19 August 2019

On the Willows ~ Living on a Tree

Greetings Dear Reader,

“We hung up our lives”

In Babylon, their lives were already forfeit.  They were slaves who lived and died at the whim of a foreign king.  Their lives were not their own.  We somehow think that our lives belong to us. 

On the one hand, we have free will.  We are given the freedom to choose how our lives unfold and what we do with each day; each moment.  Our responses to the circumstances of the day are ours to wield.  We have the freedom to choose if we follow Christ in the moment or not.  We are asked to follow but the choice is always ours.

On the other hand, whether we accept it or not, we belong to God.  The Father who created us has asked that we give our lives back to him.  His Son has asked that we die to our own will, take up the cross, and follow him.  In this, we also have a choice but our lives are eventually forfeit either way. 

We live at the pleasure, even the continual sustenance of the Father.  We do not have the power to add a moment to our lives.  The only thing over which I truly have control is my choice to follow Christ.  In following him I too must hang my life on a tree.  I too must agree with Paul in saying, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

There it is again.  The call to follow is based on the love of Christ.  The foundation of everything is love. The small word becomes the narrow way.  The journey home begins on the tree and the path is the narrow one of love for the Father and every human no matter the circumstances.

Once we reach the place where we are willing to hang our lives on the tree, the cross, Dear Reader, we do become free.  We are free to live in Christ and build each moment into one where are alive in him.  Building life out of death is what the entire path of redemption is about.  The journey home is a moment by moment trading of a life that is built on death for one that will never die.  The moments that matter are the ones where we follow the Son with all our hearts in that moment.

I must hang up my life on the tree.  It is where I will live and move and have my being.  You are always welcome to walk with me there, Dear Reader.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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18 August 2019

On the Willows ~ The Willow Tree


Greetings Dear Reader,

“On the Willows there...”

When I think of willow trees, I think of the two that grew by the Flint River where an old broken mill lay in repose after its demise.  I had a few adventures there with my Grandfather.  You may read about one of them in Sheetrock On the Road.  It was one of his favorite fishing holes and perfect for swimming.

When we were waiting for trout and bream to realize that they were there to be caught he would speculate about the willow trees.  He explained that they were called weeping willows because of the way the rain seemed to be tears as it flowed down their leaves and branches.  We were caught in a summer storm once and took cover that proved quite adequate under one of them. 

I could see the tears flowing off of the branches and perhaps for the first time associated sorrow with the sacrifice of Jesus for our reclamation.  My Grandfather explained how the willow was used for many things in the Middle East during the captivity in Babylon.  Its wood is strong but also pliable.  It can be made into furniture and fiber.  He told me of buildings, baskets, and boats he had seen made of willow.

Then he told me of the passage in the Psalms and how the people would take shelter from the sun and rain under the willow.  He called it God’s umbrella.  He taught how the tree is useful for shade, that it filters water for the stream, and that its roots produce shelter for fish.  He helped me imagine people held captive resting briefly from the sun.

The willow tree is a beautiful creation and as we ponder this song, we may see the contrast of beauty and sorrow that fills those who are separated to what is vital to us all.  There is a willow tree nearby where I go to pray for my children.  It is along the river where my Sons were baptized.  It is a place of joy and sorrow for me.  It also brings to mind another Psalm.

Psalm 1:1-3 
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law. day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither; whatever they do prospers.

If I am to follow Christ well, I must understand the willow before I can understand the sorrow.  I must join the things that hinder my following and I must remember that I am not at home.  Perhaps, Dear Reader, we can rest under the willow for a bit and sort out the earworm of this song if we keep trying.  For now, the lesson of its shelter and beauty are a comfort to me that I will gladly share with you.  It is enough for this moment.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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17 August 2019

On the Willows ~ The Verse


Greetings Dear Reader,

The song I ponder is from Godspell but the origin of the words is the Psalms.  It would be inappropriate to consider the song in-depth without honoring the verses from which it came.  Here is the text, not in my favorite translation of it but the one most suitable for common consumption.  There is no change in meaning between the translations but I prefer my Psalms in King James English where many do not.

