Category Archives: Clarity

Completely trustworthy…

COMPLETELY TRUSTWORTHY…

Truly people’s opinions are innumerable.

An obvious statement (considering that the world’s population is estimated at 7.7 billion/April 2019).

Every subject under the sun can elicit a response from us all.

We might ignore the subject because it doesn’t interest us – or we launch into an exposition of our opinion, if not by our initiation, then in response to the questioning of others.

We have a new (not so new now) phrase coined for us – and we talk of ‘Fake news’.

Which can be either – news mixed with factual inaccuracies or simply lies.

Think of it – a world full of opinions. Left right and centre – from all sides – opinions, arguments, points of view, political stances, differing views on morality, political correctness, ideologies, philosophies, – no perfect unity of opinion.

Friends today – enemies tomorrow. And so the world spins on.

People look for meaning in it all.

Sometimes we have a closed mind to certain turns-of-phrase, or language we equate with certain ideologies. And sometimes we do not take the time to investigate and study what is really meant by the use of the terms.

In all of this we are either part of a group of adherents to ‘whatever’ or we plough a lone furrow.

Some are ‘loners’ by nature. Some run away and escape from the world, from society as we know it. Isolating themselves in some foreign land or island in – as we say – ‘the middle of nowhere’, just to escape the rat race.

Stated simply I have found that the only concrete and 100% reliable set of thoughts and opinions, on earth is found in the Bible. I set myself to give it my full trust, as I have found all else and all others to fall short of the bestowal of my complete trust.

Aware that this can receive a barrage of ‘put down’s’, either by intellectuals, atheists, or those of another religion other than Christian, I simply add that having listened to, or read such ‘put down’ views, I remain convinced that:

New King James Version – 

Proverbs 30:

Every word of God is pure;

He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Do not add to His words,

Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Amplified translation – 

Every word of God is tested and refined [like silver];

He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him.

Do not add to His words,

Or He will reprove you, and you will be found a liar.

For any man or woman to look to the opinion of a book that they know little about, and to build their whole beliefs and desire for what they hope to get from life – is a tall order, if it’s only a book.

But to become convinced, like I happen to be, calls for more than mental accent, because the Bible read on a purely intellectual level is like having a balloon with no air in it. You don’t get the full picture until you blow it up, until it is air-injected.

A rather poor analogy don’t you think?

It will have to do – the point is – unless you are enabled by God Himself – you miss the whole point of the book. You miss it’s unique category as a read.

It is God-breathed. Without His breath our conclusions are misshapen, not fully formed, incomplete.

Even when we think in our skeptical brains that we have stumbled on some great ‘error’ within it’s pages, we have brought it down to our level, and have relegated it to deflated balloon status.

Because we have not approached it as a spiritual book in the first place, but approached it rather, as we would any other natural piece of writing.

The breath of God’s Presence must breath upon the pages. Which leaves us with the conclusion that all the intellectual gymnastics we can enter into by way of analysis is insufficient as we negate or reject the claims of the book before we start. By bringing it down to an earthly level.

All other ground is sinking sand – and boy are we sinking. The old hymn tells us – 

I was sinking deep in sin

Far from the peaceful shore,

Very deeply stained within,

Sinking to rise no more;

But the Master of the sea

Heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me,

Now safe am I

Christ’s Life Manual is God’s revelation to man, the sacred writings of scripture. The classic hymn goes on to say – 

Love lifted me!

Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

Love lifted Me!

We read of His Love and see it demonstrated throughout His earthly journey. Without His Word breathed into the heart of mankind, we are left to our own devices. We can’t know His love without hearing of it first.

There is a statement in my culture – often used in jest. 

It’s an exchange between husband and wife where the husband says concerning his wife or even a child: “One word from me and she does what she likes.”

The joke being that the husband’s authority is somewhat deleted or ignored…

Kind of describes the human condition though – that God’s Word the most trustworthy and wisdom imparting journal on earth is ignored and we do what we like.

Hear the words of Peter concerning the eternal aspect of The Word of God:

BUT SIMON PETER ANSWERED HIM, “LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE”.

Authority

AUTHORITY

The Son of God – Jesus Christ – walked and talked like no other (God) man.

Compared to the religious leaders of His day – ‘never man spoke like this man’ – because He talked as one who had authority. (John 7/46).

So did that mean the religious leaders – the Pharisees, Sadducees etc. – didn’t have authority? After all they were in positions of leadership.

Positions of leadership – but many of them, if not all, did not have the authority He had.

The authority with which Christ spoke, is divine authority.

That authority and power of God is not readily shared with men or women. There is no willy-nilly distribution of this power, given at random to whoever happens to be in leadership. Certainly not if only appointed by man.

God knows the hearts of men. And only the hearts that He knows are in love with Him, will He allow his authority and power of the authoritative Holy Spirit to dwell with or upon them.

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

The man who loves God we are told – is known of him

God knows us all. He knows exactly where we are-at in our relationship with Him. And He not only has the facts of our walk or lack of walk with Him.

But He knows how intimate our relationship is with Himself. He knows putting it simply – who really loves Him.

God cannot share His secret things with just anyone.

He cannot reveal all the intricacies of His plan for mankind and the unfolding of history to be played out before and after the Second Coming of Christ. It is all there, but hidden in the pages of the scriptures. And unless He chooses to reveal these things, we cannot know them.

In other words man cannot contain the infinite insight God has, because he (man) has not the capability within himself to be able to carry it.

Man’s nature cant comprehend the things of The Spirit of God. God however will reveal secret things to certain men and women. But it calls for an intimate relationship with God first, before He will unfold the things of His Spirit.

