SanctiFusion

Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘recovery’ Category

Western Mythology, Part Four: Homosexuality as a "Condition" of Life

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That there is a special class of human being known as “homosexual.” Through all history, it seems, there have been people who, at one time or another, chose to relieve their sexual”tensions” on the bodies of others of their own sex (how we abuse that word!). For the ancient Greeks such behaviour was customary, even for a teacher to so abuse his student as part of the orientation program. Does this mean that all the Greeks were “gay” in the modern sense? If there really is a “gay gene” that makes people “that way,” some pretend, then wouldn’t this mean that all people of Greek descent are particularly predisposed to homosexuality? More practically, with the current conditions in the jails and prisons, do we see the paroles and releases from those overcrowded facilities packing the “gay” clubs and districts? (In prison parlance, the “soft” ones who stroll the cell blocks in makeshift lingerie are the ones known as “homosexual.”) Obviously not, because the convicts did what they felt they needed to do at the time, and then left it behind once there were women in the “equation!” Read the rest of this entry »
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Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 3 August, 2008 at 20:45

Western Mythology, Part One: Education as Salvation

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“The Greek Myth:”: From the time of Plato, or one of his poorer students, we have the idea that there is a kind of “education” which draws out the good in us, making all our intentions pure and all our decisions wise. It would seem that Hugh Hefner used that one to put pornography into mainstream society, by loading Playboy with articles written on a post-graduate level, and the “What sort of man reads /Playboy?/” internal advertising. (One might ask, after all, weren’t there all kinds of nude representations in the ancient Greek sculptures? Well, actually, there were, and theywere generally set up along the roads leading to the temples where the prostitutes plied their trade. The noble Greeks had “solved” their problem of sexual misbehavior by having their religion endorse it! No, if this were the case, then we would surely see real virtue today, in a society which can boast of the highest education levels in history; but in fact the difference is only that the higher-educated, like the Greeks, are more skilled at weaving stories around their misdeeds, and using their networks of highly-placed old classmates and Greek society chums to make it all better. Example: If somebody steals a wallet on the street, there’s an unblinking system of justice to make sure there’s a prison cell waiting. If a judge or a lawyer perverts justice, costing someone far more than that wallet would have yielded, how often does that make the daily paper, or reach the courts to be made right? Education doesn’t improve a person, but it does provide new skills and methods.

Is education a bad thing? Not necessarily, but can we really believe that stuffing the head can cure the heart?

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 14 July, 2008 at 9:37

The Best there Is!

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“I am the vine,” says Jesus, and proceeds to explain to His disciples that each of His followers is like so many branches growing from the one plant, nourished from the same root. A popular spin from that has been that vines don’t know anything about fences, so there is no need for “established religion.” That argument goes on to say that since “wherever two or three are gathered” Christ is there, then that is all there really is to “Church.”

This sounds great for its simplicity, but then there are two meanings for the word, “Simple,” aren’t there? Taking the second idea first, if “wherever two or three are gathered” is the Church then haven’t we traded the vine for a scattering of mushrooms? A vine is not so many bits of green here and there, with no relationship except with the root, or a gathering of green bits from here and there to form a vine. The root produces the vine, which grows branches which then grow tendrils and keep growing. We could go a lot farther into this picture, but the main point for today is that we are all connected (established) in Christ as so many parts of a living structure, supplying each other with that
grace which we ourselves are supplied by others. This brings in the ministries touched on in Ephesians 4 as well as Romans 12, &c.

As for the fences, the interesting part of that is a question: When have you seen a grape vine growing without some structure on which to climb? If we see such a thing, it is always a young vine, and without much fruit. A big, healthy, productive vine is a tended vine with a good trellis to support its branches. The vine Jesus was talking about was such a vine, with the Father Himself as the Vinedresser. Why would we want to paint ourselves as a wild vine, crawling through the weeds and thorns if God wants to prune and protect us?

In history, we started off with “established religion” as the Apostles and prophets, evangelists, and pastors labored together to nourish a single vine which withstood persecutions, heresies, and plagues for about a thousand years before suffering the first division (between the two ranking bishops, over what may yet be shown to have come primarIly of a language difference), and half another millennium before further divisions occurred. It may be argued that in nearly every schism the group leaving the larger body did so with great reluctance, and labored to prove itself to be, essentially, still part of that historical progression that is the “established” Church.

