Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pride's Storm

"This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal." once said a boastful man . . . .
Are we so different?

 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.  psalm 10:4

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  proverbs 16:18

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?  1 cor. 4:7

The heart of the disciple of the Lord humbly receives correction . . . break me, take me, Lord so that truly less of me, more of Thee . . . . If there is sting in a rebuke, in the crashing waves, by torrents of rain and wind, who stings? . . . who hurts? . . . . Not me, Lord, for I have died, I am no more, but now only Your hand moving throughout Your Kingdom . . . all is Yours, I am nothing, I own not my life, my body, bond-servant, slave, subject of Christ . . . poor in Spirit, the least, meek, a subservient bride awaiting her Groom . . . what can harm me? . . . who can reproach me but He who owns me? . . . . What do I think to defend, to gain, to hold, as if some parts of creation were mine by some right? . . . . I am like a ghost, where troubles pass through me, for there is no resistance--the householder is gone, has surrendered, given up his life . . . so that the One Who has eternal life--the source and cause and resting place of all life now dwells where once I, the fool, thought to hold forth and sally out . . . . DO I have wounds?  Do I hurt?  Do I bridle and chaff at the bit? . . . . How can that be? . . . as no more "I" to react, to avenge, to bristle and turn . . . but the I AM THAT I AM takes His ground . . . and who am I to complain He does what He will with His ground? . . .

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth, do I hate.  proverbs 8:13

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.  proverbs 16:19

A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor. proverbs 29:23

God resists the proud . . . but gives grace to the humble . . . . we learn in James . . . .

This is the crucible, the crux . . . of every mortal move . . . . Pride is at the root of all sin, all destruction . . . . Seeing destruction, we see the fruits of pride . . . every time . . . .
Oh how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle . . . . Always . . . do they fall . . . .

For God takes pleasure in his people. He crowns the humble with salvation.   Psalm 149:4

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.  Isa. 66:2

There are only two ways to go . . . . Down with pride . . . . Up with humility . . . .

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hanging By A Thread

What good are big muscles . . . when you're hanging by a thread . . . ?  Think about it . . . .

And that is precisely the situation whether you realize it or not.  Nothing we do to develop ourselves, to work harder, to maneuver around . . . does the least bit of good where our eternal salvation is involved.  Oh yes, it works for worldly goals.  Hone certain skills, craft a "winning" personality, make prudent contacts, work hard, save and deploy resources . . . and you can out-maneuver others in the same race . . . gain a foothold, get a leg up and beat out the competition . . . .

But in the realm of spirit a whole different set of physics applies.  It is when you are broken, defeated, weak, losing, suffering . . . that then you have the opportunity.

Hanging by a thread--which thread is the only link to ultimate survival--your strength achieved through hard won effort . . . is of no avail.  It is at the point where, if you even move a muscle to climb away from destruction, your next exertion will be your last.  Like Jonathan Edwards said, "You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing that you have done, nothing you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment."

Really?  Is it truly this dire?  Surely not, because you do make continued efforts to save yourself, and the thread has not yet broken.  Tempting your precarious position, despite the warnings, you persist in striving, fighting, working, struggling with your own effort, reliant and exulting in your self asserted strength.

With no small degree of horror and shame, God willing, you will finally realize that not one whit of your clamoring and abilities has preserved you, still there hanging on that thread.  ONLY by the grace of God, and no other reason, has the thin strand yet held, otherwise you would have long ago plunged down to the fire.

In general, even the most genuinely pious among us, have but the slightest comprehension of just how utterly dependent we are, every moment, upon the grace and sustenance of God.  We take credit publicly as well as secretly in our own hearts for all the things that, truth be known, we have nothing to do with, except that we were witnesses or vessels.

A kind act of charity . . . . Some philanthropic gesture . . . . Helping a friend, a stranger . . . . A good word or some provision granted . . . . At most, we are only witnesses and vessels by which the ONLY author of goodness, righteousness operates through us.  Truth be known, never do we do a good thing, of ourselves.  There is always a selfish motive.  There is no bound to the deceit of the heart, which is born wicked and remains so, until . . . UNTIL . . . surrender is made of that old creature, and a new heart, which is HIS heart . . . begins to operate.  If anything of true, holy and eternal value is done by you . . . know that . . . it was NOT done by you, but in spite of you.  HE did it.  All WE do is wrong.

