Category Archives: Bible

Don’t twist metaphors

???????????????????????????????Metaphors use a blend of realistic narrative and imagistic poetry to address the deepest concerns of humanity. Metaphors evolve within a language and can profoundly influence perception, speech, even decision making.

We use metaphors all the time in order to say something about things we know little about. “It was a hairy situation.”

Metaphors are utilized because it’s impossible to express ideas that can’t be stated in plain language without a loss of meaning.

Conventional wisdom meshes with rhetoric to produce metaphors that give us something to identify with. “God is father.”

Metaphors have proven their worth for millenniums although they are risky and open-ended. The child with an abusive horrible father doesn’t want to hear about a God who is father. So, other metaphors enter the scene, “God is mother, energy, the universe, a river that never stops…”

One must live with the risk of metaphors since there is no way to get at the principal subject of that which can’t be regulated to our limited language. The unlimited God can never be described in full with the human language.

The down-side of metaphors is when theological reflection is replaced with human conviction. It’s when the reader attempts to wed the two subjects of ordinary life and the transcendent. It’s when the ordinary becomes the principal focus and God becomes the subsidiary awareness.

For example, in the study of Christian Science, I read Mary Baker Eddy’s exegesis of the book Revelation, a book replete with metaphors.

In Revelation of the New International Version, chapter 10, the metaphor of an angel “holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand,” is considered. The question is asked, “Did this scroll contain the revelation of divine Science?” (21st Century Science and Health)

This question maintains the metaphorical stance. It’s metaphysical. It doesn’t reverse the ordinary and the transcendent and ask, “Is this scroll, or book in the angels hand the physical book titled, Science and Health?”

There is nothing wrong with identifying a physical book with the book in the angels hand, but to make a decision based on this literal interpretation will lead to flawed circumstances and disappointment because the decision attempted to reduce a revelation to a physical thing, it attempted to make the infinite into something finite.

We can steer clear of the traps of trying to close the open-endedness of a metaphor. And, experience revelations.For example, the common metaphor depicting God as father produces images of horror to a child who was abused by their human father. Or it can be confusing to a child. Therefore we have mothers who see through metaphors and make sure not to interpret them literally.

For example, the other day, my cousin told me about her husband and I felt a touch of revealed divine knowledge.

Her husband is one of 6 children who grew up with a war-bride mom and an alcoholic father. The father drank himself to death when the children were younger. Their mom told them, “You are not your father. You are you. You make your own choices.” All six children grew into responsible, family oriented, successful individuals. What a nice revelation to know we are individuals, separable from human history and capable of wonderful goodness.

The revelation of divine Science is spiritual, a spiritual force, alive and well. It’ a spiritual knowledge that can be applied in the human experience to align our thoughts to divine Spirit, Truth, and Love.

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Fostering love in the desert

Mother_son“Are you sure you want to walk with me?”

“Yes.”

“It’s about 90 degrees out there and you know how far I walk,” I added.

“I know, I’m coming with you,” said Dak, the foster child who came to live with our family that year.

Was I surprised when Dak started petering out about half way through the walk? Yes and no. He was a sturdy 9-year old and had come on the walk with me before. But, Dak had a penchant to want to prove himself stronger, smarter, and faster than he really was, more often than not, getting himself into trouble.

We, previous foster parents, and social workers all strove to bring balance to Dak’s life. But one mile from home, he stopped in his tracks. Dak had sweat one drop too many. Something triggered and he sulked.

I remember sulking in the same way when I was a teenager after realizing I wasn’t getting my way.

But that day, we were on a desert trail. Not a high traffic area. So, I picked Dak up and started carrying him. His grouched weight strained my 115 pound slim (read non-muscular) physique. I started suffering.

Was my love for Dak’s safety carrying the load even though I was suffering? Probably not, I was pretty pissed. But the faith in me knows that God loves Dak. And the realist in me knows this human experience reeks with suffering; so much suffering in fact, that I’ve searched the Bible for meaning.

At the Pool of Bethesda, Christ Jesus healed a disabled man who had suffered for 38 years. Interestingly after the healing, “Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’” (John 5:14, ESV)

In this case, Jesus attributed suffering to sin. On one hand, it appears as though suffering serves to draw us away from sin and closer to God, life and love. But on the other hand, suffering isn’t posed as an agent to God because Jesus stopped the suffering of the man before fully knowing if the sin was stopped.

What about the times when innocent people suffer?

Prior to his crucifixion, the innocent Christ Jesus told Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38, ESV)

I take his “watch” instruction to mean stay awake to God, to life and love, mainly because Jesus went on to show the result of staying awake to God, rather than being mesmerized by, or trying to manipulate the drama and suffering. Although he experienced horrible human suffering, Jesus passed through the suffering alive and useful.

Suffering may get our attention but it doesn’t have to keep it.

Instead of letting suffering use me, I use suffering to repent or think differently.

As I carried Dak in the desert, my attitude cooled off. I gave God the pissy feeling to deal with and felt thankful for the fact that God loves Dak. Mercifully, Dak relaxed and offered to walk on his own and the whole incident never became a thing.

Reversing prayer

Do we sometimes get things backwards? backwards

Do we confuse the beginning with the end and thereby get nowhere?

I’ve been told to pray for healing.

Prayer first, healing next.

But what if God is already healing? What if healing is happening right now?

What if the healing is first and prayer next?

