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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.

Diversion

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
When I started reading Night by Elie Wiesel I thought I was taking a literary detour of sorts. I've been reading books on faith and Christianity and felt like I needed a diversion.

So much for THAT idea!

When Wiesel was 15, he and his family were forced by Nazis into a Jewish ghetto and then deported to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister, Tzipora, were killed at Auschwitz. He and his father survived together for one year, but his father died shortly before American troops liberated the camp. Wiesel describes his experience during the Holocaust in Night.

During the days of selection, (where it was decided who among them would be sent to the crematory to be burned alive), many Jews lost their faith, declaring that God was no longer with them.

Referring to a Polish rabbi that turned his back on God, Wiesel says:
...if only he could have kept his faith in God, if only he could have considered this suffering a divine test, he would not have been swept away by the selection. But as soon as he felt the first chinks in his faith, he lost all incentive to fight and opened the door to death.
I have never experienced anything remotely close to the suffering that Wiesel describes in this horrifying account. At times, Wiesel himself questioned the very existence of a seemingly absent God. Perhaps, rightly so.

Then I consider the suffering of Christians in North America. No, wait. Did I say suffering? Oh. Does that happen here? I don't think I've seen suffering here.

I've seen Christians who THINK they are suffering. (Not physically, of course. Not like how Wiesel was beaten and left for dead - on a daily basis. THAT would never happen here. This is North America, after all!) Our suffering is more... well... delusional. Yet, very powerful!

Yes! I see people losing incentive to keep their faith all the time because of their... suffering.

Okay, so it's not REALLY suffering. I am sure that there are North American Christians that DO suffer because of their faith, but I've never actually met one. Not really. And yet, we still seem to use "suffering" as the excuse to open ourselves to death and doubt all the time.

God.

Enough diversion for one day. I guess if you're REALLY a person of faith then you can't escape it. No matter WHAT you're reading.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Crap, revisited.

Monday, June 19, 2006
From: Paul
To: A Friend
Subject: Crap
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 00:53:18 EST

Today in our ICQ chat I said that I believed that we, in North America, are blind to our "condition". When I say that, I mean that Christians here have allowed the "world" and it's systems to become such a major part of their lives that they have become detached in many ways from the Spirit of God. And they can't see it because it has become so normal.

Going to Brazil allowed me to see these things in myself. And worse yet, returning to Canada has challenged me to NOT become what I was - and what everyone around me IS.

Jesus said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind."

Some Pharisees overheard him and said, "Does that mean you're calling us blind?" Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure."
John 9:39-41 [The Message]

In many ways I have become accountable for what I see around me, and in me. So, when I make a comment about "us" not being powerful because of all the "crap" that's in the way, I am referring to the same things (or condition) that we have become comfortable with in North America.

For example...

1. Children. Children disobeying and disrespecting their parents and the parents NOT responding in love and discipline. What I see here I would have never seen in Brazil. A child in Brazil, even a teenager in Brazil, knows their place... and they know that their parent is the person in charge. As a result, those children not only respect their parents position of authority in their lives, they love them with their whole being.

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, "If that's what you want, that's what you get."

And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents
(disobey their parents - NIV) when they get in the way. Romans 1:21-24, 29-30 [The Message]

2. Selfishness. I am overhwhelmed by this sometimes. People here seem to only be interested in themselves. (And please note that I WAS like this... and perhaps still am in some ways.) How can we love our family members, friends, etc. when we are so inward focused? Not to mention our "fellow believers". Forget it. We are NOT loving each other. In Brazil... people lived their lives in a sacrificial way in ORDER to love others!

This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 1 John 3:16, 17 [The Message]

3. Materialism. Gosh. What can I say. I just want to run away from materialism. I can hardly believe how much consumerism COMSUMES our society - Christian or not. I said to someone today that this Christmas was the most Christ-less Christmas I've ever experienced. Not only do we "gather up" too much stuff - stuff we DON'T NEED, but we spend beyond our means - it seems to be a way of life here. You make "x" amount of dollars and you get a credit card so you can live above what you make. Today it seems so sinful to me.

Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:19-21 [The Message]

And lastly... (although I could go on and on)...

4. Justice and mercy. I could say SO MUCH about this, especially in light of the way I was treated by my former fellowship. But instead, let me focus more on social issues. Like you... a single mom... what are "we" doing for mothers like you? How are we helping them? And what about the "least of these"? Forget it. It's not popular to help those kind of people. Let's move out of the cities, build churches in the burbs and rely on missions to help "those" people. THOSE people?!! Jesus IS those people!!! Whatever we do to the least... we do unto HIM!!!

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11 [NIV]

Do you sort of understand where I am going with all of this? I don't expect (or want) you to challenge what I am saying, I am simply trying to help you see that "we" have so many ungodly characteristics in our lives as Christians... why in the WORLD would demons listen to us? We can't even take charge of our cheque books let alone take charge over principalities... and most of us don't even know what THEY are!!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil (spiritual wickedness - KJV) in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 [NIV]

We gotta clean the crap off first... before we will ever see that kind of power in our lives.

God help us.

Paul

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I just don't get it. Yes, we've been on this horse before. But it's not dead yet. At least, not for me.

Been listening to Kanye West's Late Registration CD. I borrowed it from the public library last week. I was desperate to find new music that was inspiring, cutting edge and well-produced. Hard to find that kind of music in the Christian section.

I'm listening to the Edited Version. The one without the f*ck word. It is also available with a Parental Advisory Label. Just in case you're into that.

The world has created a program to help people make good choices regarding their vocabulary. One of the issues considered in making a determination regarding application of the label is whether, in light of contemporary cultural morals and standards and the choices and views of individual parents, the recording might be one that parents may not want their child to listen to.

The Parental Advisory Program is voluntary. Record companies choose to include the label on their product. They are not legally required to do so.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we are choosing to integrate the f*ck word into Christendom. Embracing contemporary cultural morals. In a culture that no longer embraces absolute truth. How nice.

The world has decided that the f*ck word can be inappropriate and detrimental. We have determined that the f*ck word is relevant.

Like Mormons On Bikes

Saturday, June 03, 2006
Reading inspires me. I am currently reading Blue Like Jazz and I'm over halfway through the book. Because I don't have "bus time" to read anymore, I've been driving through the local Tim Hortons, picking up a large black with three sugars and going to a local park to read. Generally my time spent sitting on a park bench, with coffee and book in hand, goes unnoticed. But two days ago I had company.

Not only were there city workers mowing the park grass, and mormons on bikes, but Kyle and his friend also stopped by. Apparently Kyle spotted me sitting in the park - the FIRST TIME he drove by. (And he decided to come back and say hi.)

If I blogged about my chat with Kyle - how he is going to his first wedding, which was planned for today, in which he was the BEST MAN (without a speech), who got a tux with sleeves that were too short, and how he sleeps in a converted windowless playroom... [inhale] - THAT could take days. Although it would be a fun post.

I just can't shake the mormons on bikes. It didn't help that Blue Like Jazz mentioned them, just about the time I saw them ride by a second time. They are so obvious. Their white shirts and ties, bikes and bike helmets. And those name tags. "Elder" so-and-so. On their mission.

Completing a two-year, full-time proselyting mission is often seen as a rite of passage or crucible for young mormon men, and most tend to regard it as a positive event. Apparently the phrase "the best two years of my life" is a common cliché among returned missionaries when describing their experience.

I don't embrace the mormon faith. In fact, I studied mormonism in my Cults class at Bible College via Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults. I forgot most of what I learned.

I was also part of a mime, music and drama troupe in Bible College that wrote a presentation called Undercover Christian. We would perform it at local church youth groups to encourage teenagers to be bold about their faith - like mormons on bikes.

But I don't think it worked. At least I never saw much fruit. Even today I think most of us are still undercover. There is no real difference between "us" and the world. AND we don't even hang out with the world - like mormons on bikes. We're supposed to be IN the world, not OF the world. But instead, we separate ourselves FROM the world and try to become as much LIKE the world as possible!

Weird.

Why do we DO that? What (or who) are we afraid of?

I wonder if mormons on bikes are afraid.