Open theism has a basic belief that the future has not yet been written and while God is omniscient He chooses to not know how it will all work out. Gah!!!
---I need a BIIIG God. I need Him to know everything about my future. I believe as Christians we are filled with power but I do not want to be the determiner of my future.
That said I do believe fully that trusting my Father means there are plenty of opportunities for Him to ask "what do you want to do honey...it is ok to make a choice."
I used to think that I would perish outside of the center of God's perfect will. I now believe that His perfect will is vast and often there is more than one center.
I also believe that when I get out of that will He follows me (in that my core belief is that He never ever leaves me).
He follows me and brings me back. He is bigger than my mistakes.
I am very thankful for that. ----
I wonder if the Lord's prayer is the exact answer to what I have been struggling with for prayer in general.
I struggle with the need that we seem to have to use toooo many words.
I imagine that the disciples were being hassled because pious people had observed that their slacker rabbi did not pray like the elders taught. I imagine that there were plenty of examples of proper prayers and proper pray-ers. There had to be much teaching on what to say and how to say it for the most impact (on God..and others).
With the Lord's Prayer, Jesus seems to be extending his teaching on the Sermon on the Mount where he quite pointedly called out the differences between the old, traditional,ways and His new ways.
So maybe He is telling them here that prayer is not what they used to think it was.
It is simple. It is trust. It is knowing that Father has this alll under control.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Submitting yourself to the Maker of heaven and earth and saying to Him (and to your own heart) that you like how he does things and you would like Him to continue as it pertains to everything about you.
So what is that will that we want done?
Ahhhh...there it gets harder.
I used to be paralyzed by searching out the will of God. Really struggled. Full of fear that I was gonna miss it. I would meditate on the scriptures about sheep knowing the voice of the shepherd. I would assure myself that I was a friend of God and He wanted to tell me His business and I just had to listen.
I would dwell on all the things I knew of God and get really frustrated that the Bible did not tell me where God did his grocery shopping or how long He prayed when He went into the garden and did He cover His head or not??? sheesh.
I would get all worked up because I needed to know what He would have me do. How could I possibly stay in His will with Him if I didn't have a clue what He wanted me to do next?!!
Now, I am one that believes in words of knowledge. I have felt the power of the Spirit to just know stuff about people. A lot actually. But for myself. No.
I would like some life answers for myself thankyouverymuch.
Then, and I don't know when it happened, I just began to relax. I think it happened when I quit going to church. (another subject)
God had always been in my daily life. We hung out. I would live in peace on every day but Sunday. It took years to really figure out that the main message that made Sunday hellday was "here is another way to get it right cuz you are obviously screwing up all the other ways you have tried".
Or to be interpreted in the common vernacular "you suck".
I never felt that way except on Sunday. sigh.
Anyway, back to relaxing. When I quit having to hear God through the static of "Christian" regulations I began to realize that He had been speaking to me all along in such a simple manner that I had totally missed it. His will is just so simple.
He lives there ya know. In love. And every day He invites us to dwell with Him there.
Get this...when we walk in obedience we are naturally walking in love. When we are choosing obedience we are choosing to dwell with Him where he lives.
Yeah, that points back to love. Which points back to Him.
When we dwell with Him we dwell in peace.
Which in the Hebrew...shalom...means wholeness. Peace means wholeness.
That peace that God gives us...completes us. The fullness of God dwelling within us.
His Spirit in us.
When we live in relationship with Father we are choosing to live in His will. It becomes as simple as waking up in the morning. We get up. We brush our teeth. We go about our day. He goes with us. We go with Him.
In His will... if we are paying any kind of attention.
It is too simple for any words. It is living. And it feels like choosing our own way.
It feels indecent and slovenly.
But it isn't!
When we want Papa's heart we get it! His Spirit guides us so completely. We know what He wants. What He is thinking. We just do it and it becomes not just second nature...but first nature.
And then there are times when we aren't walking in obedience. We miss it due to laziness or out right rebellion. And even there...He walks with us. We are going to deal with consequences for our mistakes. But we are never going to be alone in them. He is going to be there to pick up the pieces and bring us back on track.
I really hope I am not filling you up with a lot of churchy words here. It is the last thing I want to do. To be all wordy and useless.
