Posted by: robertartemenko | April 26, 2010

The Love of HugeGOD

1 Corinthians 13:13  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Whether or not you call yourself a Christian, you have likely heard the verse above at some church ceremony. I have heard it used both at weddings and funerals. That … is utility!

Paul’s famous love chapter in Corinthians gets a lot of attention. I have focused on the verse above in particular, on the primacy of love over faith and hope. I guess it rings true most of all because the Bible says “God is Love” (1 John 4, verses 8 and 16). No where does it say that “God is faith” or “God is hope,” though we have faith IN Him and hope FOR Him. Yes, faith, hope and love are big deals, but scripture certainly honors love in a unique way. When thinking of these three personally, “love” as an emotion or conviction carries with it more of my heart and mind than faith and hope, important as they are. In courting my wife, seeing my children born, being overcome by the beauty of creation in Glacier or Yellowstone Park, while faith and hope certainly rattle around in my brain, it is “love” that is the prime mover. It dominates, causing the sigh and the high, exciting the passion, encouraging the actions flowing from the heart.

The writings of (Saint) Augustine have captured my interest recently and I am reading a foundational work of his, The Trinity. In it he intellectually wrestles with how to best know and understand God. (Psalm 105:4 ” Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.”) As our life in God is totally a function of who He is, this is a critical first step for all seekers. As intellectual extraordinaire, Augustine took up pick axe and shovel for over twenty years, 400 – 420 AD. An insight directing his digging into this mystery is that God made-man-in-his-image. (Genesis 9:6b ” for in the image of God has God made man.”) Augustine strains all his logic, analytical power and scriptural scholarship to see what is it in man that could possibly map to the triune God, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, one essence yet three personalities.

His findings are carefully laid out over 15 “books,” each chapter length entries, where he carefully develops his God-view. Not summarizing, but highlighting one theme within his presentation, he suggests “We all certainly want to be happy.” (Referencing also a dialogue in Cicero’s Hortensius) He goes on to assert that ultimate happiness is not to be found in the temporal, for if eternity is available through saving faith in Jesus, who would not opt for immortality. All temporal pursuits are bound by mortality. The immortal “context” tied to redemption in Christ is life “forever.” Life immortal beats any happy gig experienced in our mortality.
 
The great thing about reading Augustine is the way he develops, defines, refines and reduces his own thinking. He’ll then get to a point where he takes some hitherto simple diamond and discovers under-appreciated facets, revealing subtleties and new insights. He does this with the love verse that heads this entry. Augustine acknowledges the defined interrelationship between faith and hope in scripture. Hebrews 11:1 states ” Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Regarding the immortality that is an ingredient of  the “happy life” mentioned above, our faith is a decision we have taken in hope of realizing the promises of God. Augustine says “faith in eternal things is also necessary for gaining these eternal things.” (The Trinity, Book XIV, 1.). The “eternal”  hope to be realized by our faith is meeting God face to face, being in His presence forever. While on earth, we cannot see God. The sin that has corrupted our flesh is a veil which our weak spiritual eyes cannot penetrate. Passing on out of our earthly bodies as believing Christians into our redeemed heavenly bodies opens new strengthened eyes that see the triune HugeGOD, … Father, Son, and Spirit.   Revelation 21:3b-4  talks about this encounter that will never end. ” Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
 
What’s insight does Augustine highlight?   Augustine confirms why “the greatest of these is love.”
 
 Love is greatest … because once we are dwelling with the HugeGOD, once the mystery of the Gospel hoped for on earth is replaced by our reborn bodies dwelling in God’s presence face to face, our faith and hope pass away. That for which our faith has been most earnest, that for which we have been most hopeful, is realized, and realized in ways “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine …” (Ephesians 3:20a) .
 
Game over! Yankees win!! Thuuuuuuuuuuuh, Yankees Win !!!  (Sorry, but you understand if you listen to the local WCBS baseball-casts)
 
Augustine says “It (faith) will not always exist, because it will certainly no longer exist when the sojourn abroad comes to an end in which we are living away from the Lord so that we have to walk by faith, and when by the sight by which we shall see face to face takes its place…Then there will no longer be any faith by which things that are not seen are believed, but sight by which things are believed are seen.” (Augustine, The Trinity, Book XIV, 4.)
 
Is my God … Is your God … Huge enough in our minds right-now to appreciate that hope and faith, in their current “craving” form, will be extinguished upon seeing God face to face?
 
