31 May 2015

What are We Made For – Enjoyment

Greetings Dear Reader,

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?”  Before I delve into the answer I want to consider the question.   Eventually almost everyone asks about the reason for our existence. 

The first part of the answer is obvious and important.  “The chief end of man is to glorify God…”  I could spend a week easily discussing the ways in which I should glorify God.  I could spend as much time discussing the ways in which I fail. 

What amazes me is that in something so stiff as a Catechism the second part exists.  I do not wish you to think that I have negative thoughts about Catechisms.  They have their place and value.  The problem is that they are too often learned in rote and not really learned.

That this particular one encourages us not only glorify God as our chief end matters.  The second part is that we are to “…enjoy Him forever.”   We are created for the purpose of enjoying God.  The idealist part of my brain thinks about how beautiful the world would be if we all thoroughly enjoyed God.

If we would all strive to enjoy God would live in a much better world.  We are made to enjoy him.  We are created to find joy in his love for us and the world he has created for us.   Thomas Traherne posits “You never know yourself till you know more than your body. The Image of God was not seated in the features of your face, but in the lineaments of your Soul.”

We are created to enjoy God by being created in his image.  If we really work to enjoy God it will lead us to joy. It will lead us to great things.  I must pursue the enjoyment of God in every way possible.  I am made to do so.  I am created with the need to do so.

We are all on a journey back to God.  Perhaps if we work harder at enjoying him on the way it will make the journey less burdensome.

Joy in the Journey – Michael Card

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind

To all who've been born of the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Forget not the hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey
And freedom for those who obey

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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30 May 2015

What are We Made For – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Whether you believe what I believe or not Dear Reader there is merit to some of the more positive things that God has to say about us.  Some of the things God says about us are mind boggling.

God tells us, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

David writes, “You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother.  I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.  My bones were not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop.  Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus. Every day [of my life] was recorded in your book before one of them had taken place.  How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God! How vast in number they are!”  Psalm 139:13-17.

Job, in the midst of his suffering declares, "God's Spirit has made me. The breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

This is just the edge of the whole.  We are made.  We are made FOR something.  Every one of us has a purpose.  There is not magical formula for discovering it.   There is no secret spell that will reveal is.  It is all at once over-simplified and infinitely complex. 

When I speak of purpose I am not here pondering careers.  The question is much larger.  Why did God make me?  What my purpose?  On that question hangs so much that is so vital.  Walk with me if you will.  I could use the company as I try to rediscover and renew purpose.  I know what the answers are.  I need help in applying them well.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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29 May 2015

On Change – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

When change barges in without so much as a: “by your leave”.   We choose how we will deal with it.  We choose how we will believe.  We choose how we will treat others in the midst of change.

When the gritty sands born on the winds of change chafe the soul it is vital that I embrace my faith and following.  I may howl in protest and pain but I am still required to be an example.  I am still obligated to do what is right no matter the personal cost. 

If my faith is real then I must weather any wounds of change from red raw to scab to scar.  I must be good to others no matter where I am in the process.  I must listen to the good counsel of others.  If my let go of my wants and desires and follow. 

When change invades unwelcome, it can refine me into a better man.  I must always want that.  I must not harm anyone trying to control that which is out of my control.  I must have faith that things will unfold toward Christ if I do not interfere. 

What I possess, have, and enjoy is all a gift from God.  As Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return to God. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Anything beyond that is a blessing. 

The Things We Leave Behind – Michael Card

There sits Simon,
so foolishly wise
proudly he's tending his nets
Then Jesus calls,
and the boats drift away
all that he owns he forgets

More than the nets
he abandoned that day,
he found that his pride was soon drifting away
It's hard to imagine the freedom we find
from the things we leave behind

Matthew was mindful
of taking the tax,
pressing the people to pay
Hearing the call,
he responded in faith
followed the Light and the Way

Leaving the people
so puzzled he found,
the greed in his heart
was no longer around and
it's hard to imagine
the freedom we find
from the things
we leave behind

Every heart needs to be set free,
from possessions
that hold it so tight
'Cause freedom's not found in the things that we own,
It's the power
to do what is right
Jesus, our only possession,
giving becomes our delight
We can't imagine the freedom we find
from the things we leave behind

We show a love for the world in our lives
by worshipping goods we possess
Jesus has laid all our treasures aside
"love God above all the rest"

'Cause when we say 'no'
to the things of the world
we open our hearts
to the love of the Lord and
its hard to imagine
the freedom we find
from the things we leave behind

Oh, and it's hard to imagine
the freedom we find
from the things
we leave behind

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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28 May 2015

On Change – The Wilderness

Greetings Dear Reader,

Change can refine us.  We often will not let it but it can.  When change is forced upon we choose how we respond.  So often the change is something we do not wish to endure.  We know we cannot stop it and it screams toward us like an oncoming train. 

