Vainglorious Imaginations

There are, perhaps, few things more precious than meeting someone who does not take the ‘seat of honor’, who does not clap for him/herself, who even, at times, shrouds his left hand from his right.

Have you known such a person? Aren’t they the loveliest? I’ve known a few and know a few now. What a gift!

Everyone leaks. Everyone’s heart drips out here and there, down their sleeves… Sometimes the pretty things fall out; sometimes, it’s the uglier things we try to keep hidden. But the Bible rightly tells us that all of these things — bad or good fruit, a gift of spirit or a lurking offense or a billowing worry — first slip into our minds and through our hearts.

Jesus likened the thoughts of our hearts to action (Matthew 5:28), and the apostle Paul tells us that “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Or how about this one:

Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

And

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

Well, as the Bible discloses, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed — even if it is hidden for a time.

Beginning Imaginations

The LORD saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually.

Genesis 6:5 [AMP]

What a verse! If you don’t have an Amplified Bible, I highly recommend that version. It can really detail a passage and make the leather shine.

This verse comes before the worldwide flood. The Lord, we are told, literally regrets that He has made humankind (and, as wickedness streaks through the world, I don’t blame Him). Can you even imagine? — It says that He saw that EVERY imagination was evil.

Truth be told, I wonder how near we are to a repeat of that day, as the world around us falls into further moral and spiritual decay…

But let’s ground this back to the individual level — what you and I can control.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

2 Corinthians 10:5

Taking every thought captive has been a phrase oft on repeat for me:

Fear of tomorrow? Not when surrendered to Christ.

Bombastic thoughts of self? Not when in remembrance of Christ.

Doubt and unbelief? Not when wearing Christ’s righteousness.

This is every thought in submission.

But it was the specific word ‘imagination‘ that sparked my notice this time…

If you don’t know, I am a VERY imaginative girl, and that’s always been true as far back as I can remember.

As a girl, I used to stand in a clearing behind our mobile home, look up into the June-blue sky, and imagine Jacob’s ladder there — angels ascending and descending. I imagined how wonderful that would be to see…

As an adolescent, I used to imagine how I might die a martyr for someone else. Grisly, I know, but it seemed a worthwhile imagination…

As an adult, I write fiction. This gives my imagination far more credibility than it deserves, as I laugh and delight in my own hypothetical and speculative worlds…

But as a Christian, this imagination can get me in serious trouble! I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself mid-vainglory in some hypothetical and imaginative drama THAT HASN’T HAPPENED and WILL PROBABLY NEVER HAPPEN, congratulating myself on my own humility… or wisdom… or character. Even worse, the fact that it wasn’t until this year that I fully realized what was happening in those moments and that these thoughts — these silly imaginations of pseudo life-happenings — needed also to be taken captive, thrown down, and thrown out with the other rubbish of life.

For the imaginative sort, I have to admit that this isn’t the easiest task… but I have already found it well worth the doing. Daydreams are fun. They are. But they also tend to be vainglorious…

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Dictionary Time

VAINGLORY: inordinate pride in oneself or one’s achievements; excessive vanity: his vainglory put the Republic at risk.

Beloved, blessed is the man who meditates day and night on God’s law, in Christ’s refuge, and in the Spirit’s comfort (Psalm 1)! Linger there and cast the other thoughts down with me…

Because the days are dark. You will need the good health of your spiritual heart and mind.

Peace in Christ,

Enter/Edu/Info-Tain-Ment

Enter attainment.

Educate attainment.

Inform attainment.

Yeah, I’m messing with you and my husband is probably going to give me a lecture on etymology after reading this… but it is interesting, isn’t it? All of this striving after attainment? Entertainment. Edutainment. Infotainment. Eesh. This is giving me a yawn…

So, when we entertain ourselves, we are striving to attain something we don’t otherwise have, right? Or to keep something, perhaps? (Ya’ll are driving me insane! I need to binge this show to keep my sanity!… blah blah blah and etcetera.)

Okay, let’s check the etymology. It’s good practice and a favorite pastime of ours. Seriously, if you don’t check the etymology of words you use daily, you’re missing out on some proverbial mud-slinging fun.

“TO KEEP IN A CERTAIN FRAME OF MIND”

“PROVISION FOR…RETAINER…MANNER OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOR”

In other words, entertainment is less brain-washing than it is brain and social behavior cement.

Listen, I just screenshot the etymology that makes the wordies happy; don’t blame me if it happens to be the truth too… Origins matter.

I didn’t even know edutainment was a thing until I went to write this blog. Okay, I knew it was a thing but I didn’t know it was a thing thing with its own name and everything: Edutainment. The New York Times even had a terribly cheesy graphic for it in a past article:

A slice of cheese on the right…

Instead of clasping hands and singing Kumbaya (which really got a bad rep in the past for being overly-idealistic) it’s the Can Can with stars and globes and cheerful cubicle-free white collar workers? As if that’s any better…

Okay… LOL

Anyway. We’re back to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What do they say? – “Knowledge is power”? Yes, even the worst of the worst non-medical social technicians want to educate the world and spend billions on it too. As everyone found out over the last two years, education is a BIG deal, a big industry, and a big point of contention between those who want their children to remain blissfully ignorant of some evils and those who desperately want to traumatize your children so that they turn out as messed up as the hurt people doing the traumatizing.

What goes around comes around. Hurt people hurt people. Sometimes the bullied grow up to be the bullies. They are not uninformed; those with unrighteousness intentions know very well that these things are true. The only way to pervert the culture fully is to pervert your children. And that’s the truth, honey.

And yes, hard though it may be to believe, there are some who are willing, ready, and armed with every intention of perverting kids and culture.

I know you want to believe the best, and we strive to do that prior to proof otherwise; but when they start singing “We’ll convert your children”, well… you’ve fallen prey to cultural niceness not to acknowledge that present darkness. (And no, it’s not just one choir – an anomaly. This mess is everywhere… Disney (and most of Hollywood), State Farm, Target, Converse, Coca-Cola, nearly every name brand today promotes it, etc…)

I thought my kids were playing a benign racing game on their tablets for months before I discovered they were being shown God-knows-what in commercials to be able to play those games. Things aren’t what they seem. Those with agendas actively look for every avenue to proceed; if we are passive about our own culture, they will run us over.

If you are passive about creating a godly culture in your home, the world will gladly run your kids over with their culture.

And I don’t mean singing Kumbaya every day, though I’m perfectly happy to join you if that’s your fave. I mean putting on the armor of God and living like a new creation… no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness. I believe that’s how Paul put it; you can look it up.

