Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CP 201 Undoing my worst enemy

CP 201 Undoing my worst enemy
Year’s end. Christmas. Not much time to think, but essential to reflect. Been undone many times. Behaved badly… many times. Self-disgust and self-contempt. The heart-store finds expression in the shelves of life. In the shelves of relationships. Not pretty. No, not pretty. Ugly beyond words. The spirit IS willing…BUT… the flesh IS weak. Torn. Torn between the image of God and… the image of Adam. The heart a divided world. Brought undone many times. Undone by self. Undone! “Who will deliver me from this body of death? The constrained journey to the throne room. Again. And again. Again and again.
 Mercy needed. Mercy and forgiveness found. Fresh hope, renewed life. Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Lord of CrossPurposes still speaks. Always willingly speaks.
Fresh discovery. Not restored self-esteem as much as… restored Christ esteem! Christ! “Christ, the visible expression of our God.” From eternity, forged in history, and for eternity, a new identity. I am who I am IN Christ. In Christ. Imago Christi!
How was this possible? An ancient poet speaks to the heart:
That the great angel-blinding light should shrink
His blaze, to shine in a poor shepherd's eye;
That the unmeasured God so low should sink
As prisoner in a few poor rags to lie; milk should drink,
Who feeds with nectar Heaven's fair family;
That a vile manger his low bed should prove
Who in a throne of stars thunders above.

That He whom the sun serves, should faintly peep
Through clouds of infant flesh: that He the old
Eternal Word would be a child, and weep;
That He who made the fire should feel the cold;
That Heaven's high Majesty his court should keep
In a clay-cottage, by each blast controlled:
That Glory's self should serve our griefs and fears:
And free Eternity submit to years.
Richard Crashaw
O come, let us adore him. O come, let us adore him.
Christ the LORD.
May your Christmas celebration be outrageously merry!  FRED

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CP 200 What some of you wrote...

CP 200 What some of you wrote...

I receive lots of thoughtful responses to what I write. This week I thought I’d share some of them with you.

This first one was in response to CP 199, “An unwelcome 'blessing' from heaven”.

Yes, in my life and my choices I’ve been covered by this kind of mess!  Stink to high heaven!  Even the hazmat crews couldn’t get the smell to go away.  Tomato sauce, vinegar, coffee grounds, even the best spiritual odour- eaters, can’t cover it up or make it abate…only one precious substance can make me clean again…the blood of my saviour!  Thank God and Merry Christmas!!!!!!

I received many responses to the post about the German churches which refuse word and sacrament ministry to anybody who does not pay the Church Income Tax. CP197

Let me tell you about our experiences with the 'no pay, no sacraments' policy in Germany. In 2009 we returned ‘home’ to have our son baptised in 'my' church, where I went to Kindergarten, Children's Church, and made my Confirmation. I was no stranger there and all I wanted was for my son to have a special connection with this Church. We had a meeting with the Pastor there who told us that because we no longer reside in Germany and don't pay our church taxes (which back then was about 9% of the income tax), they would have to seek special permission to have the baptism approved. Thankfully my dad had a very convincing way of offering a 'generous donation' and making a point of how much money he had contributed to the church in his working life.
Our son was duly baptised without further 'problems' and the ceremony was conducted very nicely. It was the female Pastor's very first baptism and she went to the trouble of conducting the service in two languages, but it did make us think at the time......

On the same matter, a German engineer who had read the post sent me two cartoons which were to the point. In the first one, a bishop is proclaiming the absolution to a penitent on his knees. One hand is raised in blessing… the other is swiping a credit card through the man’s mouth…
The second cartoon shows a man on his death bed with a pastor/priest in attendance. The man of the cloth has a simple point to make. “Tut, tut. No cents, no sacraments.”

A young person had this insight…

Hi Fred... My thoughts... I feel it is sad that one knows he is forgiven or not by what a human does or doesn't do... Whether what the Cardinal said is what he meant or not, to me is not the issue... The issue for me is that some people think (or may have experienced) that absolution is actually from men, when it is NOT.
Good to get people thinking about this stuff... especially when it's out there in the secular world - sometimes the Christian world turns a blind eye when it's a tough topic.

And now a cry from the heart after CP 195, “Freddy, my heart is black.”

