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Monday, November 28, 2016

How then should we live?

Not much time today so just a few thoughts on Luke 12.  Because the whole chapter seems to be Jesus’ treatise on how to live our lives as Christians.  As part of the Church of God.

1. Do not deal in hypocrisy, showing for those below, saving nothing for the Truth above.  More on that in a second…
2. Do not fear bodily death, but fear eternal damnation and separation from God.
3. Do not fear what to speak, but speak truth at all times.  Trust the testimony of Jesus to which you owe all.
4. Do not prepare for this life as if it were permanent or all.  Prepare for the eternal life to come for it is all.  Now is the time to invest in the future.  Retirement is only the bottom of the first inning.  The first mile in a marathon.  The second throw in the first frame… insert favorite sport metaphor here…for even retirement should be spent preparing for real life.
5. Do not be anxious about the material.  But concentrate on the spiritual.  Give toward and work toward this kingdom come.  Cuz as we’ve been saying, temporary/permanent.  Permanent wins.
6. Stay diligent.  Stay faithful.  Delay is coming but it is ..temporary.
7. Do not be tricked or lulled into complacency because of the length of time of the delay.  Stay vigilant.  
8. Be faithful to your calling.  These last three feel repetitive because they are.  Jesus must think they are important or something.  Like he said, “wait here, i’ll be right back,” and then stepped out for two thousand years or so…
9. Expect opposition.  Not out there, yeah, that’ll come too but right inside your own family.  Absolute truth tends to be absolute.  “I am The Way.  NO Man comes to the Father EXCEPT by ME” doesn’t leave much wiggle room for counter offers or compromise.  
10. But as much as it concerns you, live in peace with all.  For you have a Judge and He has a Day.  And a day is coming even before The Day.  We all meet our Day.  Some of us will see The Day but all of us will have a Day in court before this Judge.  So yeah, best to keep your defense handy, as Pete says.

And i can’t help but think the wrap to all of this is the first thing he said.  Don’t be hypocrites.  You say you believe in God, then believe God.  You say there’s a better kingdom coming, a permanent one, a truer one?  Then shouldn’t everything we do, everything we say, everything we hope for and in, everything we earn be for this?  It’s the basis of Paul’s rebuke of Peter when he stopped eating with gentiles.  You say we’re all saved by the same grace, then why do you favor one over the other?  We say there’s a King?  Shouldn’t we live for his kingdom?  We say we will live forever?  Then why do we fear so much of what happens here?  Why do we fear death?  We say a Day is coming, our King is returning, a new heaven and new earth will dawn?  Then why do we live as if this is all there is?  Why do you wallow in self-pity and despair and cynicism as if there is no hope?

No wonder they don’t believe us.

Friday, November 25, 2016

to You

“And his disciples asked him what this parable meant. And he said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest they are in parables, so that
‘Seeing they may not see,
and hearing they may not understand.’” Luke 8

“To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God…”

Holy crap.  To you.  To.  You.  

You.  Y-O-U.

You who are reading this are hearing the same words that came from God’s lips to his disciples.  You are privy to the same knowledge as Jesus only gave to his chosen apostles!  

Let that sink in.  

The Mysteries of the Kingdom of God are freely given to you!  The gospel the angels desire to look into.  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  It is set high; I cannot prevail against it.”  

All four gospels follow the same basic course, Act 1: who is this?  Act 2: what has he come to do?  Act 3: now that you know the answers to acts one and two, go and proclaim.  Who is this who forgives sins?  Who is this who speaks with authority?  Who is this who even the demons obey?  Who is this who commands the winds and the waves that they should obey him?  Over and over, those who get a peek behind the veil are told, “tell no one.”  Over and over all things are given to the elect people of God as only parables.  So that they…
“‘Keep on listening and do not comprehend!
    And keep on looking and do not understand!’
Make the heart of this people insensitive,
    and make its ears unresponsive,
    and shut its eyes
so that it may not look with its eyes
    and listen with its ears
    and comprehend with its mind
    and turn back, and it may be healed for him.” (Isa 6)

Judgment.  “Therefore consider how you listen, for whoever has, to him more will be given, and whoever does not have, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away from him.”  What they thought they had was the favor of God.  They were the ones brought out of Egypt.  They were the ones who ate the bread of angels in the desert.  They were the ones given the Law.  They were the ones given the prophets and the holy Scriptures.  They had it all!  The testimony of God about himself.  Who is this?  He is, “Yahweh, Yahweh, God, who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding with loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love to the thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and he does not leave utterly unpunished, punishing the guilt of fathers on sons and on sons of sons on third and fourth generations.”  And yet, “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—he gave to them authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a husband, but of God.”