Change can destroy us if we try to fight against it or deny it.  Wrong action or inaction can lead to danger, pain, or even death.  The unwanted change is medical ignoring it can be deadly.  If we act wrongly we can inflict collateral damage that does not heal for years.

As the forced change rips into our lives we must look to our faith.  If God is in control he has already approved the change.  It does not mean that the actions that force the change are right or just.  We need to cling to the fact that the change can make us better.  It can refine our faith.  It can burn away the self.

Forced change reminds us that we are following someone who promised there would be times of pain and suffering.  There will be day, weeks, months, or even years when we think the pain is unbearable.  We will think that the darkness will never end.  Fear and uncertainty will try to claim us. 

There is a way out but it is through.  Christ is standing in every moment to carry us if necessary.  Our only duty is to do what is right no matter what the cost.  That is the duty of everyone who claims to follow Christ.  That is my duty.  That is my responsibility.  That is my privilege.  I must do what I believe.  Everything else is just talk.

In the Wilderness – Michael Card

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
To the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

In the wilderness we wander
In the wilderness we weep
In the wasteland of our wanting
Where the darkness seems so deep

We search for the beginning
For an exodus to hold
We find that those who follow Him
Must often walk alone

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
To the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

In the wilderness we're wondering
For a way to understand
In the wilderness there's not a way
For the ways become a man

And the man's become the exodus
The way to holy ground
Wandering in the wilderness
Is the best way to be found

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
In the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

Groaning and growing
Amidst the desert days
The windy winter wilderness
Can blow the self away

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
To the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

And that's the painful promise
Of the wilderness

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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27 May 2015

On Change – Control

Greetings Dear Reader,

When change occurs without our wanting it we seek to control it.  We seek to stop it, attenuate it, or manipulate it.  Change reminds us how little we control things.  Change is an emotionless force that can rip us apart if we try to control it.

Natural disasters invade lives and force change.  Homes and lives are ripped apart.  Whole communities can be destroyed.  The world responds to these with aid, comfort, and restoration.

Individual change unwanted and unwelcome can be the most dangerous.  The mind seeks to find a way to prevent it or deny.  Situations we do not control and cannot prevent rip into our lives and the whim or will of another.  A slight discomfort turns into the need for a biopsy.  A spouse decides he or she wants something more than the vows they swore before God and witnesses.  You become redundant at a job you love.  Someone dies suddenly.

Change rips into your life and you have to make choices amid the pain and terror.  You have to choose your responses.  If we try to control the change we usually respond in bad ways.  As a Christ follower we must accept change and do whatever it takes to do what is right.  We do not have to be silent about the wrong in it but every word and action must be loving and kind.

We can feel the anger, pain, betrayal and loss.  We should feel them.  We should also never take them out on anyone else.  We should only be motivated by our determination to do whatever it takes to seek Christ in the change. 

If I believe that God is in control of everything then no change comes into my life without his allowing it.  Whether I like it or not my only hope is to seek Christ in the moment.  My only way out is through.  The only thing I can truly control is my response.  The only power I have is to do what is right no matter what the cost. 

Christ promises to give us the will and power to let go of control if we will do so.  He promises that we are never alone.  In every moment, even the darkest ones, he promises to be there if we will simply seek him.    

The Sunrise of Your Smile – Michael Card

Reject the worldly lie that says
That life lies always up ahead
Let power go before control becomes
A crust around your soul

Escape the hunger to possess
And soul-diminishing success
This world is full of narrow lives
I pray by grace your smile survives

For I would wander weary miles
Would welcome ridicule, my child
To simply see the sunrise of your smile
To see the light behind your eyes
The happy thought that makes you fly
Yes, I would wander weary miles
To simply see the sunrise of your smile

Now close your eyes so you can see
Your own unfinished memories
Now open them for time is brief
And you'll be blest beyond belief

Now glance above you at the sky
There's beauty there to blind the eye
I ask all this then wait awhile
To see the dawning of your smile

For I would wander weary miles
Would welcome ridicule, my child
To simply see the sunrise of your smile
To see the light behind your eyes
The happy thought that makes you fly
Yes, I would wander weary miles
To simply see the sunrise of your smile

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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26 May 2015

On Change – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Heraclitus is the earliest confirmation of the quote, “the only constant is change.”  Life changes.  He is also quoted by Plato as having told us that one cannot step into the same stream twice.

