“Learning to Share” Part I

20171014_160523 In the last chapter of “Yinney the Sloth who needed to Poo”, (chapter 36), Yinney shares the story of the first dog. How every dog was once a wolf, but one day, one wolf decided to give up his wild and hungry ways, and came to stand beside a man. This wolf became the first dog.

Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth, not the wolf. All you wolves out there? You may appear to have the world by the tail, but that tail is attached to a dragon who will eventually eat you. God has promised wolf ways always self-destructs, but there is another way for all those willing to love their neighbor as themself.

Unbelievers do not believe that GOD IS LOVE. And yet they refuse to come to him because that is exactly what he is and what he demands. Yes, demands. You either truly follow Christ and his message, or you don’t. Most unbelievers may not realize their rejection of God is really connected to their own desires of selfishness and lack of real love. So the accusers of God really convict themselves and prove God to be love.

Now as to the Church. I left it. And I feel led to take a break from “Yinney” to share my journey to know the REAL JESUS CHRIST, because somehow I lost him in the Church. I was raised in Church all my life! I thought I knew the real Jesus because the spiritual experts with diplomas hanging on their walls had taught me all about him! Hhmmm. But I kept bumping into someone in the Bible I did not know. He kept confusing me. At the age of 60 I finally demanded to know who he was! And he said he was the real Jesus. I said, “Prove it.” And he did. And you know what? It wasn’t even hard for him, because this false Jesus has no clothes.

I kept looking at the original Church in Acts and comparing it to modern American Churches. Something was amiss. And how do you have all things common? How can God even expect that of us today? Maybe things have changed? But God “IS” love.

Here’s my story: My childhood was not good grounds for learning to share. I was the first born son, with only a younger sister. We moved to the country and were pretty isolated. I was also pretty introverted. And even though my parents told me to share, I found a younger sister to be pretty annoying. I avoided her a lot. Easy to do as a boy, older, stronger, faster, and a big countryside to disappear into.

Also, my boy stuff wasn’t exactly her thing, and since there was no other boys, it really wasn’t that hard to say this is “your stuff” and this is “my stuff”. Leave my stuff alone!

My dad liked westerns, like most men of his generation. The cowboy way was “stand on your own two feet”! Be a man! Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps! Take care of you and yours! And only in the worst of conditions did you ask for help, and then, the community would come together to save you, but it had to be circumstances beyond your control. While my parents told me to share, I was also learning the cowboy way.

But we went to Church every Sunday, most Wednesday nights, and actually twice on Sunday, where I saw other Christian men who appeared to be very successful in their fine cut suits.They were good at taking care of their family. So was my dad, but I must say, he was not very loving. Work, work, work.

The preacher preached his messages, but somehow he never did in depth studies of the original Church, nor the early Church fathers. No…we learned what came after the Reformation. We learned how bad the Catholic way had gotten, but we didn’t dare go all the way back and compare our current Church system to what Jesus actually did. But I loved studying the Word, and I kept bumping into this person in scripture I only thought I knew.

When I began to really hear Him, the first thing he said was, God is love. Love your heavenly Father with all your mind, heart, strength, and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself. And for perhaps the first time I began to consider what that really meant. Now as I started this story I went into detail as to how selfish the world of my childhood was. I did this to make a point. The REAL JESUS was not easy for me. The REAL CHURCH was not natural for me.

I thought I was a good person. I helped people who deserved help when I could. I put money in the Church plate every week. I even believed the preacher when he said I was robbing God if I didn’t give at least ten percent. I took care of my family. I worked hard. I made every effort to stand on my own two feet, witness of Christ, be involved in ministry, but… I had very little understanding of what “Communion”, “Community”, “Communication”, God’s family, and God’s love really meant. And when I got the revelation, I found a whole new world I knew little of and I was ill equipped for.

But God was on my side. God looks at our heart, and he saw I was willing to learn no matter what. No matter how slow a learner I might be, this wolf wanted to give up his predator ways and enjoy the world promised in the Lord’s Sermon. Blessed…happy… joyful…peaceful…beyond death… are the poor in spirit. The rightside up Kingdom of God that appears to be upside down. The first shall be last.

And so this story, my story of learning to share, and comparing my Christianity to the Church of Acts begins. What is the balance of all this? How do I share my stuff in today’s world? How do I become “community”? You probably would not believe where this vision has led me, what we are preparing to do, and how it slowly grows like a beautiful unfolding blossom of rich color and vibrant purpose in life! The true vision of Christ has only made my life richer in every way.

The story of Yinney is on hold for the next 3 or 4 articles, but in reality the story is not on hold, because this really is the story of “Yinney the Sloth who needed to Poo”. It is how that fictional story unfolds in the world of non-fiction.

