Category Archives: word in season

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)

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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!

Divine Intervention

Divine Intervention

Superman never fails, or so the illustrated narratives would want to show us.

He comes to the rescue – swooping into a situation and exercising his muscles to save the day.

God can ‘sweep’ into a situation with ‘Divine Intervention’ .

Whether in given situations or in people’s personal lives.

Divine intervention – What is it?

According to Wikipedia:

Divine intervention is a purported miracle caused by a deity’s active involvement in the human world.

I think it is true to say that in accessing Wikipedia I have accessed a source of information that most – if not all – accept as authoritative (?). 

For the Christian, however, the first source of reference for information of this kind, is of course the book we call The Bible.

Notice – Wikipedia uses the word: ‘purported’.

Here we go defining again:

purportedly:

as appears or is stated to be true, though not necessarily so; allegedly:

Notice the injection of doubt? – ‘not necessarily so…allegedly…and the first mentioned: ‘purported’’

All statements worded in this way, are written to suit the compiler of definitions himself, or to satisfy the skeptical agnostics or unbelievers.

I guess its an attempt to please all the people – all of the time. But it fails, – as it doesn’t please me.

There are many examples of divine intervention in the Bible. God – dividing the Red Sea. God consuming Elijah’s water-soaked sacrifice, Mose’s revelation of the burning bush, burning but not consumed, the conceiving of children when it was past the age of conception for the woman, angels appearing to a bunch of shepherds, a donkey talking to a man, five loaves and two fish feeding 5,000 plus and so on. I will add an etc. etc. here.

For some these are divine fairy tales.

For the believing Christian it is truly – divine intervention, and I have listed only a few.

God intervenes in major and minor ways.

He intervened in my life in a powerful and unmistakable way. I am extremely thankful for this intervention, It was so powerful and real I will never forget it, and it is the foundation upon which my faith is built, being a Revelation of Jesus Christ.

I do not experience this the same way or to the same degree every day.

That is how it is meant to be.

God doesn’t need to intervene, or introduce Himself in the same manner, as He is an abiding presence in my life, already.

But I am so thankful for His unique introduction in the first instance.

He can intervene miraculously if He so chooses, but not to convince me of His existence, He has already done that.

How many of my friends and I would love to see that Divine Intervention again in our nation and the nations of the world. We, as Christians, have put the title ‘Revival’ upon such interventions.

Elijah once considered himself the ‘only one left’ but God had secret plans, revealed in response to Elijah’s ‘I only am left’ – complex.

God revealed to Elijah that He had reserved for Himself 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to worship the false-deity called Baal.

Are you among the 7,000+ who have not bowed the knee to false gods?

Romans 11/

…Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant…

I almost feel like starting a survey and getting you to sign it – if you have experienced the divine intervention of Jesus in your life, and you are therefore ‘all-time voting for Him!’

As God intervened in the life of the world taking upon Himself the clothing of flesh in a virgin’s womb – and we have allocated this time of year to remember Him doing so – remember also that this was divine intervention – Jesus Christ has come in the flesh!

II John 1/7

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

 

snow n sun
A Peaceful Christmas to all – Enjoy the Season!

TRUE LIGHT

TRUE LIGHT

In mocking tones, sometimes amidst a workforce, I have heard it said: “Oh – they have seen the light…”

What they mean is – they have become ‘religious’. Referring to anyone who starts professing to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly the reference they use to ‘seeing the light’ is usually connected to the experience of one ‘Saul of Tarsus’, who had a name change to ‘Paul the Apostle’.

He had a very dramatic experience on the Damascus Road, where he encountered a blinding light, and heard a voice, all part of a supernatural revelation of Jesus Christ. (full story – Acts 9)

He referred to this experience, later in his life, referring to this encounter with Christ – he adds – as ‘by one born out of due time’.

I Corinthians 15/

After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

So it was Christ and His radiating Glory that he saw.

The terminology used in describing this experience is arrested descriptively by innocent or not so innocent commentators when they discover someone newly come to faith in Jesus Christ The Lord.

And really it is a good description of conversion, whether used kindly or mockingly.

I saw the light in 1970 – 48 years ago.

The bedroom in which I saw the light no longer exists. But I walk in the light every day as I am enabled by the Giver of light.

There is no light without ‘The Life’.

John 1/

3 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. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [a]comprehend it.