And so change like some chaotic vagabond visits us at will without so much as a by your leave.   It comes in many forms and guises challenging our belief that we have control over anything.   This universal constant test and tries us.  It brings sorrow and joy. 

Change comes and we respond.  It is what we do when change is visited upon us that shows who we are.  It is the name of the crucible in which we burn.  It is the fire and fuel.  All that we is subject to change.

How we respond reveals the most about us.  Who we are in the crucible instructs others.  It reveals the depth of our faith and the commitment of our following.  As we walk the path of the journey back to God we encounter change when we seek it and when we wish it to not seek us.

As change unfolds we respond and react.  If we do not focus on our faith and following we do both poorly.  So as I am cast into the crucible against my will I must assure that I am refined, reduced, and re-forged into a better man.

Walk with me if you wish whilst I examine this fire and prepare my heart to do what is right no matter what the cost. Only in that resolve can I assure that who I am meant to be is more revealed.  Only in that can I assure that the lesser portions of my being are caged if not destroyed.  If you are able to do so Dear Reader, please also pray for me. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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25 May 2015

Memorial Day 2015 - Hallow or Hollow?

Greetings Dear Reader,

This Holy Day changes for me every year.  First let me note that it is a Holy Day and not simply a holiday.  Remembrances surrounding death and sacrifice must remain holy and reflective. 

It changes for me because of the veterans I know that the ones who have passed.  As we are finally learning many are mortally wounded in combat but do not die for years.  The stress they bring home is not treated well and their own minds eventually claim them.  We do not do enough love and heal these walking wounded. 

I feel that we continually fail to count the cost of freedom.  We do not stop and reflect we plan picnics and camping trips.  We run to a resort while are military are still fighting.  We do not do enough to honor our fallen.  We do not do enough to care for our veterans.

In my own state there has been scandal over the abuse of veterans by the VA.  I personally know people who have been shelved and refused care.  My dear friend James reminded me on Thursday how important it is to treat this day as a day of remembrance and reflection.  You are right James.  I am doing that.  Thank you for the reminder.

I find my wondering which topic will get more conversation today: the rain on our grills or the loss of lives in American uniforms.  If we fail to honor our veterans both the living and the dead we fail as a nation.  We need to keep this day Holy.  We need to keep all the days that remember why we have freedom sacred.  If they become days off to have a picnic and all we celebrate is the opening of the community pool we have lost more than we can afford.  If we fail to Hallow this day we make it a Hollow one.

Wrong Side of Heaven – Five Finger Death Punch

I spoke to God today, and she said that she's ashamed.
What have I become, what have I done?
I spoke to the Devil today, and he swears he's not to blame.
And I understood, cause I feel the same.

Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I'm on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
The wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, righteous side of hell.

I heard from God today, and she sounded just like me.
What have I done, and who have I become.
I saw the Devil today, and he looked a lot like me.
I looked away, I turned away!

Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I'm on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
The wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, the righteous side of hell.

I'm not defending, downward descending,
Falling further and further away!
Getting closer every day!

I'm getting closer every day, to the end.
To the end, the end, the end,
I'm getting closer every day!

Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I'm on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
The wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
The wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, the righteous side of hell.


Far From Home – Five Finger Death Punch

Another day in this carnival of souls
Another night settles in as quickly as it goes
The memories of shadows, ink on the page
And I can't seem to find my way home

And it's almost like
Your heaven's trying everything
Your heaven's trying everything
To keep me out

All the places I've been and things I've seen
A million stories that made up a million shattered dreams
The faces of people I'll never see again
And I can't seem to find my way home

Cause it's almost like
Your heaven's trying everything to break me down
Cause it's almost like
Your heaven's trying everything to keep me out

Cause it's almost like
Your heaven's trying everything to break me down
Cause it's almost like
Your heaven's trying everything
Your heaven's trying everything to break me down
To break me down
To break me down

Your heaven's trying everything
Your heaven's trying everything to break me down

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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24 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I turn the corner on this topic to move further down the path it is not lost on me that tomorrow is Memorial Day.  I will address that later but I do not want to miss the connection that anticipating this day is part of the impetus for this writing. 