Anyone, but anyone in the last two thousand years or so who picks up this book, this Bible and can read the words that are printed in it is freely given the knowledge it contains.  The knowledge of the One True God and His Salvation in the bodily form of Jesus Christ.  Not just the prophecy, not just the parable but the meaning, the plain truth, this one, this Jesus, this is the Anointed Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

What will we do with it?  What will you do with this Jesus who is called, Christ?

Friday, November 11, 2016

the Four Loves: The Lion of Judah

Power.  Acclaim.  Influence.  Fame.  Privilege.  Freedom.


Aye, there’s the rub.  For in my mind, Pride is the unforgivable sin.  

‘Now hold on there Baba Luey!’ you say, ‘I’m pretty sure the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit!’  And i’d say you are right and this is a rabbit trail except that it illustrates our point beautifully.  

The incident you are referring to is in Matthew 12 and Jesus has just driven out a demon, “And all the crowds were amazed and began saying, “Perhaps this one is the Son of David!” But the Pharisees, when they heard it, said, “This man does not expel demons except by Beelzebul the ruler of demons!””  The Holy Spirit has just testified with a display of power and a sign and a wonder that Jesus is the Son of David and that the Son of David is more than we imagined he was.  For the work of the Spirit is the glorifying of God the Father through the testimony and glorifying of Jesus the Son, “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev 19)  The Pharisees see their power and influence challenged and they spread a counter gospel.  They preach what they hear their father preaching.  In their pride and their lust for power, they blaspheme against the Holy Spirit’s testimony.  

Satan thought himself a lion and so challenged God for control of the pride of heaven.  Archangel Mike tossed him on his tookus and he fell to earth and took control of the pride of earth, killing the cubs of his predecessor.  “Woe to the earth and to the sea,
    because the devil has come down to you,
having great anger,
    because he knows that he has little time!” (Rev 12)
Satan’s pride and lust for power are absolute in him.  There can be no forgiveness because, and this is key, because you rightly testify that Jesus’ blood and finished work and unfailing love can forgive ANY sin…

EXCEPT… the sin that never asks for forgiveness even in the face of God Himself.  

And there it is.  Pride won’t come to Jesus.  Pride won’t admit any god but itself.  

But God!  “So those who heard this said, “And who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18)  Jesus can set the slaves and the prisoners free!  Yahweh humbles the proud!  Ask Nebuchadnezzar.  Ask Paul.  Jesus is Lord of…Lords!  Jesus is King of …Kings!  He is the Lion over all other lions and He is imminent!  

“The sun and the moon grow dark,
    and the stars have withheld their splendor.
And Yahweh roars from Zion;
    from Jerusalem he utters his voice,
and the heavens and the earth shake.”  (Joel 3)

The Day is coming and when it does…

“They will go after Yahweh;
        he roars like a lion.
When he roars,
    his children will come trembling
        from the sea.
They will tremble like birds from Egypt,
    and like doves from the land of Assyria;
and I will let them return to their homes—
    a declaration of Yahweh.” (Hosea 11)

“And one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! Behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.

And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders a Lamb standing as though slaughtered…” (Rev 5)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

the Four Loves: the Great Eagle

Today we shoo the Vulture off the old man with our Father Abraham.  Today we look up and see God soaring high in the heavens.  Today, like Frodo and Sam, we are plucked off Mount Doom and rescued on the wings of the Great Eagle.  
“For Yahweh’s portion was his people,
    Jacob the share of his inheritance.
He found him in a desert land,
    and in a howling, desert wasteland;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
    he protected him like the apple of his eye.
As an eagle stirs up its nest,
    hovers over its young,
spreads out its wings, takes them,
    carries them on its pinions,
so Yahweh alone guided him,
    and there was no foreign god accompanying him.” (Deut 32)

There was no foreign god accompanying him.  Approval lusts for, well, approval.  Everyone is a foreign god!  We don’t know who we are until someone else tells us.  We don’t know we have worth and value until the people around us, our chosen gods tell us we’re okay.  If we have the right peer group.  If the bosses think we’re special.  If our mentor is pleased with us.  If our wife loves us.  If our husband makes us feel pretty.  If our children are our friends.  We lust after identity and we let other broken people tell us who we are and if we’re good.