We talk of trusting God – but can God trust any of us?

God’s nature, His plans, His truth, His wisdom, His understanding of future events can only be partaken of, rather than owned 100%. Because man is not able to hear these things or handle them. It is too much for human flesh. And he can only know glimpses of the totality of God’s counsel.

Only those who have received Grace enough to enter into that deeper relationship – of loving God – will begin to have insight into the mysteries of God.

We (as true Christians) are allowed to partake of the divine nature of God. It is God the Holy Spirit who is the authority. And to receive Him into our lives as we accept Christ Jesus as Lord of all, is how we partake of His authority.

To as many as have received Him to them He gave this authority (power/right).

John 1/

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Amongst the things we could say about the ‘talking authority’ that He carried – is the fact that His words were perfect and pure. Pure in the sense that they were not contaminated by sin, not weakened by the flesh, not tinged with lying subtlety.

They were not just words of ‘theology’ but words spoken in demonstration of God’s power to heal and deliver.

These were the same words that He released before the world was fully formed, calling into being the planet as we know it.

Needless to say – He was not a man at that time of beginnings. But was in situ with His Father, as it is written –

He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

When He spoke 

Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

He was 100% different than anyone else who ever walked the planet.

Sinful man tried desperately to ‘catch Him out’ but His superior wisdom could not be successfully spoken against or resisted.

They tried to latch on to the  things that came out of His mouth, so that they might accuse Him falsely, or prove Him wrong or prove Him a deceiver, which of course He was accused of being.

When they could find nothing against Him – they had to start inventing things.

We have only an inkling of how perfectly Christ was able to judge a situation. The depth of His wisdom and knowledge is phenomenal. How perfectly He knew what was in men’s hearts and minds. Think of it – able to say the perfect word every time.

I stand back and marvel at this – and yet those who run from His light, preferring their own pride and self-righteousness – will still try to pick holes in His words, even today.

Matthew 22/

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius.

20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

You and I have our own lives. Our own stuff. It is in the power of our own choice – what to do with it.

(Of course some have had that privilege taken from them by tyrants of one kind or another e.g. people traffickers)

But as we hold fast to our own lives, free to make our own decisions, free to look after our own families. Will we in rendering to Caesar the things that are his, – and the government – the things that are their’s…

…Will we render to The King of kings and Lord or lords the things that are His?:

The worship He is due. The obedience we know He asks for. The love and honour due to His name?

Prayer – Lord help us to render to you as a Loving Saviour who moves in the authority of His love – the things that are yours. Let it be our hearts first, – that we give.

Confusion

CONFUSION

As human beings we can get terribly confused.

As a result of – innumerous scenarios we experience in life. We end up confused about all sorts of things,

When in a state of confusion with our thoughts spiralling left right and centre, not knowing what to do for the best, – how to respond, who to talk to, how to find answers to our dilemma, we must seek truth.

Truth as it stands alone. Truth that is not contaminated by our emotional state.

A tall order indeed.

Also in the mix is the diverse opinions of others. One advises this, and another – or others, come from a completely different angle than those we previously sought advice from.

We may read things – visit online testimonies of others in a similar situation, and how they came through.

It’s true there is ‘safety in many counsellors’, – but the counsellors must be of a sound character, having obtained wisdom by reliable means.

There is one thing that provides concrete and reliable wisdom. And those who visit this blog will know that I’m about to mention and highlight the desirability of The Word of God (the bible).

The thing about the word of God is – it becomes a starting point that is totally reliable.

Not everyone will believe this of course. And that’s why their alternative conclusions regarding a course of action is often faulty, not being based on God’s infallibility. No one else is infallible except Christ.

But if we start with what cannot be broken or changed (the word of God) – and start to subject all our thoughts, experiences, words and deeds, hurts, emotional traumas to the scrutiny of this word. Then this word of God will provide a reliable rock in the storm. A safe haven in the midst of the earthquake. A place of quietness and confidence amidst the turmoil, and so on.

But for this word to be all that it can be – we must first be convinced that it is inerrant (incapable of being wrong) and that every other word of advice is potentially (at least) out-of-sync, except for this word.

Many are so tossed to and fro by every wind of opinion, that they continue in that state having nothing concrete and reliable to totally rely on.

If they do not believe that the word of God is inerrant how can it be inerrant to them?  And how can it provide the refuge and direction that will lead them out of their confusion, if they don’t believe it?

In a confused situation. Part of the confusion is knowing what is right and what is wrong. What’s the right thing to do and what isn’t. Where do we begin to find a solution?

Well, look at this truth for instance:-

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Now God can do anything and of course He can cause His enemies to be driven back which may result in them being confused.

Psalm 70:1-3 King James Version (KJV)

70 Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord.

Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.

In situations that seem impossible, God can send deliverance supernaturally, influencing circumstances, often with the sending of angels, so that those opposed to Him and His children are left confused as the small triumph over the big, the few triumph over the many.

There are many examples of this in scripture. So though God isn’t confusing them, His help for others – leaves them confused.

David against Goliath, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, escape of children of Israel from Egyptians at the red sea, feeding of the five thousand, Elijah with the prophets of Baal and so on. All examples of God’s deliverance through His word to the hearts of men. Causing His enemies to be defeated and left – well – confused? 

But evil in varying degrees, is present in violent conflicts, and God can favour whom he sees fit to favour according to the divine dictates of His own wisdom.

In my view divinely intervening at times and at times not.