Ooooh, but what about infotainment? The need to be in the know…

I think I definitely fell for that one for a while. We all want to be informed. We all want to think we know what’s up – at least at our own level. And there’s a measure of knowledge that we can certainly defend. After all:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Hosea 4:6

Knowledge isn’t always the bad guy. It’s trying to play God with that knowledge that leads to poor ends.

Even so, Jesus also told us not to worry about tomorrow…

I was thinking about what scripture tells us concerning ‘the last days’ and, outside of repentance, I believe what we are most often told is to watch and pray…

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 

1 Peter 4:7

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

Mark 14:38

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Matthew 24:42

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Luke 21:36

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…

Eph 6:18

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober…

1 Thess 5:4-8

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Revelation 3:2-3

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Revelation 14:12

Sober / standing.

Awake / alert.

Watching / waiting.

Praying / patient / penitent.

I know that the apostles thought the end was near in their day – and thank God too! Else, would we have the comfort of their urgent words? Even so, one thing is certain: That day is nearer us than it was to them… so don’t be lulled to sleep in scoffing, saints.

Everything is…

Is everything entertainment, edutainment, or infotainment? – The acquisition of knowledge? The attainment of escape from mortality? The ascension of the blessedly assured?

Well, loosely speaking, we might say so… even this blog. Even the Bible.

What is ever before our minds and in our hearts? That is the issue of life and death. Think about these wretched devices; we hold them in our hands, we place them ever before our faces…

Are these not scripturally the places of honor? The places reserved for meditation? The places reserved, literally and symbolically, for God? The intersection where God’s laws, God’s covenants, influence our thoughts and deeds?

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

Deut 6:8

Uh-oh. Sure seems like my phone is there more often…

The devil isn’t stupid, y’all. I have no doubt this is by design. He hates God; he hates you. And he is ever-trying to be God – to usurp all the signs, symbols, and worship that belongs to our Creator God. Never forget that.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…

Nor sits in the seat of scoffers…

Nor stands in the way of sinners…

But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night.

  • Psalm 1

I think that’s a good place to stop and muse…

We will bind our hands in service to God or to the devil; we will have God’s culture (ways) or the devil’s (the world-at-large) between our eyes (in our thoughts and hearts). And how we live betrays to which we have surrendered our attention – doesn’t it? (Yes. It does.)

If you want to hear a really amped up version of Psalm 1 in song check out this old jam.

Psalm 1 near end.

If Not Flesh & Blood, What?

We hear often enough in Christian circles that our battle is not against flesh and blood, drawing from the passage in Ephesians 6. Yet, so far as I can recall, men and women and children throughout history have been persecuted, maimed, beaten, tortured, and killed by flesh and blood, right?

If your own dad raped you, that feels like flesh and blood, doesn’t it…

If your own government locks you down, restricts and gaslights you, that sure looks like flesh and blood, doesn’t it…

If your friends shun you for your beliefs, that leaves the same sting across your cheek as a flesh and blood hand, doesn’t it…

Of course, it does. It most certainly does. And you see now the challenge of this passage and the Christian lifestyle: Our enemies work through flesh and blood, even as God also works through flesh and blood — does He not?

So, if our battle – our war – our fight – as Christians is not against flesh and blood, then what? Who are we fighting – or, rather, are we fighting at all?

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 

Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places

Ephesians 6:10-12 AMP

If our battle is against the schemes, strategies, and deceits of the devil, against rulers, powers, and forces of darkness and wickedness in heavenly places (over our heads), then how do we fight?

Do you fight these spiritual things? Or do you hardly believe these really exist?

That’s a shocking thing to say to a Christian, but there’s a notary in my mind that has witnessed such belief; that is to say, that many don’t believe. Not really. Most believe more in the traditions of man than in a heavenly war overhead.

But you go ahead – break that glass ceiling of fruitless talk about taxes, earthly status, which festivals to celebrate, and how we can save the world, with talk of a spiritual war, devilish schemes overhead and behind all fleshly oppressors, and wicked spiritual rulers (there being a hierarchy among such beings, of course), and see how fast people stop talking to you…

Nah don’t. That’s what you have me for…

Just kidding. Although, if you want to forward this blog post rather than having that discussion with a family member, feel free. It is difficult to disillusion someone to their face; I can’t hardly do it myself…

So, what to do about this battle? Let’s keep reading.

Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 

So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 

Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17 AMP

My husband pointed out that the helmet of salvation is separate from the breastplate of righteousness. That’s interesting, isn’t it. Still, without your breastplate of righteousness, you are super exposed: your heart and lungs are at risk…

If that particular verse can be expounded upon as “an upright heart”, as the Amplified Version puts it, then are we talking about “faith without works is dead” here and not Christ’s righteousness imputed for salvation? Something to consider.

If it does refer to the works produced by faith, the works He established for us to do from the beginning, then living outside of your breastplate of righteousness is a very, VERY, very dangerous place to be.

As simple as it seems, this passage reminds us that armor is necessary for entering battle – something true of any war, right? But this armor is not the armor the world gives. This armor is not your personal boundaries, your self-help slay-isms, your guide to worldly etiquette, or the street savvy you’ve earned.

Spiritual wars require spiritual armor.

Well, no manner of hoarding, knowing, or physical restraining will stop what battles overhead or what God has decreed, beginning to end. The flesh is of no use here.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

John 6:63 ESV

Indeed.

The belt of truth (integrity, courage) keeps you from being exposed – from parading like the Emperor with no clothes. (You know, that place where you think you’re cool but everyone else sees that you’re so very not? That’s it: the place of no belt of truth.) That’s what belts do: keep things in place. Our integrity, our truth-telling, likewise keeps us from embarrassing and tarnishing reputations (our own). Our witness may only be as good as our belt of truth is tight and locked in.

I enjoy that the Amplified uses the word “readiness” in describing our feet with the Gospel of peace. It reminds me of this verse:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV

And this one:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:18 ESV

We’re not here to start the war, after all; we’re already in one. So, “if possible” (and sometimes it’s not), shine those shoes… or muddy them boots… whichever metaphor suits your calling in Christ.

“Above all”:

The shield of faith,

the helmet of salvation,

and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).

Okay, saints, this is like tier 1.

If you can’t get your righteous works, integrity, and defense of the Gospel in tact, you’ve got to at least have these three on to stand against the devil in this war. He is a preying lion who shows no mercy; these three – above all – are your spiritual chainmail. I would go so far as to say that if any one of these three are missing, then you are lost kitty meat in terms of the spiritual battle we all face on earth.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

“The Lord has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:14).

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God” (John 1).

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

Like I said, these are tier 1, must-haves. In a sense, these three describe what we inherit through salvation in Christ, whereas the first three should describe some fruits of that salvation (uprightness, integrity, and peace/Gospel readiness).