"Come with me if you want to live."
Again, the problem is not what you lust for, it’s who you’re trying to get it from.  Whom you are feeding on.  God created you for relationship, but in Himself, He alone is the Bread your soul craves, He alone can tell you who you are.  When we broke faith with him we lost more than our identity.  We lost our purpose, our freedom we had in His love and care, of whose we were.  We became slaves of sin, which the Word likens to being slaves in Egypt, but God says, “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and I brought you to me. And now if you will carefully listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be a treasured possession for me out of all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, but you, you will belong to me as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’”  (19)

And it’s really that simple.  How do we, Lo-Ammi, Not-my-People, vultures feeding on the same dead flesh as our own, seeking our approval and identity from other sinners  become the Children of God?  We are called.  We are saved.  The Eagle came for you…”He came to his own things, and his own people did not receive him. But as many as received him—to those who believe in his name—he gave to them authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a husband, but of God.” (John 1)

“So then, brothers, we are obligated not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those who are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself confirms to our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer together with him so that we may also be glorified together with him.” (Rom 8)

i’m not saying it’s going to be easy or fun, at least not all the time.  “Bore on Eagles wings” is a euphemism.  Yes, some days it will feel amazing, effortless, solid and joyful, like flying, but not always, being born on those wings means sharing in what happens to those wings, shairng in Christ's sufferings, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and being perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey him, being designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek." (Heb 5)  It still means walking a waterless, trackless, empty desert learning to trust this God as Father, only being given what we need when He thinks we actually need it and not before, learning to become priests and a holy nation, ambassadors, a testimony of the Living God our Father, a precious treasure.  We must pray, read the Word, join in worship and fellowship, seek Him!  See Him!  Feed on HIM!  But now we do it not to BECOME, not to gain approval, but BECAUSE, we are chosen, called, named and made holy in Jesus already!  God names you first what  you are and then guides you through the process of making you that thing.  If you have heard the Eagle's voice and answered his high and lofty call, sanctification is becoming what He has already made you: In Jesus, fully accepted, fully loved, fully approved.  

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

the Four Loves: the Infant King

We serve an amazing God.  

In light of recent events, i was preparing a completely different post today.  i was going to wrestle control from the pattern i had “arbitrarily” set and rail against the idol of Power today, even though Control was next up in the queue.  But God.  

Fortunately, i read and listen before i sit at the keyboard and speak.  God has given me that much grace.  For He seems to have a different message for us than i had thought to put in His mouth.  

And in a sense, that’s all we need to know about king baby Control and how to eclipse him with the infant Prince of Peace, the God who could rest in the arms of a teen age girl.  The Creator who trusted Himself to His creation.  Read, seek and listen… First.  

The wailing tantrum of the king baby idol is: God is not good.  God is not in power.  God is not for us.  Maybe it’s more nuanced, “God is like adults, yeah he sees, but he’s so far above and so holy minded your little problems don’t really matter.  Our nation is just a blip in time, He’s got other concerns.  Higher concerns.  Big important stuff.  Give us a call if you get cancer or something and He’ll see what he can do but He’s pretty busy.  No promises.  You can deal with this petty stuff yourself, you got this.  Bless you and be at peace.”  Right.  As if there could be peace in a world where God is either absent or uninvolved, where it all depended on you, but that’s not what the gospel says he is at all.

“Consequently a sabbath rest remains for the people of God. For the one who has entered into his rest has also himself rested from his works, just as God did from his own works.
Therefore, let us make every effort to enter into that rest, in order that no one may fall in the same pattern of disobedience.” (Heb 4)  And what is this pattern of disobedience that the author of Hebrews says will keep us from entering His rest, His Sabbath, His Shalom?  “…but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united with those who heard it in faith.”  United with those who heard it in faith?  What’s that mean?  And who were they not united with?  Who heard the gospel in faith?  

Glad you asked!  “And Abram said, “Look, you have not given me a descendant, and here, a member of my household is my heir.” And behold, the word of Yahweh came to him saying, “This person will not be your heir, but your own son will be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward the heavens and count the stars if you are able to count them.” And he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed in Yahweh, and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15)

God is not temporal.  God is not fixed in a moment as we are.  All of time has already happened and is happening right in front of him.  That’s why Christ could be crucified “before the foundation of the world” and yet we didn’t see it until around A.D. thirty.  God is not just saying to Abraham, you’re going to have lots of kids…or grandkids.. or great grandkids as it were.  He is saying that but those are just the shadow of things to come, what He’s really talking about are those united with him in faith!  The true sons of Abraham (John 8)! Those who would hear the gospel of Abram’s heir, his true heir, Jesus Christ, the true infant king and believe HIM.  And to them, to us today who have heard the gospel and believed, it is credited as righteousness.  We today, as long as it is called today, can enter into his rest, his Sabbath: the finished work of God!  No matter who they crown king in D.C.  No matter what the doctors say.  No matter what if.  No matter what goes down with our jobs.  No matter what our wives or our children do.  No matter what we think we need or want or must have, God is on the throne!  Jesus is in Control.  The Messiah has come!