But in the church (which is the context of the above verse) when confusion creeps in – it is man-made and demonic. And man-made in most other situations and scenarios, in life.

And God rather than causing it – provides stability and a way out of the confusion.

That’s why when His truth ‘goes marching on’ into our hearts – it produces freedom. Freedom in this context from confusion. John 8/32

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Often ‘where to start’ is lost in the milieu of adversity. A big part of the problem is who or what do I rely on, when all around seems like sinking sand?

There’s a story/illustration given by The Lord Jesus, in the scriptures, of a man building his house.

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, (God’s word) and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

One person (let’s say confused person) built on the ‘rock-sayings’. 

Whilst another took no heed to the certainty of Christ’s Words and he continued in confusion, taking on board the ‘sand-sayings’, from wherever and whoever – instead. 

With the ‘sand sayings’ a sinking will take place, because there is no absolute certainty about these man-made philosophies.

Whereas the ‘rock sayings’ can be trusted completely. Often the lack of instant answers as we act on the rock sayings, causes many to doubt and to turn to the sand again.

There are often complex situations full of grey areas that people find themselves embroiled in. And to find a way out or through these, is challenging or disconcerting or even devastating mentally and emotionally.

In the midst of these complex scenarios, what can be trusted, when everything is in array and confusion rules the day?

I offer you The Word of God.

You/I must find the right word for the right situation.

Starting with it – we move out into answers through prayer and perseverance of faith.

Knowing we love God – there is light at the end of the tunnel. But it takes time to get through the tunnel. Dark and ominous though the tunnel may be – God’s Word – Psalm 119/105 –

… is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.

If we love God – here is one of those words – 

Romans 8/28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

All things working together for good – doesn’t exactly seem like a solution to a given, specific problem situation you may find yourself in. And it calls for a lot within – to cling to such words.

But it is a promise.

First condition – love and trust God, whilst second – persevering with the ‘rock saying’ til the light dawns.

What else or who else can be trusted implicitly? The only thing on earth that doesn’t lie is God’s word.

But it isn’t a press button solution. Instead of going through options about what to do. Let the option of God’s Word go through you.

Even if the circumstance doesn’t change – you will, by clinging to this word of God, have a rock to stand on, keeping you from slipping further into despondency.

This word of God provides truth, strength, purity, single-mindedness, and is life-giving. But it must be clung to tenaciously.

Prayer – Lord thank you for this wonderful Word of God. Write it indelibly on my heart and mind.

What’s Happening

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

There are things (in my lifetime) – that Christians have taken for granted for years.

I guess I speak mostly of Christianity in the Western World.

Freedom to meet for worship, for example. Freedom of democracy etc.

We realise that the powers of darkness can take hold of a community to varying degrees. Depending on the spiritual blindness and godlessness that a people-group decide to allow individually into their lives, producing a corporate effect.

In most cities there are ‘no go’ areas noted for their danger and (a commonly held opinion) – to be avoided at all costs.

Even non-Christians are aware of ‘degrees’. Degrees of callousness, degrees of hatred, degrees of lying, cheating, backbiting, violence and so on, and so on. Different degrees of evil.

Conversely there are degrees of Christlikeness present in a community of Christians. Degrees of charity, empathy, righteousness, peace, joy, fellowship…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…

The question can be asked of a person’s life and particular community: To what degree are these Christlike fruits present?

It’s safe to say – that there is no such thing as there being too much of these things in a community of people.

There can be too much of the opposite, as examples listed in the sixth paragraph above. Without any constraint being imposed, that community would end up in anarchy and would self-destruct.

We have seen film maker’s attempts to portray this in the typical Hollywood western. Where the town is oppressed and dominated by the tyrannical rule of some ‘big boss’ figure who wants everything for himself. Who employs a gang of ‘hoodlums’ to perpetuate his dictatorial rule.

Then the hero or heroes arrive. There eventually is a show down, a ‘deciding’ gun battle and decency and normality and wholesomeness returns to the community, as good triumphs over evil.

How many can hear the truth though, that good will eventually and ultimately triumph over evil after the game is played-out to the end of time? And it will not be sorted by the arm of flesh.

A society that is filled with unrestrained evil, violence and fear, reaches the Sodom and Gomorrah place of no return.

It doesn’t take a blog post from an unknown like myself to make us realise our world has gone pear-shaped. Just look around or watch the news.

If we reach desperation point in our city, town, village, community, because of the evil that is rampant – it can drive us to prayer.

That is my simple point in this post – does what is happening not wake you up (Christian or non-Christian) to the fact that evil is on the increase?

Wake up call? What response? Is there something in this Christian gospel after all? Such I’m hoping will be the dawning realisation of anyone reading this post, who as yet, does not recognise Christ as Lord, and that the gospel holds the ultimate answers.

Take a look at David Ettinger’s last post for the statistics regarding persecuted Christians to help establish the fact that iniquity abounds and any half-right-thinking person, must say within themselves: “What am I going to do in the midst of this world mess..?” (David’s Post – A Brief Reminder about Our Persecuted Family)(EttingerWriting.com)

If we can’t change the whole of the society in which we live – let’s seek to have ourselves changed individually, and allow the mess to call us to prayer.

Isaiah 55/

Seek the Lord while He may be found,

Call upon Him while He is near.

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.

Extremes or…

 

EXTREMES OR…

There are many extremes in life. Extreme cults, extreme doctrines, extreme sinful behaviour, extreme fanaticism, extreme politics, indeed – extremes in everything.

Proverbs 11

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.