Sooner or later, you will come to the simultaneously devastating AND liberating understanding . . . that every part of you . . . must die and be let gone.  Where you hold out in some small corner, reserving a portion of the old self, you can be sure that pride is still there lurking.  And not even a speck of pride can enter the Kingdom of God.  For that whole Kingdom is light--every square of ground and all the portions of sky, from the depths to the heights, NO unclean thing will be found there.

And, so long as--in this life, where the arch-demon of pride temporarily holds sway--there is still remaining a parcel of you that takes pride in itself, which is akin to the whole infection of evil, then the enemy has his residence in you . . . and will simply bide time to eventually reassert his control over your life.  

Only the elect . . . will go the distance . . . unwilling to rest on any laurels . . . knowing that complete, real, truthful surrender is the only way out.  They see that NOTHING but His grace is what holds and keeps us above and out of the fiery pit.  No muscle, no skill, no intelligence, no self-made qualification preserves us.  His sovereign grace and divine will alone . . . is the sole power whereby any one will ultimately survive.

Seeing this, with the spiritual eyes HE granted, by that same power and intention, you are reborn and regeneration is begun--a new life springs forth, one of the hallmarks of which . . . is that you increasingly are repulsed by your lingering impulses to self-effort and pride.  There is no more taste for vanity--its foulness is observable now in the new light of His holy presence within and through you.  The attractions and cravings proffered by the world and its citizens no longer gleam and mesmerize.  The actual ghoulishness and rot attending it . . . and they . . . offers no allure.  Instead, you see souls enslaved, deluded, wallowing in sin, and you want to see them freed . . . into the lightweight, liberating yoke of THE perfect, loving Master!

When one of the elect hears the call . . . it is time to wrestle, like Jacob.  When you have been called . . . by the angel of the Lord . . . then . . . from then on, it is the time where you will wrestle in the spirit to hold on to that call, to not turn back, to not regress back into the old ways of the dead and sinful self.  Mixed into this struggle . . . is in finally realizing and accepting . . . that you CAN'T return to your previous way of self assertion and pride of life, nor the lusts of the flesh.  If you do, the sting will be worse each time, for now He has called you His own, and as you grapple . . . and hold on to one another . . . should you glance back into your prior ways and do them from old habits and fear, which you will, bad things will happen, for you will be corrected, as He chastises those He loves and intends to preserve.  Progressively, you will learn not to bother retracing the steps of the dead, which you were, whereas now you live.

Where is the comfort in all of this?  During the struggle, as you wrestle, there is recurring doubt mixed with flashes of hope and assurance.  Joy comes as it finally dawns on you that you are His, and that you ARE saved and that no weapon formed, no earthly power or person and no hidden power can or will wrest you away from your eternal destiny.  Those whom He foreordained,  He called . . . and those He called . . . He justified . . . and those He justified . . . He glorified.

Resting at last . . . in the faith of this profound reality . . . love is shed in your new heart and the last thing you want is any of that old pride of self, delusional and doomed, where now you genuinely want life--HIS life . . . which is love . . . coursing through and directing your future steps.  All by and through unalloyed grace, His grace, the sovereign of all that is, was, and will be.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Love In Action

If love is so great a thing in Christianity, so essential and distinguishing, yea, the very sum of all Christian virtue, then surely those that profess themselves Christians should live in love, and abound in the works of love, for no works are so becoming as those of love. If you call yourself a Christian, where are your works of love? Have you abounded, and do you abound in them? If this divine and holy principle is in you, and reigns in you, will it not appear in your life in works of love?

Consider, what deeds of love have you done, Do you love God? What have you done for him, for his glory, for the advancement of his kingdom in the world! And how much have you denied yourself to promote the Redeemer's interest among men ? Do you love your fellow­men ? What have you done for them? Consider your former defects in these respects, and how becoming it is in you, as a Christian, hereafter to abound more in deeds of love.

