Category Archives: empathy

Chaotic Maelstrom

calm in the midst of terror

Calm in the midst of terror (Watercolour – Ken Riddles)

CHAOTIC MAELSTROM

One of the things I marvel at is the slow-slide downhill from truth. that is taking place on this planet. The only reason I am not overly surprised is because we are warned prophetically in the Bible, that such will be the case (II Timothy 3). 

I should categorise the area where truth is being eroded, by pointing out that I mostly refer to spiritual and moral truth (with no reference for example to political ideologies). 

Some moral standards that were 100% in place in our societies are almost eroded away.

Normally, examples would follow when making such a statement. And of course the daggers would come out if I became politically incorrect in my statements. Political correctness can be an attempt to impose rules that forbid us to correct the violation of Christ’s standards, lest we offend.

But giving shameful lists of acts of moral decay is not the purpose of this short piece.

I simply want to ask the question: Are we asleep, or using another analogy: are we adrift at sea in the maelstrom of moral chaos?

Will we wake up before it is too late?

We can of course only wake up individually, before we wake up corporately. Enough people waking up to the moral decline in an ‘anything-goes’ world, will bring the corporate change.

Without a moral compass we will continue to drift on the ocean-waves of depravity.

Christian preachers will go on preaching, and people will go on ignoring, until they wake up!? (or not).

It’s complicated I know. But as you reject hypocritical religion – sound the tuning fork of your own conscience and it will give you the right note.

Buy the lie – and anything goes.

Anything goes – all the way to man’s destruction.

Mentioning destruction – “What are you?” I hear you say. “Some kinda hell preacher?”

Yep – ‘Fire preacher’ – You burn your waste in the fire. You do not believe Hitler deserves a place in heaven – right?

Well guess what? No one does – except we be born again, according to The Lord Jesus Christ.

For it is by the unmerited favour of God’s gift – that a man or woman enters the promise of heaven on acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

John 3/3:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

That’s it in a nutshell.

Some receive this – some reject this. There’s no need to tell me of your vehement rejection, I don’t need an explanation as to why, I reckon I’ve heard enough over the years.

It’s just that God’s long-suffering – after ‘the long’ is over – will run out.

And the disease will have to be burned up.

The disease that is the root cause of every conceivable violation of justice and every moral misdeed, and reception of lies.

Who is going to hell?

Not for me to say – who am I that I should judge you, in the context of hell?

God is the judge of all the earth. But is there a place that will end the degradation and destruction caused by the spirits (human and demonic) behind the chaos?

Yes.

Most of us, have either an inkling, or through the process of bad experiences – a conviction – that the world has gone terribly wrong.

Trouble is – many won’t acknowledge that wrong (sin) is why it has all gone wrong.

The solution to every problem is to put the wrong – right.

Too mammoth a task for you or I to make a mammoth difference?

Self-preservation is a basic instinct in mankind.

Here is the dictionary definition of self-preservation:

1. Protection of oneself from harm or destruction.

2. The instinct for individual preservation; the innate desire to stay alive.

So it begins with the individual who can find the truth through their own individual quest.

Aware of the many sometimes intricate and varied philosophies that people allow themselves to drift into – one thing is common to many of them: they start with self – continue with self – are worked out by self – and leave ‘the divine’ – out of the mix.

Most self-help programmes – good or bad – revolve around the individual ‘sorting themselves out’ through the application of the instructions of the given programme of teaching.

In contrast – 

The Christian ethos is basically – ‘we can’t make it – we need help from above’.

Here is my first paragraph copied and pasted again:

One of the things I marvel at is the slow slide downhill from truth that is taking place on this planet. The only reason I am not overly surprised is because we are warned prophetically in the Bible, that such will be the case (II Timothy 3).

To have actually experienced help from God Almighty through His Son The Lord Jesus Christ – was the most tremendous experience in my life.

There is salvation in none other:

Acts 4:12

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Examine other philosophies or religions and the emphasis is on man as the source of his own salvation, when it comes to self-preservation or deliverance from ‘wrong’ – the Christian solution is to call upon the one (prayer), who offers His gift of Eternal Life. So I reckon this is: God-preservation.

