dirty hands

Bloged in apprenticeship, worship by rod Monday January 30, 2006

I’ve got to keep these clean hands dirty.
That is a line from a Deliriou5? song that has really played in my mind lately. Seems to me that our mantra seems to have to do with keeping our hands clean. That was the Pharisees’ priority, and it seems that it is a legacy that we’ve inherited and embraced. We operate as if our hands are dirty and all of life is a struggle to get them cleaned, or that our dirty hands were cleaned and our discipleship depends on our ability to keep them that way.
But this isn’t at all the way Jesus operated. For literal examples, I think of his creating mud from dirt and spit in his hands to apply to the blind man’s eyes. I think of Jesus kneeling and drawing in the dirt with his finger when the woman caught in adultery was brought to him. He didn’t even wince when reaching out and touching or holding a leper.
Jesus hands were the hands of healing, and all the examples I’ve just given, are examples of his hands being soiled by healing others. It is interesting to realize that he didn’t have to touch and get his hands dirty in order to heal someone. A centurion expressed is unworthiness of having Jesus come under his roof to heal the centurion’s daughter. So Jesus healed the daughter on the spot without going to her.
Of course, I’m using literal hands and literal dirt as examples in metaphorical context. But is that really a problem? Jesus seems to have done the same thing. Even in the OT, God used physical rules to illustrate spiritual concepts, but in the NT, Jesus appears to be exposing the metaphoric nature of the rules by getting his hands filthy, but remaining clean.
It would seem then that hands dirty in the work that has been given us, have no effect whatsoever on the cleanliness of the rest of our selves. God has commanded us to be clean, but has tasked us with getting our hands dirty. If we are imitators of Jesus, our hands will get dirty. We have been given the healing power of the Gospel to deliver, and we’re going to go into some dirty places if we are to be obedient.
I’m reminded that when Jesus was washing his followers’ feet, Peter was refusing to let Jesus wash them. When he was convinced, he asked to be given a bath. Jesus told him that he was already clean but only his feet were dirty. To me there are layers of metaphor there. Peter’s literally dirty feet render his clean body a metaphor. His clean body renders his dirty feet a metaphor.
Our hands and feet are going to get dirty if we are doing the work we’ve been given. Jesus told his disciples that they should wash one another’s feet as he had washed theirs. They are told to be servants one to another as their master was their servant. He modeled the first as last and last as first nature of the Kingdom.
But I think that is but one of the lessons and charges that Jesus gave us by that act. When I think about the layers of metaphor, I believe that Jesus was also charging us with a community task of accountability. Of sharpening one another – iron and iron, of support and trust and confrontation and confession, one to another. And just as Peter’s feet had become dirty when the rest of his body had already been cleaned, when we, as forgiven disciples mess up, we by the support and love and care of our community, can be brought back to have the dirty part of our otherwise cleaned body cleansed as well.
This is not to say that both metaphors necessarily play simultaneously. Just because we get our hands dirty doing his work, doesn’t mean that it is ok to be affected spiritually or morally by the dirt we are coming to clean. When considering what Jesus commissioned us to do, it would seem that clean hands are soiled by and guilty of the blood of those to whom we were sent. Perhaps the only clean hands, guilt free and obedient, are dirty hands.

Just as the feet of those who bring the good news are beautiful, hands that have been dirtied in obedience, when raised in worship must look very clean to our God.

maps

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Friday January 27, 2006

Sometimes where I am is all that matters, even when I’m on my way.
I’m hanging on a moment.
Sometimes I have no idea where I am, only where I’m headed.

