Thursday, November 18, 2010


I can almost smell the turkey, hear the laughter and feel my synapses falling like so many dominos as I succumb to the paralyzing effects of too much tryptophan.

The holidays are coming.  Be still my beating heart!!! The holidays are here!

Dear Lord... Give me 36 hours a day for the next week, eh? Please turn my 1985 galley kitchen into a granite countered topped, commercial stove/fridge/double oven piece of paradise complete with a sous chef, a dish gnome and his cousin the laundry gnome?  The laundry gnome can have all the socks he can find and I promise not to complain if the dish gnome breaks the tumblers I bought last March.   I've broken 8 of them already.

I tend to go a little bonkers with food on Thanksgiving.  I don't know if it's a pathological compulsion to have leftovers or the satisfaction of watching my boy's faces light up when they see me roast pecans and roll out pie dough.  I've already canned 12 little jars of amaretto cranberry relish to share and to keep.  As I do every year.

Traditions.  Fueled by smells,textures, tastes, obsessions and the blood,sweat and tears of countless families the country over.  All those memories tying us closer than we ever imagined.  Or driving us apart.  It depends on the experiences, I guess.

I remember the year Grandma Glaser sat at the middle of the long tables beside Mom.  She was all white and pale. Her sheer scarf wrapped around carefully brushed and pinned silver hair as she giggled into Mom's shoulder.  That was the last year we spent Thanksgiving with her.   She was gone by the end of the next fall.

Maybe I do go overboard and cook too much.  Maybe I do get a little crazy about having the silver polished and the linens ironed.

But I sincerely believe and hope I am building something for my family.  Creating a homing beacon, if you will.

I want my boys to have such strong ties to celebrating life with me that they will be drawn to return, to bring their families, to share their lives with me when they no longer have a requirement but have transitioned into the independence of their own lives and obligations.

I wonder if that's part of what caused God to make such a big deal about the way celebrations and feasts and religious observations were to be carried out as He directed the Israelites in the wilderness.

He knew they'd wander.  He knew they'd get busy.  He knew they'd need a reminder of what home felt like.  Of what He thought of them, how He'd prepared for them, anticipated their participation in the events which tied them closer together than they realized.  Conjoined memories creating a sense of identity which drew them toward Himself in the midst of the chaos of life and the duties, foreign surroundings, strangers and longing for a promise to be revealed.

It's easy to see how we are drawn together, at a festive table to enjoy special foods and spend time with precious people.  We are prompted to remember days gone by, cherish moments we have and hope for celebrations to come.

It is hard work to create the environment that elicits a consistent positive response.  It requires planning and effort, anticipation and preparation. Tradition doesn't come easy.

Neither do homing beacons.  But they are worth it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Republic of Crapistan

So, this last weekend, on a trip to the coast I see a really awful older hatchback with rust, dents and all the trimmings.  Not particularly unusual except for the "I used to be on a Beemer flying down the autobahn" German license plate firmly plastered on the back.

Which led me to this particularly awesome observation, if I do say so myself.

"Kids," said I, "Just because you put a fancy sticker on something doesn't really make look any less like it came from the republic of Crapistan."   And we all giggled.

That was before Tuesday.  Before the elections.  Before the conservative gloating and the liberal butt-covering began.  Before a German site, Der Spiegel, said that our president was "cold, arrogant and elitist".

It seems like everything and nothing has changed in the past few days.   Oh the giggles and howls are getting old.   Is it a mandate or a temper tantrum the country just threw out?    Only time will tell.

Or, maybe, it's just a cool facade on a worn out vehicle so that the unobservant masses can pretend we are just as cool as we want to think we are.   And we can ignore the fact that the whole she-bang is looking more like the republic of Crapistan than the USofA.

Or not.  What do I know?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's a little Cult between friends, right?

How do you define a cult?  

Worldnetweb.princeton says:

  • followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices
  • fad: an interest followed with exaggerated zeal; "he always follows the latest fads"; "it was all the rage that season"
  • followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader 
  • a religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false

I look at this particular group of definitions and think of people in orange robes with shaved heads handing out flowers at the airport.  Anyone else just hear the tinkling of tiny brass cymbals?   I have a mental picture, fueled by CNN, of the shrouded bodies at the estate in California when the Hale Bop cult performed a mass suicide in an effort to meet up with their off-world buddies.  “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” has become a cliché for not following hook, line and sinker a fast talker up in front of the assembled masses.

