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February Newsletter-Fishes & Loaves

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The Lord IS MY! Shepherd… (23rd Psalm)

I emphasize the ‘is my’ because when we read or say this prayer it should be more akin to a shout, a profound revelation of our relationship with God.  I know you ‘read the paper’, well actually, you probably read the internet, and we are all well aware of the plight I, you, and the whole world faces with the current world affairs. We are aware of the real concerns with national and cultural wars within our own borders and the personal, one on one conflicts of everyday life.  We live in a world of unbelievable contrast and division.  These are tough times.  They hold no definition for the future.  We live in a world of huge and terrifically important choices; a world that tries to make those choices camouflaged but in doing so makes them clear.  They seem to scream to us, ‘choose you this day who you will serve.’   It might even be called ‘kingdom against Kingdom.’  I still (and especially after the last 10 months experience with Jane’s physical struggle) think that for the moment we find ourselves in, the most important message to deliver to believers is to learn to Trust!

It was one of many of the miracles that Mark (Chapter 8) describes in his Gospel.  Jesus had just fed 4000 followers with 7 loaves and a few fish.  The disciples had witnessed this miracle and were fully aware of what had just happened.  Immediately afterward, Jesus and the disciples entered a boat and sailed across the lake.  There, they ran into Pharisees, who were disrespectful and belligerent.  Jesus left them in their unbelief and re-entered the boat and went back across the lake.  In that crossing the disciples, having one loaf of bread in the boat, became pre-occupied with eating and how they were to be fed.  They had just seen Jesus bless and break bread for 4000, and here they are, minutes later, wondering about where their next meal might come.  Jesus’ simple response was, ‘do you not yet understand?’  Really, not a very complex question from Jesus, no hour long lecture here, just a simple question to prompt thought.

In that exchange, he does not tell them that they are stupid or even wrong, simply walking them through what a ‘soulish’ blunder they had made.  Their mistake was in not trusting in his Love, even doubting, just after having seen Jesus feed all those people with so few resources.  They failed to see the compassion of God, the heart of God.  Instead, they saw a miracle, a physical act of God but an act that did not have the staying power of a converted mind and will.  They needed something in their hearts rather than in their eyes!  They remembered the bread but forgot the Father.  They knew the number of fish, number of loaves and the number of people but forgot the Compassion that broke the bread.  Physical miracles are terrific and necessary many times, but we will need a heart change, a mind and will change in the long run, in order to meet the daily grind of this grist-mill called life.  We not only need the experience of having seen God on the outside of life but, in our inner life, eventually we will need to experience Him as well.

Trusting lets us, makes us, free and at ease.  ‘..take no thought what you shall eat…drink or how you will be clothed, …your Father knows what you have need of, but, seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness….all these things will be added unto you…take no thought for the morrow’.  (Matthew 6:31)  Actually, had the disciples gotten that message and not just the image of the miracle, they would not have had to remember anything else.  They would have realized that the one loaf in that boat was more than enough.  Had they been looking with their hearts rather than their heads, they would have known that they had the One that makes all loaves in the boat with them.

They had immediately lost heart to the notion that Jesus taught on how to take no thought for tomorrow.  Tomorrow means any future: the next second, the next hour, the next week, next year and beyond.  The next minute from now is just as future as the next 1000 years in the heart of God.  For us, tomorrow has not been made yet!  Our lives are like novels that are to be read one day at a time; tomorrow we will learn what happens on the next page, revealed in full when we get there, not before.

These disciples were not unbelievers that were simply lost, these were men that had left everything to follow Jesus. They were purposed, dedicated and still ‘growing up in Christ.’  In Mark, Jesus taught of the bad leaven of the Pharisees and also of a good leaven of the Kingdom of God.  Good leaven takes time to expand, time to rise, and time to come to full measure.  I think the Kingdom of God in our lives is like that.  The Love of God gradually leavens the whole man.  We can have ‘things that enter in’ during our daily clamor.  Things that keep us from seeing the subtle and important teaching of Jesus; we see the miracle but miss the Heart which is intended to fortify our Christian walk.  That one loaf and their bellies had blocked the door and barricaded the intimacy between the disciples and Jesus teaching about the Father’s Compassion.  Fear and doubt entered their minds rather than the thought that they were walking with the Creator of the universe.  Sometimes what we have blocks us from God; sometimes, as it was in this case, what we don’t have clouds our thinking, not trusting who has given to us in the past and who is ready, willing and able to give to us again.

It wasn’t the miracle that Jesus wanted the disciples to see; it was the Compassion and Love that was his message.  Signs are easily forgotten; however, once revealed by the Spirit of God, the Love of God will never be forgotten.  We kind of live in a one loaf world right now…is that going to be enough?

