Tarzan

“A normal man will do the impossible for the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man.”

From Song of Solomon: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

I was scrolling Facebook the other day when I came across this trailer for the new Tarzan movie. Normally, I don’t watch videos on Facebook but the caption caught my eye. “My husband is no normal man.”

Holy Spirit immediately began to speak to me about Tarzan as a type and shadow of our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Before a couple days ago, I had never given the story of Tarzan much thought but now I’m going to have to read some of the original stories.

I was meditating on this image of Jesus as Tarzan and here’s what I wrote:

He doesn’t care about your culture.
He doesn’t care about your rules.

He doesn’t care about your religion.

He doesn’t dress like you.
He doesn’t talk like you.

But he loves you.

He is your North Star.

You conform to him.
Not the other way around.

Abandon your culture. Abandon your rules.

Learn a new language. Learn a new culture. Speak out of the heart and spirit.

The enemy can take you but you can say,

“A normal man will do the impossible. My husband is no normal man.”

You can face your trials with no fear.

For he will come for you. Be near you.

He is wild. He is passion. He is fire. Jealousy unyielding as the grave.

He has no fear. He has made a public spectacle of your enemies.

Your husband rewrote the natural order to be near you.

Where is death’s victory?

Where is death’s sting?

Your husband is no normal man.

Yet.

You are one with him.

You are no normal person.

Greater things will you do together than apart.

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Wild Mass Guessing – Creation

I had a thought the other day inspired by John Crowder.  Now, I want to add a disclaimer here.  Wild Mass Guessing, as explained in this post, is just that.  It’s guessing.  It’s a thought that I have that I do NOT hold to as solid doctrine.  Second disclaimer: I do not know John Crowder.  He does not know me.  He doesn’t say anything like this in the video I linked to above.  I would be completely embarrassed if he ever read this.

So, anyways, I got to thinking about the Bible verses that state that Christ was slain before the foundation of the world.  This always bothered me.  Was Jesus somehow in Heaven getting the snot beat out of him before there was any sin to atone for?  Maybe it was figurative?  Maybe it just means that it was Christ’s plan before creation even began.  I have no solid ideas on what exactly this means.  I’ve posted some thoughts about it before.  Now, I’m going to take it a level further.

In the video linked to above, John Crowder describes God as taking up “all the space”.  Not just the space in the universe but heaven and hell as well.  EVERYTHING is inside of God.  As my mind is wont to do, I took this to its logical extreme.  Jesus was fully God so he must have had the entire created order within him on the cross.  But what if it was a little trickier than that?  What if the act of dying on the cross was the act of creation itself?!

Crucifixion Corpus Hypercubus

Time is nothing to God.  It would mean nothing to him to create the universe from inside the universe.  Think about it, six hours on the cross for each day of creation.  40 hours in the grave for the 4000 years or so of the Old Covenant.  Just like the seed dies to produce the tree.  So too, the Son of God dies to produce the entire created order.  Then, the created order produces the Son of God which creates the universe, etc…

In mathematics, we call it a recursion relation.  You may know it by the term “fractal”.  Simply, whatever comes out gets put right back in.  You have a function or machine and some initial condition/s or rather some raw materials.  You put the raw materials into the machine and get out a product.  You put that product right back into the machine to produce another product.  So on and so forth.

Actually, it makes me think of a Klein Bottle.

Klein Bottle

I don’t mean to say that the cycle produces infinitely many universes.  I like this image better.  It is self-contained.  It is actually better represented in four dimensions because, in 4D, it doesn’t intersect itself.  You may have heard of mobius strips.  This idea is similar.  The bottle has no discernible inside or outside.  If you follow the “outside” of the bottle and trace along back to the same spot, you will find yourself on the “inside” of the bottle.  Keep tracing for a second round, you’ll be back where you started.

Anyways, my idea means that the universe and God are non-orientable.  The universe is completely inside of God and God is completely inside the universe.  You start with God and trace along, you’ll find yourself in the cosmos.  Trace along the same line in the cosmos and you’ll find God.  “The Heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1

What does that mean for sin?  It means it was never an obstacle!  Jesus not only came to create the universe but to recreate the universe.  Dying on the cross was his creative act.  His time in the grave is spent undoing what went wrong then he rises in a new creation.  He goes to Hell to release the prisoners.  But he also appears to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, David, the prophets, etc.  He shows them what is coming.  His spirit goes all over the place.  Then he comes back to his body on the third day and rises again.  This time he has reclaimed, redeemed, recreated the entire created order.  He rebooted the universe in a way.  Think of the Doctor at the end of season 5 of Doctor Who.  The universe is deteriorating around him but he sacrifices himself to reboot it.  While the universe is rebooting, he goes back through his timeline and appears to Amy and tells her how to bring him back.