But the last part of this passage is, I think, what many of us find more difficult – the actual work of the ‘struggle’:

With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.

Ephesians 6:18 AMP

Eyeyeye. How many times have we all heard someone say, “Yeah, but at some point you have to DO something. You can’t just pray…”

You’ve heard that?

I’ve heard that.

All God’s loving children have heard that.

There’s a measure of truth in it…

However, I think the real problem today is that very few of us are actually praying…

“at all times”? …

“in the Spirit”?….

Okay then, saints. We all have our homework assignment, right?

Suit up.

Pray up.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s the real fight – and it has a lot more to do with keeping us standing than with changing the world. (Spoiler: Only God can do that!)

Taking Stock (Literally)

Every few years I get curious about the origins of things in my home. I’ve taken stock and made a list at least twice before, but it’s been a few years.

The global Silk Road is no joke. How quickly our standards of living, necessities and luxuries, can disappear into thin air is also no laughing matter. What is it that Q personality says? — Where We Go 1 We Go All? Ah (the tower of Babel camaraderie is touching, isn’t it…). Well, in terms of global economy, that’s at least partly true.

As always, there were a few surprises on the list for me, though many are not surprising at all. So, without further ado, the list (in no particular order):

GF Noodles ______ Italy

Spoon Rest ______ China

Freeze Dried Coffee ______ Germany

Thermometer ______ Mexico

Brand Name Shirt ______ Cambodia

Mugs & Tumblers ______ China

Stainless Steel Pot ______ USA

Tea ______ India

Book print ______ China

Laminator ______ China

Toys ______ China

Hair Straightener ______ China

Fancy Hand Soap ______ USA

Brand Name Gloves ______ Vietnam

Notebook Print ______ Korea

Throw Pillow ______ India

Bible Print #1 (newer copy) ______ China

Bible Print #2 (newer copy) ______ China

Bible Print #3 (older copy) ______ Belgium

Bible Print #4 (older copy) ______ USA

Bible Print #5 (older copy) ______ USA

Matches ______ Chile

Boot Leather Conditioner ______ USA

Fancy Lotion ______ USA

Bird Feeder ______ China

Hemp Milk Bag ______ Thailand

Bird Cage Cleaner ______ USA

Jean Jacket ______ India

Hair Ties ______ Bangladesh

Hair Dryer ______ PRC (China)

Phone ______ China

Salt ______ Spain

Colored Pencils ______ Mexico

That concludes my random list.

It’s also interesting to note how some of these things change hands. In my prior lists, I can recall quite a few more products from Thailand and Vietnam. While I no longer have those handwritten lists to compare, it might be fun to do this again in a few years and do just that.

Also, I found it of interest that all of my newer copy Bibles were printed in China, while my older copies came from elsewhere. I do not know if this is a shift that has happened across the board or just within the set I happen to own, but it might be worth investigating… Let me know if you find the same!

I put this in the category of Something To Be Aware Of; it won’t keep me up tonight. I know some of us are already keenly aware of these wide roads and vulnerabilities (as well as the luxury of it historically), but many, and especially the younger, may not be…

Remember, the one and “different” government that will “devour the whole earth” (Daniel 7) of the end days will be one day, as scripture has foretold. Here, I just like to document the signs of the times, the bread of crumbs, leading to that point…

In many ways, just like the Pharisees with Jesus (Luke 12:56), no one will have an excuse for not forecasting the future weather… all manner of denials and delusions, but no excuse.

Gather all the more.

With love –

The Biblical Precedence of Slaughter

‘Biblical precedence’ is the fancy phrase, one sometimes hears the seminary-trained toss up and throw down in debate, that simply means That’s the way it always was in the Bible or That’s the way it was always done in the Bible, etc….

Was there ‘Biblical precedence’ for women preachers? They ask. Thus, the arguments over whether it is Junius or Junia in the list of apostles mentioned by Paul. (Well, it seems either way, someone is in hot doo-doo, if you’ll forgive the lowbrow expression: Adding or subtracting from the Bible is on the list of big no-no’s.)

But the Biblical precedence I want to toss before you today is not about women but about slaughter.

Have you ever noticed that the wicked scheme of slaughtering the innocent always preceded the major supernatural deliverances and D/deliverers?

Right away, if one has been reared in church, two deliverers come to mind: Moses and Jesus. They are often called ‘deliverers’ and both brought deliverance to their people (and Jesus to all people) in one way or another.

Think about it. Moses is born at the time when Pharaoh decides he has too many Hebrew slaves on his hands (and especially strong men). Pharaoh decides it’s time for a purge. Exodus 1 reads:

15 Then the king of Egypt told the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth, look at the child when you deliver it. If it’s a boy, kill it, but if it’s a girl, let it live.”

17 However, the midwives feared God and didn’t obey the king of Egypt’s orders. They let the boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives. He asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women. They are so healthy that they have their babies before a midwife arrives.”

20 God was good to the midwives. So the people increased in number and became very strong. 21 Because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people to throw into the Nile every ⌞Hebrew⌟ boy that was born, but to let every girl live.

Moses, born during this time, is hidden away by his adoring parents for 3 months (Exodus 2), but they eventually have to come up with another plan. So the mother puts him in a basket of papyrus covered in tar and pitch and sends the infant down the Nile.

I know. Every mother clutches her heart about there. Can you even imagine?

Ironically, Pharaoh’s daughter finds Moses in the basket and falls in love and ends up rearing him as her own. Then, Moses grows up to be the deliverer who sets his people free from slavery under the Pharaoh, by God’s hands.

Later in the history, comes Jesus. This time, it seems the Romans are in charge of the world, and King Herod catches wind of another king being born.

What’s this?

Another king!

I’m king! he says.

So, all children under two are slaughtered in a surprise attack —

Only — Surprise! — God has already warned Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, in a dream, so they escape to Egypt (ironically) before the slaughter begins.

Jesus grows up. He is the Deliverer — THE Deliverer –– the one everyone has been waiting for: the Messiah. He brings spiritual deliverance to any who will receive Him. Oh, and what a deliverance it is! — Enough to warrant a New Covenant!

Now, that’s news, good news… but speaking of slaughters….

Today’s Slaughter

Innocent children have been slaughtered for the past 50 years (in our nation, if not world ’round)…

My view may not be a popular one, but I’ve heard a lot of talk about how maybe, just maybe, our nation is turning: Roe vs. Wade being the proposed sign of such a turn.

I very much doubt it.

I’ll be thankful if it is overturned — and good riddance too. The unpopular bit is that I doubt it’s a sign of a heart change in our nation. Whom, for abortion, has changed their mind? Whom, against abortion, has changed? Perhaps, the balance of perceived power has shifted in the Supreme Court, but… from a sociological perspective, I only see the light and dark polarizing further, not coming into agreement.

