Category Archives: thought life

Thoughts…

Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 29/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works

Which You have done;

And Your thoughts toward us

Cannot be recounted to You in order;

If I would declare and speak of them,

They are more than can be numbered.

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

He considers and has not abandoned mankind.

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

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

Jeremiah 6/

Hear, O earth!

Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—

The fruit of their thoughts,

Because they have not heeded My words

Notice ‘the fruit of their thoughts”

What fruit is our thoughts producing?

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

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

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

Isaiah 55/

7 Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,

And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

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

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milk and Meat

MEAT AND MILK

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

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

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

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

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

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

…were mature ‘meat’ lovers.

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

Hebrews 5:13-14

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

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

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

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

Matthew 4/4

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

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

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

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

Are you still here?

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

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

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

Galatians 1/14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 7/15

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

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

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

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

Lord please give us grace.

I woke up one day

I woke up one day

I woke up one day and they were gone

The pop stars and rock stars and political bodies 

The styles of cars, and terminated oddities

                          …

I woke up one day after many wake-ups

And drew a line under the hoodies

And crudities – no longer in fashion

                          …

I observed how it all changed

Itemising the things that were no longer arranged

In that popular manner

They even use different grammar

                          …

I woke up another day and remembered the names:

The Presley’s and Lennon’s and Crosby’s and Connery’s

The Bolan’s and Cagney’s and names I’ve forgotten

                          …

I couldn’t see them in the present day

Their vapours had appeared and

Disappeared another way

                          …

I saw in their absence the crushing line of years

Years bumping up together –

At least – that’s how it appeared

                          …

I sneered –

I couldn’t bring them back except on celluloid

I couldn’t stop reminiscing – and concluding

Preparation is impossible to avoid

In light of the facts of corruptible flesh –

                          …

All singing and dancing their candle was lit –

If you think that’s all that matters –

You’re not getting it

                          …

But they represented earlier life – when energy

Aplenty was mis-spent in youth

Grabbing for straws we all together

Went at things – hell-for-leather

                          …

Time was wasted

But it’s hard to duck and dodge

It being so

For answers – we didn’t know where to go

                          …

As I was drifting into retro-reminiscing

Concluding there’s nothing new under the sun

I remembered it was all about having fun

                          …

But I woke up (as I was telling you a moment ago)

To find another name added to the roll call

At the Oscar Dinner, Show or Ball (?)

                          …

People – all those – we all know

Who represent passing time

There are times when I can be – feeling it so…

                         …

I woke up one day and found a mirror

I saw a man there – who was waiting his turn

I hadn’t realised he had grown old

And was supposed to feel it

I didn’t know – ‘cause I was never told

                          …

What am I supposed to do?

I can’t stop the train

Heading for the end of the line

The buffer stops and the buck stops here

Before The Creator – I must appear

                         …

Meantime back at the ranch or lunch

My mind wanders to a pier

A saying – batted about – yesteryear

‘Take a long walk – along a short pier’

                          …

This and similar quips come to mind

“Is he in?” We used to ask

“Who?” Was the scripted reply

“Mr. Norwood”

                          …

No one knew Mr. Norwood –

He had passed away

Looking in the mirror one day

To find he was ‘out of time’

(‘My sweet old fashioned baby…’)

                          …

I looked in a book one day

I found it again

Glancing through – romancing through

I saw faces long gone

Who wore those faces of youth

Just like mine

                          …

I compare the photos in collage

Fresh looking young man I was

Peering curiously at the world

                          …

As the quiet man in the background

I strolled passed everything

Observing – surprising – amounts of forms

“How’s the form?” Greeters would ask

                          …

Greeters long gone

Many and varied deaths they had

The ‘around the corner’ alcoholic

His name was John

                          …

He passed away

A friend of my brother’s

I didn’t know

I knew him one night in a bar – drunk or so

I was with a girl – she wanted to go

                          …

Deal out the memories like a pack of cards

Go on – put them out there – spread across the floor

The floor of your mind

And think to yourself – of all who have gone

They represent your journey – your encounters

With the strange – the normal –

And those above the norm

                          …

Wake up some day and realise it won’t be long

Before we join them beyond outer space

The end we must face

If I tell you the great sequel

You will think me – too strait-laced

                          …

Every generation must face these things

What do you bring to the table?