Psalm 137: 1 - 6 (NASB)
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.  Upon the willows in the midst of it, we hung our lyres.  For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, “sing us one of the songs of Zion.”  How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?  If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.

The background of this song is the time during which the people of Israel were held captive in Babylon.  Jerusalem lay barren and razed.  The temple is in ruin.  The worships songs were no longer sung as their worship was forbidden.  Then, they were asked to sing the Lord’s songs in a place not sanctified to him.  The Psalm is primarily attributed to Jeremiah the prophet in both Rabbinical literature and the Septuagint.  The Psalm is also dedicated to David.

What catches my focus is the pain it must have caused people of faith to be required to sing songs of the Lord in a place where worshiping him was forbidden. I will draw a contemporary parallel to that a bit further down the path.  I seem memes that mock my faith too often.  It does not anger me.  It hurts.  A nation that has “in God we trust” on its currency only uses his name as an expletive.  I realize that everyone does not share my faith and I do not dismiss or hate anyone who disagrees with me.  I only wish that we still had the character to respect each other. 

I often feel that I sing the Lord’s songs and try to write his stories in a strange land.  I also do not want to forget that every place belongs to the Father and that I can, therefore, feel at home with him in any place.  I also wish, Dear Reader, to never forget what once was and will be again.

I do not mean Jerusalem.  I wish that city only peace.  I consider rather the day when Mount Zion will again be the city of the Great King.  I long for it to be today, now, this instant.  I also long for all things to be good again as when they were new.  This longing is not the whole answer to my current song loop, but it is a piece of it.  I weep at times for the state of our world and the many things we have lost along the way.  Then I am reminded that it will not always be thus.  I will reach the city or the King will come for me.  We will not have to believe.  We will see.  This is not the answer but it is part of what will get me there.  Shall we keep walking Dear Reader?  Here is a song to see us a bit further down the road.

Waters of Babylon – Don McClean

By the waters,
The waters,
Of Babylon.
We lay down and wept,
And wept, For thee Zion.
We remember thee
Remember thee
Remember thee
Zion.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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16 August 2019

On the Willows ~ Opening Thoughts


Greetings Dear Reader,

We have journeyed through songs stuck in my head before.  Since I posted the song On the Willows from Godspell it has been running through my mind bumping against the other flotsam and jetsam there.  It is a good song and has been especially strong during my morning prayer time.  I have learned not to ignore the songs stuck on repeat in my internal MP3 player.

Another aspect of this is that the entire story that Godspell tries to tell relative to community and Christ is also a sub-current in my thoughts.  One of the ways that I raise the purpose of song loops from the basement of my brain is to walk through it here.  This will be my intent over the next few days. 

For those of you who find Godspell offensive, please try to look past the costumes and presentation of the tale.  Perhaps the words and music have something for everyone.  They always have for me.  I watched this film over and over again when it first premiered.  One of my activities in high school was being an AV guy.  We showed this film three times a day for a week during student free time.  I was the guy showing it during the last part of the school day.

I had just found my faith in Christ and was making the journey from new faith to faith formation during this time.  This song was beautiful and deep to my young mind and heart.  I invite you to walk through it with me Dear Reader as I attempt to discern why it has surfaced so vibrantly in my thinking over the last couple of weeks.  As always, I find joy in you sharing your thoughts and questions as well.

On the Willows – Steven Schwartz - Godspell

On the willows, there,
We hung up our lives,
For our captors there,
Required,
Of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth.
On the willows, there,
We hung up our lyres,
For our captors there,
Required,
Of us songs,
And our tormentor's mirth.
Saying,
Sing us one,
Of the songs of Zion,
Sing us one,
Of the songs of Zion
But how can we sing,
Sing the Lord's song,
In a foreign land?
On the willows, there,
We hung up our lives.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Contacts for Aramis Thorn:
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15 August 2019

Clear Vinyl Slipcovers ~ Closing Thoughts


Greetings Dear Reader,

If we are honest, we all have areas where we have put clear vinyl slipcovers on our faith.  We have even relegated Jesus to a plastic existence in some ways.  It is not always intentional or even conscious.  We follow the other sheep into some false shiny practice that is not what represents the heart of the Father or the leading of the Son.

