Friday, October 28, 2005

Peace, Unity, Purity

We learn from those who see differently than we do. Right now I'm reading an important Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) document called "Peace, Unity and Purity." The PCUSA has been going through its own version of the civil war, now going on in all the mainline churches. This report is an four year effort by a formal group of 20 people appointed from both sides to sit down and talk to each other, and try to see if there is a way for us to stay together. A message for all of us caught in the culture wars.

One of the important strands of being an American comes from Presbyterians. We have a saying: "Do things decently and in order." Not steamrollering over your opposition, but letting the minority speak, going through the process. The American form of government is modeled after the presbyterian form of government.

In case you wonder at my perspective, this is a poem written in 2001, about the PCUSA (written prior to the vote at a presbytery meeting to send delegates to General Assembly).
Harlot, or Faithful?

You tell me you are faithful
you claim to love me true.
You are but painted harlot.
unfaithful in adulterous views.
You call yourself my bride
Yet heed the Devil’s call.
You listen to seductive voice
that tempts you to your fall.
You claim to hear my voice
yet never do you listen.
My burning wind will come upon you
to sweep away your rot.
Babylon’s army stands at crossroad.
Following My path.
Repent of your deep evil
or death comes from My wrath.

You claim to be so tolerant.
To preach only of My love.
But you’re only idolaters
worshipping tolerance of evil.
You lie of universal forgiveness
despite your words that claim
that on that tree, true God died
to free you from your sin.
You stand at time of choosing.
Which path will you go down?
Is it the straight and narrow?
Or the broad and wide?
I’ve given you My warning.
You chose Bill Clinton’s lies.
Instead of protecting marriage
you offer sin reward.

You vote for death.
You vote for lies.
You hypocrites, I despise.
I spew you from my mouth.
You claim to care for children
Yet listen to teachers union lies
who care not for children trapped in awful schools
but only members dues, rather than offer choice.
Your leaders speak of Justice
but Mine will you not hear.
It’s only deceitful rhetoric
disguising whitewashed tomb.
You vote for death
you’d 486 the innocent.
Free evil killers
while you disarm the weak.

You lead the church astray
You send the sheep away.
You drive away the prophets
who speak of apostasy.
You don’t believe the words you said
when you promised to obey.
You obey your own beliefs
not what the Word would say.
You wonder why your flocks
leave for greener pastures.
They leave your lies
and seek my truth.
You try to hide your lies
in words that sound like truth.
House divided, jagged chasm cracks
covered over, pretending all is right.

I offer you chance for repentance.
Abandon unfaithfulness.
Read not the book of order
but My true book of confession.
Confess your sins.
Confess your error.
Admit your wrong.
Admit your doubt.
Confess and be healed.
Confess and be whole.
I offer forgiveness
real, not just pretend.
There is nothing I cannot forgive
from all your harlot ways.
But you must truly repent
turn back from destruction’s path.

My faithful remnant
who’ve never bowed down.
I call you to speak honestly
with Love for those who lie.
Yes speak my truth.
No matter how painful
hated by those
who seek death’s broad easy way.
Your tolerance will kill you
kill your adulterous church.
Like Judah’s unfaithful harlot.
Babylon comes for you.
At your Ohio meeting
you will have to choose.
Will you follow heaven?
Or pay the devil’s dues?

This is last chance offered.
There are many of mine present here
but some will suffer awful pain
small faithful remnant left.
Who will you send?
Whose voice will speak?
On distant fateful shore
to make your church’s choice.
(Jeremiah 4:1-31 helped inspire)
January 26,2001 ©Presbypoet

Thursday, October 27, 2005

No Longer Hidden

Sitting alone one October morning, this is what i saw.

Such a peaceful park.
Grass carefully mowed.
Trees carefully pruned.
So green, so alive.
Hidden in the grass
flat rectangular slabs
color of dead concrete
artfully hide death.

Death and decay
hidden from view.
Frail father so helpless.
In pain from broken bones.
Paper thin skin easily torn.
Will he see next year?
We try to pretend
death's not real.

Son in severe pain.
Depression oppresses.
He threatens suicide.
We wrestle with death.
Death so final.
Decay the result.
Hope seems distant.
Hidden from view.

The end?

I see death
no longer hidden.
So close.
So real.
Yet death hides
a secret within.
Unwed girl, heavy & hot
a child hides within.

