Monthly Archives: January 2022

Idols (?)

IDOLS (?)

They genuflect before their idols

No idols do they see

Only girl-power or man-power

To which they bow the knee

                          …

And now what shall you say?

You don’t agree in any way?

You – love – them

Those famous fancies flaunting

Futile fantasies

                          …

Love? The line has been crossed

Between goodwill – and cultish attachment

They – have you – emotionally

Just as they used to scream and shout

Beginning with Frank or was it Bill?

Followed by the Fab Four no doubt

                          …

Such scenes we did perceive

As females fainted and became undone

And wobbly

All weak at the knees and

Likewise – It seems – at the seams

                          …

We laughed – didn’t take it seriously

And some of it was pinch of salt

But the ‘worship-need’

Found expression in the wrong place

Set on the ‘object’ of the eyes

(Whilst emotions were in ‘outer space’)

                         …

Young men too – on the Imitation Train

Following their idols right around the bend 

                         …

For all that feeds the limited nature

Into the lower nature

Loving not the Creator –

but the creature

                         …

But now back-up a bit

And take a long-studied look

See this world like a writhing can of worms

And ask yourself

What will change the horror of

Desperation-arms and hands

Reaching and clutching at the roof?

                         …

No backbone – just jelly-fish views:

‘If it feels good – do it’

The cry that becomes the decree

                         …

The world is losing control

To a – greater – not lesser – degree

Unless you accept the control of you and me

By outside forces that dictate your dictionary

                        …

There are already many antichrists

On the planet

Slowly roping-you-in

Burying in deceit

Their rampant hearts of sin

                        …

And if you would be aware

As true awareness should be

You’d better stop and listen

To the gospel that comes free

                        …

There’s a solid rock to reach

A sure foundation like an oak

Of a solid tree

Dispelling any darkness that

Flourishes in you and me

                        …

I could not find a way

That wasn’t turmoil-ridden

Justifying all that was forbidden

Until the day idols were demolished

Heralding a different kind of living

                       …

I now stand free on solid soil

Subjective peace for inner turmoil

And though I must prepare

For stormy weather

I’m cuff-linked to His Word

In The Rock I find my tether

                     …

‘With Christ in the vessel

I can smile at the storm’

Despite the world’s rejection

Indifference – ridicule and scorn

                     …

“God’s Grace please leave me never!”

As I worship Jesus forever

Shall I write…?

Shall I write…?

Shall I write a poem

All couched in ancient language

In obsolete or ambiguous words?

                    …

Shall I speak in hushed tones

Of Sobriety – clothed in ‘proper’ drones

Like a sniff from the Parson’s nose

All self-righteous in a condescending pose?

                    …

Shall I write in the age-old fashion

With religious language – as I bow

Before the throne of King James

Nothing to do with the here and now?

                    …

And stuttering to a stop

Ask Shakespeare to step-up

And receive the remaining accolades

As surrounded by the king’s entourage

I am dismissed as the village idiot

“Give him the badge”

                    …

Upon my head I have the jester’s hat

Is ancient cronyism all we’ve got?

                    …

Instead I don’t give way unquestioningly

To the old-fashioned prose

But rather this is what I chose

                    …

I chose to sort the wheat from the chaff

For many a truth was spoken so long ago

In ancient expressions no longer on the go

                    …

And though

                    …

I may not get it at first glance

I will consider it and give it a chance

                    …

Because our world of ‘cool’ and present-day

Has gone astray

Baby is out with the bath water

And the world is in dismay

So – so – little wisdom it displays

As it shuts out –

The Ancient of days

Comfortable & familiar – only?

COMFORTABLE & FAMILIAR (only?) 2021

Apart from enjoying fellowship in our particular local assemblies, as Christians, we are all familiar with our denominational or non-denominational approaches to the things of God. (Our ‘in-house’ language, as it were).

Most of us, if we are honest, look for hints and signs, when reading and analysing Christian writing/theology, to find that which we are familiar with, and that we find acceptable, or (in it’s absence) as a means of finding reasons to shun that which is otherwise.

