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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Living on the Grid


By Rick Blumenberg @rickblumenberg
Throughout much of the world there is a connection of wires called the electrical grid, or simply, “the grid”. We’re all familiar with it—we use it constantly to communicate in a variety of ways such as radio, television, telephone and now the internet. It is one of the most significant features of modern life. The secret to its value is that it connects us to a ready and reliable power source we can use, not only to communicate, but for an almost unlimited number of human endeavors.
We may not be aware however, that this electrical grid is designed as an earthly replica of a heavenly “grid” that all creation constantly depends on but with which much of creation is hopelessly unaware.
The Spiritual Grid is the Real Power
In this “heavenly” grid there are no physical wires but we all are connected to the power source by an invisible but amazingly effective “heavenly” or “Spiritual” grid.
The power source is God and we were all created to live with the resource of His awesome and unlimited energy. All worthwhile earthly endeavors are extended and enhanced by God’s absolute power. There are multiple ways of connecting to this energy source and the purpose of this post is to help us think about and understand a few of those myriad ways for our own good and for the good of those we love.
Even though in this physical world we are all somewhat connected to the Power Source our endeavors are greatly enhanced if we become aware of the “connection points” God designed so our connection to God’s Power is constant and unlimited.
God is the Universal Source of Ultimate Power
The Biblical book of Acts, chapter 17 tells how the Apostle Paul debated Epicurean and Stoic philosophers at the Areopagus in Athens. He talked about what I call God’s spiritual distribution “Grid” — that which connects us to the ultimate power source.
Paul wrote, (verse 24) “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth” (verse 25) “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”
Notice Paul did not say “God gives people all sorts of religious stuff if they believe in him. Instead he said God gives life! And Breath! And everything else!
Paul went on to quote the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, with whom they were no doubt familiar, when he told them (verse 28) “For in him we live and move and have our being.” In other words everything we do, and everything that happens on our planet and throughout the universe, happens through the energy of God’s awesome power.
We have an almost unlimited number of connection points where we plug into God’s power in much the same way you get power from the electrical grid when you plug in your computer, a chainsaw, or any other electrical tool or appliance. 
The most common connection point is breathing.
Scripture says that at creation God breathed into Adam (mankind) the breath of life and he became a living soul.”
So our breath is the most common connection point to God’s amazing power. With every breath we take God is involved. When we stop breathing we lose our earthly connection to God and become a dead body instead of a living soul. That body very quickly begins to deteriorate, decompose, and eventually returns to basic earthly elements. Earthly life ceases to exist without this vital earthly connection to heavenly power.
Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” As long as we breathe we are connected to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ goal in coming to earth is to make that connection so strong it survives our physical death through the divine life of the soul.
Every physical breath is a connection to God. And everything you do with that sustaining breath resources God's power.
As an aside (but a very important one) this can help us to understand sin and why God hates it. When we do a bad thing we use God’s loving power to harm God’s beloved creation. God is not capricious—thoughtlessly designating one thing sin and hating it while designating something else as holy and loving it. God hates that which harms or destroys whatever or whomever God loves. Sin is just a word that identifies destructive behavior.
Another universal connection point is work.
Any time work is done on any endeavor God is involved by providing heavenly power to make it possible. I believe Jesus was referring to this “heavenly grid” when he told the disciples “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Every work we do has heavenly involvement—although sometimes reluctantly—such as when we do bad things. Because of the sustaining power of God through every breath we take God is involved in literally everything we do.
This could be one reason scripture teaches that everything we do should be done to the glory of God. He supplies the energy, life force, and brain to do whatever task we do. So when we do an ungodly or evil thing we involve God in something he does not want done and we thus dishonor both God and the life he gives.
Imagine how you would feel if you loan someone your car and it is used recklessly, causing an accident and the death of an innocent young father with small children. You would feel horrible. Imagine how God feels if I use the power he supplies to rape, torture or kill an innocent person! In our every endeavor God is involved because he has given us free will and the power to use our lives for good or evil. Again, this helps us to understand the primary reason God hates sin.
But work is a gift from God for our blessing and with which we bless others—family, friends, customers, and anyone our work benefits.
Everything we do that benefits society is a form of ministry in which God is involved. If we work for good we work together with God. However, when we work for evil we shamefully dishonor God by using his gift in an ungodly way and thus involve God in something detestable.
People who believe in God and are worshipers of God; who seek to serve him faithfully, usually feel strongly about ministry. They believe ministers, missionaries, priests, and others who serve God in religious professions are doing ministry in service to God. I don’t disagree.
Every good work is ministry
But we often don’t realize that every good work is ministry! And especially so when done with the awareness that every good thing we do brings glory to God. So work is worship. It doesn’t matter what work we do. If it is done for the good of society—whether a large segment or only one person—we do it with God’s involvement. We work together with God; using life and breathe he supplies.
As we do so we depend on God’s unlimited resources provided through the spiritual grid through which we connect to Divine power.