I have said on many occasions that killing someone is not how one shows love.  I have also considered that doing violence to anyone is not an act of love.  Paul warns us to do all we can to be at peace with all men.

The long and short of it is that I am not supposed be collecting enemies.  I am not allowed to hate anyone.  I am supposed to love everyone.  No matter what life sends my way I am to respond in love.  That can be easy to say and hard to live but it is still the right way to do things.

No matter what comes at me I am to respond in love.  This is the obligation of all Christ followers.  I think the world would look much different if we did.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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23 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Enemy Friends

Greetings Dear Reader,

One thing that perplexes me is that we treat our friends like enemies.  And in either instance I do not mean that we are treating them with love.  We gossip, slander, lie, and betray.  We give our word and break it.  We do damage on purpose.

We go to war with people we are supposed to love: friends, family, siblings, and spouses.  We allow conflict to live and nurture it through actions and neglect.  We replace unconditional love with intentional cruelty. 

Everything about this is contrary to who we are supposed to be as Christ followers.  We are supposed to be kind, tender hearted, loving, and peaceful.  Our for each other is supposed to be an example that draws others to Christ.  Our benchmark is supposed to be our love for each other.

When we walk away from Christ, our friends, and our family for any reason we are holding that reason above our obligation to love.  Without unconditional love I am nothing.  There is nothing I do that truly matters if I do it without love.

All war, abuse, violence, want, and neglect occurs because we love something more than we love each other.  We choose our own desire, comfort, or journey over following in faith and love.  We destroy others, even friends and family to do so.

Everything about who I am supposed to be requires me to show love and kindness as my first response.  When I act selfishly or dishonestly I do not.  When I treat others badly for my own interests I abandon my love for Christ and others to do it.  That is the essence of following.  I must love you no matter what.  I get to love you no matter what.  I am privileged to love you no matter what.

Wond’ring Aloud – Jethro Tull

Wond'ring aloud --
how we feel today.
Last night sipped the sunset --
my hands in her hair.
We are our own saviours
as we start both our hearts beating life
into each other.

Wond'ring aloud --
will the years treat us well.
As she floats in the kitchen,
I'm tasting the smell
of toast as the butter runs.
Then she comes, spilling crumbs on the bed
and I shake my head.
And it's only the giving
that makes you what you are.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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22 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Tax Collectors

Greetings Dear Reader,

People who do not know me assume that my politics are very liberal.  People who know my faith assume that my politics are conservative.  As with so many things the truth is somewhere in the middle. 

No matter where you land on the blue to purple to red spectrum I think we can agree that there are people who truly hate the opposition.  I do not mean that they mutter and complain about policies and positions.  I mean the ones who will be visceral and angry about a candidate or elected official.

I will not presume to speak for those who do not follow my faith.  I will call into account those who do.  Political opponents are not our enemies.  They may oppose things we believe in and may be socially different from us.  They may even do heinous things that are clearly wrong.   They are not our enemy.

Elected officials are not our enemy.  Even if we hate everything for which they stand we have an obligation to them.  We are to respect their office.  We are to love them.  We are commanded to pray for them.  No matter what you think of the president, governor, senator, or mayor the obligation is the same.

I am required to love and pray for all my political leaders.  I can work to oust them if I feel they are wrong.  I can vote and speak out for things I believe in.  I am not allowed to malign, curse, or hate them.  I am not allowed to hate those who support them.

Everything about following Christ gets challenged in the political arena.  There are those who hate God and his followers in our government.  We are overtaxed and underserved.  The truth, however, is that I must love them.  I must be accountable to them.  I must pray for them. 

By the time I do all that there is not room left for hate.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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21 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Raining on the Unjust

Greetings Dear Reader,

At times I have a very visual imagination.   I picture what it would be like if rain only fell on the crops of the righteous.  Somehow patchwork rain would not be as beautiful.  It would lack symmetry and would seem cruel.  Jesus makes it very clear that the Father sends rain to everyone regardless of his or her faith and following.

If we proceed from the assumption that we are all fallen then it is not wrong that there are some calamities that befall us all.   There are blessings too although we do not really acknowledge them. 

