Why we Cry

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On average, women cry five times more than men, but we all cry. Some people, like myself, rarely have a big crying event but find themselves weeping periodically. If you research crying, you’ll learn there are three kinds of tears:

  1. Basal: Eye lubrication and drainage.
  2. Reflex: Caused by irritation like dust or onions.
  3. Psychic: Caused by strong emotions.

The psychic tear is our focus today. The Greek word for soul is Psuché, thus we are talking about SOUL TEARS. Soul crying need not be an emotional meltdown. It’s often a subtle, tearless, but deep inner awareness that hints at strong emotions. The best description I have is that of AWE. Soul crying is an experience with Awe. It’s the dawn of light illuminating the depth of our very life.

While science can reverse engineer this process to reveal psychic (soul) crying as directly connected to neurotransmitters produced by the hypothalamus, it’s unable to get us much farther. Scientific observations can’t go beyond the tear/ limbic system framework because science is incapable of exploring the subjective. Science often views non-physical reality as an oxymoron. While science is true, crying proves it’s not all that’s true.

The reason we cry goes beyond the acetylcholine crossing our synapses. Words are tiny tools we employ to describe that which is not a thing. This “no-thing” is experienced in countless ways. Our eyes can barely make it out, but it’s in full view through the eyes of our heart. We all recognize some aspect of it, but no one has perfect proximity. Our relative distance to this “no-thing” is directly proportional to our psychic (soul) crying.

What is the no-thing I’m struggling to describe?      Beauty.      Beauty is why we cry.

All forms of crying are the perfect response to beauty. Crying is the complete, wordless expression for that which is beyond words. Crying is the cathartic intersection of the eternal and the temporal. Similarly, yearning and longing are low-level crying. We intuit them as the event horizon for unconsummated beauty. Crying cleanses us experientially without explaining, defending, or pretending. Soul crying is our authentic deep calling to Deep (Psalm 42:7).

While science proves the physical/ emotional link in our bodies, spirituality exposes the holistic proximity to the eternal within our soul (psyche/psuché). Beauty is accessed by everyone in every time and every place. Some more than others.

Tears of joy illuminate beauty a bit easier. Tears of sadness or loss are proximal to beauty because sadness proves beauty is seen but not possessed. We mourn not our loved ones, but the experience of beauty only they provided. We cry for either consummated or unconsummated beauty. You thought you were depressed, but the cry within is the taproot of true homesickness.

Beauty is the impetus of all creation and all endeavors. It’s behind, before, and surrounding all we make, do, or seek. It’s the unwritten hope of all things to which we give ourselves. Crying is the human circumference surrounding all facets of experience, knowledge, hopes and dreams. It contains them all. Crying is the experience that sums all that we cannot count, or carry. Our ambition is birthed in beauty, though often distorted as we apply it.

Beauty is why we cry. Gratitude is beautiful. Suffering and loss are ultimately beautiful. Awe is beautiful. Creation is beautiful. Struggle is beautiful. Tears are beautiful.

“God has made everything beautiful in it’s time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s          heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Crying is the eternity within making contact with eternity beyond. Beauty hybridizes consummation with isolation, and satisfaction with loss, resulting in tears. Beyond our words or descriptors, pain and joy are lost together in beauty and this brings forth our cry. Crying releases tension because it forces us out of duality.

The slightest glimpse of beauty will trigger a reaction. We feel it and then make a decision: be with the beauty or turn away. Whether we run toward or from beauty, we are affected. Vulnerability and callouses are both caused by beauty, and both forms cause a cry. The cry of the soul is known deeper than our own outcrying.

The beauty of nature explains the subtle restorative cry. Being with nature, taking it in, and grounding in the present, we recalibrate priorities and the deep soul cry emerges that beckons beyond into a bigger life.

The best advice I can offer is to learn the voice of the cry within you. Whether the cry is tearful or contemplative, out loud or faint, it’s a road that leads you to beauty. When you see it, don’t turn away. Just bow your head and follow it. As you gaze into the face of beauty, your head will again rise and your life will gain incremental restoration.

