Friday, February 25, 2011

a truly beautiful poem . . .

“I Stand ByThe Door” by Samuel Moor
I love to read it O’er and o’er.
A Shoemaker was he
But a Doorkeeper he will always be. [Anon E. Moose in honor & memory of Samuel Moor Shoemaker]

I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.
The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it -
Live there because they have not found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.
Go in great saints; go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.
There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door
to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away.
So for them too, I stand by the door.
I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
I had rather be a doorkeeper
So I stand by the door.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Brief Story Of My Personal Spiritual Journey

For years I struggled along in a kind of “darkness”, seeking some inner fulfillment but not finding it. I investigated eastern philosophy and religions; Buddhism and others. I considered the “new age” movement, Native American spiritualism, and more but found no “harmonic convergence”. Atheism, Agnosticism and even Gnosticism . . . and still emptiness. The distant, nebulous religions and do-it-yourself spiritualism became a cruel joke.

Finally, through prayers of others (unbeknownst to me) and God’s “pursuit”, I discovered the one, the only “thing” . . . a being, that could fill that empty place in my heart and soul. Through Jesus Christ I found not only a savior, but an awesome, mysterious but oh so personal God that had been patiently and expectantly waiting for me to turn to Him.

My life is now a constant, perpetual “seeking” to know Him more, and to live my life in a way that pleases Him. To live for the sake of others, and hopefully to help them too find this contentment.

So, “I stand by the door”. “I live in a house by the road.” I “date the world”. All in response to the amazing Grace and Love that He has poured out on me . . . a sinner. In Name of the Three in One, the One in Three. AMEN.

Patrick Perching Eagle Watters (aka Anon E. Moose, Da Moose, Big Muddy, Da Muddy Moose, Poppa Watters, Papa, etc.) . . . and other sites as well. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

another hard lesson

Because of our involvement in parachurch ministries and many ecumenical gatherings, Patti and I have met several people who have left their churches and joined others. I have personally been involved in reconciliation efforts among believers, including my time as an elder at my own church where we had a standing reconciliation team (a sad but necessary thing.) Here is another “hard” lesson for us in the Body of Christ:

“Suppose there is friction and bad feeling in your church - what should you do, especially if you are involved in the arguments and divisions yourself? Further, let's suppose that you are in the right, that the trouble is not your fault, and that you are a mature and compassionate person. In that case, I suggest that you should say to the elders and members of the church: 'If I am in any way the cause of this trouble, even if unwittingly, or if my presence will in any way serve to perpetuate it, I will move to another congre¬gation ... I will go away anywhere you wish, and do anything the congregation says - anything, if it will contribute to peace among Christ's flock and its pastors.' Anyone who adopts this attitude will deserve a high reputation amongst Christians, and God's approval.” Clement of Rome

And, if and when we do leave, to not say any harsh words about the place and people we left, instead remembering that we loved and were loved there.

"Where would we have been without this Church? Who would have handed down to us, across twenty centuries, the teaching of our dear Lord Jesus? Who would have encouraged us in the truth, reassured us in the path we had undertaken? The Church already was founded before we appeared on the scene, and had we not come on the scene would have gone on being saints and sinners, capable of high ideals and base enormities, the dwelling place of peace and a jungle of violence. But one thing is sure: if we should fail, overwhelmed by our sins and our faithlessness, the Church will not have failed. The 'little remnant' will have arrived none the less. God Himself is the guarantor." Carlo Carretto, in I, Francis

In the end, we should be known by our love for one another, not our differences. Christ commanded it, Bonhoeffer, a’ Kempis, and others certainly agree, and God approves!

Seeking to be part of the “church without walls” in urban Sacramento we follow Jesus and remember Him. Isaiah 53:7 –

“He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.”

For an example of a loving community of Christ:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

a very tough "lesson" or concept . . .