I want to reiterate my disclaimer.  I have no scriptures to back this up.  I do NOT hold to this as solid doctrine.  I sometimes look at the Bible as a science fiction story and this is what happens.  I don’t need counseling or prayer.  My immortal soul is not in danger of exploding… or something…

 

Midnight Again

For years, I’ve been obsessed with Cinderella.  There is a lot of prophetic significance to the story.  The name Cinderella means “Little Ashen Girl” because she sleeps in the ashes of the fireplace.  She is a slave in her own house.  The house is run by her stepmother and stepsisters.  Her life is changed when an invitation to the national ball comes in the mail.  Her stepsisters and stepmother make her work even harder than usual.  Somehow, she manages to sew a few things together and look somewhat decent for the party.  Her stepsisters are livid and tear her dress to shreds.  She is left crying in the garden when, suddenly, a pure spirit lights up the area.  This spirit promises to make Cinderella ready for the ball but the spell will break at midnight.  Off she goes.  She dances with the prince.  He falls in love.  She runs away at midnight, leaving a remarkable shoe behind.  The prince searches high and low for the owner of that shoe.

In the same way, we are slaves in our house.  The house is run by Satan and his daughters of religion.  Our lives are changed when we are introduced to The Gospel.  The Holy Spirit comes and transforms us and allows us to see/hear/feel Jesus.  Isaiah 61 says “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on mebecause the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashesthe oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  Cinderella means “Little Ashen Girl” but the Holy Spirit comes to take away our ashes and give us a crown of beauty.

Let’s get in Cinderella’s frame of mind here.  She is an abused girl who just wants one night of escape.  One night that she doesn’t have to work.  One night to feel beautiful.  One night to have fun.  Marriage didn’t even her mind.  She wasn’t there to snag a prince like her stepsisters.  She didn’t even realize who she was dancing with that night!  Because her vision was too small, her focus on only one night, she took the fairy godmother’s words literally that the spell would break at midnight.  One night, no more.  In the same sense, we just look for one night or one season of escape but then back to the world we go.  The problem is, we don’t realize who we’re dancing with!  It’s the prince, it’s Jesus, and he’s already in love with us.  He isn’t looking for a fling or a mistress.  He’s looking for a bride, someone to be part of him, someone to help him do the work of the kingdom.

So what happens at midnight, the beginning of a new day?  Cinderella had a choice to make.  She could stay and let the spell break and risk everybody seeing her as she was.  Or she could go back to her old life with nobody the wiser.  She runs, of course.  But what would have happened if she stayed?  Would the fairy godmother have renewed her?  Maybe, just like the Holy Spirit, the fairy godmother doesn’t want to do the same thing twice.  Maybe, the fairy godmother had something greater in store for her.  But, because Cinderella couldn’t see past midnight, she ran.  It’s the same in our own lives.  We sense something is about to shift but, because we are not focused on eternity, we run.  We may not go completely back to our old life.  But we do pull back.  We let our practices become prisons, our movements become monuments.  You see, Cinderella could have lived happy for the rest of her life based on that one night.  Happy, but still in slavery.  We become so used to one way God moves in our lives that we don’t notice when He’s moved on.  What used to work no longer works but we’re so blinded by our habits that we don’t even realize it.  Don’t get stuck on formula.  You may be happy but still in slavery.

What happens next?  Cinderella leaves a shoe behind.  She makes it home just as the carriage turns back into a pumpkin.  The next day, she is humming and dancing as she does her chores.  She doesn’t realize that the prince is looking for her.  Curiously, she still has the glass slipper.  It didn’t change back.  When the prince comes, the stepsisters fall all over themselves to make the shoe fit.  In one version, they cut off their toes and heels to make it fit.  The stepsisters represent religion.  They work and work and work to snag the prince.  They think they are the rightful bride.  They think they can seduce the prince by their works.  But he isn’t so easily swayed.  He looks at the heart, not outward appearance.

When the prince comes and the stepsisters try it on to no avail, he asks if there are any other ladies in the house.  They quietly mention their spinster stepsister who works in the kitchen but she couldn’t have been at the party.  She’s just a servant.  The prince insists.  They bring her out and, of course, the slipper fits.  And, of course, they live happily ever after.

