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Friday, March 23, 2012

Chen(Grace) Basilieu Theos Part III

There is an aspect of Grace as Basilieu Theos which has been alluded to, but only as one might speak of the greenery down an old tree lined street of well developed yards full of various shrubbery.  That is to say that in passing it has been there, but now to see it we will consider the appearance of God in the lives of the great prophets and saints of the scriptures and some of the more current appearances today to those who have not only reported it, but have demonstrated what they have seen by the evidence of their attitudes, actions and words.(I will not so much note by them by episode but speak of their overall impact from what I have read and seen and heard.)

As we look in the best book of historical perspective we have, we see a God who has pre-existed all else.  All that there is has come to be by His declaration(Word).  His Spirit has continully worked to encourage those who perceive His greatness, and perceive His greatness as Grace.   This perception has come from God himself and is evident in all creation to those who are able to withstand the self-realization of short-sightedness, maladjustment and ignorant as well as intended wrong-headedness along with a longing for correctness, harmony and true vision.

In an aside, here, to those who would argue I have made assumptions and jumps of logic that damage my treatise with an impossibly faulty premise, I say I am not speaking to you, but rather to open hearts that have made initial humble listening for the whisper of God and have heard coincidentally a din of reasons, rationale, and excuses for not believing that a pre-existant spiritual being at some point in eternity acted on His yearning to share compassion.

This is the point which we are striving to envelop into our lives so that we may be able to regain some sense of the Purity, the Truth, and the Enthusiasm with which we have been created.  We are created in God's Grace not that we might live in unfettered ease, luxury and wantoness, but rather that we might enjoy Fellowship, Love and Eternity.  For us to assume the Leadership of God was, is or will be an easy thing is to misread the scriptures. 

God placed The Tree of Life and The Tree of Knowledge and the various sources of our nourishment and Us along with Purpose and Challenge and Task in the Garden.  With the juxtaposition of Life and the consequence of taking out of turn the Fruit of Knowledge--Death, then follows the undergirding of Choice, or Free Will.  Now, it is easy for me to conjecture that if someone were to threaten my life in some excrutiating bodily fatality, I would probably at least consider and even perhaps act to submit to their commands for else.  But the evidence of the Bible is that men have been recorded time after time after time of having accepted their mortal fate while holding onto their covenant with God that He will deliver them into eternal fellowship with Him.(To someone who might proffer that this is an example of an unfeeling or inept God, I can only say that, No, this is a show of God's great foreknowledge, power, and compassion for those who are yet without the ability or desire to perceive a loving and just God).

Life on Earth is a Time for loving fellowship and the contemplation of eternal mysteries.  Mysteries which allude to a God who pours out his compassion to every being in creation that they might be given the chance to enjoy His Grace in their life in understanding and reverance.  Chen Basilieu Theos.

Ezra 9:8:  And now for a little moment grace hath been showed from Jehovah our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grace as Basilieu Theos Part II

...It begins to become obvious that we have begun following something to which we were not always accustomed.  That that something was there all along, and is available to those to whom it is exposed, understood and accepted.

There are two ways to interpret the word accept.  For instance, through coersion, if I am weak and exposed to virus, chances are my body will accept the presence of that virus within my body so that I become affected by that virus in sympomatic ways.  On the other hand through willingness, if I become aware that some thing or another may be of benefit to me or someone or some cause to which I am favorable, I would naturally attempt to attract and hold that something eagerly.

This understanding provides us a framework with which to view the manner we will be perceived by those whom we are trying to lead.  Will we be a fearful and contentious coersion to be avoided, resisted and eventually thrown off by medicine, therapy and bodily defense, or shall we be accepted and welcomed eagerly as benefactors of Grace and Love and Wisdom.

There is another aspect of Grace as Basilieu Theos which...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Grace as Basileu Theos Part One

In the last post I wrote briefly about the aspect of leadership reaching out into a hinterland(morass of teeming life) so remote that its constituents seemingly have little in common with the leader.  Oftentimes they seem to be so far removed as to be moving in opposition to leadership.  This behavior may even appear to be chaos.