The more a human being advances in the Christian faith, the more they live the presence of God as an absence, the more they accept to die to the idea of becoming aware of God, of fathoming Him. For they have learned, while advancing, that God is unfathomable. And from then on the presence of God assumes value in their eyes only against the backdrop of absence. The mystic, in his long and complicated pilgrimage, experiences alternately the presence and absence of God. But, by degrees, the absence of God is felt more and more and the mystic understands that this absence is now the norm. Thus the mystic is someone who has had a long-term confrontation with God, like Jacob in the struggle that he waged all through the night, someone who does not cease to confront God. God always precedes us, we see Him only from behind, He walks ahead, He is ahead of us. What the mystic experiences - and every Christian is a mystic because it is not the great illuminations that are the mark of the mystic but the night, an everyday night - is a kind of distancing from God in proportion to advances in the deepening of their faith.
Jean Francois Six

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Parent's Prayer

My deepest daily prayer Lord is that my children and their loved ones would grow in the heart knowledge and Grace of You. That they would weather all the storms of life with Your assurance and confidence. That trials would turn to Gold in You, for them. That they may be Your Light in a broken and depraved world, to bring HOPE to the lost and forlorn. AMEN.

Monday, February 7, 2011

showing one another "uncommon decency"

Differing in Christ . . . showing others “uncommon decency”:

"A clash of doctrines is not a disaster -- it is an opportunity." Over the years I have had a number of rather significant "doctrinal clashes" with fellow disciples of Christ whom I love dearly, and for whom I have the utmost respect and regard. Fortunately, in most of these instances, our relationship was rather significantly strengthened by this challenging of the other's theological concepts and constructs, for such "clashes" were tempered with love, both for ultimate Truth as well as for each other. They were indeed "opportunities" for greater growth in understanding, and thus were far from "disastrous" in nature. If men refuse to allow their cherished doctrines to be challenged, guarding them at all cost from any intense scrutiny, these doctrines will quickly become tyrants over the thinking/reasoning of those who embrace them. We must resist such doctrinal tyranny with all of our being. There's no biblical doctrine so sacrosanct that it is above being subjected to thorough investigation in light of God's inspired Word. Any doctrine that men refuse to expose to such examination should be immediately suspect ... as are those who seek to shield it from this scrutiny, or who refuse to participate themselves in such biblical investigation into their own beliefs and practices.

(dialogue about a differing position goes on here)

Could I be wrong, and Leroy Garrett right? Absolutely. Neither of us has cornered the market on perfect perception of eternal Truth. However, we both must stand up boldly for what we believe Scripture teaches, and lovingly denounce those teachings we perceive to be contrary to that revealed Truth. I emphasize the necessity of love here, as I believe a vicious attempt to eviscerate my brother simply for differing with me places me in a most unenviable position before our heavenly Father. Therefore, I hereby reaffirm my love and respect for Dr. Leroy Garrett, and simply state that I believe he is mistaken in his above view. On the whole, however, this dear brother of mine, over the course of his lengthy lifetime, has done untold good for the cause of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and only eternity will reveal the number of those who have been brought to the Greater Light by the tireless efforts of this dear man. All of which far outweighs any particular point of doctrine about which he might be wrong. In the final analysis -- and this is true of each of us -- when we stand before the Lord one day, our various positions on various doctrines and practices will count for very little. What will count for far more is how loving and how merciful and how benevolent we were in our dealings with others. There's nothing wrong with challenging one another regarding our views, but may we never allow these dialogues over doctrine to deteriorate into division between devoted disciples. Our Father deserves better than that from His children!!

"It is perilously possible to make our conceptions of God like molten lead poured into a specially designed mould, and when it is cold and hard we fling it at the heads of the religious people who don’t agree with us." - Oswald Chambers

Friday, February 4, 2011

a poem to linger on . . .

The House by the Side of the Road

New England poet Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) evokes the age old image of
a humble house where the weary traveler finds a welcome - a house such as
Baucis and Philemon's - to remind us that we are here to help one another
along life's journey. Friends are "help-mates" to each other.

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that swell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by;
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears
Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by;
They are good, they are bad, they are weak,
They are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat
Or hurl the cynic's ban? -
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Sam Walter Foss

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

following Jesus or just being a cultural christian

Some thoughts on following Jesus vs. being a “Christian”:

 The world will not believe and know that God sent Jesus because our theology is true, our doctrine correct, and our liturgy proper. The world will know and believe when it sees Jesus in us.
 Are we seeking to follow Jesus, or are we just trying to find or create our own comfortable religion? The former will lead to contentment, the latter to emptiness and disillusionment.
 Even my faith is a gift from You Lord. Even that I seek You is by Your Grace.

[Inspired by The Way of Scripture, Shaped by the Word, and Invitation to a Journey, and I suppose other readings and authors as well?]