One of the things we are supposed to do as Christ followers is help move things back to good.  A part of that is our social responsibility to everyone.  We are to be good to everyone.  We are to care about everyone.

We are warned not to celebrate the ills or bad fortune of our enemies. We are warned further to care about their needs.  How that translates is very important in terms of loving our enemies.

The social issues that plague man are the same.  They have changed through the centuries only in magnitude and complexity.  Our responsibility for those issues does not change.  Loving our enemies is not genuine if it is passive.

The responsibility of the Christ follower is to care about the needs of others.  The social needs of our community are the responsibility of Christ followers full stop.  The plenty that we have is for the purpose of showing love to those around us.    

I hate the system of universal healthcare we have adopted but as my Son Bezel said we have to get there somehow.  I hate abortion but the church should be leading the way in providing safe, healthy, and non-judgmental alternatives.  There should be armies of Christ followers feeding the hungry.  Every homeless person who want shelter from the cold should know we are and be able to knock on our door.

If our enemy is hungry we should feed him.  If he naked we should cloth him.  It is in the love of our enemy by meeting his needs that we gain the ability to show him Christ.  There is not one person who is unworthy of this kind of care.  It is in showing this care that we allow Christ to know us.

Instead we complain about the rain if it spoils our picnic plans rather than to consider that there might be someone who needs it.  We get centered on what we want or think we need instead realizing just how much we already have.  I must not hesitate to help those God puts in my path.  I must not shy away from loving my enemies at the very essence of life.

It is not wrong to be wealthy or comfortable.  It is wrong to bypass the needs of others because I disagree with their lifestyle, politics, or faith.  If the church set all of that aside and lived the social aspect of the Gospel to its full potential imagine the difference we could make.

Would Jesus Wear a Rolex – Ray Stevens

Woke up this mornin', turned on the T.V. set
There in livin' color, was somethin' I can't forget
This man was preachin' at me, yeah, layin' on the charm
Askin' me for twenty with ten-thousand on his arm

He wore designer clothes and a big smile on his face
Sellin' me salvation while they sang amazin' grace
Askin' me for money when he had all the signs of wealth
I almost wrote a check out, yeah, then I asked myself

Would He wear a Pinky ring?
Would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds?
Would His dressin' room have a star?

If He come back tomorrow
Well there's somethin' I'd like to know
(Can you tell me?)
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show?

Would Jesus be political
If He come back to earth?
Have His second home in Palm Springs?
Yeah, try to hide His worth?

Take money, from those poor folks
When He comes back again
And admit He's talked to all them preachers
Who say they've been talkin' to Him?

Just ask ya' self, would He wear a Pinky ring?
Would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds?
Would His dressing room have a star?

If He come back tomorrow
Well there's somethin' I'd like to know
Could ya tell me?
Would Jesus wear a Rolex?
Would Jesus wear a Rolex?
Would Jesus wear a Rolex
On His television show? Oh oh
(Would Jesus wear a Rolex)
(On His television show?)

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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20 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – They Want to be my Enemy

Greetings Dear Reader,

From time to time I am reminded that there are people that hate me.  Since I do not hate people I forget that people can hate me.  It takes some odd forms.  Still I must face that there are people who know me and hate me.

As we discussed yesterday to hate me means that you declare yourself my enemy.  Some people are jealous of my life.  I cannot understand that.  Some hate me because of my actions earlier in life.  I hope that they forgive me for their sake rather than mine. 

When I learn that others hate me I have to make a choice.  I can hate them back, but that is not following Christ.  I can be indifferent but that is self-deception because I am indifferent about very little.  I can love them and seek peace. 

When I respond to hatred with love I am amazed at the power of love.  It crushes.  The weight of it astounds me.  There are those who will not communicate with me because they have become indifferent toward me.  That too is a lie.  Indifference masks anger, fear, and hatred.  Rarely does it mask love.  I pray for them and ask God to heal the pain I have caused.

So if someone chooses to be my enemy then I must him as well.  Since God wishes for our weapon of choice to be love there is no instance where that is not the proper response.  There are people who do not know me that want to kill me just because I identify with Christ.  They too are people I am to love.  

So to those who would identify my as someone to hate, reject, dismiss, avoid or call an enemy I have only one response.  I love you.  If you want to talk about it, let me know.

Freedom Never Cries – Five for Fighting

I took a flag to a pawn shop
For a broken guitar
I took a flag to a pawn shop
How much is that guitar
I took a flag to a pawn shop
I Got me that guitar
What's a flag in a pawn shop to me?

