godwithoutassumption

A place for thought.


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Psalm 103:12


Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

I looked at this verse differently. What if you turn around? I was excited. It fit so well into the rest of the Bible. Repentance is an abrupt about face, turn from your sin and turn toward God right? So I shared it with three pastors. I’m thinking this will preach! But not only did no one get all excited and start to make sermon notes; they didn’t even like it.
Looking into it I think I now understand why. The modern day view of Grace is that our sins are made right. But sin is never right and can never be made right. God prunes the bad branches and takes them to the dump to be burned and while we are on Earth the consequences remain. Only Godliness goes to heaven. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
So how far is my sin from me? I’m a fairly normal guy. I read books and find descriptions of people who think a lot like me. I can be driving in my car singing worships songs (Walking West) until someone cuts me off for no good reason and I ride their bumper (Walking East) and then the love of God finds its way back into my heart and I back off and look for my place in keeping the highways safe (Walking West). I’m making an effort to walk toward God all the time, but I don’t and going from walking away from God and walking toward God is always an abrupt about face.
So what is the Grace God gives us? What is this undeserved gift that we should not be able to even conceive? I believe that because of the Grace of God we can understand what goodness is. We can make a choice between Good and Evil because of Grace.


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Choice


 

The unique robot stands still waiting for me to come and have our daily talk. All I have learned has gone into his creation, my greatest accomplishment. He stands silent and still without a hint of impatience. At first we walk without talking, he points to things he has done during the day and I nod. We pass other forms I have created and he tells me their names. He has a name for almost everything I have made, thousands of names; I remember each one as he tells me. We pause and watch as two of a kind go through the program I have introduced that enables them to create another of their kind. The one unique robot shows fascination.

“Would you like another, like yourself?” I ask as we walk in the cool of the evening.

“I would,” he states fully understanding what that would mean.

The process takes time and involves changes to the unique robot as well as using all my skills to make the new. The new is not just replication but a mate, the two together will be able to interact and create others of their kind. Seeing their attraction to each other, the way they talk, laugh, play brings tears to my eyes and at the same time I feel distance for the first time. My greatest creation does not depend wholly upon me. Their independence brings a thought into my mind, “what if they could make decisions for themselves? What if they could learn without my programming each thought?” I set myself to develop the program, perhaps the most difficult task I have ever undertaken. Nothing I have created before can truly make a decision.

At last my work is complete, a simple chip, easily placed within my robots, a chip that will change them forever. The next evening I go to meet the pair in the garden, ready to share my addition to their programming. They sit on a fallen tree, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, laughing. I change my mind. What I have made is good – it is enough. I can protect them as they are. I cover the chip in my hand but the first unique robot sees me.

“What is that?” he asks with pure innocence and points to my hand.

“It’s not for you. It would make you different.”

“How could I be?” he asks, just curious.

“You would be able to function without my guidance,” he sees the sadness in my eyes and understands. He forgets the chip but his mate watches as I place it high on the branch of a tree. I say to her, “never touch this. It is not meant for you.” She nods but watches the branch with the chip for a second longer.

The next evening they are not sitting on the log, they are not waiting in he path, “where are you!” I shout but I already know what has happened. I find them hiding from me. Afraid of me! But they are no longer just my creation they have added to my programming. I cannot contain them within my boundaries. I let them know I will help in every way I can but they will have to let me now – they will choose.


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The Peter?


“Just step up to the counter, Hi, I’m Peter, you are?”

“Randy?”

“Are you sure Randy?   You don’t sound very sure.”

He stands very still and stares into space like he’s really thinking about it, “Ya, Randy.”

“Okay, that’s great Randy,” Peter writes something down on a pad. “And Randy, I’ve just got a few questions. Where were you born, Randy?”

“Where am I?” Randy asks still acting kind of spacey.

“We’ll explain all that later, Randy. Now If can get just a little information we can speed this up. Where were you born, Randy?”

“Errrrrr,” Randy scratches his head.

“We can come back to that question if you would like,” Peter says as he flips a page on his pad.

“No, no, I was born just outside of Des Moines, Indianola?”

“Good,” Peter puts down the pad and flips through a thick book that appears on the counter. “Here you are,” Peter says as he taps a line of type in the book. “And how did you die?”

At first Randy just stares in disbelief and then he relaxes as it all comes back to him. He sees the word Kentworth very close-up, just for a second, “I stepped off a curb…and there was a truck…”

“Yes, that happens more than you might think, “Peter picks up the pad and scribbles truck.   “And one last question, did you have any last words?” Peter holds his quill above the pad and waits.

Still not quite believing this is happening Randy responds, “I think I was talking to my daughter on the phone, “ he thinks for a second, ‘“I said, “tell your mom to pick up some milk.”’ Randy looks at Peter and grins.