I’ve been thinking about this slaughter / deliverance thing… and I surmise that it is no different than Pharaoh or King Herod’s edict: that is, I don’t think abortion will stop due to anyone’s good-hearted change of heart.

It will stop when and if it has outlasted its estimated purpose (the wicked’s scheme).

I said it.

You might think that’s reaching until you learn that the Roe in Roe was against abortion. So, you tell me how that makes sense… unless the powers-that-be wanted it.

Which brings us to the next question: What was its purpose? Whom were the wicked and powerful intending to stop from growing this time around?

Because, you can be sure, there was a purpose. There was an idea of someone they meant to stop. Or something they meant to accomplish by the ‘freedom’.

Two witnesses, perhaps?

(If it’s not Elijah and Moses, or Israel and the Church, as some have speculated…)

A specific demographic that was breeding at too fast a pace?

Or for the purpose of the Georgia Guidestones’ mission statement?

(They don’t need abortion now, remember; there’s bio-weapons at play.)

Or is it just more theater? — Meant to point towards a Luciferian ‘savior’, perhaps?

Of course, a Deliverer IS returning; but there’s no stopping Him, and I think they know that… so it had to be something else.

Whatever the case, “…look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).

But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Deuteronomy 30:14

Moses nor Jesus appeared on the scene right away after the innocent slaughter. They were both babes at the time of slaughter. So it may be that this is just one more thing to tuck away in your heart and back pocket —

Like “the days of Noah” bit (Matthew 24:37)…

Besides the things Jesus said about it, you do realize that a literal to-spec Noah’s ark has been built in our day? If that doesn’t raise your eyebrows, I’ll be back with duck-tape later to raise them myself…

I just want to make you think outside of the mainstream (and highly propagandized) narratives.

Jaded Much?

That’s some dark speculation, Rose.

Is it?

There’s certainly Biblical precedence for it…

I’m just saying. You’ll have to concede that much anyway. 😉

Kings don’t just come out and say “kill the babies” these days; they have to be more ‘civilized’ about it. They’ve figured out semantics and whitewashing work even better. Why should they do the dirty work if they can get you to kill your own? Nothing has changed. Your world is not more civilized than theirs, friend. That is an illusion.

Anyway. Rejoice if they overturn that unspeakable terror against the unborn; I’ll be happy with you…

But don’t be naive. If it’s overturned, it’s because they have found other means to accomplish their wicked schemes now. You can count on that.

I think some Christians take issue with the word ‘wicked’ being used as a label, but let me tell you, there’s Biblical precedence for that too, friend. The wicked and the fool, neither are your average lost citizen…

And the righteous still rejoice when the wicked perish — and when wicked laws are struck down. That doesn’t change unless you join the wicked in their schemes. Selah.

Stay sane and sober, saints.

Enticing Illusions & Dreams

He was sleeping around and, to be honest, I’m not even sure the women wanted to be there. I was visiting but did not know what I had gotten myself into, as I observed the scene unfolding in the basement…

An old man lived upstairs. He had a long, pointed beard of white and was frail and he made a good deal of noise upstairs bumbling around. The young man in the basement, whom I knew in appearance but not in spirit, was frustrated with the old man and grew angry. It wasn’t long before he decided to take a hatchet and go upstairs to do the old man in; and that’s what he did – to everyone’s horror.

I ran outside and fell backwards into the snowy landscape, frantically seeking a way of escape, frantically asking God for a way out, but there seemed to be none.

That was a spiritual alarm, a dream of warning I had concerning an acquaintance the other night. I have prayed for that young man who killed the man upstairs (You catch my drift?) because he was enticed by illusions of the grandeur of strength and life and his own intellect. I pray that he does not make himself god, as he did in the dream; I pray that Jesus breaks his legs and brings him home…

Broken legs are better than a lost soul, friend.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

James 2:19

Do you tremble?

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; only believe,” to a man who sought his daughter’s healing (Mark 5:36).

Jesus also said, “And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Even the thief’s belief at the cross was accompanied by a cross, wasn’t it. There comes a point in every believer’s life when belief must be accompanied by a cross — the dying to ourselves and living unto God, in deed and not in word only. In spirit and in truth and not only with lips from afar… still living in the baseness (or the basement) of the world.

I had another dream recently and in it some unknown woman was telling me and a small gathered crowd: “Oh, I believe in God and Jesus; I just don’t worry about morals because, you know, everyone struggles with sinning.”

Her words sounded so nice in the dream. I even followed to hear her for a moment…

In the very next moment, in good dream-scene-shuffling fashion, I was on the verge of adultery with a man I dearly love as a brother. I cannot tell you how that hurt my heart – both in the dream and after.

But I can tell you that the dream was correct in that the unknown woman’s philosophy of life leads exactly there:

That is belief without a cross, which always makes worse-than-demons out of men and women.

a belief that does not tremble is no belief at all, and trembling that does not endure in deed is lip-service alone.

When I woke, I knew the name of the woman leading any who would listen astray in the dream: Her name is Jezebel – as it has always been. Her words make us worse than demons because mankind was created in God’s image; angels were not. Thus, isn’t our fall far more significant, tragic, and deadly?

Crosses

For certain, Jesus wasn’t talking about a lightweight precious metal and gemstone cross around your neck.

For certain, Jesus also wasn’t talking about the dead weight of the Old Covenant either.

So what was He talking about? What cross? Didn’t Jesus die on the cross for us so that we don’t have to? – Isn’t that how most hirelings and more than a few good preachers put it?

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

How could Jesus say “Pick up your cross” and “My burden is light”?

Wooden crosses are not light. Burdens, generally, are not light either. In fact, I would say that carrying the Gospel is a heavy burden, a weighty burden; it does not come easily or lightly for all. In deed, for many it comes at great personal cost. Perhaps it’s that we don’t take “I am crucified with Christ” as literally as we should (Gal. 2:20)…

For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it?

Luke 14:28 AMP

Well, there’s little need for commentary on this one. Let’s sit at Jesus’ feet. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, beloved.

Luke 14 (Amplified version):

15When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

16But Jesus said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many guests;17and at the dinner hour he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is ready now.’ 18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have purchased a piece of land and I have to go out and see it; please consider me excused.’ 19Another one said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20And another said, ‘I have [recently] married a wife, and for that reason I am unable to come.’ 21So the servant came back and reported this to his master. Then [his master,] the head of the household, became angry [at the rejections of his invitation] and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and the disabled and the blind and the lame.’ 22And the servant [after returning] said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled [with guests]. 24For I tell you, not one of those who were invited [and declined] will taste my dinner.’”

