Archive | September 2014

Hey You, Got Heart?

Before you begin, dear reader, may I ask you to please take a couple of minutes to listen to this great old recording by Peggy Lee, called You Gotta Have Heart? I think this is somewhere in the ballpark of what it looks like when you do! This is a great way to lighten up!

But where do I get this much and this quality of heart and beyond? There is in fact more when the heart is filled with the Love that is meant to live there!

The “heart” is not made for putting forth anger, jealousy, resentment and the like, but the heart – the core of our being – is made for Love! I believe this is God’s original intent, since the heart is to be His dwelling place. These negative traits mentioned lurk within the heart of so many people today, and they are very often the real reasons people suffer from so much heart dis-ease. Those “occupational forces” must be removed.

People say, “Follow your heart!” But what if that heart is filled with all sorts of ego-self-willed motivated junk? At the end of the day, this only separates us from the Pure Loving Source we call God, which brings on sickness and disease of soul, mind, and body.

This is why I love Psalm 51 – it’s the “heart house cleaning prayer” if you will: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. …” God, in other words wishes to draw all to His infinite, unconditional Love, by filling your heart with His own presence, which is pure Love!!!

In other words, it takes the Holy Spirit to restore our heart to what it needs to be. And just maybe we have not because we ask not?

“Asking” does not need to be bloody hands and knees from crawling across rough stones on some sort of pilgrimage begging God for something. It’s actually simple – to humbly and in recognition of our need, come to God and sit in His Presence in the quiet. This is what simple “meditation” is – silent wordless prayer – and it brings the greatest fruit of the Holy Spirit! He knows what we need before we ask, and He’s more than delighted that we’ve come to Him for this work. It’s His work of Grace, for God is Love and nothing but Love – the Presence of Pure Grace. Grace alone can sublimate (change, transform, elevate). When we “show up for work” in this simple way, He is always available, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year!

God wishes to give us what we need – that which will bless us, for He is pure Love. For when the heart is full of His Love and nothing else, we bless the world around us with Divine Love. We become the walking tabernacles of His Love, and draw all who have lost their way back to our Heavenly Father, Who is also their Heavenly Father! This Love is God in our heart reaching out to the world through us.

And when we love with His Love, we discover often to our amazement,
that Love returning to us a hundredfold!

Now, that’s heart!

So…

“You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start.

You’ve gotta have hope
Mustn’t sit around and mope
Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear
Wait’ll next year and hope.

When your luck is battin’ zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door,
there’s nothin’ to it but to do it

You’ve gotta have heart
Miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse Before the cart

First you’ve gotta have heart…”

So, should you choose to accept this mission,
you know where you gotta go to get it!

One Nation Under God

What I have to say here may be perceived with surprise, but I hope you’ll hear me out.

There are some thoughts from another direction, other than the usual atheistic anti-God perspective concerning this phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge and reactions to it bring up interesting points, and maybe we ought to approach them and one another with more thought than reactivity.

First of all the pledge was written by a socialist, which may surprise a lot of patriotic people. What may have been the agenda behind that? Who knows? It wasn’t until 1954 that the phrase “under God” was added under the Eisenhower administration, during the Cold War and the threat of atheistic communism. Those were days when people of the USA embraced pretty much the same values and views, whether they talked about it or not. There had just been a costly and exhausting world war that ended with the detonations of nuclear weapons. And perhaps that made people consider anew, what’s at stake here and who’s really running the show?

See http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm for a good overview on the Pledge.

Secondly I’m not sure I can “pledge” to the predominating socialist agenda and direction toward which the nation is being led. The question arises, what are we pledging to at any given point in history when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? That oddly is the Achilles heal of Democracy: It’s strongest point – that everyone has a voice – can also bring about its downfall. If the predominating voice becomes that which stands against freedom and self determination, then where to from there?

Or is it a Republic and not a Democracy?

Third, for those of us embracing a Christian perspective, according to Matthew 5:34, we’re not to swear any oath at all, which is what the Pledge is in some minds. Oaths are binding, and the directive is that we are not bind ourselves to anything finite whether government or anything else. One reason is that all things in the universe are always subject to change, especially politics.

The dictionary I’m using calls a pledge a “promise, undertaking, vow, word, word of honor, commitment, assurance, oath, guarantee”. Military personnel salute when they say the pledge. But I suppose it depends on whether in your own heart and mind you regard the “Pledge” as a “salute” or an “oath” or any part of the foregoing definitions. Or might the Pledge be simply an affirmation concerning your heart felt personal convictions about the USA?