"For a child has been born for us;

    a son has been given to us.
And the dominion will be on his shoulder,
    and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
        Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His dominion will grow continually,
    and to peace there will be no end
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and sustain it
with justice and righteousness
    now and forever.
The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will do this."  Is 9

Believe HIM and enter his rest.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

the Four Loves- the True Ox

“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who live on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the powerless, who crush the poor, who say to their husbands, “Bring something so that we may drink!”” 

We have seen the baespel (i made that word up, so yeah, you’re seeing it right) of the Ox of Comfort.  We’ve heard her bells tinkling in our own lives.  Inviting us to what she promises will be greener pastures.  Bulling open gates which should not be opened and luring us out of fences which keep us safe with promises of freedom and ease and indulgence.  We’ve heard (see what i did there?) her lies, “God is not good.  God is harsh.  God is a hard man, a severe God, reaping where He does not sow, gathering where he does not scatter seed.  We need to find our own joy.  Our own freedom.  Our own comfort.  Fear not, he’s forgiven you, all things are open to you (yes, Satan quotes scripture)”  It wouldn’t be called temptation if it weren’t tempting.  We believe this long lashed ox.  We join her herd (that’s what i did there) and trample others in our desire, our supposed need, our LUST to get what we want, what we feel God in his wrath, indifference or weakness refused to, cared not to or could not provide.  

“Oh wretched man that i am!  Who will save me from this body of death?”  How do we fight this bull?  How do we turn this ox?

Glad you asked, here’s my guaranteed two step program to beating temptation.  

Step One: turn around.

Step Two: do you see Jesus?  If No, repeat step one because you didn’t actually do it.  If Yes, then fall down at his feet and worship him!

i’m not kidding.  That’s it.  As Rev. Tim Keller says, petition is how you see your world.  Confession is how you see yourself.  And Adoration is what informs and shapes them both!  When we adore ourselves and our idol, God is cruel, God is small, God is absent.  God’s gifts aren’t good.  Before it confesses and before it petitions, the Lord’s prayer starts wth Adoration because you need to see Him first as he is!  You need to know to whom you are speaking.  Whom you are following.  You need to see by His light!  The Bible doesn’t ask you to blindly trust, it says, “Taste and see that I AM good!”  It asks you to turn and trust because you DO know him!  Some will call it repentance for that’s what the word means, to turn.  Some will call it abiding ( thanks Eric! ) for you would have to be with Jesus, the better Adam in order to see the danger and turn anyway.  For you like Eve, on your own, would dive right into that cow and sink your teeth into a filet.  Blood still in it.  But our husband, our truer Adam, unlike our first one, which we are obviously no better than, stops us, turns us, guides us back to himself.  Which came first?  Who cares?  Rejoice that He does it!  Rejoice in him!  The true Ox.  The true Bull.  The true Servant who loves to the point of sacrificing himself for the One he loves!  The true Heifer who takes away our sins!  The true yoke mate who pulls oh so much harder than we do and bears all the weight!  See HIM!  Know HIM!  Seriously.  Know him in the biblical sense!  The baespel draws us away by making us doubt God, doubt Jesus, doubt His love and compassion and devotion to us.  Our idols tell us lies about Him first before they make their counter offers because otherwise it would be ludicrous to think this stinking, fly infested cow has something our loving Father does not.  Could give us something our loving husband would not.  Would give us something better than obedience to our Master will.  Yes, it may feel like a life of fences, goads and suffering servitude at times, maybe even the whole time…

But take a look at the towering bull who was slain and lives in the yoke with you.  Lean on him, he’s strong enough to bear the yoke and you as well.

" For in that which he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted." Heb 2

Monday, November 07, 2016

the Four Needs: Ephphatha!

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of the hands of humankind.
They have mouths, but cannot speak;
they have eyes, but cannot see;
they have ears, but cannot hear;
there is not even breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
as does everyone who trusts in them.” Ps 135

For modern, “enlightened” folk, idols sound primitive.  Yes, i’ve been in homes that had statues of buddha and the like, but only rarely have i seen actual shrines.  But as with nearly all of our visible sins, they are merely the outward expression of an inward desire.  And i probably shouldn’t even use the word ‘desire’.  Hosea  and Ezekiel paint it as a much more lurid picture.  We don’t just desire our idols, we Lust for them.  We are not passive.  We are violently active.  i’m guessing Eve didn’t take a tentative, dainty, lady-like bite with pinkies out.  She dug in like a shark and got its blood-red juice all over her face and offered it out to Adam with stained hands and a come hither gleam in her eyes.  As Paul says, “Therefore put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry…” (Col 3)  Earthly.  i like that because Ezekiel tells us we have hearts of stone.  Earth.  Stone, metal and wood.  Temporary things which are passing away.  We have become like what we desire, taking on its properties, the properties of the temporal and the dull and the blind.

