How The Grinch Learned God’s Will

Every Who up in Your Town liked God’s will a lot.

But the Grinch who lived south of Your Town did not!

It could be, perhaps, that he thunk he missed God’s will for his life.

It could be, perhaps, that he knew he couldn’t please God just right.

But I think, perhaps, the biggest reason of all,

May have been that the Grinch thought God’s will was too small.

“They say that it’s perfect,” he pouted, pouring cider.

“If it’s perfect, I’m a blunder,” he said none-the-lighter.

Drawing by Eastley

“Tonight at the church they’ll light candles and sing,

But even if I joined them, I’d be a miserable thing.”

Yes, for forty-three years he had tried, tried, tried,

But he’d messed up his life – on the very first try!

He once had the idea that God called him ‘special’;

That was back before the world made him so small.

So, the Grinch he moved south and called everyone a liar.

All God had done for him was save his soul from the fire?

Drawing by Eastley

He did thunk he’d messed up God’s will for his life.

He thunk it and thunk it, until late in the night –

One night he rethunk it and said, “It’s not right;

It’s not right to go down without more of a fight!”

So, the Grinch stuffed all his reasons down into his stockings,

Then he hung upside-down to shake out all his be-longings.

Drawing by Eastley

“I’ll shake out my reasons, the things I’ve been told;

Then I’ll ask God the truth – Yes, I will be so bold!”

He shook and he shook and he shook them all out.

Then frowning he said, “What have I been so upset about?”

“Jesus is the ‘Special’, the one Who who gets glory;

His will is that I love Him and thank Him – Can that be the right story?”

He looked at the cover and checked over the Book:

Yes, the story seemed clear, after another look.

Drawing by Wren

What was every Who called to? –

Well, faith, hope, and love!

What was the will of God for him? –

To put his faith high above –

Above all of his reasons, his stuffings, their lies;

Above all of his messes, his cries and his tries.

Above what people said he should do with his life;

Yes, above his own lost dreams – the cause of his strife.

The Grinch’s smile grew larger: Could this be the truth?

Why, this burden was lighter – far lighter than Babe Ruth!

“This is a truth,” sang the Grinch, “that all Who’s must hear!

I will start in Your Town; I will start with Who’s near!”

“It comes without pretense! Without money! Without fame!

It comes without book smarts, or street smarts, or shame!”

“It comes to the near ones and it comes to the far!

It comes by God’s mercy, like the Bethlehem star!”

“It comes to the hungry, the willing, the bold…

And,” he said softly, “It even comes to the old.”

Yes, he told all the Who’s in Your Town, who say,

All appeared brighter on that Christmas day.

God’s will, the Grinch thought, doesn’t envy the world’s stores;

God’s will, perhaps, means something greater and more…

Drawing by Wren

***

*Inspired by How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Suess

How the Grinch Learned God’s Will, written by Ambassador Rose

Spiritual Travelogue: Why Leave That?

A spiritual travelogue defines my blogs (past and present) best. They have been much like a journal of my personal spiritual experiences, encounters, and thoughts, and there are some to whom I’m connected who have witnessed it all — to some degree.

A friend once intimated that she was terrified to share anything with me lest it end up on social media. I understand; that is often, I hear, the plight of the writer’s circle of acquaintances. Even so, I’ve often wondered how such silences or omissions benefit us:

I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes.

Acts 20:20

It is true that I may get it wrong; I may get you wrong. But then:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Matthew 5:11

How then, does dishonesty or aversion serve the Body of Christ?

Nevertheless, I have learned to be grateful for some silences, for the writer’s fears are not unlike the writer’s friends’ own. I have flayed my heart, time and time again, over and over, in putrid immaturity and in flashes of light: Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17) AND Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23). These words to the same disciple; bless him…

I too fear what you’ll say when I’m not in my right mind:

For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

I never know who reads my words, who hears them, who distorts them, who dismisses them, who mocks them, who ever sees them. Even my husband will confess that he does not read all (or most) of my posts. Indeed, he has missed entire blogs. So, I make no assumptions about audience here, which is why I continue to say that I am an equal-opportunity offender.

I am not writing to please any one group. That is not my goal.

The Travelogue Continues…

We come as Your children…” (Sons & Daughters, Vineyard music)

From Non-Denominational, to Charismatic, to Anglican, to Baptist, to Presbyterian, to Lutheran on most days — how does that happen? How does that happen to a preacher’s kid like me?

I used to wonder too; now I know.

“I love Your presence…” (I Love Your Presence, Vineyard music)

Indeed, I do.

It’s like this, His presence: You know the difference between knowing that someone’s heart is for you, their spirit with you, in figurative terms, versus when they are sitting next to you on the sofa, able to embrace you with warms arms?

It’s like that, friend. There is a difference, and I will never begrudge anyone desiring that difference when it comes to Jesus’ presence, His very own Spirit, in their life.

Who doesn’t want to feel Jesus’ presence — His Spirit — with them? Only someone who doesn’t know…

Watching The Chosen (run, don’t walk, if you haven’t seen the series yet) has put into keen technicolor (probably an outdated term; I’m old) just how desperate people can be when trying to touch the Healer. Should we begrudge that desire? No, friends; no…

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 5:32

I desire to be marked by that very difference in my own home and life, though I too battle the rocks and thorns of my own heart and mind daily.

So, Why Leave Those Churches?

So, if I even fractionally recognize and validate what is tangible and desirable in those evangelical (the current umbrella label for many of my past church experiences) circles, why leave?

Why, indeed.

You know what’s interesting about Jesus’ presence? — Not everyone who encountered the Son of God was changed. It’s hard to wrap your mind around, isn’t it? How could they not be changed? How could they walk away from the very presence of God-made-flesh and not walk away differently?

That’s it in a nutshell.

Once too many times I saw people laugh, cry, and tremble through a service, only to continue living unaffected; I got up one too many times from the floor only to go home still annoyed with my husband, loathed of myself, frustrated with life; once too many times I spent time with the same people the morning after the ‘amazing’ service, only to find that they were yet consumed with mortal thoughts, still backbiting, still envying, still boastful…

You can only watch people go home unchanged by the presence of God so many times before you start to doubt something or someone.

But when John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his place of baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit, then, in keeping with repentance.”

Matthew 3:7-8

Of course, is this phenomenon bound to any denomination? Certainly not. It happens everywhere…

The issue is that I found no more and no less fruit among these others in Christ than I had witnessed in the evangelical/charismatic camps.

And, honestly, I discovered far more humility among some of them.

Take that for what’s it worth.

So… But… How… ?

Can that really be the Spirit of the Living God people are experiencing if they are leaving unchanged?

Hmm… I ask myself this same question.

But I believe the answer is yes.

Why?

Because “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” Some spiritual principles just are; I mean, if you seek, you will find… No?

And hasn’t our God always loved to be found by those seeking? Did He turn any away who sought?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew 19:14

Despite their well-documented flaws, there remains a childlikeness in their seeking. These expect (at their best) their Father to enter the room and they expect to sit at His feet, and they long to feel that these things have happened at every meeting. And, for all of the hullabaloo, there is often something sacred and precious found in that waiting…

I once did as they did, though I realize now that I have never belonged to any of these — not to the Evangelicals, not to the Anglicans, not to the Baptists.

I identify only as my Father’s child, and there is great blessing and freedom in that.

Isn’t that the freedom to which we are all called? — To the freedom of crying “Abba, Father!” to a great and holy God?

AND, THEN AGAIN —

Can that really be the Spirit of the Living God people are experiencing if they are leaving unchanged?

I ask myself this all the time…

And I believe the answer is sometimes no.

If we always leave unchanged, have we truly sought to encounter the Father and to be changed by His very countenance upon us, or have we merely sought the encounter itself?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1

Just because we encounter a supernatural world, does not mean we have encountered THE Living God. Familiar spirits abound.

And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them:

am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Leviticus 20:6-8

Though God spoke of a particular false diety (Molech) in this passage, a “spirit” is a “spirit” is a “spirit” — is it not?

We want the Holy Spirit, the “same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead”, not just any old spirit.

And so I caution you.

If “testing the spirits” means testing the fruits, then Houston, We Have A Problem... because those found in the Spirit of Christ should “bear the fruits of repentance” — No?

Yes.

What are the “fruits of repentance” if not to get up and walk differently?

I am concerned when I see so many unchanged at heart and mind by the supposed OR real presence of God; both are concerning in their own strangeness — aren’t they?

Nevertheless

We return to one of my favorite disciples:

Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

John 21:21-22

And…

Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”

But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Mark 9:38-41

It is one thing to call out definite heresy; it is another, I think, to try to separate the wheat from the tares: We cannot know the damage we cause when we claim to know the hearts of all in certain denominations and orthopraxies…

I believe that some receive the gift of discernment, that there are times we can indeed know the heart of a man or woman in part, but we cannot pride ourselves upon such knowledge nor was the gift intended for measuring sheep by sheep: The gift of discernment is given to protect the sheep from wolves.