Each day we choose how we are going to view our faith.  We also choose how we are going to follow Christ and apply that faith.  We decide in each moment who we are going to be in response to events unfolding around us.  We choose our responses or reactions based on how we have structured our view of faith and following. 

Clear vinyl slipcovers are a transference of faith.  When we use them, we put our faith in plastic to protect our furniture and express faith that something will happen to damage that furniture.  We put a hedge around the actual upholstery that prevents us from enjoying the comfort and purpose of that covering.  Too often, Dear Reader, we transfer our faith in Christ to some practice or program that is a step away from faith in Christ.

We take up causes, adopt sectarian values, and put up barriers so that we are more comfortable with God.  Too often this means we have shrink-wrapped our faith into something more palatable and less demanding.  I know there are places where I do this.  I cannot distill faith and following Christ down to vinyl dolls and plastic dashboard ornaments.  The talismans are only as useful as their power to have faith in the one to whom they point.  Whether it be overzealous spiritualism or dead orthodoxy, there is not a box that can contain who Jesus is.

In the same way, I cannot frame my faith in a way that makes the practices the path.  The only way to really follow Christ is to do so with all my heart in every moment.  That sounds so simple but it is also very challenging.  If I am to live this way, most of my presuppositions and preferences are subject to the will and guidance of the Spirit.  Nothing is safe when everything is given over to Christ.  He is free to deal with us as he wishes and he always wishes to do so in love.  I must follow in faith and love, with the assurance that neither of us will shrink-wrap the other and that love is my safety.  I hope you keep walking with me Dear Reader until we realize that we do not need slipcovers to be comfortable following Christ home.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Contacts for Aramis Thorn:
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14 August 2019

Clear Vinyl Slipcovers ~ Grandma’s House


Greetings Dear Reader,

I remember that one of my friends growing up hated going to his grandma’s house.  His name was Rusty and we got up to some trouble when I was in primary school.  He hated going there because he had to be polite, proper, and quiet all the time. She called him Russel and insisted that he not do anything to disrupt the quiet of her home.  Asking that of Rusty was simply a bad idea.  It was not who he was created to be at age seven.  I stayed at her house with him once.  All of her furniture, her understanding of Jesus, and her entire life had clear vinyl slipcovers.

So often, I feel that we treat people new to the faith this way.  We offer them a life in Christ with hope and freedom.  Then, when they come in, we show them that access to the Father is a room filled with slip vinyl slipcovers.  We insist that they sit, stand, kneel, worship and live the way we think is best.  We put up the rules of the room and explain that this is the “right” way to do things.

When I first came back to this small Southern town, I was visiting churches to decide which one to attend.  The first one I chose greeted me warmly and within moments a deacon asked me if I need to find a place to get my hair cut.  He had no idea of the level of my faith or why I was searching for a church.  His concern was the clear vinyl slipcover of my hair length.

When we put our preferences ahead of the love and grace of Christ, it is like a visit to that stern Grandma’s house.  We place our practices, wants, and ways ahead of the Gospel.  We will let anyone in as long as they show promise that they will bend to our ways and become like us. 

It is not what the Gospel is.  The Gospel is a transformation of our inner self to learn to love everyone where they are and allow Jesus to transform them into who he wishes them to be.  We make that inaccessible when we cover the Gospel in plastic rules designed to make us feel comfortable about the things we still need to change in our hearts.  It gives us space where we can ignore the things that make us less holy than we should be as Christ-followers.  We accomplish this through the clear vinyl slipcovers of our own practices and demands relative to the ills of the world around us.

We are not like them so we are better.  That is some slippery vinyl that becomes yellowed and cloudy over time.  It cracks and no longer protects the beauty we sought to sustain.  We cannot create a space that shuts out the world and calls it holy ground.  We will seal in our own failings and foibles and the seal then becomes a breeding ground for pushing others away.  It becomes the grandma’s house that no one wishes to visit.  Then we wonder why others no longer see that beauty that once was there but we no longer remember.  We become so used to our slipcovers Dear Reader that we forgot what the comfort of plush fabric feels like when we are weary and need to rest. 

