Saturday, October 28, 2017

O Love That Will Not Let Me

                                                                                    
I traveled to up Lawrenceville, Georgia for my cousin Martina's funeral this past weekend. It was odd how I ended up going. My sister, Mary Nell, was planning a trip to Tampa for a high school reunion and had made plans to join us for lunch on Saturday. And then she called to say she was cancelling to be with a branch of the McLauchlin clan. My cousin Martina had been diagnosed with cancer in early September, and now on October 21st, she was being laid to rest.

Martina on the left
I thought  I needed to be there too. Only now, at my age and physical condition, I hesitated to put myself through the strain of the trip to be at the home-going of a relative I had not spent much time with since we were both children.

I felt obliged. But, not really. Martina was gone, but still... I felt I 'owed it to her' to be there.She had twice in the past few years asked me to call or visit her. "Yes, yes, I will," but then...you know how it is..

I see now that the call to come honor her passing was a calling of the Spirit. I did not know then just how truly it was - a love that will not let me go.

     O Love that will not let me go,
     I rest my weary soul in thee;
     I give thee back the life I owe,
     That in thine ocean depths its flow
     May richer, fuller be. *
     

The eulogy for Martina was standing room only. When pastor Mincey first spoke the word 'agape' he seemed to be routinely paying respect to a life well lived. Martina's life had surely touched many.  But as speaker followed speaker, I began to feel the much-more-ness of the word, Agape. My cousin's life had been a torch of love. When the music minister from her Methodist Church sang "And the Joy we share as we tarry there..." my reserve began to melt. She had taken up the mantle of love that had been passed down from my grandmother, and now in passing, she was giving evidence of a life so lived as to make sure her flickering torch, though now returned to the Light that had given it, would also fall on us.

     O Light that followest all my way,
     I  yield my flickering torch to thee;
     My heart restores its borrowed ray
     That in thy sunshine's blaze its day,
     May brighter, fairer be. 

I had not felt the glow of that agape for many years.

My grandmother had died while I was in Viet Nam. She had passed just before Thanksgiving in 1969. The Tom Green County, my ship, took a rocket in the mess decks sometime after Christmas and I did not hear of her death until we limped back to Yokosuka in mid-January. When my wife Anne told me that she was gone, there was little room for more grief. I stuffed the pain inside, along with the chaos of combat, where it would rest for nine more years.

      O joy, that sleekest me through pain,
      I dare not close my heart to thee,
      I chase the rainbow through the rain
      And feel the promise is not vain,
      That morn will tearless be.

Then in December 1977, my marriage fell apart. My wife left me and took the children. I was devastated - beyond words. My sister invited me to spend Christmas with her in Atlanta. There I was closer to the world in which Celia Agnes (Carney) McLauchlin had lived and loved. It always had seemed that her presence pervaded all of Atlanta.

There in my sister's kitchen I sat late one night. After midnight, I remember, it seems, I was thinking of her. The love she had for all her grandchildren. It was a family joke. Once we figured it out we all could laugh and agree, "She loved me the most."

When the losses finally hit me, I cried out, "God, if there is a God help me."  It was then that I first saw the cross and that 'love that will not let me go' poured out. And I sobbed and sobbed. I saw the cross as I have pictured it here, a neon encircled globe with the whole truth standing as a green neon Cross on top of that world.. So that was it. I had fled from Jesus and the Cross. My grandmother's love had brought me back.

      O Cross that liftest up my head,
      I dare not ask to fly from thee;
      I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
      And from the ground there 

           blossoms red
      Life that shall endless be.


Thank you cousin Martina for "passing it on." Thank you grandmother Mac. And thanks to all those who in their own day surrendered to those yet to come, a flickering and now blazing torch - a love that will not let us go.


Listen to the song. Sung by Chris Rice 
 




Thursday, October 15, 2015

All About Nothing

     I went down to the 3333 Club. I wanted to see if anyone there could tell me about nothing. I mean 'nothing.'
    Bill W. had said that when he returned to the hospital for the last time, he surrendered himself to God as he then understood Him, "to do with me as He would...and...I admitted for the first time that of myself, I was nothing.
    'Nothing.' I had been in AA for 34 years and had not seen that,  I mean really seen that. I wanted to know if anyone else had ever heard anyone talk about nothing.
   'Nothing.'
    I have only recently learned just how much people do not want to talk about it.
    People only want to talk about something.
    Plato had the Stranger share that the Sophists insisted that the word should not be uttered. The dirty little secret was that being and nothing are the same thing. Shh h ... "Being" and "Nothing" are the same thing.
   And 'nothing,' it just slips off the lip like it is something and one has no idea just what has been said.
"Nothing' has been said, although it seemed to be something.
   That's the way it is with 'nothing,' or to show it due respect, "the nothing."
   So after the meeting I met Vince for the first time.
   And we talked about nothing, not for long, mind you. But long enough to get to the subject of creating a sober world.
   We create it out of nothing. That's what we have when we get rid of our selves.
   At least I think that is what Bill had in mind when he said that he was nothing.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Creation of Dissatisfaction and the All-Consuming Self