Last night, while worshipping the Lord, I saw a picture of the prince putting the slipper on my foot.  I was wrecked from the point on.  What is the significance of the shoe?  The prince wanted to reaffirm Cinderella’s identity.  Not her identity as a slave but her identity as a princess, a bride.  I felt like there are those of us who feel like we had our chance, our season, our dance with Jesus but that was 1, 10, 20 years ago.  But he is coming.  He is searching for his bride.  Not just another dance but a life lived alongside him.  One of my favorite authors likes to say that he’s not looking for the experience of a lifetime but a lifetime of experience.

Three Little Pigs – OR – What is your house made of?

Growing up, I lived in a house that should have been condemned.  The windows were broken.  The walls were cracked.  It was deathly hot in the summer and horrendously cold in the winter.  The roof leaked (fortunately, the leak was right over the bathtub).  The bathroom floor was rotten from water damage.  The basement flooded all the time taking out the water heater.  The house eventually was condemned and torn down long after I moved out of it.  The weird thing is that I miss that house terribly.  Almost nightly, my dreams wander back to that house.  Whenever I’m in my hometown, I actively avoid that side of the community because I don’t want to see the empty lot where the house once stood.  I like to pretend it’s still there.  It was a dilapidated piece of junk from the time I was born but it was my house.

We get comfortable in our houses.  You kick off your shoes, turn on the tv, sit in YOUR chair.  We do stuff in our houses that we wouldn’t do at somebody else’s house.  In your house, you have the freedom to change the channel, walk around naked, scream at the wall.  You also know the quirks of your house.  The living room floor may lean to the north.  The oven may heat better on one side than the other.  You may have an electrical outlet that doesn’t work.

But what happens when a storm comes?  Can your house withstand pouring rain and strong winds?  My childhood home barely made it.  Thank goodness we never had a tornado.  We lived in Kansas after all.  What about a fire or an earthquake?  Any number of things can strip us of our comfortable surroundings.

Jesus told a parable about houses.  In Matthew 7, he says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

So my question to you is, “What is your house made of?”  Obviously, I’m no longer speaking of physical houses.  Our homes are extensions of ourselves.  They represent our identity, a place we can truly be ourselves or perhaps hide our true self.  What do we build that identity on?  How easy is it to tear down that identity?  I recently read an article that was making the rounds on facebook.  It was called, “I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity, and I Wish I Hadn’t”.  Read it here.  The author had built her whole identity on being a virgin.  When she got married, she could no longer claim to be one.  Sex was horrible for her because it took away the identity she had spent years building.  Other people create an identity based on all sorts of things.  It could be based on their finances, academic success, talents, etc.  Other people create negative identities.  “I’m an alcoholic.”  “I’m worthless.”  “I’m an abuser.”

I’m reminds of the Three Little Pigs.  Hopefully, we are familiar with the story but if you are not, here’s the basics.  There once were three little pigs.  To protect themselves from the ravaging wolf, they built themselves houses.  The first pig built his house of straw, it was easily blown down by the wolf which then ate the pig.  (In other versions, this pig runs to his brother’s house.)  The second built his house of sticks.  It was also blown down by the wolf which then ate the second pig (or, if you rather, ran to his brother’s house with the first pig).  The third pig built his house of bricks.  No matter how hard the wolf blew, the house would not come down.  The wolf then tried to come through the chimney but there was a fire and a pot of boiling water down below which killed him.

A couple months ago, Holy Spirit started showing me some truth in this famous fairy tale.  It culminated yesterday (Sunday) in church.  Holy Spirit showed me that this story represents our journey as believers.  The first pig builds his house of straw.  It is the flimsiest house of all three pigs.  He represents the unbeliever.  He may even be completely unaware there is an enemy coming to destroy him.  He lives blissfully unaware of a world outside his four walls.  His identity is built on a faulty foundation.  It may be his success, his mind, his negative traits, or his positive traits.  The wolf comes and blows through this like a house of cards.  The wolf representing the enemy of our souls.  Jesus often used the picture of a wolf to represent Satan.  He used shepherding metaphors a lot and the biggest enemy of the herd was the wolf.

The first pig can also be likened to the foolish builder who built his house on sand.  He does not believe in Jesus and follows his own commands.  But since the mind of man is so changeable, it is like sinking sand and his house, or identity, falls apart.  The house might stand for 50 years but it will eventually come crashing down.

The second pig is like a new believer.  He is eager to please God.  He is on a spiritual high.  However, he tries to please God through his own works.  He knows there is an enemy out there waiting to devour him so he builds a house to protect him.  This time, he builds his house of sticks.  The enemy has a harder time bringing this house down but it is still easy work for him.  God is not “pleased” with our works.  He adores belief and rest in his finished work on the cross.