Balance is a word we could use to describe the antithesis of extreme. However, the opposite to extreme in a dictionary definition may not include the word balance.

But in the context I wish to use it – usually extreme views allow for none other, and are completely unbalanced or imbalanced.

There is a closed heart and mind in extremity, that is obsessed with a particular aspect of something, to the exclusion of all other considerations that might be presented as just as, or more feasible.

A just ‘weighing-up’ in considering a given view, is necessary.

A willingness to allow for – another aspect, without leaving already held convictions, which you are in no doubt about.

To come to a balanced view on a given subject in the context of biblical truth, we need to search the scriptures.

Understand that we cannot contain all of God’s understanding.

Job chapter 36/25-26

All humanity has seen it;

    mortals gaze on it from afar.

How great is God—beyond our understanding!

    The number of his years is past finding out.

Romans 11/32-34

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

    How unsearchable his judgments,

    and his paths beyond tracing out!

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?

    Or who has been his counsellor?”

It is difficult to remain true to something or someone when we don’t understand that persons attitude, opinions, behaviour, words, etc.

But the character of God communicated in the pages of scripture – if we seek them out diligently – will inform us of the fact that ‘God is love’.(I John 4/8) His character is revealed clearly – and He can be trusted!

But we must not mistake what love is.

And the poets have been trying to tell us for centuries.

If we are to hold a balanced understanding of God and his attributes of love – again – we need to make a study. Many form lifelong conclusions on little to no knowledge of the Word of God.

Vehemently denouncing God as simply a tyrant who is out to destroy us all.

Lack of knowledge or the desire to seek it out – leaves us with an extreme view.

Yes God is long-suffering forgiving the humble who request that forgiveness.

Yes God will eventually judge the world and destroy evil, and whoever chooses to remain in rebellion against Him.

Yes God does not always reveal things He knows we cannot handle.

Yes even when we don’t understand He asks us to trust Him.

When all hell breaks loose – let us remember:

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand…

There we have it – Paul by God-given revelation still spoke of some things that even the Apostle Peter admitted were some times hard to understand.

But the balance to this is there are things clearly shown to us – upon which we can trust – guaranteeing our eternal future, if we embrace them and the giver of all truth Himself.

Prayer – Help us with hard things, and assure us more – of the certain things.

Spiritually natural

Spiritually natural

It’s difficult to write about many of the wonderful things of God – in the present climate, when so much needs fixing.

There needs to be a turning wholeheartedly to The Only Living and True God, through His Son The Lord Jesus Christ.

There is nothing new under the sun. In simple terms good and evil is in conflict, and has been since the beginning or before. 

The rise and fall of evil men will go on. The Rise and Rise of good men will also continue.

There is an event we term The Rapture, when Christ will return, but no man knows the hour or the day. That will be the greatest ‘uprising’ in history!

Meantime evil men grow worse and worse.

There is a scripture that encourages those who carry precious pearls to not throw them before swine:

6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

This is a snippet of wisdom communicated by The Lord Jesus. Clearly informing us that there are precious and beautiful things God is willing to reveal to mankind. But these precious things are not to be shared with animalistic natures, who will have no discernment as to their beauty, and who will trample them under foot.

Treating the things of God’s nature with disdain, ‘like the horse or like the mule which have no understanding….’

John 2:24 Amplified Bible:

24 But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the superficiality and fickleness of human nature],

Superficiality and fickleness will not receive the things of God. God will not entrust His precious hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge and revelation of Himself to such.

This teaches us that to even begin to understand, experience and prove the goodness and self-evident existence of the creator of the universe – we must first approach Him with a heart that desires to depart from evil, whilst honouring and respecting the things of God.

All around us is animalistic and ungodly defiance. But read ‘the book’ to see how it all pans out.

Most genuine preachers, feel their own inadequacies when it comes to the things of God, desiring to be a more worthy expounder of His truth.

If only we could walk flawlessly before Him, practicing everything we preach.

God does not however require an unnatural ‘holier than thou’ attitude, cloaked in false humility, whereby we unrealistically take on some kind of pseudo ‘holiness’ – as one preacher put it becoming so heavenly minded we are no earthly use.

Conversely however – some are so earthly minded they are no heavenly use.

God wants us to be human and spiritually-natural, able to laugh, be normal, have fun and talk about everyday things.

But at the same time holding close to our hearts the things of Himself He has revealed to us.

Allowing His thoughts (Bible) to fill our minds – giving them priority over the natural things of life.

There is no holiness without The Holy Spirit!

Balance – a great word to keep us on track.

To sum up we are to mind the natural things as in for example: culture, – with the enablement of God – who gives us spiritual discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff. So that we can enjoy those everyday things of life because our minds, hearts and spirits are fixed on God.

As a painter and a poet (as far as I know 😎) I cannot enjoy any of these or any other activities for that matter, unless my heart is right with The Lord. Then I experience His promise:

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Helped and energised to enjoy all the things that make up life – He has given us – to enjoy.

I Timothy 6/17

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

Continually in conflict…

Continually in conflict… 

There is a ‘turn-off’ button or mechanism in every human being with regard to the things of God. This tendency can be recognised or ignored.

We are so far removed from God’s likeness, so different in nature than He is, that we do not immediately relish anything to do with God’s nature.

God’s nature is the divine nature of course.

It’s like hearing of a far-off land where we have never been. We have never experienced what it is like. It is contrary to what we are used to. It’s a land that we can only be told about, without ever experiencing it. So it is with our insensitivity and plain ignorance regarding God almighty’s nature, we haven’t been there.

Until we are – or if you like until we do!

