The Gospel Fractal

27 07 2014

The lay person’s explanation of a “fractal” given by wikipedia is:

fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern.Fractals can also be nearly the same at different levels.  Fractals also includes the idea of a detailed pattern that repeats itself. (accessed on July 25, 2014)

Appolian Gasket - miqel.comHere is an example of a simple fractal made of circles which are “nested” in an orderly pattern.


There is some very complex mathematics which explore the design of fractals.

But what intrigues me about fractals is that we see them appearing all throughout God’s creative work.

Let me show you some examples.




fern fractal - maxresdefaultNote the repeated pattern in this fern.

(source: maxresdefault)





Edible Fractal Romanesco -a cross between broccoli and CauliflowerFractals form the design of many of our foods, such as cabbage, lettuce — any leafy vegetable. Can you think of other foods that have fractals as their structure?

This picture is of Romanesco -a cross between broccoli and Cauliflower.







Let’s look under water for fractals. They are abundant! Here are some sea shells (source: webecoist).

sea shell fractal - webecoist
















fract-coral-seaweedAnd here is a graphic depiction of seaweed and coral.














Now look to what God has put in the heavens. Looking down on cloud formations,we see natural fractals forming.

Natural Cloud Spiral Fractals














Even lightning, when caught in the act, shows the branching effect of fractals.

lightning- webecoist











Whirlpool Galaxy (source: Hubblesite)

Whirlpool Galaxy (source: Hubblesite)











Have you ever flown over a scene like this. Look how the tributaries form like a huge leaf.

Have you ever flown over a scene like this. Look how the tributaries form like a huge leaf.















In establishing principles of mathematics.
In that which He created in space, in plants, in the sea.

But I have discovered a spiritual fractal that, I believe, God has designed for the growth of every one of His children.

The original is found in the core work of Jesus Christ, and it is replicated in every one of us who follow Jesus.

The fractal is sometimes very small– as in the thought of a moment, or a decision we must make.

Or it may be the design of an entire day, or year, or decade.

It is a phenomenon that, like a fractal, exhibits a repeating pattern that  displays at any scale. Only it is not natural. It is transforming.

What is the pattern?

It is Surrender, Death, Burial, and Resurrection

SURRENDER — a Gethsemane-like experience where our desire confronts the will of God and, if we are to move forward, we must surrender our desire to His.

DEATH–a Golgotha-like experience where that which we have surrendered must be put to death.

BURIAL–a Tomb-like experience where that which we have put to death leads to grieving, loss, waiting, while maintaining hope.

RESURRECTION–a God-given outcome which gives greater manifestation of the living Christ in and through us.

I believe you will recognize this design as the core of what the Apostle Paul called the gospel:

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you… by which also you are saved…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was BURIED, and that He was RAISED on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NASB, emphasis mine)

If you begin looking for this gospel fractal in Scripture, you will discover it in many places (especially the New Testament).

And if you begin looking for it in your life experiences, whether big or small, you will see its design in all the trials which have caused you to mature, and in all the commitments which you have made to Christ.

This repeating pattern, though often difficult, has changed you for the good. For it is in God’s beautiful design of the gospel fractal that you are transformed into the likeness of the Original.

You might be interested also in the post Beautiful in His time.




Disturb us, O Lord

22 03 2014

This prayer is attributed to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu adapted from an original prayer by Sir Francis Drake.

Disturb us, O Lord

when we are too well-pleased with ourselves 
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, 
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord

when with the abundance of things we possess, 
we have lost our thirst for the water of life 
when, having fallen in love with time, 
we have ceased to dream of eternity 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, 
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord

to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas 
where storms show Thy mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes 
and invited the brave to follow.


Come, be Velcro

22 02 2014

velcro 1






Velcro has become a part of everyday life for many of us. But how does it work? Velcro has hundreds of little “hooks” ready to grab onto the “loops”. But if there are no loops, the hooks remain unused.

velcro 2







Here is a hook:  “And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).

Here is another: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

These hooks are incredibly important to Jesus Christ and the survival of the gospel.

But increasingly there seem to be fewer loops among disciples. When we think of our Christian experience, we seldom envision following Christ down the path of self-denial, of lifting our cross with His, of giving up our own desires and ambitions so as to embrace His desires and ambitions.

Preachers have been forced to go quiet on this message. People move to where their “needs are met.”

I think many older believers still would like to be loops. And I think many younger disciples want to be loops too.

But they hear the church calling them to their programs, not to the hooks.

Because He arose, we go!

25 01 2014

Let’s go back to the description of Jesus’ resurrection as recorded by his contemporaries (two eye-witnesses, Matthew and John; and two researchers, Mark and Luke). One task Jesus wanted to accomplish very intentionally was to physically appear to His followers in order to prove that His resurrection was true. Where there were doubters (eg. Thomas) He appeased their fears.  A second task Jesus tackled was to open the eyes of their understanding, revealing that He was the fulfillment of a plethora of ancient prophecies, as well as His own predictions of death and resurrection.

