Morning Meditation 3.31.15

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Morning Meditation 3.31.15

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Today I and many people remember & celebrate the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters. It is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

While discrimination affects the lgbtq community a great deal, those who are #transgender face more discrimination both inside and out.

As an ally, I have been blessed by my transgender brothers and sisters, and so I aim to stop and address transphobia as it occurs around me. I will carry out justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God and with the lgbtq community.

We still have a long way to go, but I believe we’re getting there :)

~ Nathanael~

I come to the bible with baggage

At my church we recently started a new series called “the white space” (click here for the message from last weekend) and it’s a series about exploring;

The Bible.

Who wrote it? Why do we have it? What’s the purpose of it? Is it to be taken literally or not?

How do we engage the Bible in a way that opens us to the kind of transformation and change that it’s meant to bring in our lives individually and together as a community?

I missed out hearing it last weekend, but this morning as I listened to it via the podcast I started dwelling on what the bible means to me, and it led me to realizing that I come to the bible with baggage.

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The baggage I come to the bible is threefold; it’s what I gleaned from the bible through my father’s lens, my mother’s lens, and my own lens.
Disclaimer: not all of what I’ve gleaned over the years can be summed up in “good” or “bad” terms, it’s what I learned and it shaped me and still to a certain extent it shapes me. My views of God and the bible 5 years ago doesn’t necessarily reflect where I am now and what I think, evolution in this regard should be embraced not looked at with contempt.

With that being said, what I gleaned from the bible via my father was a black and white stance, a literal take on nearly everything in the bible. I recognized his emphases were on verses concerning Paul rather than Jesus. I also got the feeling that God was out to get humanity, or at the very least a portion of humanity.
I remember when I was either 6 or 7 in our basement we had a easel with a large pad of paper on it, and on it was the Calvinist TULIP acronym on it and a cross shaped bridge between God and humanity. I learned both of their meanings from my father, but even then I wrestled with this take on God.
From my mom I learned I was not good, because “only God is good”, I was called bad but good was never affixed to me. I also learned sin, as she defined it, was whatever separated us from God (and in a way I still hold onto this view). She instilled the majority of my spiritual life between the two of them; bible studies, read-the-bible-in-a-year, “our daily bread” daily devotional, prayer time.

I don’t regret this part of my upbringing, it laid a foundation, my foundation, of who I am today. It served as building blocks and not stepping stones; that is, it built me spiritually, it wasn’t a jumping off to another item, and so on.

***

And yet, as it naturally happens, my views changed. More to the point, I changed. It was gradual, but I realize a common theme; God put people in my life who indirectly caused me to think differently, a gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit to reexamine my thoughts and ideas and views. I will say this, that whenever you encounter “the others” in your life, you might have to change what you hold dear, because people from all walks of life matter to God.
So many of my thoughts and perspectives were laid to waste, my assumptions and presumptions were dismissed, and my level of grace extended and received multiplied exponentially…Thanks be to God!

But still, I carry quite a bit baggage when it comes to the bible. If I’m honest with myself I am usually combatant when people drop a “well you know Paul said about that” in a conversation, and I’m quick to retort “yeah? Well what did Jesus say about that?” Paul has his say in quite a bit of the New Testament, and I want to delve into what he said but it’s hard for me to do sometimes.

But I want to. I want to engage in difficult texts, I want to engage with Christians who have different stories and philosophies and theologies that differ from my own, I want to and I believe I’m moving in that direction.

This past weekend this model of reading the bible was discussed:
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And it’s what I needed and also what I wanted. God and this model will help me get out of my head and into my heart, inasmuch it’s going from internal practice to external behaviors.
I come with baggage, but I’m able to discard it in a healthy manner that respects both my past and my present, and certainly as God will lead me- my future.

~Nathanael~

Morning meditation 3.30.15

Morning mediation 3.30.15

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We live in a world that’s beautiful, and before you try to sway me into thinking / believing otherwise, here’s my 2 litas. As we enter into Holy Week, we know where this road winds; we know the crowds who waved palm branches will be the ones clamoring to crucify Jesus.
And once we get to Golgotha, we face Jesus on the cross. We collectively put him there, and God leveled with humanity and “it is finished” was uttered and Jesus died for all of humanity, and 3 days later rose again.

It is finished, the God so many then (and even now) thought was out to get them, to destroy them, gave his only son as a gift to humanity. ALL of humanity, not a select few, not to those who followed him, not to those who sing the church songs / know the bible verses / tithe 10%… ALL. OF. HUMANITY.

We as followers of Christ should live that out, the actions of what Jesus said and did to those around us. We shouldn’t be living with our heads down, distancing ourselves, and taking on a false piety that we have the corner on God. We don’t and never will.
God reveals Godsself to all of mankind and womankind time and time again. I try to conduct my life in light of what Jesus said and did, I live in light of the resurrection.

