Archive | October 2013

The Shattering

This is a poem I wrote a few months back. It’s not entirely “religious”, but maybe relates to spiritual processes of coming to grips with things, that time when once more the Holy Spirit goes a little deeper, and a little deeper – advancing further into the interior of the Kingdom of Heaven within you… until it is fully surrendered to the Lord.

 

Some days you float along in cloudy nebulosity,

Not having sense of what makes up reality;

The things you thought would make you happy just last year

Have scampered off like frightened, hunted deer.

 

You realize that somewhere deep inside of you

There’s something missing of the best and true;

You try to probe and figure out the pain,

But emptiness has been your only gain.

 

As life goes slipping through your fingertips,

Along with words you wish had not passed from your lips;

You thought you were so right, but life’s all wrong;

It keeps your mind in pain the whole night long.

 

You see that nothing matters more than to be kind,

To try to understand, and not be blind

You want to stretch, and love, and higher ways embrace

But fall and stumble, never really keeping pace.

 

You fail, and try to make it right again,

And shed more tears than since you don’t know when;

The ones you love are scattered now like leaves;

Your heart’s a mortal wound that bleeds and grieves.

 

You find yourself surrounded yet alone,

A dried up leaf tossed by the wind and blown

Along some street you always walked before,

Where no one really knows you anymore.

 

A muddy pool of water shows a face;

The wind disturbs it, as its fractured forms displaced

Send ghostly echoes through your empty mind;

The image there no longer has a shrine.

 

You understand that everything you thought you were

Is only hazy wave and quantum blur;

Perhaps then, once that shadow being flies away,

The Love That Is may finally have its way.

Cross Purposes 3 / 21st Century Antinomianism

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For consideration and contemplation:

1 John 1: 5,6 – “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth.” . . . 2:3,4 – “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [NASB]

OK, let’s cut right to the chase.

How do you spell “antinomianism”? This word means: of or relating to the view that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. Many people, Christians in particular, have never heard of this word.

Scripture is very, very clear on this matter concerning moral law. What will it take to get “believers” back into the Book? “Belief” is not enough, friends! We need to be clearer on what it means to “believe in” God.

Why am I even addressing this matter? Becasue I lament! How is it so many “churches” are being informed by what’s politically correct, rather than by the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit’s Still Small Voice? What is embraced in all too many is anything but led by the Holy Spirit, or taking its cues from God’s Word.

Yes, holy. How is it this very first characteristic of God’s people – made in His image and likeness, yet fallen, and redeemed in order to be restored to that likeness – has been forgotten? Yet so many either laugh at the word or shrink away from it like Dracula from a crucifix. Or holiness is assigned some mundane or colloquial meaning. Not only has holiness been forgotten; holiness has become to all too many, whether clergy or “just us folks”, like the child who is regarded as “not right” – hidden away as an embarrassment in the tower of some creaky old mansion.

Old song, new lyrics: Where has understanding gone, long time passin’.

And so we have churches of no significant power in anyone’s life, nor wielding any powerful spiritual or moral influence in the world. Instead what has happened is an infiltration of New Age concepts and practices, “Interfaith dialog”, the dictates of the political mob, the corporate “make nice” mindset, and the hidden agendas of evil infiltration of every description. Too many are busy putting on their mega church show biz smiles and playing nice, and especially playing to the crowd. Many are busily attempting to become “inclusive” of every vice and wicked practice, in order to grow their numbers and maintain their tax exempt non-profit status, rather than being about the Father’s business of saving souls. [Remember, non-profit means non-prophet, having a swelling bank account at the cost of having no prophetic voice!]

What it amounts to is salt that has lost its savor, with the foregoing being the real description of what it really means to “take the Lord’s name in vain!’ We’ve taken His holy name to ourselves as an assumption because we “believe”, but with little or no spiritually affective power over the evil one, the world, or our ego-flesh.