The third pig is wisest of all.  He is a mature believer.  He builds his house of bricks.  Bricks are expensive and must be crafted by skilled laborers.  The third pig doesn’t buy them or make them.  He finds them.  They have been provided to him free of charge.  He rests in the finished work of Jesus.  All the best materials have been provided.  No working to buy them, they are found like pearls in the ocean.  The enemy comes along and can’t blow this house down.  It is fire, tornado, hurricane, and earthquake proof.  The house doesn’t even budge.  However, the enemy is crafty and will try to find another entrance.  He tries the chimney.  What is the chimney?  It keeps you warm and you can cook your food there.  It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit whose fire is always burning.  The wolf is eventually devoured by this flame.

The third pig is like the wise builder in Jesus’ parable.  He builds his house out of rock.  The wise builder builds his house ON the rock.  The enemy comes to destroy it but is unsuccessful.  The wise builder follows Jesus commands.  However, Jesus’ command is simply to believe.  He yoke is easy and his burden light.  We simply rest in him and let him work through us.  Everything has been provided through his work on the cross.

What is your house made of?  Are the storms of life too easily devouring you?  Or are you living to please a grumpy god in the sky?  Run to your brother’s house before the enemy can devour you!  Your brother’s house is made of precious material that can withstand the storms of life.  In His house is rest and food for your soul.

“My Father’s house has many rooms (or mansions); if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6

Community

Community is a hard subject for me.  I’m extremely introverted.  I like to be alone.  My favorite vacation is sitting at home with a book or netflix.  So when Christians talk about community, I feel a little claustrophobic.  The thought of being around people all the time makes my blood pressure rise.  In all honesty, community has negative connotations for me.  I think of conformity, going with the crowd, changing who you are to fit in.  I think of robots marching in tune to some monotonous beat.  In the darkest parts of my mind, I think of community as a prison.  Is this the vision Jesus had for community?  Of course not!  Society has drummed that image into my head.  So now I’m on the hunt for a true definition and picture of community.  Is there such a thing as a community that embraces the individuality of each person instead of diminishes it?

What started my questioning was the story of Lazarus.  In John 11, we have Lazarus’ story.  If you don’t know the story, read it in John 11:1-44.  In short, Lazarus was sick and eventually died of his illness.  Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus.  Jesus came around after he had been dead four days to see the family.  Jesus was very upset by this news.  In the story, there is a whole community surrounding this grieving family.  They follow Mary to Jesus who then goes to the tomb of Lazarus.  Jesus says a short prayer to His father and then, with a loud voice, calls for Lazarus.  Lazarus comes out hobbling.  He is still bound in the graveclothes.  Jesus orders the crowd to loose him.

The fact that he was still in his graveclothes stuck out to me.  He needed the community to come around him and loose him.  Was Lazarus freed from death?  Yes.  But he still needed help.  It is interesting that Jesus orders the crowd to loose him.  Surely, he could have done this himself.  But possibly there is a deeper picture here.  How many times have you gone to church and been prayed for?  It creates a spiritual high, doesn’t it?  But after a day or two, you’re back where you started.  What happened?  It could be that you’re still in your “graveclothes”.  You need the community to come around you and loose you.  In the past, I wasn’t one for accountability groups/partners but I’m getting warmer to the idea.  We need someone to take the graveclothes off of us.

For example, let’s look at addiction to pornography.  Jesus has set you free from that.  Please believe it.  But you still have patterns and learned behaviors from that addiction.  You still have your nightly rituals, your web history taunts you, you can no longer use it for stress relief.  Those are your graveclothes.  They can only be removed by getting involved in your community and confiding in a trusted friend.

If Lazarus had been raised from the dead with no one around, how long would he have remained in the grave?  He might have died all over again!  This happens when we try to go it alone.  We get free for a little while but then succumb all over again.  We get free for a little while, then succumb all over again.  It’s a cycle.  But when we have a community surrounding us, we can fully walk into the Light.

Sometimes God’s miracles are instantaneous and mind blowing.  Other times, they are a slow burn.  During these times, he uses other believers to work those miracles.  We all have the fullness of God in us.  Is it no wonder he uses us?  We are powerful beyond imagining.

My quest for community is not yet finished of course.  I still have a lot of questions.  But hopefully I’m started on the right path.