Do not make excuse that you have not opportunities to do anything for the glory of God, for the interest of the Redeemer's kingdom, and for the spiritual benefit of your neighbours. If your heart is full of love, it will find vent; you will find or make ways enough to express your love in deeds. When a fountain abounds in water, it will send forth streams. Consider that as a principle of love is the main principle in the heart of a real Christian, so the labour of love is the main business of the Christian life.

Let every Christian consider these things; and may the Lord give you understanding in all things, and make you sensible what spirit it becomes you to be of, and dispose you to such an excellent, amiable, and benevolent life, as is answerable to such a spirit, that you may not love only " in word and tongue, but in deed and in truth."
Jonathan Edwards

" Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, ant have not charity, I am become as counting brass, or & tinkling cymbal Ant though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; ant though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow stow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
1 Cor. 1­3


Friday, October 26, 2012

Schizophrenic Doctrines

Thanks for the alert . . . yeah I wondered about that afterwards, being able to get a clip.  I will  check and see if Todd will allow it.  As far as the t.v. show episodes--archives, hopefully they will be up soon.  So far this whole week he has been exposing and delving into different aspects of the deep and blatant deceptions used by the LDS church to hide their troubled and lawless past, including the various lies and adulteries of founder Joseph Smith.  Last night's show was heart wrenching to hear and see the interviews of the women and children psychologically and spiritually abused by the current practice of polygamy, which Smith and Brigham Young taught--commanded actually--and also practiced along with the first 7 President/"Prophets" of the church.

The big conundrum was reiterated . . . that . . . if Joseph Smith and Bring'em Young were alive today and living as they did and as they preached, they would be excommunicated from the new version of the church, which wants to deny and hide it's past and past "prophets", yet still venerate them.  A deep schizophrenia and duplicity runs through the whole thing.  Same issue regarding blacks being allowed to hold the "priesthood".  It was clearly taught by the early "prophets", who supposedly spoke for God on the earth, giving "revelations" from the "restored gospel" viewpoint  . . . that blacks would NEVER be allowed to hold the priesthood in this world, because of their lackadaisical, fence-sitting during the "war in heaven" . . . and that dark skin was a curse, a mark on certain people so that they could be identified as "sons of Cain" on earth.

Oh, there are hundreds of just such deplorable and unbiblical teachings and contradictions and outright lies coursing through Mormon history and doctrine . . . but the cult-like brain-washing is so effective and devious that millions of the poor saps continue to remain enslaved by it, their eternal salvation highly in jeopardy.

I applaud teachers and preachers like Todd Friel and Shawn McCraney . . . who refuse to be co-opted by the massive, multi-million dollar marketing campaign currently underway by the church to white-wash their perverse and anti-biblical history and doctrines, as, during the so-called "Mormon Moment" . . . they attempt to now deceive the Christian church . .  that they are Christian too.

They are not.  They follow a different Jesus, a different God the Father.  They disregard and minimize the Word of God, placing their own "prophets" and books above it.  They lead people away from the truth and beauty and power and simplicity of the Gospel of grace, recorded in the Bible . . . and teach instead a Pharisaical doctrine of salvation through works . . . including the highly blasphemous lie, straight from the snake in the Garden, that men can be gods, woman--goddesses . . . . It is not coincidence that pentagrams, astrological symbols, Masonic emblems and other Satanic signs hated by God happen to adorn their temples.  Smith was heavy into the occult, into magic, which God forbids in His Word.

From where, do statements like these derive?:

"God Himself who sits enthroned in yonder heavens is a Man like unto one of yourselves—that is the great secret! . . . For I am going to tell you how God came to be God and what sort of a being He is. For we have imagined that God was God from the beginning of all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil so you may see. . . . The first principle of truth and of the Gospel is to know for a certainty the character of God, and that . . . He once was a man like one of us and that God Himself, the Father of us all, once dwelled on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did in the flesh and like us."  --Joseph Smith, King Follet Discourse

"Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go."  Address of the Prophet Joseph Smith—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo.(Sunday, May 26, 1844)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

With Todd Friel on Wretched T.V.

