Thursday, December 25, 2008

Medieval Times


This past Saturday, we took our two oldest grandchildren to Myrtle Beach to see Medieval Times. Last year, we started this as a Christmas tradition which we all enjoy.

Medieval Times is a dinner show set in medieval Spain with a king, a princess and a royal court with knights. During the show, the knights compete and battle. It's an exciting, fast paced spectacle which keeps you on the edge of your seats.

At the beginning of the show, as we were eating, we watched Andalusian stallions perform. The beauty and grace of these specially trained horses is perfect and watching them perform is breathtaking.

Included in our package was a DVD describing what takes place behind the scene. We were taken to the 250 acre ranch in Texas where the horses live. I was thrilled to hear that the horses are given freedom to roam and just be horses. Everything sounded so wonderful until the scene switched back to the arena and we watched the horses perform. The narrator told us how much the horses loved to perform. He said that they live to perform; it's their job.

I'm sure the horses love to perform but . . . isn't prancing on cue unnatural behavior? It seems to me that their trainers have taken what is natural behavior for a horse and harnessed it and made it unnatural. I wondered if those horses really understood what it means to live free if they might not choose their freedom rather than the artificial life of performance.

I'm sure those of you who are familiar with my blog can figure out where I'm going with this but isn't this the same as institutional religion? Religion has taken behavior that is natural for believers and made it unnatural. Our relationship with God and other believers has now become planned with worship and relationship fitting into a pre-programmed slot.

At one time, I loved it and lived for the times when I could be in church. My life revolved around those times. I actually thought that this was what I was created for until Father removed me from that environment. He took me out into the wild to begin showing me what I was really created for. It wasn't to perform on schedule. It was to enjoy life as his child and to share that life with my brothers and sisters.

At first the old way seemed better but, didn't Jesus say that no one having drunk old wine immediately desires the new because he thinks the old wine is better? There is a detox period when we learn how to live free from the man made trappings of religion. The temptation to go back is often strong but, if we persist, we will in time begin to experience the freedom and joy that we were created for and then there will be no going back.

2008 has been a wonderful year as I've made new friends and strengthened old friendships. This blogging community has been a source of great encouragement for me and I look forward to continuing this journey with all of you in 2009.

Merry Christmas!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

John the Baptist in context - clarified

Adam had added a comment to my previous post regarding Darin Hufford's blog "John the Baptist in context." I tried several times to respond but kept drawing a blank so I asked Darin for his input. I thought Darin's comment were great and shared them in my response to Adam.

After reading Adam's comment, Darin felt that further clarification was needed so he added his response to his original blog post. The addition reads as follows:

"The indwelling Spirit is not something that is supposed to drain us of ourselves but rather to magnify the authentic self that God created in us. The flesh is not the essence of who we are. It's just the stuff that is attached to us. We can get rid of all "flesh (sinful nature)" and still have "ME or US" left. That's the part that God wants to INCREASE. Many of us have been convinced by a religious system that we are supposed to get rid of the "Me" part as well; as though that somehow glorifies God or makes him happy."

To read Darin's blog with the additional paragraph, follow this link.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Colonoscopy

I figured most of us can probably relate to his experience and the few who have never been fortunate enough to have this procedure can find out what they have to look forward to.

This is from news hound Dave Barry's colonoscopy journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this is, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. 'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

On the subject of Colonoscopies...

Colonoscopies are no joke, but these comments during the exam were quite humorous..... A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

1. 'Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where no man has gone before!

2. 'Find Amelia Earhart yet?'

3. 'Can you hear me NOW?'

4. 'Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?'

5. 'You know, in Arkansas, we're now legally married.'

6. 'Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?'

7. 'You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...

8. 'Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!'

9. 'If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit.'

10. 'Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.'

11. 'You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?'

12. 'God, now I know why I am not gay.'

And the best one of all.

13. 'Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?'

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The heart and the power of believe

A friend of mine recently sent the following email to Darin Hufford. Her email documents an amazing report of how medical science is now confirming the truth about our hearts. I think it’s a fascinating report that will be very encouraging so I’m posting it here in its entirety.