paul and the areopagus

Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Wednesday January 25, 2006

I have been following the spiritual demise of Brian McLaren, and when I saw who he was working with, remembered a similar Christian leader who seemed to behave in much the same way at times.
If you’re wondering where I read that Paul was working with the Areopagus, a group of “thinkers” and religious philosophers who call themselves after the name of Ares, the pagan god of war, the article can be found here. Paul had been spending his time hanging about unsavory places in Athens and socializing with people who are known to worship idols, practice pagan rituals, and ruminate upon ungodly eastern religions. As a result of Paul’s befriending these unsavory characters, he was invited to one of their exclusive meetings where they discuss and embrace every new thing that comes down the pike while sitting among statues of foreign gods and idols - and he accepted their invitation.
As a result, he is going to be working with and endorsing those whose teachings are contrary to the written revelation of God. If you scroll down the list, you’ll see familiar names like Dionysius and Damaris. Paul is heading to a place of teaching the doctrine of transformation. He has also renounced sacred practices such as circumcision, and thus has watered down the written revelation of God. He taught that circumcision was unnecessary, even a bad idea!; but turned around and circumcised a young believer so as to be “relevant” to the Jews who were living in the area so that they grow their churches.
Recent topics at Areopagus include “Worshipping the Unknown God,” “Pagan Poets,” and, “Reaching out and Finding God.” Not once in his discussion with these pagans, did Paul mention the name Jesus, but instead made veiled and confusing references such as “the man he has appointed.”
Paul’s willingness to attend meetings with pagans and work with them as they study and discuss pagan religions and practices, is further proof at the sorry state of tolerance, inclusive theology, and - in the case of the unknown God - relativistic wishy-washy, flip-flopping of believers today. The article implies that Paul met with these men and women on other occasions during which he dialogued and listened to and even answered their questions concerning his beliefs.

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proud spouse

Bloged in love and marriage by rod Tuesday January 24, 2006

This post is in no way intended to cause discontent, remorse, anxiety, pain or anguish, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, envy, covetousness, or dissatisfaction, pride, disenchantment, disappointment, or any other nasty thing that a post like this might cause. I hereby absolve myself of responsibility in any of the above mentioned feelings among my blognanimous constituency.
Let me see a show of hands, how many of you are married? Thank you, I see those hands. Ok, hands once again, how many of you have been married for at least 19 years? Very good, thank you. Hands again please, how many of you are married to the same person you married at least 19 years ago? Wow, good job. And finally, hands once more, how many of you have been married at least 19 years to the same person who weighs exactly what they weighed on the day you were married?
Ha! That’s what I thought!
Well, I am.

the great divide

Bloged in church, community by rod Monday January 23, 2006

Why is it that the more we have in common, the greater our differences seem?

another Molly date

Bloged in family, music, parenting by rod Sunday January 22, 2006

Molly and I had another date last night. We had dinner and heard Ashley Cleveland at the Pavilion Coffee Shop. It was a great night. Molly’s BLT was GREAT(!), she said, and my Bacon Burger with Swiss and mushrooms was, well GREAT(!) too. As the concert progressed, Molly enjoyed a cup of Green Tea with honey, and I, several cups of the Java.
Ashley Cleveland was phenomenal. Two hours of a gutsy, blues/rock voice and a Gibson acoustic guitar. The bulk of what she did consisted of the “hymns” I grew up with, “Revive us Again” (by my request), “Power in the Blood”, “Nothing but the Blood”, “Come Ye Sinners”, “It is Well”, etc., but with a gutsy, blues style that caused you to hear all over again.
Molly loved it, and had to have an album and autograph, which she got, on account of a dad that also wanted the same.
When we got home I found that although I only invited her to go moments before it was time to leave, she’d already blogged about going. It was an interesting read. But I think her reluctance was squelched in the cool coffee shop atmosphere with the BLT and Green Tea, and awesome Spirit-filled music.
Thanks Molly, for another great music date.