Is that our heart in using the gift?

I wonder sometimes… It seems many have strayed into pride here.

Increasingly, I see the divisions with little difference than we might examine the disciples’ own differences in faith: “You follow Me”.

Never mind God’s will for John, Peter.

Never mind God’s will for Mr. Fame & Claim, Rose: You follow Me.

There is only one Door to the Father, but it is true that a lot of variables — that is, sinful and strange individuals — walk through that door differently…

Some limping.

Some knowing.

Some trembling.

Some seeking.

Some hoping.

Some doubting.

Some blind.

Some rejoicing.

But all believing — if they are to go through that Door.

Even still, all these ages later, we struggle with identifying groups, camps, peoples by their visible externals. And even so, God yet looks upon our hearts — praise Him!

Who am I that you should fear?

And who are you that I should fear?

Fear God alone, beloved… that has always been the heart of my message to you and the heart of my own spiritual remembrances.

Shalom.

Part 3: Conversion, Context, & Evidence (‘In Spirit’)

“To enjoy in experience what is true of me as in Him, I must learn what it is to walk in the Spirit.

It is historic fact that in Christ my old man was crucified, and it is a present fact that I am blessed ‘with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Eph. 1:3); but if I do not live in the Spirit, then my life may be quite a contradiction of the fact that I am in Christ, for what is true of me in Him is not expressed in me.

I may recognized that I am in Christ, but I may also have to face the fact that, for example, my old temper is very much in evidence.

What is the trouble? It is that I am holding the truth merely objectively, whereas what is true objectively must be made true subjectively; and that is brought about as I live in the Spirit.”

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, pg 132

We began this travelogue defining a narrow group searching for churches that operate ‘in spirit and in truth’, what that means to them, the rubbing distinctions of most church experiences, and what this sought-after church might look like in function in Part 1, which can be found HERE.

We continued to define the structural distinctions present in how ‘word’ and ‘spirit’ churches are founded and structured and narrowed the scriptural accounts that support the need both for being a church that adheres dearly to the Truth of God’s Word, while not neglecting the works of the Spirit of Grace; simultaneously, noting the fact that both types of churches have produced worthless alongside valuable things and that both types appear – at least at surface level – to be little more than a right-brain, left-brain preferential splitting of hairs in Part 2, which can be found HERE.

Though I had not intended anything beyond the initial post, I found in this process the sharpened need to redefine some spiritual matter – as much for myself as for these prior writings. In particular, I needed to clarify the receipt and power of the Holy Spirit. So, we will discuss these things here, in Part 3:

Who receives the Spirit of God and when?

What was the context of Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman: ‘In spirit and in truth’?

And what is the difference and the evidence of living vs. walking after the Spirit?

In short, and in a backwards sort of progression, we will be defining terms and, afterwards, taking a brush to the root of the divisions in these types of churches and church experiences in hopes of re-clarifying the ideal: A Church, that is a people, of both spirit and truth.

This study has taken me completely by surprise… and I have been blessed by it this week. I hope you are too.

Conversion(s)

In Pastor Hsi: Confusion Scholar and Christian, Mrs. Howard Taylor writes in wonderful and descriptive terms about the conversion, trials, and ministry of a Chinese scholar named Hsi, whom Mrs. Taylor and her husband later came to know personally in their missionary work. Regarding his receiving of the Spirit, she writes:

“In thought and prayer over the Word of God, he had learned that there is a baptism of the Spirit different from the regeneration of the soul at conversion.”

Part 1, pg 182

(This may be the precise point upon which ‘word’ and ‘spirit’ churches split; we will address the semantics later.)

The story continues that he tarried in prayer one night upon this discovery until he was made aware (felt, subjectively) the Holy Spirit “filling and overflowing” his heart (pg 183). “For with this baptism of the Spirit there came a clear and definite call to the work of God.”

“The call was so definite and the outpouring of the Spirit so real, that the whole experience left an impression on the life of Mr. Hsi that never passed away. From that time forward he was as a man set apart, with an apostolic sense and conviction of being chosen of God for some special service.

At the time he said nothing about it, feeling deeply conscious of his unpreparedness and ignorance in spiritual things. He realized that, so far, it was but an indication of Divine will, and that only in after years could the full purpose of God be unfolded.”

pg. 183-184

This desire for the baptism of the Spirit followed shortly behind Hsi’s conversion to Christ and deliverance from a long-standing opium addiction.

I very much recommend reading the whole of Mrs. Howard Taylor’s biography of Hsi’s life and life in the Spirit. Not long after his own deliverance (and after addressing the wellbeing of his own family) he set out on a mission to help others in China trapped in the same addiction, always first addressing the spiritual realities of the soul, then the medical. His plain and fervent trust in God is convicting and inspiring, beginning to end.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

John 15:4

So, it seems Hsi, largely unguided in a remote region of China, read God’s Word and saw the need to tarry in prayer for the felt-baptism of the Spirit – much as the disciples did at Pentecost.

And, it seems, Watchman Nee, would disagree with such an interpretation, if not the act:

Those who emphasize tarrying and hold ‘tarrying meetings’ only mislead us, for the gift is not for the ‘favored few’ but for all, because it is not given on the ground of what we are at all, but of what Christ is.

The Spirit has been poured out to prove His goodness and greatness, not ours. Christ has been crucified, therefore we have been forgiven: Christ has been glorified, therefore we have been endued with power from on high.

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian LIfe, pg 98

Nee makes the compelling argument that it is because Christ was glorified that the disciples who tarried and, now, we who believe, receive the Holy Spirit of Christ from the Father. The disciples tarried to wait for Christ to be glorified and seated at the right hand of God, Jesus himself having told them to do so, and, we also knowing, that all things done in heaven are done with procession and order: Thus the wait.

Nee continues that such a tarrying in prayer is no longer necessary to receive the Spirit because CHRIST HAS ALREADY BEEN GLORIFIED and seated with His Father in heaven – which was the premise of our receiving the Holy Spirit and also that upon which the disciples needed to first wait (to be finished above).

Let’s stop here to consider two things. Both Hsi and Nee were learned men; however, in terms of theology, it is clear when reading his books that Nee would triumph in theology points. Nonetheless, Hsi had an entire lifetime’s worth of the ministry of the Gospel endued with power and evidences, and supported by godly character, aplenty to prove what he understood of God’s graces.

Can we rightly say or discredit one or the other based on the jots and tittles of mere textual understanding then? I don’t think so….

Both members served in the way and with the means God gave to them, with the measure of understanding and power God gave to each of them. So, while they may very well have fallen into different denominations, if we were to parse out their stated beliefs, we can hardly divide them in Christ: To each was given a measure of faith and, so far as I can tell of both lives, each were faithful in their given callings.

It’s truly a shame that we divide such men upon mere trifles as our individual understanding of God’s works and graces.

Or, do you yet imagine that God is confined by your understanding of theology – that is, your understanding of Him?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

Isaiah 55:8

Again, I say, a Nee thinks everyone should be a Nee…

And a Hsi thinks everyone should be a Hsi…

But what if this is the attitude we are to take with brothers and sisters, those who bear some evidence of God’s good grace in their lives, rather than dividing them into doctrinal points of contention?:

Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

John 21:22

Though Jesus spoke of the manner of death Peter would face respective to John’s, His words well sum-up what should be our overall attitude concerning God’s children and the walk to which He calls each one: You, follow Me (and mind your own spiritual calling).

I speak not of those who distort God’s words, as those yet bound in bondage to sin, who are, therefore, yet the ‘children of the devil’ – to be clear. The audience intended here are those who belong to God as evidenced in righteousness and love.

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:10
Worship: ‘In Spirit and In Truth’

Andrew Murray, in his devotion titled With Christ In The School of Prayer, keenly points out a “threefold worship” described in Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman:

  1. The ignorant worship of the Samaritans
  2. The intelligent worship of the Jew
  3. The new, spiritual worship of the coming worshipers

“As God is Spirit, not bound by space or time, but in His infinite perfection always and everywhere the same, so His worship would henceforth no longer be confined by place or form, but spiritual as God Himself is spiritual.”

Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, pg 19

What is ‘spiritual’? In simplest terms, isn’t it that which is not material, physical?

To perfectly define ‘spiritual’ worship as a particular movement, style of externals, or behavior then, would be to confine worship again to the intelligent worship of the Jews.

To offer no definition, to feign no knowledge of what God may or may not desire, may or may not approve of, then, might be to regress into the ignorant worship of the Samaritan.

And, certainly, to confine Him to any particular place or time or method of worship also shuns the worship of God as Spirit, ‘in spirit and in truth’ – Does it not?

We worship a God we know, but our worship is not based on our perfect understanding of Him; it is based on our relationship to Jesus as the Truth.

We do not deny the knowledge of what He has revealed to slosh about in spiritual orgies with every familiar spirit and every religious ritual; rather, we accept what Jesus has revealed about ‘Our Father’ and worship Him accordingly – by also accepting the precious Holy Spirit and the grace to carry our own cross.

