#4 – Dark Night of the Soul – LENT 2018

L U S T

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Lust is the desire to benefit self at the expense of other, because lust desires to get.  Love desires to benefit others at the expense of self, because love desires to give.  -Dr Edwin Louis Cole

Strange enough, but this spiritual appetite and attachment comes in the midst of our Edwin Louis Colespiritual exercises and practices.  Even when we are deep in prayer or engaged in the sacrament or in confession.

The first cause as to potentially why this would be so is due to the realm of pleasure that accompanies the satisfaction of spiritual accomplishment.  When the soul receives joy and comfort in acts of devotional love likewise the realm of our senses is also elated and can also be seduced by gratification.

The second cause is the works of the evil one as he seeks to stir up motions of impurity in our nature and if the soul gives heed to any of these , they cause it great harm.  The results can vary from backing away or abandoning an inner devotional life because of fear of attack during these times, which is true, since the devil attacks them more than at other times.  He also succeeds in portraying to them very vividly things that are most foul and impure, and at times are very closely related to certain spiritual things and persons that are of profit and prophet to their souls.  In The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen, he refers to these episodes especially during times of solitude and silence as “monkeys in a banana tree.” What I would call as ghastly hauntings of mind and imagination and emotion.

St. Michael prayerThe third source of these impure plagues like the second come through no fault of their own.  Certain souls are so tender and frail in nature that when they experience spiritual graces, gifts and consolations that the spirit of luxury/lust is upon them immediately, inebriating and delighting the sensual nature in such a manner that it is as if they were plunged into the enjoyment and pleasure of this sin.

This can often take place among those who whether speaking, preaching, performing spiritual actions that a certain vigor and bravado is present and they display a certain kind of vain gratification…this is accompanied as a rule by spiritual complacency in the will.

If love arises from the vice of sensuality, it will at once be observed that the soul’s love of God is becoming colder and a certain remorse of conscience.  Only a truly humble and fervent love of, for and from God can withstand and overcome lust’s wintry bite on our soul’s truest affections.

When our souls enter this dark night, it brings these kinds of love under control.  In the beginning of this dark battle both are lost sight of, which is a frightening reality.

May you find your place in God’s love as neither a euphoric exhilaration nor a distant and disinterested lover who only occupies space under the same roof.  May you find harmony, presence, light, strength, wonder, freedom and courage to be at rest and peace in a relational love that will not ever let you go or let you down.

 

 

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#3 – Dark Night of the Soul – LENT 2018

G R E E D

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7 sins by color

Being discontent with the spirituality that God gives to you…because you do not find in spiritual things the consolation that you desire.  OUCH!

Many can never have enough of listening to counsels and learning spiritual precepts and of possessing and reading many books, and they spend time on all these things rather than on works of mortification and the perfecting of the inward poverty of spirit which should be theirs.  Blessed are the poor in spirit.

They entertain themselves with Christian jewelry and novelties of the faith like children with happy meal toys, they put down one, now take up another.  They walk through a revolving door of one church and out the back door of another.  They try out new crossesgimmicks to give them spiritual happiness, preferring one kind of cross to another because it looks better than the last one.

Pastors as the CEO and Entertainment Director along with their church staff can do this as they seek to make programs and products to feed the greed of making the American Church happy.

All of this is quite contrary to the poverty of spirit which considers only the substance of devotion.  The rest of this is affection and attachment proceeding from imperfection and in order that one may pass into any kind of perfection it is necessary for such desires to be killed.

Those who are to make good progress attach themselves to no visible instruments, nor do they burden themselves with such things, nor desire to know more than is necessary in order that they may act well.  Paul asked in our radical pursuit that we hold true to what we have attained, Philippians 3:16.

snapchatHave we trivialized the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives with “God things” without ever having to face or deal with God.  The last dregs of wisdom of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:12 may provide a Snap-Chat moment into our dis-ease…

In the making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  The end of the matter…Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

I like material things as much as the next guy, but I am not attached to materialism.  I mean I have given up and sold everything in our lives on a number of occasions.  I think we seek to live a life of simplicity.  So I figured I was in the clear on this topic and then I got blindsided by the 18 wheeler barreling down the road of this book.