     A BBC documentary authored by Adam Clark which aired in March and April of 2002, describes how Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew invented the public relations industry and in the 1920’s started manipulating the American people to buy things they did not need in order to keep American industry rolling after the end of WWI. It was the beginning of the American enterprise of the creation of dissatisfaction.
   After WWII, Bernays was called on to manipulate public opinion in the face of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear destruction. Through his work, the American people have been manipulated into no longer being free people, but have become merely consumers. Consumers of whatever those who manipulate them want them to consume - drugs,sex, and all sorts of stupid world views.
    Anna Freud, Sigmund’s youngest daughter led the psychoanalytic movement. She considered people to be dangerously irrational but could be analyzed and taught to control their irrational emotions. Thus began a period where the cultural elite in the arts, education and government came under the sway of the psychoanalytic movement.
   The idea was to help create a stable democratic character, self.
   The psycho-therapeutic process, based on Freud’s rejection of the idea of God, sought to establish the self nature on purely rational processes. In doing so the leaders of this movement thought they were being rational. We are now a living with a societal breakdown that is the direct result of their thinking.
   See the whole 4-hour documentary here: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/
  
   At the same time, Alcoholics Anonymous was teaching that in order to stay quit from drinking, the alcoholic had to get rid of self.  AA’s experience was that insight into self did not lead to permanent sobriety. What was needed was the destruction of self-centeredness.  People were not to be analyzed, but in working with a mentor (sponsor) they would tell the truth about their fears, shame, failures and harm done to others and thereby humble the self nature. This process could be deepened over time and lead to a deeply God-centered (spiritual) life free of the cultures of consumption and self-analysis.
   You can join us in Creating a Sober World by reading the book Absolutely Sober and contacting us at soberworld@soberworld.comsoberworld@soberworld.com  also see Creating a Sober World.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

How Christians Misunderstand the Cross


     The central focus of time, eternity and the Christian faith is the Cross of Calvary. Failure to understand the Cross has brought Western Christendom to a place of impotence.
     Proper understanding will lead to revival, recovery and victory.
     For an example of this misunderstanding of the Cross, I take a passage from The Cross of Christ by Dr. John Stott. Father Stott, an ordained minister in the  Church of England and a leader of the world-wide Christian Evangelical movement, was described by Time Magazine shortly before his death in 2011, as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.

   Here is what this respected Christian and world leader had to say about the Cross:
   “Granted this fundamental fact about all who are in Christ, namely that we have died and risen with him so that our old life of sin, guilt and shame has been terminated and an entirely new life of holiness, forgiveness and freedom has begun, what is our attitude to be? Because our new self, though redeemed, is still fallen, a double attitude will be necessary, namely self–denial and self affirmation, both illumined by the cross.”[1]


     It does not require a degree in theology to understand, and I say this with all due respect, that the plain English language meaning of this paragraph is absurd on its face. It is the promulgation of just such a confused view of the Cross that has led the Western Church to the verge of defeat.

     Let us take deeper look at this paragraph
            1. The first sentence states that the fundamental fact is that all who are in Christ are dead, “we have died” and we are risen with him.“Our old life of sin, guilt and shame has been terminated…an entirely new life of holiness, forgiveness and freedom has begun…” These declarations by Rev. Stott are a bedrock re-statement of the God’s revealed truth — the message of the New Testament, with which we heartily agree.
            2. What follows is not a logical conclusion to draw from the facts previously presented:

            a. “…what is to be the attitude to our new self?”
                 The assumption that Fr. Stott is making here is that the Christian  has a new self; but what has already been stated is that this old nature, the sinner the old self is dead.  Scripture does not support the idea that we are given a new self. The Apostle Paul says, “I have been crucified with      Christ; nevertheless, I live, yet not I. Christ lives in me…” Galatians 2:20 KJV) (“…it is no longer I who live,” NKJV)
                 We have died with Christ, yet we are miraculously and marvelously alive in Him; yet we no longer live as ego, (Greek: yet not I – yet not ego - ouke'ti egoo'). This ego-less living is never perfected, but it is given to us by grace as we stand in our new position, daily reckoning ourselves      to be dead. “I die daily.” 1 Cor 15:31 KJV
           
            b. Dr. Stott adds, “Because our new self, though redeemed is still  fallen… 
                Now, if this is true (and many Christian leaders agree with Rev. Stott’s teaching on this) then the Christian religion is a fraud and a complete lie. For, if the work of the Christ on the Cross does not give us real redemption — real victory over sin and self, and does not save us from our         fallen   estate, then it is worthless and deserves to be rejected by all rational people.
 