It is in this environment that leadership must prove itself by remaining true to its core, walking the talk as well as talking so.  On the other hand, what has been observed over time is that if leadership establishes itself in a manner that offends and disenfranchises the prevailing constituency of an outlying place then it becomes harder to actually be established and rather easier to become a flash in the pan, that in hindsight only a few may wonder, "What was that all about?" and worse, none would think to follow.

So, it is imperative that common ground be established and native nuance, tradition, and culture be incorporated while the earnest leader exhibits the tenants of leadership. 

We can get to this same conclusion via a different line of thought, by considering that before we were included we were excluded.  But this exclusion, we realize, was not on account of others but rather on account of our unwilling or unknowing selves.  If our feelings of isolation, exclusion, bewilderment, and guilt were actually self inflicted conditions which the Holy Spirit used as tools to turn us toward and reunite us with an ethereal Holy God, why then are the tools of compassion, truth, forgiveness and inclusion not exceptionally suitable tools for those of us consciously striving to become part and parcel of an incorporating presence of God's Leadership in the World today?

It begins to become obvious that...

Basileu Theos Manifesti

Jesus told us that God is Spirit and as Spirit He has no flesh or bone.  From this then we can ascertain that God has chosen man to be the manifested Will of God on the Earth(or as it may become in the Universe).  We are reminded of this in the Genesis story of creation.  We see the consequences of rebellion in the Babylon story and in the Flood, and in many other stories which we are familiar with throughout the Bible. 

So God as Spirit and having a Will leads us to the question, "What is God's Will?"  The answer can be difficult to determine if we cannot accept that God, even as Spirit, is that than which nothing greater can be imagined.  Yet we understand from reading, study, and meditation in the Word that God is Creative, Compassionate, and Forgiving in a self sacrificing way.  He has made for us a place to live, he has given to us a thing to do, and He expects us to desire fellowship with Him.  Yet he is patient. 

If we look closely at the aspects of creation we see that God has made us with the abilities to think, work and grow.  While there are many factors which may come into play that affect our thinking process, we are ultimately given the right, responsibility and unavoidable necessity to choose who we will be at any and all given moments in which we are cognizant of our condition(s).  These recognized conditional choices then determine our understanding of our past, our realization of our present and our attitude and expectation for the future.

So as we think(perceive, imagine and formulate action plans) we are presented with alternatives(some good, some bad, some neutral) which we must choose(sometimes with forknowledge, sometimes on faith) to accept and inculcate or avoid or eradicate from our existance.

I have heard it explained to some degree in this way:  That  it behooves a farmer to be aware of the changing weather, soil condition and plant propagation and growth in the immediate while relying on lessons told him by mentors who learned from mentors from antiquity about how to deal with those conditions which he finds in his fields.   A farmer who is going to improve his ability to do the thing he does, must also maintain an open mind to changes in technology with which he might benfit.

Thus we can feel encouraged to find that God has manifested Himself to us in many ways.  His creation is a testament to Him.  His Word tells us of His love and forgiveness and the consequence of our bad behaviors.  We can also be confident that God has desire for us to be His eyes, His mind, His voice, and His feet and hands in the constanly changing world we live in.  One does not exclude the other.  The Godly man is one derived from an Apostolic tradition venturing out into a veritable unbroken ground of meadows, forests, grasslands, swamps, oceans, rivers, deserts, mountains, and hills.  All are His creation, some are more in tune with His Will than others.      

We are to look out into this morass of teeming life and encourage it to live.   Is this not what God has done, is doing and has promised to do for us--if we will let Him?  We are God's husbandmen(seed sowers, plant nurturers, harvesters).