“Okay, great, go through the door with the big blue number one painted on it and all your questions will be answered,” Peter looks to the line of people in front of his counter and starts to wave the next person over.

“Does door numbered one lead to the good place?” Randy asks still holding on to the edge of the counter.

“Oh, sure, nothing evil makes it this far. Next!” Peter says as he gives his attention to a young lady at the front of the line, “and what is your name miss?”

The girl is a little quicker with her answers, her name is Sally, born in Sacramento, she must have died in her sleep. “I just woke up here,” she answers Peter.

“And do you remember your last words?” Peter asks.

“My mother was tucking me in…she asked if I felt alright. I think I was sick. You know, running a temperature?” Peter nods and holds his pad up. ‘“I said, “I’m fine mother.”’

Thank-you, through the door with the red number three on it please. All your questions will be answered there.” As Sally finds her way to the door Peter shouts, “next!”

A nervous man in his early fifties steps up to the counter. He is still out of breath from whatever it is he has been through, “who are you?” he asks between deep wheezy breaths.

“I’m Peter”

“The Peter”

“The little rock, that’s me. What is your name sir?”

“So I’m dead?”

“Very. Your name?” Peter asks with his quill at the ready.

“Todd, but call me Toby.” Toby reaches out his hand and shakes Peter’s hand.

“So this is Heaven?”

“More like the pearly gates, Toby. And where were you born?”

Toby looks around the small, simple office. Seven doors with numbers of different colors and a white counter; the walls are plain off-white without any knick-knacks or pictures of any kind. “Not what I expected,” he states. “Grand Island, Nebraska!”

“And how did you die?” Peter asks.

“I was running,” Toby rubs the side of his head and tries to remember more. “I remember climbing up some stairs,” Toby says, still unable to remember how he died.

“Can you remember your last words,” Peter asks showing more interest than his usual level.

Toby thinks, rubs his head some more, and then his eyes light up, “S#&T!” he shouts.

Peter’s eyes widen slightly and then he picks up a phone that just appears on the counters top, “Paul, you got a minute? Good, you’re going to want to hear this one. Paul, bring James with you.”

“Lets go back to how you died Toby, take your time, think it through, Paul and James will be here in a couple…”

 

 


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A Decision


I’ve decided to be a writer. My definition of being a writer is that I will write. It has nothing to do with being published, or having an agent, or even making money. But it does change my life. In the past I have always had physical occupations; pipeline, concrete, carpenter, handyman, not in that order but all with the legitimate credentials associated with each trade. Even as a handyman I did not consider myself a jack-of-all-trades but I considered it a trade in itself with a defined wall between it and other trades. The one thing all of these positions had in common, the one thing writing does not include, is they are all physical. At one point I remember answering when someone asked if I workout, “I do not sweat without getting paid,” and at that point the statement was almost true. (Very few statements are completely true.) If I truly become a writer I will have to add a form of exercise to my daily routine. This has never been done before and I’m not ashamed to say, it scares me a little. I have no intention of going down to the local fitness facility and purchasing a monthly membership. Walking is something I already do and plan to add just a little more walking to my days. That’s easy, but it’s also just the legs. I won’t carry those little weights and swing my arms while I walk. I despise push-ups. If I get a set of weight lifter type weights and a bench I’m sure they would rust out in the back yard and I’m surely not going to bring them into my house and sweat all over my nice smelling home. Pull-ups? I have a bar behind the fort, but I despise pull-ups just as much as I despise push-ups. I could do small jobs. A little concrete work here, a little carpentry work there, and that is what I’ve been doing for the last ten years while I’ve been writing my novels and short stories. So, I guess nothing changes, but I have decided to become a writer.


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Go East Young Girl


“My sins are removed as far away as the East is from the West, it says so in the Bible,” she suggested by her tone that she was pure and sinless but, I knew her better.

“Psalm,” I replied and just let it hang there.

“Who?” she asked.

“Psalm, it says that in Psalm one-hundred-three the twelfth verse.

“Says what?” she looked a little mystified.

“What you said, that your sins are removed as far away as the East is from the West. It’s written there in Psalm.”

“In the Bible right?”

“Right.”

“So I have no sin, it’s been removed,” she said with a good deal of pride. I wondered if that could be a sin.

“As far as the East is from the West, right?”

“Right,” she had made her point and was getting tired of me.

“Face to the East,” I asked nicely. She just gave me a confused look.

“Which way is East?” I understood her confusion and pointed toward the East. She turned in that direction.

“How far away is the West right now?” I asked.

“It’s East for as far as I can see. I could walk this way forever and never get to the West!” she said with a big smile.

“Turn around.”

 

 

 

 


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Luke 15


“But father,” the older son stood with his feet apart and his hands on his hips, “he smells like a pig.”

