Sunday, March 30, 2014

Double Mischief

Hello Friends.

Well it has been an interesting weekend, not like I planned butt interesting and some mischief.  The plan was lots of hikes, maybe even camping and backpacking.  We did go on a couple of hikes.

MOM decided that it would also be best if we got the lawn mowed.  So MOM and Mr. Mark spent a couple hours doing that

I of course inspected the job they had done.

"OK you two did a good job.  Now about tomorrow, I say we get up waaay early to get started on our hiking adventure."  They agreed.  Can you blame them, just look at my face.  Can't say no to that.

What a difference a day makes.  Woke up to snow.  It was snowing!  How can this be, we just mowed the lawn not 10 hours ago.  Maybe if I close my eyes it will all go away.

Yep this is snow.  And closing my eyes did not make it stop.  Which means my hiking plans were squashed.  Mother Nature can be very mischievous.  So we head back inside.

Mr. Mark brought me this funny little critter.  I am not sure what it is, but it has crazy eyes.  I did not trust those eyes.  And with good reason.

That critter attacked my MOM!

No need to worry I was all over that critter.

I think the critter is giving in.  Little mischievous critter.  I had a little talk with him, and if he wanted to stay in my house he needed to behave himself.

As you can see he complied.  Smart move crazy critter.  I'm not sure who the second mischief belongs to, Crazy Critter or Mr. Mark for bringing him to me without checking out his background.  I mean Mr. Mark is in law enforcement.  Butt all in all we did have a good weekend, even if the rain, snow and wind canceled some of are plans we still made the best of it all.  And the best part for me was that I got a WHOLE weekend with my MOM, the whole thing!  I've decided we need more of those.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

God Spit

Hello Friends.
In the coming week I will show you some of my adventurous weekend.  Attached to my message today are a few photos of the first part of the adventure.

Kids, and us doggies for sure, know mud is good. Whether squished between the toes, splashed up from a big puddle, or patted into inedible but indelible “pies,” mud attracts little children as quickly as cupcakes and puppies.

For all of us, after the frozen frostiness of this past Winter, who isn’t looking forward to the Spring softening of hard, unyielding ground. There is something elemental, even primeval about mud. We instinctively recognize that moist, mushy earth is a sign of fruitfulness, fulfillment, and fun.

But if you don’t have melting snow or spring rains to make solid ground into malleable mud, then you have to get water from some other source. In John 9:1-41, John’s detailed re-telling of Jesus healing of a man who had been “born blind,” that water source comes from saliva.

Jesus spits on the ground and “made mud with the salvia,” an action that would delight all children, but was an absolute symbol of uncleanness and pollution to the reigning religious authorities. Blood, sweat, spit, all those “icky” human fluids were considered not just to be unattractive. They were deemed absolutely repulsive and ritually unclean. Spittle was considered to be a pollutant, and even today, to spit upon someone is the ultimate sign of contempt.

But when Jesus encountered the man who was “born blind,” an individual who had been “blind from birth,” someone who had never received the gift of sight, he responds by spitting. We cannot know for sure whether this man had nothing in his eye sockets, just a cavernous hole, or whether his eyes were born deformed and defective. The fact that Jesus’ action recreated the first act of creation, where God creates materiality out of mud, suggests the former, but it is only speculation.

What isn’t speculation is that “in the beginning” God created the cosmos and the earth. Upon the earth the first priority was water in order for life to emerge. It was only after a stream of water rose up from within the ground and watered “the whole face of the earth” (Genesis 2:6) that God gathered together the moistened dirt and “formed Adam” from the clay. The first “mud pie,” made from the creative touch of the divine on clay, that simple combination of dirt and water, resulted in nothing less than the first human being.

Jesus’ mud ball locomotions suggest, as I already suggested, that this man did not just have blind eyes, but that he had no eyes. Jesus didn’t just “heal” his blindness. Jesus created sight — giving eyes to one who had been “born” without eyes. Jesus’ act of combining creative moisture with the dirt of the earth to make miraculous mud was a recreation of the first act of creation. God created life from where there had been nothing. Jesus created eyes from where there had been nothing.