Roll the clock ahead a bit farther, and let Scholasticism gain its full growth and birth Humanism and Rationalism (yes, this is a simplified story!), and we see the coming of “movements” as diverse as Seventh-Day Adventism, Theosophy, Mormonism, Darbyism, and the “Watchtower.” The Christian “Establishment” now consists of thousands of separate groups, each telling the other, “I have no need of you,” while millions of people wander off into the void to be “churches” unto themselves.

We could follow this thinking to say that all Christians should therefore be members of the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, or even that one must be be saved. Conditions as varied as human history and God’s grace would say otherwise. Then, what?

First, just as the vine to which Jesus compares us needs a frame to protect it from animals and rot, and to hold it separate from the other plants, the Church needs to grow on the framework He has provided us. Like it can be said that a vine has “generations” of growth from season to season, the truth, the spiritual DNA which defines our makeup as Christians, has been passed on to us from Christ, through our faithful (spiritual) ancestors. To be sure, there has been some lost and added, and so the need to find the “standard” as close to the root as possible so we can have some assurance that we are not just tied in to the latest religious fad to hijack that holy Name.

As well, we need to see that the vine really is distinct: Like a specialty grape compared with the thorns and weeds that grow around it. Just like the whole vineyard belongs to the vinedresser, so the world in general belongs to God: But just like the vine is uniquely his, the reason for his building the vineyard, so the Church is God’s peculiar possession, the object of His love and attention. To be His means to be holy: any other option is rebellion.

Do we end on a negative note? Not at all, because that holiness is not a “work of rightousness” that we have to perform, but a blessing He wants to give us, a miracle for Him to work in our lives. Just as salvation, the New Birth, enables us to love God from a redeemed heart, His plan is to cleanse and renew us so that we may live and grow in that love “without wrath and doubting.” Is this not the best there is?

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 31 January, 2008 at 18:30

Real Wealth

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Some people choose wealth, and achieve it. They make it their one goal in life, and whatever they do becomes an expression of that desire. Their choice of friends, if they go to church they find the one with the best connections,, etc. Sometimes they succeed, and find themselves climbing that slope which they expect to bring them to great happiness. The farther up they go the more the scene changes from being somewhat singled out in the crowd as the one with “ambition,” to being singled out by the crowd as the one with nothing but his ambition. No longer in the crowd, because the crowd “had nothing to offer,” there is now a lonely figure, alone, struggling up the slope toward “great happiness.” The many stories of those who have reached that peak, and found it dry and barren, have little effect in getting past their mantra of “but I’m different.”

On the other hand, we might observe that some choose poverty. For the sake of a simple life, and being accessible to one’s friends, poverty has its advantages. The main drawback is that, while the rich person has a measure of control over how much money they have the poor really doesn’t. And, for the most part, the rich is rich by choice, but the poor one is seldom poor by choice. Those that are, and honestly so, find that the way up is a lot longer than the way down. That probably explains the fellow that history just calls, “the Rich Young Ruler,” who wanted to be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus required of him the one thing he was most afraid to lose: Control. Likely all his wealth was from one of two sources. Either it was inherited, or it was made with wealth that was. To give it all up would mean staking his whole life on the teachings of this Rabbi- not just the intellectual or contemplative components, but down to how the next meal was coming. To choose poverty is to relinquish control, which is not a bad thing if it’s the Lord to Whom we relinquish. To his credit, and the Lord’s happiness and great glory, though the young lad turned back at that time, Church tradition tells us that the young man who was following Jesus from the edge of the group, wearing only one garment, was the same who had, “had great riches.”

There is a verse in Proverbs which tends to get translated two different ways. It is often read as a man ignoring the counsel of friends to do as he pleased. The other, as found in the King James and not many others, gives a picture of one forsaking all pleasures and distractions to seek “all wisdom.” Not being a Hebrew scholar I would have to consider that the difference would have to be more how it is read than how it was written. If we follow the Calvinist view that sin is the supreme force in this world, then the pessimistic reading would support that, The Bible says that, “..where sin abounds, grace that much more abounds,” and that would make God’s grace the greater, so I can thank the Lord for the inspiration,

“Through desire a man, having separated himself, mixeth and intermingleth with all wisdom (Pv. 18:1)”

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 8 November, 2007 at 9:36

How do we know?