I Thessalonians 5/23:

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a bombardment upon the mind of the human race and the result is untold damage. This bombardment is from the spirits of darkness. It is chaotic. Now we must have the invasion of God’s hand and angels – released to provide the help man cannot provide for himself.

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Matthew 14. Mark 6. Luke 9. John 6. John 6/32. Exodus 16.

Jesus had healed sick folk, and now they came for more.

So He healed all the sick in this crowd also. It was getting late – time for food – God knows you need food.

The crowd however were ill-prepared, it had been the excitement of seeing the miracles that drove them to this new place, seemingly without forethought for necessary natural food. So thrilled were they, by the spiritual food that Christ provided.

Andrew said – “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

How far will this blog post word-meal go? Enough for everybody?

Unless God takes hold of it – it won’t go far.

The young boy came to see the celebrity – (but more than a celebrity was here) but the boy had come prepared (food-wise) – he was one of the few, who had done so.

Was he there because he heard that no man ever spoke like this man?’

Why – that fact alone should be examined by all, to see if it is true, – as true it is!

Peter had the perfect-take on the words this God-man spoke, exclaiming that He had the words of Eternal Life’.

Think of it ‘Eternal words’.

Let’s examine the sequence of food provision.

NOTICE THE SEQUENCE –

FIRST – The HUMAN – in this case a young boy, who it would seem had more forethought and practical common sense than the adults – gives what he has to the DIVINE.

God doesn’t ask for something we cannot give Him, He only asks for all! Your body, soul and spirit in keeping with His desire for reciprocal love.

SECONDLY – THE DIVINE does something with what the human has willingly given. He in conference with the rest of the Trinity (the Triune God) (looks up to heaven) and the DIVINE influence takes hold of the natural food, and it multiplies supernaturally.

THIRDLY – He gives the influenced HUMAN PROVISION back to the HUMAN SERVERS (12 of them).

Sometimes God takes things off-us and gives it/them back super-enhanced and multiplied.

FOURTHLY – THE HUMANS give it to their FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS. This is how what the (HUMAN) preacher supplies – becomes something else in the hand of God.

So here’s the order in this instance – HUMAN – DIVINE – HUMAN – HUMAN.

There were twelve baskets of leftover fragments. Where in such a remote place did they get twelve baskets? Well – they came in a boat, usually a fisherman’s boat.

I reckon there were plenty of fish-baskets on such a boat.

But the twelve baskets were ‘waste not want not’. On another occasion (Old Testament) God sent manna (likewise exercising His supernatural influence), from heaven. But if we are to be fed spiritually we need reminded that…

…Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”

Love

Following my ‘Deluge’ post – I thought of a good follow-up in the words of the piece below:

This hymn was written by James Rowe (1912). I’m not familiar with the gentleman – nor do I sing old style classic hymns, very often, but the lyrics are solid, sound, and summarise true Christianity’s message. I’m told that Mr. Rowe was born in England worked in Dublin, and went to America, he was very prolific in his writing.

LOVE LIFTED ME

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.

 

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

Love lifted me.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help

Love lifted me.

 

Souls in danger look above

Jesus completely saves

He will lift you by his love

Out of the angry waves

 

But the master of the sea

Billows His will obey

He your saviour wants to be

Be saved today

 

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

Love lifted me.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!

When no one but Christ could help

Love lifted me.

Still listening?

STILL LISTENING?

The saying goes like this: “It takes all sorts to make a world”.

No doubt you have heard that saying?

There are sweets (candy) you can buy that go by the name of Liquorice AllSorts.

Guess what? Everybody has a different favourite.

And we all have our favourite ‘kind-of-person’.

Some folks we warm to immediately.

With others, – in our tolerant desire to embrace all – we have more of a struggle.

There are those who are so full of their own opinion, that they can’t hear yours. There are those who have had an academic grounding far beyond your limited sphere of study. Sometimes however, they don’t have the lessons that can only be learnt from life-experience(s).