When reading this chapter of Dark Night of the Soul I was convicted of my greed for spiritual “Turkish Delight”, like Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I use my prayer, fasting, obedience, faith, sacred reading in an effort to gain the latest “word from God” to ease my plight of desperation.  I am addicted to spiritual things in order to idolsbarter for spiritual life.  Yes, these things are a means of grace, but they are not a substitute for the God of grace.  Whenever you misuse or abuse a strength it can become a weakness.

Don’t be fooled by the apparent innocence of the object you’ve chosen as an idol; what is the function of it? Most of our idols also have a perfectly legitimate place in our lives. That’s their cover, that’s how we get away with our infidelity.

Forgive the rival altars we raise.

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#2 – Dark Night of the Soul – LENT 2018

The next seven chapters are to engage “beginners” of this Dark Night of the Soul to look at their imperfections through the seven deadly sins…Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth.

7 sins by color

 

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P R I D E

We may be very fervent and diligent in our spiritual exercises and practices, but what it may cause in us is a certain kind of secret pride.  We may find ourselves condemning others in our hearts when we notice that they do not have the same kind of devotion that we vainly speak of in our desires.

In our secret pride, our flesh often increases the fervor and desire to perform these Pridespiritual practices more frequently.  We are then blinded to all these works and virtues becoming meaningless and in fact, becoming vices…Spiritual Pride

Sometimes, when our spiritual masters (pastor, counselor, sponsor, coach, director, confessor, mentor, sage…I recognize most Christians do not have a relationship with any of these people) do not approve of our addictive spirit and behavior we may charge them with not understanding us or believing in us, or support us.  But in reality we are gaining greatness in being able to move mountains, but we do not have love.

Spiritual pride, a damnable vice for certain, causes some to fall into certain ecstasies in public.  It causes us to want to be seen and known among men.  The flesh is always wanting to be on display and it uses shiny religious fig leaves which is the unholy habitation of the devil.  The Pharisees, those inglorious bastards, with smoke and mirrors and cloak and dagger used the Law to show off their flesh/spiritual pride.  But they felt first hand in the person of Jesus how God opposes pride and then they did what pride is bent to do…silence and damn God if they must and they did…for three days.  Self

In our luscious ambitions to be the favorite pupil of our spiritual director we seek to live a sunny-side up life.  We are to embarrassed to expose our fleshly appetites and attachments, less our confessors should think less of us.  Pride seeks to hide so we conveniently find someone else, even God, to make our confessions of fault, frailty and failure.  But we dare not tell on ourselves to those that we intend to impress.  It would be like one of my children doing some wrong and then going down the street to confess the misbehavior to some other parent in the neighborhood.  That mother or father has no jurisdiction over the soul of my son or daughter and therefore they can offer them guidance, but not correction, forgiveness, mercy, counsel, love.

Another mishandling of secret pride is that it eats us up inside, because we cannot stomach ourselves being less than we have gloated and promoted ourselves to be.  We have failed to accept the limitations of our humanity, that we are but dust.  We have not judged ourselves soberly, and we are black out drunk on the slobber-knocker of pride.  Having to face the hangover of the reality that I am NOT God, not perfect, fractured and broken in my design was and is a wake-up call that keeps saving me from myself.  Lessons that were planted in my heart by Pastor Tom Allen and fertilized by my ministry leader years late, Rod Pruitt.

grace not perfectWhen we do go to God with our imperfections (most Christians only ask for forgiveness, they never actually make the confession of the wrong) it’s so he will finally take from us our ghastly deficiencies and leave us a prescription for some narcotic of peace.  We do not realize that God, whose grace is sufficient, will not take this imperfection from us because it would actually make us prouder.