I want to walk with Papa in such a way that I feel His heart beat as my own. I don't believe that doing that makes me disappear. I believe that He created me just the way He wants me and as I grow and change He smiles on me. When I mess up He heals me. And He continues to use me as His. My weaknesses do not scare or surprise Him. He put them there.
He has a design for them.
And I love love love that my heart is continually changing from one that uses those weaknesses as excuses to one that knows that those weaknesses are surely exchanged for His glory.
So in simple words...to find the will of God we need only look for Him. Ask Him where He is wanting to go today. Listen to His answers. Know that sometimes His answers are no more complex than "brush your teeth". Then we move on with the day trusting that He likes our company even more than we like His.
God knows our future. I am sure of this. His amazing freedom lets us choose the path we take and He walks right along beside us...whether or not we are walking in His perfect will for us.
Yes, read that again.
And you wanna know something else? He has this ability to walk with you, know your future, be in your future and work out your future for your good according to His purposes...no matter how bad you stink at your present.
Love Him. Obey Him. Do what you can do today...even if that means that you really mess it up.
Your Papa ain't goin anywhere. He knows. And He has it alllll under control.
Yes, I am one of those people.
So they were talking about seeds and the fact that most seeds available in the market today are produced in one of like 6 (or some small number like that ) facilities.
Get that? There are only a handful of seed producers out there and all of our food is essentially coming from them. Is there a problem with that?
Slowly but surely likes and varieties of plants are being put out of production because they do not meet the real or perceived needs of the consumer in a way that brings in revenue for the seed producers. If it don't sell, we don't sell it.
Well, duh...that only makes sense.
The problem starts when the consumers are left with only a few foods that have been bred for color, taste, longevity, size, texture, blah blah blah to the eventual death of the supporting plant.
Ok I am quickly getting out of my league in sustainable food producing knowledge...let me try again.
In order to make consumers happy and ultimately turn a profit, seed production companies have dwindled the variety in their stock down to the very few best sellers. This has led to a shortage of gene stock among the plants. As plants are bred for certain qualities fewer and fewer stains are introduced. The resulting plants are "purer" and also weaker.
God has designed creation to thrive on diversity.
Sidenote...you know the beautiful strawberries you enjoy so every summer?? Well, every 5 or 6 years they have to have an entirely new breed ready for planting because the old breed will have completely worn itself out genetically and some bug or virus will move in and decimate the entire crop. Strawberries in the wild are not naturally the size of golfballs...did you know this?
So are you following ?
The big companies are the big companies because they make the money. They stay in business. They stay in business because they know how to please the consumer. The consumer has a very narrow idea of what they want. Usually they want bigger, cheaper, faster. The big companies provide this and the customers are happy and they keep buying from those companies and the result is that the gene pool for everything we eat is growing weaker and narrower.
That is a scary thing.
So I am watching this documentary and all of a sudden I feel this parallel.
Big companies=mega churches.
Money=money (and people as commodities) .
Go back and read that section again but insert mega-church in for seed producer. And etc...
Let's put that together and sprinkle a little anti-organized-church angst on it and see what we get.
I started thinking about mega churches. I looked at the trend we have going for churches to get bigger and bigger.
Bigger = success.
More butts in the seats=you are obviously doing something right.
Church goal becomes ...more butts in the seats.
So what happens when you have 10,000 people under the tutelage of one pastor? You get 10,000 sheep (church-goers) grazing in one pasture which leads to over grazing of that pasture for one thing and serious intestinal distress to the sheep if it turns out that that pasture has a parasite or there is a drought...or etc.
Again...What happens when 10,000 christians gather under one voice?
I am not talking about the voice of Jesus here. I am talking about the voice of Jesus as interpreted by Brother Jojo and his desire to touch the world with his ministry.
Maybe Bro. Jojo is a beautifully gifted preacher. Maybe he really hears from the Lord. And maybe he has a day like any normal human where he is feeling a little angsty and he has his panties in a wad because Jojo Jr. smart mouthed him on the way to the sanctuary and now he feels like he has a word from the Lord to the congregation about submission to your elders and discipline of the laymen when in reality the word from God was about parents not antagonizing their children but he missed that part because his self righteous button got all stuck in the on position.