Christ’s imparted life-giving Spirit to the repentant heart illuminates the inner man in an unmistakeable way.

…The last Adam (Christ Jesus) became a life-giving spirit.

(I Corinthians 15/45).

However there are other ways of receiving ‘light’. 

Unfortunately there is ‘light’ that-is-in-fact darkness. It is offered outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is clearly referred to in the Bible in this way:

35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

How can light be darkness – it sounds contradictory?

But it isn’t. It is all to do with your source.

The electricity company supplies electricity and therefore light to my home. There are other companies vying for the business – they too can supply the light.

We could also quote the old adage – ‘all that glitters is not gold’ when highlighting that all ‘light’ is not to be embraced.

Let me sound a warning-shot over your bow – not all light is the true light that has come into the world, to illuminate mankind to the truth of the gospel, namely that there is

…one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

John 1/8-10

That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Luke 11/35-

Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

Jesus could not have made it clearer that all light presented in numerous philosophies and religions can in actual fact be darkness.

II Corinthians 11/14.

And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

May you and I encounter the true light of Christmas – born in Bethlehem – the true light has come.

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)

Weakness

Weakness

Deuteronomy 31:6

6 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Ephesians 6/

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

A call to all Christians – to be strong.

Many years ago there was a western, and the theme tune included the lines: ‘Brave courageous and bold…’, referring to the cowboy hero.

Suppose Paul The Apostle was leaving on a train, and he had to exhort us with a quick shout from the train window, wanting to communicate the secret to being a strong Christian, faithful to God and Our Redeemer.

What would he shout with so little time? What would he give us as a key to strength? 

I believe it is found in the following scripture:

II Corinthians 12/10

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“That ol’ steam train is pulling out Paul – you won’t  even have time for a full verse – what can you tell us?”

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God loves to strengthen the weak. But we all need to learn the restful waiting of weakness.

They that wait on The Lord – we are promised – shall renew their strength.

As someone once pointed out – ‘some only know the struggle of perfect weakness, whilst others know the rest of perfect weakness.’

Therein lies the secret. Weak, unable, feeling unspiritual, had enough, battered, worn out, discouraged…?

Rest…

Expect that these conditions of weakness you are ‘fulfilling’ – will prime-the-well of God’s strength.

How come?

For when I am weak,…(condition met in your life?)

…then I am strong. (condition when God touches you).

Expect the power-of-His-might now – as you are fulfilling the condition necessary for God’s strength to triumph!

…for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (Saith The Lord!)

Humility

HUMILITY

Matthew 18/1. At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus used a little child as an example of what we need to become, was He not simply saying ‘become small’?

The child was little.

Innocent – in the sense that they have not matured enough to join the fray of obnoxious behaviour.

However, they will – throw a tantrum without being taught to do so. And if it is not managed correctly, they will grow up as spoiled brats – a description we hear quite often today.

The bible teaches that we all without exception, are birthed in the same way and condition as the Psalmist:-

I was brought forth in [a state of] wickedness;

In sin my mother conceived me [and from my beginning I, too, was sinful].

That’s why we don’t need to teach kids to throw a tantrum when self doesn’t get it’s own way. The nature within automatically rebels and wants it’s own way.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

But the child He placed in the midst hadn’t yet learned to lust for the power of position.

Why was – ‘who would be greatest’ – on their minds at all?

Jesus goes on to confirm His point: 

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Humility then, is the lesson.

As far as we know the child didn’t enter into any kind of outward show of humility.

But there the child was – with all those adults staring at him/her. But that was ok – because the child was with Jesus!

Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to His Heavenly Father even unto death. (Phil. 2/8).

I was praying one day in my bedroom, and as I bowed before God, I was suddenly aware-in-spirit of the character of Christ just how full of humility He is. And so I in turn was humbled when this revelation came to me.

He is humble – not in some Uriah Heep, conjured-up, lip-service kind of way – but within His very nature.

He could throw His divine-weight around and sort-out a rebellious world, with judgement – instead His attributes make Him the God of Grace and the God of many chances.

…the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;

(II Peter 3/15)

He is The Lamb before He is The Lion.

When Jesus was at a feast on another occasion – He taught the lesson that we are to choose the lower seat first, not the higher one.

Saint Augustine said:

The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.

Humbling self is firstly a thing of honest appraisal.

When Peter denied Jesus, slipping into the bind – that self puts upon us, enabled by the devil – one look – from The Master was enough to send him to his knees, in humility, as self was exposed in hurting The One he loved dearly.