We can have favourite friends. Friends we more readily confide in, due to their proven track record.

We automatically listen much more attentively to certain individuals, because we have observed their life for years perhaps, and have admired the way they live their lives.

Others because we have observed their shortcomings, will rarely be on the receiving end of our private thoughts.

So we switch-off much more quickly from listening and really taking-in what they say.

At this point I am asking myself to stop and think over, what this blogger has said up to now.

And I am calling myself to alertness – and to revisit the whole idea of hearing. Remember (I am saying to myself, and therefore to you), to switch your hearing mechanism up to its fullest capacity.

Perhaps you have a hearing aid? Well it’s the inner ear of heart and mind I am referring to. It is easy to switch off and to not pay attention.

God has been speaking since the beginning of creation. His voice is not in the flowers or the mountains, even though He could make the stones cry out, or sing His praise.

He has chosen to speak through men – that’s His chosen method.

Not my idea – His.

Hebrews 1:

1.God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

The difference in the New Testament is that His final way of speaking is through His own Son. He took upon Himself the ‘form’ of a man. He walked the earth and spoke His words, recorded by other human beings, specially chosen for the task.

How’s our hearing?

The Lord Jesus,  is my favourite person, and the strange thing is, sometimes even though He is, I begin to stop listening. Now to raise the volume in my heart and head.

How about you?

Philippians 2/ (Amp.)

but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].

Poetic Interlude II

INDIVIDUALS we be…

They are in an awful hurry to take sides

Opinion against opinion – doth arise

But they all look the same to my eyes

Just different variations on a theme

All races have eyes – that makes ‘em the same

All have noses ears and backsides

Seem the same to me

i.e. outwardly we recognise.

However inwardly –

all humans can be a surprise

Personalities differ from troop to troop

If I ever meet two the same – I’ll keep you in the loop

‘Cause you see – you ain’t me – and I ain’t you

And if you want to be me – I’m afraid

there’s nothing you can do.

You are – who you are – who you are – is a surprise

by what you come-out-with from inside

And only as I hear your friendly greeting

Will the experience be a pleasant meeting

Peace man!’ My generation used to say

Is peace what you are looking for today?

Let’s tolerate – we won’t all agree

But I’ll treat you with respect – if you treat me…

To a cup of coffee or a cup of tea.

Can’t get through

Hi to all! – I’ve had a lull in posting, (and ‘liking’) due to technical problems with my iMac. I start back on track with something I may have examined before:

CAN’T GET THROUGH

What can we say to the person who can’t get through?

Let’s have a pause here.

If I don’t continue – the interpretations of this opening remark are potentially endless.

Get through to what?

Well regardless of whether we admit it to ourselves or not – there is a spiritual vacuum within every person on the planet.

Or more correctly put – we are all born with this spiritual vacuum within. Some have handled this by dismissing the idea of there being a spiritual vacuum. Dismissed chiefly, by ignoring it.

For every affirmative statement of the fact that there is a Living God – there is a doubt antithetically offering itself to our minds.

I think of those who at one time examined the Christian message and slowly but surely came to realise how positive and true it was. Then having taken the necessary steps as instructed by others ‘in the know’ – they proceeded to call on God in prayer.

Only to find they ‘couldn’t get through’ – that it didn’t seem to make any difference. Nothing happened. I didn’t experience a thing. I tried that and it didn’t work.

So obviously (they conclude) the only thing remaining to do – is walk away.

Question: Doubt. – What is it?

Answer: Lack of faith –

 ‘Wow! Thanks for that’. I hear you say.

So there you where – you decided to act on the call to prayer exhortation from your Christian friend. Or as a result of your own deliberations over the Bible verses you had read.

‘They that call on the name of The Lord shall be saved.’

You called – but doubt stepped in and said ‘Has God said…?’

So you felt nothing – thoughts were swimming – no result – what’s this about? Didn’t work for me.

Doubt then began to speak in familiar language – what about all the other religions, surely they have something to offer also?

How can we be sure of any of this stuff?

I mean I prayed and nothing different happened to me. I didn’t sense anything different.