25Now large crowds were going along with Jesus; and He turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to Me, and does not [c]hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]–he cannot be My disciple. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow after Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] cannot be My disciple. 28For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is unable to finish [the building], all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ 31Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one who is coming against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else [if he feels he is not powerful enough], while the other [king] is still a far distance away, he sends an envoy and asks for terms of peace. 33So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] [d]give up all his own possessions.

34“Therefore, salt is good; but if salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words.”

Dreams

Truth be told, I’ve spent too much time considering and even mourning the costliness of that cross – partly in experiencing it and partly in perceiving it from afar in its various forms. I have no illusions of ease, though I have many times been enticed to follow after my own flesh (base, mortal, earthly desires) instead.

The frightening thing about the parable of the dinner guests is the fact that none of the guests gave poor excuses by our estimation:

A new wife? Well, that makes sense; of course, you’re excused!

A new piece of real estate? Wow! Well, go get ’em tiger!

A new set of hooves? Yep. Better test that out; make sure you got a good deal!

Do you see what I mean? These guests weren’t saying:

Nah; just don’t feel like it tonight.

Nah; I’m binging Netflix right now.

Sorry, God; you know I’ve got these health issues right now…

No, Jesus gave us the real grit of life, the real stuff that comes between us and His call to follow Him – real responsibilities, real obligations, real reputations to keep up.

And that is where trembling begins for me because I know how very real and how very easily these excuses come to us all.

(Of course, that parable is likely an analogy of Israel’s invitation and the Gentiles’ calling in, but many such things in the Bible are cautionary tales that well serve us personally too, if we hear and apply them.)

But what about the illusory and enticing excuses of life, friend? What do you do with those? Are they crucified with Christ, surrendered up to Him, or do you bottle feed them like a mourning woman with a motherless calf? –

If only,

If only,

Just only,

It’s only just,

Only if mine.

What’s an illusory and enticing excuse? How about –

I would, if my husband would. (Passing the buck.)

I’m tired of fighting; isn’t love what it’s all about anyway? (Conceding to culture: the approval of man.)

They’re hypocrites; I’m going to do it the right way. (Pride before the fall.)

You know that hurt me, God; did You send this temptation on purpose to hurt me? (Passing the buck again. God does not tempt us; we are led astray by our own desires.)

But that’s not fair, just, kind, etc… ; if that’s God’s idea of those things, then… (Making an idol of your own intellect, senses, etc…)

Oh, woman… If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, it’s because I do. And I know the sting of it at the illusion’s end.

Dreams have been part of my personal journey, for better and worse. I consider them a blessing, though they just as often prove a burden. Well, as a friend here likes to say, let me worry about that: You do what God called you to do –

And beware Jezebel. She’s alive and well.

Sanctification Splish Splash

Plaque happens.

Maybe it’s just on my mind because I’m overdue for a dental appointment, but a sort of worldly mental plaque happens too if one is living and breathing in this world.

Time for a bath — splish, splash!

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Psalm 138:8

When my faith falls face first into cowardice: He will perfect that which concerns me.

When things don’t go as planned: He will perfect that which concerns me.

When others abuse or distort my words: He will perfect that which concerns me.

When I have died to all I once hoped: He will perfect that which concerns me.

When the tears of youth become aged dry bones: He will perfect that which concerns me.

When no one else sees or cares or can help: He will perfect that which concerns me.

As many died without seeing the Promised Seed: He perfects that which concerns us.

As many former hopes became God’s patience towards us: He perfects that which concerns us.

Because “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen”: He perfects that which concerns us.

Any time I’ve been confronted with fears and tears over the past few weeks, when I notice the mental plaque starting to harden and reaching like a stalactite for my heart, I’ve thrown that sudsy verse up on my head and worked it to a lather, as other verses follow and the Holy Spirit gently rains down… or springs up… whichever you prefer. 😉

Either way, it’s the splish splash that I’ve needed…

Will He perfect that which concerns you?

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

John 15:3

…that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…

Ephesians 5:26

Electronic Trees of Knowledge

It’s overwhelming, like a cluttered hoarder’s room, this barrage of information, the downspout satellites of truths flowing from these veritable electronic trees of the knowledge of good and evil. I guess I’ve always sympathized with Pilot’s question because I’ve felt its weight on many occasions myself…

What is truth?

John 18:38

I’ve heard there is a growing movement of people trading smart phones for ‘dumb’ ones, and I would be among them were we not so entangled already for reasons that need not bog down this post. Nonetheless, I understand and sympathize with the sentiment. The electronic tree of knowledge keeps giving; the fruit of it is unending, dripping down our chins, staining hearts, then hands, and, soon, feet…

Out of the same mouth so many declare that they know they aren’t God, while also crying out that no one can judge them. Is it tragedy or comedy?

If you cannot be judged, you have elevated yourself to god-like status.

“only god can judge me”? he has and does and will, friend. count on it.

In front of Pilot, as he asked what was truth, stood Jesus. Many focus on Jesus’ silences before accusers, but let’s remember that Jesus had already spoken truth to Pilot, answering his questions prior to this question laced with measured hopelessness: “What is truth?” There was no need for Jesus to answer it again (as was also true in prior cases). Jesus’ entire life had already answered His accusers, whether they chose (or were chosen) to see it…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Canceling Me

Making more of Jesus in my life requires canceling more of me… and the world. I have lost much of a childlike faith. I’ve lost it in the noise of knowing more, being more aware, being that thing called smarter, wiser, and informed. Well, in truth, I’ve lost it in debate with every side of an argument and double-mindedness on every issue. I’ve lost it in the folds of Pilot’s garments: What is truth? On what shall I stake my life?

No one realizes these things aloud in real time, of course. These are hard-earned and retrospective disappointments. That is, don’t pat yourself on the back too soon or too loudly… I suppose we all think we know it in the moment.

I think we admire the children’s faith because as adults we transgress by trusting God for salvation but squeezing Him out of everything else (intentionally or unintentionally).

Academics and skills, talents or appearances take the place of faith;

commonsense-ness and practicalities, work or politics, take the place of praise;

digesting inordinate amounts of information, wheeling and dealing and grasping, to stay informed and, hopefully, make better decisions, takes the place of prayer;

money, attention, growth, and accolades replace the adoration of the Creator with affection for the world.

I’ve stood with Pilot and with Peter in many denials — and that as a pauper and failure in the world’s (if not my own friends’) eyes! How much harder it must be for the powerful caesars and famed socialites…

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 17:17

And I have been judged by His words.

Better now than later, friend.