Maybe that day turns into a week and a sermonal series as the "Amen" section gets warmed up, because they do do that sometimes. And maybe church leadership starts clamping down on feedback night because they feel the word coming down from the Pastor about getting things under control.
Whew. I think I need a drink.
Ok. What about that? Do you see that in a mega church scenario Bro. Jojo has unwittingly influenced 10,000 christians with his parental angst?
Maybe you think that was a little simplistic.
Maybe you think "well, mega churches have programs and small groups and other things where fresh thought (food) is introduced".
But do they really?
Or do the small groups feed from the word as presented on Sunday by Bro Jojo?
Is the teaching in the classrooms fresh thought?
Or is it curriculum approved by the leadership for the good of the body (of 10,000) under the leadership of Bro Jojo and his angst?
Could this scenario be viewed as a parasite...or a drought...that will be directly infecting and affecting 10,000 sheep in the very near future?
Could that be a problem?
So that is one illustration...but it doesn't really address the stuff I started ranting about.
Yes, I got off subject. Surprised?
Anyway...I started ranting about seeds and how big companies are narrowing the gene pool in response to what consumers want. Lets explore that for a minute or ten, shall we?
Again lets say that we are dealing with 10,000 people. These people are products of society. Generally, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, these people are sheep.
Sheep in the way that they follow one another, are easily led, gullible, delicate in constitution, susceptible to disease and predators, short sighted, picky, persnickety, and ornery.
Sheep want what they want, when they want it, in a form that is easy to get and they don't really care much about the dangers presented in getting it.
People=sheep. Sheep=people. In mass....bahhhhhhhhhhhh....
Pastors (shepherds in the biblical sense) in their good hearted way want to keep the sheep safe and happy. Pastors in the human sense are very easily influenced by the need to get more. More is better. More Butts in the seats= doing something right.
So, to keep the sheep happy, I think it would be really easy for church leadership to cater to what sells. Shorter sermons...smiley faces. Lighter topics...smiley faces.
Wait...am I proposing long heavy sermons...gah! no!!!
So length and topic are not the main points here.
The main point is about weakening the gene pool.
Let's say that the sheeple are really on top of things. They like pithy, heartfelt sermons that speak to their hearts on a deep level and motivate them to good deeds and higher living.
Now lets say that Bro. Jojo is really that kind of preacher. Let's forget about his angst and concentrate on his strength.
He is really really into helping the poor. His sermons move the people out into the world to help the poor. It is wonderful the things they do to help the poor. 10,000 people hearing sermons every Sunday about helping the poor.
And every homegroup in that church is about helping the poor and it's all so amazing.
Except for the fact that this body of believers has absolutely no skill whatsoever in welcoming anybody into their fellowship. They really suck at it in fact. Newcomers just mess with the chi of the organization.You are constantly having to show them what to do and waste time teaching them technique and proper care and handling of the poor. And children, well, if they can't pull their own weight they might as well play in the street. (except poor children of course cuz they are wonderful)
Do you see?
It is wonderful what Bro Jojo is teaching. But it is one sided. It is always going to be one sided.
And even if the leadership is working together they are still going to come to a consensus for their body that is going to be "one voice".
If we continue to condense our churches into mega communities we are going to start losing our voices. We will, and have already begun to, let the majority rule. We have let our interpretation of scripture come from a few "professional" voices and while that message may be big and shiny and polished it may not be the healthiest way to consume.
But without a diversity of thought and idea and heart and experience and voice we are going to find ourselves all thinking alike. Our thought/food is going to be super bred to only what we want to consume. As the choices of thought get narrower our ability to think outside the box will shrink.
We need think about this.
If you have 10,000 people hearing one sermon you may come away with 10,000 interpretations of that sermon but you still have one central train of thought. In the way that mega churches are designed you will have those 10,000 people breaking up into 1000 groups of people that may talk further about that sermon but still...that one sermon is the core topic.
That one sermon...even if based on a word straight from God is still presented from one man's view.
That is pretty limiting on the vastness that is God.
And that is if they really do home groups well. Mostly those 10,000 people will pay their dues, punch their attendance card and leave having not really thought about the sermon at all much less apply it to their lives. hmmmm....
So what is the flipside?