But who told you nothing happened? Your emotions? Your body? Or did your will just decide nothing happened?

‘Well my mind told me to consider all the teachings of the other religions as this was only fair, who is to say that Christianity only, has the answers?’

So now we have expressed a number of thoughts the end result of which, nevertheless is – doubt.

So in this very brief examination of faith and doubt, one thing we can safely conclude is found in the example and experience of one who listened to the preaching of Paul the Apostle.

Acts 26:27-29 (NKJV)

27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

Persuasion is ours, for many reasons. When Christ heals you, and you know it – despite the skepticism of others – you are persuaded.

When you are burdened down with guilt, and Christ forgives you and frees you from guilt, lifting the heavy weight – you are persuaded.

When you set out to write a book exposing the myth of Christ and His death and resurrection – and by examining the scriptures you are soundly convinced that contrary to your doubts – it (the bible) is the authentic means by which God has communicated to mankind – you become persuaded – like Frank Morrison who wrote the book ‘Who Moved the Stone’.

In my own case I came to recognise the total reality that God’s hand was imparting unmerited favour to me – He so touched my life – I could only but bow to His supernatural hand of persuasion upon me.

He moved first – I responded.

Becoming persuaded, calls for a certain tenaciousness in searching until we find the answers we are looking for.

We need to recognise that doubt will knock at the door, sometimes persistently, but a tenacious examination of the truth of the scriptures will lead to being fully persuaded.

Romans 4:20-22 (KJV)

20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Lost friendship

A Scenario…

A true friend indeed. One you have known from childhood. Then came the day when your friendship was tested. It was too painful for him to remain loyal to you.

In his own eyes – he would have suffered much loss while attempting to be true to you and your friendship.

Nevertheless you expect him to be true. And now you are devastated that you separated, and your friendship was split apart.

You couldn’t agree. You couldn’t forgive his actions. You can’t continue to argue to no avail. He did what he did. He did what he reckoned he just had to do.

Such is the human drama – the storyline differing from scenario to scenario, but the emotional conflict the same.

Write your own story to the tune of these words.

The script consists of – friendship – longstanding, conflict, disagreement, damage, hurt, separation, unforgiveness, and loss.

Human weakness that couldn’t handle the challenge of remaining true, couldn’t take the resultant disadvantage to the self, couldn’t embrace the ‘friends at all costs’ ethos.

The ability to disagree and lose the unity of friendship is common to man.

The sombre notes of dissension set in. On and on go the wrangling words trying to solve the situation.

The bickering eventually only stopping by separation and a long distance put between the persons involved.

It all comes from a nature man is born with. But many – don’t even accept this concept.

James 4/

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war…

The wars come from our desires, the old word is lust, – an uptight defensive, verbal hitting out at others – that catches alight – further, to sometimes awful consequences resulting in physical violence.

How is man capable of such friendship-destroying episodes?

He is  capable because it comes naturally.

These words I found in a Christian song, by DC Talk:—

Tell me what’s going on inside of me – I despise my own behaviour –This only serves to confirm my suspicions –That I’m still a man in need of a Saviour

I could end the post here.

But before I do (having highlighted the problem) – the closing statements are –

God is not the author of confusion. It is Christ’s desire that all believers in Him as the Son of God – be one in Spirit – one in The Lord.

If there must be a parting of the ways – then forgiveness must be that choice of the will, and from thenceforth no abiding return is to be made to the former hurt and disagreement.

And when the person or persons find themselves re-visiting the hurts – they/we must consign these thoughts to the cross by faith.

Ideally all should reconcile as Christian brothers and sisters. But unfortunately the floor of the church is littered with broken relationships, and we can’t pretend differently.

We can only exhort each other to reconcile in humility, laying aside the right to be right.

Finding, and returning to what we all hold dearly, holding The Head from which all the body is supplied and knit in love.

If the other party(ies) won’t come with you to the foot of the cross again. Then you/we must keep our own hearts in the choice of forgiveness.

(see Colossian 2/19)

Religion

Religion

You have heard the saying to ‘squeeze the life out of something’.

This is what religion does.

