Once a Teacher, Always…

Early on in my Christian experience, I found it quite easy to deliver what apparently were beneficial lessons to what used to be called adult Sunday School; my classes were at times as large as most churches. At one point, I even attempted a teen class given that I had spent 15 years in public schools and hoped to inspire a younger generation with my teachings. I will never forget asking one of the more transparent students in the class why so few students asked questions during my class? His response, “We are not used to passion.” I returned to adults, perhaps my calling.

I will admit that I get somewhat excited when I discover spiritual insights embedded in the Word. That excitement comes from both a sense of calling and awe at what can be revealed by the Holy Spirit from words previously read hundreds of times and then suddenly, made new and relevant.

Such was the case as I read through the third chapter of Joshua this week:

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” Joshua 3:15-17 NIV.

What caught my attention was the name of the town where the water first began to stop flowing: “Adam!” Was this somehow indicative of the insertion of mankind into the stream of life, and until that time all things somewhat different in nature? Was man, Adam, an afterthought and this whole thing of life as we know, an insertion upon this globe that far exceeds our understanding, a sphere inhabited by fallen angels alone? (You might need to read in Genesis to see this and perhaps Is 14:12, Lk 10:18, Rev 9:1)

Then the end point of this miraculous intervention was the Dead Sea, what’s with that? Does all of this wind down in some brief current from creation to death? As I get older that makes more sense, for not only do I seem to be wearing down, but I cannot convince myself that this globe ecologically, nor the nature of man is improving, though quality of life and longevity have always been our goal.

For those reading who by now, sense the writer to be inserting too much thought and significance into this brief text, just allow me to continue and then I welcome your comments.

The bright spot in the middle of this, is what was on the shoulders of the priests that made the water part, the ARK. If you read a couple posts back, you have some context for what I am planning to share.

This box, which back then stood for God’s covenant with mankind, seemed to bear a certain presence and power over creation itself. A wooden box (humanity) covered in pure gold (divinity), and in New Testament terms would be found in the person of The God-Man, Jesus Christ, and still later the Body of Christ, the Ecclesia made possible by His sacrifice. It is about Easter you know!

Here they were mid-stream in life, so to speak, and the Ark cuts across all limitations, establishes their footing and assures their victories. What a picture of the Body of Christ and its call to the world. She steps into the stream of life and the very limitations of death (water) submit to the children of God.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. (Heb.11:32-35 MIV).

I long for that in my life and in the life of the Church. And though we have for the most part abandoned much of God’s promises, a devotional moment like this seems to arouse the deep sense of promise held resident in my bones.

The only thing necessary was for leadership to shoulder the box, step into the river and stand firm on the “dry ground” that always awaits them mid-stream.

Press on!

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Confessions of an Evangelical

Each morning as my dear wife settles into her devotions, she all but disappears behind our bedroom door into a glorious place of rest and peace in Christ. Even our Grandpup, Coach, loves to settle in with her when present. Coach nestles into a position between her knees, covered over by the afghan that also serves to comfort and warm my wife’s body from the waist down. There, he lies motionless in that same peace, opening his eyes only minimally if I happen to enter their sacred space.

Often, with eyes full of tears, my wife will utter a weak “uhm!” as I enter the room on my way to the shower. This is often a sound of permission for me to ask just what she is reading. It is then that I hear such profound statements as this morning: “I am, not I wish.” This seemed a follow-up to a conversation yesterday morning that stopped me in my tracks as I was preparing to hurry out the door and into my daily hustle.

Yesterday she read, “The Name of Jesus broke the dominion of faith in disease and weakness and in its place gave a perfect healing and a new faith in health.” (from In His Presence by E.W. Kenyon). “A new faith in health!” She had just added to my revelation: the Name of Jesus and the demonstration of that authority, both through His suffering at Calvary and His resurrection, has broken the hold on our lives that unknowingly welcomes weakness and loss. We have become so accustomed to long term suffering and our eventual demise, that our faith in sickness and disease has become stronger than our faith in the promises that Christ has won for us!

I know that my readers are already entertaining emotional thoughts of loved ones who have suffered, along with the compromise we often settle for: the reality that suffering also brings new learning, therefore we must accept it. By grace, all things do work together for good, so when we find ourselves suffering, we go there first, though often that may be no more than an act of false humility or piety. Ouch!