We worship our First Love, revealed through Christ Jesus, ‘in spirit and in truth’ – wherever we are, whenever we are, because the curtain has been torn, the barrier to the Holy of Holies removed.

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 

Revelation 2:4

Rather than being housed by a material tent of common fabric, the same Spirit of Christ Jesus is now resident in your ‘earthen vessel’ of common flesh.

He is with you now.

He is in you now.

THE SAME SPIRIT THAT RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD!

And that is why we say:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Perhaps, perhaps, some, like Hsi, tarry in prayer, understanding that while they hear these words, they have produced little (or cannot produce) evidence of them in their lives. And is that not a good reason, saints, to tarry a while in prayer, to ask that you may receive – not the resident Holy Spirit already promised but for the eyes of your understanding to be opened?So that your form of godliness might be met with Christ’s power?

Call it a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit or a petition for understanding and revelation: Do you think God will give his child a stone when he or she asks for bread because they did not parse out the semantics of theology correctly in their prayer?

I think we act terribly arrogant when we confine God and His children in such poor, mere mortal ways and thoughts.

(There is 0 scriptural support for the doctrine that says only the Apostles could receive the Holy Spirit with power; thus, I will not entertain such foolishness here. There are plenty of scriptures that state in no uncertain terms quite the opposite.)

Living vs. Walking

In ancient Israel, one might (and often did) live their entire life in the camp of God’s general blessing and graces, as one of the Israelites, without ever entering the Holy of Holies – that is, without ever experiencing God’s tangible presence, seeing his glory fill the temple like a cloud, or approaching that holy, terrifying mountain to meet one-on-one with Him. Indeed, such experiences were then relegated to a select, chosen few. (Possibly, one of the reasons the shepherd boy, David, was so beloved by God was because by faith he did not confine God to a tent; rather, he loved God’s presence! – That means, he felt it and knew Him as much as any priest had in his day!)

There is a shadow of likeness here that persists today among those who, yes, receive salvation and the general benefits of being part of the body of Christ, yet neglect their own role as ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit’. They neglect to recognize God’s resident presence in their own personal lives and homes!

In other words, this kind of intimacy (the Holy of Holies) is no longer limited to those with hereditary claims to it; that is why the curtain was torn in two when Jesus died. He removed the separation caused by our sins, re-establishing the garden connection with our Father (when He came down to walk with Adam and Eve), sending the Holy Spirit to indwell the new temples – ‘these earthen vessels’: God with us.

If you were standing before the old Holy of Holies, as housed by the tent, would you sling mud on its windows? Would you bring in slop and feed the pigs there? Would you take the incense and candlesticks and use them to amuse yourself however you pleased? Would you treat it as you treat, say, your common living room?

What did 1 Corinthians 6 say we ought do with these temples? He said to ‘glorify God in your body and in your spirit’ – in the material and immaterial, in the common and the sacred Right?

Those who neglect the relationship necessary to enter into God’s presence (as felt and tangible as the priests and Moses knew Him to be) tend to stop short with defining Jesus as the Word.

The Word, He was; indeed.

But He was ‘the Word made flesh’.

The Word entering into relationship with humanity.

What I mean is this: If the Word has led you into the power of mental ascent alone in matters of belief, then you have not yet entered into the Word made flesh – the Word permitted to rule and reign also over your mortal body, flesh and bone, your daily life and ‘reasonable’ service.

‘Glorify God in your body and in your spirit‘…

‘In spirit and in truth‘…

How do you know if this is the case? – If mental ascent alone is the territory conquered? Simply put, there will be no evidence of the Holy Spirit’s power at work in your life. There may be common grace, just as those living outside of priesthood in the Old Testament experienced in Israel, but the lack of relational abiding of body and spirit in Christ will remain painfully evident (John 15:4).

Yes, yes… “a form of religion that denies the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3:5). Is this form not found in Christianity as much as any other belief system?

I do not speak of whether you eat or fast (Matthew 11:18-19), but of whether He knows you… and of whether you know Him.

Saints, the Pharisees knew well God’s words and yet failed to recognize ‘the Word made flesh’…

And many, we are told, who seem to be baptized from heaven with signs and wonders will be told, “I never knew you,” by Christ…

Therefore, whether you are ‘in truth’ or ‘in spirit’, matter not a penny’s worth in theory until, ‘in spirit and in truth’ you worship God with the whole of your life (body and spirit), abiding in the Vine, resting in the work of the fruit of His Spirit, these things evidenced yet unique (as was Hsi and Nee) in your life’s calling. Do you know Him?

Haven’t we all witnessed such things?

The Christian that looks like the world; in fact, you can scarcely tell the difference.

The Christian that is legalistic, proud of their ‘truth’ in a mortal’s understanding but having not a cent of Christ’s spirit.

The Christian who carries scents of spiritual essence and tries to oil everyone with them, proud of their ‘spirit’ and yet a stranger to God’s character.

And is not the needed difference lacking in all of these relational, to one or all three Persons of the Godhead? – One lacking relationship to the Father; another lacking relationship to the Holy Spirit; and another lacking relationship to the Word, Jesus?

Thoughts in Closing

“For me to exhort you to exercise your will in this matter would be but to offer you the vain religion of the world, not the life of Christ…

But as Christians we discover a new law in us, the law of the Spirit of life, which transcends all else and which has already delivered us from the law [of sin and death].”

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, pg 146

Some stop upon the utterance of that first paragraph and relish in forgiveness, never moving beyond that “law of sin” in their temple.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection and glorification, however, there is more to the story – Isn’t there?

Yes, there is a new law at work…

Is it at work in us?

One other thing I was blessed by in Watchman Nee’s book was the reminder that scripture refers to the fruit, singular, of the Spirit, not fruits (plural). He chastised those who would pray for more patience or self-control, for example, acknowledging that we do not parse out bits and pieces of the Holy Spirit:

If we have the Holy Spirit’s indwelling then we already have access to all of Him, to His fruitful working, to all of these aspects of Him.

And we need not pray for them. We need only, upon the next temptation of our patience, to believe that the Spirit of Christ within us is already well-capable of handling whatever affair.

In this sense, it all comes back around to faith – Doesn’t it?

(Don’t bother worrying about mental ascent here: Time will tell it if you’ve offered plastic fruit. You might not even have to ask how I know that…)

One thing that, I think, bothers those seeking for a Church ‘in spirit and in truth’ is the notable doctrinal outlines for who is and who is not a ‘true believer’, as defined by the understanding of men. Well, I have never heard a pastor use this terminology without first assuming that they were the standard definition (along with their church), in comparison to others.

This leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of those who have found ‘true believers’ in many unexpected places and in many denominations.

But what are we saying here?That we can perfectly separate the wheat and the tares?

Dear saints, that is a fool’s mission, for God has ordained that they should grow up together until the final harvest – when angels, not men, will separate and identify them.

But don’t we need to identify them? Well, Jesus knew his betrayer at the end, but, prior to this, did He treat Judas any differently than the others? Not that we are told…

Separate from this, I realize that elders and overseers are assigned the task of watching for and chasing out heretical teachings and those who bring them, according to scripture. When rightly done, it is necessary. The struggle of our age is that so many of these heretics have become the ‘elders’ and ‘overseers’ themselves, and, consequently, that authority structures and God’s good name are abused in the process. There is no fixing this; in fact, this will increase as the end of things draws near.

I leave you with James 1:21-27, which, I thinks, brings a well-rounded conclusion to this whole matter of truth and spirit, heart and deed, hearer and doer for the attentive reader.

May the doer be blessed. Pray also for me. Let’s be doers of worshiping ‘in spirit and in truth’ and not hearers only…

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

James 1:21-27

And:

Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit.

Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies [spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning].

But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it].


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [that is, separate you from profane and vulgar things, make you pure and whole and undamaged—consecrated to Him—set apart for His purpose]; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-23

Amen.

Part 2: Structures ‘In Spirit & in Truth’

How a thing starts often sets the course of orthopraxy (church practices). It is impossible not to notice the two very different structures adhered to between Charismatic / Full Gospel / Evangelical and the more traditional, even Catholic, structures of those who follow liturgies or the formal training of Presbyterian / Lutheran / Methodist / Baptist churches.

I don’t speak here of their differences in service structure but in how their churches and pastors come to be, which naturally influences structure.

(Part 1 can be found here.)

Those striving to be ‘in Spirit’

No two Charismatic, Full Gospel, or Non-Denominational churches are alike. A great deal of confusion about exactly who they are, what they believe, and exactly what their practices are, stem from this fact.

Certainly, it might be said that no two Lutheran churches (within the same sect) are the same, insofar as the pastor makes or breaks it; nonetheless, the overall structure of service and what they believe will be consistent. This is not true of Non-Denominational churches. (I am lumping all non-traditional churches under this category for simplification.)

Let’s consider how the church focused on living ‘in the Spirit’ comes about. It’s pretty simple. If one has a Bible, a felt-calling from God, and the faith to rent a building and begin, that one may found a church and pastor it. No formal education required. No reference letters required. No ready-made congregation needed.