The idea is to get past any suspicions we might have as to who this is? What this is? And does it fall into line with our own ‘articles of faith’?

As soon as someone says something in a way we are not familiar with – we exit the premises – or more precisely the blog post.

That’s ok – we are free to do so. But let’s be careful we are not guilty of a kind of narrow-mindedness – that isn’t actually rejecting ‘heresy’ or unacceptable ‘theological’ views contradictory to our sincerely held standpoint – but rather rejecting the expressions, words, illustrations that do not fit our vocabulary.

When we are familiar with a church or organisation, and know we do not hold with ‘their’ theology, we can be (if we are not careful) utterly dismissive of them, for whom Christ has died.

Now of course there are other religions, or cults, that we cannot embrace. But it is a challenge to know how to, nevertheless, respond to their adherents.

Let’s allow scriptural examples to challenge us to think again, and not close-off automatically. (Scriptures not from the same passage)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

38 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.”

39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Just a few.

But  interesting – Yes?

To embrace our fellow human beings – Christian or non-Christian – who do not hold with our pet doctrines can sometimes be a tall order.

But then as the old lyric says: ‘walk tall, walk straight, and look the world right in the eye.’

This calls for some compassion in our walk and ‘outlook’.

We can have some folks visit our blog on a regular basis, until one day we cut across their denominational or otherwise held view, or we can say something in a way that doesn’t pass their preference test of acceptable language and that’s it, despite their previous 20 ‘likes’ – they are out the door.

Ever happen to you? Anyway I can’t help seeing the humorous side of it – it’s as if suddenly they are afraid of us. 😎

Thoughts…

Thoughts…

There is no human being that can recall or recount the thoughts that went through their mind yesterday. In fact I would suggest the same applies to the thoughts you had within the last ten minutes – how about last two minutes?

By recall/recount I mean every single thought in the order you had them – exactly as they were.

You see it is a pretty impossible task to do so. We can recall that we were thinking about a given subject – but we cannot re-run verbatim every thought we had in a given day.

God has no problem with this. The ability to do this – is well within His brief.

Let’s face it – God having created mankind, is of course, of a superior intellect than all of mankind put together. If this were not so – then how could He have the ingenuity to create us in the first place?

But God’s thoughts towards mankind are not always the same. Yes – always the same in His intentions, because of the salvation wrought by and through The Person of His Son – but God’s thoughts are often thoughts of response to what mankind is thinking and doing on the earth

At given seasons, at given periods of history, at specific times, and in the context of given situations that have arisen on the planet, God’s thoughts are thoughts that arise in response to man’s thoughts, words, and actions.

Here is an example of God having thoughts at a given time and situation:

Jeremiah 29/

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

We talk of finding the context, when we quote a given piece or pieces of scripture. And it is wise to do that. But God’s Word is beyond just grammatical considerations. Or contextual ones.

A big additional factor with the thoughts of God, rather than just the words of men unaided by God is mentioned in:

John 6/63 (Jesus speaking) where we read:

…The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

Words as spoken by God Himself, have creative power, miracle working power.

When God speaks – His purpose for doing so, – may differ greatly from season to season. And what He says is often in response to earthly situations, that man finds himself in, or has brought upon himself.

God thinks and then speaks. Almost just as we do. Except that proper pre-meditation often escapes human beings, who so easily speak wrongly, or out of turn.

Concerning man’s thoughts – we are told in Psalm 94/11 that God knows the thoughts of man:

The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile (vain empty)…

And yet, what are we to do? We cannot think with some other mind (?) – we have only the one. And yet God invites us to do that very thing –

5 …Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

He invites us to think His thoughts after Him – this should be a major concern for every Christian, namely, to fill his/her mind with the thoughts of God – utilising the means He has provided as in Bible meditation.

We are also given insight into God’s thoughts in Psalm 40/4:

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works

Which You have done;

And Your thoughts toward us

Cannot be recounted to You in order;

If I would declare and speak of them,

They are more than can be numbered.

So God, we can be assured, has ‘thoughts toward us’, – thoughts in our direction.

He considers and has not abandoned mankind.