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Contacts for Aramis Thorn:
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13 August 2019

Clear Vinyl Slipcovers ~ Selling Salvation


Greetings Dear Reader,

“And the three men I admire most, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died.”  (Don McClean – American Pie)  I once heard Casey Kasem do a walkthrough of this song and he explained that this line refers to the commercialization of the church in America.  I must agree that there is very much about American Christianity that is more commercial than compassion.

The song I included earlier in this series also has a poignant line.  “We’ve turned a passion for the lost into the business of saving souls.”  (Steve Camp)  I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying to sell salvation and began to live out the Gospel in every aspect of our lives.  Would our churches fail if we stopped passing the offering plate and told people to give as their hearts were guided?

We could do many things to divest our churches and our lives of commercialism and the business of Christianity.  I remember when the Jesus music movement was getting rolling and there was a concept that the music was to be shared freely.  Some musicians sold concert tickets for whatever the purchaser could afford.  If I want to go see Casting Crowns at the venue closest to me, I can pay anywhere from $38 to $648.  I am not picking on Casting Crowns.  I truly like most of their music.

What does shock me is that someone has already purchased some of the tickets in the $648 block.  I suppose it should not but it does.  You see, I wonder how much different the concert is if we see it as the advertised “amazing worship experience” from the $38 seat.  I ponder if Jesus was less impactful on the members of the five-thousand he fed who were farthest back when the loaves and fishes were handed out.

So much of the church these days is about the package.  The worship or hymns are the build-up to the offering.  Giving that is supposed to be done in secret is instead a show for the ushers and the people on either side.  Suggestions for programs are almost always measured out by their cost instead of the need.  The core of faith leaders in our nation seems to consider the bottom line before moving in faith. 

Before I get too far down the path of “the church”, we need to remember that the church only does what its members allow it to do.  We are the church and we need to recall that it is a reflection of who we are.  We cannot relegate responsibility for keeping commercialism out of following Christ to an entity.  We must keep it out of our lives.  If we do not then what we follow is something in a package and not the living Christ.

I must be vigilant not to allow the package to be more important than the practice.  It is never a matter of money, format, programs, or packaging.  It is always about my heart and mind belonging solely to Jesus.  That, Dear Reader, is where we can meet and travel together.  If we are not selling salvation but instead giving love and grace to everyone freely, we will not have to advertise.  People flock to where they get their needs met.  “That’s the way that it works.  That’s the way it must be.  You’ve got to let his blood stain you if you want to get free.”  (Waterdeep)

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Contacts for Aramis Thorn:
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12 August 2019

Clear Vinyl Slipcovers ~ Discount Deliverance


Greetings Dear Reader,

In the sale aisle next to our vinyl Buddy Christ you can find that dashboard plastic Jesus you have heard about.  The song starts like this, “I don't care if it rains or freezes as long as I've got my plastic Jesus ridin' on the dashboard of my car.”  The idea of a three-inch piece of plastic being protective is not simply a form of idolatry.

There is something worse at work here.  Jesus is not a talisman to ward off danger and trouble.  He does promise to be with us and protect us from evil.  He does not promise that we will never have trouble.  He does not give us the idea that we are free from danger just because we follow him.  In fact, he asks us to take up our cross and follow him.

When we use symbols and phrases instead of faith to follow Christ, we are not following Christ.  It does not matter how many pictures, crosses, and talismans you have.  If I do not spend every moment acting in faith, that faithless moment is a failed moment.  I am not condemned because of it due to grace and mercy.  It all begins and ends with the real Jesus.  It is a personal interaction between you and his love for you.  It is following daily in faith.