Your ideas are not enough

Because only enough is enough

                          …

Things – will – are – and – will still –

get rough

And if you don’t find answers that’s tough

                          …

Today I woke up and banged the keys

Today I woke up with a sneeze

Finishing off now – I must go…

                          …

Go home to that photo album

You possess

And have another look

That’s your family – friends –

And acquaintances that mark time for you

                          …

What age are you now?

There’s no need to say

You look around to answer but…

                          …

I’m on my way

Tug of War

TUG OF WAR

The man in the team pulling his weight in the tug of war, is helped by the fact that others are sharing the load.

Imagine him against the whole of the other team. No problem of course – if you are Samson.

(Joshua 23/10): One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. 

Spiritually speaking, as Christians we are in a tug of war against the darkness of this present age. And I reckon there are a multitude of ways of dividing us.

There are all kinds of devices used by the unseen enemy, who manifests himself in unbeliever’s flesh, who are used by him to dis-unify, disrupt and weaken the saints of God. II Corinthians 2/

11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Problem is, he will also use the flesh in us (Christians), never mind the unbelievers.

I would love to say we are all aware of this and we all take the necessary action to maintain unity, and to stop this flesh in ourselves and others on the team from dis-unifying the church, and causing us to let go of God’s ‘rope’. But I’m afraid experience tells me different.

Amidst the increased pressure of the day in which we live, we who are not overtly ‘brave courageous and bold’, as the old western song about Wyatt Earp used to tell us – have only one means of maintaining our unity as believers.

That one means is humility.

Being able to talk and communicate in such a way that there is no self-righteousness and oneupmanship, present in our midst.

Because I see little of this, as it is really meant to be, I can find myself despairing of finding like-minded believers to ‘attach’ myself to, who likewise long for the commanded blessing of God, that is promised to those who will dwell together in unity.

But to finish this very short post – we had better get our act together, and as one person put it – be not sworn together in doctrine, frozen together in tradition but melted together in love.

We can’t do that without The Love of God Himself flowing in our midst.

“Lord we are your people and if we will humble ourselves and pray…”

II Chronicles 7/14

The Crowd v The Individual

THE CROWD v THE INDIVIDUAL

Daniel 6:15-17

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

There are many examples throughout history of the crowd versus the individual. Many times the individual has been wrongly treated, mis-judged, wrongly accused, misunderstood and so on.

To mention a few, we could look at: Joseph by his brothers, Lot by the Sodomites, Samson by the Philistines, Paul by the Jews…

There are many examples, but in the New Testament:

We think of Stephen the martyr, preaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that brought him a stoning at the hands of those (the crowd) who wanted to shut their ears to this truth. (Acts 7/57-59).

We think of course, of The Lord Jesus Christ the ultimate example in His sinless perfection suffering at the hands of mankind (the crowd).

The great irony in the case of The Lord, was the fact that though he was taken and crucified by the free-will choices of many – it all played into God’s ordained plan. In the sense that His wisdom and prescience, decided that as man would do this – it would be the very thing that would liberate man from the dominion of sin and eternal separation from God.

It was God giving Himself to meet His own requirements for an eternally efficacious sacrifice for sin.

There is always an inconclusive tension between man’s free will choices and God sovereignly ordaining that certain things should come to pass.

It is of course, the age-old theological debate that will always end in us knowing IN PART.

Whereas for God the knowledge of how this works is, as they say, ‘A breeze’.

Being convinced of the personality, character and deeply benevolent heart of Our Heavenly Father – we ought to prove it, by believing Him even when we don’t understand.

We shall not understand eternal matters fully until fully in eternity.

Daniel was thrown to the lions – the crowd had decided he must be – and used a ‘politically correct’ decree to see him put there.

We are not told what was going on internally with Daniel, as he ventured into that den to face the lions.

The devil since then and before, walks about like a roaring lion…

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Notice the good advice given to prevent his unseen, but real presence, having sway over us – Be sober, be vigilant…

We are to keep a proper watch over our minds as we yield to God – this keeps us insulated from the devourer, as we remain fixed on The Lord. (James 4/7).

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (I John 4/4)

Darius wasn’t keen, to say the least, that Daniel should be put as a pigeon amongst the cats, but a law and it’s unrighteous application to Daniel’s case prevented Darius from freeing Daniel.

It was nothing short of a miracle that Daniel was not devoured by the hungry beasts.

Darius issued a decree that ‘he only should be worshipped’ – that’s what it boiled down to.

And his word once written could not be altered.