And the world before then and now and beyond our finite mortal coils will get progressively better. It might not seem that way, but believe it or not, perfect shalom is on the horizon.
All of humanity will be reconnected and reunited with their creator, all will be set in a place of peace. This I believe with every cell in my body.
“It is finished” is also a posture of moving forward, to play an active role in this world around us. Don’t let your existence be one of coasting, we need you!

It is by playing a part we make the world a beautiful place. It is a good world, and will continue to be because “it is finished”. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too find ours as well, and by doing so we can live that out to everyone around us.
There will come a day where everyone will utter this universal truth, and what a glorious day that will be!

~ Nathanael~

6 bean red and green chili with smoked turkey tails

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1 can of butter beans

 

1 can of red kidney beans

 

1 can of chickpeas

 

1 can of black beans

 

1 can of Lima beans

 

1 can of navy beans

 

smoked turkey tails

 

1 bottle of Guinness

 

4 ounces of buffalo wing sauce

 

4 ounces of teriyaki sauce

 

4 ounces of jalapeño lime wing sauce
4 ounces of Herdez salsa chipotle sauce

 

4 ounces of Hatch Valley Salsa (green Chile peppers)
Put all ingredients into crockpot, stir, sprinkle a little 5 Chinese Spice, cook for 7 hours on high + 1 on low.

Morning meditation 3.15.15

Nearly morning meditation:

On words…

Words don’t bother me. “bad words” / “cuss words”, that is. If I am going to care about what someone said to season their conversation, or to appropriately connect a socially deemed strong word to a strong feeling or a strong situation, I personally think my priorities are whack.

I should care about those dying of malnutrition,
I should care about those dying because they haven’t any clean drinking water,
I should care about those who have been martyred, who have been torn from their homes and homelands because some ruthless dictator has swept over their lands.
I should care about the gay son or lesbian daughter who is kicked out of home and church because their family, their church community, deem them “living in sin”.

And I do care about these people-related issues, and I am working on ways to care MORE, which is part of the reasons “bad words” / “cuss words” don’t bother me in the slightest. And guess what? God doesn’t care either.

Good morning y’all! I love you, but God loves you more!

Of God, the universe, and how the more I know the less I know

Imagine if you will the universe. We as humans have a desire to make sense of the world around us as well as the universe around us, and so we send objects in space to take photos of us and then some. What we can see is appropriately known as “The Observable Universe”;

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and it is as we zoom out we can see the complexity and the magnitude of the universe. We get lost in the bigness of it all, we are enamored of the complexity and we are compelled to travel farther into space.

and in a similar fashion, that’s how I “observe” God.

***

It is true, that God is as big as you’ll allow God to be, so if you make God convenient, bite-sized, put-God-in-your-pocket, manageable, domesticated, and so forth…God will remain that small. God will be knowable, comprehensible, understandable, and you never need wonder what is God up to because God has been reduced to a systematic theory and thus is fully known.

But, if you are one for dreaming big and offering up bold statements to God, try this one on for size; “God I want to know more about you, on your terms and not my own”. It’s not an uttering of magic words, it’s simply allowing God to be freed from the constructs we impose upon God.

It is under these circumstances that we go further and further out and see how small we truly are inasmuch how big God is; the box we once contained God to is a mere blip, and the further out we go the less we know and yet it is because of this we are compelled to go out farther still.

***

So let go of the God you once claimed to know and go farther. And as you go out you will see your smallness and fragility, but embrace the fact that God loves you deeply and completely!

~Nathanael~

Grace at our convenience is no grace at all

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I was dwelling and meditating on the nature of the grace the other day, and it crossed my mind; if we are to extend grace to ourselves and others, it should be radical and be freely extended without convenience.

One of the definitions of Convenience is “adds to one’s ease or comfort” and subsequently lies the crux of the situation; grace shouldn’t be at our ease or our comfort, it should be given freely without strings attached.

Yet I think that sometimes the reason (or at least, one of the reasons) grace isn’t extended freely is because we as humans have this thing called memory, and we recall the offense[s] that have happened both past and present and our actions are somewhat dictated by those memories. We want to extend grace, but we remember what was done to us…to our family…to our community, and in remembering perhaps it takes us back to that moment, whether it was a day ago or 10 years prior or even longer.
And that is why I think grace is hard to extend to others and ourselves, because we want to extend it on our terms and when we want to…but I think that flies in the face of what grace is, because grace subverts the norm every time in every way.

***
So where do we go from here when we’re confronted with our own shortcomings as well as the shortcomings of others? I believe in the words of St. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “It is always the right time to do the right thing” and this time we have in front of us is ideal for extending grace. Not because we ought to do extend grace, but we should, for in some way this very grace is being extended back to us in a way that gives weight to grace being a beautiful example of a symbiotic relationship.

So wrestle with forgiving the offense, be mindful as how you deal with forgetting, and let grace help you let it go.

~Nathanael~