Christian Porn…

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If we dared to dip more of our big toe into the cool, clear waters of G-d’s love we may never experience the depth of transformation our Savior can offer.  Through out my neighborhood, I’m encouraged yet pensive by seeing the little “You Matter” signs advertising a local big, box church.  Certainly the love of G-d for every Image-bearer is inexhaustible.  This type of keen marketing has led to building multiple sites with many satisfied attendees.  Yet bad theology is no different from self-serving pornography objectifying the mission of Christ without chancing the intimacy of experiencing His relationship with the marginalized. The blood sacrifice hyped from the popular mainstream pulpits or stages, has left nothing for the hearer to do but be joyful and grateful.  Joy and gratitude are wonderful psychological building blocks for a healthy mind.  Both add a sense of patience and positivity to a friendly perspective. Was obtaining a state of joy and gratitude the reason for sending a Savior?

Is there more than “You Matter”?

What does it mean to be a disciple? What does G-d really envision for our lives? What really is the “purpose driven” life? Is scripture more than an inspirational tool that ingratiates a selfish sense of self-piety wrapped in the white-washed sheets of self worth and gratitude? …but “You Matter”?

Instead of the false cloaks of “spiritual awareness” and vanity of “gifts”, what if we wrapped ourselves in what we profess as sin?  What if we became that sin you find worthy for the heat of Hell and pleaded for forgiveness? Seriously…”You Matter”!

Good theology finds true freedom to fearlessly protest the oppression of any Image-bearer of G-d. Pick your favorite hatred or prejudice, button-up, and become one with those you despise.  Plead for their forgiveness even when they do not understand. Becoming at-one with atonement theory allows the curious disciple to plumb the depth of the final plea from a crucified Messiah; “Father forgive them for they know not what they do!”

If your religion has an obsession with purity codes or vices that justify a Hell for the sinners they envy… run.

If only joy and gratitude from hearing such a “wonderful message” fill your Sundays…run.

If your hear a message that ‘cuts to the heart’… stay.

Unless we are moved to spew more than a “good word“, we will only cool the big toe of our curiosity.  We must realize John 3:16 builds the mind and soul towards the new freedom without fear – even that of persecution or death. Unless we become wrapped in our neighbor’s oppression we will cheat ourselves of ever knowing a G-d willing to bleed for us! Otherwise the cross is just a murderous, Roman tool of fear void of any meaning of our Father’s scandalous love for the Image we bear.

Its not about you. Fearlessness Matters.

“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace.
In the world you face persecution.
But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
John 16:33
(NRSV)

Nothing Ever Dies.