It’s wonderful to know that if a sinful human king had to keep the word he had written, how much more is the Word of our Heavenly Father, The King of Glory, written forever and cannot be broken. (John 10/35)

He has promised Eternal Life to those who repent and believe and His word cannot be broken – it is decreed forever.

God’s Word is not some whimsical law written to re-enforce God’s ego (He doesn’t have a sinful ego). It is the Word of God that shall never pass away. (Matthew 24/35)

The result of Daniel’s innocence was that the angel of God shut the mouths of the lions. 

And in case we think they had their teeth removed before Daniel got there, here is the result when the false accusers, were subsequently cast into the den by the same King who, as a result of seeing Daniel’s survival – had a demonstration of the power of God Almighty shown to him.

And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

If we read the whole chapter and more, we will discover, as with the whole Word of God, many lessons both for this life and the next.

The crowd versus Daniel – when the crowd seems to win. In the crucifixion of The Lord Jesus, when the crowd seems to win. In the life of Stephen the martyr when the crowd seems to win.

When in actual fact the victors in all three examples is Stephen, Daniel and The Lord Jesus Christ – simply because the eternal purposes of God had been served.

So that whether deliverance in this world – Daniel.

Or deliverance for the next – Stephen.

They both were winners through The One who conquered the crowd’s inflicted crucifixion – demonstrating deliverance in this life, (returning from the dead), whilst releasing the gift of eternal life to all who would believe, thus serving that eternal purpose of God.

Zechariah 3/

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Diverse

DIVERSE

I sometimes marvel, (the older I get – the more it is so), at how diverse the human race is.

Better reach for the dictionary here to clarify in which way I mean ‘diverse’:

Dict.: showing a great deal of variety; very different:

This can be a blessing, or one in disguise, or divisive, or a cause for conflict or violence.

DRAGON’S DEN TV SHOW (English version)

Someone like ‘a Dragon’, loves folks to come across with confidence, with a track record of making money, they don’t like sloppiness, or uncertainty, want pitch-perfect people, and people who are going to make them a lot of money.

They like clear answers to their questions. But don’t always like the answers, if the answers don’t re-enforce their way of thinking.

Suddenly they like your suit, when it is established, that you will make them money. Otherwise you have a rubbish tailor.

Head rules heart – sympathy gives way to cold reasoning and hard facts. 

And of course we somewhat concede to them (The Dragons) in the context of the programme, as their experience in business teaches them to consider angles perhaps, (and indeed it is the case with many of the ‘pitchers’), that others have missed – something important in their business strategies.

But mixed into the Dragon’s business-like voiced-responses there is a spattering of personal everyday-life ‘revelations’.

Sometimes the ‘asides’ are whimsical and nothing to do with business, but expose simply their personal tastes.

And of course we think some of their rudeness is totally uncalled for, and includes bullying.

But if you ever wanted a programme demonstrating a sampling of the diversity of personalities, well this is it.

Human nature, expressing the heart of mankind can be observed in the Den. Yes in the context of earning a living, but with a spattering of non-related subject matter, as we get glimpses into their lives, both Dragons and those pitching.

…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks… (Matthew 12/34)

What I notice to my chagrin sometimes in life in general, is the things that impress some folks.

(Enter – my responses of incredulity) – at the diversity of that which impresses others.

As a Christian I have a built-in morality check, it is called having a conscience.

This means the behaviour of others either impresses me or doesn’t. (My conscience tells me when my own behaviour is not impressive!)

If you examine what impresses others and what receives the accolades of the crowd, you will find that it often is morally reprehensible.

In the admiration of Hitler, back in the day, I would suggest we have an example of that which did impress others, but did not include moral considerations.

And morality can easily be left out of the list of requirements that elicit admiration.

There you have it – without further development. What impresses you? What impresses me? What impresses society?

The things that impress the younger generation usually differ from that which impresses the older.

A lot of this is to be expected, and has always been the case.

My father, when I was enthusiastically responding to pop stars and their sound, would utter these words: “Let ‘em up – you’ve given him enough’!’ By so exclaiming – he was linking the noise they were making (musically), to the noise someone would make whilst being beaten up.

It’s laughable now – but there are far more serious differences that expose the moral decline of both younger and older, that have been embraced, by our world.

A lot of it, is put down to eclecticism – live and let live.

But being convinced of a better way only comes to those who begin with a felt need.