Indeed, is anything but zeal required? If YouTube has taught us anything it’s that a lot of people are followed who, perhaps, shouldn’t be.

Nonetheless, this simple start contributes both to the wins and losses for the Non-Denominational camp.

On the one hand, not bogged down with prescribed interpretations and formal training, these tend to take the Bible literally, very literally, and, when pursued with a pure heart, can produce a remarkable culture of passion and joy in following Christ.

On the other hand, the lack of formal training is what leads to the sometimes extreme varieties of expression founded by these and, of course, doctrinal errors – even when well-intentioned.

Even so, these will rightly ask what formal training or qualifications John the Baptist or the apostles (minus Saul, of course, who had great formal training… he then counted as rubbish later) had to preach the Word of God.

Are we starting to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some [false teachers], letters of recommendation to you or from you? [No!]

Such is the confidence and steadfast reliance and absolute trust that we have through Christ toward God. 

Not that we are sufficiently qualified in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency and qualifications come from God. 

He has qualified us [making us sufficient] as ministers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not of the letter [of a written code] but of the Spirit; for the letter [of the Law] kills [by revealing sin and demanding obedience], but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:1-6 [AMP]

And so, they will say that their qualifications come from God.

Personally, I cannot fault them here. Our qualifications should come from God, not man.

And, as we have seen in recent days, those who are formally trained are falling away into apostasy and grave errors equally by way of dissenting sects every day.

Those striving to be ‘in Truth’

“Well, pastor, you could fill an entire stadium with all of the people who have passed through your church.”

“That is true. And you could fill a stadium with all of the pastors who have pastored yours.”

Selah.

That was a less-friendly discussion had between a traditional and a non-denominational pastor, as told to me by the latter some years ago. Well, both have their pros and cons, don’t they…

So, you want to be a pastor? Not so fast, hot-stuff. That’ll be years of seminary training, a good stash of cash, and, even then, you’ll be placed and vetted by how the referring body values your method, style, and character.

Let’s just say, I’m not sure John the Baptist would have made it far in this method.

Though these institutions and traditional denominations vary some in their techniques, it is likely you won’t even get to say, “I want to start a church in Omaha and raise my family there.” No. You’ll have your choice of three or four places around the nation; you’ll have to succumb to being interviewed by the already-founded members of this church; and then you’ll have to hope you are favored by the one your heart desires most.

And, if they decide they don’t like you after a year? Well, tough luck. You’ve been voted out.

(I know people this has happened to. Yes, it can go down this way.)

The good produced by these types of bodies tends to come in way of the dissemination of formal training and interpretations – which isn’t always a bad thing. I have learned much from these during this last third of my life so far. For whatever may not be preferential about their services, you can count on the basic foundations of the Gospel being in tact –

Except, of course, for when they’re not.

A few things can happen here. First, a pastor desiring to keep his station, may fall prey to conforming to that which the congregation prefers to hear or, worse still, to flattering the congregation rather than preaching the Word of God.

I saw this first-hand while visiting a Methodist church once. The poor, young pastor spent the first twenty minutes of the service congratulating those who had given the most in tithes and offerings or donations and, evidently, coddling to their need for ego-inflation. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever witnessed.

Second, same as in the non-denominational camps, various sects can split from the more traditional heads of these organizations to form their own newly-branded theology and formal training.

These things happen in both non-denominational and traditional (I use that word loosely for lack of a better one) churches. Splits happen in both. Bad doctrine can happen in both. And power-struggles (congregation vs pastor) can happen in both too. The only difference, so far as these things are regarded, is that the non-denominational pastor gets to keep his building, his locale, and his title, sending the split off to live or die elsewhere (ergo, the stadium full of people passing through).

Even so, as my dad used to say, If you’re ever in doubt about what church to choose, start with Baptist: you’ll get the Word of God there and the rest will naturally follow as you learn the Word.

Sadly, even this isn’t foolproof advice anymore – again, because of the splitting off of sects who will still call themselves Baptist (or Lutheran or Presbyterian, etc…) while embracing sin and heresy. (So far as I know, EVERY denomination now has a sect that approves of the ways of society and culture and sin.)

But let’s throw that aside for a moment.

Those who are with a pure heart trying to live by the Words of God (‘in Truth’) strive for order, accuracy, and do tend to excel in teaching (especially with their children). This has impressed me most: Their children are taught the fundamentals of faith at a young age with precise and certain measures. Personally, I feel that is something largely lacking in non-denominational settings, where entertainment often trumps learning doctrine – especially with regards to children.

Conclusions

Is this a false dichotomy?

I want to say that it is, but I can’t seem to equate it as such for all of my experiences in both types of churches. No… there is definitely a difference and churches do tend to fall into one or the other (though I have seen rare breeds that try to walk the line, though, like most things on a spectrum, they favor one side or the other).

My hope, my purpose, my reason for writing about these differences, however, is to flesh out why and how we need both. There should be no division here; to worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ – both are vital.

The ‘in Truth’ type will say, “But I do!” After all, the Spirit is received upon salvation, so one-and-done, right? (In other words, we are all ‘Spirit-filled’, so what’s the fuss about?)

The ‘in Spirit’ type will say, “But I do!” After all, they’re using the same Bible these other churches use and study too, so same-same – but more lively, right? (Besides, some of us have been to Bible college too, so what’s this stink all about?)

Well, if ever there was a job for the Holy Spirit, this is it. I don’t have all of the answers… even if I know one world religion and the compromise of Faith entirely is not the answer.

Nonetheless, from their beginning structures we can see how one of these groups naturally tends toward a go-it-alone authority structure with only the Holy Spirit to act on their behalf as the Guardrail, and where the other tends toward processes and procedures, all in order, line-upon-line of qualifying text, with multiples of influencers squeezing from top and bottom.

I mean really… do we need any more evidence of the type of division here? The description alone pits the creative, free, and spiritual soul against the orderly, textual, and leather-bound types. Both are formed of flesh and spirit; but both, being conformed in their environments, tend toward their own preferential errors.

And yet… the result has not been largely different in terms of culture. Both have led entire groups astray in theology or practice and, often, both.

…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:3

At the very least, neither party can boast…

Save in whatever good Christ has worked on our behalf.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5:24-26

So then, we can ‘live’ but not ‘walk’ in the Spirit?… A question for thought.

Shalom.

The Church ‘In Spirit & In Truth’ (And Those Seeking)

What if I told you that there is an entire population of sheep desiring to be in church, wanting to be in communion with the saints, moving in and out of your churches in search of Living Water, lacking an earthly Shepherd?

Certainly, one pastor might say: “These are the malcontents.”

Indeed, another hireling supposes: “They refuse to be under authority.”

Tragic, replies another: “There are plenty of churches. They need to stop church-hopping.”

Perhaps. Some.

But what if something else is happening? What if these are those who hear their Shepherd’s voice… and, thus, cannot follow these others?

Defining Those Who Seek

Some time ago, our family took a little road trip to look at a house in the Wisconsin Dells. Winding through the backroads during a snowstorm, poking along behind an Amish cart and horse, and choosing to stay the night in a converted church building, we had little on our minds except hope that this might be the one — the home for us. Little did we know, as we woke the next morning to meet the realtor for a viewing, that a different sort of encounter was about occur.

Patiently indifferent to the home, the realtor was helpful and honest. There was no gussying up this $30,000 reno with any amount of words anyway; the house left a lot to be desired, even if my son was excited about the green Hulk painted on what might have been his future bedroom wall. Nonetheless, we were thorough in discussing options, pulling the realtor with us into the winter wonderland outside to have a closer look, and that’s when it happened. Standing in three feet of snow, we started talking about church.

I don’t even remember how it happened, but in course of conversation I asked where his family went to church. He expressed immediate frustration and confided that his family had been “doing church at home” for a while because

“It’s like you have to choose between a Word or a Spirit church; why can’t it be both?”

It turned out that we had far more in common with this realtor than any of us had imagined while cringing over a toilet bowl full of paint inside a house we didn’t buy.

I had been lamenting the same frustration for at least a decade. Indeed, we had done “church at home” for several months not long before this conversation for similar reasons.

Why?

Because the Spirit churches seem to fall too easily into error (of interpretation and practice or in cultural affairs), manipulation (often over gifts or works), and hype (lights, smoke, and mirrors in the name of ‘relevance’); and the Word churches fall prey to dogma (fighting over doctrines that don’t actually matter), lukewarmness (emphasizing works or no works at all and neglecting spiritual gifts), and the traditions of man (ritual and rote that bears no scriptural foundations but are very dignified).

It wasn’t the first time we’d had a conversation with another family who felt this way. I don’t know if this is a Xennial thing, but there does seem to be a correlation in age amongst those I meet who feel similarly. Sometimes the particular reasons vary, but the overall sentiment remains:

These churches are not true to the whole of scripture; they do not worship in Truth and Spirit OR in Spirit and Truth.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24
Expression

Does the Spirit of God express Himself in particular ways?