Ballooning body
no longer hidden.
Gossips whisper.
Men pick up stones.
A simple babe born
hidden in Egypt.
Sent here to earth
to suffer and die.

Nails driven so deep.
Death no longer hidden.
His body broken.
Death truly real.
Yet hid in his death
is life everlasting.
No longer hidden.
He promises life.
© Presbypoet, October 21 & 27, 2005

As I sat in a cemetery to pray, I saw we pretend death isn't real. We hide it, as though we could hide from it. This place of death, tried to hide death. Yet for me, death is so real. I can't pretend. I know death's face. It stalks my father, and my son.

But after describing death's reality, I realized death wasn't the end. There was hope hidden within. Jesus had come to die for me, so hidden within death was hope. Real death, and real hope. So it comes full circle; from life, to death, to life. The secret no longer hidden.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Anne Rice has a Jesus Book

I see bookworm has noted Anne Rice (The vampire lady) has become a Christian and written a "Christian" novel about Jesus. You can read more at her blog here.
I'm not into vampires, but I have read some of Rice's books. The big question is; does she think being a Christian, she has to write "nice". You ought to be able to hear real truth from us Christians. We should be willing to admit there is both great evil and pain, and great hope and joy. I've gone to some "Christian" writers conferences, and had people say that my writing isn't Christian enough. Apparently "Christian" writers have to write about people who don't swear, never have any troubles that Jesus can't solve easily, and can't have any doubts.
It is easy to write about evil and pain, everyone knows them. Writing "my" poems, writing of:
pain, persecution, suffering, sorrow, evil, oppression, hopelessness, depression, death, doubt and fear is easy. I have a page with all the synonyms. I know them too well. From reading Rice, she had a good fix on horror, hope was a little lacking.
It is hard to write about true joy. Joy that knows pain. Joy that offers true hope, not the saccharine substitute that whines; "I hope you'll be OK.", with no real evidence to offer, as opposed to real rock solid faith, that knows. It is hard is to write the truth of real hope, joy, peace, compassion, faith, love, wisdom, courage and truly knowing God. Those words come hard. I've come to know each of those words contains so much more than I can ever hope to understand, let alone find words to express, all I can say is:
"Lord, I am not worthy." Yet, this is the greatest gift to offer, to somehow show a tiny part of God's magnificent Joy & Peace. How He loved us so much, He came to truly suffer and die for me & you. To offer real hope.
The greatness of Tolkien and Lewis is rooted in their reality. Not, "They lived happily ever-after.", but, in the midst of evil's apparent triumph, there is hope. Real hope. Not an easy road, but a narrow road that leads to life. I wonder if Rice will stay connected to the horror, the reality of life, and be able to add the joy of knowing Jesus? This is my "hope" for Rice. That she not fear to write the truth. To show us true joy in midst of suffering. May she truly show us Jesus. May she truly show us life. I've reserved a copy from my local library, (no buying any more new books, until we sell a few of the thousands we already have).

Hope 2

We live in a world where often the more we know, the less hope there is. We see danger. We see the awful possiblities. WMD, atomic bombs set lose in American Cities. Economic disaster. Losing the cultural war. I see more clearly than most all the possible disasters. Looking at the past hurricane season, we should give thanks. With the mistakes made, had things turned out slightly differently, more than 100,000 could lie dead from this not unexpected season. So I give thanks that so many were spared.

Hope is a strange thing. For one thing, there are two kinds of hope. The first is the wimpy hope, kind of a I see disaster looming, "I hope you will be OK". A "hope" that promises nothing, just a close your eyes and wish it would all go away. A "hope" built on sand, easily washed away with the first blast of the storm. The second type is stronger. It doesn't promise sucess, but promises it is possible. This is the voice heard by one trapped in a gloomy swamp, up to their ears in alligators, that promises:
"It is possible to get out." When the sharp retort asks; "How do you know?". It clearly promises; "Because I was where you are, and there is a way out." That is true hope. The thing with multi-colored feathers, seen in the dead of winter, a vision of the possible. Not a promise that it will be easy. No guarantee of sucess. Simply that it is possible, be of good cheer. Elisha's servant, who saw the enemy army all around, lost hope. He didn't see God's angel army all around (2nd Kings 6:17) When Elisha prayed, he was given eyes to see.

This poem is simply titled "Hope". The real kind.


Real hope.
Not anemic
pseudo stuff
we’d settle for.
Real hope
foundation sure
when waves
crash against the rock.