Luke 22

Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster [i]crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

We learn two things regarding how God works in our lives:

  1. The look of God
  2. The voice of God

When God looks upon you – you must notice it. When we notice it – we then remember what He has said.

Or if we reverse this we can find God’s revelation when we listen first to what he says (Bible) and in prayer notice His eye upon us – the result.

In Peter’s case a humbling of the self-life – and a searching for God’s forgiveness. In Peter’s case – Jesus called this conversion. Or a returning to God in prayer.

KJV: Luke 22:

32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

NKJV: Luke 22:

32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

His eye is upon us – we can receive the benefits of this or ignore it.

His voice is speaking to us – we can receive the benefits of this or ignore it.

May we all (like Noah) find Grace in the eyes of The Lord.

It hasn’t entered our mind…

IT HASN’T ENTERED YOUR MIND…

I Corinthians 2/But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

The phrase I wish to draw attention to in this passage of scripture is:

‘Nor have entered into the heart of man’

You have heard people say: ‘…in fact the thought never crossed my mind.’

Well, there are thoughts that have never entered our heads, nor ever will – cross our minds – this side of the heaven-of-heavens.

As a painter/poet/preacher it is my daily grist to the mill, to have no shortage of imaginative ideas. That doesn’t guarantee that they are good ideas. Nor that, (especially painting) they are ever followed-through on.

But when it comes to spiritual matters, the imagination mustn’t take over, to the negation of truth.

It can be customary, in some people’s minds to automatically equate ‘divine inspiration’ with the role of the artist, writer or composer.

I remember asking an accomplished musician, who was also a Bible teacher, and therefore a Christian, if he thought those with no spiritual confession or commitment to Christ, could possibly be enabled by Christ in any way to pen the overtures they composed.

His answer was: ‘No.”

And I agreed. That is not to say – that many who do not profess to follow Christ, cannot write or produce something memorable, worthwhile, of lasting worth, and that very much adds to our lives. To suggest that they couldn’t – would be totally wrong.

However, divine revelation or inspiration, if it is to come from Jesus Christ and therefore the Holy Spirit, demands first, the pre-requisite of knowing Him personally.

[NB: There are exceptions to this, when God has a task to accomplish, he may well give revelation to an unbeliever cpr. Pilates wife (?)]

However Christ’s genuine enablement is an experience, and will not contradict the Holy Scriptures in the content, that the enablement provides.

The way I see God’s enablement as an artist, or as a Christian writer is best explained in terms of direct and indirect inspiration.

There are times when, what I say or write, is very much with a sense of His inspiration and enablement directly.

At other times what I already am as a Christian, will influence what I produce, and I cannot claim any direct (prophetic) inspiration from God for the painting, poem, post, or preach.

When it comes to painting or poetry – I do not seek His direct inspiration all that much.

Paul the apostle says this:

Romans 9/

  1. I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit…

Notice Paul (as all Christians should be) was acutely aware of his conscience in a living-relationship with God’s Presence in his life.

Conscience plays a big part when it comes to having a sense of inspiration. The balancing of our minds with the Mind of Christ, must always be taking place.

We never become anything other than human, in this life. A human being in fellowship with God.

He has however, bestowed upon all true Christ-ones, the great blessing of now becoming ‘sons of God’ (Romans 8/14).

But it doesn’t yet appear what we shall be like – when we reach that heavily destination. We will though, be more than human when we get there. In one passage we are told we shall be like the angels…

Matthew 22/30: For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

All that this means is not clear.

Which brings me back to the phrase I have drawn attention to at the beginning:

‘nor have entered into the heart of man’

Think of it – things that we cannot as yet comprehend!

Beyond our imagination. Things too high and wonderful for us to comprehend. 

I Corinthians 13/

For we know in part and we prophesy in part….

…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.

So the atheist or agnostic who must have it all comprehended and packaged to meet the criteria of their intellect, is missing the whole point of the supernatural. We won’t understand it all.

The spiritual is not devoid of logic or the power of reason – it’s just that we use our reason to accept that certain things are beyond the limitations of that same reasoning ability.

Notice this verse of scripture – 

We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,

Let’s note here – ‘proud thing’. Unfortunately knowledge puffs up with pride. Pride was the original sin. We are told God resists the proud but gives unmerited favour to the humble.