That’s the difference between the true Christian and the unbeliever. Christians have encountered the divine nature.

So the nature man is born with and the nature of God – do not ‘co-habit’ in harmony.

Galatians 5:17 Amplified Bible (AMP)

17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.

Change therefore is necessary, change to enable the two natures to become compatible. And the onus is on us to get into line.

Even after such a statement – the natural man can rise up and give us all the old cliche-negatives about not bowing to this ‘big ogre’ in the sky. Misrepresenting God and His true nature.

If God was to fully manifest His nature to us individually – we would die.

Exodus 33/

22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Moses privileged to encounter God (and His divine nature) in a powerful way, nevertheless could only experience a manifestation of God that would be described as seeing God’s back.

When the New Testament time had come – God found a way of showing His nature to man by taking upon Himself – human (in His case sinless) nature, in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.

Mankind initially was made in God’s likeness – but that likeness or nature was lost when mankind chose to carelessly believe a lie, from another spirit.

Some say Eve was deceived into this – but Adam simply did not exercise proper judgement (discernment). He chose without due consideration.

The likeness of God that man was born with, was marred and increasingly lost, and was replaced by a fallen nature. Subsequently inherited by the human race, inasmuch as we can only reproduce after our own (fallen) kind.

Because we are contrary to God in our very essence, i.e. in simple terms – our minds and human spirits, we cannot appreciate properly just how far removed we are from the divine morally-perfect nature of God.

So everything man contemplates in the arena of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, is born out of man’s own spiritually-unaided intellect, unaided by the divine nature.

Unless that enablement is sought and found, through relationship with Christ and His Word.

So on subjects such as abortion, same sex marriage, gender, heterosexuality, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, Civil rights, to mention but a few. Man can only lean on his own darkened understanding, and try to be guided by [the/or/a] moral law. But man tends towards making up or changing the rules/laws as he goes along.

So that potentially man’s nature is able to take whatever comes into his head and present it as acceptable. Finding ways to justify everything and anything.

Given enough rope he will hang himself. An example would be to ask the question: “will man cross the ‘final frontier’ and justify child-molestation?” Dreaming-up and legislating so that it becomes morally acceptable?

We recoil from such an idea – but at one time man recoiled at things God finds unacceptable – which man now accepts as part of the fabric of our society.

Rather like children at school, who are given a subject in the debating society. Sometimes they are given what side of a given ‘argument’ they must defend. They have that side of the debate thrust upon them, and they must defend that stance.

They are instructed to present a case for or against the motion, depending on what their teacher gives them to represent.

There is in such an exercise – no conviction-starting point from which to offer their ‘arguments’ in the debate, it having been allocated by a teacher.

They can present arguments on both sides, as asked to, arguments obviously stemming from their own calculated reasoning powers.

But in preparing for the debate – there is no concrete unchangeable reference to begin with, when deciding moral issues, if it is a debate entailing the question of morality.

Rather – research, history, other personalities and their views, codes within people groups, and so on, comes to the aid of the teenager in trying to form his/her argument, regardless of whether they believe it or not.

They can debate well – something they have put a case together for, having been given no choice but to do so. In other words man can find ways of justifying almost anything, if he puts his mind to it.

And according to the nature we are born with – we will desire certain things – and seek justification in indulging in those things.

As the result of many cooks spoiling the broth, and no acceptance of an authoritative God-standard the result is ultimately confusion and every evil work.

So rather than conforming to the divine law – we change it so we are ‘free’ to indulge the lower nature, in whatever form it manifests. Self-justifying our actions according to human nature, but not according to the divine nature.

There are therefore (in matters of morality) many disagreements on many different subjects, because everyone bases their formed opinion on conclusions that have come, unaided by the divine nature.

Someone skilled in persuasive argument or speech – will probably win the day.

But rather – a starting point must be found that we put first – in all our reasoning.

An inerrant guide must be sought. This inerrant guide might be mis-interpreted, but it is the only means of reference, because it contains the words of eternal life. (John 6/68)

The words that are birthed in the divine nature, rather than the flawed human nature. That guide of course is The Bible.

A lot of the conclusions we come to are marred, not taking into account realisations or conclusions that can only come into our minds, through encountering God Himself and partaking of His divine nature in contrast to our own.

II Peter 1/4:

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

So here we have the majority of the human race who have never encountered God and his divine sinless nature, trying to come to right conclusions on sex, abortion, fairness in trade, human relationships, etc. etc.

As a result mankind is left to his own devices. We alter God-given norms, trusting in our own intellects, we are blind to the fallen nature, that remains untouched by God. Untouched because we refuse to let Him do so.

Mankind then, uses the attributes he possesses that are faulty and inadequate to say the least.

So two things – Regarding the fallen human nature of mankind:

1) Mankind can justify and defend anything he wishes, as being morally acceptable, as there is no (he concludes) flawless standard to contradict him – only the opinions of others.

2)   Mankind has no idea of how abhorrent to a Holy God the terrible acts of sin that are taking place to an increasing measure, on this planet. Therefore he fearlessly continues on in his stubborn way.

Do not be like the horse or like the mule which have no understanding…(Psalm 32/9)

Mankind has no concept of this. One encounter with The Living Holy and Loving God and man will immediately know how abhorrent and unacceptable this sinful nature is, and as a result he will cry out for salvation.

Paul the Apostle did that very thing:

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

There are periods of time when God seems unreachable. But the fact is He is never unreachable. There are degrees of encounter, as Grace provides.

