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Dave Schmelzer is blogging about messy faith, as well as our own messes in life.  It all sounds well, pretty messy, but it also reminds me that life is an adventure.  How boring would life be if we always knew exactly what God was speaking to us, if we had all the answers, and all the rules?  What would be the point of life if we never had any conflicts and never made any mistakes?

Something else I learned… a related topic that was discussed at the Center City Summit I recently attended: “centered set” faith.  This means that even if we don’t have all the answers, even if we aren’t sure about our beliefs,  even if we don’t share the same culture, we can still belong together in a community where Jesus is at the center, and we’re moving towards him.   Jesus often said “follow me”, and he said this often to people who surely didn’t have all the answers, or shared the same beliefs.

Reasonable

Human beings have become very reasonable.

We know the reasons that lightning precedes thunder, that spring follows winter,  that apples fall to the ground, and salmon swim upstream.

We give our children reasons for why they should obey us.  When something goes wrong, we ask God for a reason.

We go to therapy to look for reasons why we’re messed up, and we smash protons together understand the reason why the universe exists.

When we get to work late, or miss a deadline, we don’t give excuses, we give reasons. We have good reasons for everything.

But God is completely the opposite.

He gives us blessings for no reason, and he allows sickness and disaster without reason.

A field of wildflowers explodes with beauty when nobody is there to witness it.  No good reason.

The spirit of God comes without a reason, and God doesn’t ask us for our reasons but only for obedience.

Is it any wonder that when God tries to talk to us, we don’t understand!

Water

The other day I went swimming, something I like to do especially in the summer. I remember standing in the water, floating, and thinking: this is good.  Feeling completely at peace.  Enjoying the water.  In-joy in the water.

Some days I swim laps. Some days I feel full of energy and I can swim for half an hour straight and I when I’m done I think: now I feel alive.

Other days, especially after a long day at work, I feel too fried to even swim a lot.  On days that I’m stressed, I can’t get my mind to stop. Please stop. I’m in the water but swimming in my thoughts. And all of a sudden the water doesn’t feel that nice.

It ocurred to me that life is like the water.  When I’m swimming in it, fully in it, with all my mind and body, I feel alive. Then I realize that G-d is all around me, that G-d is the water, that I’m swimming in the womb of G-d. Paul said “For in him we live and move and have our being”.

I’m reading two books right now.  “Not the Religious Type: Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist” by Dave Schmelzer and “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell (I had to put down the third one because two concurrent books is probably enough for me!)

There’s plenty of stuff in both books that is speaking to my heart and making me think.  This chapter I was reading this morning (from Velvet Elvis) really rocked my mind.  For example, the Rabbis in the time of Jesus had the authority to bind and loose, to interpret the Torah.  This is the context of this saying of Jesus: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

See: http://www.cresourcei.org/bindloose.htm

#2 of top 3 (or 5?) faith benefits from Dave Schmelzer’s blog, Not The Religious Type.

…Of course God doesn’t always do what we want God to do at the moment we want it. But the explanation for that can’t be that we’re not advised to go after a God who actually does stuff. I’m not finding myself drawn to a faith that, at a head level, seems abstractly “true” but otherwise irrelevant. I’m more with the Psalmist in Psalm 116 who starts off “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” And you?

Violence?

A while ago, I found this note hanging on a tree along the bike trail in Conshohocken.  It was handwritten and photocopied.  As I was reading and walking, I looked up and there was another note.  Anyway, I liked what it said and wanted to keep them but also wasn’t sure if it was meant for someone else (I thought it was from God… maybe it was for me, who knows?).  So I went and made some more copies and later hung them back up nearby.

Violence?

Jesus said “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” Matthew 7-V18.  “A good man out the good treasures of the heart bringeth forth good things and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” Matthew 12-V35. The problem with man today is the heart, no man can solve the problem of violence, drugs, etc. etc.  It must start with a change of heart. Only Jesus Christ can change a man’s heart, man cannot do it, the mayor cannot do it, your honey cannot do it, and religion won’t do it, only Jesus.  Jesus is as alive today as He was yesterday, only through His shed blood and His rising from the dead can a man get free from guilt of sin, I don’t care where you have been or what you have done.  There is no other permanent cure for man, only temporary fixes or political ideas.  We need to stop being fools and start trusting God, not man. As you can see, man doesn’t have the power.

Tom

Do you depend on God?

Sure, you can say “I depend on God”, in a spiritual sense, or an emotional sense. But do we actually physically depend on God?  How can we depend on God if we can go to the supermarket whenever we are hungry?  Anytime we want, we can hop in our car, ride over to the supermarket, only five minutes away, and choose from hundreds of fruits and vegetables, any kind of meat, thousands of deserts and drinks.  Solomon’s jaw would have dropped to see the kind of variety of food we have available at our fingertips.  When was the last time you went hungry because of a drought?  If we get sick, we have health insurance.  We have access to drugs and the most sophisticated medical procedures.  If there’s a fire or a flood, we have homeowners insurance.  We have savings accounts, retirment accounts, pension plans.  If we lose everything, we have social security.  We have people around us with money, who would gladly would give us food if we are in need. Do we really depend on God?

Miracles…

A lot of people might ask “if God still works as much today as he did in the time of Jesus and the early church, how come we don’t see the same miracles today?  Are you saying I don’t have enough faith?”  Perhaps the reason we don’t experience many miracles today is because we just don’t depend on God that much.  We say we have faith, but maybe it takes more than our faith to see the big miracles.  Maybe God says “I do big miracles for those who depend on me big”.  Maybe it’s not that God doesn’t love us, it’s just a universal law of how things work, just like the law of free will, and the law of sowing and reaping.