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“Faith is not something that is rewardable.  Faith is the illumination of our darkness.  Faith accepts whatever is there already.”


Mark 10:

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

John 5:

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids-blind, lame, and paralyzed. 4 – – – 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Bartimaeus ask for sight and gets it.

The invalid when asked by Jesus if he wants to be healed only complains about how he can’t drag himself into the water ahead of others—and Jesus heals him.


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As is common with all systematic theologies—a particular truth is treated like a horse then ridden until the poor beast can’t go another plodding step, and then shot in the head.

What is true is that if we’re left totally to our own devices we’ll never come close to what God desires for us.  We’ll continue to operate in our fallen, egoistic way (“The World and all that is of it”; might makes right; I can figure out on my own what’s right and wrong [Tree of Knowledge thing]; if I just get the right formula and try harder I can make things work out for me, etc.) That is the broad road that leads to perpetual destruction.  However, because God is loving toward us his creatures he took the initiative to rescue us by seeking the lowest level–in becoming one of us and identifying with our predicament.  God doesn’t love us by beating the bejubus out of himself (the Son), rather he loves us so much that he’ll allow us to have our way with him by venting our anger and frustration and allowing us to kill that which we fear the most—our (mis)perception of a god who is opposed to us.  “I love you so much that I’d rather you killed me than that I should harm you.”  When we come to a place of trusting God we do so because we have had some experience of his trustworthy-ness.  We have begun to realize that this God really does have our best interest at heart.  He is so beautiful that even if he slays me—for whatever reason I cannot understand—I continue to trust that he always has in mind for me what is truly good and right.  Systematic theology always breaks down at this point because there is no reasonable explanation for this trust.  This kind of trust can only be experienced relationally.  Love cannot be weighed or decanted—only experienced, enjoyed, and possibly rejected out of distrust–which is the essence of fear.

When we cease from our fearful provision for ourselves (aka—Sin) then we have entered into “the mind of Christ”.  (Phil. 2:1-13)

(I guess I’ve made a good start at writing systematic theology….)

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If morality is simply following a written or commonly accepted code, then that is more like religion or conformity. In this sense morality makes life somewhat easier by keeping people’s actions within certain boundaries—societal “guardrails”. It’s a useful way of protecting ourselves from the aggressions of others.

I think the Pope Emeritus expressed the meaning of Christian spirituality well;

“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When we really do “encounter” The Person, then our entire perspective about what it is to live will be changed. That Person will affect us dramatically. Paul referred to this as “fruit of the Spirit”. That Spiritual fruit transcends “morality” and moral living. Personally, I think that perhaps the “bedrock” change is that my mystical encounter with Christ has allowed me to be more open and present with other people. I’m really beginning to understand that we’re all brothers, not just theoretically, but experientially. I’m beginning to understand and be able to practice (haltingly); “love one another just as I have loved you.”


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God spoke in my head. He spoke in one short sentence. It wasn’t my cogitative facility. I know the difference because this has never happened to me before. So, either God spoke to me directly or I’m losing it. I came wide awake and heard the complete sentence/statement. Here it is;
Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
?? yeah,?.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Yeah, I know.
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” !
YEAH, I KNOW! Colossians 1 something. ??
Christ in you, the hope of glory.” !!!
Alright then…I’ll get up and read the entire letter!!???
I did.

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I’ve been engaged in a dialogue with a Jew named Steve who lives in Israel.   Steve is intelligent, well informed, and articulate.  I’ve been learning from Steve and perhaps he’s also learning something from me.  Most importantly, we’re making an effort to understand where the other is “at”.  His last reply to me was in the form of sharing some experiences from recently and in the past which referred to as “reminiscent of the parable of the “Good Samaritan.””  Well worth reading.


Steve, I hope we can continue our dialogue here.  Please feel free to start up again in the comments.

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guitar pee

This blog post by Richard Beck is a hoot!

<—– Here's an appropriate photo to go with it;

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Who Gave Himself

Gal. 1:3-5 from the Complete Jewish Bible;

Grace and shalom to you from God our Father and from the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, 4 who gave himself for our sins, so that he might deliver us from the present evil world-system, in obedience to the will of God, our Father. 5 To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

“Present evil world-system” and “present evil age” mean the same thing, but too many people think that being delivered from the present evil word-system means dying and going to heaven—which isn’t true. “Who gave himself for our sins”… to do what? Pay a debt of sin we can never pay ourselves? There may be some small truth to that, but I don’t recall any statements to that effect by any NT writers. “Gave himself for our sins” so that God would be angry with Jesus but not us? That’s a caricature of certain statements of Paul, but not true.

What are “sins”? Sin is an absence of rightness and goodness — which is the state of being/doing what we are made for and intended for. Sin ultimately is rejecting God and esteeming ourselves above Him. Sin is a (self) deprivation of that which is good and wholesome. “When Christ who is your life appears…” If my buddy falls into the river and is caught in some roots and tangles with his head below water he is in a state of privation (deprivation) and needs me to “give myself” by jumping into the water and give him “kisses” of air until I (or other rescuers) can get him untangled and back into a state were he can breath air instead of water.

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