Beauty and tears are the foundation of the new world.

The Flu and Contemplation

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You know that feeling when our bodies are fighting the flu? It’s like a truck hits us. Our bodies feel completely empty, tired and achy. Below our awareness, our white blood cells are releasing cytokines to up-regulate our immune response and kill the invaders. This creates inflammation, which makes us feel like crap.

We then load up on vitamin C, and other remedies. We do our best to keep on going, but sometimes we can’t. That sobering moment is today’s consideration: the moment we acknowledge we’re really sick. We throw in the towel, clear our schedules and go home.

In this moment, our mind/body connection has broken. The body is no longer compliant to the wishes of our minds. This ushers in a new sobriety. Everything that was so important, suddenly lessens in importance. It’s a small microcosm of what hits those who are diagnosed with life threatening illness. With a cold, we rearrange our days priorities. With cancer, we rearrange our life.

Please don’t skim over this moment should it strike you this flu season. When our bodies are diminished, it ushers in a type of suffering that is truly healthy for our soul. Acquiescing to our bodies call for attention tortures our ego and our over-inflated self image. Nothing is more spiritual than lowering our flag of self importance, and sickness has the power to force the issue.

Suffering opens up questions like: “I’m exhausted, is all this effort really worth it? What is my life anyway? Who am I if I can no longer do this work? What matters most right now?”  These are back-burner questions while our lives are distracted in frenzied effort and output. Ninety-five percent of our effort is spent maintaining what we had yesterday. Sickness opens up that five percent.

Sickness is a form of suffering. It makes us lowly and forces upon us humility. It can be truly beautiful and inspiring if it reveals to us that our ailment is NOT the sickest part of our life.

In twenty-five plus years of pastoring, coaching and counseling I can tell you that pride makes us so sick, that we can’t or won’t acknowledge our deeper sickness. We puff ourselves up. We get highly offended. We over-appraise ourselves as we take credit for others contributions. We cut others off in traffic. We hide our weaknesses. We take no pause when gossiping, or diminishing others. We think we thrive by differentiation.

What will it take to wake us up to our pseudo self, cover up job, that has become our life? I think it requires something severe. Suffering is severe. In this sense, it is also benevolent. Sometimes it’s lasting. When the cytokines hit, the gig is up.

There is another way. Though it will not prevent suffering, it does transform it. The way is CONTEMPLATION.

Contemplation is a spiritual practice similar to meditation. It’s a form of prayer or divine union that allows us to recognize that we are not what we think we are. The untrained mind (what the bible calls “Kardia” or heart) is, as Henry Scudder describes, “a court jester blowing a feather in the presence of the King.” It struggles to sit still within the PRESENT MOMENT  because it’s preoccupied with the past or the future.

Contemplation is a very imperfect practice of simply being what we are, here and now. No defending, apologizing, strategizing, planning, or worrying. Just an exercise of learning how to be here now, in the present, in THE PRESENCE. It’s accepting the sickness that won’t acknowledge it’s sick.

In the present moment, God ceases to be a vending machine that bears countless requests, but the very life sustaining breath that gives AND IS our being. Contemplation is accessing the ground of all being by discovering it’s not up there, out there, or over there. It’s not distinctly other. It’s only HERE, only now. It’s not even an it, the subject and object dissolve into only IS or I AM.

This fragile, messy practice opens up the discovery of how our proud pseudo-self loudly parades around, distracting and feeding itself like the selfish toddler it is. At first we think it’s us, but then learn it’s the sickness setting in. Divine union starves this pseudo self, leaving only the authentic (Bible calls it “Perfect“- Matthew 5:48) self that is transparently grounded in God.

The goal is not to get to Heaven one day by doing good. The goal is to live out of the Heaven (divine union) experienced in each moment. Contemplation helps us do this. So can sickness.