His father allowed a slight grin, “he said he’s been sleeping with them,” and then all signs of mirth disappeared, “he coveted the food the pigs were eating.”

“Serves him right! He wasted half your money! No telling what kind of life he led,” the older son showed no sign of accepting his brother back into the family.

His father let his arms hang to his side in defeat, “he too, is my son. I have no choice but to love him.”

“You barbequed a calf. The party still goes on.”

“I would do the same for you.”

“But I have stayed. I’ve worked hard to build up this farm.”

“And everything I have belongs to you,” his father leaned against a fence the oldest son had built and looked across the well-cared-for fields.

“So what do we do with him?” when the oldest son said him it sounded like he was referring to a stinking dead animal on the side of the road.

His father’s eyes sparkled with wetness that would soon drip down his cheeks, “We will give him good ground to work. We will provide tools and help when he needs. He will be my son and your brother once more.”

“It’s not quite fair,” the older brother was starting to understand, “is it?”

“No it’s not fair at all,” his father said with a smile, the kind of smile the older brother only saw when he had accomplished a worthwhile task.

“You think they saved us any of that meat?”

The father put his arm around his oldest son’s shoulders and together they found their way to the party. The oldest son found his brother and pulled him into a two-armed hug. The air pushed out of his brother’s lungs and for a few seconds he wondered if his older brother would let him take another breath.

“It’s good to have you home, brother!” the older brother said giving his younger brother a proper slap on the back.


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death


Life had always been, and as far as we knew would always be. I mean, there had been stories (mostly science fiction) about the end of the earth and every once in a while some science would come to the conclusion, but no one really believed things would end, at least not right now. But, of course, they did. I still have not heard why. There is talk of a great asteroid. There are also stories about the earth shifting on its axis and falling out of orbit and then into the sun. One old man tells of God coming down and standing on a mountain, “everyone rose into the sky and the earth was no more,” he says. Maybe what he says is true. Maybe all the stories are all true. That’s not what this is about. This is about now which somehow includes then and there. And that’s the part that’s hard to explain. Now we are, but we are also what we were now.   ?   “ I Am then, now, and always,” sound familiar? Oh, and some things are missing.   Time, or the lack of time, skips. I’m going to have to explain. I have no form. I have memory. I can decide. I remember new things. I take forms and live within them but I no longer have a form of my own even though I am aware that I once was a human who walked on Earth. That me does not need to be what I am now – but it can be. I can be present any time any where with a notable exception the missing skips.

The easiest trips are the ones within my own life, memories that live continuously but not always in my consciousness. I can be who I was but when I am who I was it is now. I can also live within your life in the same way but memory is not as much help. Many things have happened that I have no reference to so finding them is a problem but if I do find them I can live them in the present. Timelessness. The skips are what I explore. An example: I enter and become myself on a summer day. I’m thirteen years old sitting with my back against a tree. A book rests on my bent knees I can see pictures of the words on the pages as my imagination turns the written word into a world filled with small creatures with furry toes and wise wizards. I’m not an observer in this time and place. I am here, real and alive reading in the shade of a fruitless mulberry tree. A blue Dodge pick-up pulls off the residential road and slowly moves up the concrete drive behind me. I hear brakes squeak, the motor shuts off. I hear ticks as the motor cools and the metals conform to different temperatures. Behind me the driver door opens and I recognize the steps of my father. His shadow comes across my open book and I look up.

“Is this all you have to do?” my father asks and there is a skip in time.

“What do you have planned for today?” my mother asks as she sits in the chair across the kitchen table from where I sit.

If I stay within the scene I say, “Kathy and I plan to go up to the lake.” If I pull back into what I call “my eternal state” I can see that something is missing. What happened after my father asked his question? I have no idea, none. There is no time within my life that I can slip into that holds that span of time. And this happens a lot. Throughout my life and in the lives of others there are constant gaps and skips.

Joshua walks ahead. I hang back with my brother, we talk about the day and what’s in store but what we talk about most is food, we haven’t eaten since dinner and need to find at least a snack for breakfast. Joshua spies a fig tree and looks through the finger shaped, sticky leaves for a piece of fruit. We are walking down a dirt path my brother and I discussing what we could have for breakfast. I pull out of the stream of life. A skip. What did Joshua find in the fig tree? I put my self back into the life and relive the same bit of time but as with all deletions the gap remains.

In my eternal state the One who calls himself “I AM” calls me to Him. Without consideration I give my full attention to Him. “Come with me,” He says and I enter a bit of time, seeing what He sees and thinking what He thinks. I walk in the cool of the evening, down a dirt path, in a lush green garden but I am puzzled. This has never happened before. I search in the shade of the trees, in places we frequent, and still find no one. I raise my voice and shout, “Adam, Eve, where are you?”