I certainly have empathy for the suffering and have learned tremendous things by way of personal suffering. I even recall the words of Jesus, that “in this life we will have tribulation;” and of Peter also, “the trying of our faith being more precious than gold.” However, the trying of our faith and the diminishing of the same should be two different outcomes. Our experience and His promises are two contrasting concepts; my life journey has afforded too many wonders for me at this late season, to reconfigure His Word and works to accommodate my weak faith. That’s American Christianity.

Rather than receiving His word, which affords us health and provision (I’m not talking prosperity and greed here) until our days are finished on earth; yet, we seem only to “wish” for those things. Our faith in the likelihood of suffering and even disease is greater than our ability to live in a way that glorifies Christ. Our demonstration of a relationship with God is certainly the key to evangelism. James said, “I will show you my faith by my works” and later the phrase we all know, “…faith without works is dead;” the works of Christ. If being evangelical, simply means that we communicate a memorized doctrinal prescription for sin, yet fail to love others enough to pursue a life that demonstrates Christ, we may actually injure the communication of the gospel…the Good News.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence for things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is substance. If we say we have faith and lack the substance of His provision, how is our life different than that of other religious practices?

Being a Christ follower is to acknowledge that Christ appeared in the flesh; dwelt among us; demonstrated the potential and possibilities of a righteous relationship with God; paid the price for that righteousness; overcame the barriers of our brokenness (even death); and, has set us apart as the Children of God…that’s true Christianity.

Mind you, this is not elitism, but being compassionate lovers of God, sufficient to take hold of the faith, in full pursuit of a demonstration of life of Christ.

When God spoke to Moses, naming Himself as the I Am, there was a certain confidence transferred at this “burning bush,” one that implied new possibilities for this stutterer and for our fallen race. Christ has now made that possible for all. We “Am” in Christ! He has made of joint heirs with Him and our life experience should always demonstrate promise,even the very acts of Christ, if we are willing to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3 KJV.

As strange as I may sounding in a culture that has virtually abandoned any individual pursuit of Christ, substituting a faith in religion (man’s attempt at reaching for God), a faith in science (though I consider myself a student of such), a faith in politics and nationalism (though I participate in governance where possible as a service to my nation), or faith in the economy (investments are a part of my life as well). My deepest pursuit however, must always be Christ alone, the hope of Glory.

I don’t wish I was…, I Am in Christ!

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The Ox Cart of Our Day

Those not fully aware of the story of Uzzah in the Old Testament might want to read II Samuel 6:1-11 just for context. My objective is to share a leadership principle, perhaps a spiritual AHa! for Christ-followers in our community.

My focus will be on the design of the “box” known as the Ark; however, of necessity a little background given the Israelites use of a secular technology that seemed more efficient than what was originally prescribed by God. Like many a spiritual life lesson, alternative means to spiritual dynamics often fail to deliver the blessings promised, when a congregation hits a “pothole” in life’s journey. In fact, in this case, a well meaning servant, who responded “responsibly” when the ox cart began to tilt, was literally taken out because of this leadership decision. Leader decisions have consequences in the Kingdom.

The box itself was made of wood, rightfully representing humanity; wood even becomes more rigid as it ages! The oak box was then lined with gold, pure gold, both inside and out, a type of divinity, also illustrative of God’s covering. Pure gold, 24 carat is quite soft, and rather pliable, as well, one of the highest rated metals for conductivity and energy transference; think of that in spiritual terms.

Large rings were molded on its sides to accommodate poles that would prevent the need for others than the High Priest to touch this precious box. It was known as the Ark of the Covenant, a dwelling place for God’s Commandments. Note that the language of covenant implies more promise than had it been named the Ark of the commandments! In fact, eventually the Ark would be replaced by a body, the Ecclesia, the called out and His commandments would be written on those hearts of flesh, housed in human temples not made with hands. I think we may have allowed religion to taint the true message of God’s grace and available intimacy.

It seems that this most treasured religious symbol had been taken from the Israelites in a battle with their arch enemy the Philistines, and with its capture brought quite the discomfort. Large emerods, to be clear, rectal tumors had befalling its captors. In their pain, the brightest of the Philistines began to deduce that perhaps this was a sign from the Hebrew “god” that they had crossed some line in the sand.