Well, Todd Friel's Wretched T.V. show finally aired the episode shot at the Mormon Temple here in Salt Lake City.  I really didn't think he'd use the interview bits with me, but he did--two fairly long segments shot right there in the Square (Temple Square is what the place is called) in front of the famous L.D.S. temple.  I'm hoping someone may be able to help me get the clips into a youtube format which I can link to or embed here . . . . Should anyone care to see the whole show (30mins.) you can join Todd's "Wretcheder" club on his website for a month and then have access to all the archived shows both t.v. and radio.  He also did a radio show a couple weeks back where he talked about his trip to "Planet Utah" lol, and mentioned meeting me and my wife a few times and the troubling issue of our youngest son being lured and converting to the Mormon cult.  I think that show aired Monday, October 1st.

The television show on which I appeared aired:  Tuesday, October 23rd (10-23-12).

The t.v. show is pretty cool because it was shot just with Todd's assistant's cell phone, so as to not attract attention, but you can see the dark suited security dudes in the background eyeballing Todd and our little group of Christians.  I first spoke about our son and his upcoming "temple wedding" which we will not be allowed to attend (just my son's wife's family will be allowed) . . . because me and my wife and not considered "worthy" to enter a Mormon Temple.  Isn't it interesting that Christians are not allowed in Mormon temples . . . but Mormons are able to enter any Christian church.  (Since Billy Graham has, under political pressure it appears, changed the Mormon church's status from cult to non-cult after his visit with Mitt Romney, I join with other concerned Christians to use the "cult" status more frequently now, referring to the L.D.S. Church.  Because it IS a cult, centered on the personality of Joseph Smith, the man who boasted he did more than even Jesus to bring salvation to the earth . . . nauseating . . . .)

Anyway, yeah .  . . so Todd asked me about the sad and disturbing situation with our youngest boy and then later I did another fairly long stint with him talking about the creepy Masonic green aprons given by Lucifer to temple goers . . . blacks having the "curse of Cain" . . . Mormon sacrament (Wonder Bread and water) . . . and the relativistic basis of current L.D.S. doctrine which changes as the wind blows (usually depending on social and political pressures), where, the current "living prophet" can out-right contradict past Mormon prophets on core doctrine (ie., polygamy, black holding the "priesthood", drinking caffeine etc.) because they say "a living prophet trumps a dead prophet.)  . . . .

Also, on the Wretched episode, you can see the "bearded wonder" (heh, our son Isaac) in the background and also towards the end you can see the prayer circle we made, at the behest of one of the Christians there wanting to pray for our son . . . . You can see the security guards closing in getting ready to boot us out of Temple Square (we did not know that public praying is not allowed there) . . . . And Todd gives a running narration throughout the show with his thoughts and impressions and spiritual discernment regarding his experience in "the Mecca of Mormonism" . . . "Planet Utah" . . . Salt Lake City . . . and just how strange and oppressive the community and culture and atmosphere is here, which he says you can't really perceive unless you are here physically to experience it . . . .

Mormons love to call anyone critical of their religion "anti-Mormon" . . . "Mormon-bashers" and usually say, "why can't you just be loving and tolerant like Jesus and let us alone" . . . conveniently ignoring the fact that they send out tens of thousands of missionaries every day, going door-to-door to tell people (in so many words) that ALL the Christian denomination are wrong and only Mormonism is right and only through Mormonism and Joseph Smith . . . can a person be "truly saved."

They ignore how Jesus confronted the false religions and deceptive religious teachers and false prophets of his day and that he did so quite vociferously--even violently on occasion.

There is nothing more serious than a prophet or teacher or religion LURING people away from the true Gospel . . . because SOULS are at stake--the consequences are dire and eternal for those captured by a false religion.  Especially, when that religion claims to be God's only and true religion and using the name of Jesus Christ!  What could be more serious?!

It only takes a few minutes--maybe an hour of investigation . . . to find out, from historical facts and scientific evidence . . . that the claims of Joseph Smith . . . are completely bogus; the Book of Mormon is a fraud and the L.D.S. doctrines are NOT biblical, Christian or divinely revealed.