Spirit comes
to fill us.
angel unexpected
we see.
When we have
no needs
we need
no hope.

It’s found in wilderness
parched desert
in rod poised high
to strike the rock.
In suffering
pain & uncertainty
listen to hidden wings
icon of invisible strength.
(Exodus 17:5-7)
© Presbypoet, February 11, 2001

I've known hope for a long time.
I've needed it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Why the PCUSA is in trouble 2

The PCUSA is in trouble. Part of the problem is we elevate pastors. The PCUSA talks about the priesthood of all believers, then limits ministers to those who have survived ceminary, a place to kill your faith. The temptation is to fall into the Catholic trap of: "If you are religious, you should become a religious." Instead, we should realize God has sent each of us to be part of a body, where we should listen to each other, to hear what God would have us do.

Being a smart, well educated elder (who is humble too), who Knows God, who hears Him, I see what is missing in so many 's faith. They may have heard about Jesus, and as pastors know a great deal about Him, but they don't know Him (going to presbytery meetings will either kill your faith, or make it stronger).

I am going through a very hard time. My father is in the hospital, after breaking three vertebrae in his spinal cord. I have a son threatening suicide. I face impossible financial problems. Without God, it would be impossible. I know He is with me. I am not alone. It makes a world of difference. Being part of a body, where I can go to my pastor; be anointed with oil and prayed for, to share the pain, to know others pray with me, is essential. But my faith is not just knowing God provides for me, but learning what He teaches in this pain. To marvel at how the refiners fire burns away the dross of life, that keeps me from being totally present in Him. As He empties me, I can be filled.

Knowing the Word is crucial. One of my favorite stories is Elijah going to Zarephath, (1st Kings 17:7-24) where the widow awaits with her last flour and oil. Compared to Elijah, I am so well off, I have nothing to complain about. If I didn't know the Word, I would miss this story's blessing. How many lay people truly know the Word? How many have it in their hearts, where God can speak to them through His Word? No matter how big or small the church, are all being discipled for service?

I found a copy of the PCUSA Bible test for ordination online on Steve Whitney's blog
Without studying, took the 2004 & 2005 tests, scored 82%, I'm weak on the Psalms and wisdom writings. Now I know what I need to read. How many elders would pass? How many know what they don't know? The greatest blessing for all of us. To know what we don't know. The blessing Jesus gave the rich young ruler, who didn't appreciate it at the time, but may have later.

Should we test elders on Biblical knowledge, to make sure they at least know if Job is in the old or new testament?

Yet it isn't just book knowledge, how do we know if elders know God? We can ask them, but how do we know? How do they know? God asks: "Do you know?"

Do You Know?

Do you know
I love you?
Do you know
I care?
Do you know
I seek
your greatest

Do you see Me?
Do you hear Me?
Do you feel My
tender touch?
Don’t think
to find Me
in rules
or commandments.

You don’t find Me
with your intellect.
You don’t find Me
in your feelings.
You find Me
when you know
My great love
for you.

You find Me
when you open
to Me.
You find Me
when you come
as prodigal
to share My joyful feast
©Presbypoet, October 20, 2002

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More PCUSA insanity

If you want both more understanding about the insanity in the PCUSA, and another chance to be horrified, there will be a tri-Presbytery event, November 12, 2005 in Oakland, California called:
Presbyterians in Conversation
On the Middle East
Transforming Fear to Love:

More details are at

I suspect it should be called: "Presbyterians who think Israel is the problem, feeding you propaganda to confirm your prejudices."

Again, I abjectly apologize for the "useful idiots" in "my" demonination.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thoughts on Joel Osteen

Some people in church are listening to Joel Osteen, the latest, "Name it and claim it" preacher. I worry about this. Perhaps it is best to understand this as serving milk to infant Christians. He promises God will give you what you pray for. The problem; God isn't some cosmic vending machine that always gives you what you want. It sounds wonderful, and in some part is true. God does say. "Trust Me. I will provide." Except that is just the start

The problem is best expressed by a song sung at our last Presbytery meeting, "Shelter Us Under Your Wings". We want to be safe and comfortable, have God shelter us. We are like the disciples in the boat, who woke Jesus to do something about the storm. We want to take our troubles to Jesus, and let him take are of them. This is true, but it's only the start. The disciples woke Jesus to take care of their problem. They were terrified when He asked why they hadn't done anything about it, as if He expected they could calm this raging storm. At the transfiguration, Peter wants to pitch a tent, and stay in this wonderful place. Jesus sends them down into the valley, where the disciples Jesus has left alone to be responsible can't heal, and Jesus calmly explains. "This one requires prayer and fasting. " As though they should have known it, and why did they not understand. He was equipping them to deal with it, but at the time it had to be terribly uncomfortable. God delights in giving us pop quizzes to show us what we don't know, so we can learn.