Is it any wonder we have a mob mentality administration in this country which thinks it can tell a priest he cannot celebrate mass, or threatens soldiers with court martial who witness their faith on a military base? They are into pushing the religious buttons of all who will react like Pavlov’s dogs. They like making offers people can’t refuse.

These people do not take Christians seriously at all. Is there any wonder, when the political arm has already been allowed to infiltrate into the churches as it has, with its New World Order values and philosophies? Every spiritual incursion easily establishes a foothold and eventually a beach head, as the spirit of antichrist marches on with a view of nothing less than total takeover. It’s like a spiritual computer virus!

And then comes the cry, “You are treading on our religious ‘rights and freedoms’! It’s unlawful! It’s unconstitutional!” Would to God that we who name His name were as concerned with our connection to God’s divine authority and power over darkness and His word’s directives and ways, as we are with managing the world’s politics. Politics would take care of itself, if we were about our Father’s business!

What has been done with those rights and freedoms? Have we used them for a God honoring life in thought, word, and deed? Is freedom of speech really about the “right” to curse, swear, and use our mouths for every abominable joke, or to ridicule and bully? Have we used our freedom of speech to confront the holocaust called abortion, which has been the law of the land for over forty years? Nearly half a century of bloody murder which nearly makes Hitler’s activity look like a Sunday picnic? And that which calls itself the church turns a blind eye. Somehow I get the impression that this is not what turning the other cheek means, so that something is out of sight and out of mind.

Have we stopped to consider that the standard of the righteousness of God, of holiness in other words, pure and simple – the manifest result of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ in our life – is the most loving thing we could offer people, instead of a social club mentality with no standards of morality?

Here’s the “clue” from 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” [NASB] This is what the plan, process, and outcome of salvation is all about. Not a lot of wiggle room for, “I’m OK; you’re OK” here!

Many Christians and the worldly both seem to have a fondness for half truths. Take for example, “Seek first His kingdom, and all these thing shall be added unto you.” I wish I had a dime for every time I heard this text quoted just as it is here, in amazing incompleteness, among both New Agers and “liberal” Christians.

Somehow it’s so hard to state it in its full blown context: Continually seek His kingdom AND His righteousness… Oh that holiness thing! Righteousness! It sticks in my throat! It really bites! I’d rather sing with Sinatra, “I do it my way!”

My other favorite along these lines is, “The truth will set you free.” Excuse me, but I think a little of that has been left behind as well. My several copies of the Bible all read something like this: John 8: 31,32. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, ’If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’.” Note the “if… then… and” context.

The people Jesus speaks to here were “believers”. However, the effectual, freeing truth spoken of here is not automatic. It comes at the cost of radical discipleship! To be set free for and by this kind of truth, Divine truth, means a dogged commitment to the word of Christ, not only to the written word of Scriptures, but to the Word Made Flesh, Emmanuel / God With Us, called Jesus Himself, and being led day by day continually by the Holy Spirit of God.

And there’s one more thing which can turn the world around. I’ll finish out with this one, and write about it another day. It’s what I call God’s Four Fold Way To Heal The Nation. [Or the planet!]

 If my people, which are called by my name,

1] shall humble themselves,

2] and pray,

3] and seek my face,

4] and turn from their wicked ways;

then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

[There’s the if… then… and pattern again.]

The best place we can be these days is on our knees before the throne of our Heavenly Father, determining how these words apply to each and every one of us.

Let it be so now! Amen!

Cross Purposes 2 / My Cross

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Scriptural affirmation:

1 Corinthians 1:18. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” [KJV]

As I read this, it occurs to me that, if the cross is foolishness to those who perish, then as the power of God to those of us who are being saved, it must be wisdom, since foolishness is the opposite of wisdom.

Thus I can affirm that the cross of Jesus Christ, in the greater sense, is God’s wisdom for delivering my soul from darkness, and the power of any and all evil.

There is something to understand here, however, that is stated in just about the same way in all three synoptic gospels, having to do with “the cross”. Matthew puts it this way in chapter 16: 24 – “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”.