I Saw a man on the TV
In a mask with a gun
A man on the TV
He had a ten-year old son
I Saw a man on the TV
His son had a gun
He says that he's coming for me

I never loved the soldier until there was a war
Or thought about tomorrow
'til my baby hit the floor
I only talk to God when somebody's about to die
I Never cherished Freedom

Freedom never cries.

I Wrote a song for a dead man
To settle my soul
A song for a dead man
Now I'll never grow old
I Wrote a song for a dead man
Now I'm out in the cold
What's a song to a dead man to me?

I never loved the soldier until there was a war
Or thought about tomorrow
'til my baby hit the floor
I Only talk to God when somebody's about to die
I Never cherished Freedom

Freedom never cries...

You can cry for her
Die for her
Lay down your life for her
Kiss and wave Goodbye to her
Anything at all

You can cry for her
Die for her
Make up your mind to her
Anything at all

There's a baby on the doorstep
Wailing away
There's a baby on the doorstep
Longing for the day
There's a baby on the doorstep
Who'd give his life to take
A flag to a pawn shop
A flag to a pawn shop

May he forget why he is crying some day

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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19 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Declaring Enemies

Greetings Dear Reader,

I think it is very important to understand what Jesus thinks of as an enemy.  The word he uses here and elsewhere does not mean enemy the way we think it does.  It is exclusive to those who oppose God.  More specifically it can refer to those who oppose God in their thoughts.

That makes the pool for declaring enemies quite specific.  I am not saying that it is limited just specific.  In the mind of Christ enemies are those who oppose God.  The word is also closely related to hatred. 

This means that the statement to hate your enemy is to hate those who hate.  It becomes quite clear that the problem is hatred.  If I am to love my enemies I cannot hate them.  If I am to declare someone an enemy it must be because they opposed to God.

The quandary is that the moment I declare someone an enemy I must love them.  That means that I cannot hate them and, therefore, they are no longer my enemy.  They may think they are and may say so. 

The moment they declare that they are my enemy I must love them.  This again makes the state of enemy a one way street.  I cannot consider someone an enemy from my perspective.  I must love them. 

If I am going to declare enemies then I must realize what I am doing.  I am placing someone in a very specific state.  To obey Christ the moment I declare them an enemy (the moment I hate them), I must love them.  It becomes evident, therefore, that someone being my enemy is a very temporary thing from my perspective. 

I really must assure that I am not collecting enemies unless it is in pursuit of the opportunity to love them.  If that is my goal then I can just simply skip the enemy stage and truly try to love them as Christ does. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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18 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – On Hatred

Greetings Dear Reader,

The thing about hatred is that it devours.  It takes effort, time, and energy to maintain hatred.  So as to be balanced there are things that God hates.  All of them are things that are evil. 

When we hate people it is another matter altogether.  Jesus best friend wrote that when we hate someone it is the same as if we have murdered that person.  I wonder if we consider how strong that is. 

We are required to love everyone.   This leaves no room for hatred yet we make room for it.  We nurture it for the wrong reasons.  We become angry without cause or take up the offenses of others.  We nurture small hurts into festering wounds. 

It is our war on each other at the individual level that leads to riots, murders, and war.  Coddling my anger for selfish reasons can lead to the destruction of the object of my hatred and me.  It can also create collateral damage that is devastating.

Hatred is war on the individual.  It is selfish and serves only my vial interests.  Everything about hating another person is selfish.  There is no room for it in following Christ.  When we exchange love for hatred we turn a closed fist into an open hand.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

17 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Who is my Neighbor?

Greetings Dear Reader,

Before I can venture into what I am to do about enemies I must understand who my neighbor is.  Jesus commanded me to love my neighbor as well as my enemies.  This is the second commandment and he equates it to the first.  He says it is one of the two foundations on which everything else is built.

The word we translate as “neighbor” actually means “friend”.  The contrast then is quite significant.  Further the flavor of the word is that of anyone of our “tribe”.  It is our community that we are to love.

This means that I do not have to know someone to love him or her.  Just because they are a part of my community is reason enough to love.  So even people in my community that may be in opposition to my faith and practices are still my “neighbors”.  If I wish to believe that I am following Christ I must love them all.

