Wednesday, December 29, 2010

God is More than a Concept by Which We Overcome Our Own Pain

Yes, John Lennon stated years ago in "God" that "God is a concept by which we measure our own pain." It need not remain so. God is many things to many people. Your conception of or experience with God is as different than your fingerprints are different from the person in the next room.

Tonight I wanted God to save me more than He's ever saved or helped or healed me before. You know what his answer was to my great surprise. He said, "heal yourself. Help yourself. Save yourself." That was not the answer I was looking for, but it might just be the answer that will do until God in His mercy blesses me with His supernatural healing, help and salvation. I actually smiled when the realization came. Of course, it's so simple. If no one else can or will take care of and watch out for me, then who better than myself. If my parents are too old or too sick to care for me, I have to care for myself. If other relatives are too busy, too sick or too challenged themselves to care for me, then who better to care for me than myself? Of course, I can always use a helping hand by some compassionate person who has the gift of giving aid to others in need. And, with God's grace or favor, I will endeavor to be a helping hand when some person in need is brought into my life.

The Lord our God is One. Blessed be the name of the Lord for his mercy endures for ever.

Blessings for the new year whatever year you happen to be reading this.

More to come--

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflections on the Human-Divine Nature of Christ

Years ago I read that Christ had two wills: a human as well as a divine will. While on Earth, however, the divine will was present in the historical being, Jesus Christ, but it took a back seat to the extent that it did not reveal itself very often except at the transfiguration.

The same author--probably Ellen White and/or Elder John Wood of Atlantic Union College-- states that only human Christ died on the cross. The divine Christ cannot die since God cannot die. (End of reference to either White or Wood.)  How could a member of the Godhead, which is One, die without all three dying?

For argument's sake only, let's suppose human-divine Christ died and not just human Christ, died. It follows then that the Trinity died for "our God is One." If God died on the cross--and He did through Jesus Christ--then it's conceivable that He raised himself by his own power as the New Testament states. At the cross when Christ cried "my God, my God why have you forsaken me" it was because the Godhead was dying with Christ and would be resurrected with Christ. The universe had its automatic laws and could function until the divine watchman rose from the tomb three days later.

Would Gabriel, who is in the presence of God, have been temporarily in charge of heaven--if anyone really needs to be in charge God's absence?

Another matter presents itself: what would have happened if human Christ had failed the test in the wilderness with the Accuser? He probably would not have to go through with the crucifixion since his sacrifice would have been incomplete or unacceptable to God the Father. What then would have become of the human Christ? Could he have been destroyed and die as a mortal man dies? He then could have died on the cross though it seems pointless to have done so if it no longer carried cosmic significance. Or, as John Wood stated in the 1970s, human Christ would have been kept in heaven in a comatose state throughout eternity, since even human Jesus of Nazareth was Christ, nevertheless, and could not be allowed to die as a mere human man dies.

Here we get into tricky waters. Since human-divine Jesus of Nazareth couldn't die, then he was not as human as mere men since mere men who fail in life's cosmic struggle die as mere men and don't have the option to remain comatose throughout eternity. We now get back to the age-old questions about was Christ fully human and fully divine but perfectly fused together as one inseparable entity or could he, in some way, separate the human from the divine?

If you state that only human Jesus of Nazareth died and rose again while the Divine Christ, of course, would still be alive since he was a member of the Godhead then you may be able to say that Christ of Nazareth had an advantage that we don't have. We can't, of course, separate our divine nature--which is God-given and frequently not apparent as we disconnect from God the only source of divinity--from our human nature. We are only human and can only depend on God for the gift of divinity through his divine Spirit. However, this may suggest that Jesus of Nazareth was not like us, in a way. In other ways, of course, he was very much like us. Just read the gospels and you see a very human man who cried, hungered and got tired and had to sleep as you and I sleep.

Finally, it is said that Christ paid the ultimate price in sacrificing himself to save the human race. The Bible says that Christ died once for us all. It has been bothering me for years that if you die as Christ did for the human race, then rise again after three days and live eternally after that, how is that a sacrifice? When you and I sacrifice our last dollar bill so a poorer or needier person can eat while we starve temporarily, we experience real hunger, and/or eventual death. It is a sacrifice that cannot be gainsaid.