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“Yinneysnippets” of great Teachers.

three-toed-sloth These quotes can be read in 90 seconds or less, but pondered for a life time.

(Study to show thyself approved.)

Quote> “A small root in the right place can crack a whole building. A fine wine of the right brew can burst an old wineskin.”

“It’s the principal of life; of ferment; of small beginnings with great promise.”

“Radical renewal means getting back to basics; going to the root (radix). Radical renewal is so powerful that it can turn a world rightside up.”

“But only if the root is alive. Only if the wine is real.”

Written by: Howard A. Snyder / Book: “Radical Renewal – The Problem of Wineskins Today” / Copyright 1996 / Chapter: Preface.

“Yinneysnippets” of great Teachers.

three-toed-sloth These quotes can be read in 90 seconds or less, but pondered for a lifetime.

(Study to show thyself approved.)

Quote> “My words are the incarnation of, the offspring of, the son of my thought. So the Word, Jesus, is the Son of the Thought, God. As we look up through the words of a man to understand his thought, so we look up through Jesus to know what God is like. He is like that which we see in Jesus. And if he is, then he is a good God and trustable. I can ask nothing better. Streeter puts it in this way: ‘Suppose your child would come to you and ask, ‘Is God as wise as Einstein?’ You would probably laugh. But if the child should say, ‘Is God as good as Jesus?’ you should be able to say that God is better than any man, but in your heart of hearts you would probably say (to yourself and not to the child) that the real question is, Is God as good as Jesus?’ This is not overdrawn, for the modern doubt is not concerning Jesus, but concerning God.”

Quoted from “The Christ of the Mount”.

Author: E. Stanley Jones / Printed 1931

Chapter: “The Man on the Mount”

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“Yinney” Chapter 35

tmg-article_tall It had been a while since Yinney had entered the lagoon in which he had the vision. But on this day after morning prayers and his morning song, that is exactly what he found himself doing. He couldn’t help but wonder what might happen this time?

Visions were not a normal thing in his life, but he had never meditated underwater before either. Would it happen again? Stroke by stroke he steadily swam through the water towards the sunken tree.

Since that day he had adjusted his life in the direction of the vision, calling for a “Kingdom of God Community of Unity”. The best way he knew to do this was by keeping an emphasis on “Fellowship”. And, as it had become common place for him to say: “You can’t have fellowship with someone that wants to eat you.” True fellowship is a good test for true Christianity, or not! It tends to eliminate the false and fake in a very natural way.

“Predators”… he pondered as he swam. Being a predator was not the way of Christ. Predators don’t like for you to see them coming. So they disguise themself, try to blend in, make you think they are your friend, one of you, family, but they are out to get something from you, to eat you. Hhmmm. You can’t have fellowship with someone who wants to eat you.

Yinney thought about II Peter 2:3… “In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money.”

Of course, as a sloth, Yinney didn’t have money, but the kingdom of man did, and the name of Christ was slandered every day by false prophets manipulating vulnerable people to get their money, causing the heathens to hate the church and slander God’s name. Even many good churches had fallen prey to much greed and become predatorial in practice.

Under the New Covenant of Christ, the only time a tithe is ever mentioned is related to Pharisees still under the law. Two examples can be found in the Gospels, but what Christian wants to be known as a Pharisee? And yet somehow we still hang on to that one law, and it just happens to relate to money? Uh-huh. Predators come in many shapes and forms. We must be careful, lest we become one ourself, and do not even know, Yinney warned himself.

Actually, we surrender everything to God now, not just ten percent, his thoughts continued. And the freedom in the Spirit leads us to give as God directs. God is not a program. God is like an eagle soaring, not a sparrow flap flap flapping. And with that thought Yinney took a deep breath and began his decent to the rotting tree on the lagoon floor, where he would latch hold, as if suspended between two dimensions, begin slowing his heart rate, and meditate. A sloth can stay underwater for as long as forty minutes.

Yinney was no longer thinking about predators as he drifted in place, suspended. Thoughts of the fellowship at his 7th Day Tree filled his heart with joy. Lu-Lu, Me-Me, and Jo-Jo, had done a fine job of coming up the the name of “Fellowship of the 7th Day”, for much of what Yinney taught was about entering into God’s REST, as described in Hebrews, and other places, such as Jesus describing his yoke. Which he explained as “good”, and “light weight”, not heavy. Yinney pondered what those words meant, and the fact Jesus chose them. “Why those two words? What was Jesus emphasising?” he pondered.

He was so lost in deep thought about all the implications of those two words that he did not see a shadowy form propelling through the jade green hue around him. It passed him by once, then again, and finally a third time ever closer! Finally it bumped its nose right into him!