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Nothing ever truly dies…ever.
Eventually, our earth suits fail. Reality’s lottery that cuts short time together with loved ones is devastating. For the eyes dim to what awaits beyond the precipice of our mortality gains my greatest of sorrows. Even in the waning moments before the heart fails, the shadow of grief gleans a silver-lining to see past unbelief, knowledge, and distractions. The veil thins as our breathing becomes shallow and labored allowing a new transparency to an unknown hope.
One must wonder while simultaneously galled at the factors that keep hope away from a precious life.  If nothing ever dies and Christ freely offers Himself as ‘life itself’, then what part of Pascal’s gamble (at the least) keeps His light from drawing the curious mind like a moth to a light? Jesus allowed the Gospel free reign to spread to the four corners of the world. Surely He knew that the recipients of this ‘Good News’ would domesticate what should be wild for the sake of building an empire. However, all empires are built upon sifting sand. Only Kingdoms are built upon solid rock. Despite the unsavory history of dolling out salvation, the Savior sent His Spirit to continue what Jesus began allowing hope to transcend what was never meant to be imprisoned.
Nothing, especially hope, ever dies. Nevertheless, the patience exhibited by the Creator to spoon-feed His joy endures even now. Watching His baby grow into the awareness of His love, regardless of wobbly first steps, falls, and tantrums. Yet Torah found some rich soil to dive deep down and drink and feed a healthy shoot. The discussions allowed plenty of shade for the best attempts to define the ever-present light that warmed the outside of their broadening leaves. When time came for sending an obedient and compassionate Messiah, He sent His only Son, Jesus. Obedient even unto death to fulfill the immeasurable concept of a Creator’s love.
Thankfully, power, hatred, ignorance, and inequality do die. Mortality makes short work of any man who is convinced he is more than what he was meant to be. Mortality quiets every rogue and savage heart to frightened children shivering in the dark. The dark they face is their greatest regret when eternity makes them aware of the True Light that could warm their goosebumps into a soft, golden glow while chasing away the cold and damp darkness stiffening their joints. Eternity offers no escape for the prideful to review their tragic missteps along a path seen through humble and hopeful eyes.
The food, the Bread of God, is an irresistible will we are given to digest. With the hope of Christ aflame within, the sorrow, the mourning, the oppressed, and marginalized is transformed within the white-hot, crucible of True Love. The dross rises, leaving behind what is amazing and beautiful. This freedom cannot die for it is fearless. The spoon-feeding through the power of man, reduces a chance to savor the viaticum. Instead, stagnant traditions are ritualized, as if frozen in fear unwilling to release the string holding a kite from rising. Hesitant pastors offer milk to a babe instead of meat for discipleship. Nevertheless, the Creator loves and pours mercy, the very gift of a Father’s soul, to especially those who need it most. Some crawl and never learn to walk. Some begin to walk and never run. Some simply fly. Each servant is offered equality of God’s treasury. Love will draw even the slowest movements towards hope with abundant reward.
You see we cannot truly die because God’s love holds us all.
Move towards what cannot be resisted.
Christ, by our light.

One Day In His Court

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Within the everglow of God,
When humility begs consent,
Where the soul barely sees,
How mercy bears our grievous offense,
Forgiveness, not violence, only makes our choices free.

Vanity tethers away all charity,
Corrupting once pure hearts,
Contently Numb to Poverty’s mourn,
Selfishly sculpting themselves as art,
Leaving faith, hope, and love cold and stillborn.

Nevertheless, God waits,
Patiently, dry day after day,
Vigils for the vast unknowing,
Beckoning that love find its way,
Choking ordained springs from overflowing.

Soon the thrashing floor will clear,
Mighty is the Lord’s winnowing fork,
Chaff engulfed by wrath’s unquenchable fire,
As Judgment holds its only court,
Illumined by the glow that love required.

By Chris Clody
2/19/17

Forty days to Freedom

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Actually, it wasn’t forty days at all but a need to know why this number is so significant to that little tribe of Jewish nomads who introduced our world to the One True G-d. I encourage you to spend forty minutes of investigation in exploring the concepts of transition and renewal bound to this number. Before long, you may find yourself driven into that wilderness with Jesus who thwarts temptation with the words from the fifth book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy. My friend and guide has further illumined David’s confrontation with Goliath, this malevolent giant surrounded by 6’s (6 cubits high, 6 weapons, and 60 shekels heavier wearing his snakelike, scaly  armor). This very beast of creation who boasted of capturing the Ark of the Covenant and brought it to the temple of Dragon stood and taunted the Israelites during their morning and evening prayers. Yet it was out in this wilderness that David defeats Goliath of Gath (one of five city states of the Philistines) with but a sling and five stones drawn from a brook. Using the smoothest stone, let’s guess and call it the fifth stone, he kills this enormous Philistine by hitting him where we all must keep the Torah, the five books of God’s wisdom.