His promises are true – 100%, but we must know what we are asking for, and how God works to provide that divine encounter that opens us up spiritually – in a way that is incomparable.

James 4/

9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

He will lift you up in spirit – that’s an actual, supernatural, spiritual experience! When it happens we know for sure that we have encountered the divine nature, by encountering The Lord himself.

In these verses we find the instruction as to what to do – and with it the promised result!

The result is an encounter with God and His divine nature that changes us forever!

…is not tedious?

…is not tedious?

It might be true to say that most of us who write and publish posts, (I haven’t taken a survey to prove the point 😎 ) – forget what we have published and haven’t.

I guess most of us have writings (potential posts) – on stand-by – ready to be used. But if you are like me, you forget whether you posted what is on your desktop or not – and so have to check older posts.

Also – depending on our personalities as we try to objectively view our work – (again I’m surmising) – notice that we have a certain emphases – there are certain opinions or held beliefs we return to often.

This is usually because they are ingrained into our lifestyle and we have proven them to be true and/or are convinced of their importance and that therefore we do others a service by sharing them. 

In the case of Christian writing – there are certain truths that we find essential and foundational and important and we want to keep drawing the attention of others to these truths.

So although perhaps we ever change the angle we come at these truths from – we fundamentally want to say those things again!

I have noticed some of my emphases, just as I have noticed the tendencies/emphases of other writers/bloggers.

Sometimes the artist in me wants to act on the old saying: (it may have originated in some comic TV show, I’m not sure…) “And now for something completely different…”

Poetry allows me to discover, share and explore a wide range of subject matter, from the profound to the ridiculous.

However when it comes to exercising my gifting as a teacher of the Word of Truth – I do find myself returning to the same important truths again and again.

Paul writing to the Philippians says (PHILIPPIANS 3/1):

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 

 NKJV –

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

He obviously wrote what he thought necessary for their spiritual health and wellbeing – and indeed God has to repeat Himself over and over to us as we are slow of heart to believe, slow at grasping spiritual realities.

But it is true that people look on the surface of things, and are happier with what is immediately ‘grasp-able’. 

Our mental or spiritual inertia slows us down from pursuing, – as though our very lives depended on it – the spiritual dimensions, God calls, all willing-persons into.

But it can be a thankless task to preach what people do not want to hear. Don’t want to hear because such preaching can highlight the need for change, and we can’t face change – “just at the moment thanks…”

People who have gone from one piece of misfortune to another, or who have gone through traumatic experiences or who have gone into the valley of despair, are often the most likely to look for something better, the most likely to desire life-changing answers.

Then there is the ‘God-factor’ (in preaching) the part that God plays in drawing people to Himself. One needs to come to a realisation that God is actually on your case, and wants you to fellowship with Him.

He has ordained that He will draw you to Himself, through preaching. We might (even rightly) conclude that He has chosen a very imperfect means of reaching mankind.

Because there is not a preacher on earth who doesn’t need to listen to preaching himself, in order to embrace change.

Preachers are imperfect persons, but sharing the Word of God as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a mandate they have received from heaven.

But people easily turn-off, distracted in their minds and preferring something easier, something they are used to. 

Something that brings entertainment instead. It’s easier to hit the like button for things that interest us already or that ‘tickle our fancy’ in some non-threatening or non-challenging way.

There is no end of subject-matter in the scriptures, but there definitely are majorly-important truths that must be given priority.

It is the calling and requirement as ministers of reconciliation to preach the gospel message, and to delve into and share the truths God would have us all to walk in.

If I could partake of God’s unlimited insight and supreme knowledge, for a moment,  I think I would like to know, by receiving a list from His hand – everyone who is at that point in their lives where they are ready to transition from the ‘dead in sin’ state of existence to finding the righteousness of Christ through His life-giving Spirit.

Here’s how the word of God describes that transition, a post-salvation description:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Now is this (if you have got this far in the first place) where you now switch off – or will you look into these things, i.e. the things of the gospel of Jesus Christ for yourself to see what you will discover?

Questions?

QUESTIONS

We have no concept of the numbers…

No concept of the amount of human beings who will live with or without Christ forever.

It is knowledge that is beyond us.

How many people have populated the earth since the beginning of time?

Of course – impossible to know.

Concerning numbers – there is – a certain 144,000 mentioned in the Bible. As yet such a number has not found it’s way to my scrutiny. I know it has in other cults. But I haven’t studied its context or implications.

So questions like “What happens to those who never hear the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

Or “what happens to those who live a ‘good life’, without having accepted this gospel?”

Considerations like “they will be judged by the light they have received”

All of these ponderings/considerations are common amongst Christians.

But it reminds me of The Lord when He answered the Pharisee:

28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

The Lord Jesus points out things lacking in the Pharisee’s understanding – 1) a big enough knowledge of the scripture and 2) his lack of experience of the power of God.

When it comes to imponderables, there are no easy answer solutions. There is a point man reaches in his reasoning powers, when in humility he must succumb to the fact that unless the Holy Spirit enlightens the scriptures by His power, we will not become knowledgable concerning certain things.

This should not hinder our faith, but bolster it, in the understanding that without faith it is impossible to please God. So when our enquiries lead us astray from a steadfast faith in Christ – we have given heed to modern fables:

I Timothy 1/4…give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do…

So godly edifying is in faith. Faith waits to be further enlightened, it waits to gain insight previously absent.

So questions we cannot immediately answer, or questions we find imperfect answers to, should not throw our faith, but rather establish even more our need for God’s help, as we admit our finite limitations.

Many start to turn away from God by virtue of the answers they seem unable to obtain.

