-runner up of all-time fallback arguments against Christianity:

If your God is so freaking kind and merciful and loving and wonderful, why did He do [insert controversial God-sanctioned activity documented in the Bible here], how could He be permit [insert current or past person of questionable moral character here] to live, and how could He allow [insert the most heinous, mind-rending scenario you are aware of or could imagine here] to occur?

Well, before I respond, I would like you to suspend your possible disbelief in an infinitely powerful, eternal being. Really. I mean, you were smart enough to come up with arguments against God or my particular model of God, so I know you can conceptualize an all-powerful entity. OK, cool. Got that  disbelief suspended? Great. We’ll get to that in a moment, right after I ask you a counter-question to the one above.

If you were told that you were about to be subjected to the most intense agony the human mind could experience without shattering entirely, that said pain would last approximately one second, and you would receive several billion dollars for going through the process, what would you do?

Accept the deal, of course. And if you don’t, you’re an idiot.

Which brings me to my point. God is dealing in eternity. Infinity. All the time in the universe and then some.

As horrible as anything that has happened or will happen might be, it is a tiny moment in time compared to eternity. So tiny as to be even less significant than that one second of unbelievable agony I mentioned. God is operating on a framework wherein your end reward is unending and better than anything you can imagine. In this context, there is no atrocity, no event and no disaster that could even come close to denting that. No suffering that Earth, people and Satan subjects us to compares to what God offers us.

Yeah, I know. A lot of you are going to say, “But Deac, by your own admissions in this blog, not everyone is getting that nice reward at the end. So they get shit on Earth and then eternally shittier shit after that. Yay for them, huh?”

Indeed, I believe in Hell and I believe in damnation. I also believe that the only people who are going to get that bitter end are going to be the hardheaded morons who will refuse to acknowledge their sin and their failure to be what they should have been in terms of following God’s word. The damned will be the people who didn’t get it on Earth, refuse to get the message in Hell, and decide that God is a flipping dipshit that they don’t want to spend eternity with anyway because as far as they’re concerned, they didn’t do anything wrong. Those folks get whatever crap they had on Earth, whatever crap they got in Hell, and will move on the Lake of Fire when God wraps up affairs here on this planet and have eternal separation from the good stuff. And frankly they’ll deserve it for being such egocentric self-satisfied remorseless morons, and yes, there will be plenty of souls who take that route, in my opinion.

I don’t believe that God relishes any of our suffering. I think it pains Him greatly. But you know, it pains me to deny my kids something they really want or to punish them in some way. But I do those things because in the end, I’m trying to do the right things for them to grow, and I know that compared to the spans of their lives, God willing that they live long ones, whatever pain they experienced will be a minor thing compared to what they take with them into their maturity.

15
Nov
08

Sweet Talk by Miz Pink

pinklips-sugaryHoneyed words can be powerful stuff you know. I certainly got a few guys in my younger years to do things or part with money they couldn’t afford to because I sweet talked them into it.

I’ve had my share of boyfriends over the years who I kept around lots longer than I should’ve just cuz they could sweet talk me back into their lives.

And with me and Sir Pink sometimes a lot of sweet talk can get either one of us out of dutch with the other in a hurry or get the other person to give up some goods they’ve been holding back on.

Mini Pink models 1 and 2 have sweet talked me into plenty of gifts and treats and out of punishments at times.

Yup. The right words can get you out of trouble as easy as they can get you into it.

But don’t try it on God or Jesus.

In the end we have to answer not just for whether we chose Christ but we have to be willing to answer for what we did. More important we are going to answer for our intent. Did we truly side with heaven and try to do the right thing or did we go to church and say all the pretty prayers and sing the pretty hymns and claim to be Jesus’s people?

We aren’t always gonna do the right thing. Some of us will rarely do the right thing.

But do you want to? Are you trying? Do you feel that you’ve let God and Jesus down when you don’t make the grade? Do you try to do better in the future? Those are the actions of a Christian.

When you cash out of this life, it’s too late to be trying to talk your way out of anything. Jesus said it nice and clear in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 7 and verses 21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

19
Oct
08

Ace In the Hole

Some days, all I have is Jesus.

Seriously. Sometimes, that’s all I have to get me through a day. The only thing that keeps me from blowing a gasket. My faith in a risen Lord and Messiah, my savior Jesus Christ, along with the knowledge that through becoming born again my soul is secure and that God is backing me—that is sometimes that only thing that make me able to keep going.

A lot of people like to pick on people for using Christianity as a crutch. OK. So what’s wrong with a crutch? If your leg is seriously sprained or broken, how the hell else are you going to get around?

So Christianity, or more specifically God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, are sometimes my crutch. Or the safety net under that high-wire I’m trying to walk. Or the flotation device that my seat becomes should my plane have to make a landing on water.

I won’t make any damn apologies for that. It’s a fool who doesn’t use his or her support system when things get rough. Right now, I don’t have much of a support system, and things are pretty crappy. So I’m calling on my spiritual lifelines.