I’ll let the numbers 5, 666, and 40 stretch your contemplation but let’s not do that on an empty stomach. How about enjoying the five fruits in honor of the Jewish holiday of Tu BiShvat seder.  Here we enjoy fruits in the following order: olives, figs, grapes, dates, and pomegranates. When you eat an olive, it’s bitter and you spit the pit out right away. You’ll then you eat the sweet fig and maybe roll that pit around in your mouth for a little longer. The grapes are sweet yet the seeds are so small.  Sometimes you spit these crunchy little seeds out, swallow them, or get wedged between teeth. However, when you eat a date, the seeds cannot be separated from the fruit and eaten as a whole. Finally, the epitome (sorry couldn’t resist!) of fruits, is the pomegranate, that tempting “apple” of Eden, in which the seed is actually the fruit! This transition from an unwanted pit to actual fruit encourages our transition from Genesis to Deuteronomy (and hopefully the fruits of our labor).

Just a note regarding another seder, the Passover (Pesach), which encourages young and old alike to retell Exodus as if they were there in the dust and commotion. One of the most emphasized themes of this seder is Freedom. In fact one of the four names of Passover is Hag ha-Herut (The Feast of Freedom).

In the end, we are given a chance at faith, to be pushed, driven, tested, and transformed into a renewed retelling of our life in G-d. We begin as rough rocks allowing the water of the Word to wash over us, rounding sharp edges to become that smooth stone hopefully chosen by a (soon to be) King. We must run thirsty into the desert and face our own wilderness and realize our only battle is using the words Jesus himself chose from the living stream of Torah. This Jew, named Jesus, who came “…only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), also claimed to be the fulfillment of Torah. Like the seeds of a date, Jesus cannot be separated from Torah, nor should Christianity not see Torah as a transformative and living gift from G-d. Just as passionately as Jesus wanted to gather the Jews as a hen to her chicks, so must Christianity embrace the Torah beyond its shallow understanding and truly bring a culminating awareness to what the Gospel writers are hoping to convey. Christianity exegetes the seeds from dates without realizing their integral part of the flesh.

Remember, we all must be transformed in Christ. Truly every seed must die, slowly transform, offering unexpected new life, freedom, and flesh for the world. Now consider the seed of a pomegranate…consider true freedom.

Shalom,
Chris

When God Grieves

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“Did Jesus make living Torah easier?” was asked by my pastor at a bible study last night.
**Warning:  If you are comfortable with the status quo of Christian theology then please exit out.**

Still here? Wooohooo! This question will lead you on an insatiable quest, reuniting the very living scope of the Old and New Covenant.  The moment will come when you realize the beauty of Jesus and a hijacked perspective morphing further and further from the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice fulfilled by this God-man called Jesus.  Ask yourself how the promise of freedom, hope, rest, and privilege could be truly understood and taught by those already at the top of the food chain?  Could someone write a book about birth without ever going through pregnancy, labor, and delivery? It may be technically correct but disingenuous.  Everyday is a new as I the present business of Christianity is peeled away, layer by layer, revealing new and more resplendent facets shimmering atop Mt. Sinai to even death upon a cross.  The writings of St. Paul have brighter meanings and not the ramblings of a zealous Jew refusing to use punctuation.  The Old Testament that once thought foreshadowed can now be seen through the lens of Sinai as a repetitive rubric that Jesus embraced perfectly.

Anywho, the question at hand: Did Jesus ever at He could make living the this life bound by Torah any easier?  As always, my answer awaits hidden in my morning Rosary.  Yep…I just said that.  You see the rosary is a discipline of seeing significant events of a son of Mary and Son of God through the unmatched intimacy of the eyes of a mother (a second class citizen).

My answer is “yes”.  Ultimately by what He said in John 14:26(NIV): “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  It is in the understanding that this Advocate is also described as a Comforter. I also enjoy pondering the ‘jealousy’ component of this hidden, Omniscient One.

Current Christianity prefers slippery and blurred concepts exposing a pitiful disconnect between salvation and the Kingdom at hand.  Salvation finds a post life existence further detached from Paul’s plea to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling“(Phil 2:12:NIV).  A life in Torah espousing a life and prayer and service leading to (a present) salvation awakens the Christian slumber to a Kingdom in our midst and our accountability to love God and our neighbor. Otherwise, to ignore the Comforter is to grieve God.