The conclusion here is that God has manifested Himself.  He has manifested His supplication for us in the material world.  He has manifested his purpose for us in our Satisfactions.  He has manifested His forgiveness for us in Jesus.  He has manifested His Spirit for us in our Fellowship.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Philos of Leadership

IN the previous post I wrote on what is for many the ultimate leadership, the 'Basileu Theos'.   And really, in evangelical terms, it becomes evident that the evangelized are going to look for reality in the evangelist's life.  If, when(not if) the evangelized sees Basileu Theos, then at least two things have happened,  1) God has opened the eyes of the recipient of Good News, often called the Basileu Hagios Pneuma(roughly meant to convey the Leadership of the Holy Spirit) and 2)the viewer of this manifestation of God's Will has accepted or rejected as reality what he sees. 

So the question for the evangelist becomes how does God's Leadership in my life help or hinder this process which we hope will result in the regeneration of  the Glory of God so that the viewer becomes enraptured with the Basileu Theos in his own life and thus the Basileia Theos is engorged with the body heart and mind as well as the soul of that viewer.

Part of coming to terms in the Basiliea Theos is to accept that Theos Basileu  where He will in the manner that He will and at the time that He will.   He is not limited to free choice although that seems to be the Principal Characteristic of His Basileu.  If He is walking in front of us He generally is relying on our desire to keep Him in sight or within range of hearing the ringing of His bell and voice.  If He is watching and urging from behind we are allowed to follow our instincts, desires and preferences moving continually toward a promised goal and reward, secure within the caretaking of Basileu Theos.  The difference of these two scenarios of the Shepherd is that the first is constructed from the experience of the evangelist turned church planter while the second emanates from the maturing of the 'Babes in Christ' to 'Elders in Christ'. 

The evangelist must teach his followers to see God from within their own spirit, to hear Him in their own breath, to find Him in their own lives.  Always wary of the counterfeit.

The church elder then must guard against the impulse to veer and wander from the true path and yet allow the group to inform itself as to the possibility and truth of God's reward as it is encountered in a comtemporary(extemporanewous) setting.

So to rest...then the beginagain.


Monday, March 05, 2012

Revolution in Terms

Though I continue weekly to read the Renovare tome Devotional Classics, and may return to posting on its study here, at this time I will begin to review the use of the term 'Kingdom of God' and what it means to people today, especially those of us in America(U.S.) who are without exposure to Heraldic Lineage, other than to sit in front of the TV and watch some foreign prince marry.  For its many entries in the New Testament 'Kingdom Of God' and 'Kingdom of Heaven' seem to be the very similar and are both derived from some form of the word 'basileu', a Greek word meaning leadership.

So to begin, I ask, "Is the Leadership of God present today, or must we wait?"

God in Jesus called people to abandon their day to day mundaneity and enter with Him into a new life where physical struggles were not left behind, but by attitude and spirit, then activity, became so much less the focus, that life was indeed  akin to Heaven by its newfound purpose, practice, and peace; not so much attained by the earnest called, but rather granted to faithful followers by a Gracious God.

Thus the answer in the first place to the question, Does the 'Kingdom of Heaven' exist in manifest Earth today was yes, the Kingdom of Heaven manifest in the Earth was coexistant with called, obedient, followers of Christ.  It existed in their spiritual lives because they followed the leadership of God and then He made good on His promise to be with them in positive tangible and spiritual ways.  Basileu was the normal realization for the faithful.

The difficult exercise here is to identify the characteristics of Basileu and not venture too close to the practice of splitting hairs, per se Phariseeiticality.  But in the interests of progression to the current point we will avoid the minutiae and accept that God is just and here define a just God as one who keeps His word.  We will also accept that God would save every last one of us who Will be saved.  I will not attempt to define that for you, you are left on your own (unless the Spirit inform you).   Does the Spirit inform you? If He does, do you accept and agree and act?  If you hear, accept and act in agreement with the Holy Spirit then there is the Leadership of God.  BASILEU in your life now!  As before us in the lives of Disciples and such and will be again when those unresponsive for whatever reason to date have heard, accepted and acted in agreement with the leadership of the Holy Spirit as made accessible by the redemptive process of Jesus' life, death and resurrection on, in and from the Earth.  Perhaps the greatest example of Basileia we have.

