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The Scrimshaw Journal #2- Right-side up…

The word “Fall” comes to mind.  A while back I tuned in late to a conversation that was going on around me in which this was the subject.  From what I managed to gather, the discussion had been on how modern science is reconciled in the Bible.  Specifically, in how old the Earth appears to be, and how old the Bible implies that it is.  This touched many topics of the Genesis if I recall correctly, including speculation on how long the Earth was in existence before the creation of Man, or even if Moses’ account was entirely accurate, as it strongly resembles Egyptian accounts of creation, etc.  However, someone then voiced the idea that maybe in the process of the Fall the rules of physics changed, that somehow within a seemingly minuscule act of disobedience the operation of the entirety of the universe hiccuped, and thus creation was rocked into its current condition.  (Which apparently sent the more level-headed listeners reeling about how ridiculous a claim that was).  …Now, I love hearing speculation about this kind of stuff, but I don’t like taking a pedestal on it, because… in the simplest terms: I don’t know.  I don’t know the complete, irrefutable timeline of the rock that is Planet Earth, and so I gather what I can from speculation, hold everything against the truth of God’s Word, and leave the rest up to Jesus to show me as he sees fit.  But I digress… we were talking about physics.  Regardless of whether or not it’s true, the idea was now there.  Could a moral action really change so much?  Is the Law of God really so far-reaching?  Even to carve some canyons and shuffle some plates?  To me, whether or not it COULD is no question.  To me, the effects of the Fall rocked much more than just the landscape.

The word “Contract” comes to mind.  Adam, here’s this, now don’t do this.  Agreed?  Simple as it may have seemed, the Contract of Creation was a binding document to be shared between the heart of God and Man.  To regard the condition of the planet, and the condition of the human soul as completely separate, independent entities seems to me a gross misunderstanding of the Contract.  When a contract is violated, anything and everything written into that contract is considered null and void.  The rules have to change, retribution has to take place, losses have to be accounted for and reimbursed, if there is no longer a respect for a line item, then there’s no respect for the entirety of the document.  I think Adam was probably more focused on the line item of “don’t do this” then he was of the whole of the Contract when he took the fruit.  The effects, as we have seen, were disastrous.  Our one act of defiance resulted in the pain, toil, disaster, guilt, shame, poverty, hunger, murder, loneliness, depression,anxiety, distress, fear, abandonment and basic depravity of countless billions of souls and bodies.  Shaking a mountain pales in comparison to the feat of shaking the relationship between Man and his Creator, of shaking the destinies of each member of the human race, of shaking the object of the world’s affections.

The word “Rut” comes to mind.  Like when you throw a bowling ball straight into the gutter.  You just sit there and watch it move further down the ditch.  Everybody knows where that ball’s going.  Sure, maybe with a lot of momentum and spin the ball could pop back out, and that’s what keeps you hoping, but those occasions are so rare that deep down you know there’s nothing you can do to pull it out now.  It’s on its way, and the rest is out of your control.  This is my painfully cliche analogy for how I’ve been feeling lately…  My college experience has taught me that if there’s one thing college kids have done, it’s figure out how the world really works.  …er, I mean, it’s one thing they THINK they’ve done.  And that goes for just about everyone I’ve noticed, including me.  I mean, it’s not like you can really help it, you see the world through the lens of your own existence, what else do you have to look through?  Now, that lens may be an accurate depiction of truth, but it may not be.  Who’s to say, really?  You want to try to tell me your lens is more accurate than mine?  Go ahead, I can’t argue with you.  But in our culture truth seems to be the summation of the collective majority, a relative truth.  And so if everyone on Planet Earth says that 2 and 2 make 5, then that’s what it makes.  (Hang with me here, because here’s my point).  What if everyone on Planet Earth instead decides to say that sex (just as an example)is a free-for-all.  Do what you want.  Well, we as a culture aren’t quite there yet, but we’re close.  Suddenly that becomes truth.  When everything is relative to the opinions of the age then nothing is concrete.  Nothing is binding.  THIS is the world we live in.  The Contract that was violated has now been long forgotten and passed off as a joke, and humanity now looks to our own devices for what was once promised us in writing.  We’re the pitiful aftermath of a break-up that leaves us thirsty for the love of our God, but blind to the cheap imitations of that love.  We affix ourselves to things that don’t satisfy.  The Bible paints a portrait of a Jack-Ass in heat.  I always think “rut”; that people are so painfully aware of our depraved condition, and yet still believe that the answers lie in a truth from within.  How do you pull a mess this big out of the gutter?

The word “Jesus” comes to mind.  I feel like I’ve touched on a lot of thoughts in this note that I didn’t appropriately examine or thoroughly explain, and I apologize for that.  Here’s the point:  luckily for us there’s a new contract.  One written with the pierced hands of God on a bloody tree.  And though the choice of stationary seems strange, it’s a fitting one.  It’s a contract that’s binding, definite, truth.  Of course the world hates this, and of course that makes our job a heck of a lot harder in that we have to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to show people rather than our own abilities.  My concern is simply that too many Christ followers have spent too much time in the rut.  It’s easy to buy into the relative.  It takes no courage to stand with the majority, and it takes no bravery to voice convictions that win you friends.  A lot of times we feel like we’re upside down.  I feel like I’m fighting against the way things are supposed to be.  Why not just let the ball roll through the gutter?  That’s the course it’s on, so surely that’s the course that it’s supposed to take.  We have to remember that it’s not God’s truth that’s awkward to the Contract of Creation.  That it’s this world that’s upside-down, and that Jesus’ love is the only hope of turning it right-side up.  Be bold!  Be strong!  Remember that our hope is in believing that the way things are is not how they were supposed to be.  Our hope is in a world turned right-side up.