But if we’re deaf as posts and blind as a bag of rocks and acting out of our basest instincts, how in God’s name are we supposed to put off idols?  We’re slaves!  We’re prisoners of our own disobedience, born as prisoners, born as slaves!  How can we be freed?  Yes indeedy!  How is that even possible?

It’s not.  You don’t.  But fear not!  “For he knows our frame.  He remembers that we are dust.” (Ps 103)

“Say to those who are hasty of heart,
“Be strong; you must not fear!
    Look! your God will come with vengeance,
with divine retribution.
    He is the one who will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf shall be opened.
Then the lame shall leap like the deer,
    and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy…” (Is 35)

Christ has come!  He who stood in the church of the blind, “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll he found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because of which he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me
to proclaim release to the captives,
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
to send out in freedom those who are oppressed,
    to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were looking intently at him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

We’ve seen and believed!  Thanks be to God!  He has done this, His grace has done this!  He has stuck his fingers in our ears and said, “Ephphatha!” and dropped the scales from our eyes and we looked and we saw the rodent of sin crawling away in fear from the holy one, into the crusty ground of our heart.  And we hollered, “Hang tight, Jesus!  i got this!”  And we grabbed our shovel of the Spirit and started digging and we’re surprised at how deep the hole goes and then we hit something hard, something unyielding, something metal.  We dig and we dig and the more we dig, the more we expose a colossus.  The idol beneath.  This week (of all weeks!) i hope and pray we’re going to see how God takes what we think we need, how he takes the Four Needs which perhaps we should relabel, the Four Lusts, the idols of Comfort and Control and Approval and Power and replaces them with Love.  This week of all weeks, i hope and pray you hear HIM say,

“No.  You hang tight.  I AM’s got this.”

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Make Slogans Great and Stronger Together Again

Used with permission of the artist, Rod Gillies
Taking a break from the Four Needs for a brief acknowledgment of the imminent Black Tuesday, a date which will live in infamy.  The day we decide if we want to be ruled by a ruthless sociopath or a megalomaniacal one.  If we want the devil we know or the one hiding behind the door on the right.  But this is not a negative post.  i'm not bashing anyone more than they bash themselves.  That would be whipping an octopus which is busily flogging itself with all eight limbs.  It just wouldn't notice.

What i would like to talk about are slogans.

Mr. Trump says he would like to Make America Great Again.  i am all for that.  i would like America to be what it was when i last thought it was great.  When i was taught civics by idealists from the forties, fifties and sixties who came from both the left and the right and still shared the same ideals.  The same belief that we could do anything as a country.  That despite our foibles and faults and faux pas we were still the greatest country on earth.  When i played with white and black and filipino and vietnamese and hispanic kids and never thought a bit about what made us different.  Before i new the N word.  Heck, i may not have even known the F word.  Because those words weren't allowed on tv.  Back when stores were closed on Sundays and holidays.  Back when i thought everyone went to church except that one or two neighbor of mine who still fought and put out a fire in our house one Sunday before we got home from church.  Back before i knew the word "corporate" as a slur.  When i thought my money was safer in a bank.  i would love for America to be all the things i thought it was when i was young and naive.  What it was before i new what naive meant.  When i believed leaders when they spoke.  When i teared up for patriotic speeches.  When i wanted to stand at attention when i saw a marine walk by.  When i believed in just wars and liberations and the defeat of actual tyrannies by citizen soldiers.  When i thought America would never ever but never flirt with electing a tyrant ourselves.

Mrs. Clinton says we are Stronger Together.  And i completely agree.  Which is why as the most despicably divisive candidate to ever be put up against the most dispicably mad one we've ever had, if she actually believed what she says, she would step aside and let someone run who could actually have a prayer of uniting this country.

Mr. Johnson, i'm sorry, sir, i have no idea what your slogan is, which is really all i need to know about you and your chances.

So if i may, i'd like to propose a new slogan:
God save America.

Friday, November 04, 2016

the Four Needs: Power

Undisturbed in the wild, i have it on pretty good authority over at National Geographic that the biggest threat to lions is other lions.  In his pride, a male lion is king…until another male comes along.  Should this new contender defeat the original, the first thing the new king does is kill the cubs of the old male.  The pride is now his.  The offspring will be too.  In my mind, and keep in yours that all of this is just my own thoughts, but i see Power as male.  Power is a maned Lion.  Even a woman who worships at the paws of Power subverts her femininity the deeper she goes.  

