Need more spam in your diet? Follow by Email

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday

So it's Monday.  The man in our earlier illustration or the woman in our commenter's illustration, has gotten up.  They have had a cup of coffee or tea and they are suspiciously eyeing the lightening sky.  He reads a passage from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening.  She from another devotional.  (i don't know her, so i don't know which one.)  They check facebook.  They peruse the news.  They realize all they are doing is trying to distract themselves from IT.  From Monday.  From the lightening sky.  From the solid, cold fact that another day dawns and they are going to have to figure out how to spend it.  How to live in it.

Then they realize something else.  This is not all they are trying to distract themselves from.  They are trying to avoid talking to God.  Why?  They have no drive for the day.  They have no hope for the day.  They have no daily bread this morning.  The manna doesn't seem to have fallen last night.  There was no revelation.  No miraculous change of circumstances.  He's still working a job he hates.  Her child is still dead.  When they count their blessings this morning, life itself doesn't feel like one.  It feels more like something to be endured.  They know this is wrong.  They know this is a lie.  But it's cold and bitter and extra sugar and religious platitudes just make it cloying.

They need something REAL.

Words.  Words like Faith, Hope and Joy.  They ring hollow.  They seem like taunts.  Why?  "Why Lord?!  You have promised us these would be good gifts You gave?  Why have i been excluded?" they cry.  Ah, finally.  Their pain, their suffering finally brings them to the Father.  And though they don't hear the words, they somehow hear the answer.
"Why indeed.  These are the fruits of the Spirit.  Given to all healthy branches."  The voice they do not actually hear says.
"i am not a healthy branch."
"This is true."
"Why?"
"Why do you think?"
"Because i have no faith, hope and joy!"
"Isn't that more the sign you are not a healthy branch than the cause?"
"Yeah, i guess so."
"So why do you think you don't have them?"
"i dunno."
"Guess."
"Cuz...i guess, you didn't give them mmmhmmme."
"I'm sorry.  Couldn't quite make out your mumbling there.  Why again?"
"Cuz you didn't give them to me?"
"Right.  Why is that, ya think?"
"i dunno."
"This is going to take a lot longer than it needs to."
"Cuz you didn't wanna."
"I love you.  Why wouldn't I want to give you good gifts?"
"i dun... umm, cuz....i dunno."
"This is true too.  But you think you do.  Why don't you just say it?  Go ahead."
"You won't get mad?"
"Try me."
"Cuz...cuz you're mean."
"Aah, man, we've been dancing around that festered splinter for a while now.  Because I'm mean.  Yeah.  Why do you think that?"
"Well, (You gave me a job i hate and can't get out of.) (You took my child!)"
"Yes, I did."
"Yeah, well, that wasn't very ... nice."
"Am I good?"
"Wha?"
"Am I good?"
"Yeeeah, i guess so."
"How do you know?"
"Well, you died on the cross for me and forgive my sins and stuff."
"And have I ever left you?  Are you an orphan?"
"nn"
"Sorry?"
"No.  But I feel like one!  Why did you do this to me then if you love me?"
"Why indeed.  I love you.  I will never leave you.  I am good.  You don't feel my love.  All who remain in my love grow fruit.  Yet you don't see my fruit growing in your life.  Hmmm.  Weird."
"Yeah...   maybe..."
"Maybe?"
"Maybe i am not actually, not connected to your, i dunno, your love...or something?"
"Hmmm.  Interesting thought.  See where that takes you."
"Well, maybe i was trying to draw life from somewhere else?"
"Well, that would be weird.  I am the source of life.  Where else could you draw life from?"
"(From work and significance...)  (From being a mother...?)"
"And if I blessed that, what would you have become?"
"I dunno."
"No, you don't.  And i don't ever want you to.  It's something terrible.  Something I would do anything to spare you from becoming.  You are my precious child.  How I long to teach you so much more, I long to fill you with my love but you won't come to me.  Not truly.  Not with your heart.  You've been coming to me asking for what your heart actually wants.  The broken cistern it's been trying to draw life from.  And it's not me."
"I'm so sorry.  How do i change that?"
"You don't.  You can't.  The heart you have will always want what it wants.  You need a new heart."
"How can i have a new heart?"
"I must give it to you.  I will melt your heart of stone and give you one of flesh."
"Please do that, Lord!  When can we start?"
"We've already begun."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Anybody home?