We have hoped for and had faith in so many things in our lives … they dominate our thinking. We have white knuckled grips on dreams for jobs, salaries, bonuses, pensions, contracts, promotions, relationships, houses, renovations, cars, grades, scores, SAT results, acceptances, references, recognition, evaluations, promotions, WBC count, PSA results, MRI results, healing, flat abs, BMI results, conflict resolution, crab grass, weather, reception hall availability, tee times, Rogaine effectiveness, dress size, etc. Long lists of things, some ridiculously light, some sincerely heavy in our hearts with life and death seriousness.
 
Does the future dwelling-with our HugeGOD so dominate our “want-tos” today, that we see ALL our faith(s) and hope(s) being totally fulfilled when we are with Him tomorrow?
 
No, so sorry to say, I do not. But I really want to. I see that it is absolutely right to morph my worldview about this. I am inspired by Augustine and other HugeGOD lovers to be transformed into the kind of person who would shed this world’s charms and desires for what has true value and joy. C.S. Lewis addressed our level of distraction with temporal things when he said: ” If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
 
The sorry, saggy state of my deflated faith-hope balloon needs serious re-inflation. All the good air seems squeezed out, displaced by the foul-smelling gas of temporal distractions. The action required is a high pressure injection of HugeGOD divine, eternal hope. To change our worldview, the first order of business is to lock onto true hope, and deal seriously with the reality and the promises of scripture (1 Peter 1:3-4 ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”)
 
Hanging our hope on the things of this world has all the certainty of a bent, flimsy, rusty nail.
 
Securing our hope to our HugeGOD’s promises, delivers on what we truly need and want, so much so that hope as an urgent longing in our soul withers away. Faith also, which activated our hopes, fades along with it. All that remains is the greatest of these, love, which and Who is HugeGOD, that was, is and will be, unchanging and eternal, and stands tallest among the three… faith, hope and love.
 
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Posted by: robertartemenko | March 9, 2010

HugeGOD in America

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?ref=magazine

The New York Time’s February 11, 2010 Sunday Magazine’s feature article was How Christian Were the Founders? 

In this essay Robert Shorto discusses how (arch)conservative elements of the Texas State Board of Education are driving more content into their school curricula and textbooks reflecting what they assert better represents the predominant Christian worldview of the founding fathers. While there are aspects of balance and objectivity in the article, there is still the tone of, “When will these fanatics get over the fact that man’s reason and noble science have allowed him to mature beyond this right-wing hocus pocus, so we can all move on and conduct life with a ‘thinking person’s’ worldview.” Shorto acknowledges that there were definitely religious roots in the country, but there is a sense that these powdered-whig sourced convictions do not continuously extrapolate forward beyond the Declaration of Independence. That the Constitution’s “sans God” content set the stage for the country’s migration to a lesser dependency on the Divine. That in 1776 God may have been sovereign, but these days there are new sheriffs in town that dictate our destiny and well-being … so sorry, let’s get modern and move on.

In the final analysis, “faith” in God is just that. Each individual processes their acquired stores of thought, history and opinion and decides who or what they ultimately trust in for guidance, priorities and purpose. What surprises me is our relative ignorance of the purity and degree of God-centeredness that has poured out of America’s great leaders as they were squeezed in the wine presses of the Union’s greatest challenges. The references below are not exhaustive. They came from the mouths of very human and imperfect men. Like us they were hypocritical, prone to say one thing, do another, and get lost along the way. Yet, when the world was looking to them to lead and in so doing reveal what was deep in their characters, what overflowed their souls, there are undeniable stripes of their acknowledgment, dependency and praise of Almighty God. These men were chiefs or our STATE, they were warriors of our STATE, they were each stewards of our STATE, and yet in times when all eyes were on them they not only did not balk, they blared to fellow citizens that the STATE needed to cleave to God, not be separated. In their minds, as seen in the words below, the STATE’s well-being had been, was now, and would continue be dependent on its subordination to God and His associated blessing. (I can’t imagine what the talking heads on CNN would be saying if the contemporaries of the leaders below were to espouse such positions in the coming news week, amid earthquakes, Tiger Tales and the latest governor’s indiscretion.)