His Peace,
Chris

A Baby. A Manger. Our Continued Stupidity.

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Left to deliver humanity’s solution, a unwed, fourteen year old Miriam pushes and strains to relieve the weight of her conscience. A small fire dances off her furrowed brow as the crisp, shriek of an infant cuts the stench of sleeping animals. Quickly she wraps little, desperate cries in rags before pressing quivering lips to her breast to suck.  Yet something is not normal as Miram’s wide, brown eyes capture the glow of a star stream.  The night sky is aflight with wings, singing, and… Angels! Yes!! Angels!!! Armies of choirs and music thicken the air that tremble her bones as her newborn warms and feeds as one again with her.

In five days, those pushed to the margins will still to just survive by whatever strips of life they can grab in hope of adding some normalcy to a life far removed from you and I. Oppression is the very hand that pushes the “great unwashed” to the half-lit caves of society.  The sub-existence of a life truly loved by neighbor scrapes by in both the physical and mental realms of forced martyrdom. Yes, in five shopping days churches will gorge on unworthy amounts of praise and monies by some that darken their doors but twice a year. Money for a priest’s three-bedroom house, or a ridiculous addition to the a McMansion of the likes of Joel Osteen, or bonuses for the talented but truly ‘passionate’ motivational ring leaders providing amid streaming confetti-like snow and a wondrous, laser-light show.  Quietly money will find its usual course to some promised charity while other towards legal fees intent on “settling” and silencing their latest sexual or financial scandal.  Money will find hidden pockets and obscurity and before suburban streets are adorned green and tan by orphaned fir trees amid strewn cardboard boxes. Aaaaahhhh, the magic of consumeri…..Christmas!

Maybe you have another word other than stupidity-  if so, please insert here _______.  At what point does the ‘faithful’ grow up and begin wondering what took place 2000 years ago during the virgin birth of an unwed mother.  You know we have a word for that… More importantly, outside the colossal, bureaucratic, orthodox governance or entrepreneurial marketing grabs of soul-selling Christianity, the curious outsider must wonder if the ‘faithful’ ever dared their vanity enough to lose their faith in order to find that reason spoken to Miriam?  Has a priest or pastor ever lifted their voice against the comforts of job security to stop this deliberate anesthetic-doping of Christian movement gobbled up by our pill-popping, consumers?

That first shriek of a shivering infant will end with a painful, final gasp of an innocent life of the man called Jesus. Consider that cost and our opportunity to partake and explore the humanity of this man. Imagine if we missed this coming Sunday and hand-delivered our biannual contribution to a local mission?  Maybe, for once in our adult ‘journey’ we will come just a bit closer to understanding why an impoverished birth crowded the sky with undefined awe and otherworldly wonder.  Instead of the same old, same old overfeeding the wealth management staples of ‘Christianity’ how about doing something one of Christ’s disciples would do by seeking their brother, their master, their Lord, in the lonely and forgotten?  Imagine that.

Maybe that other word is “surreal”… Seriously, who are we fooling? Certainly not Jesus.

Run to Him for He is cold, He is hungry, He is naked, He is sick, He is poor, He is in prison, He has a single mom, He has been wrongfully accused and shamed because who we say He is…yet when you find Him you will find an immeasurable kind of love that explains why He came, why He died, and why we no longer need to fear oppression.

Emmanuel.

Chris

 

Fear – Our Favorite Opiate

History Forgets…again

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Religion has become our focus,
So easily demonized,
Religion should be our impetus,
Simply and joyfully exercised!

Politicians and preachers,
Expose their dim and darkened minds,
Persist in swaying the fearful,
Starving armies led by the blind.

Love has become celebrated –
But sadly emancipated.
Humanity longs for compassion,
Fear’s opiate forgets God’s passion.

Become change…for good.
Love your God through your neighbor.
Peace I leave.
Chris