God has canceled my efforts as vain on more than one occasion. He has that right, and He was right every time. I count myself among the blessed to have seen His spiritual handiwork, even when I could not see His hands.

Life

Learning lessons, like gathering knowledge, is not the point of life. Personally, I find anyone making it to the ripe old age of 40 — ehhem, cough — and claiming no regrets a liar or short-sighted (since there is no perfect person). I would take back every sin, every time I didn’t listen to my Father in heaven, if I could: Those life lessons did not benefit me; they robbed me, as that is the devil’s intent, you know…

Tell me, wise one, did any of the Patriarch’s ‘mistakes’, life lessons, sins benefit them? Or did they stand under judgment?

Moses lost entrance to the promised land after many years of faithful service;

King David lost one son to death and another to rebellion, even as a man of God’s own heart;

Solomon, the wisest we are told, may well have lost his soul after building the house of God;

Judas very likely lost his soul and that after walking with, sitting with, eating with, and fellowshipping with the Messiah.

How glibly we treat our own sins today. It’s as if we’ve never known the truth or His words…

Have we minimized our sins by highlighting ‘lessons’?

that’s called whitewashing, dear one.

Truly, when were you last confronted by your own sins before a holy God and, found wanting, in the posture of repentance before Him?

Electric Life

My heart and mind are heavy with the endless assaults of whitewashing, the constant drip of self-glorifying knowledge, shameless pursuits of glory and self-adoration and justification, ceaseless evils, argument after counter-argument, gathering of information without conclusions, and untold follies held, like a piece of fruit, from the tree in my hand.

I was not made an Atlas. Neither were you, if we’re going to be naked and admit to the fig leaves… Most days, it is too much. My days have enough trouble of their own.

Oh, but some would wield that tree of power for good!

I know… Well, I know how many take that path. I am choosing today to walk away from that path. It never seems to play out any better than Frodo and Sméagol wrestling over the fires of Mount Doom; I have seen many tumble from there into regrettable fates.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Timothy 6:10

I think we can safely replace “love of money” with love of anything more than God and arrive at the same point. Our hearts are deceitful; that’s why we don’t follow them.

I have stood in the line-up, experienced being the last pick, embarrassed myself royally, and watched keenly over the years what befalls those who were picked first, succeeded, and won the accolades of men; I understand how privilege and circumstance, resources and opportunities bested me; I have walked the avenues of hoping, striving, humbling, being angry, depressed, withdrawn in despair and outspoken with criticisms, and I have observed and listened to the reactions, responses, and less careful judgments of my own pained maneuvers.

And I have seen how the mighty fall:

First a gift,

Then a skill,

What a talent!

First comes thankfulness,

Then comes accomplishment,

Soon after, pride.

But this is not the end of the bite:

First heralded prayers,

Then declared callings,

Now, the tasseled and tittled deference:

First me then you —

I paid my dues!

Now you must too.

First secret knowledge,

Then the preference for agreement;

Soon, the whips…

First every criticism comes ‘in the wrong spirit’,

Next every criticism is the failure of ‘haters’;

Soon, every criticism dismissed.

The house of cards is stacked high now:

First, you must forgive my slips,

Then, you must ‘heal yourself’;

Soon, the healthy abuse the sick —

Their sickness is their own fault, after all…

The lies slide easy down the backside of truth.

First the talent,

Then the accolades,

Then the addiction.

First the heartfelt mission,

Then the sideways angles,

Then the deceitful heart takes over, full throttle.

The story of every first begins and ends with pride; very few escape this pattern in repentance. Very few want to be last in this world… and, having known the sting of it, I quite understand. But I also know what it is to fall down; we all do.

Nonetheless, my heart aches over all of the sheep being abused by false shepherds, all of the sheep being misled and tricked by the wolves of the world, all of the sheep I find who have no pastor or leader. Watching the mighty fall in person is hard enough. Watching it on endless repeat online is near torture. Many also fall away into various temptations…

My heart aches over the despairing depravity of the world. Listening to Johnny Depp’s testimony on trial recently was one of the most gut-twisting things I’ve ever heard. We consume so much entertainment while laughing at the slighting of morals, the twisting of behaviors, the strange horror of artistic tragedies, too often neglecting to remember that these ideas, visions, and behaviors betray what is ‘normal’ to the world — most of which should be considered devastating in its hopelessness. Instead, we put lost men on pedestals and forget that they too have a soul for which they must give account one day — many without hope.

I watch the misled gobble it all up, like pigs to the slop, and my heart hurts… And, in some ways, it is a sadness over my own failures here too. Fame has crafted many millstones…

And we all have front row tickets to the spectacle via these electronic trees of knowledge:

Weaker

Shortly, I will heavily neglect (if not close) all of my social media accounts. Unlike the rest of the world, I don’t believe our future is made or broken there…

Likely, I will keep this blog and a small newsletter I send out. I will also continue to work on fiction novellas and novels at home…

These things, my marriage and my children, are more than enough to keep me busy and on my knees.

Yes, I will miss the encouragements I have found online. If we go with the tool analogy, it isn’t all bad. I enjoy seeing my friends and family. I enjoy happy little posts of home and hearth. I will miss these things and, especially, those with whom I’ve worked or been acquainted with in the past whose paths aren’t likely to cross mine again in this mortal world: I will miss the little high fives and hellos from you all.

This retreat is for me, an understanding of what I can and cannot handle — much like the unfriending of some in the past has been for me (not something they did). I feel too deeply, think too deeply, and wander too deeply over such things to run a race while feeling, thinking, and tripping over the whole world’s purview: My own physical terrain is quite enough. If that makes me the weaker vessel, so be it.

I’ll miss the extra photo outlet too, but is that worth remaining online? Not for me… not if I want to reclaim that childlike faith. I find it’s better in life not to know every person’s every thought every day; that alone can be a real hindrance to brotherly love among saints and a hindrance to ministry among the lost. We can all admit that some present as more lovable/salvageable/reasonable than others, eh? We can all admit to speaking carelessly at some point. Still —

If I assume your thoughts (about me), that will change how I behave around you (and vice-versa).

i assume we all know that by now; none of us are online newbs today.

My favorite time of adulthood thus far has been during my past sabbatical from social media… truly. Some of my favorite friendships were formed on the ground there.

Social media and the news flow are inseparable these days (my own posts are proof of that). While, no doubt, I’ll still hear the news, it’ll be on my terms of when and where and how. I am as fascinated as disgusted by the social sphere (hence, a sociology degree). My pitfall isn’t one of entertainment (movies, TV, etc…): I’d far rather watch the news… because, at least, it’s real(ish).

Truly, this retreat is about me.