WASHINGTON

On June 8 (or 14) of 1783, General of the Continental Army, George Washington, circulated this “call-to-unity” to the governors of the 13 colonies before he retired, or so he thought, from public life. It reads:

“I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. (“to do justice, love mercy, demean ourselves with…humility” is a clear reference to Micah 6:8)

On October 14, 1789, then President George Washington, on the recommendation of both houses of congress, proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving and prayer that following month of November 26. The Massachusetts Sentinel reported this presidential proclamation in mid-October:

“WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:’

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.”

LINCOLN

President Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, in the midst of a tragic civil war understood he and the country were still operating under the providence of God.  Accordingly, he formalized this day of thanksgiving into the American calendar, each fourth Thursday in November.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.”

ROOSEVELT

Abiding by strict security and managing to the 5 hour time difference, president Franklin D. Roosevelt came on national radio the evening of June 6, 1944 and offered a prayer for those soldiers engaged in the D-Day invasion and the country which had sent them. In fact, hours before he came on national radio, the government contacted radio stations and pre-broadcast FDR’s words at dictation speed, so that the stations might themselves offer preliminary texts to their listeners who could copy them down and follow along during the president’s comments. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUy1ejRq9RE&feature=related

“My fellow Americans, last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

 And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

 Almighty God: our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

 They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

 They will be sore tried, by night and by day without rest – until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

 For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home—fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters and brothers of brave men overseas—whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them—help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

 Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a countenance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

 Give us strength, too—strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment—let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

 With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace—a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.”

PATTON

Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr., commander of the 3rd Army in Europe sent this Christmas greeting to his troops in December of 1944. There was little doubt where he stood on the subject of God’s relevance to the situation at hand.

 

“To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.”

 

 

MACARTHUR

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander, shared these words following the Japanese signing their unconditional surrender on board USS Missouri, September 2, 1945. His words are not only gracious to the vanquished, but he is calling the world to realize that the advent of the atomic bomb has changed things such that total world war is no longer an option. What required is a spiritual reawakening, without which the flesh cannot be saved.

“Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won….

As I look back upon the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that he has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.

A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace…. Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence (to break out again after a period of dormancy – RTA) and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”

 

REFLECTION

“Dueling quotes” could be assembled from the leaders above that could make a case for multiple doctrines on the role of God in America. Our focus should be on the consistency of the themes permeating these events. There seems no hesitation to call out to Almighty God, nor any surprise on the part of their audience, that this is not only “a proper” thing to do, but also the must efficacious. There seems to have been a corporate soul that when hard-pressed by circumstances, our leaders sought God’s intervention and care, while the people resonated approvingly. (I am siting no Gallop Polls nor listener research, but most  context around these prayers and exhortations indicates agreement and an energetic positive response.)

What’s up? Leadership mindsets contrary to prevailing conventional wisdom.

What about separation of their church and state? The STATE was separated from the church, but not from God. It’s not so much about organized religion as about individuals seeing themselves as “under God.”

What’s different? Their sense of humility, truth and love. They suspended their pride before men and as they humbled themselves under God in these trials. There was a sense of absolute truth… of right and wrong, just and unjust, good and bad… they were not hamstrung by a paralyzing “positive” tolerance. They loved (and feared) God more than they feared the dire outcomes of their situations. Note how FDR concludes with “Thy will be done.” In fact listen to how he emphasizes those words in the audio. They are not a mindless salutation, he emphasizes each word. (as if  IT’S UP TO GOD! IT’S ALWAYS UP TO GOD.) And these people sense that as much as they plea for what they want for the country, God is sovereign and knows best.  They’d rather have what He deems best eternally than what we demand temporally.

How Christian Were the Founders? They were driven by Christian worldviews and it showed most as they fought to sustain the country. The question as formed creates a stand-off between (1) belief systems, (2) church-state separatists and (3) “religious” folk and those turned-off by organized religion. There will always be sensitivity around these topics, but handling the query from the author’s entry point sets audience segments on edge. A better hypothesis to test would be,  “How Godly” or “God Fearing” Were the Founders?

From this representative historical sequence there is a chain of God-fearing personal worldviews that stretch continuously toward us today. They do not manifest themselves in press releases from religious institutions or sound bites from televangelists. It has it’s source in what had already permeated and colored the hearts and minds of the founders (and the leaders above), from what “truths they held as self-evident” from their experience with “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” (See the Declaration of Independence).