Twins – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito

Twins is a wonderful little PG-13 comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito.  In the movie, they are twin brothers.  That’s right.  Twins.  Tall, muscular Julius Benedict (played by Arnold) and short, stocky Vincent Benedict (played by Danny).  They are actually products of a genetic experiment.  The purpose of the experiment was to create a super-human.  Scientists isolated the best traits out of six gifted men and a mother was chosen whose name was Mary.  So Julius and Vincent have seven parents in total.  However, while only one baby was expected, two were born.  The one deemed the fittest (Julius) was sent with one of the scientists to a beautiful island paradise.  The other one (Vincent), deemed unfit, was sent to an orphanage in Los Angeles.  When Julius is 35, he is told about his brother.  Sensing his brother is in trouble, he goes to Los Angeles to find him.  Fun ensues.

So I was two years old when this movie came out.  However, I do remember watching this movie as a kid.  A couple months ago, it was on Netflix so I decided to relive some old times and watch it.  Mostly, I wanted to see if it was funny to adult me as well as toddler me.  However, this movie turned out to be far more profound than I ever imagined.  You see, God is rather impolite and likes to talk during movies.  As he was talking to me, I began to see a wonderful spiritual allegory taking place.

The first thing that stood out to me was the mother.  The mother’s name is Mary Ann Benedict.  Benedict means “blessed”.  So, at the start, you have a girl named “blessed” Mary who is impregnated, not through sexual intercourse, but by in vitro fertilization.  A virgin birth, if you will.  As such, she gives birth to Julius Benedict who is strong physically, mentally, and spiritually.  She is promptly told that her baby died.  She is not even told about Vincent.

A little farther along in the movie, Julius is told about his brother and immediately runs off to see if he is alright.  So Julius gives up his island paradise to go find his brother out in the real world.  Consider the passage in Philippians 2:6-7 which says, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”  So just like Julius leaves his paradise to go find his brother, Christ left his paradise to come find us.  Julius, upon entering the US, immediately goes to the orphanage to find out what happened to his brother.  He is told by the nuns that he is better off without his brother.  How like the religious system to reject those who aren’t already perfect.  Julius is told to look for his brother in jail so that’s his next step.

It just so happens that Vincent was picked up the night before for unpaid parking tickets.  So the first time Julius and Vincent meet is at the jail house.  How awesome!  Why?  How does Jesus find us?  He finds us when we are in bondage to our sinful nature.  What does Julius do?  He pays Vincent fines so he can be released and asks for nothing in return.  So it is with Jesus.  He paid our price so we can live free and asks for nothing in return.  Moving on… While Vincent is thankful to be released, he does not believe that he and Julius are related so he ditches Julius at the impound lot.  It is only when Julius saves him from the loan sharks that Vincent keeps him around.  It is like our own spiritual journey.  At first, we are only interested in what Jesus can do for us.  Does Jesus care?  NO!  He loves to show us what he can do!  Ultimately, he is interested in a relationship with us and he loves to get our attention.

Julius convinces Vincent to search for their biological parents while Vincent has a secret plan of dropping off some stolen merchandise.  Their first stop is at a geneticist’s lab who was involved with the experiment.  At first, the scientist denies any involvement but after some prodding comes clean.  He calls Vincent by name and asks if he escaped from prison.  He later explains that the experiment was a success but there was a byproduct.  Vincent was “the crap left over”.  It is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film.  Because, throughout the movie, it is shown that Julius and Vincent are quite alike.  They have the same mannerisms, preferences, etc.  They even something of a psychic link.  They really are twins.  So it is with our relationship to Jesus Christ. Being born again, we share the same DNA as Jesus Christ. We are twins. But, we aren’t “the junk left over”. The “church” will try to tell you that you’re missing something. You need to strive to be like God. We need to climb that ladder. We need to clean ourselves up. In reality, we aren’t missing anything. We have the DNA of the creator in our blood. We are just as strong and smart and beautiful as He is. Jesus gave us his entire self. We have his entire Holy Spirit within us. We don’t just have what was left over, we have it all.

Throughout the rest of the movie, Julius proves to be a good example to Vincent and their relationship develops.  After collecting the fee for dropping off the stolen merchandise, Julius convinces Vincent to turn himself in.  They end up getting a healthy reward and starting their own legitimate business.  They both get married and have twins of their own.

Like any analogy, you can’t think about it too hard or it falls apart.  For example, the scientists are like God but God would never lie to us or separate us from Jesus.  Also, I don’t see Jesus engaging in pre-marital sex.  So you got to be careful how far you take this analogy.  However, it is useful in some ways.  I think it would be a good conversation starter with the men in your life.  Men can have a hard time relating to bride-of-Christ allegories or even father/son allegories.  However, Jesus as a twin brother should be easy enough to relate to.