(Wah...wha....waahHHCHOOOOO!!  snif.)  Wow, haven't been here in a while.  The Coop is dusty!  It's good to sit and talk with you again though.  Today i bring ya a conundrum.  It's a doozie.  Might take a bit words to work out.  Clear off that table and we'll spread it out and see what we can make of it.

Man hates his life.
Earnestly desires a significant life.
Only a life fully submitted to God brings life.
But if man submits to God only to get what man wants from God he has not truly submitted.  He has only tried to follow a formula to get what he wants.
So how does a man love God for God alone?
How does he learn to do this while still getting up every day and living a life he hates?

hmmmmmm...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Helpin' a brother out

If you don't know Nicholas Kole, you should.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Bathtime for Comet


(For any christian who, like me, is sometimes just sick to death of their own shyte.)


Here we go again,
Face down in a bowl of vomit
Oil on canvas heroin
Familiar ground for Joshua’s comet

Bath time again,
Cause I dragged us through the mud
Fur’s all matted with sin
I’ll get the washtub, you pour the blood

Sorry about this, Master
I wish there was more I could do
Than just sit in the holy water
While you scrub me good as new

Wish I really felt clean
Since you treat me like best in show
It’s hard to be a champ’een
When in the back of my mind I know

Your puppy with the golden tags
Will sneak back through that hole in the fence
And with my tail between my legs
Happily commit some same old, new offense

Time heals all wounds
What about wounds of guilt and shame
Is it just an ego bruised?
That makes me cringe when you call my name

I guess I thought
That some things were going to get better
But every time I’m caught
The baths just feel that much wetter.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

OOP

Once upon a time it had been a vibrant forest.  Even the rot then had brought new life.  Now a lone pilgrim upsets the ash with snowshoe-wide feet and cautious step.  It quivers and shudders around the sojourner's legs in silent agitation as if each plodding tread were upon a hive of yellowjackets rather than upon the lifeless corpse of a thousand trees...

and the charcoal corpses of buildings made with the corpses of trees.  One could almost forget oaks and hickories weren't the only residents once upon that time.  This used to be home to the organic and the manufactured, music and noise, poetry and prose, the sacred and the profane.  The sharp eye safe behind goggled glass however picks out the alien artifacts of straight lines which nature abhors and mankind adores.  Scorched metal, broken glass, blackened cement, the swaddled pilgrim stops and examines them all.  Some are picked up and wiped with a gloved hand.  Only to be discarded in favor of the next.   Clearly the Pilgrim seeks something in this murky land.  Searching, scanning, looking...

looking for a sign.

Once, this land thrived.  Some time ago, it fell silent.  The pilgrim has come, looking for a clue as to why.  At last the eager gaze falls on a corner poking free of the ash, three letters visible even in the murky light, "OOP".  At last!  All the Seeker's will is bent upon the bent metal sign yet the Wise one  thrusts forward exactly the way an archeologist would.  With all the speed of a bomb disposal expert discovering a landmine, the gentle glove brushes at the accumulated ash and dust, glorying in the shards of glass and nuggets of rusted steel testifying to what lies beneath the paddle sized moccasins.  More letters are exposed, a "C", an agonizing blank space, then an "N", the hand quickens, "E, K, C" appear.  Holding back eagerness no longer, the pilgrim pulls the sign from the earth and lifts it above the cloud of anxious ash.  It reads...

The Fricken Coop

Greetings traveller.
If you're reading this
 you might be wondering where i've gone.
Fear not, i am not dead nor lost nor quitted...
i am off chasing a Rabbit Trail.
For now, i will keep the Coop up and open just in case
i wish to write or post something that's too long for Facebook
or too personal for the Rabbit Trails.
Fare well, God speed, and i hope to see you on the Trail.
Pappy Fricken

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jonah

This is a requested reprint of a worship service i wrote many moons ago. i have left it as is except for removing the song titles out of it. It not only shows us through the story of Jonah that God can use even the unwilling but that He loves all His creation, not just his 'chosen' people. God's chosen is anyone who will listen and humble their hearts before Him... and that includes prophets...