People stay in "the church"  . . . because of the "hook-ups".  They get good jobs, cover for each other, have a vast support system, and get accolades and social status . . . from their "good works" in and for "the church."

Can there be anything more insidious and corrupt to God . . . than using His holy Name, but using occultic, Masonic practices and doctrine . . . in order to "succeed" and "progress" in THE WORLD?!

No.  And nothing more blasphemous.

So, yeah, the matter is serious and requires strong talk and clear, bold discernment.  Not hate.  If we hated "Mormons" as they like to claim, we would leave them alone in their delusion, in their Joseph Smith cult.  Go to hell, we would say, we don't care about you.

But we DO care, and want any who can, to WAKE UP and get out of that anti-Christ blasphemous monstrosity!  It is because WE LOVE, that we care and seek to intervene as prompted by Holy Spirit!

God bless you all.
brother, thomas


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Constant Vigil Required

There is seemingly no end to the subtle and diverse ways the enemy will try and take your "house."  He comes through the front door, at night . . . makes a grand mess and you find yourself fighting for your life in a violent struggle.  Eventually, through God's grace, you find the enemy is put out . . . . Then it is left to clean up the mess, the wreckage (all the bad decisions and resulting consequences) made when you were under the enemy's power and influence.  For a moment, humility reigns as you realize just how close you were to doom and how desperately you needed the saving, which (Who) came.

But how fast does pride and spiritual blindness return?  Almost immediately.  In fact, it happens so fast that you still think you are operating from that new-found humility when actually pride and self assurance/self reliance are back in charge, though you may be speaking the Lord's name and assuming to be working from Spirit.  But no, the watchman within--the lookout who should be especially alert for having just been ransacked, has fallen asleep, tired, and once again, now through a back door, the enemy is already back within the compound.

He is so close and comes so fast, that you still think the doors are all locked and he is on the outside, not realizing that he is right beside you, or just behind you, carefully, but steadily taking control once more--directing your actions and responses, though you delusionally think it is you or God from the Spiritual throne guiding . . . . Time and time again, the pattern repeats--increasingly dangerous mistakes are made . . . . There is no rest for the wicked--they work day and night to run you off the rails hoping to land you in such a deep ditch that you finally fail to come out, given to utter despair or ruin. 

A big trouble results because people don't really believe in the power and efficacy of the demonic realm.  They don't take the devil seriously--do not respect/recognize his superhuman abilities and his very real intention to cause the human race--especially Believers--harm, chaos, calamity, destruction.

People don't believe or realize just how much they need the protection and continuous guidance of Holy Spirit in order to stay out of the enemy's snares. 

Let's say you just avoided a dire mishap.  Miraculously, you were saved from a horrible event or circumstance.  You are grateful afterwards, thanking God and resolved to be more careful next time; then go about your normal business and ways . . . .

How fast is the evil one there to begin again to trip you up, to invade?

Immediately!  He does not care that you just barely escaped with your life.  In fact, he sees that for a moment, in your exultation, your guard is down.  One second afterwards--after the harrowing crisis--he is there, already scaling your walls and sneaking through an open window . . . while you are looking the other way, basking in the afterglow . . . .

The enemy does not rest.

At the core of all our weaknesses and openings . . . is the same old fatal flaw.  Not dying to self.  Oh, we die a little, here and there, and usually just because something went bad or we didn't get what we wanted at some moment and get a bit of steam to feel some penitence and remorse and say, "I'll never do that again!" . . . . . . .

And then, practically first chance that comes up . . . we do that again.

The enemy is a master of disguises.  Remember, we do not contend with flesh and blood--ie., the physical person in front of you--but "against the powers of this dark world and and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."  --Eph. 6:12

Remember, the evil spirit besetting you . . . will leave one host . . . and jump to another.  Different person--same spirit . . . who knows well your ways and weaknesses, the soft spots to enter . . . yet again.  People and situations are all potential vessels . . . for the enemy to don and operate against you from . . . .