Let's say there are 10,000 people in small groups meeting in homes not necessarily influenced by one pastor. 1000 small groups doing community stuff in their homes and neighborhoods. 1000 different words from the Lord being discussed and implemented in the lives of the 10,000 people. Say each small group has 10 people. That means there is actually a potential for 10 different ideas and words from God to be presented and prayed and batted about and worked into the lives of those 10 people. 10 ideas. 10 words from God. Not one as interpreted by Pastor Bro. Jojo...ten. Ten words.
(I know I could be exaggerating but let's just go with it) 10 x 10,000 ideas and words that have been developed to a working point.
wow. that is a lot.
If that seems too grandiose...let's not be so optimistic...what if each small group was really kinda narrow minded in that they only wanted one word each week. That is still 1000 words to work from instead of O.N.E.
I know...there are a million ways that this is ignorant and obtuse. I know that I am not exploring all the ins and outs of this vast topic. I am talking about one side of this thing. Something to think about that doesn't necessarily cover all the aspects.
It is just one idea that may be stupid... but it is also possible that it is something worth thinking about. Because all I am saying here is that I never really thought about this before. So I am thinking. That's all. Just thinking about seed...
“Ya wanna take a little ride in my doat tart?” he said.
Her curls bobbed up and down as she climbed aboard his goat drawn cart. She didn’t mind his lisp. She was just so pleased to get to ride in that cart.
A flick of the reins and a gentle, “Dit up doat” put the little wheels in motion.
They rode together in silence for a while before the young lad whispered to his companion,“can I have a little kiss?”
“Oh no!” she wailed, her curls bouncing once again. She had answered quickly, maybe too quickly, for she found the cart drawing to a halt.
“Whoa doat!” commanded the boy.
“Det out den” he said to her as she unhappily climbed out of his goat cart.
“Dit up doat,” his final words floated to her on the breeze.
It wasn’t long until he spied another pretty young lady walking along the lane.
Again he asks the question, “Ya wanna take a little ride in my doat tart?”
Again an eager lass climbs aboard.
It isn’t long before the young boy whispers his next question.
“Can I have a little kiss?” he blushes.
She blushes, also embarrassed, but maybe a little flattered . Still, what is a proper young lady of five supposed to do? She lowers her eyes and shakes her head.
“Whoa doat!” Another heart gets broken as the boy stops the cart.
“Det out den” his heart is heavy this time as he says the words.
“Det up doat”, the words send the little goat steadily onward.
He is about to turn around for home when he sees a pale blue dress at the top of the hill.
“Det up doat”, he clucks and urges the cart faster.
“Whoa doat”, he says and hurries through his next question.
She is climbing aboard before he can get the words “doat tart” out of his mouth.
A quick smile greets him as she settles herself into the cart.
This time the cart doesn’t stop.
His request for a kiss is met with a perky peck on the cheek that almost makes him drop the reins. A broad smile warms his face as he tightens his grip and sits a little straighter in the seat.
“I wish my brother was here” he sighs, and dreamily guides his little goat cart down the hill.
(I never could quite figure out why he wanted his brother to be there…)
This was the first of many stories Papa told me when I was a little girl. His stories always seemed so long ago and far away.
“Could he really remember that far back?” I thought. The 1930’s did seem like a hundred years before my time.
I guess it takes getting older to make one appreciate how close childhood really is.
It must be just yesterday that someone asked me for a little kiss in the cloakroom of my Kindergarten classroom. Almost 40 years ago. A lifetime of lifetimes to my children. My stories seem to fascinate my kids as my Papa’s stories fascinated me. It didn’t really matter when they happened. The important thing to me was that they had happened to my dad.
Somehow, ageless, stories live on. Time may fuzz the details a bit but that doesn’t really matter. It is the thought, the memory, the telling that is important.
The stories are important because they are alive. They live in the teller. The spoken word brings life to events. Firsthand knowledge passed from teller to listener. These are not merely chronological events. Not data to be stored and retrieved for information sake alone. These are happenings. Life changing, mind altering happenings. We hear and we learn. We see through the eyes of the one who’s gone before. We get to sample a piece of life not actually lived by us, yet amazingly and intricately a part of us.
Around a campfire or tucked into bed, on the boring stretch of highway or around the dinner table we tell what we know to each other. We teach one another about family and humanity, successes and mistakes, laughing and loving and living. We open up the stories of ourselves to find that we are wrapped up in the stories of others. Our common ground is found in our uniqueness. No one has our story, but everyone can tell a tale based on the one we just told. We were created decidedly different but absolutely dependent on one another. The stories we tell become our link to one another. A knowing as we are known.