In his pride, Lucifer thought himself the equal of God.  Pride gave way to lust for power and he became deluded enough to vie for the throne.  Thrown down,  (not directly by God but by his servant Michael.  God has no challenger.) yet allowed to keep some semblance of authority, Satan set about killing the children of the King, the true Lion.  Being a serpent instead of a lion, he uses lies, incidentally, the same lies he himself believes.  “Has God really said…?  If you are the Son of God…?  God doesn’t love you.  God cannot be trusted.  For God knows that on the day you both eat from it, then your eyes will be opened and you both shall be like gods, knowing good and evil.”  He infected us with his own pride, for pride is subject to none.  The bait was swallowed, the fruit was eaten, the die was cast and we live with the lust for power, for godhood, roaring in our ears.  We died and became children of the Liar, sons of destruction, sons of disobedience.  We cannot bow to you, for we are gods.  We are lions.  We are kings!

A king loves comfort but he will sacrifice it for his honor, he will take to the warpath to prove his greatness.  A lion must have control but he’s perfectly happy to have servants do the work.  A god does not need your approval, he is god!  What he wants, needs (though he would never admit to so base a weakness), Deserves! is your fealty, your submission, your fear.

Your worship.  

As i found out for myself, He is not always easy to see.  For all his pride, the Lion does much of his work under cover of darkness.  Resting during the day when your eyes are upon him.  He may boast or he may prefer others boast about him.  He may need to be the center of attention or just prefer the center of attention to perform for him and by his leave.  He may lead the group; and the group may need to either be large or of high quality or he may be a hermit ruling a kingdom of one where he is unquestioned.  He may think of himself as a warrior, an apostle, a poet, a leader, a messiah, even a humble servant, almost anything, but he is above it all.  Above the petty needs and worries of the unwashed masses.  He may appear to listen intently as you pour your heart out to him but he is looking for his opportunity to pounce and pummel you with his logic, his vision, his opinion, his interests or his humorous anecdote which, let’s face it, is so much funnier than yours.   Even his needs and his problems are more important than yours, more urgent than others'.

Underneath it all is the power of shame and honor.  Love me or hate me but you must not ignore me.  And don’t you dare disrespect me!  More easily identified by what he fears: insignificance, shame, disgrace, embarrassment, losing face, being disdained, ignored, irrelevant.  When slighted, he cannot let it go.  He fantasizes imprecatory psalms.  If He prays, he prays as Samson.  If he pleads, it is something along the lines of, “O God, just don’t waste my time and talents.  Do not let me live an insignificant life!”

He can also be spotted by his reaction to these things, his governing emotion: Rage. He can forgive but only on his terms, only when it makes him more regal.  Anger seethes beneath his haughty expression, his manners, his ingratiating, his bullying, his opinions which must be presented as absolute truths, his casual advice which he expects to be followed, his service which must be praised, his deeds which must be held in awe.  Wrath, completely justified in his own eyes, for remember, he is king, he is the lion, he is a god, self-determined, self-righteous, lies in waiting for anyone who challenges his intelligence, his strength, his abilities, his talents, for any of these things may be the vessels of his pride.  His wisdom, his business savvy, his athleticism, his learning, his sexual prowess, his theology, the lion will spend his youth looking for the thing that makes him great, the thing he can do which others seem to struggle with and he will take it into his heart as proof that he is worthy of honor, worthy of esteem, worthy to be worshiped.  

““You were a perfect model of an example,
    full of wisdom and perfect of beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God,
    and every precious stone was your adornment:
carnelian, topaz and moonstone,
    turquoise, onyx and jasper,
sapphire, malachite and emerald.
    And gold was the craftsmanship of your settings
and your mountings in you;
    on the day when you were created they were prepared.
You were an anointed guardian cherub,
    and I placed you on God’s holy mountain;
you walked in the midst of stones of fire.
    You were blameless in your ways
from the day when you were created,
    until wickedness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trading,
    they filled the midst of you with violence, and you sinned;
and I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
    and I expelled you, the guardian cherub,
    from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
    you ruined your wisdom because of your splendor.” (Ezek 28)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

the Four Needs: Approval

All of the idols objectify others in our lives to some degree or another.  All of them use people to get what they need, but for Approval, getting what we need from other people IS the goal.  No other idol seems to directly feed off of other humans the way this one does.  And so the Eagle of the Spirit-Filled believer, noble and true is warped and twisted into the Vulture who feeds on the souls of men.  Vulture and Eagle are even the same word in the Bible usually translated as one or the other according to context.  