Followed by an examination of big issues, beginning with those in their own hearts. An honest appraisal of what is happening in this world is called for. As we say ‘it’s as plane as the nose on your face’ that something is terribly amiss. And diversity or no diversity, we must seek the permanent answers God has provided.

Should you never cross the door of a Christian church – you nevertheless must be translated into another kingdom now, on the earth, that’s what God is saying to whoever will listen.

Seeking God is prayer-initiated. Speaking to Christians, God says this:

Colossians 1:13

Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Paul tells us – it’s already done (= has translated) – for all who have been converted.

New King James Bible:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Conveyed or translated – this is a spiritual experience that God brings to those who will believe.

The kingdom of God is Jesus in the heart of those who will believe, as The Holy Spirit enters their life.

We can be as diverse/different as chalk and cheese in our likes and dislikes and preferences – but there is one piece of dogma about Jesus Christ, that applies to all –

Acts 4/

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

At the right time

AT THE RIGHT TIME

For those of us who have been travelling the narrow way that leads to life eternal, and are familiar with all things Christian, know what it is, to sit under – or to give – sermons.

There are all kinds of different approaches to sermonising – sermons in series, prophetic words straight from the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for the moment, Systematic sermons on a given subject, book-study sermons – where e.g. an epistle is expounded from start to finish.

But here’s a word about The Word. It’s found in Proverbs 15/

23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

There is no expounded word for you like the word that comes at the right time.

Perhaps you are going through a time of trouble. Perhaps you are deliberating over a particular decision you hope to make. Perhaps you are downhearted and feeling disappointed. Perhaps you are struggling due to physical infirmities. Perhaps you have been attacked verbally or otherwise by the insensitive and uncaring. Perhaps you are struggling to understand life, or people, or indeed the Bible itself.

Well, God can quicken (make alive) inside you the very Word you need to hear.

Jesus said:

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

That’s the word you need in the situations mentioned above.

When God quickens His Word to us – it will always set the Christian Free. Even when He corrects us it is given to set us free – free from the mistakes and free from the condemnation of the mistakes we all make.

So, much as we can continue to appreciate the expounding of God’s Word generally – we must always remember to look for the word – (amidst the Preacher’s word and all he is saying), – that is a ‘word in season’ for you. 

Even if you forget the rest of the sermon but walk away with what The Holy Spirit speaks into your life – the sermon has been worthwhile.

A word such as this, that reaches to the very core of your being, is once again God Himself speaking to you.

We cannot live by bread alone as Christians. We need the Word of God quickened in such a fashion.

How good it is to receive this 

word spoken in due season, how good is it!

Contentment

CONTENTMENT

1 Timothy 6:6

Now godliness with contentment is great gain…

Godliness produces many spiritual fruits in our lives. If we follow Christ and He enables us to reach a godly lifestyle reflecting the Person and characteristics of Our Loving Saviour then one of those fruits can be a deep contentment.

In the Old Testament when the people of God, the Israelites, where walking in a godly manner – they were under the cloud by day and the fire by night. (This refers to the Presence of God visible in this way).

In so walking correctly they were content.

When discontentment enters into our lives either through sin, unbelief, or adverse circumstances – it can be difficult to enter into contentment again.

Sometimes discontentment can lead us to many wrong choices and actions – discontentment in thought word or deed.

I have always liked the saying (as we say: ‘That old chestnut…’) – ‘I’M SATISFIED WITH A DIS-SATISFIED SATISFACTION.’

I have always considered myself a discontented kind of human being. Even when I achieve something successfully – I’m already looking for the next thing that needs achieved.

Failing to take the time to enjoy the sense of accomplishment, in the first place.

I do know this, that when the scripture ties these two together (i.e. Godliness and contentment) – it does so with purposefulness and intent.

Reaching Godliness and the heart is content. In fact nothing will produce lasting contentment apart from a living relationship with God Himself.

All subsequent discontentment that we allow to creep back into our lives, must be brought to Him and He will give us peace again.

Here are some scriptures that reference contentment or lack of it.

Jesus giving advice to Roman soldiers:

“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

Paul the apostle speaking:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I would suggest the secret he refers to is a walk with Christ and the Godliness it gives.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Strength is the second part of the ‘secret’. Strength from God that produces godliness and therefore contentment.

Conversely – It can be a clear sign that God is influencing you if you are a non-Christian – if you enter an emotional state you can’t quite define.