            c. Then Dr. Stott asserts that the way we are to maintain our salvation is by “namely self-denial and self affirmation….”
               A true understanding of the work of the Cross first puts us under conviction and then brings us to repentance. There we examine ourselves and confess all sin to God and affirm that it has been nailed to the Cross; we daily reckon ourselves to be dead and affirm that we have been crucified with Christ.
            The Apostle Paul scolded the Galatians for trying to grow in grace by self effort:
  
                You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.                         

             Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? 3 Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? 4 Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! Galatians 3:1-4 [2]

            3.  Dr. Stott is correct in one respect. There is a doubleness that has to be considered in the sanctified life. However, it is not that we need to have a “double attitude.” We need to remember that there are not two minds at   issue here, but there are two bodies.
                       
             So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. NKJV 1 Cor 15:42-4

    Jesus, though his regenerating word, sows in us from above a new resurrection body to replace the one that died in the garden. He replaces our self, the disembodied voice that says “I doubt, therefore I am”[3] with the voice of the Holy Spirit which now leads us into all truth. Though we remain on earth for a period of time after our conversion, our inner man — our resurrected body (spirit man) — is firmly seated in heavenly places[4], simply waiting for God to end our sojourn on earth.

     Low Church Anglicans, meeting with other denominational leaders at Keswick England starting in 1875[5], developed a teaching which emphasized the believer’s death, burial and resurrection with Jesus by focusing on the 6th Chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. The conference was led by such great Anglican evangelicals as Rev. T.D. Harford-Battersby, Rev. Evan Hopkins, Prebendary H. Webb-Peploe, Rev. Charles Fox, Rev, Handley C.G. Moule – Presbyterians George H.C. Macgregor, and J. Elder Cumming, Dutch Reformed Minister Andrew Murray and Baptist F.B. Meyer.  The conferences were also attended by D.L. Moody and C.I. Schofield as well as missionaries J. Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael.
   These leaders who heard and carried the Keswick massage around the globe formed the foundation of American fundamentalism of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
   Jessie Penn-Lewis, a member of Evan Hopkins’ church and a student of the writings of Andrew Murray, became a fervent preacher of the message of the Cross. She was a vessel that the Lord used mightily in the first Pentecostal revival in Wales in 1904-05. Keswick teaching helped form the Pentecostal movement in the United States though the popularity of the Schofield Bible.
     Mrs. Penn-Lewis preached the message of the Cross at Keswick in 1908 and ‘changed’ a young Lutheran Pastor Frank N.D. Buchman who later went on to form the Oxford Group[6] in the 1930’s and led revivals around the world. His work led to the formation of A.A. which, at its core, was built upon the Keswick understanding of the necessity of getting rid of the self-centered life in order to have a life guided by God.
  •  ·        Simple but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. [7]

  •  ·        But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world           is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Gal 6:14  KJV



[1] The Cross of Christ, Stott, John R.W., IVP Books, Downers Grove, IL, USA, 2006, p. 271
[2] The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. We do not always agree with Peterson’s paraphrase, but on this one we say that he got it exactly right.
[3] Its first recorded words were, “I was naked and I hid myself.”
[4] Ephesians 2: 6
[5] So Great Salvation; Barabas, Steven; Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene OR
[6] Not to be confused with the Oxford Movement of the first half of the 19th century.
[7] Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Edition, NY, AA World Services, p. 14

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

American Capitalism Gone With A Whimper


I had read the book The Soviet Tragedy - A History of Socialism in Russian, 1917-1991 a few years ago and just happened to pick it up again this weekend. It chronicled the events and political and philosophical developments leading up to the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution and traced the tragic unfolding of a system based on an insane idea until it suddenly collapsed of its own immorality in 1991. I was very much impressed by the similarities between the forces and circumstances that shaped events of that day and forces at work in America today. 
   Since November 6, it has surely felt like the bolsheviks have taken over America. Then some one sent me this article appearing in the English edition of Pravda (Russian on-line newspaper). The sender had asked "Why can a Russian newspaper print the following yet the American media can't/won't see it?"

American Capitalism Gone With A Whimper

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American descent into Marxism is happening with breathtaking speed, against the backdrop of a passive, hapless sheep, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas than the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a Burger King burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.

Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Weimar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, losses, and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?

These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties, and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more than a whimper to their masters.

Then came Barack Obama's command that GM's (General Motors) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of "pure" free markets, the American president now has the power, the self-given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions.

So it should be no surprise that the American president has followed this up with a "bold" move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantee of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK's Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, and so let our "wise" Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.


Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper...but a "free man" whimper.

So, should it be any surprise to discover that the Democratically controlled Congress of America is working on passing a new regulation that would give the American Treasury department the power to set "fair" maximum salaries, evaluate performance, and control how private companies give out pay raises and bonuses? Senator Barney Frank, a social pervert basking in his homosexuality (of course, amongst the modern, enlightened American societal norm, as well as that of the general West, homosexuality is not only not a looked down upon life choice, but is often praised as a virtue) and his Marxist enlightenment, has led this effort. He stresses that this only affects companies that receive government monies, but it is retroactive and taken to a logical extreme, this would include any company or industry that has ever received a tax break or incentive.

The Russian owners of American companies and industries should look thoughtfully at this and the option of closing their facilities down and fleeing the land of the Red as fast as possible. In other words, divest while there is still value left.

The proud American will go down into his slavery without a fight, beating his chest, and proclaiming to the world, how free he really is. The world will only snicker.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Dreams From Our Fathers

    On Sunday afternoon, yesterday, I drove through the rain bands of the approaching hurricane Isaac to Veterans 24 multiplex to see "2016, Obama's America"    With  patient sensitivity Dinesh D'Souza puts together a sketch of the pieces of Barack Obama's relationship with his Father, a citizen of Kenya who left his mother when little Barack was 4 years old. Barack Sr. was later was killed in a drunk driving accident. His mother, before her death, had painted an idealized picture of his dad, which he later painfully learned from his sister, was not true. The Sr. Obama was an alcoholic and a womanizer. By the time he learned the facts, Barack's course had already been set. He would develop a narrative which would enable him to put a  patch over the hole in his soul left by an absentee father. D'Souza suggests that all his life,  President Obama has been acting to reconcile the unrealized dreams from his father.*
    Back at home after the show, I found myself irritable with my wife, and in the wee hours of this morning I fell into a meditation about my own father.
   This 25 year old Lt. piloted a B-17 bomber on 26 missions over Nazi Germany during the early days of the 8th Air Force and survived to tell the tale. He was followed back to the states by a "war bride." The only trouble was that he already had a bride, my mother, who promptly divorced him. He left the Air Force after the war and then returned as a Master Sgt. In 1950, when I was 5 years old, his new wife shot him in the back.
   All this was hushed up, and throughout my life I sensed that my mother was fearful that I might turn out like him. I was too afraid to ask about him - it always seemed that it would be just too painful to face the truth. Even this morning, with the pain of Barack's search for his father fresh in my mind, I find myself seeing more clearly in my imagination the towns and villages of France passing below me as I prepare for the bomb run on Hamburg - the nightmares of my father. Will my plane be shot out of the sky? Will I be able to jump out of it before it bursts into flames and disintegrates in mid air?
   I see my 4 year old self sitting on my father’s lap — touching his three rows of colorful ribbons with his little finger. I know that it was in that long cherished memory of my closeness to my father that I acquired my fear of flying and the terrors of war and the murderous rage at being caught up in a relentless push to be sent aloft to face death at 30,000 feet.
   By age 23, I had my own khaki uniform and three rows of ribbons and my nightmares of Viet Nam. A subsequent divorce and separation from my own son completed the pattern  as I worked to reconcile my life to the dreams from my father.
   So, I now am creating a sober world. A context in which I dream the problems of the world can be solved. I look to the Cross where all my fears and doubts and terrors, and those of countless others have been nailed. There I am reunited with my father and we are one. This I share with a lost and dying world.

*A Biography by Barack Obama, “Dreams From My Father”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Common Problem


     We share a common peril. Whether we think of that peril as some sort of environmental crisis, overpopulation, looming financial collapse or moral breakdown of society, our problems, "we think are basically of our own making."
     This last quote was what Bill Wilson spoke concerning the problem of alcoholism. He went on to say: "... we are extreme examples of self-will run riot, although we don't think so... and we must be rid of this selfishness.  We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems to be no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid..."
   "This is the how and why of it, we had to quit playing God...."
    Creating a Sober World is a conversation about getting rid of self.  The book Absolutely Sober details the history, principles and practice of the destruction of self-centeredness and shows how anyone who is willing to be responsible, can powerfully engage in the conversation and become a World Changer, -- to 'Create a Sober World.'