An open invitation into the secret places of the heart. In open hearts we find a place of true community, pictures painted by the words of testimony. We come together to share ourselves with one another.
We learn about each other and that seems to draw us closer. Even the stories that are sad, or unlovely in some way seem to draw us in. We accept the vulnerability of the teller. We get a glimpse of who they were at that time. We also begin to recognize the similarities and differences between the teller then and now. We actually get a picture of their lives.
As we listen to the story we find that the voice imparts a color to the tale. Body language brings a depth to the story that cannot be given to a written page. Excitement or hesitation paints hills and valleys as memories draw details for the listeners to see. The true beauty of the tale emerges through the telling. We find that this picture can never be reproduced in exactly the same way. This is a precious gift. It cannot be taken back. Once spoken it is a timeless, priceless, endless treasure.
We have shared a part of one another and we find that these pictures truly are worth a thousand words.
I got it as a small child when I had a high fever. Most people don't notice it. It is such a part of me that I forget about it sometimes.
There are people in my house that take it upon themselves to remind me.
My children think it is funny to talk about my lazy eye. They ask me to show it to them. They bring it up in conversation.They refer to it at the dinner table.
Sometimes I laugh because what they say is really funny. They get to me that way.
Sometimes I laugh because I am completely astounded at their sheer audacity.
What am I supposed to do?
Have I taught them nothing about manners and respect? Do I call further attention to my eye by yelling at them to stop?
Should I beat them?
Mostly I say "hey! that is not cool. We do not go around calling attention to others by pointing out the ways that they are different or odd."
They mumble something about being sorry. And I truly think they are. I try to keep it low key because it doesn't really bother me and I feel like making an issue of it will only compound the problem. We address it repeatedly...because it comes up repeatedly. Eventually it will sink in.
For now, lets face it, lazy eyes are just funny.
See, I can poke fun at this because it doesn't bother me. I don't remember being mocked because of my eye.
I was mocked because of my buck teeth. Then I got braces so that really isn't an issue anymore either.
(I did make my first child a bit neurotic because I would pray to God and command her teeth to line up in the name of Jesus...until, at the age of four, she asked me to please stop praying for her mouth...sigh)
So the Bucky Becky thing isn't really an issue.
Not. at. all.
Well ok, maybe a little bit.
Wanna know my real childhood issue?
Are you ready?
You heard me. Baseball.
I come from a ball family. Dad was a great catcher. Big brothers were constantly on the field, baseball, football, soccer. Big sister was a mean basketball player back in the day. Little sister could smoke em in Softball.
You might be wondering why I would even step onto a ball field. Well, when you come from a sports family you just do these things. There really is no thought about other options. If you say "I'd rather not play" you will be looked at like Grandma saying "these cinnamon rolls probably aren't worth eating"...nonsense. Of course you want to play.
C'mon Beck! Let's get on out there and hit some balls!!
I remember standing with a bat in hand at Pile-High Stadium (we played in a cow field).
Everyone was so encouraging to me.
"Come on Beck...you can do it. Keep your eye on the ball!"
Now you might just be thinking...which eye?
Think it all you want but don't ask it out loud. Even tho it doesn't bother me I might get irritated.
Don't get me wrong, I would laugh.
And then I'd punch you a little harder than necessary in the arm with one hand as I slapped my knee with the other.
But seriously, which eye? I have this little depth perception problem. I have a really hard time tracking a flying object that is hurtling towards my person at 50 something miles per hour.
Anyone with an ounce of athletic ability will say that such a thing is easily overcome. I beg to differ.
Well, I guess I can't really argue. It is that pesky "ounce of ability" that ruins my position on this matter.
See, I have not one ounce of said ability.
Nor do I want any.
Even tho, as a child I wanted more than breath itself to be able to knock that ball into next week.
But I just couldn't do it.
Honestly, I really should get points for chutzpah. (hoot-spa)
I would stand at the plate every Sunday afternoon and and beg for God to "please for everything that is good and right, please please please let me at least make contact with the ball".
I don't think He ever said yes.
I think I would remember.