I’m Rick Blumenberg and that’s My View from Tanner Creek.
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Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Gift of a Good Memory


by Rick Blumenberg / @rickblumenberg
One of God’s greatest blessings is the gift of a good memory. By “good memory” I don’t mean being able to remember everything, but the joy of re-living past blessings (people, places, experiences) by calling them to mind and savoring them again.
Lately I’ve been surprised with memories of a good friend—one of my favorite cousins. (I only have about 80 or 90 first cousins when I combine the Arington and Blumenberg families. I guess they’re really all favorites).
Al Hendrix is the cousin I’m thinking about. He was one of a kind. He had his struggles, but I’ll never forget the positive impact he had on my life. In many of the best things that happened to me, he was intimately involved. We were so close we would sometimes both get an idea at the same time and would carry it out without ever verbally or audibly speaking it. It didn’t always work out. Sometimes it turned out we weren’t thinking the same thing at all, but often we would do something cooperatively without ever discussing what we planned to do.
When I was saved as a sophomore in high school, Al was pastor of Mounds Church of God, in Mississippi County Missouri. Our Uncle Linvel Arington was holding a revival. Several people were saved (two of us grew up to serve in ministry). After I knew the Lord was calling me into ministry, Al took me to Falkoff’s Department Store in East Prairie, Missouri, and bought me my first new suit. He said, “Every preacher needs a good suit.” (Back then it was true. Now? Not so much).
After I graduated high school, I struggled with my call to ministry. I didn’t know how to preach and felt like I would never be able to do it. I sort of gave up in discouragement. The result was that I drifted away from God, felt like a failure, and gave up my faith. When Al and Nelva were pastors at the Church of God in Edwardsburg, Michigan, I went to live with them and look for work in the area.
The first Sunday I went to church with Al and Nelva and family. At the end of the service I was sitting in the congregation when Al asked the congregation to stand for the closing prayer. Then he asked me to pray. This was not unusual in those days. Christians and especially ministers were expected to be ready to pray at any time.
The problem was I hadn’t been praying much lately. My first thought was, “I should have told Al I’m no longer a Christian! What do I do? I can’t pray anymore!” (I was what we called “back-slidden”. In other words I was no longer walking in faith.) In a panic I couldn’t think what to do, so I decided to just fake it. I would pretend to pray and hope no one would notice that God and I were no longer on speaking terms. So I began to pray.
The absolutely amazing thing was that when I began to pray I felt the warmth of God’s love overwhelm me. I found it wasn’t at all difficult to pray. With the feeling of warmth I felt like God was saying, “Aw-w-w don’t worry about it. I was never that far away.”
I still believe we can turn away from faith, but I no longer believe it is easy. I now know God never gives up on us. His love is unconditional and his patience is beyond comprehension.
I have many wonderful memories of time spent with Al and Nelva Hendrix back when we were all a lot younger. Al stood with me when Carol and I were married and we both have good memories of time spent with him and Nelva when we were all young marrieds. I truly thank God for those memories.
Al was an incredible artist—sculptor, painter, song-writer and singer. He was also skilled at auto body work. He was sort of a renaissance man—he could do about anything he wanted to do.
Later in our lives it was Al who struggled with his faith and I think he felt the way I did on that long-ago Sunday in Southwest Michigan. He saw a lot of hypocrisy that really bothered him and he totally gave up on the church. He still had great respect for those people who had genuine faith. He seemed to have a knack for knowing who was real; but he was also slow to judge and quick to overlook a failing in a person. When I get to heaven I expect to see Al there and I’m guessing he’ll be picking his guitar and singing with the saints.
I doubt if Al expected to get to heaven when he died. I don’t think he thought of himself as still being a man of faith. He had given up on God and I think he thought God had given up on him. But I’m guessing when Al died Jesus surprised him much the same way he surprised me on that Sunday when I felt like such a failure. Al may not have known it but God loved him just as much as ever. The same way he loves you.
I’m Rick Blumenberg, and that’s “My View from Tanner Creek”.
  