God strives with men, until the discontentment we feel as a result brings us to the realisation that we are in need of Christ as Saviour and Lord. This is a kind of discontentment to do with a convicted conscience.

Finally God says:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

He has to be with us in the first place before He will never leave us 

– But maybe you have already asked Him into your life?

The Mood Factor

THE MOOD FACTOR

Dunseverick – watercolour by Ken Riddles 

One of the aspects of art appreciation that is overlooked, is the ‘mood’ aspect.

What ? – Moody landscapes do you mean? 

No. I’m referring to the emotional state of artist and viewers alike.

It is difficult nay, perhaps for some folks, we could say, almost impossible to trace the origins or cause of mood swings.

We enthusiastically buy a piece of art. “Just love it!” Is the exclaimed conclusion when the money has been paid and it hangs on the living room wall.

But a year later they have a bad day and go ‘off-it’ completely, and set about to find a way of ridding themselves of the piece.

What do you mean that never happens? 

Really?

I remember sadly, that a friend of mine bought a painting I created,  entitled (I think?) ‘Couple’. It was a semi-abstract of two figures hand in hand.

She bought it for her fiancee, as an engagement present, owned by both as they entered marriage.

Unfortunately she had been duped and the partner wasn’t what he presented himself to be and the marriage ended.

She could no longer appreciate the painting and gave it away. A rather extreme example of how our subjective experiences can turn our emotional appreciation away from a formerly appreciated object.

I’m only too willing to concede also, however, that some pieces of art stay in favour throughout the life of the person who possesses it/them. Their daily experiences – good or bad – high or low – do not affect their intellectual and emotional attachment to the work.

I guess that is the ideal scenario, I’m just not convinced it is always the case.

Everyone likes a change. That’s why we RE-decorate our rooms.

As a painter I have moments of joy over what I have produced but I must confess it is sometimes short lived.

Fortunately there are works I do not want to part with. But not many.

As Christians we are not meant to live by our ‘moods’, as in –  only setting ourselves to please God, when we ‘feel’ like it. But to suggest we are not all subjectively motivated some of the time, would be unrealistic.

However, if The Lord Jesus had acted only on ‘nice or good feelings’, He would never have gone to the cross.

That’s where the will of God ‘kicks in’ for the Christian. Doing things because they are right, not because we feel right.

I certainly do not claim mastery in this sphere – only that The Master (Jesus), provides the help I need.

However in these considerations, and as part of this discussion is about art, we must also allow for the fluctuation of ambiguous artistic feeling. 

When an artist places his next mark on the paper, guided by an inner knowing and decision making mechanism, this can be referred to as ‘intuition’.

Put simply – an example would be – illustrated by the utterance: ‘I feel it needs something red down here…’

What do you mean ‘I feel it needs…?’

Explain that one…

There is no doubt we are all subject to whimsical feelings when it comes to taste. We get tired of always looking at or listening to the same thing. It is just part of human nature.

So I realise when it comes to my own art that those who have purchased or been gifted with my paintings may get tired of them.

The artist shouldn’t get too offended by this.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is self-control.

Therefore that effects all our decision making. 

In that – we are to know ourselves, and ‘collate’ our thoughts in the Presence of God.

This leads to God’s Peace being arbitrator between what is acceptable and unacceptable (Colossians 3/15).

No Christian gets this correct all of the time, but when we don’t – we run back to God for His understanding forgiveness – He understands that we are sheep that too easily go astray.

So by all means enjoy being a human being – allowed to have likes and dislikes, our own ‘taste’ buds – our individual emotional responses to the sight of the eyes.

But art dealer ‘Joe Bloggs’ having an off-day (or mood swing) and as a result rejecting your art – should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Self-control wins the day as something to aspire to. An emotional roller-coaster life, and – the car gets so out of control it heads for a crash.

Galatians 5/

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The Last Jump

THE LAST JUMP

Something can mean a lot to an individual or to a lot of individuals.

In western society it is still (more or less accepted) that all are free to like or dislike, agree or disagree, live together in the same society even though poles apart in opinion. It is taken as a given, that taste is down to the individual. 

Certain individuals are ‘thrown’ together because their tastes match.

Opinions on all subjects vary, but when they coincide and an opinion extends beyond the singular, – groups are formed.

The forming of political parties, or sports clubs, or art societies, or golf clubs, or… and so on and so on.