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There are so many “flavors” of Christianity today, and so many Christians build our own Sundays (sorry!) from what flavors suit us at the moment. If there’s a health crisis, then healing may be at the top of the stack, if financial, then aspects of God’s providence, if we heard some new thing on the radio, then that might make to the dish as well. Again, some fill up on all “plain vanilla” while others insist on the “rocky road.” In one day, on the same “Christian” radio station a person might hear messages on an eternal salvation for just praying a particular prayer, some special prayer for shortening Grandma’s time in Purgatory, instructions on how to speak wealth into existence, or that God loves us all so much He really doesn’t care what we believe, or how we live. It almost seems that if a program needs some such spin to stay on the air. With all these interpretations for the same Book, how do we know what the Book actually says any more? Let’s try out these ideas.

When we listen or read, what is the source of the ideas? Sometimes a hint can be found just in what they say. A teacher that takes the credit either didn’t get it from God, or isn’t giving God the credit, and so stealing the spotlight from the One he’s supposed to be spotlighting. There’s an old adage that the world has yet to see what God can do through the life of one who does not seek a share of God’s glory The opposite is every bit as true: That we can only imagine how little use God has for a person who wants the glory for himself. William Ury says, “True theology begins in worship.” If the theologian/teacher starts off to take the credit for what they have to say then it’s safe to say that tree doesn’t have a good root system.

Speaking of worship-
In 1st John it says that we “know all things, because of the anointing…,” speaking of the Holy Spirit. Recently I heard one prominent teacher say on the radio that praying in the Spirit means intensely intellectual Bible study. If he considers his own intellect to be the Spirit of God, then what does that tell us about how far we can trust the rest of what he says? After all- he has just placed his own intellect in the place of God! God, however, has told us that, “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation,” so one person’s opinion is just that. Rather, the anointing that is available to the Church is promised to “lead ..and guide (us) into all truth.” There is the office of teacher in the Church, and I have noticed in that office that whatever truths I bring to the pulpit (be it an oak pulpit or a bench on a picnic table), the same Spirit that is teaching me what to say is teaching the hearers as well, and most often has been teaching them along to be able to relate to the lesson I have brought. In other words, either God is doing the teaching, or noone is! In this way, we have the Spirit confirming in each of our hearts what it is He wants us to understand!

In the same line of confirmation, we remember that today’s Church is not all there is, or all the people that God has taught and worked through. It is always exciting to me when I find in the writings of others, especially minds far wiser or in times and places far removed from the world I know, an echo of some truth that the Lord has placed in my own heart as I read His Word. This is no boast, except on God Who is our Teacher, and brings “all things to our remembrance,” not just in remembering the words of Scripture, but what He meant when He gave them. So then we can judge teaching by the witness of the Spirit in our own lives, and in those whom He is leading.

Speaking of lives, another way of deciding if God is in a teaching is the effect it has on those that receive it. Sometimes we can see where it’s going without looking too far. If we know that the Bible condemns greed and coveting as sin, then we already have a clue when we hear someone say that Jesus died so we could have fat bank accounts and long shiny cars! On the other hand, the message may sound right, but are its followers proud and contentious, or living immoral lives? If so, then either it has some pieces that just don’t fit, or else has some pieces missing. This could well be why Jesus warned us about tampering with the details of His Gospel, and it’s all Gospel, from “In the beginning,” to, “Amen:” It’s all about Jesus! Stay tuned for some ideas on making sure we have the Whole Story!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 4 November, 2007 at 10:13

What More Do I Need?

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Probably more people than I realise today have been in a good number of different churches One person may be something of a Baptist/Presbyterian/Pentecostal now attending an Orthodox church, or another some other blend . And the more “blended” Christians become, and the more blended the churches become, we all tend toward the things we all agree on, and say things in a way that’s the most agreeable to the most people; and all this can be really good.

Anybody who has built a fire knows that, once it is kindled one can expect a great flame at the first as the flame spreads through the clean material. Once the fire has spread, the material tends to collapse together and a layer of ash forms which limits the air flow, and the flames die out. The wood has “internalised” the heat, and as without the flames to keep the air flowing, tends to die out entirely.

After three years’ time, we might say that Jesus “built” His Church. A mass of over five hundred followers, with eleven dedicated apostles to lead them, eleven into whom He had poured His life in teaching them carefully all the principles of the Kingdom. According to the best human reasoning, the stage was set for the Church to start gathering in the harvest of God, but Jesus saw it differently. He did not just send them out from the point of His ascension, as a quick read of only one account might suggest, but sent them first to go and wait. He did not want a Church merely well-structured, or well-equipped, or well-educated. His first requirement was for a church ablaze. They obeyed, and ten days later, of the five-hundred plus who had seen Him resurrected about one-hundred twenty were still there. After ten days of that prayer meeting the Holy Spirit arrived in force and set their lives ablaze. In the next hour five thousand men, plus the women and children, had received salvation. The fire spread, and the Gospel went out through Jerusalem and outward. Not only were people believing the message of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection, but the new converts were receiving the same fire that had set on the disciples on Pentecost.