Of course in order to sound plausible I need to start by defining ‘religion’.

My plausibility is not the type that involves deception, by the way.

‘Religion’ is a term used – in Christian churches that have experienced the life-giving power of Christ, – to highlight the opposite-experience. 

Another word that is used is ‘Legalism’, when describing the opposite to ‘joy unspeakable and full of Glory’.

The Pharisees are usually offered as examples of this negative use of the word ‘Religion’.

They were caught up in the outward appearance of things, they added to the Word of God, with man-made concepts, rules and regulations.

They majored on the minors and minored on the majors.

Jesus speaking of the Pharisees said:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Until Jesus completed God’s revelation to man communicating it in His New Covenant – the law stood it’s ground, as it were, as given in the Old Testament.

Jesus didn’t destroy the law – He fulfilled it.

Forgive my analogy but for me (as an artist/painter) I see the Old Testament Law and its demands as the drawing before the colour was added.

I know – not the soundest of analogies.

But Christ came to give us Life and Life more abundant. Whereas many Christians are like the Pharisees who wish to bind folks with heavy burdens.

One gentleman responding to a gospel invitation to become a Christian – was heard to say: ‘No thanks I have enough problems of my own..!’

You see all he heard was an invitation to ‘religious rules’ and a lack-lustre life of asceticism.

Jesus puts it this way, illustrating lifeless drudgery –

For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

God has His laws – but they are the laws of liberty!’

James 1/25

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it…

Not religious servitude to a hard taskmaster. But words of life to guide us in our behaviour.

Speaking of the liberty offered to everyone who will believe – God says:

II Corinthians 3/

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The Holy Spirit is the life-giver and He then feeds us spiritually with His word/law.

None of this makes sense until we meet Him.

But the purpose of this post is to say that ‘religion’ in the negative sense, in the sense that I have just described, and alluded to, will neither satisfy you or set you free from the influence of sin.

Only a living relationship with the Living God will do that.

There is a proper use of the word religion in James 1/27 (If you care to have a look).

As I write this it crosses my mind that I may well have written on this before? Well, I shall do so again.

But it is extremely important that we are not deceived into a Pseudo-version of Christianity.

As you enter the New Year – please search for the real thing!

Storm steadying voice

STORM STEADYING VOICE

Matthew 8/

23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marvelled, saying,“Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

In these days there is need, like never before for a steady voice.

By a ‘steady’ voice I mean the kind of voice that expresses a steady heart-and-hand in steering the ship through the narrow gap between rocky waters, without making shipwreck.

The only steady hand we can completely trust and rely on is the hand of God. The hand of Jesus in the boat – to rest His way through the storm.

The storm is only something that can drown or kill in the natural world. But the natural wind and sea obey Him.

So for Him there is no stormy-sea problem in your natural emotion He cannot calm.

But for us no one can boast of the storms of life being ‘water off a duck’s back’ – far from it, we are prone to panic, to discouragement, and to becoming overwhelmed, just like the early disciples.

We are just made that way. The lower nature has made us that way. The storms of life provoke all kinds of reactions. Born out of fear and panic and hurt.

So as we look for a man to steady the ship and to show us the way – we cannot find one.

No man except the one of whom it was said – ‘no man ever spoke like this man…’. The man Christ Jesus. (John 7/46).

There are mature strong leaders in the church. Proven men of calibre, who have weathered many storms and having done-all-to-stand – are still standing.

But many have fallen under the storm of temptation, or failure, or persecution, or pleasure.

No one can set the sinless example that alone will give us complete confidence in them.

The preachers too need to hear the sermon.

The preacher delivering God’s message, must in turn listen to God.

The congregation need to honour  the message, if it is in line with the words of the Son of God.

Taking the bible-based words as a word from God, and not from man.

As we honour the preacher so we must honour his audience.

But we must reserve our worship for God alone, and not for His servants, because His servants are encompassed with infirmity, like all humans. (Hebrews 5/2)

We might say that anyone with ‘half a brain’ can see the increase of chaos and darkness on the face of the earth, working through man’s nature.