“The” cross… “his” cross. Is there a difference?

The cross as it is traditionally upheld is that which was the focal point witin the specific work of Jesus Christ in the events of His passion. Yet there is a cross which, if I claim Christ, I must take up, which is beyond and yet mysteriously one with that of Jesus. It is a cross which is specifically the path I must walk every day in a co-crucifixion of my false ego self, my old adam. This is the cross whereby my redemption becomes worked out as my salvation.

What does my cross look like?

My cross arrives in the form of every choice which confronts me where I want to say “no” when I know I ought to say “yes”. It appears where I wish to say “yes” when that Still Small Voice – if I’m listening and willing to hear, acknowledge, and obey – lets me know that “no” would be the choice that sends the adversary running.

My cross appears as it makes me aware, when for instance, I’m feeling road rage coming on, that it would be a better choice to simply repeat the Jesus Prayer, or sing a praise chorus, until that anger goes away, and as that lift of the Holy Spirit rushes in and reroutes a very bad hair day, transforming it from victimhood to victory.

My cross appears in the form of someone in need, who is clearly in my space because the Lord put him or her there, and it would be an act of crucifixion of self-will if I stopped long enough to lend a hand, instead of going my merry way.

Or perhaps it might mean that instead of spending that $5 on another mocha latte, my sharing might mean that another Soul will genuinely be warmed and be fed, and better yet will feel the love of Christ.

My cross appears as the friend sincerely vexed or troubled calling me just as I’m about to dash off to do lunch with another friend. However the caller really is Jesus in need, and He’s telling me, inasmuch as you do unto one of these, so you do to Me. Behold, I stand at the door and knock… What will my choice be? Will I do my own thing, or will I open the door and let Jesus in?

Many more are the examples that come to mind, too numerous to mention here.

As these kinds of little events unfold, I begin to understand that my cross, which Jesus more than encourages me to embrace, is intensely personal and utterly practical, working miracles of help, healing, and deliverance on many levels of being – both in my life and in the one I’m called to minister to. It’s a “witness” which communicates on a deeper level, that of being present and one with the Savior in His cross through my daily cross-opportunities! These are His and my Cross Purposes!

Jesus goes on to say, in fact, one of those paradoxical things which may seem conflicting, until it is grasped through experience: “For whoever wishes to save his life [literally “soul”] shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” [Matthew 16:25]. These are very serious words, that make it very plain that discipleship is not “easy-believe-ism”; it is the path of salvation, mapped and marked for us by the Holy One Who is called The Way! And I am to walk the path.

This is the path where I decrease and He increases. This for me is what Christ consciousness means, Christ awareness – perceiving Him in every person and situation.

Yes, Jesus brings me the gift of redemption. Yet it is for me to see my cross with Jesus in His cross, as St. Paul puts it, through working out my salvation with fear and trembling, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit – God who works in me both to will and to do His good pleasure. [See Philippians 2:12,13].

Thus I understand and acknowledge that it is in these thousand and one little daily opportunities where my cross presents itself to me. And I willingly, if not joyfully, lay myself down upon it, and surrender to it as unto the Lord. Here I can see that these are the means whereby I am set free – a little more, a little more, and a little more. These are the opportunities whereby the tentacles of the adversary are unwound from my soul, like strips of grave cloths, once I have been awakened by the Light of the Son!

In these awakenings, awarenesses, and understandings given to me each day, I give thanks, lifting up my heart, my hands, and my voice in gratitude and thanksgiving forevermore to Him Who can do far more than we can ask or think. To Him be the glory here and now, and throughout all ages to come. Amen.

Cross Purposes 1 / Hangin’ With Jesus

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Scriptural Affirmation:

Galations2:20. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [KJV]

As I quietly escape into the quiet sacred space of communion with my Heavenly Father, within my innermost being, I leave behind the attractions and aggravations of the outer world, releasing them completely.