Yinney found himself suddenly staring wide-eyed into the wide-eyes of another creature, nose to nose! It so startled him that he belched a bunch of air from his lungs into the face of the creature! At which point, both Yinney and creature began stroking towards the surface! Yinney needed air, and the creature? He did not know. He only knew it was after him!

Breaking the surface he gulped some air as he searched the waters. Where did it go? He did not know until a voice popped up behind him, “Are you a sloth?” the creature asked and kept talking, “I heard sloths could go underwater, but I never saw it before! I thought you got stuck to that tree and was dead! I was so hoping you were not dead. I did not want to find a dead sloth stuck to a rotting tree, know what I mean?”

Yinney tried to turn quickly, but of course it was slowly, and discovered the creature was a box turtle! What a relief, he thought.

“So how do you do that?” the turtle continued. “My kind practically live in the water. We’re in it every day. But you guys, not so much. I’ve always hoped I would see this one day, and now I have! Yaa! I’m Tornado, by the way. Glad to meet you!”

Yinney was amazed at the speed of this turtle, because turtles are very slow creatures, even as he, but this one was in hyper-speed as far as turtles go. “Tornado?” he finally repeated, not sure he heard that right. What kind of name is that? Especially for a turtle? And a female turtle at that. His questioned to himself.

“Yes! That’s right. It’s sort of a nickname. They call me Tornado Turtle because I’m not very organized. They say I cause a lot of chaos and probably will die young.”

“Oh, that’s sad. My name is Yinney, and I live in that tree at the end of this lagoon. Glad to meet you, Tornado. Please visit me sometime, if you like.”

“Oh, that would be nice, to visit someone. I’m a treasure hunter, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know.”

“Oh yes. You’d be surprised how much stuff I got in this house of mine. Sometimes things fall out. I’m trying to add on, you know. Expand the shell so I have room for more stuff. You got any idea how to do that?”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t.”

“Yeah, that’s what everyone says. But I know there has got to be a way.”

“I can ask around,” Yinney said, “We have a Fellowship at the tree. Maybe Lu-LU, Me-Me, or Jo-Jo have heard of something. They get around a lot more than I do.”

“A Fellowship?” Tornado asked.”

“Yes. We call it ‘Fellowship of the 7th Day’. Let’s swim over to the bank under my tree, and I will tell you all about it.”

“Well… I would… but what about all my stuff?”

“I don’t understand,” Yinney said.

“I unloaded some stuff before I entered the water. I hid it real good. If I go in the water with all the stuff, I sink like a rock!” she said and began laughing so hard. “Tell you what, I’ll try to stop by in a few days and you can explain to me this ‘Fellowship’ thing. Can I fit one in my shell?”

“Well…I believe you could, Tornado. I believe you could.”

And with that they said good-bye for now and see you soon. As Yinney slowly swam back to his tree, he considered now how both times in the lagoon had produced unexpected events. And yes, Tornado Turtle certainly was an event, even a force of nature. But what a heavy load she put on herself with all that stuff.

Soak

 

 

 

 

“Yinney” Chapter 34

angelwings On the eighth day a rare occurrence was happening in Frank’s hospital room, even though he was unaware. Rachel, Clara, and all three of Frank’s sons were visiting him at the same time. It had not been planned, it just happened.

Over the eight day period, Rachel had met the young men one by one. They all knew of each other, but had never met. Tommy had been the last to arrive to NYC after having to take personal leave and arrange a flight. He was involved in building some road somewhere in another country. Frank had mentioned his son that he rarely saw due to his job. Rachel had not given it much thought as to exactly what he did. He was still young and wanted an adventure, Frank said. Probably not a career path for him.

The older two sons, John and Dave, had moved farther out of downtown proper, but still came to it on a regular basis. Clara, Rachel’s daughter, had met none of them until now, so you can imagine the noise level of finally having everyone together for the first time. Even Frank seemed to be there, though he wasn’t really.

As everyone began settling into a more normal flow of conversation, of course Frank became the main topic.  The sons all admitted they expected something like this to happen. New York City is just too dangerous a place. How could their dad take such high risks for so many years and not have it catch up with him? So the news had not been a surprise, but it still hurt just as much. And would they ever have a conversation with their dad again?

“I have a confession to make,” Rachel quietly said, and all other talk ceased. After a short pause to gather her thoughts, she continued. “I have been afraid to love your dad. I know I’m in love with him, but I’ve held back and been afraid to go forward because of this very thing. I just couldn’t imagine kissing him good-bye every night knowing what he was leaving to face, and wondering what might happen? How did you boys live with it?”

John, the oldest, was the first to answer, “You could say we didn’t have any choice. We just had to accept dad might not come home one day. Of course, it didn’t even occur to us till we got a little older. But we always had each other, and we were brave together.”

“Yeah,” Tommy agreed, “But mom always said she would have grey hair early, and she was starting to turn, but…well…that ended up not mattering.”