Their remedy was to construct a cart on which they would place the ark; the cart then harnessed to a heifer with a new born calf, not likely that she would stray far from her calf’s stall. If the heifer did move toward the camp of Israel, that would be their sign that the Hebrew god was behind this. Sure enough, though lowing and hesitant, the heifer took the cart home to its rightful owners.

The original design for carrying the Ark had required a group of servant leaders, their lives called solely for the purpose of caring for the people of God. Reverently and respectfully, they would carry this ark each time the nation advanced, without ever touching this sacred box. However, the political and religious leadership of Israel had decided to employ a different means this time, the earlier technology used to return the Ark; perhaps, the new idea appeared more efficient?

At times, even we miss the deeper underlying messages contained in God’s instructions in equally diminishing ways as these early Hebrews. As I pondered several of the current issues facing the American Church, I had an interesting thought.

What if the wood could talk, by this time aged from its original construction, even contracting over time, now afloat inside its gold encasement? The metallic material remaining soft and pliable, though now more loosely adhered, provides perhaps a slight rub as the ark moved along. If so to the wooden box, like the shoe on one’s foot, as comfortable as it may be initially, at times almost abrasive during longer journeys. I sense a dynamic as it moves in rhythm with the gentle gate of those carrying the box on their shoulders. Here, humanity is rubbing against divinity, divinity against our humanity, the hard edges of the aged wood gradually rubbed away, similar to what water does to rock.

One always stands the risk of losing the message in the language, so here it is a second attempt at clarity. Was another part of the message in this story, a deeper visual image of an unseen dynamic that is critical to the Church? As the priesthood carries the ark, divinity shapes the wood, this friction being fundamental to the congregation? If so why do clergy so often feel the need to reduce friction, rather than simply walk the journey, supporting the Body, allowing the hard conversations that often rub us the “wrong way?”

Perhaps out of those sometimes tense moments come the on-going perfection so necessary to guide the providential decisions that bring His Kingdom to this Earth? In fact, doing more preaching about getting along, rather than reverently shouldering the congregation may be a detriment?

Congregation is mentioned only once in the New Testament in Acts 14:33, and means “to strive together,” implying a place of struggle.

Is the source of the American Church’s challenge, the fact that its leadership has focused more on conflict avoidance as a means of salvaging the corporate church, than truly pastoring people as they struggle forward together? Iron sharpens iron. Perhaps this struggle is by design and the constructive evidence of the work of divinity, as it rubs against our humanity, while we are carried forward on this long journey by those called and privileged to serve the Body of Christ?

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On Becoming a Politician

Struggling this a.m. with how much I have allowed myself to be silenced by those I love, respect and wish no harm, especially by what I might feel compelled to say or do; and yes, I am at times torn by those in leadership with whom I disagree, still feeling the need for some acceptance if I am to retain my present platforms of influence and leadership.

I have become a politician.

Surely you have heard “the frog in water” scenario, a cold blooded animal whose temperature and activity changes with its environment. Unfortunately, at a certain temperature its own body is boiled. Perhaps I am now a boiled toad, but I will assume that as long as I can think for myself, the environment has not yet exceeded the point of my demise.

Earlier I was reading one of my favorite devotionals from Jill Carattini, managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. Her writings are so enlightening:

“Speaking decades before the debates over Twitter or the wonders of Google, Malcolm Muggeridge seemed to foresee the possibilities of too much information. “Accumulating knowledge is a form of avarice and lends itself to another version of the Midas story,” he wrote. “Man is so avid for knowledge that everything he touches turns to facts; his faith becomes theology, his love becomes lechery, his wisdom becomes science. Pursuing meaning, he ignores truth.”(1) In other words, Muggeridge saw that it was possible to see so many news clips that we are no longer seeing, to hear so many sound-bites that we are no longer hearing, to seek so many “exclusives” that we are no longer understanding.
Speaking centuries before Muggeridge, the prophet Isaiah and the rabbi Jesus described their audiences quite similarly. “This is why I speak to them in parables,” said Jesus, “because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand’” (cf. Matthew 13:13, Isaiah 6:9-10).(2)

Parables were the means of penetrating the numbness of their layered inability to hear the truth. Truth often is the sharp axe that breaks the ice of one’s heart and enlightens the mind that sleeps.