When Jesus spat and made a poultice of salvia and dust, creating a salve that saved a blind man’s spirit and provided him with his first experience of sight, Jesus continued the Creator’s creativity and embodied the essence of divine creativeness.

Yet as with everything that God made good, “mud” had also taken on a bad reputation.  The doctor who helped set the leg and sent packing Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, Dr. Samuel Mudd, brought about the curse, “your name is mud!” In Jesus’ day the excretion of saliva combined with dirt making mud would have been a highly unclean event. Mud was bad, and by association so was everything associated with any dirt and water combination.

But there is another way to use mud. And ironically the only way to describe all of the nay-sayers, doubters, and guffaw merchants questioning Jesus’ actions and the healing he had brought about uses another “mud” term. The Pharisees and doubters and attackers who berate the healed blind man can only be seen as “mud slingers.” They are individuals who cannot see the miraculous healing power of God, but can only see the basic elements of dirt and spit, the basic facts of a blind beggar and a Sabbath day afternoon.

In the “Harry Potter” genre of children’s books some of the “pureblood” wizard families proclaim their superiority over those who unexpectedly are born with wizarding gifts in non-magical families. Those pure blood wizards assert that those not from wizarding bloodlines are “mud bloods.” They are inferior. Dirty. Polluted. Impure. It is a children’s book lesson in the ridiculousness of racism.

The truth is that we are all “mud bloods” — we are all children born from the creativity of God upon the mud bank of the first squishy shore of creation. Mud is our common mantra. And mud is our makeover. Why do people use mud facials to remove impurities and toxins? Because of the cleansing, restoring, curative powers of mud. Even spit is a cleansing agent, as every antique restorer knows. There are enzymes in spit that remove grime without destroying what’s underneath. Salivas act upon lipids and proteins that dissolves dirt but doesn’t harm the paint. Spit is restoration. Godspit is divine restoration and purification.

The majesty of God revealed in this one man’s story is the restoration of the sight of all humanity through our willingness to come to the One whom God "sent" and to be washed, cleansed, and restored, and forgiven by the "Living Water."  The anointing with clay and saliva is the finishing of God’s creation of us . . . making us again whole through the salve and salvation of Christ.

You know who totally gets this whole mud makeover/Godspit thing??
That's right, my buddy Bert.  No dog does mud like him.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Big Weekend

Hello Friends.

I have a big weekend coming up.  Mr. Mark will be here.  Oh we have BIG plans.  It's been like forever since my MOM has had a weekend off, I am not kidding.  We tried to remember when the last time she had a Saturday and Sunday off and couldn't remember.  MOM said if I am up for it we will be doing a lot of adventurous stuff.  WHAT??!!  I am Adventure Goose.  Am I up for it?  Sheesh MOM you know I am "Adventure Goose", just try and stop me.  Butt first, one must prepare for such a big weekend.  Let us go through my preparation shall we.

As you can see I am pulling out all the stops.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Treat Dispensing Fun

Hello Friends.

Last week my MOM made some YUMMY salmon treats for me.  They are so so good, all natural, no funky stuff in them that you can not pronounce, and they are made from the salmon that me and my MOM catch.  Believe me my friends they are to drool for... and I do.  When there are just small pieces of the salmon treats left in my treat jar MOM puts them in my treat dispenser and makes me work for the yummy goodness.  It's suppose to keep me occupied for a long while.  Let's just see about that.

If a long while is 3 minutes then mission accomplished.  My special move, as you saw, is picking it up and dropping it on the floor.  More treats come out that way faster.  What you did not see on the video is when the treat dispenser appears to be empty I make sure by taking the top off by untwisting it and giving it a good shake.  Don't want to waste any yummy morsel.  Have a beautiful week my friends.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened...

Hello Friends.

A funny thing happened at Bert's place the other day.  Well I didn't find it humorous. As normal my MOM came to pick me up after she left St. Anne's Homeless Shelter.  Nothing funny about that.  All us doggies give her a BIG greeting when she drives up.  Sometimes that can be funny.  Then she comes inside and loves on all of us doggies.  Butt on this particular day she loved on someone else.