It’s humbling to realise that the intellect is very limited, and has not yet received many of the things that God has prepared for those who love Him…

The proud mind that considers itself greater than God is headed for a fall, such thinking sets itself up AGAINST the true knowledge of God.

And it is the proud heart of man that despises and/or rejects God and His council for the throning of his own intellect, in all matters of life and death.

We must start by accepting… 

…as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My (God’s) ways higher than your ways And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.

By taking the place of humility – we have a better chance of comprehending the things of God – and there is even a chance that we shall receive that Divine inspiration and revelation spoken of earlier.

In fact the verses at the top of this post go on to reveal that:

10 …God has revealed them to us through His Spirit…

He will lead believers into all truth – i.e. lead the prepared heart that fellowships with Him.

In simple terms there are things revealed and things not yet revealed.

But Oh – the wonder! The unimaginable beauty and superior life that awaits those who look for His Coming in faith and hope. Oh the wonder of the afterlife still not revealed! We have glimpses, yes – sometimes wonderful glimpses. But glimpses just the same.

And yet many prefer the lower life and instruction that comes from this world alone.

I thank God for the times my inner human spirit has rose to see like I had never seen before.

Glorious times, that don’t happen every day with the same intensity. But faith has been established in my heart. Faith that says:

Hebrews 11/6:

… he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

If I am to glimpse more – I must begin with the oracles* of God (Bible).

For more – I must meditate on these* things…

Empty philosophical deceit

Colossians 2/8: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

This verse of scripture meant a lot to me when I first became a follower of Christ Jesus.

Philosophy (to state the obvious) activates our reasoning powers.

Every philosophical opinion, from a held point-of-view on everyday life, to some political manifesto, is held in some loosely defined philosophical way.

I’m thinking of the word philosophy in a dictionary definition sense of:- a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour: and/or the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience:

According to the above verse from the bible, philosophy can cheat us.

Philosophy of whatever kind, can rob us of the supernatural, because it does not readily embrace the idea of spiritual revelation from a Living God.

Rather it relies only on man’s ability to reason, and to find answers to profound and deep questions, through the use of his reasoning powers – alone.

The obvious conclusion we have to come to, when relying ONLY on man’s reasoning powers is this: – our imagination can justify, any ‘doctrine’ that mankind wishes to dream up.

Left to our own devices – we can create our own morality and find reasons, if we have enough fallen-imagination – to justify the most despicable behaviour.

And of course man has done so, many times.

If deviously-clever enough, man can embrace evil as good and make good – evil.

There has been such a slide from wholesomeness, that the imagination doesn’t know where to stop, as it manufactures justification(s) for whatever it chooses, producing  a man-made morality.

Today, long accepted norms are being cast aside with reckless abandon.

And many of the rejections of God-given morality are couched in philosophical terms that can sound so plausible, but reject many other counteracting considerations by simply not mentioning them.

In all of these ‘new approaches’ to morality – there is no higher power, taken into consideration. No revelation from the creator is considered. If man can use his darkened imagination he can dream up anything.

That’s the world we live in today. Man is his own god. When men disagree on questions of morality, they do not seek the One with the higher reasoning power.

But rather lean on their own understanding, and fail to acknowledge God in all, or any, of their ways.

Their wisdom is earthly, sensual and devilish.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

If there is no ultimate creator-God authority, then there is only one opinion versus another opinion, especially in areas of morality.

No one refers to the absolute, everything becomes relative and a war of words.

Your opinion if it differs from mine is going to remain different, while someone else comes along and presents yet another opinion, and another, and another.

A world full of views and opinions all trying to convince each other.

God in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ – intervenes and leaves us His divine thoughts of righteousness, revealed to chosen men and written down under His influence (The Bible).

These revealed precepts – are recorded in human language but with the hand of God on-them perpetually.

These are given as the ultimate light to which all ‘philosophies’ must be held up to.

Man-made philosophies are – weighed in the balance of God’s word – and found wanting.

Reach for the higher wisdom – written down – for our consumption, and don’t allow the aberrant philosophies that are rampant today to spoil/cheat you …through empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2/8)

Age

AGE

You are a person of your generation. You look around to notice that a generation, has passed on from you.

Sorry to inform you – but there is a generation that sees you as old.

Everybody is young or everybody is old depending on your telescope usage, that spies on time.