All these groups of individuals who hold to one common opinion or pursuit, are together adhering to a common manifesto.

Some agree that ‘majority rules ok’ is to be embraced as a rule of thumb. Hindsight they say is a wonderful thing. The Nazi Party became the ruling majority. It wasn’t a good thing.

Dictatorships destroy this commonly held belief in freedom, or so it is commonly held to be the case.

Where am I going with all this?

Inner freedom is exactly that – something inside the individual. One can live in a ‘free’ society, and yet be bound-up inside.

Bound by fear, discouragement, shyness, bound to a particular habit, bound by duty, circumstance, bound (by financial considerations) to a given means of employment, bound by sin.

Inner freedom is to do with the mind and heart of every individual.

The bible in Hebrews 2/15 talks of those who 

…through [the haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives.

Death is the ultimate border to cross. The final experience to be had. The final valley to be gone through. For many this thought of death brings bondage rather than freedom. 

The thought of death for many produces slavery to fear, the fear of the unknown, in the minds of many, as described in this scripture (above).

For the Christian(s) individually and corporately – death as it is for everyone else, can be likened to a metaphorical jump from an aeroplane – the only difference being the Christian has a parachute.

1 Corinthians 15:53-55

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 

“Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we encounter The Christ of God in this life – and experience His Life-giving Holy Spirit – then we can be assured that there is more of the same to come, as Christ promises to be with us always – into eternity.

II Corinthians 5/5

Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise].

Seek

SEEK

I’m assuming I am the exception that proves the rule.

To what do you refer ‘young man’?

Well, I am not a prolific reader. I am not as they say: ‘Well read’. I have not read a novel in many many years.

I read the Word of God daily of course and know what it is to saturate myself in it’s life-changing power. 

I read also the odd Christian ‘theology’ book, and I also used to read books on art regularly.

I of course read the odd blog post also. 😎

But – I write a lot – I write and leave it aside for future scrutiny and don’t always get back to giving it that scrutiny.

Usually writers are good readers right? That’s the exception I speak of.

I do love words, however. Putting them together in new ways. Playing with words. Poetry – I like to keep an enigmatic element to some of it. Like my approach to art (as in painting) – I like to invent – and have fun.

But when I write on Christian teaching – I am obliged to be as clear as I can. Knowing that, regardless of how clearly I speak the truth – it will not always be understood.

The Lord Jesus had the same problem:

50 …But they did not understand what he was saying to them…

That’s how it can be with the things of God.

Everyone should ask themselves if they have searched enough, in the scriptures, to find out it’s true meaning. It is an exercise no one can do for you.

The exhortation to ‘search the scriptures’, can be either ignored, dismissed as being religiously incoherent, responded to with minds that are already made up being filled with everything that contradicts what the Bible says – or you can make such a search a long term prospect – it’s up to you.

But be assured:

…seek and you will find;

The Word

Prominent Christian men down through the years have been zealous for God. They have furnished the body of Christ with often, the finest of the wheat. 

They have been treading out the corn – unmuzzled (I Cor. 9/9).

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd…

 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

How great it would be if mankind listened and responded to these goads (painful but helpful cattle prods).

And would be WARNED against anything outside of the sayings of those biblically-proven wise.

God’s Word – the bible as we have named it (papyrus/scroll etc.)- is a door into eternity and the eternal counsel of The Only Living and True God.

The all wise God – imparts counsel, tailor-made to suit each human being, and expressed in human language so that we might take note and come to proper understanding about this life and the next.

This Word that is sharper than a sword with two edges, The Word that is the bread of Life, The Word that imparts Christ’s Light, The Word that gives spiritual knowledge and wisdom, The Word that keeps us from sin if embraced, The Word that guides, The Word that strengthens the human spirit and so on.

Delivered by those who are faithful.

But today – from all corners of the globe from all corners of society there comes philosophies, mindsets, meditations, amusements, gang mentalities and so on – far removed from the wisdom clearly expressed in the Bible.

In all of these ‘voices’ there is a great departure from the path of true wisdom.

Even spiritual paths propagated by so called ‘gurus’ are far removed from the true wisdom of God:

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe…

If God tells us the wisdom found in this world – which comes from man’s intellect alone is foolishness, when it comes to the things of God – then we had better look elsewhere to that which is above the intellect of mankind and thus find the higher wisdom.

Enter – the Bible – a compilation of God-inspired writings for now and eternity.