There is fundamental wisdom reflected here that we seem to be losing. Worse than that, there seem to be cultural antibodies that want to expunge this mindset from our leaders, from our families and from students who are to become new families and leaders. This is not progress. This is decay. This is man’s pride displacing humility before God, it is relativism displacing truth and it is self-love displacing devotion to God.

The founders never intended this for their people. Their words and deeds reflected their Hope for us, and for themselves.

Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (NIV)

Psalm 37:5,6 “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5,6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)

Posted by: robertartemenko | February 10, 2010

Bill Winder’s HugeGOD

On July 3, 1990, my 40-year-old friend Bill Winder journaled: “Matthew 5:4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.’ Mourning for the depravity of my own spirit, how far I am from God, and mourning over the estate of man and his world, being so far from God. Personally, such personal reflection, being driven to my knees is necessary to get away from myself and get closer to God, and feeling in the depth of my spirit, the hurt of the world and feel as badly as God does about the state of people and their distance from him and their living in futility away from God. His heart is breaking for them and yearning for them to be close.”

The next day after a morning run, swimming with his three kids at the Lake Forest, IL public pool, he died of a heart attack. His wife Jean, sons Jordan and Jonathan, daughter Jenille had earlier walked through that chain link gate a happy Independence Day family, then left shattered, kids without a dad and Jean widowed.

Time has healed much, though not all. Remarriage, an engagement, new beauty, achievements, new joys in life and in the Lord have blessed them all.

This brutally brief history ignores so many of the waves of life events propagated since this tragedy, not to mention all that came before.

Bill wrote that day before his death without foreknowledge of things to come. But he, like others we may have known or read about, gave us a glimpse deep into his heart. Such insights will become even more common in our hyper-documented culture. This Tweeted, e-mailed, Facebooked, Fox’ed, CNN’ed world in which we live, continues to offer not only mega-drivel, but also occasional dipsticks into the soul.

This “old world” journal showed how HugeGOD had become to Bill. It revealed how Bill’s heart was breaking and merging with God’s … how Bill yearned to “feel as badly as God does about the state of people.”

Consider also 17-year-old Cassie Bernall, who died April 20, 1999 at Columbine High in Littleton, CO. Her brother found this in her journal on April 19: “Now I have given up on everything else I have found it to be the only way to know Christ and to experience His mighty power that brought Him back to life again, and to find out what it means to suffer and to die with Him. So, whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of those who are alive from the dead.” Cassie revealed her heart … she had “given up on everything else” but knowing Christ, she had found “what it means to suffer and to die with Him,” and became one of  “those who are alive,”  to God’s worldview and freed “from the dead (ness)” of this world’s priorities and approach.

What about 39-year-old David Bloom, who died April 6, 2003. An ex-NBC White House correspondent and co-anchor of NBC Weekend Today, he travelled as an imbedded reporter with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. The day before he died of a pulmonary embolism, he sent this last e-mail to his wife Melanie. He wrote: “You can’t begin to fathom – cannot begin to even glimpse the enormity – of changes I have and am continuing to undergo. God takes you to the depths of your being – until you are at rock bottom – and then, if you turn to Him with utter and blind faith, and resolve in your mind and heart to walk only with Him and toward Him, picks you up by the bootstraps and leads you home. I hope and pray that all my guys get out of this in one piece. But I tell you Mel, I am at peace. Deeply saddened by the glimpses of death and destruction I have seen, but at peace with God, and with you. I know only that my whole way of life has turned upside down – and here I am, supposedly at the top of professional success, and I could frankly care less. Yes I’m proud of the good job we’ve all been doing, but – in the scheme of things – it matters little compared to my relationship with you, the girls, and Jesus. There is something far beyond my level of human understanding or comprehension going on here, some forging of metal through fire.” David revealed his heart, somehow at peace with God far beyond his understanding, rocked to the depths of his soul, his life turned upside down, yet having clarity about what and who was of the greatest importance.

46-year-old STS-107 Columbia Commander Rick Husband and six crew members died on February 1, 2003 as they re-entered earth’s atmosphere at the close of a 10 day mission. In a pre-recorded videotape before he went into space he said: “If I ended up at the end of my life having been an astronaut, but having sacrificed my family along the way or living in a way that did not glorify God, then I would look back on it with great regret and having become an astronaut would not really have mattered all that much … And I finally came to realize that what really meant most to me was to try to live my life the way God wanted me to and to try and be a good husband to Evelyn and to be a good father to my children.” Before his last launch, Rick shared his heart and the treasure he sought.