God grant our nation and its houses of worship mature leadership and with that leadership, the courage to act in the face of political threat, to speak over the noise of the media, yet piercing enough to penetrate even our own theology!

(1) From Firing Line, “Do We Need Religion or Religious Institutions” an interview with Malcolm Muggeridge, September 6, 1980, chapter 6.
(2) http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/hyperseeing-in-a-hyper-filled-space/

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By definition, a paradox is a statement or situation that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. This is becoming more a daily awareness on my part as I press-on in my journey, reflecting more often now upon my 40 years as a Christ follower. Much of which is now challenged both by culture and common sense.

Yet, when I review the last four decades, I find deeply anchored cause for holding onto my beliefs, as well as the necessity of letting go of some of my prior evangelical cautions, for the sake of engaging others. Without openness to others, who would otherwise have no natural or spiritual reason for engaging in mutual conversation, one runs the risk of loss of opportunity to share their life story.

One’s unique life story may be the only significant contribution left on this earth, other than our off-spring; by the way, I’m excited about the upcoming birth of a child, whom if male, will be called John Luther, which I find interesting. If female, Caroline Elizabeth and I get to relive the beautiful moments I spent with my daughter!

Yesterday morning, I began reading a phenomenal book, entitled: “American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Robert Putnam and David Campbell. Only a few chapters into the book and already my mind is awash with the realities of not only the changes occurring in America, but as well, the changes that have occurred in my own life.

For the new reader, I am a fourth generation Pentecostal. Why does that matter? For those unfamiliar with Pentecostal denominations, they are varied and in some areas of doctrine strange, if not errant. Historically, my roots sprang from such movements as the Azusa Street revival of the early 1900’s; and, though of black Protestant origin, this movement influenced similar revivals, forging new denominations, to include the Church of God (Cleveland) and the Assemblies of God, both instrumental in grounding my life journey.

Interestingly enough, Putnam and Campbell would include me in their charts of those with the highest “religiosity,” implying a passion beyond the typical. My lot in life has been to serve within an array of denominational bents to include those whom today would be categorized as the “nones,” having no preference, to include “faitheists”: those defined as “ ‘soft’ on religious belief, and tolerant of even the worst intellectual and moral excesses of religion.” 1 This by the way has been a great privilege and hardly likely for someone my age. With my fundamentalist background, I would more likely be deeply embedded among those known for “belonging, behaving, and believing.”2

My first 25 years of life were spent quite recklessly though hardly to be blamed on my parents, perhaps the most reverent of people I know. However, somehow, church just did not take for me early in life, though the voice of God was ever present in my life, which says a lot about God’s faithfulness. I thank God for the moments of intervention in my life that perhaps kept be me close enough to grace to allow survival until, I could surrender my life to that grace.

Once that occurred, my earlier engagement of church and church folk naturally implied that church attendance was a necessary next step. We immediately began a search that took us through quite an array, from my wife’s identity within the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church to Methodist, Presbyterian, Independent and finally, because of her experience with God at a small Assembly of God Church, we anchored there.

It was only a few months until I was clearly on track to answer a call that had become very fresh upon my conversion. From state leadership to an actual appointment by the congregation, I became an assistant pastor, though bi-vocational.

As I continued my formal education, addressing what had become a passion for community, I began to find opportunity for administrative leadership within the public school system. Some of the best years of my life, it would seem that retirement as a school superintendent would be where God was taking me. I adjusted my call to better fit the market place. Little did I know, that the second decade of my new life would lead me headlong into full-time ministry at a large church in my hometown.

By the late 90’s, I would be reengaged in my hometown, serving on the Planning Board, directing a new 501c3 and providing resources for families across a broad area of the city. The role of pastor would diminish once more in favor of service to the community, and that would open doors into areas that few mainline Pentecostals have privilege to pursue. That is not to diminish my church affiliation, for in reality, as I interfaced more often with people of diverse belief systems, I only came to realize how privileged I had been in my exposure to the Divine, and my deep penetration within the institutional church, warts and all!

The next decade, would lead me to serve three terms as a local mayor, again a most rewarding season of service, though I soon learned that balance of truth telling and timing are critical, especially in an economically threatened and polarized political climate.