Well, we already know that ‘worship’ is not a set of slides on a screen that we read off once a week nor the hymnal we cherish; it is not a song or dance, though it may include those things.

Worship is what you do with your life in response to God’s actions toward you. It contains the whole of your life, not just a fraction of it.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12:1 [ESV]

So then, we cannot say that Sister Susie’s expression of worship – hollering, waving a hankie around, or swinging from the proverbial chandelier – is the truest expression of worshiping God ‘in spirit’.

Likewise, we cannot say that the stoic Brother Timothy’s expression of worship – a little choked up, wholly dignified, subjecting his body to the strictest of codes – is the truer expression of worshiping God ‘in truth’.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 

and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 

and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 

For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 

to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 

11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

In this way we see that the expressions of the Spirit’s indwelling can look different on each one, according to scripture. Where one may burst out in an expression of faith toward God, at home or in the church service, another may pray quietly, in their closet and in a church service, and find the gift of healing at work. One may pray gently, seated at a table, with a gift of wisdom; another, may speak in ‘tongues’ – that mysterious gift – and be blessed or bring blessing to the hearer, as the Disciples did at Pentecost.

The frustration laid upon the hearts of those who believe such things, who take God at His word, is finding that where one church suppresses gifts and expression of them, another makes a flagrant display of them.

Neither treat rightly the Spirit of Grace. Both are abusive in their errors.

Their sin is not against man but against God, who has given us such gifts and such a Helper.

Balancing Expression

There is a way to balance the spiritually flamboyant errors of worshiping ‘in spirit’, and they too find root in scripture:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24

Having spent two-thirds of my life in evangelical and charismatic churches, I am well-versed in their tendencies and errors. One of the most common problems in these church types is the bug of super-stardom or a spiritually elite. First-class Christians lay hands on the sick, pray bold prayers, dance ‘in the spirit’, feel goosebumps (if it’s a good ‘worship’ service), speak in tongues more than you all, and talk about signs and wonders as if they are the only true estimation of a true faith.

I can tell you what these tend to lack: The fruit of the Spirit.

They package spiritual gifts in heavy-syrup and then throw the fruit out to get that sugar-rush from the syrupy spook. Chewing is hard work. Let’s dance instead!

I’m not a critic; I’m a convert from these things. It’s vital, when examining criticism to discern the difference… I’m not disgruntled with the Church; I am moved on her behalf to use my own gifts – I pray not without fruit showing when I am with you.

Whether you sing stiffly with a hymnal or dance and shout, I am no judge of these things; rather, I will look to see if you bear the marks of Christ in your body… in your ‘reasonable’ daily service.

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

Galatians 6:17

We may not yet bear the physical marks of persecution, but should we not bear the physical marks of suffering self-control, that holy fruit? – Of dying daily? – Of putting to death the deeds of the flesh?

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.

1 Peter 4:1

Seeking attention, power, status, or to change the flow of a service on Sunday morning where you have not been granted authority to do so, are these not works of the flesh?

If you preach the Word of God on Sunday, then malign your own people behind closed doors on Monday, you may be very gifted… and lacking fruit.

How Does One Worship in Truth?

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17:16:19

Our expression of worship in the Spirit comes through the gifts and through the fruit of the Spirit. These things can be encouraged or extinguished through various methods, orthopraxy; that is true. Nevertheless, all of these things are meaningless if we do not marry them with the truth of God’s Word.

God’s Word, God’s truth, sets us apart from the world and into God’s service.

It’s funny that we call church a ‘service’, isn’t it? The church service was this; the church service was that…

But the Church’s true service is to worship Him by living a lifestyle consecrated to Him (set apart) by God’s truth in tandem with (the gifts and fruits of walking in the spirit by) the precious Spirit of Grace Jesus left to his disciples AND

“…also for those who will believe in me through their word…”

John 17:20

Show me a Christian who denies the gifts of the Spirit and I will show you a Christian lacking in the fruit too; likewise, show me a Christian who makes an idol of the gifts and I will show you a Christian who performs like an angel and walks like a devil.

Show me a Christian who denies the truth of God and I will show you a Christian who errs by every doctrinal demon and speaks only truth when he can profit like Balaam; likewise, show me a Christian who preaches dogma in the traditions of man and I will show you a Christian who excels in gaining converts with convincing speech only to make them “twice a son of hell” (Matt. 23:15).

Perhaps, perhaps... in light of these things, one can see why some lament being unable to find a church that operates ‘in spirit and in truth’ and find some understanding.

These are the casualties of your deceptions, Church.

I Can Only Imagine…

So… what would that church look like anyway?

What would a church more concerned about ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ than making guests feel comfortable;

a church intent on ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ every day rather than spending a week preparing for one day of ‘service’;

a church that hungers and thirsts more for the righteous benefits of ‘worshiping in spirit and in truth’ than they hunger for lunch after service, their own building, community status, acclaim, signs, wonders, or a worldly respectability –

What would that church look like?

Thankfully, we don’t have to only imagine. Are there not vivid examples of these throughout the Bible?

Wouldn’t it look like Abraham, believing God though he did not see the fullness of the promise in his days;

like Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi in a foreign land and in a new lifestyle;

like Job’s stubbornness to honor God in his heart, despite his external circumstances;

like Peter, being led where he did not want to go because He loved Jesus;

like Hannah’s faith through her tears;

like the timid made bold; like the aggressive made meek; like the discontent filled and whole;

like the socially shunned pouring out of her heart a wealth of gratitude at her Savior’s feet, no matter the judgements fomenting around the room;

a table set for a feast in death’s valley under His wings;

like the uproar of swelling excitement on Pentecost day;

like the quiet stashing away of tender truths in Mary’s heart;

wouldn’t it be like the woman at the well, finally finding that one Husband, the Living Water of spirit and truth, her soul had sought for so many years – and then running to tell everyone?

You Are The Church

I speak now to the seeking.

We’ve all heard by now that the church is not the building. Aren’t our church errors, preferences, and camps often an extension of our personal proclivities, gifts, and values?

A Ruth thinks everyone should be Ruth… but some women are Abigails.

A Peter thinks everyone should be Peter… but some men are the beloved, John.

Leah is annoyed by a Rachel’s beauty; Rachel is jealous of Leah’s children.

Saul thinks everyone is another would-be Saul… but some are Davids.

The disciples are indignant that someone else is using their Master’s name to pray… but Jesus calls His own sheep by name.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:3-8

This is your transforming ‘service’ unto God.

Fulfill your ‘function’ in spirit and in truth… then, perhaps, we will find more churches filled with those who worship in spirit and in truth.

Because we can all believe in the gifts of the Spirit but not walk after the Spirit; and we can all hear God’s word every Sunday without ever becoming a doer of the Word.

I invite you to join me in the ‘reasonable service’ of letting the spirit of God’s truth transform your life. We cannot expect to find in a church building that which we do not practice daily in our homes.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6

Amen.

As a personal note, pray for me. I do not desire to be a teacher or a preacher, though I carry a flame to exhort and encourage the Church; but for whatever function God has given me, I too engage in war (or limp around the battlefield called Trying). It is easier to believe and to hear than it is to do; I too find myself within the battle of Romans 12:1. The spirit is willing; the flesh, indeed, weak. Pray for me as I pray for you and be blessed.

Making The Secular Sacred (And Other Damnable Lies)

It’s amazing how many scripture verses an article can be smeared with while still denying the truth. The Pharisees were expert at this too...

I came across an article this morning titled, “A Note of Sanity about Halloween”, written by a “disciple”, Joe McKeever. After setting up with a story about someone who was literally afraid of zombies, he cleverly went on to describe the presumed imaginations of those who don’t celebrate Halloween (that innocent, non-lethal, and repurposed holiday so many Christians know and love; his sentiments, not mine).

He describes the scaredy-cat Christian’s imaginations in the following way:

“They are so much more spiritual than you” — he says.

They are people who take the devil too “seriously” and have a “razor-sharp sense of what is right and wrong”;

Overly fearful of the devil;

No doubt, “centering” faith and prayer around the devil;

And clearly “afraid of the big, bad wolf”.

He then proceeds to tell Christians they may turn this secular, cultural, pagan holiday – the mere ‘tradition of man’, if I ever saw one – into something sacredly glorious:

Saying, “Christians may actually celebrate his [Satan’s] undoing” on this day.

Asserting that “lampooning” the devil through “caricature” on Halloween is the definition of “victory”: Thanks, Jesus; now I can celebrate Halloween with my lost friends, dress like the devil, claim the blessings of a saint, and not have to explain myself!

And telling us to “laugh” it off and not give Satan “his own day”… as we celebrate his own day… (?!)

Saints, this article is the epitome of deceptive and cunning speech, a veritable “angel of light” patting conscience on the head so we can go back to sleep… It is full of so many seducing half-truths, it’s hard to know where to start.

For Starters

We didn’t start here either. This stand-off has been a long time in coming. Too long.