The big lie is that we can have it all--can have it both ways.  He whispers, "you can have a 'little fun'--a bit of the world . . . AND your Jesus.  C'mon, relax . . . ." he seduces.

But once the leaven--the poison . . . the parcel of corruption enters . . . the temple, Holy Spirit recedes, for you cannot serve two masters, and so long as you continue to cavort with sin and crave the sustenance of worldly spirit, He (God) will allow your will to get its way, so great is His respect and intentions for free will . . . . You are turned over another time to the home-wrecker, to the temple-ransacker, though each time the damage is more dire and the effects ever more serious to be born.

Constant vigil is required of the disciple . . . and he or she finally keeps it, loving the presence of His Holy Spirit more . . . than the "powers of this dark world."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Fire One"

Alexander, our oldest boy, 28 . . . is training to be a firefighter; something he has always wanted to do since a child.  He is a great storyteller and has been regaling us with the tales of the training.  Oh my goodness!  If you don't already, show some respect to the firemen and women who show up to save lives and property!  These days, more than ever, they must be intelligent, disciplined, brave, strong, selfless, educated . . . highly trained and dedicated individuals!

He was describing to us how in the early days of the Republic, fire crews were basically just gangs, like in the film "Gangs Of New York."  Different "gangs" contended with each other to control different turf, and half the time they were just as busy fighting with and sabotaging each other as actually putting out fires.  Benjamin Franklin entered the scene with his wit and intelligence and helped organize such efforts into a much more legitimate civil function . . . but even then, for years, it was still mostly an arena of machismo and territorialism . . . where, if your house was in a certain "district" . . . then, your district's fire crew was the only group allowed to help you and other crews (districts) would stay away and let your house burn down rather than intervene on another's "turf".

These days, primarily since 911, a new spirit and principle of cooperation between forces exists, combined with requirements that firefighters also need to be medically trained . . . also technological and scientific advances and knowledge have added to the equation, so that today's firefighter really qualifies as a "professional" . . . a technician . . . an expert . . . as much as anything, along with the necessary physical, athletic and mental abilities . . . . Whereas, in the "old days", it was more that a bunch of tough guys with something to prove got together and happened to use burning buildings as their stage of self expression and self interest--laudable to a degree, yes and certainly, by the way, helpful . . . .

Al just described some of the training he went through yesterday--just the beginning of the hands-on stuff (he's already passed the knowledge/test portions) . . . "operations" and "hazmat" . . . now he is in "Fire One", the hands-on part . . . and WOW, intense!  Much like boot camp, which he has also gone through, but minus the background "darker" aspects of . . . hmmm . . . let's say, the current military motif (if you believe like me that some rather unsavory "powers" have taken over the military at the top levels and are using it for quite less than noble purposes--which, no doubt filters down through the ranks and has infected the whole operation.)

Anyway, woah, intense what he had to go through yesterday . . . all the equipment and paraphernalia he had to put on (in 45 seconds) . . . gas mask, air tanks, etc., then work through crazy obstacle courses and simulated burnt and collapsed buildings . . . all timed, with yelling drill instructors tossing in more obstacles and challenges . . . . Then after a series of that, when a normal person would be utterly worn out and shaking, being forced to do more, even harder stuff . . . all with the equipment still on . . . then . . . jog, push ups . . . and do more--even more treacherous tasks . . . timed . . . required to also help your fire-mates in training as well, so no one is left behind or gets stuck . . . . Meanwhile--and this is the part that actually made me wince and shudder, lol, .. . . he had to experience suffocation.

All the while during the physical tasks and trials, he is breathing through the oxygen mask . . . knowing that the air supply is going to run out at a certain point . . . and they are not allowed to remove the mask.  Once the air is gone, it's gone, just as if you were in a burning building full of noxious, deadly gasses and smoke, if you run out of air, you can't take your mask off to breathe or you instantly die.

So, they all made it through the course just as their alarm beepers started going off alerting that the oxygen supply in their tanks is running out.  The commander is standing there and makes them all get on their knees and sit on their hands.  Why?  Because if you are standing up when the air goes, you are bound to pass out and fall down and could hurt yourself or fall off a height.