Welcome to New Life at Five Points. Welcome visitors, welcome back family. It is good to be here. The world gets one hundred and sixty-six hours a week to preach its message. Here we give God two for counterpoint. Ordinarily that thought would depress me. But God has given me a message this week that allows me to say that with a wry smirk. Yeah, that’s not just my normal expression. At least not today. For today I have a tale to tell you that has lifted my heart every time I thought of it this week. The service today might sound disjointed, the music may not seem to jive with the story. But it does, oh yes, it most certainly does. For no matter what we see going on around us here, no matter how dark it gets or how hard the tempest rages. No matter how far, how distant, how mythical, how impossible it can possibly seem:

God is in control. Jesus is on the Throne. The Spirit is with you and the worship of God never ceases.

I know, you’re skeptical. That’s fine. As you are about to see, God doesn’t need your full cooperation. But with that mustard seed of doubt firmly planted, the Not-Quite-Ready-for-Picklehead Players present…

The story of Jonah.

1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of theLord, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.


So the Moral of the Story is…do what God tells you to do or He’ll kick your butt. Yeah, maybe. But you know what God showed me this week? He told me that He loved a bunch of scruffy sailors. And that he used Jonah to present the Gospel to those sailors. He showed them that they needed to be saved. He showed them that their gods couldn’t do that saving. He told them that someone had to die for them to be saved. Still they tried to do it on their own, well-intentioned works! No God, killing is wrong! We can try harder! We’ll be good! But in the end, someone had to die. Someone willing and those sailors got it. And He got all that done, not with some great champion of the faith who lived a blameless life, but with a grumbly, disobedient, self-centered jerk. And I find that very encouraging.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Truth


(Found this while i was checking old material for anything publishable. This is a framework i did for a scripture reading at church one day. i dressed pretty scruffy, not quite homeless, but close. In other words, the way i would normally dress if i weren't in church. i didn't stand up front, i came from the back and started talking before they knew i was there. i stayed among the congregation the whole time so i spoke loud. i also was channelling Samuel L. Jackson the whole time performed. Don't know if i sounded like him but i since i heard it in his voice the whole time, i figured you should too. Don't remember now why i thought i could get away with all this but it started a whole season of my life writing skits and performing monologues for worship. So without any more useless preamble... the way it all began.)

Truth.

Not many people know what that is anymore. Not that many ever did.

Fewer still with the brass to whisper any of it aloud.

Elijah. Lotta folks have quoted God. Not many know his shoe size from lying face down before his kicks. Elijah came, swished the Truth around, poked a few hardcases with it and caught a flight for home. But he didn’t stay gone. When the Truth squeezed into the world in blood and amniotic fluid, Elijah was there again saying, “Surprise! Dad’s coming! Your room had better be spotless!” Little while later and he was untying the Truth’s Chuck Taylors so the only guy in the whole history of this vile, filthy cesspool of a rock who didn’t need a bath could take one. Elijah knew the Truth!

You would think that would make him popular. You think Ellen would ask him, “So, what’s the Truth like? Does he have a girlfriend? Why is the Truth a He?” No. Barbara Walters doesn’t want to interview Elijah. The ten most interesting people are factories of fiction not The Truth. Folks who know the Truth don’t get invited to parties. While the world watches Lettermen interview Oprah, the friend of the Truth gets taken away, quietly locked up and buried in two separate graves.

You think I’m kidding? You think I’m exaggerating? Would you know the Truth if you heard it? What if you run into me in the atrium of the mall and I’m saying,

1 Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! 2As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! 3When you came down long ago, you did awesome things beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! 4For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him.

Would you praise God? Or call Security?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who you calling crazy?


i often hear that it is rational to have doubt. That it is not only logical to approach faith with skepticism but it is functionally the only way to faith. "Faith is believing in something you know ain't so," according to Mr. Twain.

But is this true? No offense, but i approach that line of thinking with more than just skepticism, i downright call it cuckoo in the cabeza. And here's why...

If God is talking directly to you and telling you exactly what He's going to do, like, i dunno, destroy a couple of cities with fiery hail and you even see Him do it and you go and try to make his promises happen another way cause you think He needs you to help Him out... that's nuts.