I always feel that somethings have been glossed over, and perhaps some have been over stated, but I am sure that there will be plenty of time to correct at least some of these situations before the Kingdom of God arrives.

May God Bless and Keep you as we hurry along!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Devotional Classics Unit 1 Chapter 5

Introduction to Spirituality
John of the Cross
Purifying the Soul

John was born in Fantiveros, Castile Spain in the year 1542.  He was enrolled at the Carmelite College in Salamanca where he studied philosophy and theology.  Ordained in 1567 he impressed Teresa of Avila with his rigorous lifestyle and leadership ability.  He started several new orders with her guidance.
      His leadership and writing lent themselves to the Catholic Reform, for which he was arrested and confined.  Because of his suffering and commitment, he was called John of the Cross.  During his confinement he wrote The Dark Night of the Soul which describes God's work in the soul as one not contained in joy and light but rather by sorrow and darkness.  The dark night of the soul has become an integral part of the understanding of the spiritual journey even today.

Smith and Foster selected The Dark Night of the Soull to excerpt for this book on spiritual development which uses the following topical headings:
  1. To Purify the Soul
  2. Secret Pride
  3. Attached to the Feelings
  4. Three Causes
  5. Saints in a Day
  6. Beyond the Limits of Moderation
  7. Weary With Spiritual Exercises
  8. God Works Passively
     The Bible selection is approtriately Psalm 42(here HCSB)

As a deer longs for streams
of water,
so long I for You, God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
While all day lohng people say
to me,
"Where is your God?"
I remember this as I pour out
my heart:
how I walked with many,
 to the house of God,
with joyful and thankful shouts.

Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still
praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

I am deeply depressed;
therefore I remember You from the
land of Jordan
and the peaks of Hermon, from
Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of
Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your billows
have sweprt over me.

The LORD will send His faithful
love by day;
His song will be with me in the
a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God, my rock,
"Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy's oppression?"

My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
"Where is your God?"

Why am I so depressed?
Why is this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

     As the Psalmist asks, "Why am I so depressed", even we are encouraged to know that God is working within our souls at times like this to purify our soul that we may grow deeper and more mature spiritually.

     Of the seven capital sins:  pride, greed, luxury, wrath, gluttony, envy and sloth, I find myself dealing most often with pride and wrath.  The pride comes, just as John says, when I am feeling the center of God's attention. I begin to think that I deserve His blessing and that the people around me should naturally realize my great spiritual bearing.  When this pride then begins to interfere, and it always does, with my submission to God's will for me and my obedience to His plan for me and those with whom I seem destined to relate His love, then God removes me from the realization of His manifested grace and Spirit so that I become angry.  Angry with God and those about me who should know better than to rob me of my just desserts.

     Of course, one of my most obvious sins is sloth, I do just love to sit and think about almost anything and nearly always nothing.