stuck

Bloged in family, seasons by rod Saturday January 21, 2006

If I could give one piece of advice to bloggers everywhere, it would be not to start a tradition of blogging about family members’ birthdays. It is an innocent trap to fall into – the day comes, you sit at your computer and are filled with love and fuzzies about this person who is marking another year of wisdom and life experience. You reminisce about all this person has meant to you. Your fingers begin to dance upon the keyboard and the next thing you know, you’ve written a masterpiece of tribute, love, and honoring gratitude over the contribution this person has had in your life.
By and by, a year passes. “Oh man, I’ve started something here.” No problem, you couldn’t possibly have paid proper tribute to such an important person in only one blog. So the emotion flows and the keys click and next thing you know, the whole world shares in the meaning that this person has for you.
By and by, a year passes. “Oh man, what can I possibly say that won’t sound sentimental, and patronizing, and obligatory due to the precedent I’ve set?” This one is impossible. No matter how much of the same love and gratitude you feel, compounded daily within the past year, and accruing interest at 62%, there is no way to verbalize it this time without putting everyone who doesn’t share the connection into a deep humoring sleep. You are concerned about slobber on your readers’ keyboards. You are concerned about eyes rolled from the object of your verbose affection. You wish Helen Steiner Rice would just write something in the ballpark of your emotions and get you off the hook. But it ain’t going to happen. You’re stuck and you know it.
So today is Mom’s birthday. You know not what to do. Then it hits you. If this doesn’t embarrass her, and this doesn’t embarrass her. Then surely this will.
Happy birthday Mom. May your 26th birthday be full of joy. I know my 24th will be.

End of the Spear

Bloged in community, culture by rod Friday January 20, 2006

Thanks to an invite from a connected friend, I was able to see End of the Spear at a sneak screening late last fall. I talked it up, because it is a great movie, but I decided to wait until the opening was nigh to splash it on my blog. Oddly enough, I’ve been blogless for the week of the opening. No doubt anyone reading my site already knows about the movie, but I feel bad nonetheless.
There are several reasons I’ve not put finger to keyboard this week, but one of the reasons is that I wanted to talk about this movie. So when I sat down at the computer early in the week to do it, I came across numerous venomous spewings aimed at the movie. I can’t quite put my finger on why they’ve upset me so much, except that the attacks went way beyond disapproval of the movie, and yet had so very little to do with the movie itself. Attacks on the movie have been made by people who have not seen the movie, and therefore haven’t a clear understanding of what the movie intended and accomplished. Personal attacks on Steve Saint by people who do not know him, have never met him, and have no idea how he has devoted his life, and what a difference he’s made. It is rare to meet a person who has a heart for hearts and who devotes his life to them, but when you do, you connect in a way that causes attacks on the person to feel like attacks on your self; and in a way they are, when you share a passion and so fully support what someone is about.

A couple years ago, I heard Steve Saint speak 5 times in week, hung around with him and had dinner with him, and Mincaye, the central character of the movie. This had a huge impact on me – to hear him leak his passion, share his methods, tell stories of lives changed. To have shared a meal with a tribal warrior who once knew only, “kill or be killed” and has been made a new creation, impacted me deeply.

Steve Saint commented recently that the theater was the place where people’s “cultural hearts” are opened, and that new trends start in our society there. To me, this seems apt, because that is what this movie is about - cultural hearts having been changed and new trends in a society, a society that has become gospel-driven rather than revenge-driven. I thought of the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth’. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” These are the people Jesus was talking to in Matthew 5. Here is Jesus’ teaching applied.

Steve’s comment was one of the points used by the critics to spear him with comments like, “Steve, are we out to start new cultural trends or see souls saved from hell?”
It seems that these critics spewing vitriol would have it that the movie consist of the 5 missionaries standing on a sand bar in Ecuador, preaching “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God” to a tribal culture that doesn’t understand a word of what the missionaries are saying.
But this is not a movie about the missionaries, it is not a movie about the preaching of the Gospel. It is a movie about what the sharing of the Gospel accomplishes in an entire culture. It is a movie about the Gospel having changed lives of those who heard it and believed. It is the story of an entire culture changing course from having been exposed to the saving love and grace of Jesus.
As a matter of fact, Mincaye, after hearing about the Columbine incident, expressed the desire to make this movie so that the foreigners (Americans) would see how to stop killing and live well and learn forgiveness.
It amazes me that the gospel can be brought into a revenge-based, stone-age tribal culture and change a people completely. But those in our own culture who claim to be children of the gospel, spear one another in the back at every turn in the name of a gift that was given us undeservedly. We have much to learn from the changes the gospel has brought about in people and the new cultural trends that have resulted.