Why sitting on the hands?  Because, this is what happens.  Your final breathe of air happens and your mask then sucks up to your face.  You can't breathe in OR out anymore.  Nothing.  No air.  Your mind freaks.  Every fiber in your body, every instinct to survive kicks in and you want to rip the mask off to get air.  But you can't.  If you are in a fire with gasses, you are dead if you do.  It is better to pass out, for then you may be able to be revived later.  Whereas, if those deadly gasses go in your lungs, there will be no chance of revival, your inner organs, lungs etc., get fried.

So, there's Al, mask sucked to his face, his brain and body screaming to get air.  Death, literally is moving in at the corners . . . things start to go black . . . stars sparkling . . . head throbbing . . . you are pounding the floor, wanting to cry, to scream, yell, plead, . . . but can't . . . . The commander is there looking in you face, waiting to the last possible second before allowing you to take the mask off.

Al said he had never experienced anything like it, how intense, and managing the discipline to NOT bring his hand up to tear off the mask . . . .

Finally, the drill was over and those first gasps of air, incredible!

Ah, but that was only the first half of the day.  They had to do even harder stuff all over again . . . AND do the suffocating routine one more time, muscles spent, brain hurting, lungs aching, nerves shot etc.  For in a REAL fire situation, you may just be called on to go . . . and go . . . and go back in . . . to save someone else, pushed to the limits, yet required to do MORE!  [At the end of the day, heh, the instructor told them, "congatulations . . . this was the EASIEST day you will have from here on out."]

My first thought--and my wife's as well--was in thinking of how precious life is--how every breathe is given and allowed by God.  We have little idea, just how cared for we are in our basic living functions.  Take them away . . . and you realize how stark (to say the least) the difference is . . . . Ie., between just breathing as we do, every moment, without thinking, without being grateful . . . and where you are suddenly not allowed to so simply take a breath.

"Does everything always have to go back to God?  Can't you just tell a story without bringing up God again?" the dead one asks . . . .

No.  Not anymore, I can't.  Everything reminds me of God . . . and our precarious, blessed, awful situation here in this life, in this mortal body.

Also, as Alexander was describing the physical, mental, and even somewhat emotional torments of the day--the incredible extremes of stress . . . pain . . . oppression . . . I couldn't help but also think that this is what Hell has got to be like.  A torment just as terrible . . . but without the chance . . . to take off the mask!
People can be uncomfortable with that . . . and are . . . and want to turn away and hope that there really isn't such a thing as that kind of punishment . . . for those that reject God . . . but, if you believe the Scriptures, and if you believe what Jesus said and not just picking out his more pleasant depictions, then . . . well . . . you GOTTA deal with it--the potential reality of Hell.

"But it's not fair!  It can't be that God would send people to Hades . . . just because they don't believe in Jesus!  Some people don't even know about Jesus or the Bible or God."

Here's the thing, though.  IF the Bible is true . . . then . . . EVERY person . . . has been given the knowledge of God somewhere in their very being.  Also, creation testifies of Him.  Those witnesses are there, even without knowledge of the Word and of Christ.  There is no excuse of ignorance.

So, if the knowledge of God is available to everyone, if they are sincere and want to find it, then the rejection of that knowledge IS a flat-out rejection and rebellion against God.  If a person doesn't want God, even though He is available to be found by anyone so desiring to find Him, then a consequence of that rejection (Hell) makes sense.
If Jesus and the Bible are NOT true . . . then, well, it doesn't appear to matter much.

The obvious decision . . . is to err on the side of at least entertaining, then investigating and sincerely seeking the veracity of the Biblical world/life-view.  Because . . . whether one likes it or not . . . disagrees or not . . . has another opinion or not . . . IT SAYS THERE IS A HELL.  JESUS said there is Hell, and warned sternly against those who flippantly or derisively live as though there isn't. 

Oh, how little we appreciate what we already have been given--what He graciously grants us every moment!  The house is on fire!  But we have been saved!  How I tremble for those who will not take off the mask and will perish anyhow . . . .