As soon as someone stands for the ways of Christ – they seek to discredit him and look for ways in which to catch him out – and brand him a fake, because he preaches Christ. Just like they did to the King of Kings Himself.

…And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. (Mark 12//13)

Pray for ‘Great Grace’ in these days – the church needs it!

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4/32)

Vulnerable with whom?

VULNERABLE WITH WHOM?

We can talk about what is happening in society. We can talk about what is happening in the world.

But what, (perhaps needless to say), is happening inside us, is what we are most familiar with.

Being self-conscious human beings, means – our self-awareness leads us to personal concerns – first.

Everyone’s aspirations differ, I guess with some overlapping, but never quite the same.

Our mind is pre-preoccupied with the body we live in. First-things-first is usually subjective.

We are fragile flesh. Prone to the same highs and lows.

Body, soul and spirit beings.

Inescapably we succumb to self-interest first, punctuated by a few sacrifices we may have made for others along the way, in order to change our self-oriented daily narrative.

Christians or non-Christians, acts of charity, and good deeds-done are common to all.

Some have been more sacrificial than others, in their service to their fellow man.

I am way down the pecking order when it comes to good deeds done, to the benefit of my fellow man. 

I can only hope that my service of ‘words’ has helped others to some small degree, along the way.

But mankind is housed in flesh, and we all have this earthly tent in common. We live in these corruptible bodies, with all our mutual limitations.

We are prone, as is said of Elijah: ‘to like passions.’

James 5/17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months

Despite these ‘like passions’ common to us all – Elijah (Elias) was a spiritual man, able to pray and receive answers.

Many believe in vulnerability. Many believe they should share their weaknesses openly with all who will listen.

This they usually conclude is being real. We should be free to share our innermost weaknesses and needs, they believe, to authenticate our genuineness.

Others consider this to be airing their dirty linen in public.

 Dictionary –  To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be embarrassing, in public or with other people.

When we share such private thoughts, we leave ourselves open to ridicule or unfair judgment from others.

It establishes in their minds a certain outlook towards us.

Even if we grow, and overcome those inner weaknesses, it may well be, they remain convinced, that we have not, indeed, overcome.

And should we fall yet again into negative behaviour of whatever kind, they affirm to themselves that indeed, we have not moved on.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not the whole answer to finding help. We need to ask “with whom can I, or should I, be vulnerably open?”

Those who are at all familiar with this blog, and this season of Christian-perspective posts, will not be surprised in the least at my next exhortation:

Vulnerability, that is – being vulnerable and therefore usually confessional  – in an acceptable manner is firstly vertical, before it is horizontal.

Prayer to Christ Jesus the one who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, in an unimaginable way, and who ever lives to represent those who want Him as their saviour and advocate, is the vertical friendship that I am referring to.

Proverbs 18/24

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Christ Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a human being/brother, if He is invited into our lives.

He is never surprised at your vulnerability, nor ignorant of your attempts to be and do what is right. He is compassionate and understanding, willing to forgive when you fail, and willing to comfort the downhearted in His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Be – as vulnerable as you want to be – with Him. Tell Him honestly what you think of yourself. Share with Him your most intimate thoughts.

Having done this – you can then move from vertical communion with Christ to the horizontal, in finding a real, true human friend, to open your heart to.

This is not always an easy task. But don’t give up, there are still some genuine, ethically sound, sincere counsellors who will keep confidence, and lend a helping hand.

You know I’m going to add – Christian ones.

Despite the onslaught of failure amongst people in positions of trust, and despite the hypocritical representation of religion, there are still those who are salt and light.

Men and women dealing with the same weaknesses Elijah, and you and I, contend with, both in ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Like Elijah the prophet – we can still pray and get results, especially in areas of subjectivity.

To finish – I must bind myself to the first part of the verse quoted above:

Proverbs 

A man who has friends must himself be friendly…

I raise my glass of coke –

“Here’s to your friendship”

Freedom

FREEDOM

The word – freedom – can mean different things to different people.

There are Pharisaical religious bondages that many need to be freed from.

Hostages know all about the joy of freedom when eventually they are rescued.