As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that we’ve all heard some variation of a story where the neighbor’s cousins husbands mother’s first cousin had a child who disappeared into some commune and was never heard from again.

Cue organ music…  The dry ice mist rises…  

Most of us have the maturity and discernment to stay away from those kinds of cults.   We feel sorry for those who are drawn into that deception knowing for certain that we would never, ever, EVAR lose ourselves like that.  I mean, seriously?  Isn’t “light and love” a euphemism for weird rituals and sex without borders?

I am a good Christian girl with, perhaps, a better than average recollection of the things I’ve read and studied in the Bible.  I can study, in basic terms, Greek/Hebrew AND follow a bible study written by Kay Arthur while only cringing momentarily when she calls me “beloved” again and again and again.   I could wallow in my vat of self-satisfaction until I am prune-y with it.  If I wanted to.  

But the Word doesn’t tell us that it’s only the foolish that are led away and deceived.  The Word says “even the very elect” are deceived.    And no, that doesn’t mean that only politicians will follow weirdness although I suppose one could argue that case well given the current political climate.   

Matthew 24:24 “"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

In my personal experience, the most seductive and successful cults are those who brandish wildly and publicly a fragment or two of God’s Truth.  They warmly welcome you and then drop the hammer on you after you’ve seen a counterfeit community that blows most Christian fellowships out of the water with their warmth and compassion. It is only when you have fallen in love with these people and their smiles and potluck suppers that you realize you have swallowed it all.  Even the stuff they swished around within the cesspool of selfish ambition and flat out satanic deception.  

It’s the Truth of salvation through faith in Christ alone but THIS *name that requirement* is what really makes Him happy….  “Now, go buy my book.  That’s a good little proselyte.” 

It’s the Truth of relationship with Christ that will transform you.  But only if you follow my program to get there.  “There are levels of relationship and I’m on a higher plane than you so I hear God more clearly.  But you too an attain this level. You’ve heard of my book, right?  Have you purchased it yet?  Only $16.99 at my personal website. www…..”

It’s the Truth that all of the Word is for today, for edification and instruction, but that the interpretation of everyone else on the planet is flawed and only I can tell you how to accurately and effectively study and apply the Word.  “That’s in Chapters 5-8.  In my book.  On the website…$16.99.  Remember?”

Once you’ve swallowed and mingled and invested your heart and life into this group of people, who are truly wonderful, the disentanglement process can be brutal.  For many it’s simply not worth the effort.   The phrase “Take the meat, spit out the bones” becomes a spiritually justifiable excuse to stay in a place where your faith is being prostituted and corrupted for the simple pleasure of pleasing the charismatic figure up front who seems larger than life and promises you so many good things.

If you just toe the line.   And keep the ball rolling.  And tithe regularly to their specific causes.

And don’t ask too many questions.

Now, does that kind of cult sound a little more familiar?   Anyone else squirming in their seats? I am and I’m writing the darn thing!

We like to toy with unfamiliar and biblically incorrect concepts and call them “different expressions of faith” while we plan our ecumenical suppers and fall all over ourselves working to encourage the religious freedom and expression of people who are only in the “ministry” for the sizeable paycheck they can get from the weak and vulnerable who only wanted a place to fit in, a family to love them and a purpose beyond what they can see for themselves.

There are cults of personality, cults of deep and dark deception that look simply beautiful on the outside.   There are cults where the terminology is exactly the same as most Christianese but with some very different definitions driving those terms.   Ask a Mormon to define, according to the Book of Mormon and the Doctrines & Covenants, who Jesus really is.  Ask who Lucifer is too, while you’re at it.  You might just be surprised.

I have been fooled and I don’t consider myself even moderately elect.  Saved by grace and walking/falling all over myself while doing what I can to work out this whole Faith in Christ thingamabob.   I repent.  A lot.  I recognize my desperate need for a gracious God. A lot.  I am so far from beating anything into submission, from running with determination it’s easy to become discouraged by what appears to be my lack.