We tend to go to church for what it can give us, and leave if we aren't being fed. Instead, we should ask God where He would have us go, so we can serve Him. When you read the gospels, you see the 12 are being equipped to be of service, not just to be fed (that lesson of the loaves and fishes). Jesus heals Peter's Mother In Law, and immediately she gets up to serve. So much of our discipling comes from hard lessons. Painful lessons. Perhaps the only ones we remember are the painful ones. Crisis either drives us away from God, or closer to Him.

As we can see from the disciples, who Jesus sent, or left alone. Jesus sends us to uncomfortable places, places we never would have gone on our own.
To a smoke shop in a small town in Iowa to speak to those abandoned by the church.
To minister to a nurse, as you lie helpless in a bed bleeding internally.
To sacrifice your life for a son.
To be willing to strive with your last ounce of courage to speak the truth in love, and bite your tongue when tempted to speak the wrong words.
To Presbytery, knowing the fix is in, and it is all badly done farce.
To Africa, when you told God that was the one place you never wanted to go.

This ministry of poetry comes from pain, not from a life of ease. The first poem I wrote was at the death of Alice, when pain produced a poem:
It taught: If you love, you will be hurt. If you truly love, you must let them go so they can come to you. As you do this, there is danger in freedom, that cannot be removed any more than you can get rid of one side of a coin.

Here is a short poem that sums it up:
Go Through the Pain

You ask to escape from pain.
Pray for protection
from life’s storms.
Shelter from suffering.
Escape from wilderness.
My answer is hard.

I send you
into suffering.
I send you
into wilderness.
I sent My disciples alone
into that dark Galilee storm.

Trust Me.
I send you alone
to uncomfortable
impossible places.
Step out into your storm
Come.(to Me)
(Matthew 14:22-31, Peter walking on water)
© Presbypoet, September 15, 2002

How many come to church to serve, not be served? (we also need to learn when to say no to the church, and not serve out of guilt. Too many elders burn out serving on session)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thoughts on Iraq

They voted.

We haven't won. But we are further down the road.
We will win. We have three years. You don't win guerrilla wars quickly. You need to be patient. I lived through the sixties. If those bombers had been as willing to kill, just as many people would have died. The reason they didn't was that it is a stupid tactic. In Iraq, all the terrorists are doing is generating anger against them. Apparently AQ agrees with that.

When we pull back to secure bases to prepare for Iran, local forces will finish the job. We need more time for training, the bombings do slow down recovery. It isn't easy, but compared to where I expected us to be after two years, we are on track. I expected a five year program. We are after all building up a democracy from scratch. When did our occupation forces leave Japan and Germany? Read some of the writings about the low expectations about Japan after WWII. We underestimate the attraction of freedom. I welcome a democratic Iraq to the UN.

I give Saddam credit for preparing a defense in depth, and not surrendering. It has made it harder. It was something we didn't expect, although it is a scorched earth plan like the Russians used to defeat Napoleon. It is hard to imagine your opponent will destroy his own country. Since we had almost no human agents in Iraq, it isn't surprising we had some surprises. He didn't surrender. The Sunni still have illusions of empire. At some point they will realize democracy is the last best hope they have of survival. It is suicide to fight a civil war outnumbered 3 to 1. If we cut and ran, the Sunni in Iraq would be the ones who would suffer. The Kurds have been restrained. There have been few revenge killings. We haven't given the Kurds any credit for their restraint. Although, our promises of justice may have been believed by the Kurds. Without our restraining presence, blood would have flowed, to revenge Saddam's horrors. It would have made 20,000 to 40,000 deaths since the war a drop in a very bloody bucket.

My main reason for optimism is that Bush has guts. He will not give up. That is all we need to know. The MSM can and will do damage. They are making it harder, and killing Americans by encouraging the enemy. At some point we will experience a terrorist horror in this country much worse than most can imagine. This war isn't over. It will not be over, until those who think they can impose Islam by force are completely defeated. It happened in 732, it happened in 1683. It didn't happen in 1453, and that cost the world. It also led to Columbus.