A letter I received about the "Believe" blogs by Nancy Rankin

Hey Darin,

In reference to your recent blogs about the power of believe...and how some folks didn't seem to quite "get it."

I submit this under the category of fascinating, or maybe science catching up with the bible?

Dr Andrew Armour Ph.D. is a heart specialist who noticed the presence of neurons in the heart - he noted a sophisticated collection of these and learned that the heart contains a complex nervous system of its own. He soon realized there is a more intimate connection between the heart and brain than had previously been known or understood. Indeed, the doctor claims that the heart actually sends more information to the brain than the other way around! Dr Armour has written a pamphlet called, Anatomical and Functional Principles. His publisher makes the following comment about this writing:

Groundbreaking research in the field of neurocardiology has established that the heart is a sensory organ and a sophisticated information encoding and processing center, with an extensive intrinsic nervous system sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a "heart brain" ....Armour discusses intriguing data documenting the complex neuronal processing and memory capabilities of the intrinsic cardiac nervous system, indicating that the heart brain can process information and make decisions about its control independent of the central nervous system. By providing an understanding of the elaborate anatomy and physiology of the cardiac nervous system, this monograph contributes to the newly emerging view of the heart as a complex, self-organized system that maintains a continuous two-way dialogue with the brain and the rest of the body. (source: http://www.heartmath.org/research/e-books/index.html)

Professor Paul Pearsall Ph.D. also made a contribution to the new discussion of the intelligence of the human heart. After interviewing nearly 150 heart and other organ transplant recipients, Pearsall proposed the once staggering concept that cells of living tissue could have the capacity to remember.

"...Paul Pearsall is one of many researchers who observed that transplant patients who receive an organ from another person's body may also receive much more -- what he calls their "cellular memories." Recipients have reported inheriting everything from the donor's food cravings to knowledge about his murderer -- information that in one case led to the killer's arrest. As a result of these and other researchers' findings, Pearsall is now convinced that the heart has its own form of intelligence that we are only rarely aware of in modern life.

In his view, the heart processes information about the body and the outside world through an "info-energetic code" -- a profuse network of blood vessels and cells that serves not only as our circulatory system but as an energy information gathering and distribution system, much like a complex telephone network. What's more, he believes that the soul, at least in part, is a set of cellular memories that is carried largely by our hearts. Predictably, such views have met with opposition in the medical world. But in his view, the implications of his theories -- that the heart "thinks," cells remember, and communication can therefore transcend the boundaries of time and space -- are too important for him to dismiss." (These comments come from here: http://www.ikosmos.com/wisdomeditions/essays/mw/bennett01.htm)

The extensive research of Armour and others show that there can now be no going back - we can all now state quite dogmatically that the relationship between the heart and brain has been hugely underestimated and that the heart contains more brain-like capacities than anyone would have thought just a very few years ago. There is an inter-change between heart and brain with the brain actually receiving more information from the heart than vice versa. No one would have believed this only 5-10 years ago! Armour's separate and unassociated area of research to the 'transplanted memory' phenomenon has shown that there is no biological reason why the heart cannot store memories, thoughts and passions.

[nancy] I'm thinking this means that the biblical concept you talk and teach of about the heart and spirit can no longer be taken as purely poetic? Yes, Darin, there really is such a thing as a power of believe in the human heart. Yipee!

I'm not saying any thing except that I found the information fascinating and related to the "power of believe concept"...and that evangelical Christians are not interested and are calling all such research occultist and pseudo spiritual. Gee...now I'm surprised.

Anyway, for what it's worth...I "get you" and I appreciate you just continuing to be so dang real spiritually. I included source sites but not as an endorsement that I believe it all. I know God doesn't have to make sense but I just really like it when he does.

love
nancy in corpus christi


I believe this report provided by Nancy gives us a perfect description of how Father communicates with us through our hearts and the heart then communicates that information to the rest of the body. Like Nancy, I think it's interesting how science is confirming the truth revealed to us in the Bible.

Darin’s blogs about the power of believe can be read at his website, The Free Believers Network. These blogs are What it means to Believe, The Unstoppable-Irresistible Power of Believe and Piggy-Backing Believe.