I reckon with the fact that, although I live in a physical body in a physical universe, these outer realities no longer determine my life, nor do they have any claims to my heart or mind. No longer must I be driven by these physical and finite matters, but rather, as Jesus experienced, I am now attuned and at one with the Voice of my Heavenly Father, to be about His business and that alone.

The spiritual truth is that the old me, my false ego-driven self, also called the Old Adam, was put to death with my Lord Jesus Christ in His death on the cross. This is a beautiful mystery well worth affirming and pondering every day of my life. If only I will choose to live by it, I can experience all that it means for me! Daily I recognize and affirm this reality.

And now it is the risen Christ, Who by the vision that is my faith, and more importantly by the Holy Spirit’s power, lives from within me, as the new me – since I have been co-crucified with Him in His death, and raised up with Him to a brand new life in His resurrection.

How exciting it is to come to this awareness – that the old has passed away, and that all things are already become new! In Jesus Christ I am a new creation.

I understand that all things representing the old me – the desires of the flesh, of the eyes, and the things appealing to the boastful pride of life – have passed away with all temporal things, for they are not of the Father, but of the world which is always passing away. Finite things have been exchanged for infinite things through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In practical terms, I affirm that these temporal pursuits, attractions, and concerns have been exchanged for a heart seeking only to do the will of the Lord, which abides forever.

I find that I am like a ship sailing freely by the Winds of the Spirit, no longer anchored, weighed down, or moored to the many finite and fleeting matters which, when they are attached to us and we to them, keep us from the true and lasting freedom for which Jesus Christ has indeed set us free. Thus my course is governed and directed toward my highest good by the Unseen Hand of Supernal Love who ransomed me from sin, death, the evil one, the worldly mind, and the flesh.

I discover anew each day that I am more free than the last, and I experience that divine freedom more and more every day, finding greater joy, peace, healing, and unconditional love! And I am also now free to be an instrument whom God can use to pour these out to others, so that they may also experience God’s grace. I wish to say with Jesus that if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.

With these reminders concerning what has been done for me and what is being done by God’s power within me, I can once again go forward from this moment on, in complete renewal, with new vision, and in the unparalleled love, wisdom, and faith of Christ. I realize that the small things, which used to characterize the pursuits of my life, were limited and finite, when compared with the exceeding greatness of the Lord’s power to all who believe. I easily release them and surrender myself, in exchange for the amazing work now being wrought in me and in my life through the very power of God – a work to which my Lord attested, “It is finished!” so very long ago. I merely now tap into that which already is!

With the apostle Paul I give thanks and rejoice in the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in me, the hope of glory. [Colossians 1:26,27]

May the name of the Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit be honored and proclaimed forever – by the attitude, thoughts, words, and deeds which are His work in all who are called by His name.

To God be the glory, now and forever. Amen.

What Is Christianity?

This question really asks us to do some thinking, some serious, prayerful thinking. These days we hear a lot about “spirituality”… “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” Well excuse me for also asking this, but must the two – spirituality and religion – be mutually exclusive? And, what in your mind is the difference?

Somehow I think [and there are many factors that play into why I think this way which I’ll not approach here in this article] this stands out as a form of spiritual arrogance, and even a kind of judgement: “I’m spiritual, ‘enlightened’, you know. You by my standards, alas, are only religious because you claim to be a Christian. You know, that’s not very trendy, not very cool, and it certainly is not politically correct either.”

And then there’s the “higher consciousness” people. I don’t know what their definition of consciousness is, since I’ve never really heard it described by them, in most cases. Some kind of sound bite, I guess, picked up in a weekend seminar. But it is a very popular, catchy word, don’t you think? It sounds really deep. And I so want to be a part of consciousness, not just religion.

Dear reader, before we all walk any further down this road, I’d like for us to stop for a “moment” to define for ourselves the following words:

  • Christianity
  • Spirituality
  • Consciousness

I really would like you to give this some seriously prayerful thought, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you as you do.

And then also, please, might you consider why perhaps those who do not embrace the Lord Jesus, redemption, and salvation have come to these conclusions. What might they perceive about us [individually or collectively] which would put them off from considering the claims of Christianity?