This is a movie about redemption and changed lives and forgiveness, the affects of the gospel, the meaning of the gospel.
Please don’t miss this movie. You will be inspired, warmed, moved, motivated…

tidal lock

Bloged in apprenticeship, luna see, metaphor by rod Monday January 16, 2006

Bluemama asked if these moons have the ability to change their ratios. The answer is yes and no. The moons seem not to have the ability to tidally lock themselves to their primary, because this tidal lock is affected by the primary upon the moon – the greater to the smaller – although the moon does tend to affect the planet. The moons themselves though tend to affect the orbits of one another and arrive at the ratio needed to keep stability.
Tidal lock is a phenomenon that occurs when a satellite orbits closely enough with its primary. The gravitational pull upon the satellite causes it to bulge slightly. The process of this bulging though is slow enough that it occurs just after the point being pulled upon has passed. The bulge itself gets a tug backward toward where it was affected, in the direction opposite its orbit, which tends to slow it down slightly. This delayed reaction bulge effect and the opposite pull on the bulge, and the slowing affect, over time tends to cause the tidal lock as the orbit and rotation synchronize.
So, with the metaphor in your mind, it is only through a close orbit, a constant tug, a slow response from the satellite, a persevering pull on the slow-reacting satellite, over a great amount of time, that the satellite is brought into tidal lock with the primary. Probably safe to say that it takes a lifetime.

new gym

Bloged in community, life by rod Saturday January 14, 2006

Our new gym finally opened today. I’m not really sure how late the opening was, but it was originally scheduled sometime last summer. It seems to have been worth the wait though; and as soon as the New Year’s resolutions begin to resolve, one should be able to actually fit inside the humongous facility.
Today though was an interesting experience. Yesterday, when I left, the person at the counter said, “see you at the new gym tomorrow.” There were only a few people there going through their routine routines. This morning, Al and I went together about 3 hours after they opened. There were hardly any parking spots and the gym was packed with people. Many of the faces and bodies were familiar, but an equal number were new. There were many people I’d never seen before, and many people I knew, but had never seen at the gym. I’d say I’d never seen them at the gym, and they’d say, “It’s our first day.” Nothing like the freshness of a new facility to cause someone to realize how worn out their earthsuit has become.
Although our Gold’s has always felt comfortable and low pressure and casual, there are of course always a few people who are too awesome or hardcore to fraternize or even speak to the casual stay-in-shaper. There are always a very few guys who are afraid their testosterone will leak if they were to speak to another guy. So they maintain silence to preserve the aloof mystery. This was one the first things I vowed when I started going to the gym – that I’d break the barrier with everyone at the gym. I’ve actually done pretty well. Today, though, it was a non-factor.
For a moment in time, everyone was on the same page. The bodybuilders who have been lifting for forever, the aging ex-athletes fighting to cheat middle age a bit longer. The chunky who have realized it will be easier now than later, the overweight who face a painful future reality if they don’t get serious, and the brand new folks who think it might be hip to join a brand new gym. Every single piece of equipment was new and different and placed at strange locations in the gym. Veterans and newbies and to become familiar again. Excitement was thick, so that the chiseled, grimacing, masks of the hardcore builders were smiling and joking and asking questions.
Today was the window when absolutely no one could feel self-conscious about their novice status. It was an interesting atmosphere of freshness, joy, community, equality and sweat.

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