Even when we have abandoned Him, He still wants to communicate, and wants us to listen. That’s why He both sent prophets to speak His thoughts to us, and has enabled men to write His thoughts down, in scripture.

God thinking and speaking again in response to man’s thoughts and actions says this:

Jeremiah 6/

Hear, O earth!

Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—

The fruit of their thoughts,

Because they have not heeded My words

Notice ‘the fruit of their thoughts”

What fruit is our thoughts producing?

God will tailor-make His thoughts and Words by way of response, to suit the fruit of our own thinking, responding in accordance with whether our thoughts are godly or sinful.

Repentance in the simplest understanding of the word means to ‘change our mind’.

We can say why God wants us to do so i.e. (‘change our mind’) when He says – 

Isaiah 55/

7 Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,

And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

He realises that mankind left to their own thoughts manifests futility. We must trade-in our old vehicle of communication (the sinful mind) for God’s superior model (pure thoughts of Christ). Properly understood this is repentance.

We live in a day where man’s own thoughts and ways are increasingly (and at a more rapid pace) abandoning the thoughts and Words of God.

In order for God ‘to move’ in mercy and grace (unmerited favour) toward an individual – that individual must fulfil the ‘conditions’ God requires.

God ‘moving’ is the work of The Holy Spirit that comes to influence an individual in such a way that they find a consciousness of their own sin followed by a yielding to the same Holy Spirit that draws them to Christ as Saviour and Lord.

This is a subjective experience available to every person on the planet. However we are told ‘few are they that find…’.

This ‘few’, is a comparative term – [has to be] – when we consider the innumerable multitudes that have passed through the scene of time.

The Word from God goes out: Matthew 11/28:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Our own ways (thoughts), keep the soul and spirit of man in a place of struggle, burden, turmoil, hopelessness, and condemnation.

But Christ offers us life and life more abundant. Not a problem-less existence, but a Peace that passes understanding (our understanding).

…avails!

…avails!

Dictionary definition – Avail: to be of use, advantage, profit, or assistance (to). Have force or efficacy, serve, help, to be of value or profit.

In case we have forgotten. In case it has slipped our minds. There is only one way we can stand.

You see if God should mark iniquities – no one could stand. (Psalm 130/3)

And if we cannot stand, we fall, and if we fall, we are cast off forever.

But the Victor has prevailed. He has conquered sin and death and hell. His blood shed on an erected cross, due to His nail-pierced hands feet and side – is the blood that alone, can cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve The Living God. (Hebrews 9/14)

His blood – the blood of Jesus Christ The Lord – prevails and avails for me.

There is a place where God dwells. The holy – holy – holy God. The Everlasting God. The God of compassion and Grace. (Isaiah 6/3) (Genesis 21/33) (I Peter 5/10).

That place is known as The Holiest of all, or the Holy of Holies. But there is a veil that shuts us out from this Holiest place. Rightly so – as the iniquity in our lives separates us from His Presence. (Hebrews 9/3)

Much as He would like to – He cannot receive us – because His nature is so absolutely contrary to the one we have inherited from our forefather(s). (Habakkuk 1/13)

But wait! The Lamb has prevailed against all the odds of sin and shame, making a public exposure of evil principalities and powers – triumphing over them at the cross. (Colossians 2/15)

He was obedient unto death. (Phil. 2/18). He knew no sin (II Corinthians 5/21). The curtain keeping us from this Holy place, has been ripped from top to bottom – all who will – can now enter in. (Matthew 27/51)

Embrace The Lamb today, The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1/29)

When I am assailed by the tyranny of perfectionism – finding myself still unworthy. The blood like a flood washes my perception aside and I glory in Christ’s provision.

When I am in the belly of the ‘great fish’ of this negative world, the blood avails for me – and I am swept into the sea of God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness. (Jeremiah 31/34).

When I find yet another fault dismissing me, and rendering me a breaker of the law – His blood cries out: ‘Acceptance in The Beloved’. (Ephesians 1/6).

Revelation 5/5

…“Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

The Lamb is the Lion – The Lion is the Lamb.