Ready? OK, take 5 [minutes, hours, days, weeks…] Then would you be so kind as to share your thoughts?

At the moment of this writing I’d like to share a few ideas from my own perspectives. I’d certainly invite some commentary on this. Please do share what you’ve come up with, if you are so moved, especially what the Holy Spirit stirs in you.

My particular focus in this writing is essentially summed up with the “poster” included here, namely that Christianity is not a “religion”, but rather it is “salvation consciousness”.

Let’s begin with a very simple definition of consciousness – first of all, that it is the awareness or perception of something within or outside a person, the awareness of a reality.

In this respect it has some commonality with St. Paul’s definition of “faith” in Hebrews 11:1, where the Amplified Bible puts it [faith] so eloquently – “…the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality – faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses”. [Emphasis mine] Thus faith and consciousness may be seen as spiritual perception, awakened awareness of something rock solid and real, although not perceived by the five ordinary senses. It is something inwardly revealed.

But then, what is religion? Primarily it means the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power – God, a god, or gods, the details of that belief as taught or discussed, a particular system of faith, practice, and/or worship, perhaps based on the Latin “religare”, meaning “bond” or “reverence”. Ideally it would seem that a religion would be based upon something inwardly revealed, concerning which there is deep conviction.

Speaking for myself – the only real and experiential frame of reference I have – I was brought up in a “religion”, and later came to “consciousness” or personal awareness of my relationship to the Lord Jesus. The former is something I deeply respect and hold dear. Without being brought up in a religion, I would not have access to much of the spiritual information which is still precious to me [the requirements to memorize many Scripture passages, hymns, parts of catechisms, and the like]. I went to parochial school. Can you tell?

The latter – my “faith” which later sprang out of it, and is an ever expanding phenomenon of awareness. There were questions about Who God is, Who Jesus Christ is, who I am, what the plan of salvation is all about, and the work of Jesus Christ in His passion from the cross through His ascension.

There were souls in that early religious context whose lives evidenced a living awareness of our Savior and a deep love for Him. These were and are people I deeply respected and admired, and I’m sure they had my back in prayer in the years I went wandering. Yet there was also one person in particular who shared her experience with me during the time when I began to sense that things needed to change in me and in my life. That was a case of divine timing!

So it is vitally important that we do share our story with those the Holy Spirit prompts us to share it with. This woman even told me that she did not know why she was sharing her testimony with me, but had felt prompted to do so. The synchronicity of her doing that was so obvious to me that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I surrendered myself to Christ. Then the changes in me and my life began by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let me simply wrap this up with the beautiful prayer of St. Paul in Ephesians 3:14 and following: “… I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” [KJV]

Nearly forty years ago, when I really began to awaken and become aware – when I received the intervention of the Holy Spirit in my life, and surrendered myself to the Lord Jesus Christ – when beginning to read the Scriptures on my own and not simply hearing them as a part of a liturgical context – this text packed a wallop for me more than any other. I still marvel at it. I’d say that Paul’s prayer is a pretty tall order, but this, in a nutshell, is what we’re meant to come to consciousness about! It’s where Christianity goes from being a religious belief system to a living reality.

I realized at that time, and continue to marvel at it, that there is so much more to being a Christian than I’d ever realized. God’s intention for us, here revealed by Paul’s prayer intention in concert with God’s will, is that we would have a gigantic, expanding, mind-blowing comprehension – an awareness, a consciousness – of all that we are in Him, and all that He wold like to be in and through us!

This is why I submit that Christianity is not a religion; it is salvation consciousness, to say the least. It is so much more than many of us realize, the awareness of the experience of God interacting with us, through us, in our lives.

Approaching this Thanksgiving season, I know of nothing that can compare for which to be eternally grateful.

And then as we approach Christmas, we can sing with renewed consciousness and conviction, “What wondrous Love is this, oh my soul?”Image