And then I think to myself, “Well, God used a donkey once.   And He’ll use rocks if we quit praising Him.  There’s still hope for a lump of clay like me.”

And I think, somehow, that makes Him smile.  Although I do think He rolls His eyes at me sometimes too.  Like, “Heidi, can you just rest already?  I’ve got you covered.  You don’t have to figure it all out today.”

Cults.   Deviations that start with a fragment of Truth and lead us so far from the simplicity of the Gospel that we become virtually unrecognizable as followers of a Gentle Shepherd, a Risen Savior,  a Righteous God,  a Holy Creator.

Cults.  Perhaps started with a deep and abiding desire to quit following the mainstream compromise and create, here on earth, a budding utopia of peace and love, but always when clearly exposed, are more aptly defined by control, selfish ambition, and the domination of the few at the expense of the group while fear and oppression slither around under a very, very appealing façade of community and acceptance.

The Body is hemorrhaging believers at an alarming rate.  Families I never imagined would question fundamental truths are embracing fringe theologies with little or no compulsion to even spell-check the brochure.   Moral issues within churches are limited to those topics deemed socially acceptable and fundamentally consistent with whatever makes me feel the best.   Study of the Word has been replaced with book discussions and quoting the latest and greatest author who has the “most ama-za-zing thought on…”   Grace and kindness have been replaced with qualifiers and signatures on the bottom of membership rosters. 

Who are we?    What are we doing?  

Jesus didn’t call us sheep because he thought that would look cute on a greeting card.   We need a shepherd.  And we have one.

Are we paying enough attention to Him that we recognize His voice in the cacophony of instruction that would tempt us to believe that the words of the most charismatic, intellectual individuals up front are good enough to replace, divide or destroy the simple instructions He left for us?

Go. Speak. Disciple. Love your neighbor as yourself. Lay down your lives for each other.  Be a Berean.  Search the Scriptures.   Follow the admonishment of Paul, “Test all things, hold fast to that which is good.”  Submit one to another as fellow sojourners.  

We are joined by a common faith in an uncommon God. We are all equally in need of Divine Intervention and Grace.   We are all prone to fallen behavior that will hurt and destroy the witness and testimony we have to share and to offer.

Don’t question the status quo because of anything I’ve said.  Question because we are never given the freedom to sit back and pretend that life is flowing all around us in a peaceful, unchecked stream of consciousness that only requires a steady donation of money, time and energy to keep us in that safe, happy place.  From the moment we don the helmet of Salvation we are at war with an enemy who will never relent as long as we allow ourselves to be deceived.  Study the Word.  Eat, sleep and breathe it.  All of it.  Trust that the Holy Spirit will lead you, comfort you, teach you and empower you.  

I see people who are deceived and delighted and it breaks my heart.  Surely we are destined for far greater things than to isolate ourselves into man-made doctrines that hinder growth and impede the spread of the Gospel. 

Surely we must be.  Or this faith which so many have died for means nothing and we are living a lie.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Wreck of the Hesperus

This is a childrens book from 1968 by Morris Walsh.  It is NOT to be confused with the poem of similar title by Longfellow...

"Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, In the midnight and the snow! Christ save us all from a death like this, On the reef of Norman's Woe!"
 No, this book is about an adorable little car that is filled by a family of 13 children who enter and exit the car in alphabetical order.   Which, sounds cute until you consider the level of OCD their poor mother is experiencing in order to enforce this bizarre requirement.

So, Hesperus, the car, is neglected and abused and all but one flat tire shy of the junk yard until the town doctor buys him and sticks him in the garage and "tinkers" on him until he can barely stand it.

But one fine day, the garage door opens and a completely re-built, restored and revitalized Hesperus putt putts his shiny, bad self through town.  And nobody recognizes him!  He is so very different from the broken and decrepit former self that he is virtually unrecognizable.

And the retelling of this story this morning led me to this observation.  Warning... Deep thought approaches...

Have I ever confused being sidelined with God putting me in the garage for a bit for a massive restoration project?

Just sayin'.