To be able to visit your place of worship freely without restriction is another appreciated liberty.

Freedom of speech is championed by many.

The lines of a chorus come to mind – “Are you free!?” “Have you got the victory?”

Succinctly that’s what freedom consists of – victory.

Free from an addiction, free from oppressive bullies, free from a restrictive governmental regime, or on a lighter note – Free from having to pay to park. Free from nuisance phone calls.

I have read that in some countries such as the USA an ornamental key – the key to the city is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others whom the city wishes to honour. This is a variation on the freedom of the city tradition.

But true freedom is not – being allowed to do exactly as we wish, especially at the expense of others. So freedom, must also include, having rules.

The imposition of one persons will on another is generally interpreted as oppressive, and robbing them of their freedom. It certainly can be.

But the imposition of a long-suffering and tolerant Saviour-God’s will upon mankind, if we would only wake up to it, is the imposition of a rule of love that brings mankind to the best possible place he could be in.

The Lord Jesus Christ wants to ellicit our willing response out of the freedom of choice that we have. He wants us to honour the rules of His kingdom, the kingdom of God.

True freedom is the ability to do what is right.

Jesus is willing to give that freedom, that liberty, that ability to walk with Him, and so overcome all that this present world contributes in binding us to the tyranny of sin.

But there must be a strong desire to escape to spiritual freedom.

Paul the Apostle says: Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]?

He goes on to affirm the way of freedom:

Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

We have all seen the movie scenes where there is an exchange of the kidnapped for the ransom, and it usually involves a walk of some kind, from one place to another, from the oppressors into the arms of a loved one.

Jesus has paid the ransom, now a walk must take place from the bondage and imprisonment of sin – to Him. 

Seems only appropriate, as you or I consider our imprisonment of whatever kind – for me to ask have we begun our walk to freedom in Christ?

Some bible verses without the references – 

So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Healed from a distance…

Healed from a distance.

Mark 7:25-27 Amplified Bible (AMP)

27 He was saying to her, “First let the children [of Israel] be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the pet dogs (non-Jews).” 28 But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the pet dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer [reflecting your humility and faith], go [knowing that your request is granted]; the demon has left your daughter [permanently].” 30 And returning to her home, she found the child lying on the couch [relaxed and resting], the demon having gone.

A woman came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. Who had been taken hold off by a demonic spirit.

The mother was not a Jew.

The Jews were God Almighty’s chosen people.

God – since way back – wanted the Israelites to follow Him like no other nation would, upon the earth.

At certain times they failed to do so, miserably, throughout their history.

But it’s not over yet.

After Jesus – the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – died on the cross – God turned to the gentiles and offered them salvation through The Lord Jesus Christ, and the Jewish people would need to recognise Jesus as the Messiah if they too were to join God’s sons (children) – 

Romans 8/14 –

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The Syrophenician woman was a gentile, but not able yet to avail herself of Christ’s full salvation.

History had still to take it’s course, before Jesus would die for the sins of the world.

Jesus would die to answer the correct demand of justice, and at the same time release God’s offer of forgiveness to a lost and dying world.

So she could not avail herself of the perfect salvation God was in the process of accomplishing through His Son on the cross.

But she did get her request answered.

Interesting, that in her case, because of her chronic need should there have been on her part – any ‘race-snobbery’, or anti-semitism, it was dispensed with.

Need, as they say – is a great leveller.

She just knew this was no ordinary man, and all else must be set aside if she was to avail herself of what she intuitively knew Christ could offer.

Her daughter, received no direct encounter with Christ. She was not present when her mother interceded on her behalf.

But rather – the power or God hit her and she was set free, even though no doubt miles away.

No laying on of hands, no application of clay, no instructions to go to the local priest, no outward sign of Christ’s involvement. 

Just His spoken word(s) in response to her need and her mother’s spoken request mixed with faith, on her behalf.

We can be far from persons in need. Jesus is no longer in the flesh on the earth. Yet the power of God can be released to those who make their requests known unto God, on behalf of others.

The Holy Spirit is a very present help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46/1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.