This is one of many cans of worms being opened in the 21st century. Personally as far as I’m concerned, it’s easy no matter who you are to either affirm “under God”, or to keep silent about it when the pledges is being recited. The question then is, to what or to Whom do I pledge, when I pledge the Pledge of Allegiance?

Our words in any case should not be spoken lightly, but thoughtfully. They carry great effect to bind or to set free. It’s time for everybody to stop reacting and put on our thinking caps.

I love the Pledge, and will probably continue to say it, although a lot more thought-fully including the words “one nation under God”… or is it “under God, indivisible…”? Or “under God Indivisible”? See the differences? This packs a lot of power for many of us.

I’m of the opinion that our issues cannot be resolved by other than the Divine Mind. Consequently when I say the Pledge, for me it also becomes a prayer, an appeal to One Who has the answers and will bring them about.

Thoughts On Intercession

Something pretty obvious was brought to my attention this morning during prayer time: when we pray for the lost and deceived – especially interceding for anyone who influences the minds of a lot of people – it’s imperative to remember to pray for ourselves as well to experience our rightful protection under the Blood of Jesus Christ.

We also need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, guidance, and divine empowerment on a continual basis. We need the finished work of Jesus Christ, yes. But also the power of His ongoing Presence through the Holy Spirit to make it real in our life in order for us to be successful spiritual warriors.

Sometimes it’s the obvious that renders the spiritual warrior vulnerable: we forget to pray for ourselves! It’s a chink in the armor. James reminds us that we often have not because we ask not (James 4:2). He also invites us: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind…” (James 1:5,6)

It became clear to me that I was assuming, not asking. There simply can be no assumptions made, when it comes to spiritual warfare, especially these days. It’s kind of like writing a document on the computer: hit the “save” button often, even if you think you’re OK. You never know…

Lately I kept wondering why I was getting slammed hard with adversity. The oppression was palpable! It seems that I’d overlooked asking for protection and holy wisdom for myself in the process of praying for and providing “spiritual conflict resolution” to others.

Upon self examination, it became clear that these frequent and vigorous “attacks” were not due to weakness or sin, but instead due to the fact that inroads were being made on behalf of the kingdom of God! And that’s clearly not a very popular idea with the “occupational forces” who are being evicted through our prayers.

So when I finished up praying for a particular soul this morning, someone who is very deceived and influences a good many “followers”, for some reason I was reminded to follow that up with prayer for myself and my loved ones. Thanks be to God!

Peter reminds us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

And also especially in these times, at the culmination of the age, it is essential that spiritual warriors cover their own and one another’s backs at all times in this way: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ( Thessalonians 5:17,18). Ceaseless rejoicing and gratitude elevate our minds into the heavenly reality where Christ is seated. (See Colossians 3:1)

I hope this will help anyone who may be experiencing being “under” attack, to be able to rise “above” it! Sometimes it’s the simplest answer that we forget or overlook.

Question of the Day

Here’s a little exercise designed to help “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)

So we ask ourselves, is the purpose of being “in the faith” to…

a) be more moral and to do good?
b) realize worldly happiness, a better life, and manifest things?
c) be saved from eternal hell and damnation?
d) be transformed into sons of God?
e) another choice entirely?

This brings us face to face with the age old questions, who am I and why am I here, from a Christian perspective.

Should you choose to accept this assignment, here’s how it works. Carefully and prayerfully examine the foregoing questions. Make your choice. Then go into the Scriptures and find at least 5 passages that support your choice and write at least a paragraph on each, as to why each passage favors your idea.

As an added bonus, look at the choices you didn’t make, go into the Scriptures and find at least 3 passages that rule out the choices you did not make, and write a paragraph on each of those.

Post your answers in the comments below, or write your own blog on this subject and share a link with us so we can read what you have to say.

Many thanks, have fun, and blessings in your search.

Alka Seltzer Spirituality

Opening passage for consideration and contemplation:

“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace AND knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Refer to entire 2 Peter 3 for fuller context.)

At the outset let me say that this may play like a broken record, but in our world of instantaneous gratification, we look for the quick fix, the easy convenient way to do things. We even prefer an Alka Seltzer spirituality in which “relief is just a swallow away”, a pill away, a teaching away, or a workshop away. We like the idea of hearing about God’s grace, but may not like to hear that the apostolic admonition also directs us to grow in the knowledge of God.