I am not saying that it is wrong to have a statuette of Jesus on one’s dashboard.  I am saying that the reason why matters.  My Grandfather had one in his ’57 Chevy.  Every time he started the car he would pray, “Dear Jesus, please allow me to drive in a way that honors you and hinders no one else.”  He viewed that plastic Jesus as a reminder of his accountability to drive by faith in the protection of grace and mercy from God. 

In a world where the cross has become jewelry and our symbols fade into the background when things are hard, I have to remember that talismans and symbols are not wrong.  They must, however, gain their power only in that they remind us to have faith in that moment.  They must draw me back to the real and living Jesus.  They must move me beyond the image to the reality that Jesus is there to love and guide in every moment that I allow it.  That, Dear Reader, is a good reason that is more than a clear vinyl slipcover. It is the real faith that leads us on the journey home no matter what the weather is.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Contacts for Aramis Thorn:
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11 August 2019

Clear Vinyl Slipcovers ~ Buddy Christ


Greetings Dear Reader,

I would like to consider a word in context for a bit.  The word is Jesus.  We hear often that this word is unwelcome in our culture.   That is not quite true.  One may say Jesus all he or she wishes as long as it is an expletive or if one is complaining about Christians.  If, however, I wish to speak to you about Jesus, the Son of God, I am somehow being improper.

That alone is a difficulty.  Jesus is a name you will have to deal with in the latter context eventually whether you wish it or not.  That is not my focus here.  Since we are discussing context, I wish to remain in the context of our primary topic; clear vinyl slipcovers.  You see, we have put Jesus into a clear vinyl slipcover.  Not just theologically but socially, we have defined Jesus in our culture.  We do not all define him the same but I am concerned with some of the definitions his follower put on him. 

The entire idea of reaching a definitive understanding of who Jesus is boggles my mind.  I may be able to articulate some of my understanding of who Jesus is.  That articulation, however, is limited to my ability to express things as a flawed human.  Let us consider a few of the ways in which we have turned Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God into Buddy Christ.

In some churches, Jesus is nothing more than the Djinn from Aladdin’s Lamp.  Prayer is our lamp rubbing and wish-making.  We think we can name it and claim it and Jesus is our all providing Amazon minus the pay button.  Instead of obeying the command for God to provide all of our needs we use him as the granter of all our wants and then blame him when we do not get it.

Another aspect of our Buddy Christ treatment of Jesus is that he is more like a vinyl doll in a box to us.  He sits in church waiting for us to show up and sacrifice a couple of hours of our weekend to visit him.  We sing and dance, telling all our fellow believers that we love him and he loves us.  We shout amen and waver our hands.  Then we curse at the guy in the parking lot who cuts us off and argue with those in our car over where to go for lunch.  To some of us, Buddy Christ is nothing more than the smiling, thumbs up image of our idolatrous dogma.  We think we are the ones who sacrifice something by showing up at the Jesus museum we call church.

We have placed Jesus in some cases into the role of being too human.  We must never forget that he is also completely and definitively God, the Creator.  Although this is something else I struggle to comprehend, Jesus is completely human and completely divine all at once.  We cannot contain him in the clear vinyl slipcover of our casual uses of him.  That is the true definition of taking the name of God in vain.  That is the act of using God for our own purposes Dear Reader. 

None of the things I have said are wrong in the proper context.  It is good to ask Jesus to provide for our needs.  It is awesome to stand together, shout, dance, sing, and praise.  All of these things must be in the context of recognizing that we are interacting with the one who sacrificed all for us because he would rather die than live without us.  It is even OK to picture Jesus smiling and giving us a thumbs up like the vinyl Buddy Christ doll on occasion.  We can do that in those moments when for an instant we grasp the depth of his love for us and everyone else and employ that love in faith and following.  In those rare moments, he is both God and our buddy, but there is no vinyl to any of it. 

What I must do is treat Jesus like the friend he truly is.  I must see that he is with me in every moment loving, supporting, correcting, and guiding me.  He is constantly there to ask that I love him and my fellow travelers with all that I am.  In the moments where I succeed I do not need a thumbs up because the act of following provides its own reassurance.


