Monthly Archives: February 2016

Power Addict

It’s been interesting, in a frightening sort of way, to watch the rise of Donald Trump.  One interesting moment came in the numerous responses to the support Trump is receiving from evangelicals.  I guess I’m surprised at the surprise expressed in many of these articles or blogs.  Evangelicals (with a capital “E”… I consider myself an evangelical) are addicted to power and that’s what they are aching for.  The Donald delivers the fix.

Like all addictions, power is subtle.

It seeks to take us, body and soul, completely by undermining our relational guidelines.  Relationship keeps us out of addiction.  As we depend on others, give to others and are grateful for others, we desire life and living.  We are satisfied in many deep and abiding ways.  An addiction grows as it replaces this satisfaction with want and it does that sometimes in the very cells of our bodies.  Very gently, addiction replaces our relationships with separation so that, over time, we ache for no one and nothing except the feeling we receive from the drug of choice.

This can happen with power.  We feel like we can “make things happen.”  We love when people give in and do as we want.  Evangelicalism, in its worst forms, has focused on bending people to its will through conversion.  Unfortunately, it moved away from conversion to Jesus and following him to conversion to a culture.  The culture was what it created around Jesus… “Jesus stuff.”  Jesus stuffConferences, trinkets, study Bibles in all colors, studies, videos, radio stations, clothes, pundits, separation from other culture… all to build a sense of protection and worth that didn’t rely on God’s grace.  It sought to make people believe its culture and to fall into line with behavioral patterns.  The trouble is that these patterns are focused on perfection and purity and not on relationship with people or God.  The aim is to be good, not to be real.  The dominance with its pressure to submit individually, in groups, through teachings, music and books, reveals the greater importance of power and authority over other people.

When the Moral Majority came into a period of national attention, the movement became focused on wielding political power.  Candidates fed this need by wooing the leaders.  Those following the leaders began to feed on the trickle-down obsession.  Even though the national attention shifted away because the hollow core was revealed through cascading scandals, the need and the need to feed remains.  Trump is simply giving them a free ride and they’re basking in the high.  When they realize that they have gained no ground but actually fallen into a deeper expression of loss, they’re going to get angry, but it won’t matter.

The example of humility, abiding in trusting God’s power, seeking others’ significance provided by Jesus has nothing to do with this community any more.  As has been the case for over 2000 years, the future of faith will be led by those who pray and assist their children to discover the One who is the heart of that conversation, the One who guides them deeply into relationship with other human beings, rather than those who anguish over it not being forced in schools anymore.

Blessings,
Geoff

Twice-touched

It’s a snowy day in Lancaster as well as a holiday.  So, time to think and read and catch a movie and just hang out inside (especially with the heat working again).  I was in between things when I noticed a gift from my birthday almost 2 years ago.  It was a Peanuts lunch box that had been sitting on the bookshelf for almost that whole time.  I was pretty sure there was something in it, but just hadn’t picked it up since then.  High time…

I opened it to find a t-shirt, a Spiderman t-shirt exactly like the one my wife gave me for Christmas this year.  It still had the label on it.  So, now I have two.  Which is great, but I was shocked because this was the top of the pile in this stuffed little box.  I continued down and discovered all the birthday cards I’d saved.  Suddenly I was back on that summer day reliving the thoughts and experiences.  Then, after the cards, I discovered another gift… the book, “The Boys in the Boat.”Peanuts box

I wandered around the house for at least a year, looking through bookshelves, under tables, beds, couches… wondering what had happened to my copy.  Finally, when I knew I’d have some time, I bought a new copy to read.  So, now I have two.

I was just putting the box back, along with my first copy of the book, when I noticed another metal tinMarvel box and wondered what might be in there.  It was a birthday card from 25 years back from our oldest daughter – handmade and filled with a whole other set of memories.  So, now both boxes are filled with memories and cards and won’t be forgotten this time.

I’ve noticed that when I touch it (whatever “it” might be) twice, I tend not to forget what it is or where it is.  Memories stored and then handled again, later, become part of me even more than the first experience.  It’s made me think of how much I let pass by once and the importance of reflection, of seeing it again, handling it again, touching it twice.  Then it becomes more than treasured.  It becomes part of what is known.  What was written in those cards has become part of me more deeply.

There’s a story in the Bible about a guy named Gideon.  For many years I heard that I should NOT follow the example of Gideon who asked God to prove himself twice.  God had sent an angel to tell Gideon that God was going to use him to help Israel.  Gideon laid out a fleece and said that if this was true that God should make the ground wet with dew the next morning, but that the fleece would be dry.  God did it.  But, then Gideon asked for further proof.  This time make the ground dry and the fleece wet.  (The first time could have been just a fluke, you know.)  And the next morning the ground was dry and the fleece was wringing wet.

I don’t think of Gideon as a bad example any more.  After examining the story for myself, I now think that Gideon wasn’t testing God.  He was confessing his fear.  The wonder I see is that it never says God was bothered by Gideon’s request and that Gideon let it be after the second touch.  He knew all he needed to know and that meant he could move ahead, even while being afraid.

Touching it twice secures it in our souls.  It becomes part of us.  So, I’ve practiced that.  When I think God is telling me to do something I say, “Huh… if that’s you, do it again.”  If it happens again, then I know I better get about doing whatever it seems like I was told to do… even if it scares me silly.  But, it’s now part of me and I don’t forget.

Blessings,
Geoff

Heat

When is 57 degrees HOT?
When your furnace has been dead for almost 2 weeks and a new one just took its place… that’s when.  The thermostat says it is 57, but I can tell you that the house is cooking!thermostat
Just after the second highest recorded snowfall in Lancaster, the Kohlers’ 30 year- old furnace decided it had had enough.  We had a couple of companies look at it and they agreed… “she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.”
furnace2          The good news was that I was signed up for a pastors conference that included spouses in Orlando, FL.  So we stuck it out for 4 days… blankets, little electric heater, closed doors, sectioning off rooms, opening the front window blinds to let the sunlight add any warmth it could and plenty of clothes.  We made arrangements for a new furnace and then we boarded the plane for Florida.
We got 5 days at the conference and then Beckie waved as I flew back to brave the next 3 days and nights.  Over the week we were gone the temperature rose to 45 degrees and when I got back it was still hovering in the low 40’s, but then it dipped.  Twenties and thirties kind of dug their fingers into the old bricks until today.  Do you know how cold bed sheets can get?
Having camped quite a bit I own a great thermal undershirt.  It came out of the depths of my dresser and became my second skin.  And you know, if you have some things to cook, standing in front of a stove is a great idea.  I made sugar cookies, homemade chili, hot tea, oatmeal, eggs and bacon… I was cooking up a storm.  Hot baths and showers… it’s like liquid grace.  There are not enough words to describe the wonders of hot water.
And then today, these guys show up with this brand new furnace.  It’s half the size with 30 times the efficiency.  They finished about 5pm.  By the time they were leaving the house was up to 52.  Now it is up to 58 and gradually beating back the cold and getting ready for the next snow that is supposed to start by midnight.  I can’t wait.

I can’t help thinking about God’s warm love.  I can’t help thinking about the time in my life when things were way cold and dark.  I can’t help remembering that something melted within me when Jesus found me.  It’s the difference between just surviving, just figuring out what else will help at least for a little while, and the freedom of movement and living at ease.  It’s not always being mind-full that you have to deal with it and deal with it and deal with it.  Being back in my house, in its sheltering warmth, is life… life again and I am grateful.

Hope you’re warm,
Geoff