     But then I think that perhaps this sloth as I have called it is more of a dark night of the soul as John of the Cross calls it.  But not quite.  I know God is working in my life and accomplishing His will all about.  I often think that I have been left out of the loop on many of the things I see going on around me.  Many times the reason for this is that I have just sequestered myself from the action and the center of planning.  I have chosen to be uninvolved and I have decided to take the time off and wait for the more fitting time and effort to involve myself.  On the other hand, once a while back in my youth, I was on a Vacation bible School trip.  It was the end of the week of two-a-day VBSchools, along with some door knocking for the church where we were staying, and on the Friday evening we were gathered together in the sanctuary, listening to our lead sponsor speak to us concerning some deep Biblical truths.  Many around me were becoming enthusiastically involved and getting louder and louder as youth often do when things are exciting.  I kept thinking to myself that here I was, one of the leaders of the group and yet I could hardly keep my eyes open much less feel the building Spirit in the air.  I was, God forbid, bored--no more than bored I was alone in a crowd of singing laughing, hugging, praying friends.  Some began to move out of the sanctuary and apparently a few moved toward the sidewalk and street of a busy residential neighborhood.  Here they clowned and clapped and hollered at passing cars, "Jesus loves You!" until the neighborhoods apparently complained or the local gendarme drove by and noticed the commotion.  In the meantime many of us were moving about on the inside of the building and when those who were outside were brought crying and wailing into our midst by-AVAST!-the cops, well to say the least, bedlam began to break loose.   The fact that one of our own sponsors was a Canine officer with the Lubbock PD made little difference and even brought the accusation that he of all people should know better--What did we think we were doing in this church anyway?!  
      This is when it dawned on me, what with all the fooferaw, that God had used the advent of a dark night for me to prepare me to be ready to appear calm and collected that the young friends who were beginning to see chinks in our armor and fret aloud and nervously, so they might be inspired to follow me into the basement and away from the center of the excitement so that we could pray and the adults could confer without having to stop and deal with wild eyed and panting youth.  Soon we were summoned back to the fellowship hall of the place where we learned that all was well and we need not worry, just stay away from the street and do not be yelling at passing cars or yelling period.

     I think we can see that John of the Cross believes that God often, perhaps more often, uses that feeling that we are alone and devoid of goodness and blessing to call to our attention the thing that He needs for us to focus on that we might be ready, willing, prepared and able to do the unexpected thing He has for us to do.   Or it may be that God is working on our soul to prepare it to accept the yoke of submission and obedience, correction and guidance that only the the humble heart is able to perceive and receive.  The dark night of the soul is necessary for us to be focused on the refreshing nature of God.

     John of the Cross mentions several virtues, humility, simplicity, contentment, peace, moderation, joy and strength.  Although I would like to think that I have a full cup of all of these I notice that many times, contentment seems to escape me more than the rest.  I am sure that this relates to the more prevalent sins in my life where rather than  reaching for God's Grace, though I could not touch it for trying, I reach for God's bullhorn and expect others to notice that 'I am the chosen one today'.  Naturally people don't really want to hear braggadocio, and when they turn that deaf ear, then I lose contentment with myself as I realize that I am placing myself above others rather than in loving service to others.

     An alarming suggestion here by the editors is that we abandon for one week the devotion(s) in which we have become so habitual(?!) thereby perhaps revealing to ourselves that hidden Demon, such as the performance trap, pride in spiritual works, religious addiction,  judging of the less missional than you.  Rather, relax and realize God loves you and is really wanting to communicate with YOU.

     I am going to try to learn the discipline of Gratitude--to be thankful for the simple things and to receive those things that God has ready for me.

     Reading what Richard Foster reflects for us, I am reminded of a time when a motivational speaker was stating that we must have some sort of release in our lives and relating that his was 'the blues'.  The blues of course, to be composed, need someone who has experienced the blues.  The best blues songs are those wherein the singer is conveying some heartfelt condition of his life that somehow seems to sweep us up into the moment and allows us to see ourselves in that role so described and at the same time allow us to see that even though we might experience some such bluesy bump, we have the hope of surviving and even overcoming whatever comes our way.  In the same way God uses the Dark Night of the Soul to purify our souls from pride, greed, luxury, wrath, gluttony, envy and sloth and imbue us with humility,  simplicity, contentment,  peace,  moderation,  joy, and strength.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Devotional Classics Unit One Chapter Four

Frances de Sales
One True Devotion
     Frances de Sales was born in 1567 to a noble family in the Castle of Sales.  He attended Jesuit school and learned the classics, Hebrew, Greek, and a life of discipline.  After training in the law and the humanities he was ordained a priest in 1591.  He soon became the Bishop of Geneva.  He was a prolific writer combining spiritual depth and ethical concern which makes him distinctive as a leader of the church.  His use of metaphorical descriptions of common nature to unveil spiritual truth led many to consider him one of the "doctors of the western church".