If God totally tells you how He's going to systematically decimate a country, bring you out of it, through the Red Sea and destroy your enemies in it and you see Him do it and then you whine about Him not giving you water when you want it... that's ludicrous.


If God sends fire from heaven and destroys a sacrifice and altar right in front of you to prove He's God and you continue to ignore Him and worship rocks, sticks and metal, that's stupid.


If God shows up in the form of a man, teaches the most amazing things you've ever heard, calms storms with a word, heals every disease known to man, drives out demons and you don't believe He can feed a few thousand people when He says to, that's willful blindness.


If God thought you up, gave you life, gave you sunshine, seasons, rain, food, breath, family, friends and all kinds of other things you don't ever think about coming from anywhere; and He did not think just being God was good enough cuz you were lost but He gave up His Godhood, became a man and died in your place just so you could rise from the dead and be with Him forever and you doubt His goodness or His love and devotion to you because you're not sure where the money's coming from or you've gotten sick or some folk treat you mean...that's just goofy.

It is not doubt that helps us get out of the boat and walk on water, it's not doubt that let's us trust when all earthly evidence fails, it's not doubt that saves or teaches us about love, it's not doubt that enables us to follow a fiery pillar or go into battle with a thousand to one odds.Can you be a son or daughter and doubt, sadly, yes. You can profess with your lips what you don't actually believe with your heart. But why would you want to?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

St. Frederico de Arkansas' question


When does the reminder become the rite? When does response become religion? Or put another way, when does a good thing become a bad thing? A desire become a distraction?

i could probably just give you a quick quip of an answer but what fun would that be? Instead, let's talk about John.

By most accounts and systems of measurement, John the Baptist was a pretty righteous dude. He was prophesied about four hundred years before his birth (Is 40); he's announced by an angel (Luke 1); the Holy Spirit comes upon him in the womb (Luke 1); his father was a priest and his mother prophesied over him so you know he knew who he was growing up and followed the law to the letter, even raised as a Nazirite meaning he was under a vow to God. As signs of this vow, he never cut his hair or touched alcohol or even helped bury his parents! (Luke 1, Num 6) He separated himself even from people and lived in the desert on locusts and wild honey (Matt 3, Mark 1), not even coming too near to the cities when he began his ministry (Matt 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 3), which, oh yeah, just in case we had any lingering doubts, he began that ministry when he heard from God! (Luke 3) So chances are, he was what we might term a guy on the inside with God.

And yet in Luke 7 and Matt 11 we see John's faith falter. John is thrown in prison for speaking out against the King about his sins. That's what prophets and preachers do. They expound truth. They reveal what folk would rather keep hidden... their hearts. So this man, who from birth has known his mission, heard the will of God from God's own lips and performed beautifully, so much so that Jesus calls him the greatest prophet who ever lived, is thrown in jail for Obeying God! And that's when it happens...

i truly hope i'm not taking liberties with the text here but i think what happened is this, John was a prophet, yes, but prophets are men. Moses, Elijah, Jonah, these men hit their crisis of faith and they usually came right on the heels of their greatest triumphs, after they'd seen some of God's greatest miracles! God follows a distinctive pattern throughout the Bible. Miraculous, life-changing deliverance followed by signifying altar or rite of remembrance, followed by a people hardening their hearts and going astray and forgetting everything God has done. God sends the Death Angel to Egypt and spares those with the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, He gives them the Passover meal to remind them each year, they get to the Red Sea and start crying, woe is us. So Moses leads the Israelites through the Red Sea, they write songs of praise to God, a couple of days later they are whining about water. God gives them water (miraculously purified by a tree) and God calls them to a vow, so they whine about food. God gives them bread from heaven, every day for forty years, they put some in the Ark of the Covenant to remind themselves and they whine about the size of the giants in the land God promised to them. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So we were talkin' about John weren't we. Sorry John, we kinda left you in jail there didn't we? But so did Jesus! John sends disciples from prison to Jesus and says, "hey cuz, remember me? Um, kinda in jamb here. Was i right to place my trust in you?" Jesus' answer is cool. He's been healing folk all day and did so apparently in the sight of John's messengers. You can almost see him letting the disciples bounce on their tiptoes for a while before he turns to them and paraphrases verses in Isaiah about the blind seeing, the lame walking, the poor having good news preached to them but he leaves out anything about the captive being set free. Instead he says, "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