Clara tried to imagine what these boys had been through, but they had parents who loved each other. They had grown up being loved and knowing what love was about. They did not fear their dad, only the fear of what could happen to him. Perhaps by someone like her dad had been.

The conversation revolved around this topic of learning to live with the fear, for the sake of love, for a while. Then Dave said, “But someone has to do it, right? I mean, what if everyone just said it’s too dangerous, too hard, too ugly, and the darkness took over? It’s a calling, I think. Some answer the call.”

Everyone nodded in agreement, and then Clara asked, “But what about now? You know your dad better than us. How will he handle no longer being a cop? Perhaps even being confined to a wheelchair?”

“He’s gonna do just fine,” John answered. “Dad always said the ability to adapt is the number one survival skill, and dad’s a survivor.”

“Yeah, but,” Dave added, “he’s gonna need something, or someone, he can find meaning in. Dad’s always been about purpose and passion, having a mission, a vision. If he fails to find a new purpose, he will wilt on the vine like a dying flower.”

“I think Dave’s right,” Tommy agreed.

“Or maybe a rotting tomato,” John interjected. “Dad’s too rough around the edges to ever be compared to a flower,” That statement caught everyone by surprise and laughter broke lose in the room again. They all knew how true it was, and the brothers began relating stories. “Remember when…” each brother would begin. “Or what about the time he caught you, Tommy, skipping school?”

“Oh man,” Tommy moaned. “That was bad.”

The noise level once again raised the roof when a low but deep voice was heard, “Hey… what’s all the noise about? Hold it down everybody. I got work in a few hours.”

“Frank?!”

Dad?!”

Everyone was on there feet in an instant! The button was pushed calling for a nurse or doctor to come quickly! “Dad, can you hear us?” John yelled in his excitement.

“Yes.” Came the answer, though he did not open his eyes. “Why do you think I’m saying hold the noise down?”

Cheering erupted in the room even as a male nurse burst in. Frank couldn’t make sense out of what was going on. He just knew he was very tired. Must have been in a very deep sleep and the fog still hanging on. His alarm had not gone off yet, so he still had time, but why was everyone in his room? It just didn’t make sense and he was too tired to worry about it. He just wanted more sleep, but now someone was roughing him up! What’s going on?

“Wake up, Frank!” the male voice was insisting. “Your family is here to see you. You can’t let them down.”

None of it was making any sense. “Who is this guy? Am I being attacked?” Against his will, Frank forced open his heavy eyelids and tried to focus. Everything was a blur. He saw Tommy first. “Tommy?” Then he saw Rachel and Clara. “What are they doing in my room? And who is this ugly guy?”

It took a couple minutes, but he finally realized he was in a hospital room, and then the killer in the park and the fall all rushed back into his mind. It was actually painful as it hit him with such force. He laid his head back, raised his hand for everyone to quiet, and said, “Okay everyone…I remember now. Must be pretty bad if you’re all here. Especially you, Tommy. I guess I’m going to need some bringing up to date. How many days have I been out?”

“Eight,” Rachel answered, as she stepped forward to hold his hand.

“Wow…I never been out that long before. And I had the strangest dream. Something about a sloth.

Everyone in the room were smiling. They were just so happy dad was back. Then he speaks of dreaming about a sloth? Once again emotions overflowed in laughter, tears, and hugs.

“Welcome back, Officer Frank,” the nurse said. “You’re still in the land of the living.”

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“Yinneythought” for the day.

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I came across this photo of myself the other day, and it blew my mind. It was stuck away in a bunch of other photos as so often happens. I’m 63 now, and I was around 29 at this time and doing 4 years in the Army. I’m not sure if I was in Georgia or Maryland for this picture. I think it was Maryland.

When I saw it, I couldn’t help but be struck by the similarity of the sloth picture I have been using, and the picture of myself! Figure the odds! How in the world? And something like 34 years ago?

Jesus spoke in parables that the Pharisees hated and would have refused to read. The spiritual meaning of his stories went right over the head of others, but then there were also those who loved them. The simple story of a sloth named Yinney in the Amazon jungle is much the same way. The God we love is a gardener, but many people live lives of the jungle instead of letting God do his work. Our God also is peace-loving, but many live lives of being a predator. I love the unique perspective on God and what it means to be a Christian this story offers.

I am amazed at the simplicity and spiritual depth found in a story of a sloth. I hope we’re not to busy to take the time to slow down and hear God in a simple story. If I was ever so sure of anything I have written, Yinney has stolen my heart. The beauty of slow is not appreciated in our modern times, but God says gardens are slow grow, and weeds love speed. Think about it.

Chapter One of “Yinney the Sloth who needed to Poo” starts on January 20, 2019. Simply go to archives and find January to begin your forward journey with Yinney.

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