Perfect in all His ways – gentle, lowly, meek and beautiful is the Lamb who gave Himself for the sins of the world.

Mighty and powerful because of His meek and lowly nature – The lamb comes as The Lion and prevails over everything that exults itself against His Father.

And here am I, unable to look up and beating my chest – as His Word comes to me. (Luke 18/13)

Though still unable to understand or accept the first part – I embrace the second:

1st:

…’Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things…

I am embraced with His unmerited joy – because The Lamb has prevailed and The Lion has conquered:

2nd:

…Enter into the joy of your lord.’

But what of my hidden faults? – No lesser position do I take – despite what is hidden – I rest, because of what is in plain view it is the blood that avails for me. (See the lintels of my heart – Exodus 12/22)

For with the Psalmist I cry out: ‘Cleanse me from secret faults’. (Psalm 19/12). And the blood cleanses me from all unrighteousness. (I John 1/9)

When beaten, put down and condemned I turn and with a whispered prayer ‘Lord pour in the oil and the wine – the kind that restores my soul’ And as ‘Up from the grave He arose’ – He reaches out His hand to the drowning Peter and says: …’why did you doubt?’ (Luke 10/32, Matthew 14/30)

So I will not doubt – His blood avails for me!

I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me and gave Himself for me  — He is my peace, He is my life – He is Saviour and Lord. (Romans 8/37, Ephesians 2/14, Colossians 3/4)

His blood avails for me!

Milk and Meat

MEAT AND MILK

When the scripture refers to milk or meat in the context of doctrine or simply truth, what is God telling us?

Some might think that this refers to education or the lack of it.

But if it is education, it is of a spiritual kind.

Progress in the Christian life must come directly from God Himself.

Who would deny for one minute that the names known by most as stalwarts in the faith such as Finney, Wesley, Khulman, Graham, Muller, Bonhoeffer, Spurgeon, Nee, and so on…

(some will subtract here or add – there is a lot of opinions always present amongst Christians),

…were mature ‘meat’ lovers.

Let’s turn to the verse where we find these terms:

Hebrews 5:13-14

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The King James uses the term ‘Strong meat’ and as you can see above, the NKJ gives us SOLID FOOD.

I think this helps paint a better picture for us. Because immediately we can think of babies fed at the breast or with milk from a bottle. They haven’t moved on to solids yet.

Firstly though let’s establish the fact that there is only one kind of food. 

Matthew 4/4

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

So whether milk or solid food – we cannot stay alive spiritually without the milk of The Word. Or the solid food of The Word. But it is the same food (or menu!)

You are reading this blog post, I’m glad you are. But let me assure you that the red letter verses herein, will feed you in a far better way than anything I say about them.

So if you abandon this post and turn to and open, your bible – heh! You can’t go wrong!

Are you still here?

So what’s the difference between the milk and the solid food?

In my view, spiritual experience and experiences, is the answer.

Paul the apostle was a well accomplished individual in his religion – in many ways surpassing his peers:

Galatians 1/14

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

But he was spiritually blind. A head full of knowledge but his experience was limited and religious.

Until one day he ran out of steam fighting his conscience and he experienced/encountered the Living Christ on a road to Damascus. (Acts 9)

There and subsequently, he came to visions and revelations of The Lord. (II Corinthians 12/1).

He used his ‘spiritual faculties’ – serving God with his spirit in the Gospel, from that day onwards. (Romans 1/9)

He was changed and transformed by the working of The Holy Spirit in his life. Finding that spiritual things were spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2/14)

He advanced, just as he had advanced in the Jewish ‘religion’, so that all that he had learned at the foot of the scholars of his day, gave way to all that he learned at the feet of Jesus. (Acts 22/3)

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself learned all from His Heavenly Father, not from the local rabbis. Yes he conversed with them, but did not travel the accepted route to ‘the meat’ school. (John 7/16) 

It was His intimacy with The Father that was His place of schooling as a man.

John 7/15

And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

That’s the great challenge for all Christians, namely intimacy with God. In that place of communion our senses are more and more exercised to discern…

Inner development is the result of communion with The Father, responding to His revelation, growing stronger in spirit, eating His Word, developing our spiritual senses, as we more deeply know, what we might even have known before. That is going from milk to meat.