A few years later, Paul and Silas were in Ephesus, and met twelve disciples there who seemed to be missing something. After a brief conversation, they prayed, and the fire was blazing in their lives also. Ephesus became home to a thriving Christian community that flouished until the Saracen massacres created an all-Islamic Turkey.

There is something about being human that craves a “comfort zone.” We all just naturally want to be able to say, “I understand this,” or “I can handle that.” To be ablaze with the Holy Spirit brings us very quickly to say, “I can’t, Lord, but You can!” This violates our pride, and, while pride is the first principle of our sin and destruction, that pride is a major part of our comfort zone.

When Jesus was first talking to the Twelve about the Spirit, He called Him the “Comforter.” So why is He a threat to our comfort zone? What we call comfort is a soft chair, or a hot bath, or a plate full of rich food: things that cause us to relax into a state of, “fat, dumb, and happy!” The kind of comfort Jesus was talking about is more about “strong, wise, and joyful.” We can use joy here as rejoicing other-ly, toward God, rather than merely in our own convenient happenstance. Then we can pray, with no reservation, “It’s not about me, but Thee!”

When Jesus was still teaching the First Bunch, He told them of His coming death. They responded by murmuring amongst themselves, “What does He mean?” Nobody was really willing to find out from Him what He meant; they preferred their own, more comfortable, opinions.

Look at the Roman Catholic. Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, or Greek Orthodox, or whatever other group you like, and they all affirm being “filled with the Spirit.” In almost every case, if we polled the thousands of traditions and denominations, you would find the term used to apply to all kinds of different things. Many say that all Christians are “filled with the Spirit” from conversion, leaving Scriptural commands to “be filled…” in the realm of handy preaching phrases with no real meaning to worry with. Others want to make it a warm feeling, or some a “real good time” in church. In short, it is defined in every term the comfort zone will allow!

In the mean time, the churches in North America are shrinking weekly when, according to the Bible plan, they should have encompassed the world with the Spirit’s joy long ago. The average “evangelical christian” today has never shared his faith with a single soul, from lack of boldness, or of the love that creates that boldness. Yet if asked, they will surely say that they are Spirit-filled Christians! What’s wrong with this picture?

“Church” in the West today is the product of four and a half centuries of “simplifying.” At first it was simply getting rid of the idea that a paper ticket could buy a short cut to Heaven. Then ideas of the clergy controlling our salvation, or that the virgin Mary was somehow divine. All these things were vain, and needed removing. However, after a while the idea got to be more of stripping things down to the bones, and then debating on which bones needed to be there. Today we have a field of bleached bones, and we brag on how pretty they look in the bright sun!

The Church today needs the Holy Spirit no less than at any time, ever. To define terms here would take any number of face-to-face conversations, with so many people being accustomed to so many more very comfortable ideas. We need to, each, come to the place of not caring how we look, or feel, because without Him we are helpless, useless, and hopeless. Woman, if you worry about appearances when your man wants to stand close to you or to kiss you, then you love your appearances more than your man. Man, if you look around to see who can hear you before you tell your woman you love her, then there is a message there as well. Kid, does your parent’s love embarrass you​​? Then please catch this clue. We all need to be able to sing, “I Surrender All,” or “Have Thine own Way” with a full desire to see that happen, and no care at all about what His will, or His way really is. It may mean moving to a new home, it may mean staying put when you would rather move. I could mean a lot of things, but it will mean moving from the “comfort zone” to the depths of His love!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 23 September, 2007 at 21:02

What More Do I Need?

with one comment

Probably more people than I realise today have been in a good number of different churches One person may be something of a Baptist/Presbyterian/Pentecostal now attending an Orthodox church, or another some other blend . And the more “blended” Christians become, and the more blended the churches become, we all tend toward the things we all agree on, and say things in a way that’s the most agreeable to the most people; and all this can be really good.

Anybody who has built a fire knows that, once it is kindled one can expect a great flame at the first as the flame spreads through the clean material. Once the fire has spread, the material tends to collapse together and a layer of ash forms which limits the air flow, and the flames die out. The wood has “internalised” the heat, and as without the flames to keep the air flowing, tends to die out entirely.

