Angel in the corner

When Harper was very little (2-8 months) he would stare into the same front corner of our living room and smile. This was back when he had trouble visually focusing on things and his head bobbled everywhere. It really freaked me out for a while because it was just like he was looking at someone. His little smiles and laughs were just like the reactions that he had when I would make silly faces at him. He would stare into the corner and smile and giggle as if someone was making their own invisible silly faces at him.

I immediately thought of what Scott Langdon and I had discussed about 5 years before – that he believes that our spirits are eternal and that we, in heaven, choose to be born into this world so that we can gain an enlightening experience for the purpose of building greater appreciation for God and the heavenly world. Scott believes that when we are born into this world, there is a small part of us that remembers the eternal world from which we came; like there is a spill-over period of time where we remember personal experiences from both worlds simultaneously.

So in watching Harper, I perceived that perhaps this was something of what was happening to him. I came to believe that he was seeing a guardian angel who was making funny, smiling faces at him. The bible speaks of guardian angels and that God has sent them to watch over us. Therefore, this idea not only seemed quite plausible, but also very comforting – that God’s angelic servant, at the behest of God, was watching over my newborn son and that my special miracle of a boy had a personal connection to the divine in his infancy.

In watching all this, I realized the bittersweet truth that as the newborn gray of Harper’s eyes faded, the direct vision of God’s servant wasn’t to last. Harper, like all the rest of us, was destined to slide deeper into this world and further out of the spiritual world. His corruption process began the moment he took his first breath. It is a wonderful grace, for which I am deeply thankful, that God allowed his messenger to remain in Harper’s vision as long as he did. It is a symbol of God’s longing to be with him. But the taint of sin on this world is too powerful and Harper’s soul grew larger with each earthly breath, thereby diminishing his spirit. The angel disappeared from his sight.

Sometimes, while not able to see him, I would talk to the angel in the corner. I would thank him for his protection of my son and for the blessing of his presence. Though Harper, Tara and I don’t have eyes to see him now, I still thank him and the One who sent him to my son.

Intellect was the chief cause of the fall

From Watchman Nee’s The Spiritual Man…

In the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge, even of so-called “spiritual knowledge”, activities of the soul often can be detected. When one tries to increase his knowledge by doing mental gymnastics over books without waiting upon God and looking to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his soul is plainly in full swing. This will deplete his spiritual life. Because the fall of man was occasioned by seeking knowledge, God uses the foolishness of the cross to “destroy the wisdom of the wise.” Intellect was the chief cause of the fall; hence, in order to be saved one must believe in the folly of the Word of the cross rather than depend on his intellect. The tree of knowledge causes man to fall, so God employs the tree of folly (1 Peter 2:24) to save souls. “If any one among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with Gog” (1 Cor. 2:18-20; also see 1:18-25). – From page 47

This morning I prayed thanking God for his wisdom. For in his wisdom, God directs us into circumstances, beliefs, and practices that ultimately may be unorthodox, unhealthy, or destructive if we continue in them for too long. However, also in God’s wisdom, he does this so that we might be conditioned by these experiences to move on to the next step in our spiritual transformation. For without the first step, the second step cannot happen.

In my prayer this morning I acknowledged this. Later, at lunch, as I read The Spiritual Man, Nee says that intellect was the chief cause for the fall of man. Here’s my interpretation. Adam and Eve’s primary motivation for eating the fruit was to gain knowledge. Nee does not make this distinction clearly, but I think that their desire for knowledge was not their sin. Rather, it was their desire to gain knowledge under their own power. They reach for the fruit (knowledge) and tried to obtain it themselves. They didn’t wait for God to give it to them. And as a result they and all the rest of us experience the unexpected consequence of death.

This action, as Nee notes, caused their souls to swell and displace their spirit’s proportional ratio, thus their soul became the dominator. Nee says that one must “believe” in the folly of the cross (the tree of folly) and not depend on his own intellect.

Not doing so, removes one’s acceptance of grace and full reliance on God for everything including knowledge.

This brings me back to my original thought. God leads us to a potentially harmful “Step 1” in order to enable us to move to “Step 2” when the time is right – and if we make that choice. For me, God in his GREAT wisdom has led me to intellectual prowess, but not so that I can claim that any conclusion is achieved by my own power and thus credit myself, but so that I can be prepared to intimately realize the depth of Gods’ love for me – that I am not a discerner of truth, but that he is the sole REVEALER of truth. I can only be a recipient of the truth God chooses to reveal to me. To seek to deduce spiritual knowledge and understanding under my own power is ultimate folly – the folly that brought death and separation into the world. But to wait on God for his timely revelation, is the way I am meant to gain knowledge and to understand his will and my role in the world. I give my thanks and praise to you Lord, my shepherd.


Eastern and Western thought fusion

If western medicine is the epitome of truth and the best know approach to medicine in the world (as many westerners think), why is eastern medicine still around? This is just one question that has been working its way through my head lately. God has been progressively opening my eyes to new things over the past decade or so and I have learned that I should not dismiss ideas that are foreign to me just because they are different. Rather, I should make room for such ideas and the people who believe them because God is much bigger than the mental allowances of my mind. Additionally, it is useful for me to think of God as an alien – he is SO different than me, that even though he shares all the same feelings and thought processes I have, he also exhibits vastly more “ways” (feelings, thought progressions, behaviors, etc.) than I can even comprehend.

So, in meeting Van Tran, I’ve been introduced to a true Eastern intellectual. Only in part is he intellectual according to the western scientific definition. Van also embodies a rich oriental history rooted in Buddism, Taoism, Ying Yang, natural and alternative medicine, and spiritual, mental and physical disciplines of Aikido.  His life is a testimony to the effectiveness of eastern thought.  He is a vegetarian, is highly conscience of all the substances that go into his body and is a real practitioner of a holistic life. He is a computer scientist and yet aggressively believes in Ki as the prime life-giving energy of the body and surrounding environs.  Astoundingly, he is a Christian who professes the diety and lordship of Christ.

