All posts by Benjamin Vineyard

We Can Learn from All People (The Art of Spiritual Discernment)

A great development occurs in us all when we begin discerning who gives the right way and who gives the way that is dead.

“Watch their lives,” Jesus says.

Many have looked and sure enough – Jesus is right! Dead people speak dead advice. Living people speak life and vitality. We are learning from all people.

The hurdle is in coming to know what “living” means.

Yes: This development is a gift – we discover that we can learn from all people. We can respond with gratitude, even if we disagree.

Every day we’ll hear and see right and wrong, life and death. …slowly, so slowly we’ll feel ourselves lifted from the mire; we’ll see that life comes to us from those who are alive, whose lives exemplify Jesus. They are grace!

Our lives will also learn to watch, as Jesus says again, for the religious salesmen. Watch out! Nice ideas will come with promises of personal wholeness and lists of ways your life can be augmented (but never surrendered, oh no; “don’t play the weakling,” they’ll exhale so close to your ear).

It is by grace that we will come to see that what looks like and sounds like Jesus – this is what is truly alive. And, what doesn’t, well, that’s the work of the door to door religiologist. His product only works if people buy it and people only buy it if he tells you it works for all your neighbors. He strives so darn hard to draw a crowd because that’s what his faith needs to make sense of itself.

Dear Lord, work within your people. Shape us to keep company with you through obedient faith, the kind that listens for life and death as Jesus described and lived. Open our eyes; open our ears.

[Now you must determine if I am one of those salesmen, one of those religiologists. What does Jesus say?]

The World is Frigid (The One Who Conquers)

The world is frigid and I wonder, year after year, how we endure these frozen, dead months. It’s not these days we endure, but ourselves and our sanity.

The cold drives us to dwell indoors more, yet those who survive these months (even thrive in them!) are the adventurers, those who head out and work in the tundra, or maybe just play there.

This one stands and yells, “You don’t keep me locked behind the gate so to breathe my own airless disease! No! Here I am, free and inhaling God’s magnificent creation! Even if my feet are frozen, I will remain!”

This is the one who has conquered.

How Old is All that is?

I grew up in Southern Idaho, a mile and a half from a small, ancient volcano that had blown a hole in the side of itself. “Tens of thousands of years ago,” they said. Mother even decorated parts of our yard with ancient volcanic rock. And when we three boys dug around we’d swear we’d find dinosaur eggs – rocks that had to have been! They were shaped just like what you’d think. (Only the latter evidence here is suspect.)

Idaho: The Gem State. Southern Idaho: the place where Yellowstone’s hot spot used to be, millions of years ago they say.

There was also a road sign on Highway 25, one of those historical markers, that talked about Prehistoric Man and ancient fossils. You’d face north east when you’d read the sign, out toward “Hunt”, a desolate, ancient desert wilderness filled with sagebrush and antelope.

I remember thinking as a small boy

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