This post is quite scary, in that it's an easy disease to catch and a very difficult one to cure. How do you forgive someone who doesn't apologise or regret their actions towards you which were wrong? Even if they know they've wronged you, they're still not sorry.  It would be easy if this was a person I didn't have to have in my life, but this is a family member, so it's hard to just ignore it. 
Specifically, (we) no longer see eye to eye... and I only found out the extent of it later... We had never had any problems prior to this... it was the greatest betrayal. My mum said it was jealousy, and that she was trying to pull me down, but whatever the reason, ultimately it has caused such a huge problem, and she won't acknowledge or admit to me she has done any wrong. I refuse to speak to her… she minimises it more and more, like I am the one dreaming this up. 

I don't want hardening of the heart… Anyway, how do I forgive her when she now claims she has done no wrong, and certainly hasn't apologised to me?  I don't want bitterness on top of all of the other unhappiness. I have prayed about it, but it hasn't happened and I wonder if the problem is that I don't really have the heart that wants to forgive her while I know I am right and she has done me a major wrong. But still this doesn't answer how I can prevent bitterness… 

And a final contribution about bitterness from a friend who has had a very difficult journey…

I’m pretty sure it was you that said in one of your sermons that “only hurt people, hurt people”. (I probably did say that without the word ‘only’. It is true that the rejected often become rejectors themselves. Victims can become perpetrators. Fred’s comment) I have thought about that so many times when I encounter someone who just acts nasty, rude or mean.  Often, I feel the urging deep inside to just pray for the person.  Sometimes, I even do the “unthinkable” and try to show the person true compassion although just as many times I walk away.  The saddest thing about a really bad event in someone’s life is the potential for residual that “harden’s their heart”.  What a terrible, lonely, hopeless place to ever be!

I’d like to thank so many of you for the encouragement and support. It’s water for the soul when your responses are coloured by the Spirit of Jesus.

One final comment about all this ‘wrestling’ we have to do as Christians. We are often led to think that it is only about love… but I reckon each struggle is also a challenge to our faith and trust in our Lord and his word… which endures forever! (?)

Be blessed in Him.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

CP 199 An unwelcome 'blessing' from heaven

CP 199 An unwelcome ‘blessing’ from heaven

You’ve heard of it raining cats and dogs. Fish, on occasion, as well. Recently the ABC website reported something falling from the heavens and it wasn’t any of the above. It did not happen during a thunderstorm. It occurred during a bushfire. It wasn’t an act of God. What happened was a result of human action, specifically the actions of a water-bombing helicopter pilot.

The fire near Lake Macquarie was threatening to consume homes. The pilot was about his business with real urgency. He drained several nearby swimming pools. He frantically searched for other sources of water. To his profound relief he found a pond. Slurped it up and duly dumped it over the leading edge of the fire - and over a number of the fire-fighters. Unfortunately his ‘source’ was a pond of untreated raw sewage. The RFS crews were understandably underwhelmed and unimpressed by their unheavenly baptism in the fire.

The SMH report the next day termed the episode as ‘a mistaken drop’. Certainly it redefines ‘long-drop’. The fire fighters were withdrawn and ‘decontaminated’. The Hazmat people had unexpected work. The AWU called for an urgent investigation and no doubt hoped the truth would be flushed out.

Forgive me. “It happens”. It ‘can’ happen. It happened. Couldn’t be denied and truth had to be faced. And it’s a parable for our lives.

Adam and Eve got sucked in. Tempter came along and whispered lies in their ears, which they chose to believe. Messed up completely and were completely messed upon. Got contaminated by their sin and that contamination found expression in each and every person of each and every generation ever after. All of their descendents are born with the contamination of soul and spirit which leads to death. We all stink with the aroma of that polluted pond.

Enter Jesus the Christ. Conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit, he is the first ‘uncontaminated’ human since Adam and Eve. Stayed that way through the worst temptations and assaults by the devil and the other worldly powers. Dies in innocence, a perfect ‘human-lamb’ of God. Takes our contamination into death and re-emerges without it. Gives his glorious clean-ness to everyone who calls on his name as Lord of all. By grace, through faith, that majestic clean-ness is available to everybody who believes in him.

Even if you mess-up after being cleaned-up, the heavenly Hazmat Messiah’s joy is to continually clean up your messes. He wants you clean as a whistle. He wants you home.

If you haven’t yet laid hold of him, or you once walked away for him, take the opportunity to change to the Davidson Utility Company right now. The service is divine. The benefits are eternal.

Bless you.