We have to learn to be transformed in and through our imperfections not to be excused from them or gloss over them with a social media airbrush.  We do not hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, but a standard of GRACE. God gives grace to the humble, but he opposes the proud.

 

 

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#1 – Dark Night of the Soul – LENT 2018

Once upon a time on a Dark Night…I would understand if you did not want to read on.

A Classic by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591).  It is an excursion of the soul on the path of being led by Christ in the way of his cross and resurrection.  I will be doing my best to provide a reflection/summation of each chapter throughout the 40 days of Lent.

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The soul relates the way and manner in which it goes in to mortification (death to self and to all things) in order to attain to the living and delectable love of God.  It is referred to as Purgative Contemplation…Dark Night 1

To passively receive the gift of awareness to meditate, walk about, ponder, and muse (not be amused).  In order that my soulful (helpful) and more often soulish (hurtful) perceptions of myself and how I see this world can be purged, cleaned, renewed, and reconfigured to reflect the glory and oneness of how I, others and this whole life was made by the Creator, Redeemer, King to reflect divine union.

This rite of passage, which again must be understood as to be passively welcomed, is a arduous engagement within the soul whereby it is strengthened and confirmed in the virtues, and made ready for the inestimable delights of God’s love.

The dark night brings with it the cleansing of our soul and the purifying of all our imperfections.  It is an ongoing process of recovery.  The recovery is not in overcoming that which is evil or sinful (a necessity I grant you), but a recovery of the being made, known, loved, understood, appreciated and grateful for the image of God and the union of life with him in Christ by the Spirit.

 

 

 

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ASH WED 2018

The Imposition of Ashes

Don’t let your ASHES be the remains of what once “was”, let them be the POWDER of a presence that always “is”, and the DUST in the Wind of a new creation that “is to come.”

The Smudge & the Smear

The ashes upon your brow are smudged into the crevices of your decaying flesh in the very same spot that the anointing oil is artistically smeared into the pours of your Ashesdelicate skin upon your initiation into the community of the King at your baptism.

In one and same space you are graced with both resurrection and then crucifixion. Neither one in its totality nor in its brutality, but none the less in the reality of the Way, the Truth and the Life of Jesus the Messiah and his followers.

Both the Oil and the Ashes mark you “as Christ’s own forever.” Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Like the name of a specialty store, the church could be called “Oil & Ash”

YOU in the dirt and dignity of your whole being are the Sacrament of his Presence.

Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for AshesArtists work with a diversity of mediums…clay, paint, fabric, metals, light, glass, pencil, sound…but The Artist who put you together works with ASHES.

He gives you Beauty for Ashes!

His works are on display everywhere, everyday and in every one.

The work in each of us is on display in very unique ways and at various stages along the way.

You can and should be careful how you contribute to every mannequin of dust and clay so that you can be a part of the restoration of beauty in someone’s life today.

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Jan 3, 2017

gran-torinoWho was the pastor in Gran Torino…the Priest or Clint Eastwood?  The church today has a manish creature (pastor) that no one calls Father!

Is going to church just another consumer experience for your spiritual resume?

If yes, then GET OUT! and go find the Living God.

Be terrified, take the dare, risk it all, shutter in horror, wander in a daze, sit stooped in silence, clamor about in a sea of inner noise, circumcise your unopened pierced ears, squint through eyes bleached by light, may the scales glossed over by your perceptions be shredded by a single grain of sand, may the canvass of creation tattoo your eye lids, may your lips cracked and bleeding by unbridled passion be burned by the kiss of holy desire, may your tongue get caught in the spokes of your heart, may your grace be forged by the wind burns of tears crisis-crossing your face, may your soul tremble out through your weather veined hands, may the sinews of your strength flatline under the weight of invisible matter, …

We’ll know you’ve found Him when you don’t return, but never go. You only get TWO lives so make it a good ONE.