This means that in contrast my enemies are not part of my community.  If I am to love everyone in my community I need to look further to find who my enemy is.  Before I spend too much time identifying enemies, however, I should assure that I am loving my neighbor.

According to this the man across the street is my neighbor.  So is the guy at the gas station who takes my money.  The server at the diner is my neighbor.  The stranger sitting next to me at the movies is too. 

When I consider who my neighbor really is I come to a very serious conclusion.  I am required to love everyone around me.  I am required to treat them well.  It is my responsibility to love, unconditionally, everyone who fits this definition of neighbor.  If I am not working towards this in every encounter then I carry the name of Christ in error.

This means that at the community level I have not political, social, or religious enemies.  They are all my neighbor even if their beliefs are contrary to what I consider the truth.  I wonder if we see how huge this is. 

Things that I think are morally wrong are never an excuse to be unloving and unkind.  At the social level I must love to follow Christ.  The meanest vilest person in the community is worthy of love.  That is what is to set me apart.  Everyone around me should feel loved when they interact with me. 
That alone is a tough chore for a fallen man who struggles with his own selfishness and greed.  It is only by constant practice of this that I can hope to attain it.   The exercise here for me is to try and list a valid reason not to love someone that Christ has commanded me to love.  I come up empty if I try.

The Basin and the Towel – Michael Card

And the call is to community…

In an upstairs room, a parable
Is just about to come alive.
And while they bicker about who's best,
With a painful glance, He'll silently rise.

Their Savior Servant must show them how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

In any ordinary place,
On any ordinary day,
The parable can live again
When one will kneel and one will yield.

Our Savior Servant must show us how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel.

And the space between ourselves sometimes
Is more than the distance between the stars.
By the fragile bridge of the Servant's bow
We take up the basin and the towel.

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

16 May 2015

Love Your Enemies – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of the things triggered by recent events has been some deep thinking on what it means to love one’s enemies.  Discussions about the current political climate lead me to think that many who claim to follow Christ have left behind this very seminal command. 

I work very hard at not collecting enemies in the real world.  I still have a few but I will get to that later.  Our nation has enemies.  So too the Church has enemies.  Some people will hate me just because I try to follow Christ.  Many will declare themselves my enemy.  Does their declaration make it so?

As I think through this question I wish to begin with the actual command.  These are the words Jesus spoke about the topic:

Mat 5:43 – 48
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.
If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that!  Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that!  That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.

There are some serious implications here.  I want to consider them as I refine what it means for me to love my enemies.  I must love them.  That is what Christ commands.  I cannot just say that I do love them.  Faith without works is dead.  I must live out loving my enemies

Jesus only uses the word “enemy” four other times throughout the Gospels.  Three of those times are in the parable of the wheat and tares.  The other time it is in a warning.  The only time Jesus focuses on what we are to do about our enemies is here.  He sets his thoughts with those concerning how to react to violence: “Turn the other cheek.”  He couples it with the way we are to respond to forced labor: “Go a second mile.” 

To follow Christ is to do things counter to the visceral reaction that is natural in us.  I need to ponder this carefully so that I can perfect my obedience to Christ.  I must follow this command with my whole heart.  In order to do so I must examine it wholly.  Dear Reader I covet your thoughts on this as I think some of it will be hard.  Also, I enjoy your company along the path.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

15 May 2015

Second Thoughts – The Death of a Voice

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

BB King has passed away.  I am sure Lucille weeps.  I am sure I will at some point.  I saw him live a little over two years ago and he was still magnificent and magical.   I own most of his music.  When sadness overwhelms me he reminds me that I am not alone.

If you read my writing regularly you know that everyone’s death matters to me.  This year has held several that touched me deeply.  We all have that appointment.  Most of us with to schedule it as late as possible.  Not knowing when the journey ends keeps us honest.  It is the greatest evidence that here is a limit to our freedom.

It forces us to consider the larger questions eventually.  I do not know nor will I judge another man’s faith.  I would influence it for good if I could but it is not my place to judge.  Today, in the sadness of a diminished world, a diminished art, and a diminished universe (one song) the notes that this man from Mississippi created will always be holy to me.

I feel this loss.  I grieve with others who do.  Oddly I just commented to my daughter last week that BB King might not be around much longer.  He came up because he was a question on Jeopardy.  I hate it that I was right.

To the man I would say this if I could.  Thank you.  Few know of my love for your music but love it I do.  I hope that when all things are made right in the cosmos I can hear it again.