Approval and Power have fuzzy borders in many of our minds.  It’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins.  “There needs to be a fence here,” says everyone with a Control idol.  Hopefully this helps.  They began to take on a more distinct personality for me when i thought of them this way.  There are two mindsets to our sins, dominant and servile.  The dominant proud say in their deepest heart, a place so buried sounds in it do not reach the consciousness, there in the dark they whisper to themselves, “i am god!”  The dominant has either destroyed the Lord in his mind, denying His existence or he sees Him but thinks himself His equal or even His better.  The servile on the other hand, recognize they are not God, fear him but in their pride think they can justify themselves to Him.  The statement in their heart of hearts is, “i am good.”  Power desires godhood.  Power is Lucifer’s own path.  Approval would be content to just be worthy of God.  But both are positions of Pride.

‘Well, what’s wrong with that?’  You ask.  ‘Aren’t we all just seeking God’s approval?  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant?’’  Well, yeah, no… maybe?  Sort of?  No, no we don’t.  And here’s why.

We already have it.  

Jesus is the good and faithful servant.  Faith is believing, not only has his death taken the place of our death, but his good works, both past, present and future are ours as well!  We already are good and faithful servants!  In Christ!  So a healthy servant at this point isn’t seeking anything but to bring joy to the Father in thanksgiving!  Joy to his brothers and sisters, in praise!  Love seeks the good of the other, always!

Approval does not love.  Approval needs.  The flow is not outward, no matter how much good it does for anyone.  No matter how much work it does for the church.  No matter how much happiness it even brings to anyone.  Good deed, bad deed, all that it does for others, is ultimately only for Itself.  The flow is inward.  Incurvatus in se.  Approval wants to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” yes.  But not because it loves God.  But because it hates Him and wants to deny His authority over it.  Because it fears His rejection, Approval sees its inferiority, sees its need and despises itself.  And then it despises the one who makes it feel small.  It knows it cannot be a god, or so it thinks, it may even praise itself for its humility in thinking so, but what it seeks is to not be under God’s power but to be free of it!  It wants to be the one being on this fallen world whom Jesus did not have to die for.  Do you see it?  Do you see how even in the church, this person whom so many will love for their “servant’s heart” can even set their sights upon Jesus himself’s approval and miss the Gospel entirely because they don’t want Him, the Way, the Truth and the Life, they want Him to think they are good enough as they are.

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many miracles in your name?’ And then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matt 7

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

the Four Needs: Control

i don’t wanna put on my Tom Cruise School of Psychology hat here but if Comfort Kids were weaned too early and held too little, then Control Kids often seem to have grown up in chaotic households.  Fear dominates.  Anxiety dominates.  The desire for Safety becomes a ruling need.  Protection.  Security.  Control.

God is not big enough.  God is not good enough.  Trust in God but lock your doors.  i have to do it because others are too careless.  i can’t do that because well, what if…?  You can’t do that because what if…?  Rules are good.  Laws are good.  Walls are good.  We must keep that out there and this in here manageable.  We must keep them out there and everyone in here needs to toe the line.  Power is only good if it is outside the wall or governed by the law or safe here in my own little paw.  Might ruffle a feather or two here but i think this is why many of us want to carry a gun.  It’s not the gun we crave and they are not evil because all things are pure for those who are pure and besides, guns is cool!  It’s the sense of power over chaos.  It’s the sense of control they give us.  When it hits the fan, I’ll have options.  I’ll be one of the ones deciding things.  Not a slave to anyone.  Not a victim.  The greatest commandment Control etches into the shivering stone of our hearts is “Thou shalt not be a Victim… again.”  

And thus, Control is an infant king.  The Man corrupted.  The son of man who never stopped being afraid, who never stopped being small, who never trusted the goodness and love of the Father.  “And God said, “Let us make humankind in our image and according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every moving thing that moves upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the likeness of God he created him, male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of heaven, and over every animal that moves upon the earth.”  (Gen 1)  Man was made ruler over the earth, to fill and subdue but trust was broken and in our arrogance, we treat God as if he were the one who broke it.  As if He can’t be trusted.  Control looks out upon it all now and said, ‘chaos! No one can rule this!’ and it retreats to an enclave.  It builds a tower to keep all of its chicks home.  To keep from ever getting lost.  It cries, “There are giants in the land and we are but grasshoppers!”  It says wealth keeps me safe, keeps me in control, i cannot part with it, i must have my nest egg for rainy days.  Control is an insomniac; waking many times in the night needing to be comforted but with eyes fiercely tight, little walls to keep out the dark, it never sees the Father standing over.  It says my party must be in power for yours doesn’t have my interests at heart.  It says i have to be in charge because you cannot be trusted.  It hovers over its children’s educations for what if they aren’t equipped?  What if they are exposed to something i don’t approve of?  What if they are bullied?  It wears suspenders and a belt with drawstring sweats.  It buys security systems and insurance policies and security systems for its insurance policies.  It keeps the job it hates because, better the devil i know...  It moves to the suburbs and then it moves to the mountains when the roads get too crowded.  It risks nothing, smothers what it loves and condemns all that disturb the order.  It loves tradition and hates change.  It inherits an empire built by adventurers and micro manages it into the ground because it’s afraid to lose any of it.