Our world places little value on spiritual practice and divine union. Perhaps the love of God has purposed suffering as an alternative portal. Suffering ensures we cannot go through life and miss God.

May we be quieted by our suffering.

How to Change Your Mind

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The nightly news, politics, or current events continually leave us shocked, discouraged, and certain that our world is completely screwed up, and getting worse. Do you every find yourself thinking that the world would be better if it weren’t for “those people” who are causing all the problems.

Our divided country exposes some powerful but latent realities. The first is our deficient binary way of thinking and the second is that we can all imagine a world better than it is.

Our world desperately needs healing, but the answer isn’t found in arguing both sides of the countless issues. Wake up people! Picking a team abdicates our power to those who profit from the fight. Most “News” is a mere decoy.

The problem is not WHAT we think, but HOW we are thinking! We can’t live better than we think.

The information on both sides is only as good as the framework (epistemology) we put it in. Since our default framework is BINARY thinking, we package information like a light switch into on/offeither/or, good/bad, right/wrong.

Each side keeps gathering information as ammunition and sucks us into its vortex. Binary frameworks are irresolvable and only produce war. Peace is a byproduct of Truth which is always ternary (three).

It’s not as though only one side has the truth. Only the lowest perspective will argue whether it is daytime or nighttime. The transcendent perspective proves that both opposites are completely true at the same time by resolving them into a third, higher Truth.

We need not abandon our position in order to incorporate it into a third way or higher truth. If the masses changed HOW they think, our world would literally change overnight. Unfortunately the ego loves control, and binary thinking inflates our egos by diminishing others.

“Third way” thinking is not the same as compromise, although that can happen. Wider perspectives of Truth are integral because it transcends while including all perspectives. We all possess some measure of the Truth, yet none of us possess it all. Thus we need each other to gain a wider (third) perspective.

Imagine our surprise to learn that everything resolves itself immediately in light of the third perspective. ALL problems in our world are TRUTH problems! They are either the Truth we don’t know (apprehension) or the Truth we won’t do (application).

To change our world we must first change our minds. We must begin asking ourselves what is TRUE about opposing perspectives. Then, rather than remaining certain that we possess all truth, we must become humble and learn from the other side. This is how we gain access to the third way.

Ever notice how both sides ultimately want the same higher thing? If you can’t see this then you are too muddled in the minutia. We can all imagine a world better than it is. We do want a wonderful world for others but first we want the world to be wonderful for us. They actually go perfectly together, but the binary mind makes them two competing agendas.

Third way thinking reveals there is only one agenda: Love. We can love our enemies (Matthew 5:43) until we have none. We can love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:33). As we meet the needs of others, our needs are met (Jeremiah 29:7). It all comes through the path of humility.

Begin small. Start to train your brain to operate in a ternary fashion. Let your ego die. Don’t give in to it. Ego is not the REAL you, it’s your PSEUDO self. So reserve judgment and learn from one another. Let the light of another light you. 

We are fellow light bearers who each bring a unique gift to the banquet table.

The Greek word for repentance is (metanoia), it means to change ones mind. It doesn’t mean to switch teams, it means to turn a stubborn heart the other way. Humility is the path forward.

The only thing that keeps us from changing our minds is our certainty that we possess all the Truth. Do we really think this highly of ourselves? Let’s be honest. If we don’t have all the truth then our debates are with those most like us: those prideful, partial possessors of the truth. Our enemies are not “other” than us, they are just like us.

We must change our minds (repent) if our world is to be healed. Digging in our heels to our brothers/ sisters is not how we honor God, but how we oppose God (1 Peter 5:5). Resisting one another is not how we avoid compromise. Resistance is the greatest compromise of all because we forfeit our soul along with our humanity (Luke 9:25).

This only makes sense once we are free from our binary prison.