I’ve spent a lot of years riding the fence, as they say, on this one, trying to keep the social peace rather than the peace of God. Though my own parents stopped celebrating the holiday and taking us to events when we were pretty young, I’ve meandered between the lines as an adult, giving out candy some years, attending church ‘Harvest Festivals’ other years, and wishing I could don that smashing wig and stand-out make-up too.

It just so happens that my husband proposed to me at Disney World in October of 2009, during Disney’s big Halloween smash. What a pickle. We were there with family, neither one of us happy about Halloween, though we obliged by wearing costumes and doing the event… because it felt rude not to (an admittedly terrible reason for offending your own conscience).

Well, if we look happy don’t forget that we were newly engaged… 🙂

Did we die? Did worms begin to crawl out of our ears? Did we melt into puddles of green cauldron goo? Did God forever turn His back on us? Did the devil haunt our dreams from that night on?

No. Of course not. Only “immature and unstable” (Joe McKeever’s words, not mine) people believe the devil works like that…

But…

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:17

We have never celebrated Halloween with our children. If anything, that betraying of conscience beforehand made us more resolute with regards to how we wanted to raise our family later; for that, I am thankful.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:22

Now, to address McKeever’s presumptions about an abstaining one’s frightful “imaginations”.

Spirituality

The claim was made that people like myself think we are “more spiritual” than others (namely, those who celebrate Halloween). This is complete rubbish and unfounded and, regrettably, a falsely accusing moniker I’ve had to slay more than once in life.

I concede that there may be some who erroneously believe this and act this way, blowing trumpets of self-righteousness into every conversation and debate; but many who abstain from Halloween’s delicacies and fun, do so with a great deal of unspiritual angst and heat from the other side, constantly put on the defensive by other Christians or family members. What I mean is –

A lot of people who don’t celebrate Halloween, don’t celebrate it quietly.

This past Sunday, only those who directly asked what my kids were dressing up as (since it has become a cultural expectation) got the honest reply: “We don’t celebrate Halloween”, while others chatted about what they would “be” and what preparations they were making for the evening event.

Indeed, I would have said nothing… but leave it to kids to prod us out of acting cowardly.

As someone left the church noting they had to get ready for “trick-or-treating”, my dear son, 5, pipes up:

“Tri-ck-or-trea-ting?”

He dragged out every syllable to the mostest.

“We don’t go-o-o trick-or-treating.”

Emphasized by his eyes-all-sideways, looking clever.

I replied, “I can’t take him anywhere.”

What does an abstaining mom say after that?

There was no recovery. Just awkward silence. Not even crickets. They didn’t know what to say, and neither did I. My private convictions had just been obliterated by a 5-year-old’s darling confession.

He’s five. He’s not super thrilled that he can’t go knock on people’s doors and get bags of candy, but he understands that “we” don’t do that.

Do you think he feels more superior or more spiritual for it?

I know I didn’t in that moment. I just wanted to go home.

The next truth that needs pointed out on this topic: We are all spiritual beings first.

How exactly is one more spiritual than another? Can you fly or walk through walls yet? Have you brought a dead person back to life recently? I mean, if one has, I might concede that they have something I don’t yet possess…

But it can’t possibly be “spirituality”: We are all spiritual. That’s how God made us.

As spirits we are already dressed up in flesh and blood. God-breathed, God-fashioned, God-designed. That’s pretty sweet. Why do we want to distort that?

Folly

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Does he “devour” them literally? — Not that I know of, so whatever does this verse mean? (Selah.)

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Matthew 13:39

Hm. What exactly did that devil sow?

Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Who were held in slavery by their “fear” of death? — Oh, all of us. That’s right.

And who “by His death” freed us? — Ah, yes, Jesus. That’s why we’re told to preach “Christ crucified” rather than boasting about our standing against death.

Personally, I wait for lightening to strike when someone begins boasting about their supernatural authority over the devil. (It’s not about you, boo… and Job was a righteous man, by the way.) I’m not scared of him; I’ve seen and heard and been given too much good in Christ. I also don’t go around flexing, like I’m the one with the flex.

I probably err on the side of caution, but –

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Jude 1:9

Bunny trail. Sorry.

So, we are freed from the fear of death (the devil’s power) in Christ Jesus. So now:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:14

McKeever seems to suggest that those who abstain from Halloween 1) fear the devil, 2) pray prayers centered around the devil, and 3) take the devil too seriously. So then, he says that not celebrating Halloween is mutually inclusive of fearing Satan rather than God.

That is cunning.

That is wicked.

That is perversion.

The inverse is the devil’s speciality. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it: he is not so subtle in his subtleties.

Let me make it plainer with an example. What this author is suggesting is no different than telling someone who wants to abstain from marriage that in abstaining they clearly fear having a spouse more than they fear (trust) God to give them a happy marriage.

Umm… no. Maybe God just asked them not to marry. Yeah? That isn’t a sin.

Surely, we’re not arguing that to NOT celebrate Halloween is a sin? — Though McKeever comes about as near to saying so as one cleverly can. At least, he accused us of the sin of fear and obsession with the devil… which is an awkwardly backwards accusation, if appearances count for anything on Halloween night.

Secular-to-Sacred: That Old Hat

This sort of speech, this Christians-can-do-whatever-they-want-because-they’re-Christians, was super popular when I was a young adult. Many reasoned that because God lived in them, they could go to bars to, eh, ‘minister’ to people, as they sat with them, smoked with them, maybe even got drunk with them, because God in them excused all of those behaviors: The ends and our spirituality justified the means.

It wasn’t a new thought, though I’m sure it sold plenty of books in Christian bookstores.

I am a sacred vessel, so everywhere I go is sacred.

Well, yes… but no. Definitely not.

Let’s see what that passage actually says in Scripture:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

“Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Oh dear. That passage is clearly about abstaining from sexual immorality AND about who your body really belongs to…

Does your body belong to God?

Or to yourself?

Or to the world?

Every day?

Every night?

Or, like so many in our culture, have you claimed jurisdiction there?

Childish Thinking & Conclusions

There is one more point to address here, as the author also referenced that in all of his years of taking his child trick-or-treating, “no children were harmed” in the process.

Who is the judge of that, I wonder?

Who was harmed when Saul did not wait for the prophet to show up and conducted the sacrifice himself (1 Samuel 13)?

Who was harmed as the medium called out the identity of Paul (Acts 16:17)?

Who was harmed when Moses struck the rock (Numbers 20)?

Who was harmed when one prophet ate lunch with another (1 Kings 13)?

And yet, all of these incurred judgement.

This reminds me of something one of my children likes to say. I might say, Don’t do this or that because (usually followed by a lesson about safety)... To which, one of my children often replies, “But I didn’t get hurt and I did it.”

Our experiences are not apt standards. They aren’t our judges either. This is childish thinking: Susie went to wild parties; she didn’t get hurt: it’s just a phase. Why can’t I?

It was considered strange and inappropriate to see older youth and adults dressed up for Halloween when I was a kid; we’d think nothing of that today: It’s all around us. That’s not just a ‘phase’ of childhood…

And it’s no longer restricted to Halloween either. Cosplay holds no more godliness, though many love it. But one thing at a time.

As for Halloween:

Fun (FOMO, Matthew 15:9)

nor vanity (I like dressing up too! Jer. 4:30)

nor candy (“their god is their stomach”, Phil. 3:19)

nor staying ‘in’ with my friends (conforming to the world, Romans 12)

nor boasting (of a victory I did not win over the devil, but was wholly Christ’s work)

make apt excuses for violating the conscience or offending the Holy Spirit.

So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves up to indecent behavior for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Ephesians 4:17-19

I would not think that very many celebrating Halloween are willfully serving the Devil (though some certainly do). No one is thinking about the devil while taking pictures of a cute baby dressed up like a pea-in-a-pod.

Indeed, few think of the devil when engaging in sexual immortality either; that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve his purposes.

But I would say that they are ignorant or deceived.

That is not superior Christianity; we’ve all been deceived at some point. But Christianity does bear the fruit of set-apartness… something different from the world.

With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

1 Peter 4:4-5

Halloween is a blatantly worldly holiday that in no way or shape of mental-ascension honors God. One may say they “feel” no conviction regarding it, but they cannot rightly argue for its righteousness nor rightly accuse those who abstain of being unholy or fearful of the devil simply because they do suffer convictions on the matter.

In short, Halloween may or may not be “lawful”, but it certainly is not “helpful” for the Christian nor the Church.

Satanists do believe that you are celebrating the devil with them on that night, whether you believe it. (Reference any number of ex-satanist/witch videos.)

Others see it as a compromise, a black-eye upon the Church. Why do we celebrate such dark holidays with the world?

You may not feel that way, but whatever your feelings, Paul is clear enough about what the stronger brother’s reaction to such convictions amongst saints should be:

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Romans 14:21

The celebration of Halloween has caused some to stumble in their faith regarding the Church. It is my personal opinion that the Church has no business doing anything on this particular night. What fellowship has light with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?