How does one reconcile these seemingly contradictory ideas in his head and not be willingly blind to supposed obvious truths?  This was the original question I asked.  But the Lord, in his grace, bestowed curiosity upon me. I think that Van has stumbled upon a great truth that has largely been undiscovered by the west – more precisely, western Christendom.  Van told me that he believes that God has revealed the balance philosophy of Yin-Yang and the existence of Ki to the oriental world just as he revealed other things to men elsewhere.  I was shocked by this statement at first, but then adopted it as my own once I saw the brilliance of it.

What if God did sprinkle out portions of his wisdom on different world cultures over time?  Yin-Yang is an oriental philosophy that still provides the foundation for the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese cultures (and any other culture of oriental decent).  When God reveals his wisdom what happens?  Big changes occur.  Entire civilizations are transformed by the message and the effects are lasting.  Think about the effects of Christianity on the western world.  The eastern world, composed on half the world’s population is built on these foreign philosophies that, interestingly enough, harmonize very nicely with Christian philosophies.  Why not consider that God could and did do this in the eastern world as a compliment to what he performed in the western world?  What would we be risking if we fail to consider and investigate this – possibly a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God and his will for us.

What corrupts a child?

In Watchman Nee’s The Spiritual Man, Nee says the following:

If man’s spirit and soul would maintain their created perfection, healthiness, and liveliness, his body would then be able to continue forever without change. If he would exercise his will by taking and eating the fruit of life, God’s Own Life undoubtedly would enter his spirit, permeate his soul, transform his entire inner man, and translate his body into incorruptibility. (p. 45)

Watching Harper, I think about his innocence, softness and purity at his young age. Already however, at age 3, I observe a hardening occurring within him. The innocence in his eyes from a year ago has been diminished and a part of it has been replaced by a blossoming understanding that the world contains cruelty. Of course cruelty to this 3 year old is not actually cruel, but he has experienced disappointment and is increasingly realizing that life presents choices and especially limitations. I see this a s the beginning of his personal evolution toward an understanding of the world – the knowledge of good and evil.

The embodiment of such knowledge transmogrifies (transforms the nature) a person. This first introductions of this knowledge ignite a process of corruption. While watching this process begin to work in my son disturbs, saddens and frightens me, I also recognize that there is a significant beauty in it. Or rather, there is beauty in God’s response to it. This process first occurred and took its root in Eden. When Adam and Eve took and eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the mechanisms of God’s redemptive plan begin to move. God foresaw the need for man’s redemption from corruption and planned for a way of reconciliation and restored innocence in the person of Jesus Christ.

So now I can watch my son, who was born incorruptible, become corrupted so that he can journey to the point in his life where God reveals to him that he needs rescue from the mire that he currently has no idea he has dipped his little toe in. And when Harper is given his vision and realizes his opportunity, it is my hope that he will choose to reach out as far as he can and that God will deliver into his hand the gloriously brilliant fruit from the tree of life; that Harper will be born incorruptible again. Thus beginning the journey back to innocence – back to God from whence he came.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, and are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, whis is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

Angering the God of grace?

For so long, I have not been concerned with the concept of angering God (though it once very much concerned me). My lack of concern has stemmed from my emergent knowledge over the years that God is full of grace and patience. He is not easily angered.

On a seemingly unrelated note, quiting my tobacco use has so far been successful. I give credit to God for this. I have been attempting to explore the concept of a more holistic life of overall health. Michael Roach told me a few weeks ago that the Holy Spirit told him that God has big plans for me. This made me think a great deal. I could have discount Michael as a quack or I could choose to believe based on my intuitive impression as to the “rightness” or truth of what he said – the ring of truth. I chose to believe. 

Around this time, I was preparing to teach another lesson for the Quail Springs Wednesday night class on the Expressions of the Christian Faith. That week’s topic was the Evangelical tradition. I read about Aurelius Augustine’s struggle with lust and sexual indulgence. While imbibing on these thing Aurelius also sought the higher good and right and moral things. He realized his contradiction and also his inability to conquer his vices on his own. Soon after he was introduced to the Gospel and realized that it offered his a power that he had never been offered before. In Christ, Aurelius saw a power that could rid him of his vices – which he could not beat through his own power. Therefore, through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, Aurelius was transformed into the image of Christ.

This transforming power is the manifestation of God’s grace through the Spirit. It is the Spirit within the believer who uses his divine power to rid us of uncleanness. Perhaps a better way to say that is that the Spirit heals us, injects us with the essence of life, and transforms us in spirit, soul, and body ever closer into the image of Christ – to be more like God. This is the plan of God that he begin implementing the first moment after Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden.

Back to the original thought… it is because of concepts like this that I have not been concerned with God’s anger – primarily because I think that God is so patient that forbearing that he is rarely if ever actually angry. And this brings me to my vice – food.

Food. You must have it to live. After years of developing and enabling myself through bad eating habits, I am struck down by my inability to control my eating. This is truly a situation where the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Interestingly, while I report success over many things through the power of God, I am having a much more difficult time dealing with my eating addiction.  On the days that I fast (cold turkey) I can stay pretty focused on keeping my will in control, but on regular days, this is much more difficult.

Why can I not allow myself to rely on God’s power to heal me if this affliction as well? Why am I not “waiting on God” to give me balance in spirit, soul and body? Am I angering God by being out of balance? I ask that as an honest question – not out of fear that I am angering him. I’m going to pray more and take it one day at a time. Praise God for his greatness and mercy. I love God and thank him for his revelations to me.