At each encounter with Jesus, He asked either “Who do you seek?” or “What do you want?” (See John 1:38, 18:4-7)

We do well to ask ourselves these questions if we are “seekers” on a spiritual path. What am I really after here – the long haul or the short slide? Is the real petition, “God, please just make the unpleasantries go away, and oh yes, bless my mess,” (as in, Jesus, I believe in the hereafter, but here’s what I’m really here after!) Or “Lord, please bring me to an ever fuller knowledge in You in uncompromising truth and holiness. Let’s get to the root of all my conflicts and eradicate them”? (See Matthew 3:10)

The other day I saw a documentary in which a “team” went worldwide – going into the highways and byways giving hugs, telling people God loves them, praying for them for healing, and casting out evil spirits. Certainly that seems OK. The jaded side of me, however, asks, Who bankrolled this? There are some well known talking heads making commentaries between scenes.

It impressed me for a couple of days, but then I began to ask, what happens to these souls once a “spiritual baby” has been made? Is this anything more than a spiritual one night stand, where new baby Christians are abandoned to their own ideas and devices? One has to wonder. Who is willing to disciple the little ones? Where are the fathers and mothers in “Israel”?

(See this additional article http://www.gospel.org.nz/index.php/articles/faith-messages/16-001-where-are-the-fathers-and-the-mothers)

Jesus puts it this way: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) And, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

He doesn’t say to just provide a spiritual Alka Seltzer, in the form of “God loves you. Can I pray with you?”, for the immediate headache and then walk away, as effective in the moment as that may be.

No, there’s more at stake here – a complete transformation is God’s intention, as St. Paul states it, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” (Galatians 4:19) “As a result we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 14,15)

However, with the quick fix approach, the symptomatic pain keeps returning, building in frequency and intensity. It is the outermost symptom of its deeply seated spiritual cause, an internal conflict, a dis-ease. That’s where the real work has to be done! The spiritual one night stand will not alleviate that on any permanent basis. Only the lifelong commitment to being discipled, and the long haul of commitment to discipling on the part of mature “fathers and mothers”, can eradicate the deeply rooted etiology, through complete surrender to the Holy Spirit. Alka Seltzer spirituality will not fix this. It will take lifelong commitment to “spiritual chemotherapy” and the best that “spiritual integrative modalities” can offer, relentlessly combined!

As we consider this, may we reckon with Jesus’ words (Luke 14:25-35) concerning what discipleship really means and whether we’re willing to count the cost. Neither discipling nor being discipled is a spiritual one night stand. It’s the long haul willingness to take responsibility for the spiritual children God has put into your life. No small task. Not for the faint of heart.

Encouraging One Another In Truth

It’s Monday. Monday for many people can mean everything from a mere “ho-hum, not again” to “the world is scaring me to death”. Careful with that kind of thought!

Here are a couple of promises from Holy Scripture we can count on – whenever we feel troubled or worried about the way our life is going, or even how the trends in the world seem to be moving. ” ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘ ” (Jeremiah 29:11 – This one is easy for me to remember because my birthday is 11/29.)

This also comes to mind: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). The Lord reminds me today about walking by faith in His truth and not by sight – by what I perceive is “happening to” me or to my world.

It’s very important for us, especially in the challenging times in which (an interesting phrase of you think about it) “we find ourselves“.

Do I find myself as someone who knows and experiences God and His love, or do I find myself as a victim of circumstances, however that storyline may read out to you?

Many years ago when I came to know the Lord and His love, I found His written word’s many promises to be the firm and sure ground upon which I can walk in the Spirit. The circumstances may have changed. The issues may have gone from personal to domestic to professional to global, but this I can say for sure – that “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). The woods may look different, but the Path never waivers as it goes steadily onward.

It may be that we just need to really get to know God better, to let Him love us, to experience His love – through His word, by drawing closer into His Presence day by day, and by faith relying on His promises given for us to discover. As He takes us on His path through the woods, we come to see that He is wholly reliable, trustworthy, and loving. So instead of agreeing with the usual lament about how awful everything “is”, let us instead focus on things through the promises in God’s word – His map for the journey and love letter to us.

The Practice Of Love

Sometimes you sit back and wonder how things can go so horribly wrong. Relationships can be a hard row to hoe from the outset for example, or with great incongruity and incompatibility surfacing as time passes. You keep hoping and can hardly believe that it could possibly get quite that bad… Lord, why? There is nothing but hurt and heartbreak here. Is there another way to do things?

The hard but only correct answer that comes is that it is because people have not learned to practice Love! Not the natural love that’s as easy as falling off a log in the beginning of a relationship, but the divine Love that does not seek It’s own way, the Love of the long haul, the Love that sees the faults of another, but still chooses to love in spite of it all! This is the Love that endures despite hardships and does not give up when the going gets tough. It must be embraced by both husband and wife.

