Cutting Through the Confusion
My Own Little Oz • Sermon • Submitted
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13 The princes of Zoan have become fools, and the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstones of her tribes have made Egypt stagger. 14 The Lord has mingled within her a spirit of confusion, and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
Probably teh most well known painting by the surrealist Salvador Dali was this work of art taht he called The Persistence of Memory. (SHOW ART)
This was one of his earlier works actually—he was less than 30 yeasr old—and while probably his best known, it was by far not his most bizarre. He wanted, along with others who belonegd to the surrealist society, to push back the borders of what we considered as reality. His whole life was an oddity. He was named after his brother who dies as a todller the year before he was born, and his mother, while he was still young, took him to his brother’s grave and told him that he was his brother reincarnated. That was the reality he understood for the rest of his life.
5 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” 8 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” 9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” 10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’ ” 12 And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 13 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” 15 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’ ” 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” 19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 23 Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.” 24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the Lord go from me to speak to you?” 25 And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.” 26 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.” ’ ” 28 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”
DAli later expressed his thinking about the world this way--
“What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.”
He became very famous and created quite a following by living out such a philosophy. And with Dali, he always made it clear that his version of reality was a distorted world compared to what the rest of us knew. Once when he was presenting … He came out dressed in a deep-water diving suit, carrying a cue stick and leading 2 Russian ____ dogs. Before the speech was over he had to be rescued due to his inability to breathe.
That’s fun for an artist. And for entertainers in general.
Everybody’s favorite pirate, Johnny Depp, once said,
“I try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.”
Fun. But what about the rest of us who don’t make $55 Million for pretending to be ____. For those of us who live in the real world, who don’t get paid insane amounts of money and have the ability to live a surrealistic life—disconnected from the impact of confused living—teh confusion in the world can be a much more difficult thing to deal with!
My confusion happens at places like red lights that are out and a dozen drivers who don’t know what to do, or ___, or ___.
But I’m talking about a deeper and more impacting confusion. I’m talking about living in a world that seems to be playing by an entorely different set of rules than teh one I lerned while I was growing up. ...
In our series…, relate to the notion that we are in a bizarre place...
But the question inevitably becomes what do I do to deal with all of this confusion?
Our World Can Be a Confusing Place
And with the constant flow of social media / fake news / etc—creates more polarization (number of posts, number of times “fake news” shows up, congressional reports, etc)
The irony is that mutually exclusive positions continue to gain more forceful arguments and louder, sometimes more violent, supporters
alt right person?
Killing babies is immoral
controlling what a woman can do is hateful and immoral
the planet is going to die within the next generation
everything is as it always has been
the issue isn’t that we simply disagree about which solution to apply to the problem—its that we don’t even see the same problem. It’s like we’re not even looking at the same facts. Maybe Dali was right. Maybe the world is just crazy.
In fact, ours is not the first culture to experience confusion. It’s been going on for a long time.
In fact, most cultures have to deal with it sooner or later. the fact that our culture is confused is not news to you. What may be less clear is where the confusion comes from.
Wrestle not agains...
god of this world
Social Confusion is Often a problem of Spiritual Deception
The power of spiritual deception is that it creates a convincing, culturally preferred alternative to the truth.
three principle concerns-
False enemy (this is the big deal)
cf here—that’s not really what God said...
in US—every 20th C national dysfunction first needed a softening of our hold upon some truth from God that we began to consider as passe
CF Harvard purpose statement, then and now
concern for words that feel uncomfortable
in this nation where offensive is worse that [fantasy], and the discomfort is worse than denial, we blunt the truth
So concerned we will hurrt ourselves with honest words that we prefer to blunt the edge of truth rather than risk being discerned / cut by it
*** The power available to Ahab was not the power taht was desireable to Ahab
*** Available truth was not desireable truth
The problem with this spiritrual deception that makes its way into [social action] is twofold
1- the ruin that follows for the people who are led by it (must see this—deceptive spirit doesn’t need to speak everyone—just to the ones who have the ear of the one who will lead the way—the devil only needs to get directly involved with the one who will influence the one whose actions will influence the many
*** that trend hasn’t changed
The weakness that plagues the believers
Cf James—wisdom from above…from below...
“God gave you common sense didn’t He?” NOOOO!! If you got any kind of sense from God at all, it was far better than common!
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
*** Problem—dilemmas created by social—urges us to take it head on
Back to Ahab’s story—who was the adversary most dangerous?