Illusions of Appearances

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

There are endless standards by which we are all assessed and seen for our appearances — and illusions thereof — online and offline. No matter how good the standard, it is still in the image of the hollow and shallow when it dismisses, denies, or remains blind to what God sees (both good and bad). As none of us see fully as He does, how much more must we remember to be gracious, careful, and deferring to God in all of our judgments of other people’s logs or specks, while remembering that we will all answer to God.

In person, I find this easier to do. Online, it becomes more difficult because we know too much… On the standard of appearances, your sins are as obvious to me as mine are to you. Scary, isn’t it?

For all of our Christian talk of discernment, we more often judge by mortal means. If you’re not sure about that, consider a judgment held against someone; now, consider the reasons you believe that. Are your reasons physical and visible or spiritual and unseen?

Don’t get me wrong: Folly proves itself, as wisdom proves itself. Eventually, all is laid bare. But I speak of the cuffed ordinances of man — that is, the generalized conclusions we draw based on appearances. (Appearances, here, standing in for a slough of evidences, from tangible hair color to visible ideas of ‘excellence’, etc…)

We are none of us what we seem, until standing naked before the Creator.

only then do we recognize the folly of fig leaves.

My general conclusion is that these veritable trees of knowledge do not serve us well. God knew what He was doing when He forbade eating that fruit…

Until we meet again.

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…”

John 6:66-68

Put Your Finger Here

The hardness of the ground, dotted with half-buried pebbles, seems so certain beneath my boots — without give, without doubt, without mercy. As the sun sweetly smacks my cheek and cracks my face open into a smile, that same old toying wind winds its way in one ear and out the other: What if you’re wrong?

I know the Bible says that Jesus was “tempted in every way” common to mankind, yet it’s hard to imagine this one. Was He ever tempted to doubt that His Father existed? Was He ever tempted to forget His origins, His eternal beginnings? It seems common enough, but that’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

But not so hard for me; I’ve been there. Wasn’t it just yesterday?

Distinction Not Separation

Christianity deals in a lot of abstract ideals. Whether we’re talking about praise as warfare, prayer as power, faith as righteousness, or the inner man being renewed as our outer man perishes — make no mistake: Christianity is a heady faith. “Only believe,” Jesus said (Mark 5:36). And, often, those who’ve learned to salt and slay with these abstract mono-isms oversimplify the spiritual and speak in pharisaical lines between the spirit and the flesh.

Have you noticed the shift in the media-airs recently? (Hang with me. We’ll tie this all together in my abstractly concrete way.) Oh, it’s so familiar… like gaslighting the masses. It’s so great — from a purely sociological standpoint. Worthy of observation in the future textbooks, surely. Suddenly, as if out of thin air, even the ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ are crying foul on all sorts of things that republicans and others have been screaming about for a year already…

We’re tired of the pandemic too, the democrats wane into whining… (As if one can simply decide such things with a virus; you can’t, of course — unless it’s been a charade all along. Oh my. [Real illness; a charade of handling, I mean.])

We made a mistake with Biden, some now admit… (There’s rumors of all sorts of ways they might disappear him out of the way [of approval ratings] floating about now.)

I’ve heard the “legacy media” has even reported one or two things accurately lately… (Well, I am biased; full admission here. Call it ‘expert’ issues if you want, but there’s more evidence in favor of my view — mankind being generally wicked no matter his alphabet soup knowledge — than there is in the terrible, no good, very bad belief that people — and especially smart people — are basically good… Jolly Jupiter just rolled my eyes back down to me; thanks, Jove!)

The useful social abstractions used to sell these former things have lost their usefulness, apparently.

Salt and slay-speak loses something when one finds themselves walking across brutally hard ground.

When you refuse an operation and opt for faith and someone still dies, the abstract falls apart like me trying to do a card trick.

When you shun the very idea of divorce and embrace the hard shards of showing mercy and, later, still end up betrayed and divorced, the abstract provides the poison now linked to your body like an I.V. by the embedded shards.

When you choose to rejoice and get your praise on because you think the rapture is coming ANY. SECOND. NOW., and, suddenly, the media be gaslighting you like there will be a tomorrow after all, the abstract begins to disintegrate your faith because YOU. WERE. CERTAIN… weren’t you?

When you dance and praise and shout down the heavens, name and proclaim and declare all that your heart desires to see, and the hard pavement of Monday morning slaps you back down to mortal size the next day, the abstract suddenly looks silly in retrospect; you wonder what you were thinking, really…

The ground is so hard here that it makes a hard thunk under my boots as I wear a circle around our local playground. It seems so sure a foundation — no give, no doubt, no mercy. If I keep walking, it will still be there beneath my feet; if I give up and lay down upon it, it will still be there with me too; if I begrudge it and fly away to the moon, I’ll still never forget the first time I fell hard against it, robbed of air.

I smile.

I’ve been here before, remember…

And I remember that the physical world is only distinct from the spiritual one, but it is not separate from it.

If I trace the physical roots of the earth back far enough, I soon encounter the abstract absolute: Nothing exits apart from Him, our Creator.

Am I mud or breath? Rib or spirit?

Are we not both?

Whether within the abstracts of worship or the definite of a hike, God’s world and word does not change. And neither does our bodily connection to eternal things.

By faith we understand that the world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible.

Hebrews 11:3

But if that which is seen was made from that which is unseen, then that which is unseen is the greater.

Son of God & Son of Man

Too often we let what we see, the hard certainties of our earthly existence, spoil, deny, or distort what God has told us about His kingdom and our being in Him.

…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

Acts 17:28

Nonetheless, it is true that some take this connection and run violently.

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.

Matthew 11:12

There are differing views on this verse, but I’ve seen enough of spiritually-askew folks to be convinced that it holds a negative connotation (as some suggest). Violent people raid spiritual principles for their own glory and purposes. It makes them a lot of money; it increases their fame. But it is a form of violence against God — is it not?

You cannot separate the physical from the spiritual, though they are distinct from one another. But there is only One Name by which mankind can be saved. That name is Jesus — not spirituality, social justice, signs or wonders, doctrine, safety first, happiness, excellence, peace and affluence, comfortability, a way that seems right to me, the right politics, the right clothing, the right-speak, universal transcendence, government programs, churchianity, the right worldview, your personal pronouns, or by doing as your told (or not).

Only one name: JESUS.

And only one way: FAITH.

The Offspring of God made flesh. Might we say the Spirit clothed in Flesh? The God-man: distinct but not separate the Son of God and the Son of Man.

Salting the Body

For some time, my own growth was stunted beneath the belief that the physical and spiritual worlds were separate things under the premise of Paul’s talks concerning the flesh and the spirit. That is not how he argued it, but that is how I heard it.