The Millennial Kingdom

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The Millennial Kingdom is not referring to the generation of apathetic, bearded, man-bun, non-conformist, twenty-somethings, who live in their parents basements, blogging about the 1%. It refers to a period of time (1000 years) that pre-millennial, dispensational theology believes is yet to come. This is not a literal thousand years anymore than God owning cattle on only a thousand hills (Psalms 50:10). Thousand means “complete.”

This series has shown that context is vital to understanding Revelation and I am offering the historical context as the most harmonious with scripture, ancient history, and the sciences. Referring to the Millennial kingdom, I’m suggesting that we are beyond its inauguration.

In Jesus day, the religious elite couldn’t believe that Jesus from Nazareth was their promised Messiah. They were expecting the Messiah to come in political strength, retaliate against Rome, and restore Israel to power. As a result they rejected Jesus’ alternative kingdom and condemned him along with Harod and Pilate.

If the most religious and devout could stare directly into the eyes of their promised messiah and miss him, what makes the Church think we can do any better?

Revelation 20 is the turning point in Revelation. It depicts the millennial reign and the bride (city) that follows. However, most of the teachings of Jesus are about his Kingdom and how it’s counterintuitive to every kingdom we’ve ever known. It is NOW and NOT YET at the same time. This is key to understanding the millennium given the fallen state of our world.

The biggest objections to post-millennial views are as follows:

  1. Satan is depicted as bound in chains and unable to deceive. Jesus said in Matthew 12:28-29 “If it’s by the spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder the house.” Jesus clearly sees himself as the change of guard, taking back the world to himself and rendering the opposition powerless. People today are not deceived, we are ignorant.
  2. The battle with Gog and Magog. Many see this as the future Armageddon. Throughout Hebrew scripture Gog and Magog are depicted as the worst people. Tying the events of Revelation to Israel’s Babylonian captivity makes the most sense here. John is likely comparing the destruction of the 2nd temple (AD 70) by Nero in Rome to the destruction of the first temple (587 BCE) by Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon (Revelation 14:6, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2,10, 18:21). There may be future wars, but they aren’t likely Armageddon.
  3. The throne of judgement. I’ve explained this in previous posts, but judgement is not future, but always right now within the Eternal Moment. The books of life and deeds illuminate an often missed key, namely:  the “pseudo” (Revelation 21:27, 22:15). The coming New city has no pseudonyms (Revelation 20:15, 21:27). Book of life refers to the names we each were given before the foundation of the world. Judgement is restorative, not retributive. It separates deed from life (different books). The part of them (“To meros auton“- Revelation 21:8) -those things done as the pseudo self, are purged, or burnt from the record (second death), leaving only the true self –Lambs book of life (1 Corinthians 3:15). Even death and Hell are destroyed (Revelation 20:14). In the depiction of the New Earth, the “lake” (of fire) translated sea, is no more. All that is left is perfect truth in a world that still needs healing (Revelation 22:2). Precisely what we have today, but not fully.

For many, the historical view allows scripture to shine much brighter, with little need for interpretive gymnastics or current news headlines.

If we are beyond the tribulation, and we are not waiting for the shoe to drop, then what are we waiting for?

The answer is: THE NEW CITY in the NEW WORLD that is joined with the NEW HEAVEN.

We came from a garden and we are building a city. We are called to wake up and realize that the kingdom of God is within us and among us (Luke 17:21). There is no temple in the New city (Revelation 21:22) because external temple has moved inside of each of us (1 Corinthians 6:19). and the Glory of God lights us all.

The arrival of the millennial kingdom doesn’t mean its complete, only that the New operating system is in place each moment. The inclusive city has twelve permanently opened gates on every side welcoming everyone from every tribe, nation, language and people (Revelation 21:12-13). No wonder the multitude sings (Revelation 7:9).

Love is the only rule in this unconventional emerging city and LOVE is how we know its citizens. They are are “called out” (ek-kaleo) by love, for love, to love.

The brightest hope of post-millennialism is this new definition of the Church. It’s not here to hate, condemn or threaten, but to bring healing to the world.