After three years’ time, we might say that Jesus “built” His Church. A mass of over five hundred followers, with eleven dedicated apostles to lead them, eleven into whom He had poured His life in teaching them carefully all the principles of the Kingdom. According to the best human reasoning, the stage was set for the Church to start gathering in the harvest of God, but Jesus saw it differently. He did not just send them out from the point of His ascension, as a quick read of only one account might suggest, but sent them first to go and wait. He did not want a Church merely well-structured, or well-equipped, or well-educated. His first requirement was for a church ablaze. They obeyed, and ten days later, of the five-hundred plus who had seen Him resurrected about one-hundred twenty were still there. After ten days of that prayer meeting the Holy Spirit arrived in force and set their lives ablaze. In the next hour five thousand men, plus the women and children, had received salvation. The fire spread, and the Gospel went out through Jerusalem and outward. Not only were people believing the message of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection, but the new converts were receiving the same fire that had set on the disciples on Pentecost.

A few years later, Paul and Silas were in Ephesus, and met twelve disciples there who seemed to be missing something. After a brief conversation, they prayed, and the fire was blazing in their lives also. Ephesus became home to a thriving Christian community that flouished until the Saracen massacres created an all-Islamic Turkey.

There is something about being human that craves a “comfort zone.” We all just naturally want to be able to say, “I understand this,” or “I can handle that.” To be ablaze with the Holy Spirit brings us very quickly to say, “I can’t, Lord, but You can!” This violates our pride, and, while pride is the first principle of our sin and destruction, that pride is a major part of our comfort zone.

When Jesus was first talking to the Twelve about the Spirit, He called Him the “Comforter.” So why is He a threat to our comfort zone? What we call comfort is a soft chair, or a hot bath, or a plate full of rich food: things that cause us to relax into a state of, “fat, dumb, and happy!” The kind of comfort Jesus was talking about is more about “strong, wise, and joyful.” We can use joy here as rejoicing other-ly, toward God, rather than merely in our own convenient happenstance. Then we can pray, with no reservation, “It’s not about me, but Thee!”

When Jesus was still teaching the First Bunch, He told them of His coming death. They responded by murmuring amongst themselves, “What does He mean?” Nobody was really willing to find out from Him what He meant; they preferred their own, more comfortable, opinions.

Look at the Roman Catholic. Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, or Greek Orthodox, or whatever other group you like, and they all affirm being “filled with the Spirit.” In almost every case, if we polled the thousands of traditions and denominations, you would find the term used to apply to all kinds of different things. Many say that all Christians are “filled with the Spirit” from conversion, leaving Scriptural commands to “be filled…” in the realm of handy preaching phrases with no real meaning to worry with. Others want to make it a warm feeling, or some a “real good time” in church. In short, it is defined in every term the comfort zone will allow!

In the mean time, the churches in North America are shrinking weekly when, according to the Bible plan, they should have encompassed the world with the Spirit’s joy long ago. The average “evangelical christian” today has never shared his faith with a single soul, from lack of boldness, or of the love that creates that boldness. Yet if asked, they will surely say that they are Spirit-filled Christians! What’s wrong with this picture?

“Church” in the West today is the product of four and a half centuries of “simplifying.” At first it was simply getting rid of the idea that a paper ticket could buy a short cut to Heaven. Then ideas of the clergy controlling our salvation, or that the virgin Mary was somehow divine. All these things were vain, and needed removing. However, after a while the idea got to be more of stripping things down to the bones, and then debating on which bones needed to be there. Today we have a field of bleached bones, and we brag on how pretty they look in the bright sun!

The Church today needs the Holy Spirit no less than at any time, ever. To define terms here would take any number of face-to-face conversations, with so many people being accustomed to so many more very comfortable ideas. We need to, each, come to the place of not caring how we look, or feel, because without Him we are helpless, useless, and hopeless. Woman, if you worry about appearances when your man wants to stand close to you or to kiss you, then you love your appearances more than your man. Man, if you look around to see who can hear you before you tell your woman you love her, then there is a message there as well. Kid, does your parent’s love embarrass you​​? Then please catch this clue. We all need to be able to sing, “I Surrender All,” or “Have Thine own Way” with a full desire to see that happen, and no care at all about what His will, or His way really is. It may mean moving to a new home, it may mean staying put when you would rather move. I could mean a lot of things, but it will mean moving from the “comfort zone” to the depths of His love!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 23 September, 2007 at 15:02