I do remember feeling the humiliation of having the other team motion all the outfielders inside the baseline.
Yeah...that'll stoke your confidence.
The pitcher would walk forward to about midway between the mound and the plate and lob a gentle one right at my bat. I believe a toddler could have hit that ball.
A toddler with two good eyes that is.
I am ok with the fact that you are snickering.
I was mature enough to know when to swing the bat. I was just not capable of swinging it a straight line which is what was required to actually hit the ball.
I would swing mightily. And the ball would laugh as it hit the catchers glove. Nobody else laughed. They were busy yelling "good try Beck! Watch the ball, Beck! You can do it Beck!"
"Keep your eye on the ball Beck! " they would chorus and I would watch...as the ball danced its way past my bat two more times.
I knew how to watch the stupid ball ok? I just didn't know how to hit it with the stupid bat.
The very best thing about baseball was each time my at-bat was over. My torture had ended.
I did not step away from the plate in humiliation hanging on me. I stepped away in relief. I was done.
Praise God! (even tho He didn't say yes to my plea.)
I would return to the sidelines and read my book while my teammates took their turns at ball smacking.
I was free...until the next part.
Actually, the other part of baseball was not nearly so bad. In fact you might say that it was kind of payback for the batting humiliation. This part was called "in the field".
Now, when I say in the field, I mean in the field. That whole depth perception thing...yeah...I was no better at catching balls than I was at hitting balls. In fact, if you can believe this, I was even worse at it. At least I had an inner desire to hit the ball with the little stick.
In the field I had no desire, not one, in any part of my body, nope, no desire to catch that ball.
This is why they put me in the field.
Because they knew.
They knew from experience that should the ball come towards me I would duck. Or move out of the way. Maybe,on a good...really good...day I might stick my glove out but you can bet yer bottom dollar I would be praying hard for that ball to land anywhere else.
Picture me, wayyyy out in the field in my polyester shorts and buck teeth squeezing my eyes closed while holding a glove bigger than my head out in front of me and chanting "pleasegodpleasegodpleasegod-not-in-the-glove".
He always answered that prayer with a yes.
Then the ball would bounce and roll on past and I would open my eyes to see the rest of my team windmilling the air and shouting "GET THE BALL BECKY!" and I would turn and chase the bouncing ball and pick it up and throw it towards the infield and it would fly.
About three feet.
So I would (sort of) run up to it and pick it up again and it would go another three feet. And I might do this one more time before some big boy would lumber out and pick the ball and launch it all the way to home plate. Which was a good thing because that was where the runner was heading by now.
I think they should have been smarter about putting me wayyyy out in the field.
There is always gonna be a ringer on the other team that can knock it right through the hole and every man on that team knows just where the hole is...look for Becky...
I think the decision to put me out in the field was a calculated risk. I might miss every ball that flew at me but at least if I was out there...nobody would trip over me.
Thank goodness for small favors.
I mean that so seriously.
In the outfield is peace. No sweaty bodies barreling toward that tiny tiny white island that you defend. No hard flying objects launching toward your head every few minutes. Nobody breezing by you as you try and locate the ball visually while it jolts and bounces from glove to glove to glove.
Every glove except yours, that is.
Like Ferdinand in his field of flowers I could reflect on life and witness from afar the ludicrous antics of the sportsmen infield. My sanity assured me no contusions, concussions, dislocations, or even rash. What's a little verbal harassment between friends (or siblings)? I could face it all if it meant that the ball, and my body, would not, under any conceivable circumstances, ever, make contact.
And in my peaceful reflection I could laugh. These people would get so stressed out about that little ball.
What is up with that anyway??
Veins would bulge. Sweat would drip. Knees would bloody. Life and limb would be continually sacrificed to the baseball "gods"...all in the name of either stopping that ball, or launching that ball.
Silliness I tell ya.
I chose to rise above. To exist on a higher plane.
Maybe my utter failure at hitting the ball allowed me a certain superiority in my self preservating aloofness.
Nobody expected me to shine in the field. I was free from all preconceived notions about ability or might.
I could write my own ticket. And I did...
I chose to be cool. Too cool to care. Let the commoners do the dirty work. I had flowers to smell.
Baseball nirvana?? (Nirvana- in the state of being free from suffering)
But it would have been sweeter with one good hit.