But there is an important insight gained as we compare the four gospel accounts. Each writer records words of Jesus which reveal that His Jesus’ primary burden as the resurrected Son of God was the authorizing and sending out of His disciples to expand His enterprise.

MATTHEW emphasizes our authority to make disciples, baptize, and teach obedience to Jesus’ commands. (Matt. 18:18-20)

MARK  emphasizes the global proclamation of the gospel accompanied by miraculous signs and protection. (Mark 16:15-18)

LUKE emphasizes our witness of gospel proclamation to all nations beginning at Jerusalem after receiving the Holy Spirit’s power. (Luke 24:46-49 and Acts 1:8)

JOHN focuses on our going out with the authority to transact spiritual business in Jesus’ name. (John 20:21-23)

After receiving these instructions, the reaction of the disciples was to worship Christ with great joy, and to gather for praise. They waited in prayerful anticipation of the power to go out and fulfill their new purpose for living. They were overjoyed that their Master was alive and would continue to be with them. And they were emboldened to live out His teachings.

The cross of Christ accomplished the work of salvation. The resurrection of Christ launches us on the mission of  proclaiming it. Help us Lord to do so with worship, great joy, praise, and prayerful anticipation!

Jumbled reactions to “12 Years a Slave” movie (3)

27 11 2013

I see a parallel  between the movies “The Passion of the Christ” and “12 Years a Slave.” I do a lot of thinking about Jesus’ suffering, the “Passion” as it is called. It was a surrender in Gethsemane. It as a death on Golgotha. Then follows a burial — a time of loss, grieving, waiting and hope. Finally comes resurrection, the return of life in a new kind of glory.

slave 1I believe the slavery era was, for Africans brought here against their consent, split permanently from family, history, culture and future–was a kind of Golgotha. Don’t cite me for comparing any human suffering (even slavery, even the holocaust) to that of the Son of God bearing the sin of all mankind; that’s not what I am saying. But the unjust torture of a people, the crippling of an entire culture that promised so much vitality, has been perpetrated.  As for resurrection, I do not see that it has come to African-Americans.  Life with a new kind of glory is still a reverend’s dream. A sampling have made it — and they have oftentimes (perhaps) left their community for better digs. So this seems to be a time of burial for blacks — a long season of waiting, grieving, mourning the losses, but still grasping at hope.

The main part of the gospel story that is missing for the African peoples that were brought here, and the African-American community that exists with the abiding results, is Gethsemane. Jesus had the chance to face His fate, to wrestle with the Father about its necessity, its absolute inviolable necessity. And Father and Son worked it out in those agonizing garden prayers. The Father honored the prayer, yet Jesus agreed that the path to the cross was the right one to take. His crucifixion was ultimately and eternally the best choice. So He surrendered. One thing I don’t see in history is the privilege of Africans to face that decision. They were given no choice. That is the ultimate indignity.

Trafficking in human bodies is trafficking in human souls. Human souls, according to Scripture, are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Of all that such a phrase means, I believe the bottom line is this. As distinct from the animal world, humanity was created with the capacity to know, worship and serve the living God. Every human being is given this ability by the God who desires relationship. No matter how marred the divine image, no one should be bought and sold by another.

How does God stomach the crime of slavery? How is He tolerating human trafficking today? A friend of mine recently returned from a ministry trip to the Philippines, learning about efforts to halt sex trafficking in that country. He said that most all the trafficking is confined to a focused area. You can tell, he told me, by the young girls standing alongside the road every few meters. These “supply side” human beings have been forced out of the lives they should enjoy as teens by greedy brokers of human flesh. The other indicator is the “demand side” — white males from the west who have come there for no other reason than pornography and prostitution (which they suppose comes without consequences, or lust has driven them to not care).

God’s ways are beyond me. Satan was defeated at the cross, yet inspires evil such as slavery, the holocaust, Darfur, and trafficking today. Is it on us to defeat the foe whom Jesus has defeated? Has God tossed the ball into our court? Are we to be faulted for not doing more to take control of these evil kingdoms?

We may blame God. But should we be looking at ourselves for giving satan and evil men and women such freedom to operate? Is God thinking of us this way: “I can’t understand how they tolerate such evil among them! I’ve given them the mandate to have dominion over the earth, to love others and not hate, to protect the innocent ones. Why aren’t they doing more to stop these evils rather than theologizing about what I’m supposed to be doing?”

On that note I will close this rambling confession. Our prime mandate is to make disciples. Have we forgotten that the One we are learning of and obeying came to set prisoners free (Luke 4)? The disciples we make should look like the Master we have brought them to — the One whose calling was to bring salvation, to help the poor, to restore sight to the blind, to heal the sick, and to set captives free.