It is a challenge to be malleable in God’s hand, to seek greater intimacy and to respond daily to His developing hand in our lives.

Lord please give us grace.

Contending…

CONTENDING…

Jude 1

2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

You will notice I have highlighted a phrase in bold type. What does it mean?

You ask me – and I will ask you – and we can both ask God what it means.

A lot of preachers/teachers will reach now for the greek lexicon or seek, by whatever means, to understand the original words.

Let’s instead, look at the phrase in different bible translations:

fight for the faith…

defend the faith…

fight hard for the faith…

continue your fight for the Christian faith…

put up a real fight for the faith…

earnestly persevere in the faith…

stoutly defend the truth…

carry on the struggle for the faith…

to hold very strongly to what you do believe…

strive strongly for the faith…

to agonize for the faith…

Well – does that help us grasp what this means?

Seems to me there is no simple thought that sums up, all that is contained or built-into this exhortation from the writer Jude.

There is more involved in ‘contending earnestly for the faith’ than just one thing. And I hazard a guess that this post will touch on but a few.

I observe that in America (USA) there is a ‘movement’ that calls for the return to the principles that America was founded on. In a nutshell summed up in the word ‘Freedom’.

Many of the actions of those who contend for this return, give us one possible definition we may or may not want to embrace, as an example of ‘contending for the faith’ (?)

The greatest challenge in contending for the faith, once delivered to the saints, is to move in God’s anointing in all that we think, say and do. A tall order in light of our wayward contrary natures.

It is possible whilst contending for the faith to grieve or quench The Holy Spirit. How? By allowing that which is of the flesh to get the upper hand, so that abruptness, rudeness, anger and eventually resentment and bitterness takes us into a different kind of ‘contending’ or ‘contention’.

So that we are no longer contending in a godly manner.

But to know the difference between warring according to the flesh or according to The Spirit – whilst taking our faith into the public arena – can be a lost art. (II Corinthians 10/3, 4) (Ephesians 6)

Jesus was daily involved in highlighting behaviour. Good behaviour and bad behaviour.

Laying out in His sermons all that pertained to acceptable behaviour in the sight of God. Thus doing He was contending for the faith.

Some of this behaviour he addressed, was within a political or secular environment/background. So in that sense it could be suggested that as salt and light we should enter the political or media realm to put forth the righteous principles of Christ and therefore by so doing – contend for the faith.

(I am not an American – but a Northern Irishman) – and I have seen in my country, things done in the name of religion which for me have nothing to do with contending for the faith. Yet they are – in some people’s perceptions – exactly that.

Very quickly – if we stand with political activists who (perhaps on certain topics) contend for the tenets of scripture – we get pigeon-holed and branded with all the other policies they hold – which we may not want anything to do with.

So it’s a difficult mix – faith, principles of righteousness and political stances.

Proper contending for the faith I believe, is summed up in the words of Paul the apostle:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

If we read-on-into the rest of the verses, we started with, Jude is obviously telling the believers that a mix of doctrinal error and lies are to be addressed and counter-acted with the unadulterated truth of God. 

This is contending for the faith, because faith comes by and stays by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10/17)

Jude also covers the subject of sin and sinful men in the church. Contending for the faith then, is becoming aware of the behaviour that can creep into the company of God’s people, which is contrary to the behaviour of Christ The Lord.

A watchful eye therefore is called for, by leadership, and everybody else, to enable the people to keep to the faith, and the uprightness required.

So – contending for the faith is holding to sound doctrine. And adhering to the great foundational truths once delivered to the saints, and – experientially walking in The Spirit. (Romans 8/1, 4)

Living like Jesus is contending for the faith. Glorifying God in our body and spirit is contending for the faith. (I Cor. 6/20)

Entering in to spiritual warfare in the enablement of God is contending for the faith. (Ephesians 6/12)

Intercession in prayer – is contending for the faith.

Punching someone on the nose for not following us – is…

You spotted the deliberate mistake, right?