Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Visions of Heaven

end of the carbon cycle,
end of gender,
spiritual union with each other and the deity.

does free will mean that the whole controversy might begin again, or will it never start because free will will assume a different shape?

will time travel be the only way to personally document the reality of what rebellion against the systems of grace did to the universe, and to the Son of God? recorded realities will not be as convincing as witnessing the pain and the suffering in realtime which can be realized, if necessary, by traveling in time.

or will the inhabitants of eternity also accept by faith what others who lived and survived life in a sinful world, tell them about the nature of sin and its consequences?

Surrender to Christ vs. Guilt for Not Doing So

Dear brother Michael, I found your site via Adventist Pulpit and a comment you left there about reading Ellen White.

While I do look forward to your post about how to surrender, and while I'm pleased to see how on fire for the Lord you are in your blog, I am saddened that the obsession, if I may call it such, with 100% consecration, sometimes experiencing 99%, other times 90-95% consecration, sounds strangely out of synch with righteousness-by-faith in Jesus. If we look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and keep on looking at him, what need of feeling guilty of holding back?

Guilt, especially in the Christian life, can be a destructive thing, that only leads you into depression and feelings of low self-esteem. Yes, it would be perfect to be 100% consecrated to Christ. When we're glorified at the 2nd coming, we will be 100% consecrated to him for sure, in the meantime, enjoy your life more. Avoid evil activities that keep you out of synch with Christ, but more importantly, live and enjoy your life to the fullest, less you come to the end of your Earthly life and realize that it was not always 100% consecrated to Christ and that your life was not all it could have been. Living for regrets, present or future, sounds like a truncated life, at best. May God bless you, and all who read this. Again, I look forward to your post about how to surrender. I have been trying to surrender to Christ more and more for all of my 51 years, and in the meantime, I fix my gaze on Christ and try to enjoy Him as well as all the blessings he sends my way.

Friday, October 27, 2006

World Trade Center 3001

Build a virtual time machine and travel back to September 10, 2001: the day before the twin towers fell. Take along with you a list of all the planes that crashed and the passenger lists. Underscore the names of the terrorists on each list. From the 101st floor of one of the towers, fax the list to major newspapers, radio stations, as well as the FBI, CIA and the White House. Cause all major airports to be shut down until the Towers are emptied and guarded.

When the Towers fail to fall on the following morning, go forward in time to September 11, 3001. Stand at the base of the Twin Towers and look straightProject Rebirth: Project Rebirth: up at the aging and abandoned towers that stand as a monument to your time traveling achievement.

Instead of documentaries about the destruction of the Twin Towers, only what-if movies will be filmed about what almost took place.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nails of Peace

Buy a large nail or a spike like those used for constructing railroad tracks.
Dip it in gold, or silver, or copper or blood.

Engrave on it words of peace only.
Attach a harness and equip it with a small parachute.

Fly over a war-ravaged country.
Drop your emissary of peace out of your airplane.

Repeat until wars become a distant memory.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Electric Funeral Splits a Sabbath Morn

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." I Corinthians 15:52 (NIV)

For days I had known that Saturday, my Sabbath day, was also Scottie's Funeral. All week long I felt unsure about whether to go only for the visitation on Friday night, attend the service at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, but not the farewell get-together at a place known as Georgie's Alibi. I prayed and reflected on what would be the proper thing to do. If the tables had been turned would it have been acceptable for someone to skip out on my last day above-ground? When the decisive moment arrived whether to make the left turn that would take me to Sabbath School or continue going straight ahead for three more blocks to the funeral parlor, the old song from my youth, Electric Funeral, briefly flickered across my mind and I wondered what an electric funeral would be like. A few moments later I was being ushered in to where the service was being held. I arrived half an hour late. I noticed some folks from work. I assumed the music playing was some new age type of hymn. I had no idea what religious beliefs Scottie had, or didn't have. When I looked at the front of the room at the casket, I noticed a large wooden cross. The song playing over the sound system was from Elton John's Blue Moves. It seemed elegiac in a way that music from the early 70s can sound when contrasted to the contemporary rock heard on modern radio stations. Afterwards, Elton John's Goodbye Norma Jean, or is it Candle in the Wind?, his pean to Marilyn Monroe made, at least for me, for a very bittersweet moment. I had to hold back a tear when the phrase "She lived her life like a candle in the wind" was sung.

The minister said a few words, and I do mean few, in remembrance of Scottie's life. He asked that all who wished would accompany him in saying the Lord's prayer. We then passed by the casket and I briefly said to myself, or to him, "Scottie, I hope I see you again someday." The minister then said that the family wanted to spend the last half hour of the service saying their private farewells. He reminded everyone that the Alibi's event would be at 11:30, a few blocks down the street.

I had paid my respects to Scottie so I headed for church and caught the fading moments of Sabbath school. After sitting through the endless announcement period, the pre-doxology as well as the doxology gratified me. Hymns and music in general was what I enjoyed most in church. I felt very dissatisfied though, since I had spoken very little about Scottie with anyone at the funeral. They ushered us out so quickly. I turned to a Cuban lady who I always see in prayer meetings on Wednesdays and gave her my offering envelope, telling her that I had to go to a funeral.