How Blue Can You Get? – BB King and Lucille

I've been down hearted baby
Ever since the day we met
I've been down hearted baby
Ever since the day we met

Our love is nothing but the blues
Baby, how blue can you get?

My love is like a fire
Your love is like a cigarette
My love is like a fire
But baby yours is like a cigarette
I watched you step down on it baby
And crush it!
Tell me how, tell me how
How blue can you get?

You’re evil when i'm with you
And you are jealous when we're apart
You’re evil
You’re so evil when I'm with you baby
And you are jealous when we're apart
How blue can you get baby?
The answer is right here in my heart

I gave you a brand new ford
And you said "i want a Cadillac"
I bought you a ten dollar dinner
And you said "thanks for the snack"!
I let you live in my penthouse
You said it was just a shack!
I gave you seven children
And now you wanna to give 'em back!

Yes I’ve been downhearted baby
Ever since the day we met
Our love is nothing but the blues baby
Baby, how blue can you get?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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The Peddling Man – Part 2

Greetings Dear Reader,

So if you read yesterday’s post you will understand this one.  If not you may wish to go back a day first.  Please understand that I do not often venture into the supernatural in my writings that are not fiction.  What I am about to relate is not fiction. 

We need to fast forward a few decades from the events of my childhood in Atlanta.  Ten years ago I was living in a house in Madison proper.  I am not sure which year it was but the events matter more than the date.

My Daughter-in-law Raven had just returned from her service time in the Middle East.  We were excited to have her over for dinner.  I had planned to cook steaks on the grill and had come home early from work to prepare things.

I had the steaks and a salad prepared.  Sweet tea was chilling in the fridge.  I even had Russet potatoes ready to prepare to go with the meal.  It occurred to me that I had not checked the mail so I made my way out to the mail box to do so.

As I reached the end of the driveway an ancient pickup truck with faded blue paint and a tin roof over the bed stopped right in front of me.  The bed held shelves with many kinds of fresh vegetables.  A man easily as old as the truck climbed out.  His movements were spry for his age.   

He smiled and spoke, “I wonder if you could use some fresh vegetables.  I am headed home but some left at a good price.”

He reached into the truck and proffered some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.  It was easy to see that they were at their peak or ripeness.  Wanting to give Raven the best I could I inquired how much he wanted for them.  I told him nothing about my dinner plans. 

He offered the three cucumbers and six tomatoes for two dollars.  Thinking that he was poor I gave him five.  As he bagged the vegetables he produced another from the truck bed.  He smiled and then I met his eyes for the first time.

They were clear and brilliant green.  He handed me the second bag and spoke again.  “I think Raven would prefer red potatoes.  These are some really good red potatoes.”

I was speechless.   I took that bag and thanked him.  He smiled again and his emerald eyes danced with mirth and a little mischief.  Looking to regain my footing I fell back to my upbringing.  I thanked him again and asked his name.

He retreated to his truck cab and smiled one last time.  He looked across at me through the open passenger window.  “You can just call me the pedaling man,” and he drove away. 

I took me a full minute to recover.  My seventh summer in Atlanta rushed back to my mind.  Dinner that night was wonderful and we were able to welcome Raven home with love and a proper feast.

I cannot say exactly what happened that day but I know that it was beyond the natural.  I know that God intervened to help remember why I was cooking the meal.  He reminded me what generosity with food and drink can do for others.

Cooking for others brings me joy.  Generosity frees me.  Simple acts of kindness are powerful weapon.  The story is true.  I will leave the interpretation of it to you Dear Reader.  Please share your thoughts with me.     

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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14 May 2015

A Little Self Promotion if You Please

Greetings Dear Reader,

One of my commitments this year as a writer it to increase my self-promotion.  I do not mean that I wish to promote myself but rather to try and market my writing a little better.  This blog is primarily a public sharing of my journey of faith. 

A secondary purpose is to make others aware of the writer that exists.  I know Dear Reader that your life is full of many choices and responsibilities.   If you benefit at all from my scribblings here I would ask a small favor.

The first thing you could do to help is click through to the actual blog page when you read.  It would help me better gauge my audience.  Once there comments and questions are always welcome.   

f you could share, re-post, or forward my blog to others that would be helpful as well.  I do not wish to create a burden for you.  I have made a commitment to promote my work.  This is a small piece of that endeavor.  Thank you Dear Reader.  I cherish your time more than I can express.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)