Why not make a celebration of Reformation Day instead? That makes far more sense for a Christian.

It is also my opinion that in terms of ‘revival’, Halloween should be an obvious first-thing-to-go and be repented of in American Christianity. It is too obvious… yet so seducing. We’re not even avoiding the “appearance” of evil with that one — C’mon man!

An argument often follows that all of the festivals have pagan roots. True enough, so far as I can tell. But that is hardly an argument for continuing in one or any of them. Personally, I can’t believe we make that argument with a straight face.

These are dark days for our nation. It is long overdue to overturn excuses, examine motives and practices, and shake the opinions of the world off of our feet.

Let’s stop riding fences… skating on thin ice… walking on eggshells… where worldly opinions are concerned. That is not what you were called to in Christ. If you needed a sign, here I am holding one:

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

SPIRITS & THE SPIRIT OF…

Line upon line, the book itself looks so unassuming sitting there in the chair across the room, but I give it a wide berth anyway, because the jots and tittles seem to tower to the heavens; I feel that if I read one more word, the whole thing — already leaning overhead — will come falling down.

It’s too much. It’s too complicated: Hello, father of devilish half-truths.

I know.

Even so, I think of Adam, Abraham, Noah, and even the Old Testament prophets. So many of them relied upon the Ruah, the spoken words of God, because they didn’t have 66 books to read, dissect, and translate. Some of them had the first 5 books. Some of them a few chronologies. But this Good Book so many treat as salvation itself? Nope.

They had to hear God for themselves.

This is a lost art: I sigh.

It is as hard to read the Bible some days as it is to discern the voice of God — a voice some don’t even believe exists today outside of 66 books.

A demon can speak to you, but God can’t? I find this a very strange theology indeed. Strange enough to call perverse…

If we are to “test the spirits”, I assume they are not always quoting chapter and verse, else, that’d be easy enough. Or maybe it is that they’re quoting chapter and verse; that is hard too.

The devil: “Is it not written?”
Jesus: “It is also written…”

So, that’s helpful. (Not.)

What are we “testing” for? — Is it not to discern the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, from many “anti-christs” and “doctrines of demons” that have gone out into the world? And if we are testing, they must both be speaking, and if we are testing and all of these spirits are speaking, then is not the Spirit of God also speaking today to us? — And, as noted, it must not always be chapter and verse or maybe it is always chapter and verse: In either case, discernment is mandatory.

I feel so sad for those who believe that EVERY spirit’s voice is a demon. I feel alarmed for those who believe that EVERY voice they hear comes from God.

Is it not the epitome of tragedy to say that the adversary — the idol so dull — can actively speak and lead many into deception, while our God — the Living God — is mute?

He actively speaks through His Good Book: I heard you the first time. You are not wrong, but then, what about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Does that God not speak to His people any more? — By His Spirit and His Word and through visions and dreams? Why is your God of old more present than the God of new?

I find this a very strange theology, indeed! It sounds like repackaged agnosticism to me: We can know Him afar off through things He said then… as if He is not still here in the very rooms of your heart.

He is, isn’t he? Still here? In your heart?

He said 66-books worth of stuff; isn’t that enough? Generally, I agree with you, but…

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John 21:25

Of course, there is something special about the Good Book, and we are instructed not to add to IT; however, that is not mutually inclusive of a mute God and the forfeiting of your own life’s book:

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:3
The Bible Tells Me So

I dabble in academia, I read the scholars, but I don’t profess to be one. There are days I can’t bear to crack open that book because I know I will tumble down a rabbit hole of contingencies, complications, dichotomies, jots, and tittles that I just can’t — I just don’t have the energy or smarts or desire to unravel… apart from the Ruah of God.

But as for you, continue in the things you have learned and firmly believed, since you know from whom you have learned them. From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Does this mean that only Scripture bears these properties? Or does the God-breathed of today also bear these marks?

As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 3:15

He redeemed us in order that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:14

Jesus left us, He departed in bodily, visible, tangible form, heralding the promise of something better — the promise of the precious Holy Spirit, of whom Jesus said:

I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. 

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you. 

Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is Mine and disclose it to you.

John 16:12-15

And so it is, the Good Book indeed declares the wonders of the Ruah of God!

Praise God!

Because, honestly, in these days when knowledge has increased to flooding proportions, I so often need my Comforter to speak the Truth of what He hears for today — by any means He chooses.

Oh Father, thank you for giving us your precious Holy Spirit, which dispenses daily bread in testimony of Spirit and in bearing witness to the Truth. Let us not slight Him but love Him… and learn to discern.

Amen.

Because 66 books plus the number of man (6) does not create a life-giving equation….

THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE

“Your words have been arrogant against Me,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’

You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts?

So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.'”

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.

“They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

Malachi 3:13-18

Falling away doesn’t happen overnight for most people. When you hear accounts of Christian celebrities going from belief to unbelief, they often freely admit that it was a slow descent into hellish thoughts…

Truly, if the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then putting the justness of God in a questionable light has proved to be the beginning of many follies. The moment a soul begins to approve their sense of justice above the Creator’s justice is the very moment that one begins the deep dive into the belly of the beast.

We have all questioned at some point, of course; the question is whether our questioning is a means to justify ourselves as gods or taken as a lesson of trust and patience in God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Let God be true and every man a liar.

Romans 3

Two Roads Widely Travelled

In terms of Christians who denounce the faith, there are two roads of thought widely travelled and culturally popular today: Vanity and Hell. Both exalt themselves above the knowledge of God and end in a free-fall from grace.

VANITY

“It is vain to serve God” is a sentiment mentioned more than once in the Bible and, thus, deserves some attention. I too have wrestled this great demon and cannot help but think of this wonderful quote when such thoughts present themselves today:

“Be silent! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!”

Gandalf, The Two Towers

Amen, Gandalf; amen.

Crooked words from a crooked enemy, who cleverly disguises our own vanity and preoccupation with self-interest as a noble accusation against God — the devil’s Creator and ours! (Remember, our enemy is part of the fallen angels; he did not create himself: ergo, he is not God’s equal.)

Is this not covetousness at its greatest fallen heights? If we conclude that it is vain to serve God, then is it not because we have compared our benefits (or, eh, lack thereof) with someone else’s? The wicked seem to be getting ahead and getting away with it too: Does our flesh want in on that? — To get away with something? To squash accountability? Repentance? Dependence? Obscurity? Poverty? Shunning?

To save ourselves?

Oh, I think so…

It is true that “God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts”, and without the “mind of Christ”, this life can be a big disappointment in general. Temptation comes to us all, but believing the devil’s lies is entrapment: “Did God really say?”

Well, yes, Satan; He did: He said we would again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked… (Praise God!) So, buzz off.

HELL

Questioning God’s justice often begins with questioning hell itself. Everyone has heard the phrase by now: “How could a loving God…”

Personally, I find this a strange sentiment and, often, extinguish and equate such thoughts – along with the people who think them – with people who 1) do not understand the present darkness in the world (that is, how evil people can be) or 2) have never experienced abuse or had cause to require and desire true justice like a person starved of living water.

I do not believe a young child who has been sexually abused or tormented has any trouble imagining hell — nor why some would need to go there.

I do not think that someone brought up in occult circles, after being abused, manipulated, possessed, or tormented, will find cause to question the necessity of hell when the time of God’s vengeance comes.

I do not imagine that any woman forced to have sex for a job position will have too many qualms about sending the perpetrator there…

Epstein, anyone? Does he really need to go there?

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

Proverbs 11:10

Personally, I’m concerned for the naive among us when they can’t honestly nod their heads with that verse… because it’s true.

But I know what they’ll say next: I haven’t murdered or abused or etc…

In short, Why should I go to hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus? Isn’t that the standard?

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Revelation 21:8

Well, yes.

And we’ve Psaki’d-back now to the first road we discussed: VANITY.

It’s not how you’d do the sorting, is it? You don’t think that’s a fair standard: It’s your opinion pedestaled here. You know better than the Creator of the heavens and earth — the same One who created you (by the way)?

The Potter has said to the clay, “There is one way by which you must be saved; narrow is the gate.”

And the clay has protested, “That’s not just.”

Well?

What’ll it be, mortal man? You or the Creator? Will you too join the wicked to ‘make war on God’ in the last days? — That is how the next story begins, you know.

“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Revelation 17:14

Personally, I want to be found among those “called, chosen, and faithful”. That’s my ‘tribe’: Those whose names are found in the Lamb’s book of life — those He remembers.

Created Chimeras

People were passing in fast-forward motion, in and out, all around. I took my seat after being shot; I sat in a daze: My heart was on the floor, blood pulsing out and bursting and staining.

I did not expect to find hope; I did not wish nor ask for you to come: But I wanted to believe. You took my chin and pulled it up to your gaze. The world stood still around you, and you became the chimera of my heart, a lovely place to embrace…

Then came the Sheriff with his well-versed gang. They gathered around us there, guns pointed and aimed. We were all trigger-happy, but I was already bleeding out. The Sheriff came to employ the Curse to further his cause: You faded like smoke.