The speakers shared these “last words” with no sense of impending doom … just honest expressions of heartfelt priorities. God moved deeply within them, mysteriously allowing each to experience aspects of His wisdom, suffering and love. Certainly not all life transitions involve such profound documentation, but I believe they are signposts for those who are aware, and who care and know that there is a HugeGOD very active in their midst.

It was said that Moses had to stare a while to decide if the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) was being consumed. With the pace of our society, many bushes could be burning miraculously around us without our notice. Have you closely examined the fires, or heard the crackling heat, of bushes you’ve passed lately?

Posted by: robertartemenko | February 2, 2010

HugeGOD in small birds

Last November a personal dream came true. I passed my oral test and checkride in a Piper Cherokee Warrior II single engine aircraft, to become a private pilot. My “Yoda” like designated pilot examiner (DPE) plumbed my knowledge of aeronautics, Warrior II systems, emergency procedures, FAA regulations, meteorology, flight planning/navigation, manuevers and aircraft performance. Each topic alone is a deep subject. Yet, the primary focus always returned to safety. (Think mother robin, reluctantly kicking young  robin out the nest. To stay in the nest is not to be a robin, to leave it is to defy gravity and do the unbelievable, “What, me fly?” – Alfred E. Robin)

My examiner emphasized one point in particular that every flyer must internalize or risk bent metal and personal harm. This truth is revealed in the intricacies defined in this chart, and a myriad of others like it.

http://www.coryat.com/faa-pp-written/38.jpg

A most crucial item to calculate before departure how long it will take to stop upon landing. Safe flight is all about managing energy. Converting forward motion to adequate lift to sustain flight, then dissipating it under control and stopping sans collisions.

To carry out a safe dissipation of energy upon arrival, you must calculate whether touchdown runway lengths are adequate. The good news is that with minimal passengers and baggage, long runways, temperatures around 60 Fahrenheit and barometers near 30 inches of Hg, there are few concerns. The challenge comes with multiple passengers or heavier baggage coupled with shorter runways. In these circumstances, you need to do the calculations to assure your safety, working your way through the “Landing Distance” chart that is unique to each aircraft.

Evaluating your “go/no-go” cases requires accounting for landing field (1) outside air temperature (2) air density (3) aircraft weight (4) wind direction/velocity (5) obstacle heights over which you will be landing (trees, hills, etc.) not to mention whether the runway is a paved, level or dry. While such “conditions” have a varied impact on performance, certain element dynamics have dramatic impacts. For example if your landing distance is 1500 feet without a 50 obstacle at the end of the runway, it’s 2200 feet with one – about a 50% increase. And if your landing distance with a ~10 mph headwind is 1100 feet, its 1900 feet with a ~10 mph tailwind –  a 70% increase. If you mix in rain, variable wind gusts and a slightly downward sloping runway, you have very critical challenges to manage.

What’s the point?

Please consider.

The robin above’s first solo … or geese flying overhead to a pond nearby … that sparrow alighting on the thin peg protruding from your bird feeder. What charts or reports did they consider before their departures? What thermometer, barometer, anemometer, altimeter, speedometer or GPS did they consult en route and before landing? They don’t read, talk, radio, I-M, Bing or Google, but they, as far as we can tell, perform efficiently and effectively in all aspects of their manuevers. In some grand and marvelous way these creatures’ neurological faculties and coordinated motor movements naturally DO what takes humans hundreds of hours of training, thousand of pounds of equipment, millions of dollars of infrastructure and continuous intercommunication with people and devices to DO, only not nearly as well.

And the robin, goose and sparrow activities mentioned above are mere simple fluttering. Have you ever seen a hawk dive from the sun and thread its way through a forest’s maze of branches fleeing pesky blackbirds or see an osprey carry a still flapping fish in its talons. Land in 30 feet !? 30 inches !? 3 inches!?  … none of these “planning” questions would seem to cross their wonderful little brains.

These God-created wonders are amazing references for how HugeGOD is. For me, this became especially poignant as I had to learn what it take for a human being to slog along and mimic their innate gifts.

Check these out as well.