That's right she was holding paws with Allred (the devil cat).  She was petting him and talking to him.  That's more frightening than funny.
I tried to warn her.  "MOM that is Allred!  It is best to keep your distance.  Back away now and no one, no doggie will get hurt." 
Did she listen?  Nooooooo.  She calls me over so I can talk to him.  MOM even grabbed my ear and started to pet Allred (devil cat) with it.  WITH MY EAR!!  This is what she says is "funny".  Oh hardeeee har har.  Butt the laughter soon ended.
"Yea MOM who is laughing now?"  I bet she listens to me next time.  And where is Bert during this so called "funny" moment.
As far from Allred as he can get, pretending to be asleep with a stuffie in his mouth.  "Sheeesh buddy where's the back up?!"
If you will excuse me I have to go wash my ear now.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Let It Go

Hello Friends.

I have to use some photos from last week and other sthat you may have not seen.  My MOM spent a good part of her Saturday in a meeting in Salt Lake and then in a doctor office for some time also.  So there was no hiking adventure with pictures to go with today's message.  So let's get to it shall we.

Sometimes what we think is most familiar is also the most unknown.
It's easy to get comfortable, to get in a rut. Thinking “outside the box” requires flexing some mental muscles, pushing out the walls of thoughts and expectations we find reassuring and familiar. There is perhaps no more faith-defining expression in Western Christianity than the concept of being “born again.” After two millennia it's a phrase that is so familiar it has become unknown.
In the first century, to the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus’ insistence that “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” sounded utterly bizarre. The term Jesus used to describe this required rebirth was “anothen,” a word that had two distinct meanings. “Anothen” could be understood to mean “again,” or it could mean “above.” “Anothen” had both a horizontal (this-world) and a vertical (heavenly) connotation.
But Nicodemus simply could not accept any way of entering into the kingdom, of experiencing God’s presence, other than adherence to the Torah. By clinging to the literal, Nicodemus sought security and refuge in his old belief system which protected him from the notion that God had sent a new presence into the world, a new possibility, Jesus the Christ. To the left-brain literal mind, the metaphor of being “born again” was ridiculous.
One of the hottest areas of religious research right now is neuroscience and theology. The modern mapping of the human brain’s activities by neuroscience and psychoneurolinguistics has revealed that our brains have learned to delegate. The brain itself has bicameral  hemispheres, divided by a membranous cartilage known as the “corpus callosum:” essentially we have a “left brain” and a “right brain.” This division is not a “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” kind of segregation. There is always intimate communication between the two halves through the left and right brain.  Together these dual strengths have given us astonishing advances in science, the beauty of art, structures for politics and power, and the magic of music.
When Jesus announces that God is working in a new way, through the “water” of the new birth and through the winds of a new spirit, Nicodemus cannot get beyond the rational literalism of his left brain, and utters one of the most uncomprehending statements in all of the Bible: “How can this be? Must I enter my mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
Twenty centuries later, the Church has fallen back into the original confusion that "Nick-by-night" showcased with Jesus.  But even as the church has claimed the “born again” label, we are still stuck in "Nick-by-night mode". We still want to limit our faith to logic and reasonableness, to what we think and intellectually comprehend. That is why churches have more by-laws than by-products. That is why we cling to doctrines and dogmas instead of promises and possibilities. That is why “church” is a noun, not a verb.
Instead of pitting our “left” brains against our “right” brains, the children of God’s creation need to embrace their “whole brains.” Hope for right-brained people comes from the fact that Nicodemus eventually defended Jesus, and ultimately joined with Joseph of Arimathea in claiming Jesus’ body, providing the Messiah with a respectable burial. Nicodemus might not have given up being a Pharisee. He embraced the message and mission of Jesus and dared to be registered on the radar of both Jewish and Roman both by defending Jesus and by helping to claim the body of an executed criminal of the Empire. Nicodemus had finally “let go” of his former worldview with its boundaries and barriers.