This is the kind of Love God extends toward us. It is called “Grace” and is the only thing that can turn a hell into a heaven. Grace specializes in such transformative miracles when it is called forth and practiced.

In a marriage this is the only sort of Love that works and brings results. Ideally it is extended by both partners toward one another. It is the Love that must be intentionally and consciously chosen. It is not the love of warm gooey feelings because you are always doing what I want you to, the way I want it done, and when I want it done. It is the Love that, when it hears the kind of “advice” being given here, does not look at the other and say, “There, you see? That’s what I want from you!” But instead, it looks within and says, “I have failed at this! Please forgive me, and let us strive to love as God loves us.”

This is the Love that wants to love through us. It asks that we lay aside the human impossibility of loving like that, and to then offer ourselves as the “hollow flute” through which It can sing its song of divine healing.

Romantic love is the mere love of early attraction. It is of the spring and the blossom that fades and falls away. But the Love that survives the winters of life is That Which prevails and endures when there are no blossoms, when the summer has fled, and when all is harsh, cold, and relentlessly challenging it.

And if we have not learned to practice this Love by the time the “winter” arrives, then at the very least we experience only coldness and hardness, for Divine Love is the only thing that provides a barrier between us and the harshness.

As Maria Von Trapp sang, “Love isn’t love till you give it away.” We can only reap what we have sown. If you are therefore experiencing no love, then there is a good chance you have not been giving it away. You have instead mistakenly been self-absorbed and self-centered, for when selfless Love is sown, it never fails. Therefore sow endlessly and consistently, in and out of season.

God IS Love! … “Let us love one another for Love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God AND knows God. The one who does not love does not know God for God is Love… If we love one another, God abides in us, and His Love is perfected in us… as He is, so also are we in this world.” (See 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians 13).

To know God is not a mere head knowledge of Him; it means to be of one mind with Him – growing in His image, likeness, and purpose. This is why Love must be the only focus of the “horizontal” spiritual practice (love of other), especially in our domestic settings. When both partners are consistently practicing “it is not about me, but about thee” attitude, then the result is the creation of a heaven in the midst of a hell. But when we center on self and on judging the other, it only makes a hell out of the most idyllic heaven. Life and death are indeed in the power of the tongue and our speech and attitude toward one another! Sadly over 50% of participants in marriage have decided to create hell instead of heaven.

The question is, what will you choose from this day forward? What will you teach your little ones as they look on? Will they learn merely struggling and striving against one another, blaming, excuse making, and fault finding? Will you teach them by your example how to make heaven or hell? Will they come to know through experience that “God is Love”, or will you by criticism, competing, self will, and self centeredness prevent the little ones from entering the kingdom of heaven (within and among you)? They have to know it exists by seeing it in their parents. This is a heavy responsibility, for God has entrusted you with their souls!

There are serious ramifications here. The family unit is the intended “primal church” where we either learn that God is Love… or not. This is why there is so much that is coming against the family now in society and the world systems, to break it down and destroy it – because the father of lies, our adversary, seeks to obliterate the truth that GOD IS LOVE. And the testing ground is the family. Heaven and earth are watching as the “great cloud of witnesses” (See Hebrews 12:1)!

So the more basic truth is not whether a man and a woman look good together, or are meant to be together, or if they make a cute couple, or how stylish or upscale they can be, or what their friends think – because at the end of the day the question will be asked, “How well did you learn to practice Love?”

It begins not with pointing the finger and fault finding, but by looking within and prayerfully doing some genuine soul searching: How well am I loving? Do I really want to perceive, hear, see, recognize, and acknowledge my spouse’s needs? Or do I always see the other person as someone who stands in the way of my ego-false self and its plans for happiness? Have I reckoned with the reality of why God put me in the here and now with this person – to leave behind the childish ways of self gratification?

Only the truth about Love and practicing it (broadcasting it, emanating it, living it) can set you free.

Couples ought to be carefully counseled before they marry, in the full light of the practical meanings and ramifications of 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4, for starters. John explains to us that Divine Love and Loving is the manifestation of two conditions: 1) not only being “born of God” but 2) “knowing” God – or oneness with Him, or at least the motivational direction and desire for divine union. Being born of God and oneness in Him through the Holy Spirit is prerequisite for manifesting the Love of God – the only Love that can endure the tempest through which the human race now sails because it is divinely sourced and enduring. Any lesser “love” means personal and domestic shipwreck.