Doubt sets in – or spiritual carelessness. And the imponderables provide an excuse to turn again to the weak and beggarly elements this world has to offer.

Paul responding to the Galatian believers – who had gone astray in their thinking – is heard to say: 

I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Regardless of how difficult some things are to understand, we must hold fast to what we already know, and realise that the complexity of life means that when the age-old temptation to dismiss God arises, because we have things that disturb us – there is no reason to depart from the faith.

We think of Job and the affliction he endured – and how he just could not grasp how such a thing could happen to him – and yet he did not curse God or reject Him.

All that I have just written can be challenged by the experiences of life, but God does not change. We must change to a position of waiting on God for His further help.

But when everything cries out – “this is unfair, or how can this happen…” we against-the-odds must find grace to fall on the Rock – Christ Jesus, in confession of our dependancy on the One who has the words of eternal life.

Job is an example – when he cried: “Though he slay me – yet will I trust him”.

In light of some of the things other people have suffered and survived – surely we can handle one of the ‘imponderables’ that comes under the heading of theology, and survive with our faith intact – rejoicing that we can only know in part anyway!

I Corinthians 13/12

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

 

Seeing the Invisible

SEEING THE INVISIBLE 

There is always the mysterious side of prayer.

When it comes to what actually happens in the unseen spiritual realm.

As Christians we are called to see into this realm.

How much we do – or don’t, depends on the Grace we have been given individually, it depends on our measure of faith. It depends on our own dedication and faithfulness to God.

After we release our prayers – usually through inner desires communicated to The Lord Jesus, (our representative before the Heavenly Father), or that which we audibly and visibly release from our beings in a prayer meeting with others – what happens after that?

Indeed we have limited knowledge of what this ‘triggers’ in heaven.

Having released our words into the spiritual invisible realm, sending them to our advocate, – it is interesting that we often set about immediately to judge the results by what we see or don’t see in the visible realm, the natural world.

And yet the scripture says: …7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

We are told in the following scripture that Faith sees the invisible:

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

“Seeing Him who is invisible”

That about sums up the difference between the two realms – or worlds – if you like.

In fact we hold a privileged and blessed position if our faith does not depend on seeing things in the natural world – Jesus communicating to doubting Thomas says:

29 …“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

What’s it to be, are we to walk looking at the visible or the invisible?

Paul came to spiritual visions and revelations and expected more.

You and I at least need to look in the spirit – indeed, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

Prophets could often see the invisible – that’s why of course, they were referred to as ‘seers’.

Who agrees that it is a piece of cake to walk according to the visible world we live in?

Where all our senses respond to the natural.

So when we release our prayers – we are exhorted contrary to our natural senses – we are exhorted to look at the invisible to see our prayers answered.

Jesus did this consistently and into the natural came the answers.

At least we of little faith – can look into the word of God that speaks of the invisible things to see, the spiritual realities.

We must cultivate our inner life with Christ.

We need to realise that there is a seeing literally – a God-given vision with our eyes closed or open. It can be an ‘open vision’, but also it is – we must realise – our understanding that gets to see. 

‘The eyes of our understanding are enlightened’. This too is seeing the invisible. But spiritual things are spiritually discerned. They are more than words on a page. They are more than some form of dead theology.

There are obvious examples from scripture of ones who needed their inner eyes enlightened so that the invisible was made visible. 

What they saw remained invisible it’s just that now they could see or see into the invisible.

2 examples –

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Elisha could already see into the invisible, now the young man received grace and help to also see what was invisible.

Any glimpse we get into the spiritual realm, helps our faith. Calling and causing us to realise that Jesus came to make the invisible father – visible. But now He calls us to see Him in the spirit.

All we can do is keep looking in prayer and into the eternal word, and be open to God according to His word, and only according to His word – granting us sight to see what the natural eyes cannot, or understand what our natural understanding cannot comprehend.

Let’s not pretend we see things, vainly puffed up by our fleshly minds – but at the same time – let us not sell ourselves short. As Christians we have this privilege bought-for-us at the cross of calvary, after which the Holy Spirit was given to lead us into all (therefore more) spiritual truth.

We are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (the unseen realm) in Christ Jesus.

More Lord we pray!

The problem with the law

THE PROBLEM WITH THE LAW

In my last post I set about establishing the need for the law, now I want to look at the limiting factor to it’s effectiveness.

We looked at the need for the law to highlight right from wrong, good from bad.

The law was given by Moses, but the first law we ever see in scripture was communicated to the first man and the first woman.

Later God wrote the ten commandments on stone, delivered ‘downhill’ by Moses.

That first ‘law’ given to a man named Adam and a woman named Eve was:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you[c] shall surely die.”

For mankind’s highest good a prohibition was instituted by God. A law, in other words. “You shall not eat etc…”

Woman and man violated that law, with catastrophic consequences.

God’s created mankind were now in rebellion, having inherited a fallen nature.

Fast forwarding, we understand that the giving of the law previous to the New Testament, as in the ten commandments and as in Leviticus etc. was half the answer.

It was incomplete as a way of addressing the sin problem. If you like it was the first half of a whole.

There was a divine order of things, first the law was given, then the second covenant arrived in the timing of God.

That’s why Christ came to fulfil/complete the law. Not only pointing out the problem, but providing the answer as to how it (sin) could be defeated and righteousness restored to the human race.

Speaking He says: Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

However, although the law is pure and holy, something more was needed than pointing out the sin problem. What was needed was the impartation of the ability to overcome sin.