Was it the threat of doubtful glances or the guns, pointed and aimed, that caused me to see through you? As quickly as you you came, you left, and I bent to plug the holes in my heart, but the pressure was too much: I was losing too much living water.

The Curse put a boot on my heart and squished it right there. I fell as dead, air abandoning my chest. Somewhere, you stood watching, but the room was spinning with so many of your faces, a million miles away…

What was left of my mind wandered through the shock. Didn’t the very realization of a false expectation suggest something also real? As the counterfeit naturally assumes the existence of the truth, why had my hope been so unrealistic, too much, or in vain? Hadn’t you promised with the tilt of my chin to protect, to listen, to see?

But something better than the Sheriff came; I wish you could have been there to see Him. Love walked through the door like a naked, dancing parade of holiness; he wore no surprise in his eyes, no frills or pretense: He didn’t need them. He wasted no time in taking a place between the Curse and me. The Sheriff wasted no time in opening fire.

Bullets fell like an acid rain shower; not one hit me: Love took every aim. The Curse tried to wield his ugly magic, demanding payment for the things I’d stained. And no one spoke. Who would dare to touch the Curse?

I thought you might see then, but now I realized that you were like me: We were both broken and bleeding. You were sealed behind walls of insecurity, closed off in a casket of your own crafted fears, and I began to understand: The Curse haunted you as it haunted me.

What was your pain? Who was your betrayer? How long had you been fighting to breathe? Busy, busy, busy — I admit, you covered your injuries better than me. I wondered if you even saw the pool of blood puddling around your own feet, seeping out from beneath those walls…

Love seemed to give the Curse just what he wanted, though I don’t think it was what the Curse had in mind. You should have seen the pleasure on the Sheriff’s face when Love carefully picked up my squished heart and tossed it away! The Curse gobbled it up — finished it off with glee!

And I was still wide-awake; I cannot say that it was painless. I think I screamed your name. But death did not take me nor frighten Love away…

Oh! You should have seen the horror on the Sheriff’s face when Love ripped open his own chest, took his own beating heart, and placed it inside of me!

The Sheriff wailed and disappeared! The gang fled too. The Curse tore himself to shreds…

Love’s blood was now my blood, and the Curse was banished forever in that way.

I’m watching you now, busy chimera — fellow created soul. And I see now why you couldn’t save me: It wasn’t your blood that I needed.

You were always an idol.

Created Chimeras

by Amanda Jump, 2008

Countless souls jeopardized by a global training exercise…

Imagine, if you will, a training exercise. An epic, global training exercise. An exercise well-planned by experts who have concocted an infectious disease scenario to usher in a ‘global reset’ — that is, a resetting of economic, governmental, and national orders.

But, imagine, if you will, that this is only a drill…

What latent effects can we expect? What probable outcome will this have on the global populous? Will all do as they are told? And, if not, what then?

These are reasonable questions any expert might want to answer so that they feel better prepared when the real thing, the real disease of devastation, is unleashed.

At first, people are confused: A pandemic, you say? Can it really be?

I don’t know anyone who is sick, evolves into knowing a few people, twice-removed, who are sick, and quickly descends into everyone knowing someone. So, it must be so — it must be as they say — the blind participants mutter to themselves and others…

This is a training exercise, after all, but it is performed as a blind study: The global population doesn’t know if they’re getting a truth pill or a placebo. They are forced to rely, then, upon feelings, experience, or hearsay.

Should they or shouldn’t they wear a mask? Does the mask actually help? Is there proof? Why does the narrative change and evolve as quickly as the stated infectious disease?

The people question, but each goes his own way: Some believe, some don’t, and others still live in the realm of confusion hoping things will return to normal soon.

Then comes the next phase.

Lockdown, lock-in, and lock-out. Stay home. Only go out if you must. Churches close, restaurants close, hair-stylists get arrested for not closing, and a great exodus begins working from home, moving to rural areas, and finding alternative social options.

Those who believe chastise those who don’t; those who don’t believe draw lines in the sand, as those still confused try to referee the tensions. For a while, this works.

But tension grows. The experts take note…

More force is required to complete the exercise and get a true picture of the situation on the ground — where the experts do not live. Those who have accepted the narrative are rewarded as gold star pupils, but this is in name only: The same rules still apply to believers and unbelievers. There is no escaping the careful confines of their study; they’ve spent too long planning this exercise for it to fail to achieve the objectives of their experiment.

A new remedy is introduced as the savior-on-the-scene. The experts hold up their hollow obelisk and suggest that the participants hurry to drink as quickly as possible, for their own good. Those who believe have long-awaited the day: Finally! Peace, they say…

But the unbelievers hold back. It’s definitely full of poison, they speculate. It’s all too neat; it’s all too chaotic; it’s all too much like a… like a…

But they can’t decide or agree upon what it’s like. The pool of the confused grows larger, along with the outcry to resist the experts’ guidance. After all, their suggestion leads to a trap door and, through that, another maze: A maze with harsher confines. A narrow, one-sided, one-dimensional maze that simply says, Drink the cure, get on with the study, or get out of our world.

Of course, they fail to mention that this is the study: To see who will complete the series of steps in their maze and who fails to comply. It’s crucial that they know who they can depend upon in the future; it’s crucial that they know just how many mice will need to be removed from their future exercises — unacceptable, unfit, unbelieving. Reset is the end goal; disease (soon-to-be climate), the means.

Countless souls, however, are placed in jeopardy by their nefarious training exercises. Did they know it would go this way? Or was this a latent effect? Or was this for the sake of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 being fulfilled?

A sword is placed upon the populous’ necks, threatening to separate husband from wife, son from father, friend from friend — and who could have foreseen it? A long-time friend is now offended: You think I would drink poison? they ask of their friend. You’ve lost your mind, father says to son: How could you think that I would do such a thing?

This isn’t poison, says one.

This is poison, says another.

The watching remain quiet, thinking: Is this poison?

Meanwhile, the training exercise goes on… because without offense, confusion, and division, the experts could never conduct the real test of souls. So, the experiment goes on, one right angle after another, all leading where?

What happened to peace? — Didn’t we drink of the hollow obelisk? — Can’t we do as we please now? The gold star students wonder.

But the experts reassure the populous that this is not so. Not only must things go on as they have been, but the confines must become more narrow: We must strain the mice through this magical keyhole, they say. The keyhole is constructed of red tape, thick red tape. It reads: Drink or die a social death.

Well, that seems necessary, the already offended, dedicated, and weary decide.

I told you so, the unbelieving cry.

This whole experiment is a placebo, an empty Trojan horse; things will get back to normal, the confused self-soothe.

What now?

Spiritual Effects

Perhaps, you recognize the training exercise scenario. Perhaps, you’ve seen it somewhere before…

I have suspended judgement on the hollow obelisk for now. Oh, I agree that there is something very not right with this training exercise we are presently in; nonetheless, I watch and wait… because, for now, I believe this is our training exercise, the trial-run, so to speak…

But I am not encouraged by what I see.

At this point, I feel I know few Christians who wouldn’t at least agree that present circumstances appear to be setting up for future events. Some say more, some say less, but this seems to be the general feeling I encounter.

That being the case, the Church is in a world of hurt. Already there are family members being divided over whether this is the training exercise or the last days event we’ve been trained to scout for from our youth. Those who are convinced of the latter are now facing the heated offense and rejection of family members who claim to be Christian but are accused now of falling for the great deception. They deny that they could be fooled by such a poison.

What I mean to say is that the future greater persecution may, and is likely to, come from those we once walked to the house of God with, after the falling out and falling away… and I know from experience what a tremendous rattling of heart and mind that can be.

For it is not an enemy who insults me;

That I could endure.

It is not a foe who rises against me;

From him I could hide.

But it is you, a man like myself,

my companion and close friend.

We shared sweet fellowship together;

We walked with the crowd into the house of God.

Psalm 55:12-14

This is no small thing, Church. It is no small offense. It is no small division. And, while it may be only hearsay now, as the days trail on, will these things too continue to unfold and increase — from hearsay to a family member near you?

The point of this piece is not to state whether we are living in a training exercise at the present moment. As stated, I cannot in good conscience make a definite call on that yet. The point, my dear brothers and sisters, is to point out the jeopardy of souls at play, the great offense that is sweeping through hearts and minds, the divisions of lost empathy, love, and relationship.

That mark that defines the end of worldly pursuits is only the beginning of a spiritual civil war — of wheat and tares suddenly revealed, alarmed, and bewildered.

There will be no escaping it. Lines will be drawn.

And if this is only the training exercise, beloved, how hard will be those days….

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in rebellion: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Pray for the endurance, faith, and patience of the saints.

Nonetheless, let us give thanks that the book of Revelation also reveals a great innumerable host worshiping around God’s throne, who have endured tribulation! That is a very hopeful scene, indeed.

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:13-14

Amen.