Three times God told Joshua, “be strong and courageous.”  Joshua.  No slouch by any means.  A warrior tested and true.  A spirit filled disciple of Moses himself.  Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous.”  And again, “Did I not command you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be dismayed for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go.”  Why?  Why three times?  Why does every time God describes himself, he uses words like ‘faithful’ and ‘loyal’?  Why does the person with OCD check fifteen times to see if the toaster is unplugged and then lie awake in bed worrying about fire?

Because they don’t believe.  And neither do we.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Four Needs: Comfort

Comfort is a cow.  

You probably didn’t think of it as such before, did you?  Neither did i.  But it fits rather well.  Sleek, luxuriant, docile, idly chewing her cud and blandly watching the world go by.  Self-serving, irresistible in size, she just bulls her way into your thoughts and sits down on your lap, and moos, “i’m bored.”  “i’m hungry.”  “i’m lonely.”  “This is making me anxious, i just want to (fill in the blank).”  

Cuz that’s what comfort does.  It fills in the blanks.  The empty spaces we think God has not filled in our lives.  God didn’t give me a job i like so i need this to stay sane.  God didn’t give me a husband/wife who loves me so i need this to fend off the loneliness, to feel wanted.  God didn’t give me joy or peace today so i need this to feel full, satisfied, comfortable.  Everything and everyone are just things to be used to satiate our longings.  i had a rough day, i need this time to write and draw (oh cruel irony!), this drink, this porn, this gossip, this hobby, this teevee, this gym, this video game, this person, this child, this church service, to feel good, to feel right, to feel even, to feel WHOLE.  

Forty days Moe was up on Mount Sinai.  The people got anxious.  The people felt out of control.  Their shepherd had led them far from their masters.  And now their shepherd was gone.  They felt a gap, a blank in their lives.  “And the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, and the people gathered opposite Aaron, and they said to him, “Come, make for us gods who will go before us, because this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
And Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring it to me.” And all the people took off the rings of gold that were on their ears and brought it to Aaron. And he took from their hand, and he shaped it with a tool, and he made it a cast-image bull calf, and they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
And Aaron saw, and he built an altar before it, and Aaron called, and he said, “A feast for Yahweh tomorrow.” And they started early the next day, and they offered burnt offerings, and they presented fellowship offerings, and the people sat to eat and drink, and they rose up to revel.” (Ex 32)

“Waiting for Moses, waiting for Yahweh, is too hard.  Putting off pleasures (that may never come!) is stupid.  This life is all you have,” Comfort lows to you, “look around, see what this place has to offer.  We can make a little heaven right here on earth.  Fasting is stupid.  You were made to eat.  You’re a sexual being, a human with needs, she doesn’t understand, he never even sees you anymore.  One more for the road, you can handle it.  It’s going to be legal everywhere soon and you need to unwind, you do a lot for people and they don’t appreciate it.  You need to love yourself too.  No one else is looking out for you.  You don’t want to read the Bible, it’s boring, you need sleep anyway.”

The problem starts with a perceived need.  A longing if you will.  And that is good because it’s true.  i will not deny your needs.  Your gaps.  Your blanks.  They exist.  Our problem isn’t that we need, it’s that we don’t need enough!  Ask the addict at the end of his rope, there is never enough!  Because you were made for infinity!  Infinite pleasure, infinite joy, infinite life, infinite love, an Infinite God!  As C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”  You are going to feel the lack and the longing for as long as you live in this world.  Even more of Him will only make you desire more of Him but the veil is torn!  Easter has come!  We know whom we serve and where He is. “‘Child, you are always with me, and everything I have belongs to you.” (Luke 15)  We can KNOW the Day is coming, when you will eat the bread and drink the wine in the presence of the only lover you have ever truly had!

And i don’t promise you, HE promises you, (quotes nearly the whole Bible) you will be satisfied.