Be grateful beyond repair, be kidnapped by wonder that can’t be ransomed, be ravaged by divine beauty, be rescued in a mysterious maze, become human again with a child’s gaze.

When I look for the divine I find a man. When I find a man I look for his I AM.

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Why is it that we believe Christianity is to be tolerant or fused with other world religious beliefs? Jesus, the Way went way out of his way to bring an end (read Hebrews) to his own religious system.

The religions of the world have oppressed people, impoverished countries and promoted cultures of enlightened darkness.

Don’t be lulled to sleep by syncretism. Jesus did not come to start a United Nations of Religion.

The Cross is not a town hall meeting of how we can all get along. It is the crucible where all men come to repent and die.

We preach Christ crucified not a world pacified.

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The next Reformation is not from within the Church, but a Reformation back out and away from the infiltration of our unity with the world and its religions.

Jesus is not the leader of the spiritual old guys club (religious leaders… Mohammed, Moon & Sun, Joe Smith, the Fridge, Jehovah & the Witnesses…) who meet in the morning at McD’s for a warm cup of coffee.

He’s the only Son of the Father…that should spill some hot coffee on the groin of the guy next to you!

He is not a pale Galilean, but a towering and furious figure who will not be managed. – Tom Howard

You cant drift on Jesus.  John’s vision is describing the preeminence of his being the lord god, god of gods, king of kings, lord of lords, man of men.  Creator of creation, savior of the world, all the fullness of the godhead dwells in him.  Be held by him, be arrested, don’t divert your attention for one moment.

jesus-iconDon’t let your faith flat-line, don’t let the church shortchange the Christ for a better life message, don’t let your denomination let you sink to the lowest common denominator about who Jesus is or what he wants to do in your life.

Jesus is not the MVP of all those enshrined in the religious hall of fame of the world.  He does not take his place as the most honored among, buddah, moses, mohammed, joseph smith, sun yung moon, the dali lama, confuscious.

Yes we can coexist on earth as people, but what cannot coexist is the gods of the world’s religions and the Christ.  You can have as many gods as you desire and you can call all of them or one of them by the same name, BUT the creed of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church declares, We believe in ONE Lord, Jesus Christ.

You have to keep your eyes and ears opened to see and hear, don’t dose off, don’t just get religion, don’t just hang out with disciples without a vibrant, bell ringing Jesus.

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Revelation 1 (video)

What he is revealing is not a future world, but a continuous present reality.  father-and-sonOne of the reasons why there are so many references to other scriptures in Revelations 404 verses is so we may see that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“In these 518 references to earlier scripture there is not a single direct quotation.  That means that though John is immersed in scripture and submits himself to it, he does not merely repeat it – it is recreated in him.  He does not quote scripture in order to prove something; rather, he assimilates scripture so that he becomes someone.”  -Eugene Peterson

After the ascension, when Christians speak of Jesus they can no longer speak of just the Gospels, but must include his Revelation.  If the Revelation is always present, then it forever tells the future. If it is only future, then it is never present.

What Jesus as God veiled in flesh accomplished in his life, death, burial, and resurrection is actually on display in Revelation. Jesus in the Gospels is like walking thru a Gallery while the art is still shrouded in sheets…come back later to see the art unveiled…in Revelation

In the Gospel Jesus reveals the Father.  In Revelation the Father reveals Jesus.

The Gospel in Revelation is the mysterious disclosure of how all things play out in the story since Jesus became king of the nations.  Revelation is the full mystical disclosure of how the kingdom of God is at work in the heavens and earth since the Last Adam regained our seat as Emperor of the Earth.

The chair is occupied…in Revelation the word THRONE is used nearly 40 times…The God who became Man promised to be with us always…until the end of time.  Jesus isn’t going to come again…but he will reappear. He hasn’t gone from us, we just can’t see him. Heaven isn’t a distant place just a different dimension. His in and out appearances before the Ascension were prototypes of how we were to expect life to be once he sent the Holy Spirit.

Today we begin the Revelation of a global Icon.

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