MIKESCHAIR with Citizen Way

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January Newsletter-Brain Knowledge

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Cna yuo raed tihs? fi yuo cna
raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid

Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht
I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch
at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod
are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit
pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the
wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and we awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Our brains are such weird things, well not as weird as they are marvelous.  Can you read the message above?  Was it hard or easy?  I can only speak for me and those folks around the office that I tried this on and it was amazing how little effort it took to ‘decode’ the mumble/jumble of those letters.  I surprised myself and they were shocked how our brains could take just the slightest suggestion of a word and make sense out of it.  The brain just ‘knows’ what to do and how to do it.  That kind of knowledge fascinates me.  It makes me think that, if we can get just a glimpse of God, that hint will help us ‘know’ Him.  Of course the interpreter of that kind of knowledge is the Spirit of God.  The Spirit reveals to our hearts the nature and character of God, just like our brain figures out the complexity of the letters above for us.

That kind of knowledge was a big deal for the Apostle Paul, praying that we might be filled with the knowledge of God. Peter prayed that Grace and Peace be multiplied to us through the knowledge of God that ‘according as His divine power (God) has given to us all things that pertain to Life and Godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to Glory and Virtue.’  He linked virtue to knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience and to patience godliness, to godliness kindness and to kindness charity.  And, if those things be in you they make you neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of God. But if you lack those things they make you blind and unable to see that God purged you from Sin. (2Peter 1: 1-9)  John taught us to know the Truth and the Truth will make you Free. (John 8:32)  Christ said that if we had known him we should have known his Father, and if we really could perceive who he (Christ) was we should be able to perceive Who the Father was. (John 14:7)  Hosea promised us that for a ‘lack of Knowledge’ of Him that people perish (experience calamity).

Knowledge is a big deal.  Now I don’t just mean study knowledge.  I don’t mean things learned from hours of thought and an accumulation of tapes, books and conferences. Timothy said that religious believers were constantly learning, yet never coming to the knowledge of Him, possessing a zeal for God but without knowledge (Romans 10:2).  How can that be?  If you go back to the beginning, we get a clue as to what God was ‘dreaming about’ when He created Adam.  God was looking for an intimate relationship with His creature.  The complexity of God (Father, Son and Spirit) was adding to their circle with a hand out to the creature to come join them in relationship.

To help us understand the heart of God’s will (it’s a pretty profound thing to think about, really), he gave Adam Eve and created intimacy between them.  The scriptures say that Adam knew Eve.  It did not mean that he recognized her by her looks, or knew her because she was hanging round the house.  It meant they had the capacity for intimacy; to experience one another in a way best stated as soul to soul.  It is the closest relationship a man and woman can experience and it’s the most intimate experience of the creature.  That’s what marriage was instituted for.  It was to be the vehicle of two becoming one.  Of course with our brilliant minds we turned marriage into a carnal fleshly experience, but God gave marriage to teach us of an intimacy that, while husbands and wives could experience it physically, but also and most importantly experience it in their souls.  Ultimately God wanted that experience of intimacy between a man and womb-man to teach us of the intimacy of God.  Destroying the purpose of marriage destroys the purpose of its ‘oneness’.  There’s a spiritual unification that takes place in God’s man and woman relationships, a ‘mingling’ that teaches us about Him; it is not about the flesh but about the Spirit.  God wanted the creature to know Him in the same intimacy as that of Adam knowing Eve, wanted us to know that just as man and woman would become one, that man (both kinds of man) and God would become one with us. We could become dependent and trusting enough that God could lead us, guide us, and know our every thinking.  And, we would know Him to the point of unconditional Trust.  That’s why I think biblical marriage is always in the bulls-eye, targeted from the beginning to be diminished, confused and destroyed.  Marriage was defined in Genesis, established in the Law and continues to be challenged today, continues to be a focus of man being independent from God and doing things his way.

Knowing God is about yielding to His touch, His hug, His persuading us that He loves us with a love that passes our understanding.  It’s us being intimate with God; face to face with God.  If we want to know what kind of relationship God imagined with the creature, all we have to do is go back to the original relationship.  God walked and talked with Adam, gave him dominion over the whole of creation and was with him in the morning light and the evening calm.  That same God, because of Jesus Christ, again is accessible to walk in our lives daily; the Tree of Life, pulled from the Garden of Eden, has been planted again in the Garden of Gethsemane in the form of Christ.

While the brain may be marvelous, the Spirit of God is even more marvelous.  It’s amazing to read the paragraph above and just shake our heads at the ‘weirdness’ of being able to do so.  Knowing God is so much more than having read about Him or been to a conference about Him, it’s about a Knowledge, a knowing, that is so profound it has the power and a promise to make us Free! It’s knowing Him intimately because we have experienced and learned to have confidence in His promptings and His purpose. However, because we have ‘wee’ understanding much of the time, the Love of God is riddled something like the letters above.  However, if you know the first and the last of God, the beginning and the end, we Know Him in a way that even without all the letters of our understanding being in the right order, the Spirit of God reveals Him to us and reveals a God inviting you to be in His presence, a God who will be there in the good times and the not so good times, 7-24 in an intimate and loving ‘oneness’.  Go figure!

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