Swarming starlings and diving falcon 

                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vhE8ScWe7w&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3mTPEuFcWk&feature=related

Posted by: robertartemenko | January 28, 2010

Caleb Ambushed

Seven year old Caleb reflects (effuses, shares in wonder, explodes) about an encounter with the HugeGOD.  An “encounter” with God is when your perception awakens you to a dimension of God through unique circumstances or observations. The realization always has a magnitudinal element (Huge) and often a qualitative element like realizing His love or His power or His unique interest “in me” personally where He directly intervenes in your relationships-business-life. The encounters seem to happen to willing souls (after you have had one, you will always be “willing”), are wonderful, exhausting and seem to well up inside-out precipitously. A real wham! I guess they could be a “slower burn,” but because it is an encounter with the HugeGOD, it like getting the closest to the sun you have ever been, you just sort of … IGNITE!

SEE VIDEO God is Huge.

If you have had an encounter with the HugeGOD as a Christ follower, you will most likely know it. If you are not a Christ follower, and are still reading this, you got further than I’d have guessed you would. And if anyone wants to have one of these, really wants to meet the HugeGOD, I am convinvced that it will happen. I have heard people of faith speculate that these “encounters” are more likely earlier in your walk with God than later, because God does not want us to stop tracking on faith-in-the-truth versus the next WOW event (becoming encounter addicts if you will), having said that, who knows. They in any case are special, they come in God’s timing, for purposes that are part of his plan and have little to do with what we want. People that have an encounter are NOT part of some club of the super spiritual. You can go your whole life as a believer without one. They may possibly be part of some remedial training program. But whatever they are, they are a shaft of divine light that shines down on us, and for a moment, it’s just you and God and it more than overwhelms.

If you poke around, you can find evidences of encounters experienced by Blaise Pascal, Charles Spurgeon, Augustine, Dwight Moody and others. Unfortunately, the many who have had them have no public platform to share their experience. Encounters as indicated before do not discriminate and are not targeted at the famous or popular. They occur when the ever and always present God of creation, for whatever reason, decides to get Huge on you. When it happens, hold on!

Hey Caleb, pretty amazing stuff, huh, now its up to you to pass it on.

God is awfully huge!

Posted by: robertartemenko | January 25, 2010

“Whatever is true…think about such things”

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” The apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 encourages us toward our best mindset. While there’s no consensus on the elements that make for the right view of the world, this string is a good candidate. It starts with “whatever is true.” These days I am sold-out on how important a first stop that is. Imagine a shift change at an air traffic control center. What has to happen before an effective transition can occur ? Imagine an EMT first on the scene? What determines first actions, on whom, with what?
 
We must ground ourselves in the truth, and the reality around us, to live our best life and one that ultimately pleases God. While the truth is elusive, we need to commit ourselves as hunter-gatherers of truth. Without getting the veins properly aligned on an arrow, its path is uncertain throughout its flight, to say nothing about fulfilling its aim. We also need truth aligned mindsets that that direct our course. http://www.newcanaansociety.org/About-NCS/About-The-Logo.aspx
 
 
Commit to truth-seeking, and in particular dive deeply into who God is, what He says about Himself, who He wants you to be, and how He wants you to treat Him and others.
 
You will not be the first, nor lonely, on this journey. Consider this archaelogy.
 
Motto of Harvard University, “Veritas,”   “Truth.”
 
 
Motto of Yale University, “Lux et Veritas,”   “Light is Truth.” http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/01_03/seal.html
 
 
Motto of Columbia University, “In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen,” “ In Thy light we shall see light.” http://www.columbia.edu/cu/pr/special/cuglance.html
 
 
And my favorite, from my Alma Mater, Northwestern University, “Quacumque Sunt Vera,” “Whatever is True,” http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives/university_seal.pdfdirectly from Philippians 4:8.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Related to the above, here are thoughts on the relationship of first truth, then faith and then love.
Posted by: robertartemenko | May 17, 2009

Welcome to HugeGOD

Ephesians 3:20 – 21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Many do not honor or appreciate God because He has been “right-sized” to fit where we want Him to fit. Were we able to behold Him as He is, our lives would change forever! That change is good. That change will save our lives. That change is natural. The evidences of his character are all around us, yet we have found ways to filter it, dumb-it-down or otherwise marginalize it. This site hopes to call out His attributes and record people’s encounters with our HugeGOD – Highest Unmeasurable Glorious Eternal GOD. Let’s all discover Him, make our peace with Him and know Him as friend during our discrete period in history in which God is allowing us to discover Him on our own.

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