“Letting go” is not just a mantra for college kids on Spring Break. “Letting go” is what Christians need to embrace every day of their lives. Instead of trusting in “make-sense” reason and sensible logic, we need to trust equally in our sense of awe, our sense of mystery, our sense of beauty, our sense of the divine. “Letting go” is what disciples of Jesus should do best.
MOM took her youth to see the movie Frozen.  “Let It Go” is the theme song of this movie and is sung at the moment in the movie that the eldest daughter of the King and Queen, Elsa, flees her kingdom for the mountains to isolate herself and let go of the rigid expectations of not revealing her “gift.”
Elsa's “gift” is that everything she touches turns to ice. Her parents taught her that her gift was a menace to others, and so she had to hide it her whole life and suppress her true self. As a result she wrapped her hands in gloves and did the same to her heart. She rejected relationships, especially with her sister, Anna.
After the King and Queen died, Elsa was crowned Queen. At the coronation, her "gift" was accidentally revealed and she fled her sister and her kingdom and went to be alone in the mountains where she could use her gift freely.  Elsa doesn't understand her true gift until the end of the film, when a gesture of true love changes everything she knows to be true.
Anna had been accidentally stricken by Elsa's freezing power. If the cold gets to your heart, you can’t be healed: Anna was slowly dying as the coldness approached her heart. Although her true love is on his way to save her, when Anna sees that Elsa is threatened, Anna steps in front of her sister to save her. As she does she turns to ice. But when Elsa is thrown out of her "icy" isolation and throws her loving arms around the frozen figure of Anna, her tears melt the ice that enwraps and entraps Anna, and Elsa’s own heart is melted as well.
Her power which she thought must be hidden was the exact thing that could heal. In breaking free of her isolation (ice-olation), Elsa saves herself, her sister, her kingdom, and all are reunited. At that moment, Elsa realizes that her gift depends on her spirit. If she uses her gift in love, and not ice-olation, she can melt all the ice of the frozen kingdom, and make beauty through love instead of coldness. Love is the stuff of life, of relationships, and of true beauty.
In many ways, the “Let it Go” theme of Frozen is the story of Nicodemus. Jesus is encouraging Nicodemus and the Nicodemus in all of us to “Let It Go.” We must let go of our control, let go of our fear, let go of our cold certainty and yield to God’s Spirit.
Love and relationships must trump fear. Spirit is everything. Jesus challenges Nicodemus to enter into a new dimension, to be born of the Spirit, to trump his fear and allow his spirit to be changed. But to open ourselves up to the mystery of the Holy Spirit, we must let go of our fear of the unknown, the untested, the unexamined.
I think control is the major thing that prevents us from "stepping to the right.” In the movie Frozen, Elsa’s obsessive control prevents her from freeing up her gift to be the healing and loving touch it was meant to be. Nicodemus's ice is his rationality, his left-brained logic and control. He is stuck in a left-brain paradigm when God has given us two-brains for a reason, and wants us to be whole human beings. If we dwell only in our left brain, that is a very cold place indeed. Our left brain is our place of cold rationality. Our right brain is our place of hot relationality. Warmth comes from bringing the hot and the cold together, the warm place where we feel ourselves open to the mystery, the beauty, and creativity of the Holy Spirit.
And finally we need to let go is our certainty. Not let go of assurance, but certainty. There is a big difference between assurance and certainty. We can have full assurance of faith but with our faith harboring much uncertainty.
God cares less about what we know than about how we love and whom we love. And love is not about certainty or security. We cannot be “certain” about God; we can only be in relationship with God. To be born of the Spirit means to allow the spirit of Christ to live inside of you. Are you willing to let go of your certainties of who God is and what God can do?
All babies are born with clenched fists. Growing up is the process of relaxing your hand, unfurling your fingers, and opening your heart…in love and relationship.  We are born with a grasping reflex. We have to learn a yielding reflex…to let go of control, let go of fear, and let go of certainty.  Let it go. Let go to God.