These questions give me the idea that my prayer could be different than praying for healing. I can pray to wake up to the healing that caused me to pray and be thankful for God’s healing.

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers, Luke 17, English Standard Version

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Love stands

build loveHuman organizations are built with prejudices; the fewer the prejudices, the stronger the organization.

Marriages are built with prejudices; the fewer the prejudices, the stronger the marriage.

Prejudices become outdated and are oftentimes replaced with new prejudices or a different quality of material such as fear or courage. Depending on the elements used, the structure stands or falls.

The Tower of Babel was built with a prejudice for homogeny. Everyone was to speak the same language, look the same, and act the same. It fell. (Genesis 11)

The Temple of King Solomon was built with spiritual obedience and pride of power. It eventually fell. (II Chron. 3)

The religion of love was built by prophets and sages and the common people. It still stands. The religion of Love has been through rocky times, hell and high water. But it still stands. I see and feel love, not built with hands, but by what I call God.

Genesis 1:31 (ESV)

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

 

 

 

 

 

June 18, 2014

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I Kings 10:1-9 (NIV)*

When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

Prov. 15:12-13

Mockers resent correction,
so they avoid the wise.

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.

14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge,

Matt. 5: 1-11

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

From 21st Century Science and Health*

Love is the source of might, immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud. God’s ideas are simple, yet great, and through a sharing process these ideas are strengthened, and found to be interconnected, as they have the same Principle, or Parent. Happy is the person who sees the need of others and supplies it, seeking his or her own supply in someone else’s good. All the diverse expressions of God reflect health, holiness, immortality—infinite Life, Truth, and Love.

Human belief is a liar from the beginning, not deserving power. It says to human beings, “You are disgusting!” and they think they are. Nothing can change this state, until the mindset changes. Mortal belief says, “You are happy!” and human beings are; and no circumstance can alter the situation, until the thinking on this subject changes. Human belief says to mortals, “You are sick!” and this assertion manifests itself on the body as sickness. A change in either a health-belief or a belief in sickness affects the physical condition. Bear in mind, it is as necessary for a health-illusion, as for an illusion of sickness, to be instructed out of itself into the spiritual understanding of what constitutes health.

Evil is conspicuously broadcast today, showing off itself in consumerism, materialism, and sensualism. Evil is struggling against the advancing spiritual era. The world may lack spirituality, and people may not be able to keep a promise or make a home happy, but human minds are demanding spiritual understanding and a reformed attitude.

As with any reform, a transition period will be felt. Transition periods are often unsettling and undesirable, however, why buck the trend when the reform compels us to find permanence and peace in a more spiritual devotion?

In his book, Survival in the Killing Fields,[1] Haing Ngor, survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, acknowledges the special trust between he and his wife, which did not include quibbling. Hard feelings are avoided when spouses use common sense, have respect for one another, and do not become extravagant or lazy. Having money and possessions may remove some barriers to a happy marriage, but nothing can replace the loving care in a union.

Teaching children, at the earliest stages possible, the realities of health and holiness is extremely beneficial. Children are more tractable than adults, and learn more readily to love the simple truths that will make them happy and good. Children can learn that obedience to parents and guardians promotes self-control. Disobedience blights.

Truth’s immortal idea is hovering over the centuries, gathering beneath its wings the sick and sinning. My weary hope tries to realize that happy day when human beings will recognize the Science of Christ, Truth, and love their neighbor as themselves. I hope you realize God’s omnipotence and the healing power of divine Love, and what it does for humankind. The promises will be fulfilled. The time for the reappearing of the divine healing is throughout all time.

* Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com Text from 21st Century Science and Health, copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen.

 

 

[1] Haing Ngor, with Roger Warner, Survival in the Killing Fields. (New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003)

Hurry, hurry, hurry, or not

With winter finally behind us, it’s a beautiful day here in upstate New York. We all had a good laugh when our neighbor said, “We better hurry and enjoy the day because winter will return soon.”

I catch myself hurrying more often than I’d like to admit.

But, when I do catch myself, I ask, “Is this an appropriate time to hurry?”

Hurrying isn’t terrible. We read in Luke 19:5, “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’” (ESV)

But, hurrying sometimes isn’t the best. Things get spilled or forgotten. We cut someone off. Or, we forget to take a nap.

Blogger, Cierra Cotton wrote about the importance of resting and being still in this hurried world, saying, “Resting is Biblical. I mean look at God, even He rested on the 7th day. If God who is Sovereign and all powerful took a day to rest than that means I definitely need to sit my tail down and rest. I’m learning to take time as I go throughout my day for “rest breaks.” Even if it’s just 5 minutes to take a deep breath, be still, and acknowledge God’s presence. Just to thank for all that He’s done so far and ask Him to give me strength to continue on with my day.”

I’ve also realized that the sheer act of slowing down to a normal pace, can be restful.

 

A paradox on the farm

Glenanore Farms raises meat goats.

When talking with the owners about farming goats, we couldn’t help but take pause when we came face to face with a paradox.

Most animal farmers, certainly here in upstate New York, put their heart and soul into raising their livestock. If a mother refuses a baby, the farmer will nurse it to life by bottle feeding. When an animal becomes weak, extra measures are taken to restore its health. The farmers always give their four-legged charges the best care, food, and water.

“Then we kill and process the animals for meat,” said the owner.

Mike Noonan with Glenanore Farms Boer Goats 2 cropped

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