So the law was limited until the bringing in of a better hope took place, in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

He fulfilled the requirements of the law and offered His power, the power of an endless life, to His disciples, thus providing the enablement necessary to overcome sin’s dominion in our lives.

The law called for the perfect standard of God. But it was rendered ineffective by man’s fallen nature (flesh), and our inherent inability to respond to the law’s demands:

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh…

The law can only accomplish it’s life changing work in the hand of The Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God alone, who takes the word of God and instead of it being written on stone – He writes it on the human mind and spirit.

But He must be invited to do so by mankind.

This enables us to have the mind of Christ, and with it, His enablement to live like Him.

Because we still live in this body, we often fail to attain Christ’s standard and are become transgressors of the law again, when we stop relying on The Holy Spirit and the Living Word of God, to keep our minds pure and free.

We are told that the law on it’s own was an incomplete answer by the expression here, of ‘For what the law could not do…’

So there was something the law could not do. Regardless of what that was, it reveals the truth that it was not complete as a solution to the problem, due to the fallen nature of man and his inability to keep it.

The law did not change man, but remained to educate him as a schoolmaster, teaching him he was wrong, and pointing him to the coming solution.

We are told that it was the fallen nature of man, that rendered the law ineffective (weak through the flesh), when it came to overcoming sin in our lives.

Christ came therefore to fulfil the law by taking the punishment for sin that the law demanded, becoming the required sacrifice for sin – it (the law) – also demanded for justice to be done, and forgiveness and atonement through Christ The Lamb of God – came to be released.

Restoration of the sinner could then take place – with release from the law’s penalty – then following, to the repentant sinner who believes.

His sacrifice provided forgiveness, because our sin was now atoned for. Forgiveness must be sought, and the gift of His righteousness received by a willing heart.

So the law is good and acceptable, but because of the fallen nature we each live in – it is unable to change us. Only Christ working in us by The Holy Spirit can change us.

The New Testament, the New Covenant, the New Agreement, God wishes us to enter into in partnership with Him – is joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is freedom from the dominion of sin, it is life and life more abundantly, it is the inner spirit of man coming alive.

The cross of Christ is the place and time in history when this New Agreement was released to mankind for the receiving.

Refuse to receive and we are left under the law – condemned and guilty.

This is a vast subject, it is part of the mystery that was hidden from man until the appropriate time.

There is much to say.

But a post is limited in it’s content, nevertheless those who have ears to hear will hear!

Proper Denial

PROPER DENIAL

There is a reluctance within us, that all of us, can claim to have. A reluctance to warm towards anything that calls for a dying-to-ourselves.

Jesus calls men and women to deny themselves and ‘take up their cross daily’ (Luke 9/23).

A rich young man came to Him one-time.

Matthew 19/21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

To help us with this godly ‘tall order’ (for such humans as we), let’s highlight the positives first of all. Jesus looks at us (as He did this man), and loves us.

Secondly he gave this young man clear instructions as to what he had to deny and forsake – within himself.

He had a love for money, more than a love for God. We are told that – not money, – but the love of money is the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6/10)

Escaping from an evil heart, escaping from this love of money, the young man was unable to do, and we know this greatly saddened him, and no doubt saddened the saviour of men, who has the ability to put His finger right on the idols of our hearts.

The man might have asked ‘how to do’ – what he was asked to do, but he didn’t.

As I write these words – I examine myself to ask what it is I still put-before loving God?

Even with a heart full of gratitude for all the experiences I have had over the years, where intimacy with Christ came as a gift from Him, I realise how easy it is to take steps away rather than towards Him.

It’s easy to prefer the temporal things of this world’s distraction, in a nutshell: ‘it comes naturally’.

Regarding the call of God to walk away from the distractions, lift the cross, and take the burden whilst pushing through to the presence of God – I realise is challenged by the self-life that will always prefer the alternative to doing this.

The Cross of Christ is all about letting go the temporal. It’s all about giving-in to The Father. It’s all about exercising faith and consequently denying self, in order to obtain the greater riches of spiritual experience and the love of God.

The third benefit offered to the young man – was treasure in heaven – or better put – heavenly treasure (19/21) –  which can start now in our experience of seeking first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6/33)

But we must recognise that this does not come naturally but spiritually.

Unless faith is involved in the exercise of self-denial it can lead to a substitute for self-denial, and self is all the more accommodated and enthroned in our lives. This is a subtle one. Many do not detect the difference.

But Paul refers to it in Colossians 2/23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Self-indulgence is a thing of the fallen nature we live in. From that same nature can come a ‘form’ of self-denial, a pseudo self-denial if you like.

Notice what seems right in self-imposed religion is not true self-denial through faith, because the result as Paul explains has no value against the indulgence of the flesh, (the sinful nature) because it can engender pride and superiority through asceticism, which only adds to the glorification of self.

It is by attending to matters of devotion and prayer, that the ability to leave behind the distracting things of the self-life is strengthened. Strengthening the inner man.

Many engage in ascetic practices, but step into the spiritual-‘unknown’ and leave themselves open to uncharted territory.

They have no experience of Christ in their life through faith, so seek spirituality in their own self-life, by all kinds of practices of self-inflicted punishment. Self denial is not an end in itself.

We need a perfect guide book, to keep us right. The Bible – The Word of God is that guide book.

In it we hear the Son of God calling us to forsake all and follow him (Luke 14/32-4). At the same time we can hear the voice of self telling us not to bother.

As we go to Him and enter into a fresh relationship with Him, we are more able to walk away from – and therefore deny – the selfishness resident within each one of us.