You are either of the flesh or of the spirit, I heard, but only under perfect conditions do both ever align…

Sounds like a cool New Age-ism to me. They’ll teach you that you’re only a few mindful breaths and held poses away from this meaningful connection. Well, in short, they’ll tell you there are ways other than faith in Jesus to accomplish such body-soul alignments — right? (I know I’m right; I’ve heard their rhetoric.)

Anyone who has been to a chiropractor knows the value of a good alignment.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

When dealing in abstracts it’s too easy to fall, like a trapeze artist, into the snare of mental ascent. This is made easier by our American lifestyles and freedoms thus far.

Everything is awesome and you could be awesome too if you’d just salt and slay like me.

– Every mid-to-upper class christian with a sense of earned accomplishment ever

If she look the right way, then she’ll know the right things…

Jackie Hill Perry, Educated Fool

But the truth is that, as God’s child, in Christ, you are already a new creation. Is this not for your spirit, soul, and body?

By the spirit, you’ve been “seated with Christ in heaven” (Eph. 2:6)…

By the spirit, “your flesh was crucified” (Gal. 5:24)…

By the spirit, your life is “now hidden with Christ” (Col. 3:3)…

If you are in Christ, dear one, you’ve already been re-aligned. If you’re waiting on anything it’s that “reasonable service” part quoted above in Romans 1.

God bless the day I realized that flesh and spirit were distinct but not separated in service unto God! That is the day that I found just as much joy in helping a child with spelling as I did in the spiritual ecstasy of alone time; the same day I discovered as much grace in my eating habits as in my praise habits; the same blessed day that I realized God loved me no less when I stared out of my kitchen window crying tears with the rain than when I was on my knees in prayer, dancing to retro tunes with my children, or dutifully taking lunch to my husband.

Present your bodies… as holy and acceptable gifts upon the altar of faith.

When we deal only in abstracts, we tend to 1) neglect bodily matters such as self-discipline or 2) pretend we have no sin by whitewashing everything.

When we deal only in fleshly affairs, we tend to 1) deny the spiritual and unseen or 2) find ways to abuse the spiritual (and fleshly) for our purposes.

Neither is pretty in the end. Neither is faith in Christ.

Northern air is dry. Insanely dry. I repotted my oxalis and left it by the window this winter, but the dirt was soon as hard as rock and my plant shriveled and died.

I keep interchanging my finger between the wind of social currents and the Word of God to discern what is the season. That air is dry too; it’s like a dead lead. The Word of God is hard, line upon line; sometimes I shrivel and my heart falls as dead when He speaks.

“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to [another] people who will produce the fruit of it. And he who falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces; but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was talking about them.

Matthew 21:23-25

You will fall upon this hard earth or fall upon the Stone: either way, there will be pain…

But how much better to be broken and remade by the Master than to declare oneself a king upon this hard, unmerciful earth!

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

hebrews 4:14-16

Eleven little baby oxalis shoots now wave their wee tri-folded heads towards the evening sun as it drenches through the west-facing window of my dining room. They weren’t there before; I couldn’t see them beneath the hardened dirt. Still, they rose.

How can something so simple, so fragile, just doing what it was made to do bring me so much joy? I think I love this plant most for its very sensitive alignment towards the sun. No matter which way I turn the pot, the shoots align themselves towards the sun.

No matter which way the world’s affairs turn, we should align ourselves with the Son.

The social current, like the pot, is moot really. We come, we go, as spiritually-driven physical contractions befall the world, up and down — but increasing in intensity and timing. Still, one thing remains: We’ve already sold it all — remember? — to secure that treasure hidden in a field…

Is it abstract or concrete?

Yes.

Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:27

I Can Save The World With A Single Word, A Single Word…

The first time I heard and saw Flobots’ Handlebars, years ago, left me breathless (both videos) in the audio-wake of its perfect social commentary. Because it’s hard to see the children of yesterday or today as present-day terrorists, conspirators, and world despots. Because we want to believe the best of them — even the ones who began by boasting that they “could ride a bike with no handlebars”. The singing commentary leads you through the progression — from handlebars to holocaust — and tramples your heart and best beliefs in the process. But it hurts because it’s all true.

Do you ever sit and hang your head and wonder how to stop the world from being torn apart in modern-day colliders built by men rooted to wickedness — their money-eyed green leaves flashing their successes at the top like shady towers overhead? How often have you wished to scoop up those left out in the cold beneath the limbs of their warfare?

The more I learn, the more I find my own head in my hands and my own heart bent over in prayer: God… help us. How I would end corruption, exposing all the works of wickedness. How much I desire to heal the hurting, to be there before every suicide, before every killing, to plug the holes with my own fingers and set back time; to hug the lost and pull them away from the edge; to provide for the orphan and widow. How much and how many of us wish we could love the whole world beyond its hurts? The world is bleeding out in every direction addicted to cutting.

Even in my desire to fix the world, and especially in the despair of feeling it is beyond fixing, I return to God’s own heart in remembrance:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Matthew 23:37

He could heal the world with a single word… but some loved darkness more than light (John 3). Jesus is that Word.

Christ’s work could have accomplished all of these things. His quest was in love, through love, by Love’s command; His goal was the way of reconciliation for mankind to their Creator… but they would not.

If Christ’s perfect work and mission was rejected by many, we must know that even our noblest imperfect works will be ridiculed and rejected as well. The world is a big place. There are a thousand noble missions worth the doing and, once done, a thousand more appear in their place.

The GREATEST work, however, was already done on behalf of this world, on behalf of every soul. And the One “necessary” thing won’t be taken from anyone gathering beneath His wings now (Luke 10:42)… but we can’t save the world.

Jesus already tried that.

Some refuse to be saved by His way. Was it any different in Noah’s day?

Let me say it again: We cannot save the world.

But we can gather.

All the more.

As we see the day drawing near…

There are things to do (read your Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth text), but anyone under the impression that the world can be saved has forgotten that God already tried that — and if they would not all gather unto Him, do you really think you can save the world with your optimistic, declarative, or pacifying words? Not a chance.

I can save the world with a single word, a single Word… but it would not be saved. Call it fate or free will but that’s our reality. From a single command to a single Sacrifice, Eden’s garden to the midnight garden, all of this time passed is the Creator’s patience… and oh what patience!

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!

For what good is the day of the Lord to you?

It will be darkness, and not light.

It will be as though a man fled from a lion,

And a bear met him!

Or as though he went into the house,

Leaned his hand on the wall,

And a serpent bit him!

Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?

Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?

Amos 5:18-20

And oh what terror (for some) and glory (for others) awaits when that patience ends…

Therefore, be sober and alert. There won’t be handlebars where we’re headed.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.


James 1:27