Jim Robbins’ has also done some excellent teaching about our new heart. To read Jim’s writings or to order his book, Recover Your Good Heart, follow this link.

If you’d like to get to know Nancy, an incredible woman of God, check out her page at A Journey to Freedom.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

John the Baptist in context


Darin Hufford has posted a blog about John the Baptist that has blown me away. His insight into John’s ministry is amazing!

Darin opens by discussing a prayer that most of us have prayed at one time or another. “Lord, less of me and more of you.” This prayer sounds so humble and so very spiritual but Darin immediately knocks over this sacred cow by explaining that a prayer of this nature is far from Father’s heart. As he describes it, Father doesn’t want to “hijack our body and then use it as a traveling earth suit.”

Darin’s explanation of John’s intent opened my heart to understand John’s ministry in a new and exciting way. “John the Baptist was not talking about himself when he said, ‘He must become greater, I must become less.’ He was talking about his sphere of influence, his following. John was simply saying that everyone who followed him and his ministry in preparation for the coming Messiah must now leave him and go with Jesus. The ministry of Jesus must become greater and the ministry of John must become less.”

Darin says that this one fact changes everything and I believe it does. I highly recommend this blog. To read it in its entirety, follow this link. I believe you’ll be glad you did.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter - a season of rest


Winter has traditionally been associated with death but actually it’s a time of dormancy, a time of rest and refreshing.

This is obvious in nature. Bears and other animals hibernate during the winter and wake up from their rest when spring arrives. Plants and trees also rest during the winter and once again begin to blossom and bloom when winter is over. This time of rest and renewing is critical for life to continue.

Our lives should also be characterized by times of rest and inactivity. However, we live in a society that pushes us to constant activity. Most of us live in a whirlwind of activity that is emotionally and physically exhausting.

Religious systems also tend to promote this treadmill of constant activity. Sundays are packed with Sunday School, morning services and then often followed by evening services. In addition, there are mid-week Bible studies, prayer groups and various other meetings. Life in these systems seem to center around constant activity.

I’ve heard many people who are now out of the system describe their time there as exhausting. I don’t believe this is the way Father intended us to live. Ecclesiastes says that “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Seasons come and go. There are seasons of growth and harvest but there are also seasons of rest when nothing seems to be happening. After a season of activity, it’s often difficult to adjust to our seasons of quiet.

Our first thought is that we’ve somehow displeased God and he’s turned away from us. We search our hearts to see if there’s any sin we’ve committed. We pray and we cry. We read our Bibles seeking a word from God. When none comes, we get desperate and we fast hoping for a breakthrough.

Often, during this time, it seems as though God has put us on a shelf as ministry opportunities dry up and stop. Our natural tendency is to try to make something happen. However, I believe that this isn’t a season for ministry and activity. It’s a season to sink our roots more deeply into Father’s love and to allow our relationship with him to be strengthened. I believe that if we yield to this time of inactivity, Father will work deeply in us as we rest in him.

In a vineyard, the vines are pruned during the winter when all growth has stopped and sap is no longer flowing. Pruning is necessary in order to remove damaged or unhealthy growth from the vine. During our times of rest, Father will heal and restore us to greater health and vitality by removing from our lives those desires and distractions that weaken us.

In a vineyard, however, healthy growth is also cut away in the pruning process. A healthy vine will each year produce many branches on which there will be many clusters of grapes. If not pruned, this excess growth will weaken the vine causing it to produce an inferior crop. Over time, the weakened vine becomes subject to disease and insect attacks.

In a similar fashion, Father will cause us to focus on fewer things. During a season of fruitfulness, opportunities are multiplied and we try to be involved as much as possible. However, Father is calling us to a life of fruitfulness without the busyness.

Wayne Jacobsen says, “No season of ministry is open-ended. God harvests in specific seasons through specific people. If we recognize this fact, we can allow specific harvest times to come to completion – and then we can celebrate and let go.”

To read and understand more about these seasons, I recommend Wayne Jacobsen’s book “In My Father’s Vineyard.” This is an excellent book which is now out of print but can still be purchased through Amazon.com.