What will this next season involve? This morning’s scripture read was from Deuteronomy 1:6 and God’s word to Moses: “You have dwelt long enough on this mountain.” Ironically that seemed to speak volumes to me given my now even broader exposure and community preparation, the current book I am reading, and a recent invitation to deeper involvement in the interfaith movement. Not only is the political climate in America ultra-polarized but so is the Church, as well as more than ever, a pluralistic society. Perhaps my calling to the community has just begun?

Can we talk?

1 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=faitheist

2 Putnam, Robert D.; Campbell, David E. (2010-10-05). American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (Kindle Location 177). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

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The Door

Growing older, releasing leadership to a younger generation, even shutting down the doors long held open for investment of time and resources, provide enormous opportunities for mishap for this one whose life goal has always been to finish strong; a more difficult time than I had planned for. One of the plethora of things I am now learning is how beneficial and grounding it must be to follow a generation or two of leadership at or above the station in life to which one is called.

Being a cusp leader, a transitional being, a change agent is no easy road. No one likes a prophet and even admitting to a sense of that calling, draws ire from those less visionary or worse yet unwelcome entry to those who at times seem to be at least one brick short of a load!

I must admit however, that I seem able to see down the road, whether it is a natural intuition, an ability to connect the dots strategically or a calling with deep spiritual context, such has been my lot for now 40 years. Sometimes that has been beneficial to organizations that seem to be stuck in terms of mission. Other times, it invites chaos when status quo resists those who attempt to pioneer a better day, though self-aware of the dangers and daggers that await the scout who dares go before.

That sense of voice and the vocation that has followed was certainly not because of personal righteousness, neither a bloodline of genteel leaders before me. Again, I admire those who stand on the shoulders of a long genealogy of public leadership. However, all my mentors have been grassroots people, perhaps trying to pull themselves up by some boot strap, rather than being duly raised up by the establishment, or others already having trod the road sufficiently. That can provide a hurdle of self-doubt, and quite often, when hard calls have to be made. Honestly speaking, that self-doubt only compounds itself in the aftermath, when lurking character deficits surface, and bad calls are made.

Dangerously accompanying such a calling is a deep sense of heart, and a responsibility to “say what needs to be said.” On top of all that, living into that call in an age of indecision, when one’s own nation waffles on long held beliefs, a day when even church leaders are recanting the truths once held dear, especially around biblical validity, only heightens one vulnerability. Some of this softening is beneficial, a turning from rank religion and nationalism, a transformation perhaps long waited by the Lord?

Yet, when I read the pages of The Book, I am evermore convinced of its inspiration and awed by the mystery of the Spirit, which I find so alive within its “white spaces.”

This morning as I read from Numbers, struggling with the words of instruction that called for so much religious bloodshed, I found myself needing the relief that comes only from the New Testament, and the life of Christ; which by the way so contrasts with the God of Moses. As I often do in my annual discipline of reading through the Bible, I turned to the New Testament and settled within the revealing words of John 10. Herein are so beautifully captured, the words of Jesus regarding the Good Sheppard, the Gate, and the Door.

Three truths seemed to leap from these scriptures: Not everyone who professes to be worthy of follow-ship is legitimate; Christ alone is the door to salvation; and, that there are sheep yet to be gated, sheep that would not seem to fit the requirements of those already inside the sheep gate. All three concepts are controversial.

Perhaps the writer is speaking to the religious establishment of that day and as well, prophetically to our own, given the struggle within today’s institutional church. Christ alone, a mainstay of Christianity for all these centuries is now in question as our nation becomes more and more pluralistic.

Could the Messiah, whom Christ professed to be, have been speaking of the nature of God to not only provide a door but even raise up a new system of faith; in their day it would be Christianity. Now perhaps in another moment of transition, new sheep, not always welcomed before, are once more coming through the gate; made so evident to me in my recent trip to the Middle East, and as well, locally in my work with interfaith groups. There I go again into places where one should leave well enough alone; the struggle of Elijah, as discussed in my last post.

As I age, the narrow door widens and yet my heart remains loyal to the One whom I believe best represents the heart of the God Jehovah, a God who is love.