I am a realistic optimist. History helps me understand where we are going. Be not afraid. We can win. It may not be easy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thoughts about Paradox

Paradox !

Paradox is a strange word. It seems to mean two opposites at the same time. Like being a Republican and Democrat at the same time, Liberal and Conservative. A cultured redneck. It doesn't mean irony, it doesn't mean equivocation, (a wishy-washy I can't decide, so I'll just split the middle, maybe the music is good, maybe it isn't). No. Paradox is an in your face kind of word. A word that makes us think. If we let it. A good paradox makes us uncomfortable. It shakes our sense we know how the world is made. Schrodinger's Cat, the dead/alive cat, that is the essence of paradox. That is not an equivocal cat, it is just both fully dead, and fully live. Ready to come drag a mouse onto our bed, or demand to be fed in its best regal manner. Yet it's also partly dead? How is this possible?

Paradox, like that cat dragging in a dead rat, brings in things that upset our comfortable existence. It points to things better ignored, left unsaid, things we hope will go away. The dictionary shows this same schizoid relationship. Webster's New World Dictionary (1970 version) has two opposing definitions of paradox. The first says: "A statement that seems contradictory, absurd, etc. but may be true in fact." The second, "a statement that is self-contradictory in face and, hence false." How can both of these be true at the same time? It's a paradox.

Paradox is at the heart of many of our theologic problems. I have a simple example of how we can get stuck on half the paradox. I asked God; how frequently to have communion? Catholics have it every day, many Protestants once a month. What was the true number? I asked.

God gave me a simple paradoxical answer. "Just do both." My response was immediate. "I can't do both. If I do one, I can't do the other." My human limitations make it impossible for me to both have communion every day, and once a month. It isn't that one is right and the other wrong, but both are right.

It is like the collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics. The electron is both particle and wave, 100% of both, yet we can only verify one or the other. Our actions collapse the wave function to one or the other. Paradox is like that, some examples:

God is fully in charge, yet every act of mine has cosmic significance.
God cannot stand my sin, yet He loves me.
Our best theologic imaginings are only blind groping in the dark. Yet it is so simple that all we have to do is become as little children. A four year old may have the best chance to understand. He hasn't learned not to trust.

I heard this early one morning.
Prime Paradox

To know I am unknowable
and know you can know Me.
This is the heart of…
the essence of… Truth.

Not to know of My great love.
But to know My great love for you.
Such great love that gifts you with pain
to burn away all illusion.

To know without question
in the dark night of your soul.
There is pattern in chaos.
There is true hope for you.

In midst of uncertainty.
In the waves of life’s storms.
Hear Me and know Me
in the silence of doubt.
© Presbypoet, November 16, 2003,
heard at 6:30 AM

That is what this is all about. To know Him. So I like to hear what others see about Him from other perspectives. They help us know Him.

Spiritual Food

Become mature
Don’t stop growing
in your faith.
Know Me.

Take the meat,
tough to chew.
Stop just
drinking milk.

Become mature.
Don’t be
a baby
in your spirit.

© Presbypoet, June 16, 2002
Ephesians 4:13-14, 1st Corinthians 3: 1-3, Hebrews 5:11-14
inspired by Dennis W sermon of June 16th.

Are you still drinking milk? Do You know what meat is?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Being Corrected

This poem seems so appropriate today with so many criticizing for things they think are wrong. We resist correction, yet it can be the greatest blessing, when I learn I was wrong. We should thank those who teach us what we don't know.

Being Corrected
Thank you for ripping out my heart.
Leaving it bleeding cut to ribbons.
Thank you for teaching
how little I know.
Thank you for showing
what I was too blind to see.

© Presbypoet, March 24, 2002

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Thoughts on being "Nice"

Did you check out my "mild" comments about Hollywood Pres? You should have seen what I wrote as a first draft.

Remember my poem on Loving your Enemies from November 5th

We must learn when to throw tables. One weakness/strength of PCUSA is we do everything decently and in order, so we try to make everything look nice. Now that worked for Mr. Rogers, but men need to learn to be dangerous, ie PK, wild at heart. If we are going to make church interesting enough for men to want to come, we need to make it dangerous.