That doesn’t make me weak. It means I have some common sense. Because truth be told, we all are weak at times. Hurt. Helpless. Struggling.

And I’m telling you that it’s God that grants me the strength sometimes—that little extra boost I don’t have in my anymore and I know I don’t have—to have gotten through some stuff, and to continue to get through, that other people have done things like put bullets in their head to solve. People in my extended circle who, by the way, didn’t lean on God. Ever.

Crutch? Sometimes.

I prefer to think of God as my ace in the hole.

23
Aug
08

I Can See Clearly Now by Miz Pink

Remember the film The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis? I liked that film, and I still like it even though I know the twist ending already and thus the entire film…which is a setup for that twist…becomes all pointless on multiple viewings. I still get the creeps when the little boy says “I can see dead people.”

He saw two worlds. He lived in the one we all see, but he could also see something the rest of us couldn’t.

Imagine being aware of two entirely different worlds and trying to express to family, friends…or worse yet, strangers who don’t even know you…that you’re not insane about that second world being there.

This is the struggle I face in trying to talk to people about my faith. I don’t make a point of doing it but it tends to happen. For some reason people find out I’m a devout Christian and it blows there mind because I don’t have the traditional politics of a Christian. I’m liberal and I believe in the Bible. That don’t compute for a lot of folks.

I don’t mind answering questions about my faith or even my struggles between political and religious stands in my life but it becomes painful when people who don’t really believe in a spiritual world start quizzing me. It’s happening more and more for some reason. I’m not sure if they are just curious or if some of them are trying to do an intervention with me and try to “slap me into reality” by picking apart my faith and trying to get me to discard it because this is the 21st century after all.

What I mind is that people won’t accept that there is a second world…a spiritual one…that is as real as our physical one. Wait! That’s not right. What I mind is that they won’t consider the existence of a second world.

Instead, I get semi blank looks like “how could you believe in an invisibile world and an unseen god?” My intelligence is questioned. Silently. But questioned all the same.

If scientists theorize about pocket universes and alternate realities and divergent timelines and parallel universes they are pushing the envelope and trying to see the universe in a larger way. If sci-fi writers write about those things they are being creative and complex.

But if a religious/faithful/spiritual person talks about it or writes about it…well, we’re nuts. Were blind to reality.

I know the big difference is that I as a Christian believe whole heartedly in this other world without a shred of physical or scientific evidence. But still can’t you grant me that it is possible? Too many people who question my beliefs in discussion boards or chat rooms or real life tell me it is just loony for me to even consider such things.

Yet if some learned person considers it but couches it in science well that’s okay.

I don’t like that.

When I received Christ it wasn’t pushed on me and it wasn’t indocrination and it wasn’t because I was told to believe it. It was a breakthrough. A dam breaking between my worldly self and the spiritual world so that I could embrace my spirit and embrace God and embrace Jesus and embrace salvation.

I can’t explain what that feels like. I can’t explain why that allows me to be aware of another world and believe in it even though I can’t even see it.

But becoming born again allowed me to see clearly. I am sorry that some of you pestering me can’t see what I see. I’m sorry that I can’t adequately explain it without seeming like a loon.

I don’t see dead people.

But I see a whole other life. I wish all of you could too. I hope some of you who don’t will one day.

If and when you do, I won’t say “I told you so” but I will say, “See?”

14
Jul
08

Cycle of Trees

I know it’s probably questionable how many people actually want to read my poetry, and so that’s why I haven’t posted any around here lately (if you are curious to look at what poems I have posted in the past, click here and sift through the Getting Creative posts; there are only a couple pages worth at this point in my blog’s life, so it’s easy hunting) but here’s another one from my vaults, written during a brief period when I wrote several Christ-inspired poems.

I have another post I’ll be doing today, but it’s more of a rant than anything else, and whatever spiritual spin I will put on it will be slight, so I thought this poem could help fill what otherwise might be a  spiritual vacuum in today’s postings.

 

  

The first tree—
A tree in a garden was our downfall
Or rather—
The man who ate off it
caused our
fall

          Oh, Adam, why?
          You poisoned your soul
          corrupted your seed
          damned descendants—
          for a taste of fruit
          You listened to Satan’s lies
          You drowned out your Father’s love.

The second tree—
—Our family tree—
—Adam’s tree
was as corrupt as his broken spirit

Humans born sinners
from the
start

Because of disobedience

But it pleased God
to make a way
to replant—
—that family tree

          A second Adam
          to obey and serve
          and make us children of God
          —again.

          Jesus.

The third tree—
A tree of death
upon which a godly man was nailed

A grim tree
But a tree from which
Jesus’s spirit leapt—
carrying our sins with him

 He restored the way
—to God

          The only son
          defeated sin and death
          reclaimed—
          what Adam lost
          —for us

The fourth tree—
The new family tree

Its fruit those who love Jesus
And who can be called
—children of God

Not because they deserve to
But because
The son of God let himself
be nailed—

To a tree.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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