I was the first to arrive at Georgie's Alibi and I ran into an octogenarian neighbor from my apartment building who said that beside his home, this was the only other place in which he felt safe. He asked me if I was there for the catered affair for the guy who died of AIDS. I told him I was and did he know him? He said he didn't but that his boyfriend's cousin had also recently died of AIDS. I wished him well and waited by others who had started to arrive.

Once inside I was able to meet mostly people from work and reminisce about Scottie and his life. I also saw someone I had only seen in pictures, his former partner, Kevin. I told him that I was sorry for his loss. He said that it had come as a surprise, as he didn't seem to be that sick.

This kind of event with food, and beverages and music playing can often dampen the reflectiveness of the occasion. I did my best to ask people I encountered about their memories of Scottie. Agnes, another neighbor of mine said she had gotten to know both Scottie and Kevin at their annual Christmas party that they invited everybody to. These were wonderful events as well as lavish ones. I told her I had not known Scottie well enough to have been invited. I had known him only through visits to libraries where he was stationed at, or sometimes standing outside of restaurants or boutiques in Wilton Manors, Florida.

The last thing I heard someone say at the actual service was "Scottie was such a lovable bear of a man," referring to his large, bearded appearance. I smiled at Mimi and concurred with her as we both went our separate ways.

I'm not 100% sure if I was supposed to have attended that post funeral service brunch with it's multiple video screens with 80s music videos flickering as the conversaton ebbed and flowed on a Sabbath morning, but I'm glad I went. It allowed me to say goodbye to a man that always was more interested in saying hello to me that I was to him. He smiled even when I didn't. He mentioned common acquaintances even when I tried to minimize them. Whenever he saw me he came to greet me and to make pleasant conversation. If only for his affability and natural good cheer, I felt I owed it to him to be at both the funeral service and the brunch at Georgie's Alibi, a place I hope I never have the need to visit again.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Diving Slowly into the Ocean of God's Word

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3 (New International Version)

Have you ever noticed that time operates differently while you pray or meditate on the Bible? Several times this year while devoting an hour to Bible-oriented meditation, it seemed that the enjoyable Bible meditation period existed not in this normal four-dimensional world, but in a fifth dimension, the dimension of one's spirit.

Modern physics speaks of four dimensions, the three spatial dimensions plus time. When you stand still without going anywhere at all for 20 minutes, say, you are traveling in time, sort of speaking, without traveling in the spatial dimensions of height, width and length. Sometimes when meditating, not always of course, something uncanny happens. The hour you spend meditating on the Word of God is somehow disjointed from the normal march of time. You meditate on a particular verse and after what seems like a very long and enjoyable meditative moment, you look at the clock and to to your surprise what seemed like half an hour to you is only 15 minutes. It's almost as if God is slowing down the march of time so your hour can seem almost eternal. Perhaps that meditative hour, with its sometimes altered sense of perception really is an intimation of eternity with its enhanced or peculiar sense of time, where a second is like a thousand years, and vice-versa.

Perhaps what I'm describing here is a kind of Bible-induced trance where you forget your surroundings and a clinical attention to time itself. Recent studies reported in the New York Times report that these altered sense of realities happen only in the mind not in the physical world. A long time ago I read that your spirit, or your spiritual nature, is in a certain region of your mind and that it is, in fact, a very small area of your mind. An altered sense of reality would, it follows, exist only in your mind's spirit. Time itself would, of course, proceed in the normal fashion, but your perception of it would be altered by the awareness or experience you perceive in your spirit. I am not speaking here in any sense of the immortality of the soul, but simply the mind's ability to process spiritual realities or experiences.

This does not only happen during Bible-induced mediation. During the 90s on three separate occasions I sat in a darkened room, with one of the following musical compositions or artists: Ravi Shankar's ragas, Yes' The Revealing Science of God from Tales of Topographic Oceans, and James Carter's In Carterian Fashion, and closed my eyes to enable me to focus on the music only. Without consciously accessing an alternate reality or experience, that 50 or 70 minute compact disc transferred me into an altered sense of reality. With my eyes closed, and my mind and spirit focused on the transcendence of these susurrous, and water-tinged pieces, I forgot I was in my bedroom, with the lights turned out. I even forgot for brief moments that my I was in my body. I felt I was inside the music, the music was inside me. Having seldom experienced an altered sense of reality I couldn't help but smile and enjoy the exquisite quality of the experience itself, hoping it would never end. With the ending of the 50 or 70 minute compact disc the experience slowly ebbed and flowed and I was once again in my room. Even though I knew the compact disc was either 50 or 70 mintues in length, the time I had spent during the experience seemd much longer, almost timeless and out-of-this-world. Mozart's Jupiter Symphony or Mahler's Resurrection Symphony would probably have induced a similar altered sense of reality had I selected those compositions, instead.

My body went no where, time marched on, but I had, in fact experienced another world, another dimension, sensation, and perception. Perhaps the Indian yogis or other spiritual men and women from different world traditions are able to enter and exit such exalted states of being at will.

I'm glad that sometimes I can experience such golden moments of enhanced reality by diving slowly into the ocean of God's word through prayer and meditation. It is an experience that in many ways is finer than any conscious, waking dream.