Ah, the new template, no more emerging church (I always get this image of some white pasty guy emerging from 10 years in the catacombs). But now the dangerous church. Challenging you to hear God. Challenging you to actually live your life as if you really had taken Jesus into you. (That is one place, Catholics don't go far enough, its not just taking His body in ,but taking Him IN). I've had some interesting experiences with God. It does get frustrating to see what so many don't see.

Found a copy of the PCUSA Bible test for ordination online on Steve Whitney's blog at
Without studying took the 2004 & 2005 tests, scored 82%, I'm weak on the Psalms and wisdom writings. Now I know what I need to read. How many elders would pass? How many know what they don't know? The greatest blessing for all of us. To know what we don't know. The blessing Jesus gave the rich young ruler, who didn't appreciate it at the time, but may have later.

But it isn't book knowledge. It is knowing Truth, the person of God, His Joy, His Love. For that a four year old will do. That was when I accepted Jesus in my Grandmother's kitchen.

If you want full contact Christianity, just let me know, we need it. Full truth, with full Love. Instead we have way too much of Jesus the nice guy, meek, mild, inoffensive, who would never send his disciples away into a storm like the real one did, then came to walk past them. We don't understand this guy, we want Jesus the nice guy.

So here he is:

Jesus a Nice Guy
You want Me
to be nice.
Just love you.
Just forgive you.
Accept you are broken.
Admit your sin.
Observe My commandments
they are My demand.

In awe & terror
flee from My face.
You can’t make
slightest demand.
You oppress the poor.
Your alliance robs the needy.
Your leaders lie.
You tolerate evil.

You want Me
to be soft.
To make you comfortable.
To make no demands.
Because I love you
I refine you.
I let Shishak (2 Chron 12:7)
Pillage your temple.

I drove the merchants
from your temple.
I strip you of all
that keeps you from Me.

© Presbypoet, March 26, 2000

Do you know this Jesus?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Outrageous Mercy and Grace

It is easy to write poetry about scary stuff. The same way it is easy to preach about hell, and try to scare people into heaven. It is hard to understand and express the quality of mercy, the love, compassion God has for us. Not the wimpy love of Jesus the "nice guy", the one his disciples would never have recognized. Instead, a fierce love, like a mother bear for her cubs, or a father who has learned a boy has hurt his daughter. This is Jesus, who cares for us, who wants the best for us, and isn't afraid of pushing the envelope.

Jesus first miracle, is one his mom precipitates. He tells her, it's not time yet, yet he has compassion on an idiot who forgot to get enough wine. Not only that, but the stuff Jesus makes out of water turns out to be the good stuff. Ever hear a sermon on that? Real wine. Not grape juice. The hard stuff. Not just a gallon or so, but filling huge storage jars. I wonder what it would have been like to be there? Yet how many of us would have been as generous as Jesus. Would we have been so quick to provide the miracle? Are you sure you wouldn't have thought, why should this fool get a miracle. No one ever gave me so much blessing.

I will try to turn it into a poem.
One on outrageous mercy & grace.

Outrageous Mercy & Grace.
On turning water into wine.

When you turned
water into wine.
What were you doing?
Why waste your time
on an idiot who forgets
to order enough wine.
Why does he get
your compassion?
What did he do
to deserve such grace?

You don't make sense.
We can't understand.
Why change water
to wine?
Not only that, it's
better than he deserved.
We would have
taught him a lesson.
We'd make him
suffer for his sins.

Why do you cover
for this guys mistake?
Why do you let him
get off so easy?
Is it that we need
to learn to enjoy?
We need to learn
to celebrate?
Are we too much
like the elder brother?
Unable to rejoice with
brother returned from the grave.

Lord help us to appreciate
the grace you give.
As you pour out outrageous
amounts of blessing.
May we rejoice when
our brother gets more
than we know he deserves.
May we join your party
to drink from your wine
of new birth.
(John 2:1-11)
© September 27, 2005, Presbypoet
inspired by "anybudee"

Monday, October 03, 2005


We each have different temptations. If you put me in a room with every known narcotic, it would be no temptation. I would sit there, bored, with no real temptation. So for me to resist "temptation" is no big deal. I do have real temptations. Why do you think I killed free cell and solitaire on my computer?

Each of us has their own sexual attractions. I see it as similar to the way baby ducks imprint on the first thing they see, as their mother. It is likely our sexuality is crafted in a similar but much more complex way. Since attraction of the forbidden also comes into play here, nature and nurture are mixed in a way difficult to untangle. It is like depression that can have a physical, emotional, or spiritual cause.