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Times— Are they A-Changin’?


Back in the 1940s the President of the United States betrayed his wife and his nation by living in an adulterous relationship with another woman. Presidents and other politicians have been notorious sexual predators who preyed on the women who worked for them and who (even if they wanted to do so) did not have the personal power to resist their abuse.
Examples abound of presidents who were an embarrassment to their gender and a clear and present danger to every woman with whom they came in contact. Presidents have done things that would have caused them to be thrown in the brig and drummed out of the service if they had been either officers or enlisted men in the military they led as Commander-in-Chief.
President Donald Trump was thoroughly embarrassed by a comment he made to Billy Bush an NBC-TV program host more than a decade ago. When it was revealed he sort of apologized, but then excused his comment as being “just locker-room talk”. I can’t totally disagree with that. I have heard things said by men I considered Christian that embarrassed me even though they seemed to think it was okay.
Locker Room Talk has consequences.
Words, like behavior, have a tendency to impact the people in whose presence they occur. Bad behavior can disgust some who see it and reinforce their desire to do better, but it can also encourage some to emulate the bad and cause the group behavior to spiral downward to unprecedented lows. When the Commander-in-Chief is a sexual predator it is easy for generals on down to sergeants to think it is okay for them to behave the same.
But it seems people are fed up
I’m not sure why. Perhaps the disgusting behavior of a Hollywood executive who allegedly preyed on scores of beautiful women simply because he had power over them to make or break their careers, was enough to push America over the edge until we were willing to say, “That is enough!”
I hope that’s reality. On the other hand it may also be because he was not a “pretty” man. He didn’t have the charisma or good looks of a John Kennedy or a Bill Clinton. Perhaps women all over America thought of what it would be like to be attacked by a man like him and the revulsion caused them to speak up. Or maybe we’re realizing that sexual predation never has a pretty face if you get below the mask.
Maybe the times are changing
It is easy to say the world is getting worse and worse when we look at this kind of behavior and then add racism, bigotry, bullying or other such atrocious behavior.
Maybe God is at work in our world
We know God is at work, but could it be that perhaps the prayers of the saints and the move of the Spirit of God in the hearts of sinful man is getting ready to do something special in our midst?
Will we be leaven in society?
The work of the kingdom is not to conquer by force of arms, but to penetrate society with the love and grace of God as we live out the life of Christ in home, church and workplace. Unfortunately, there have been times when we followers of Christ have failed miserably at letting Christ lead. We have acted more like the society in which we live (including predatory sexual behavior) instead of letting Christ transform us as a starting place to transform society.
Could it be we’re fed up?
Could it be the sun is now rising on a new day in gender relationships? Are we ready to hold ourselves and all men (and women as well) to a higher standard of behavior? Will we begin to desire Christ-likeness enough to really emulate not only Christ, the person, but his standard of behavior? Can we admit that our own Self-Ish-Nes is sin and binds us in chains that can only be broken with Christ's help as we find a place of confession and repentance? Maybe then we can become the godly, Christ-like persons we are meant to be?
Or maybe it’s just politics as usual
Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans blame Democrats, but both are willing to ignore it in their own party? May that not be! There is no place for predatory behavior in humanity! It is time for men and women, with the help of God, to behave in a manner befitting the most high God in whose image we were created.
Lord Jesus,
May your Kingdom come
and your will be done in earth
[and in me]
as it is in heaven.
I’m Rick Blumenberg and that’s My View from Tanner Creek.