I have a 25 year-old inside me, but I am not 25. I’m seen as old to real 25’s.

You are fit?

You are fit, but getting past it – old to that young whippersnapper, who moon-walked past you on the street the other day.

His moon-walk revved up to full throttle.

You can do twenty press-ups, but beware of your green face, when the guy ten years younger than you – does forty.

The march of time. Grow old gracefully.

I heard of the death of a forty year old. Many die young.

Where does the Lord God figure in the age stakes? 

He has neither beginning of days nor ending.

Hebrews 7/Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Age is the result of corruption. Old bones and skeletal collapse.

Passing through this scene of time – we distract ourselves with what is here and now. With what the world has to offer.

And pop star after pop star – deflated, dejected passes away in tragic fashion. 

They received all the adulation, attention, idol worship ‘all this will I give you…’ said the god of this world.

But the fame and fortune and adoration is a big let down, and yet many crave it. Too young to think there is another side to the coin of fame.

‘This is the most important moment of my life’ they gasp, as they wait to be voted in or out by the entertained public.

We are all passing-through.

A man named Solomon sought to find what was beneficial to do and be involved in – under the sun. He bought the T-shirt on most of the possible things we could give ourselves to.

He tried ‘em all and remained convinced that it was all – emptiness.

He concluded despite his fame and fortune, there was only one maxim – Fear God and keep his commandments.

But, even so, Solomon in all his glory, had not tasted the new covenant that was-to-come in the Person of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, It is spiritually duller than before – and we need Christ’s help more than ever, to enter behind the veil, into the absoluteness and veraciousness of the Almighty – through His Son.

Yes we age with each passing day. Time and tide waits for no man.

Now is the acceptable time to awake to the gospel, before age takes it’s final toll.

John 6/67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Satisfaction

SATISFACTION

Sir Mick – couldn’t get any satisfaction. Or at least his lyric couldn’t.

Our chosen dictionary gives us this definition – 

satisfaction – fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this:

Does that definition satisfy?

Custard and ice-cream – I once asked for cold custard and warm ice-cream, in a restaurant.

But mis-communication or not – I’m always satisfied with this dessert combination.

In fact we often have the main course in restaurants and drive home for our own dessert – which of course should read –  warm custard and cold ice cream.

What is it – that needs satisfied?

We can safely say there are different kinds of satisfaction – physical, mental, emotional, sexual, circumstantial, spiritual, communal, aesthetic, verbal, etc. etc.

As Sir Mick couldn’t get satisfaction, so Mr. Dylan sings differently –

One things for certain, when it comes my time

I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

Saul of Tarsus  – perceived as he was, as a renegade Jew – had a name change and tells us – 

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

So is contentment another word for satisfaction?

This man Saul better known as Paul also adds –

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…

Whatever state!? Surely not?

This guy, must have had something very special going for him. Something supernatural. Supernatural/spiritual help to be able to make such a statement.

So spiritual satisfaction then?

Did he have physical satisfaction?

He says – 

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…

He states clearly that he had suffered the loss of all things. Think of the two words – Satisfaction or suffering.

Loss did not mean dis-satisfaction – he had a satisfied mind because he had the excellence of the knowledge of Christ. That is – he knew Christ and therefore absorbed all the knowledge that Christ communicated to him. And it was enough. Enough in every sense of the word.

A footnote of claritydon’t forget Jesus had gone up from the earth in front of many disciples – they saw him go. It was different for Paul. He met him in spirit on the Damascus Road. So Paul walked with Him in spirit and in truth. Paul did not see him walking in a man’s earthly body, as the disciples did.

He (Paul) had physical hardship many times, he was not married and lived a celibate life, his emotional needs were satisfied in Christ, circumstantially he was content, regardless of what befell him. He enjoyed the communal satisfaction provided by true genuine fellow disciples of Christ – but on occasions – stood alone. Satisfied in Christ, content, caught up with the Person of the Holy Spirit and the many revelations he was given.

Again he tells us – 

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

His certainty of spiritual revelation – was the result of God’s proven record in supplying them before.

Paul had one area that he had to handle – he was caught between two desires. The desire to serve God and His people and the desire to leave his body and go and find the eternal satisfaction of living with Christ in the heaven of heavens.

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better…

Am I, are you, satisfied? What are we looking for? In the list of our satisfactions are we missing what Paul continually had – even in the absence of a perennial comfort zone?

Paul speaking:

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

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”