Smith and Foster selected his Introduction to the Devout Life to inspire us in our search for true devotion.

The topics of this excerpt are:
  1. Only One True Devotion
  2. Phantoms of Devotion
  3. Spiritual Agility
  4. The Fire of Charity
  5. The World Distorts Holy Devotion
  6. They Change It Into Honey
  7. Spiritual Sugar
  8. Various Degrees of Charity
  9. Angelic Hearts
  10. The Scent of Sweetness
  11. Every Vocation Dipped in Honey
  12. Someone to Lead You
     Today's scripture reading is found in Romans 13:8-10, which is titled in my HCSB: 
     Love Our Primary Duty 

and reads 

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.   The commandments

You shall not commit adultery,
you shall not murder,
you shall not steal,
you shall not covet,  

and if there is any other commandment--all are summed up by this:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor.  Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.   

     Investigating my devotional life I find that I love reading scripture, and some writers of commentary, theology and sermons.  I do this early in my day while sitting alone and quiet.  I try to always give thanks before a meal, and enjoy involving myself in prayer groups.  One of my favorite avocations is preparing and teaching Bible Studies.  I also attend worship service and Bible Study.  One thing I think I more than most enjoy is discussing the nuances of God's word, how that affects my life and the lives of others and whether we are realizing as much of what the word has for us or are we limiting God's power by selective hearing.
     One of my more egregious lack of devotions is the one where I head out and think, 'I wonder who God would have me relate His love to today...", and find myself focusing largely on the task at hand so that I might return home and continue some chore I have planned.

     One of the metaphors de Sales uses to describe the phases of our devotion is the flight or lack thereof of three birds.  the ostrich of course does not fly and so is used to analogize the new christian, or one who is still struggling with unanswered questions of duty and responsibility, one who is focused primarily with everyday life.  The hen describes one who has begun to find answers and to occasionally discover that God is attainable by correct focus.  The eagle, dove and swallow then represent those who have been able to time and again respond to God's word in a positive manner with a positive attitude and realize the positive aspects of a life devoted  to God.  
     I find myself living mostly as a clumsy hen, and sometimes, though less frequently as I go along, hide my head in the sand, neglecting the very thing which I would find is necessary for me to experience the Spirit filled life.  I have, and yearn to do so more often, been swept away in a fervor for God that can best be described as soaring the heights.

     Oftentimes a non-believer sees a devout person talking the talk and walking the walk, and figures there goes a fool or someone with a guilt to work off or hypocrite with a hidden agenda.  What the non-believer does not see is the common factors both he and the devout person have in their daily life along with the gentle encouragement and sustenance of the Holy Spirit.  The rationale of the world is 'me first' and whatever is left over might be available to go to some other poor sap.  What is definitely missed by the non-believer is the strengthening and divine blessing which a devout person experiences in the sacrifice of devotion to God, His purpose and will and glorification.

     Religious devotion can be harmful if the divinity to which one is devoted is a false sum, self absorbed, man defined entity rather than the true premise which is a loving, exacting, yet forgiving God.  When religious devotion is focused on love, joy, peace,  patience, goodness, kindness, perseverance, gentleness and self control, then God becomes manifest and fulfilling and thereby edified and glorified in the devout persons life.

     Prayer, Bible reading, solitude, evangelism, fellowship, service, worship:  all work together to strengthen my faith and witness to others that God is faithful and worshipful. 

     I will work to be better at responding to God in a positive way.

     I will look for and make opportunities to be kind to a neighbor.

     I will utilize my accountability partner to the best of our abilities.

     I will share the joy of devotion with those who do not know God with the intent of dispelling the idea that 'churchies' are sour pusses, and mean.
     Richard Foster explains that if we will learn that love means doing good to all people.  If we have true devotion  then we will burn in our hearts for that relationship with God that is most satisfying and strengthens us to serve even unkind and mean spirited people.