Th threat that he observed was not the real danger that he faced
** It was the lie! The lie he preferred, not the army (threat) he observed, was the source of his greates harm
Spiritual issues need spiritual responses
THAT’S the [????notes??]—go vack to our own spiritual responses
Problem 1—culturak results
Problem 2—competing truths?
Everything spiritually good starts w/ God’s love
Message of gospel—God’s love makes you new
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
NOTE the story of the three characters—we love this transformation—we’re rooting for them—we even see it happening and want to shout at them—LOOK! IT’S actually happening! You’re becoming the thing you’re meant to be even as you say it isn’t so!
Fascinating to me how Baum saw a pattern that God Himself notes in this struggle of believers to become the spiritual strong men and women that we are meant to be
1 Tim re spirit fear etc
Notes 3 spiritual characteristics of teh new you—what the new spirit inside you has been born to be
THis is the new yuo! Why does he need to be told? Because being intimidated and feeling powerless and ineffective—not up to the taslk, and even ashamed—come so naturally to him and so many of us. he doesn’t even know what’s inside him. He must be reminded—that’s not you!
These three characters represent the exact opposite of the three qualities that we are meant to live out—because they are the qualities that God’s Spirit has already given us in our own spirits. they are in you already! And they are the perfect response to believers who feel powerless in this confusing world!
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,
1- IN the face of great fear of failure and inadequacy, God has given you POWER...
2- In a world of great disappointment and hurt, God has given you a new capacity to LOVE
Jer new heart
fight for your heart
foothold of the enemy
don’t let the sun...
This is not the attack itself but rather the platform available to the devil’s schemes (Critical that you fight the real enemy—does his best to disguise teh attack / enemuy as another person) (for Ahab, the truth-telling prophet seemed like the opponent)
3- … sound mind
renewed in spirit of mind
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.
** THe world’s best thinking has produced the clamoring diatribes that drive ratings for 24-hour news cycles and even sell premium subscriptions on top of selling the cable news to begin with
Must remember that the same culture that gave us a man on the moon also convinced us to buy pet rocks; teh same culture that produces inexpensive cars through the genius of mass production is teh culture that used mass marketing to sell us a giggling elmo doll for ____; the same culture that gave MLK, Ronald Reagan, and Billy Graham is the culture that gave us Pee Wee Herman, Anthony Wiener, and Billy Ray Cyrus.
*** We love transformation stories (Ahab?, Timothy?)
here with 3 characters
Beauty and the Beast
** This is God’s work in your life
But even more—this is your work in someone else’s lofe
** Baum tapped into this and painted a picture of an unlikely hero who invests her confidence in the characters that gives them a platform to believe something better can be
It’s our love that has the most likelihood in making a difference in people’s lives
gender confused(DSMII, et al?)
addicted to food or alcohol??
rude / proud people
everyidiot scarecrow in your life
every hard-herated tin man...
every loud-mouthed coward posing as a beast
*** They’re not the enemy
*** Your love has the power to bring tehm along in a process of transformation
** You yourself will experience transformation in helping others
The most spiritual thing that you can do today is to love people into their healing
LOVE IS IN THE FLOW--
freely you have reveived...
cf water hose—fine to open the valve to bring water in, but does no good until release the trigger at the other end.
we don’t experience teh best of God’s love by collecting it—we experience God’s love by [activation] it
Cf parents--”I didn’t even know what love WAS until I became a parent.”
** Want to take ground from the devil? Love
** Want to bring your own heart to a better place? Love
Love the growler
Love the idiot
Love the crusty & inconsiderate...
** we humans instinctively know that we need transformation
we were made for better kind of living
we were meant to be better at this thing we call life
Wish it were as simple as dropping a house on some old witch and our problems would be solved!
(often give labels to these—WWof east / West / Glenda…; dem and repub., black and white, men and women, city slickers and rednecks—we have a marvelous capacity for creating villains
Cf church’s history—Nazi’s, Luther re: Jews, then later Hitler—going back to 1492 and Spain
** stats re: confision’s results (education standings, suicide rate, etc
images of transformation in culture
confusion and mixed results of “common sense”
illustration of alternate [preferred] truth
God’s transforming power of love
God can and has done what wizard can’t
Problem isn’t the enemy, it’s the impulse
Problem isn’t the one you see, but the one you don’t notice
Enemy not abortion lady or doctor even—but status quo ethic of self-interest as highest good
Issue w/ sexuality and gender not seduction—rather erroneous ideas of self-definition and self-answer