John had seen great things, hundreds if not thousands coming to be washed before the coming of the King. He had seen the King, heard a voice from heaven and seen the Holy Spirit in bodily form descend upon Jesus! If he had died at that moment, he may have died happy. Instead, Jesus knows his heart and he has one last gift for John. A period of repentance. John realizes that his faith is based on God giving him what he thought he was OWED. As soon as something went awry in John's plan his faith faltered. Jesus might be saying, you don't want me for me, you want me for what i can do for you! Jesus suddenly might not be the Son of God because he was in prison, because something horrible happened to my baby, because i lost my job, because i got cancer, because my spouse left me, because no one likes me, no one listens to me, thinks i'm special, because i haven't beaten this addiction yet! Maybe that's why Jesus says that "he that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he."

God. Is. Always. God.

God doesn't forget this. We do. God doesn't want rites and rituals, He doesn't need them. We need the reminders. We need baptism to remind us of Jesus' death and resurrection. We need to do it ourselves to remind us that as far as God is concerned, we are completely in Christ. We are something entirely new! We forget who God is and we forget who we are! "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"

So when does the reminder become the rite? When we can no longer remember why we're doing it. When does the response become religion? When we're doing it because we think we have to and not because we want to. When does the good thing become the bad thing? When the good thing becomes The Thing. When is the desire a distraction?

When the desire is no longer Jesus.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Why we're all not smoking craters by now.


i heard a man say again today that there are many paths to God. He believed that maybe in four or five generations that Man was going to get it right. We were all working toward harmony apparently. Aside from this being completely antithetical to the Bible... it's Pollyannish Denial on a Psychotic scale. This guy cannot be watching the same news i am.

All day long, the more i thought about what he said, the angrier i got. i let it slide at the time because i had already gone toe to toe with this guy a couple of weeks ago and i had already gone head to head with another member of the group this morning and i'm trying to only pick on one heresy a day. Besides that, we were in a Bible Study with almost twenty guys, i wanted to see what, if anything, someone else might say in response.

Here at home though and all day at work, the man's words and my anger have been bouncing around...bouncing around, sparring, jabbing, testing defenses and poking each other in tentative ways. It was just a feeling at first but the punches got harder and sharper, faster and more wicked until just a few minutes ago when the ground beneath my anger suddenly crystalized into perfect, fiery, resonating clarity...

Jesus. Was. God!

That statement should echo in your head with white, hot thunder!

He was not a nice teacher, a guru, a life coach, an energy force, a flying spaghetti monster or your homey. He was GOD, YHWH! The Creator of Everything! Not the Ultimate Power in the Universe! He made the Universe! On a whim!! To say that God came, as a peasant; a pimply, pathetic, Jewish peasant; did what we could never do and did it perfectly and in perfect humility, died FOR US and then said, "Finished. No one has to do anything more now to be right with God. Just believe i did this." To say all that might be true but it's just one way of many for us to achieve Heaven or Nirvana or whatever you want to call it, is to walk right up to YHWH and open hand slap him in the face! You have dissed God! You mock his deed. You mock his love. You mock his compassion. You mock his mercy. You mock his grace. You mock GOD! How dare you!!

The more clear this thought became to me the angrier i got! The more i envisioned people, casting judgment on GOD for being so narrow minded as to say He is the only Way, (How intolerant. How exclusive. How dare he! How dare He? He's GOD!! That's how dare He!) the more furious i became. The more furious i became, the more i thought about how my anger must have paled next to the angels' and the Father Himself as Jews and Gentiles alike did just that to Jesus moments before the cross finished God's most amazingly loving, transforming, totally selfless work. The more i thought about this Jesus stopping all of Heaven from wreaking perfect justice on the earth at one insult, one more spit in the face after another, after another, after another, the more i fell in love with this Jesus! He didn't retaliate. He didn't even speak. He just took it. God let's us insult Him. God let's us bitchslap him! All in the hope that someday, somehow, we may realize what we've been doing and beg his forgiveness. How can you not love this God?? How can we not warn them??