However, if you die and suffer and live again and remain alive, it presents other ramifications. Perhaps the sacrifice was in that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, could have failed, and could have been comatose throughout eternity. That, my friend, is a big sacrifice. For a divine being to risk ceasing to be divine just to save a wayward world of created beings, is more than anyone can fathom. It truly boggles the imagination. Jesus Christ, if only his human nature, comatose throughout eternity could be looked upon as either two things:
  1. A  kind of death for the divine-human entity known as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. One of your two natures would be unconscious and would remain so throughout eternity.
  2. A reminder that the human side of Jesus of Nazareth had failed and in him failing, God failed in proving that a human-divine entity could succeed as Adam was supposed to have succeeded when offered the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rock and Roll Adventist Christian and Temptation

Acid-tinged sonic improvisations, a la Jimi Hendrix*, amazed the ultra-conservative members at an Adventist Christian service earlier this year.

Whatever the detriment or benefit of having a sophisticated electric guitar solo played at the divine worship on a Saturday (Sabbath) morning the important thing is whether the folks listening were brought nearer to Christ or tempted, after the Sabbath, to go out and discover this new Adventist Christian music that is everywhere.

Hearing the familiar melody of Amazing Grace being played by this young man, in the most unconventional version that I've ever heard, moved me to the brink of tears. The words and melody of the unadorned original version I grew up with is embedded in my very DNA.

* Historians will tell you that all of the sounds heard on this video for the electric guitar where engineered and discovered by Jim Hendrix around 1967 and 1968. He used no gizmos. The sounds were coaxed, sputtered and extracted naturally from his guitar. The gizmos were the result of a growing demand to produce these sounds on-tap. They are still being utilized the world over. Jimi Hendrix, whatever his weaknesses and failings as a human being, changed the sound of popular and church music as it is heard today.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Night an Angel Saved My Life

Green lights in your favor means it's safe to cross. Not always. Patrons have the right of way when the light is green. It's no longer true I learned last night. For the only time in my life I was almost hit and instantly killed by an oncoming car.

Had something--how, I can't say--not pulled me back two or three feet I would have been instantly killed as the speeding night car litterally lunged for me as I was half way across the pedestran walk on a very quiet and empty street. It would have been another hit-and-run statistic in south Florida.

A cell phone driver, oblivious to pedestrians, almost hit me head on by two seconds at 30 mph.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Psychological Detriments and Benefits of the Bible

To be fair to secular people let's first address the potential negative effects or uses of the Bible. We live, after all, in a mostly secular science-oriented world culture. There is evidence from the professional literature that some texts in the Bible have produced chronic guilt. With chronic guilt comes deadly self-hatred. With self-hatred comes depression. With depression, if not treated effectively, comes death. Some wag will smugly tell you, "better to be a sinning, imperfect human than to be a dead one."

Now for the psychological benefits of the Bible. In times of economic need one benefits mysteriously from the following words:  "My God will supply every need of yours. . . ." When experiencing remorse for stealing, adultery, or harming someone unintentionally, nothing quite soothes the human soul as these words:  "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

When the psychiatrist's pills and the psychologist's analyses and insights fail to work their scientific magic nothing soothes the disturbed soul as: "Peace I [Christ] give to you." Also of great healing value are the words: "Come to me [Christ] and you will find rest for your soul.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Strange Charity of 'Sinners' Towards Undocumented Workers

Van Helden is a heterosexual married Brazilian male of approximately 25 summers. He is married to a pretty blond woman of equal age. They have a son and another child on the way. They have been in this country three years and have experienced hardship and hunger. If he were fortunate enough Van Helden could have found work as a grounds maintenance worker, a construction worker, a janitor, or other lackluster and temporary jobs that undocumented folk need to take up and then put down as the feds drop in and out of the jobs in question.

There are no health benefits, paid holidays, paid sick days, pension plans, long-term disability insurance, etc. There is only work and only undercover.

One other thing I failed to mention. Though married and happily heterosexual, Van Helden works as a waiter in a premiere non-heterosexual bar in South Florida. He makes good tips not only because he is an excellent waiter, is 25 and not bad-looking, but because Van Helden, who is partially deaf, is compassionate. He is often seen signing to hearing-impaired diners who feel accepted in Club C due to the presence of a signing waiter.

Okay, so were does the strange charity of 'sinners' factor in? The patrons of Club C assume incorrectly that Van Helden is single and non-heterosexual. Actually, only the Management knows Van Helden is married to a woman and has a little boy. There are no other heterosexual and undocumented workers at Club C. No other waiter at Club C has a wife dining in the edges of his assigned area until her husband is done for the day at 3:00 a.m. Sunday through Saturday with Mondays off.