Waking up to a very different world
We got mud on our flag before it’s even been unfurled
Our heroes have fallen and a leader is hard to find
The clock is running out and we’re casting our pearls before swine

There’s a whole lot more than preaching to the choir
Kneeling at the altar and paying our tithe
We’ve been treating God like he’s happiness for hire
We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds

Isn’t it a sin how his name gets thrown around
We pat God on the back like a buddy from out of town
We thank “the man upstairs” for the things people praise us for
We give God the glory but we’re happy to take the award

There’s a whole lot more than raising lots of money
Building our churches and spreading our faith
If faith is just the dice you roll to get lucky
We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds

There are precious things of God
And we must guard them with our lives
Like an unborn baby’s dreams
Like a husband love his wife

May the hope of his returning
May it glorify our faith
As we hold onto his holy word
May the chaff be blown away

Can we ever live up to the things we say we believe
Because the world is watching looking for some honesty
Are we riding down a freeway instead of a narrow road
We turned the passion for the lost into the business of saving souls

There’s a whole lot more than preaching to the choir
Kneeling at the altar and paying our tithe
We’ve been treating God like he’s happiness for hire
We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds

There’s a whole lot more than raising lots of money
Building our churches and spread
If faith is just the dice you roll to get lucky
We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds.

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Contacts for Aramis Thorn:
Support Page on Patreon: www.patreon.com/aramisthorn
Novels on Amazon           
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10 August 2019

Clear Vinyl Slipcovers ~ Impenetrable Barrier


Greetings Dear Reader,

There are times when an impenetrable barrier is desired.  Things such as engine seals and protective clothing for laboratory work are examples of barriers we want to be impenetrable.  There are also barriers that we create that are unnecessary and even dangerous when misused. 

One of the things we do is we put the Word of God, the Bible into a box and systematize our theology as if we can measure and define the borders of how God interacts with us.  Further, we think we can define who God is and build our system of belief to order the way he guides us.  What we do instead is create barriers to understanding the Father that do not limit him but limit our understanding of him.

We can see an example of this in the Talmud, where there are rules to keep us from accidentally violating the laws of the Torah.  Please understand that I intend no disrespect here.  Instead, I am giving an example.  The Talmud is composed of the Mishnah and the Gemara.  The Mishnah is a rabbinical commentary on the Torah, the Law of Moses.  The Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah.  In effect, there exists a hedge around the Law and a hedge around the hedge to keep one from violating the Law. 

We have done the same thing in the modern era with our systematized theology.  We learn about the many areas of theology and study what things mean in the Bible.  The danger is that we often do so without learning who God is and seeing the basic foundation upon which all of it is built. 

It is not that systematic theology is bad.  Rather, it is secondary by far to knowing the Father and following Christ in love and faith.  We need to learn about the one we follow and his basis for all he asks of us.  The foundation is love.  Jesus said that the Law and the Prophets are built on loving the Father and loving each other.  His reference here is to the very thing that the Talmud did to the Law.  It placed the law of love in a clear vinyl slipcover made of rules that were devoid of love, grace, and kindness. 

We have done the same thing with our modern theology and driven people away from faith because we chose systematized law over love and liberty.  We demand that people see the Father in the image we have distilled and faith becomes idolatry.  The thing, Dear Reader is to seek the Father with all our hearts.  It is to see that he loves us and is moving all of creation to show us that love.  The only impenetrable barrier was our own failings and he found a way through them with the atonement of the Son.  Jesus died for the very purpose of creating a way through the hedges to the Father.  This was done so that we could know him in the now.

Know You in the Now – Michael Card

Echo of history
A light so many strain to see
The One we talk so much about
But rarely ever live it out

Could You tell me why
Was it for this You came and died
A once a week observance
When we coldly mouth Your words

Lord I long to see
Your presence in reality
But I don't know how
Let me know You in the now

We should confess
We lose You in our busyness
We've made You in our image
So our faith's idolatry

Lord, deliver me
Break my heart so I can see
All the ways You dwell in us
That You're alive in me

Lord I long to see
Your presence in reality
But I don't know how
Let me know You in the now

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 homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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