The word “heaven” comes to mind.

The Scrimshaw Journal #1- Who pays the piper…

I never seem to be able to effectively communicate my thoughts.  There’s been some stuff bouncing around up there recently and I’ve had quite a few people nagging me about journaling, so instead I’ll try this.  Try to hang with me on this one, if you can’t (or get bored), no hard feelings:


Today I went into the library to knock out some studying (which usually means knocking out some doodling).  I took a seat at one of those lonely cubicle things that are always mashed together so you don’t feel quite so lonely, when I happened to take a glance at some of the writings on the walls of my little enclosure.  Among the usual etchings of private parts and profanity someone had written: “He satisfies every need & want.  He will never let you go!  His love never ceases.  This man is Jesus!  Freedom!”, to which someone replied below, “Grow Up”.

Now, if you know me then you may know that I have a temper problem.  …I like to think the Lord is channeling that into a righteous anger, but I also like to think of broccoli as little trees so I can feel like a Dinosaur…  Point is: Help me Jesus.  Anyways, my first thought was to address this “Grown Up” by trumping his all-knowing, self-revering wisdom with a little bit of my own.  In fact, I’d write a whole paragraph on the level of sophistication and depth of thought that the Bible transcends, and how if he had half a brain or the nerve to put some research behind his ridicule then he would see just how “Grown Up” the man and message of Jesus really was.  This follows a similar experience I had recently in which (long story short) the entire purpose and philosophy by which I live my life was wrapped up in a neat little conclusion by a man who has spent a large portion of his life and probably most of his money on an education to achieve.  “Foolishness”.  Now granted, not the first time I’ve been called a fool, and guarantee you it won’t be the last.  But still, these two events hit me pretty hard, and I went looking to God for some kind of cosmological offensive maneuver that I could pull the next time someone dare challenge me.  …er, Him.

To my surprise, I discovered that God agreed with my accusers.  There’s two ways that I think God is funny:  1. Just when you think you’ve got Him figured out, He makes you feel like you don’t know Him at all, and 2. He’s always the first person to critique himself.  …also manatees.  Manatees are proof that God has a sense of humor.  But I digress… sure enough, it was in there.  Jesus told his disciples just how “childish” all this stuff really was. Matt. 18:3 “And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.  I tried to think back to childhood.  Before math.  Before school.  Way back when you were too young to care about social rules and regulations, when you simply were.  You knew you knew nothing.  Everyone else knew you knew nothing.  Information was flooding in on a daily basis, and with no rubric to test its validity, everything you received was received with a substantial measure of faith.  Over time, that faith became violated, and you became less trusting, cynical, “Grown Up”.  I find it interesting that on top of all of the miracles, parables and stories the only real proof, the only solid rock upon which the entire Bible stands, is faith.  Faith is how we receive all that we receive from God.  You can go read Hebrews 11 and see how Faith is the cornerstone of every one of God’s actions throughout the Bible.  You can see how we are saved not because we are righteous, or because Jesus died on the cross, but because we KNOW that Jesus died on the cross.  Because we have faith, and it is counted to us as righteousness. This is how God decided he would validate Himself: through Faith.  What a childish thought!  To believe that all of the complexities of the worlds problems could be solved by a man born two thousand years ago. Our “every need & want”.  What a story the Bible is!  Talking snakes, donkeys and bushes!  Chariots of fire and golden armies of angels.  “It’s absolutely absurd”, says the “Grown Up” inside me.

Again, the Bible says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God”.  So it’s now clear to me that God knew two thousand years ago that this very intelligent man would say this at me, and that I would read this very mature comment, and in my heart I would doubt, and that doubt would make me angry.  Why?  Pride, I think.  Jesus once said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Never quite got that, because it always seemed like Paul and the other apostles had a pretty rough time here on earth.  I always assumed Jesus was talking about afterlife stuff: streets of gold and whatnot.  But when I look at Jesus, and I see His example of humility, living among us, dying a criminal’s death by the hands of those he came to save, I start to thinking about his yoke and his burden.  Of all the enemies that we have as a species, I don’t believe there is one more destructive than Pride.  Pride is what caused Adam and Eve to think themselves equal to God.  Pride is what makes me worry about whether or not I’m a success in the eyes of the world.  Pride helps me to think that my view of reality is more developed than God’s.  And no doubt Pride is what’s going to cause me to re-read this note to make sure I didn’t say anything stupid.  Like it or not, Pride is something we have to deal with.  But I wonder how care-free we would be if it weren’t so.  How easy would our yoke be?  How light our burden?  To not care what anyone else thinks other than our Heavenly Father.  It’s a scary thing to be entirely dependent on another individual.  To be helpless in EVERY aspect of your life without this person’s constant guidance.  And yet that is the place we’re called to, the place of a child.  I can do nothing without Christ, …but WITH Him…. I can do ALL things.  His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.  I pity the man who has “Grown Up”.  How heavy his burden of pride must be.  How blind he is to the truth of the Gospel.  And anger can’t scare him.  A strongly worded speech can’t convince him.  And a facebook comment can’t help him to understand.  We are completely reliant on the Holy Spirit to show him.  In every way.  We rely on the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts, to move us into action, and then to follow us into the hearts of a perverted generation.  Foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, the power and glory of the Most High God.

Education is simply the result of influence, and influence can be (and usually is) underhanded.  Your mentors are your makers, and so the question then becomes where should I look for truth?  Shall I search out truth for myself?  Shall I test it?  Or shall I believe what’s taught in a class?  Shall I buy into the plight of the majority?  Who’s song shall I echo?  Really in the end it’s up to me.  …up to you.  We can only influence as much as we have been influenced.  And we are being influenced from all directions.  With flutes in hand we’re marching forward, and he who pays the piper calls the tune.