Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Parsing Corinthians Chapter 5

This is a chapter where Paul talks about how radically different your outlook on life and your priorities become when you convert to Christ. 

He says that such conversion transforms what we hope for and yearn for.  We begin to yearn to be part of heaven here; to become one with God in his work.

And that transformation is effectuated by God as we experience the influence of the Holy Ghost.  (Paul likens our experience with the Holy Ghost to "earnest" money--money given to show one's sincere determination to give all that was promised in a contract.  Our experience with the Holy Ghost can be seen as receiving an "earnest" outlay and taste of the light and power of God, the clear reality of God, God's work, and all that is promised and intended for his children, both now and in the future, by the Father and the Son.)

The "selfsame thing" refers to our yearning to live a holy, heaven directed life.

Just as we are more inclined to move forward with faith in a legal contract with another person when that person has given us earnest money, which money indicates full intent to give the whole sum which we have not yet had presented to us, so we move forward with faith in a covenant with God having experienced the "earnest" he presents to us; the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Thus the verse in this chapter:   "we walk by faith" (having received a taste of what it is like to be fully connected with God and having faith that a complete connection is possible), "not by sight" (not yet having seen or received the fullness of what is promised).

Previously to this our focus was on ourselves and working on our own behalf ("live unto themselves") but that changes and we become more interested in working for and with God the Father and his son Jesus Christ.

Thus we become a new person "in Christ", becoming "a new creature", born again and also reconciled to God because we have begun to understand and embrace Christ's atonement (his taking on our sins and paying the price for them so that we may hope to be one with Him and holy and love-filled too).

And, says, Paul, that gift of the atonement, that "reconciliation" is a thing that is not only given, but also must be actively welcomed and received in order for our transformation to begin as well as to come to full fruition.

"We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he that made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Thursday, June 09, 2016

A Very Big Puddle. One for the grandkids.

About this time of year the rainy season starts.  So we try to remember to take our umbrella with us when we go out, even if it doesn't look like it will rain.  Rain can start an any time.  And it can quickly go from light drizzle to downpour in a very short time.

The rain does clear the air nicely.

This is the street our apartment building is on.  You can see the stream bed across the street.  

Usually when it rains the streets get wet and somewhat puddly and then they dry up again:

But a few weeks ago we got quite a bit of rain.
                                                 Displaying IMG_20160609_063349790_HDR.jpg 

And the stream bed overflowed.

A lot!

The streets around our building turned into a very, very big puddle.
 People tried to drive in the middle of the road where the water was lowest so that their motorcycles and cars would not get their engines full of water and stop.  

If you look carefully in this picture you might see some of the motorcycle riders wading in the water. They are pushing their motorcycles because the water was so deep that the motorcycles stopped.  The water is up to their knees.

Some motorcyclists and drivers stopped in the middle of the intersection and huddled together where street was still bare.

Soon the huddle was a very, very big huddle.

A very big huddle in a very big puddle.

Fortunately, eventually the rain stopped and the water went down, and by the next day there were 
only little puddles left.

We have had a lot of rain since then.  And we still always bring our umbrella when we go out.  But we have not had another day with that much rain since then.  And we have never had a puddle as big as the one that we had that day.

Monday, June 06, 2016

I Have Found That Being Willing to Carefully Review My Own Assumptions....

“If during the course of my investigation, I run across something that I did not expect, what happens if I then pause to reflect and ask, ‘What should I expect?'....
“I learned that I could not trust the institutional arms of the Church to provide me with all the information I might need. If I wanted to know, to be prepared, I had to take personal responsibility. In retrospect, my program involved three elements. Keep my eyes open. Give things time. And re-examine my own assumptions now and then. The alternative is to not pay attention. Insist on final answers now. And never re-examine my own assumptions. Either choice on these three points has consequences in life.”
~Kevin Christensen, "Eye of the Beholder, Law of the Harvest"

Thursday, June 02, 2016

"Oh that I were an angel, and could whack them upside the head"

When I first heard the song "Oh That I Were an Angel" it was sung by a lyric soprano in a missionary meeting almost forty years ago.
The soprano sounded something like these three ladies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfE1eGj0w24

The melody makes it sound like a sort of "oh, wouldn't it be lovely if I could just float around and unmistakably spread this sweet, lovely, good, profound message of God to everyone".

Except that the lyrics to this song are from the first verse of chapter 29 of the book of Alma.  And Alma isn't talking about just general spreading of the good news to your average, usual, somewhat sinful people in your average everyday city or town.

"A tremendous slaughter"..."even such an one as never had been known among all the people in the land from the time Lehi left Jerusalem,"
tens of thousands of people slain in a single battle,
tens of thousands of families dealing with deep grief,
and the fighting continuing for FIFTEEN years.
which fifteen years of horrible stuff he attributes to "the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men."

He has witnessed people fully embracing hate and evil, doing horrible things and causing devastating grief and pain because of it.  And not stopping.

And...  If you think about it...

What kind of angel has Alma encountered before?

The kind that has a voice and a demeanor that rattles you through and through, dumps you on the ground, shakes the earth, and leaves you comatose, harrowed up by your sins and finally able to realize how horrible you've been.  (Mosiah 27)

This is not "oh, wouldn't it be lovely if I could just be a glorious angel and go about clearly and loudly and sweetly declaring glad tidings."

This is "God, what is happening here is HORRIBLE. And I really, really, REALLY want to be able to WHACK these people upside the head the way I was whacked."

I think we need a composer to come up with a different melody.

Also, understanding where he is coming from and what he has witnessed makes the verses that follow (29:2-9) a pretty powerful statement about humility, justice, agency and trust in God when in a situation such as his.