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His Ways and Our Ways

For several weeks now I have been contemplating the moment and meaning of the Mount of Transfiguration. That may seem a little strange for the average Joe or Jill but the majority of my time is in some way spent either serving on behalf of Christ or contemplating my relationship with him. I am a Christ follower. My relationship with God means more to me than career, church or any other institution in my life. In fact, if one is a devotee of Judaism or Christianity such might be the case in their life, for both of these religions profess some rather remarkable and radical things.

This morning as I read in the book of Numbers, I was once more reminded of the holiness of God. Perhaps a word we should understand more of in today’s overly religious world. Yet, the scriptures draw a sharp contrast between today’s New Testament message of grace and the somewhat stern, demanding God of Moses. Many Christians believe that the 66 books of the Bible contain the entirety of the message of our faith. Some are a little more skeptical of the Canon and view it more as a history of the faith. Either way, there are some miraculous moments in both Old and New Testament. Need I mention the parting of the Red Sea, made so memorable by Charlton Heston, not to speak of the bodily resurrection of a man brutally crucified?

My contemplation of the Mount of Transfiguration seems to pivot more however on Elijah. Who was this man whose story was captured by the Hebrew Prophets, revered by Mohammed and now, appears with Jesus and Moses and witnessed by Peter, James and John? Of all the people that could have shown up that day on the Mount, Moses I get but Elijah? John the Baptist, whom many thought was Elijah reincarnate, had been recently beheaded by Herod, so why not John the Baptist instead of Elijah?

One may ask what merits have these thoughts, given that the Old Testament is out and the New is in, or is it. What benefit is contemplation of these cross-over moments within the Old and New Testament? To me, the scripture text is there for a reason beyond simple memorization or history. In fact, the text alone without revelation that comes through prayer, profits little. Contemplation of the Word is the fuel for true prayer.

If Moses and Elijah were selected to greet Jesus along with three devoted apostles on the mount, there must be a connection? As I pondered in prayer what seemed deep in my spirit, by that, I mean the struggle had gone from my head to my heart, it began to make sense.

What if God is in fact what the most extreme expression of the Old Testament implies, in terms of His desire to be counted holy and yes unapproachable by fallen mankind? What if all the bloodshed of the Old Testament and those tiring legalistic religious requirements were prescribed by God as the only acceptable means of engagement of fallen humanity? Was this God’s way of inspiring awe and thus attracting a primitive man-kind? I say primitive, but the Egyptian artifacts and engineering feats seem less primitive that the word implies.

Was the God of Moses, the same God of Elijah but now of necessity, weaning us from our familiarity with the Law, meant only as a school-master, preparing us for a demonstration of His love; and like a two sided mirror, both images so unlike the other, yet so impactful, we even struggle to this day with this gift of holiness described by the Law but now imparted so freely.

Yet, what if all along His plan was to demonstrate another face of Himself, as men grew in their knowledge of God? BTW, please pardon my gender usage, as it just comes more natural due to my background, though I know that this being is not a man. I assume the need for maleness was more an attempt to communicate with then existing cultural bias than a statement against the daughters of God, but what do I know!

So why Elijah, this man who shows up out of nowhere with King Ahab, when kingship had taken precedent over the priesthood, though never God’s intent. Why was he so abrasive and why when John the Baptist shows up, was he compared with Elijah, setting the priesthood on edge and only after the lineage of Hebrew Kings had long been destroyed, though Israel’s religion continued to be nurtured for thousands of years solely on the laws of God? His ways are perhaps higher than our ways.

Were Elijah and his contemporary John the Baptist necessary to tear us from the religious practice first used to demonstrate holiness and awe, needed only to prepare or worse yet frustrate the hearts of men who though practicing the law to the letter, were never able to attain true holiness? Then in a Bethlehem moment this same God would manifest himself as the Christ, providing the ultimate sacrifice that our religious practice had instilled as the only remedy from our pent up guilt: the death of Himself. Resurrected as assurance that death was not our end, this same God would be now fully represented, not only as holy and awesome but loving and just.

Perhaps our lack of understanding is now the source of our many religions, and thus they become more a distraction to God’s real intent, that being relationship?

Was the Mount of Transfiguration captured in such a way as to demonstrate the two extremes of our awareness of God, the God of Moses and the person of Jesus; standing Elijah in the middle for the sake of those unwilling to release the Law, getting past the awe and finally understanding the intimacy that is now ours through Christ?

His ways are not our ways!

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