Being familiar with OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the thing Howard Hughes had), it has some interesting implications for "urges". In OCD, someone can have an obsession that is not real. Like thinking; if they go for a ride, there will be a crash, or their clothes have become "contaminated" from dropping to the ground, or they are not clean, and must shower for hours, because they don't "feel" clean.

With behavior modification training, it is possible to actually change the way the brain works about these things, (proved by PET scans). While we are messing about with things we only know dimly, & are far from having any kind of true understanding, it may be possible to manipulate our "urges". Our simplistic ideas need to change.

If/when we do understand how to manipulate these basic urges, great care will need to be taken. Like with medications for depression and ADD, often the temptation will be to try to fix the inconvenient, rather than pathological. We may lose part of what makes us human.

Knowing all are fallen, no one is immune to temptation, means it isn't just a matter of finding "safe" people, who won't be tempted. I have always found it interesting Billy Graham refuses to be alone with a woman. Is that being hyper-vigilant? Or is it knowing your weakness, and not putting temptation in front of you?

The Catholic decision about Gays and ordination, can be seen as removing temptation, but is likely to be too broad a brush, akin to the Moslem practice of hiding women from view, so no man can be tempted. When we impose limits on who can serve God, we must be very careful we don't tell God; "You can't work that way.", and miss a leading of the Spirit. God seems quite fond of using broken pottery. Just read the Bible. This has major implications for the PCUSA, if we are truly to hear God in this, liberals will need to understand there is no right to ordination, and evangelicals will need to understand God may be working in unusual places, and for each of us to truly listen to God.

Jesus was tempted as we are, but his great temptation would have been to just skip the suffering. Not to become fully human. Here is a poem on the subject.

I Became Man

The devil tempted Me
not to be truly human.
Tempted Me to just
skip the suffering.

When I was tempted.
The offer was real.
I became fully man
and suffered with you.

Because I love you
I came to suffer.
I truly suffered for you.
Endured pain for you.

On that cross I hung
bearing full weight of sin.
The nails were real
driven into real flesh.

I died on that cross.
To free you from sin.
Then rose in three days.
With vic'tory over death.
(Matthew 4:1-11)
Inspired by homily by Fr. Michael M.
©Presbypoet, February 13, 2005

Is this one of our temptations, to resist God when he calls us through suffering to be refined and transformed?

Thoughts on Judas

Why did Jesus allow Judas to betray him? Since Jesus knew, why permit Judas to do something Jesus clearly knew?

What if Judas had gone to the tomb? What if Judas had come to know he was forgiven? Would this not be such an extraordinary sign of God's amazing, wonderful, overflowing forgiveness. It would have been such a magnificent moment. A moment of such amazing grace, a prodigal son moment.

Every time I think of that, I am taken back to a strange "Sunday" morning in an occupied territory, where God intervened in human affairs. I know why Judas killed himself. The pain was too great. He had thought he knew, yet like all of us, he tried to act in his own strength.

There is no one God cannot forgive. Yet there is free will. Judas did choose. So did Peter. The only difference is Peter had the opportunity to learn he was forgiven. That is why we have "John's" extra chapter.

That is "all" evangelism is, helping people learn they are forgiven.

My reason for thinking Judas' sin is the "worst" possible, is that he killed God. Hard to come up with a worse sin.
What are your thoughts on Judas?

Why did Jesus allow Judas to betray?

What follows is a Poem from Judas, written as he prepares to die.

I Judas
Take back your silver
I betrayed him.

I was wrong
He was Messiah, I thought.

Come to rescue
from Pagan Romans.

I didn’t understand
I didn’t know him.

Guilt Gnaws
Acid corrodes….Inside.

I thought I knew him
I heard his message.

I saw him heal
I felt his grace.

I didn’t understand
I didn’t know him.

Nailed to his cross
Nails driven so deep.

I couldn’t bear to watch
Goodness hung on a tree.

Arms outstretched
Dying between two thieves.

I didn’t understand
I didn’t know him.

Wound so deep
So final.

No penance possible.
I choose DEATH.

Death the only payment
for my sin

I didn’t understand
I didn’t know him.

Death, payment for sin
Both our destinies.

But for me
The potter’s field.

For Him
The empty tomb.

I didn’t know Him.

©Presbypoet, April 22, 2000