"...[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20)

"The fool says in his heart, `There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1)

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." (Heb. 4:4)

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Or The Other

Is what you are living for, working for . . . worth what Jesus died for?

This is in my thoughts every day, to varying degrees . . . in some form or another . . . .

If there is anything I can bring to the table, it might be this; that since a very young age my mind has been looking toward and searching out the questions of life, its meaning and purpose; focused one way or another on God and then sharing that priority and intent . . . and then writing, singing or talking about it.

The world has always been providing distractions, since the snake tempted Eve in the Garden.  These days . . . the highly developed levels of technology, pharmacology, marketing etc., combined with psychology . . . seems to have made the matter ever more difficult.  There are so many intricate, effective, devious, invasive, ubiquitous distractions . . . .

Who thinks of God anymore, let alone every day, many times a day?  Is it not mostly just world, world, world . . . work . . . self preservation and positioning in the world . . . ?  With excuses made that "making the world a 'better place'" . . . is somehow extracting favor with God, earning points.

Whatever else is going on . . . no matter how arresting and intriguing--fascinating or titillating--I intend, God willing, to stay holding this outpost, hopefully a watering hole in some small degree and a place of refuge . . . where Holy Spirit is welcome . . . and where--regardless of the dramas and machinations carrying on in the ever roiling world--the overall subject . . . and object . . . purpose and focus . . . will be God--the one and true and living God known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob . . . recalling constantly . . . the sacrifice and saving intervention of His Only Begotten Son . . . lest hearts grow cold . . . and minds wander . . . and hands stray . . . and eyes deviate . . . ears shut . . . etc., . . . as so easily and often happens, where the world and the dark powers of the world work themselves daily, nightly, constantly to . . . thwart and pervert, if they could, the Lord's saving grace and work.

If you love someone . . . and they love you . . . and you are separated, is it not important and natural that you stay in some sort of contact as often as possible?  Do you not makes calls, send letters--loving and longing letters . . . to your beloved, and you do so because you are driven to by the longing of your heart?
And if your loved one never heard from you?  He or she wrote you . . . called . . . sent messages time and time again . . . but you never responded?  In fact, you ignored them, maybe taking a glance now and again but overall . . . gave them a shrug and went off to do other, more interesting and important things (to you) . . . .
You know this is how it is with God.  He loves us and is ever knocking on the door, sending us messages, notes, instructions, directions . . . .
We claim we love Him and serve Him . . . . But we ignore His advances, shrug them off and rush about doing a thousand other things, more interesting, more important (to us) . . . .

If we truly loved Him as we claim . . . we would not need so much prompting.  The urge to look at and focus on Him would be there, naturally.  We are hypocrites, liars when we say God is important to us.

The world calls . . . .
The Lord calls . . . .
Where do we go every day?  To whom and to what are we responding?  Is it not mostly all self serving and aimed for and in the interest of self and other creatures?

This thing is real!  And serious, sacred, holy . . . .
It is not glitz and glitter and throwaway garbage, to be taken lightly and mocked.
A healthy, holy fear of God and the consequences of an unsaved, rebellious, sin serving life . . . is the beginning of wisdom . . . .

God willing . . . and the creek don't rise . . . I will be here, and continue to invite you to share and enjoy this burden . . . of desiring every day, in some way, to whatever degree He provides, to be considering and contemplating and employing . . . our Master's character and purpose--to be about His "business" . . . REGARDLESS of the tempting shiny objects--the flashing images and alluring storylines . . . .
keeping an eye single to HIS glory--not the reflected, corrupted version of it currently asserting itself to displace Him . . . .

It's gotta be one . . . or . . . the other, amen? 

"Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”   
ct studd

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"They prefer a small pleasure..."

 From what has been said, we may learn the folly and madness of the greater part of humankind, in that for the sake of present momentary gratification, they run the venture of enduring all these eternal torments. They prefer a small pleasure, or a little wealth, or a little earthly honor and greatness, which can last but for a moment, to an escape from this punishment. If it be true that the torments of hell are eternal, what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? What is there in this world, which is not a trifle and lighter than vanity, in comparison with these eternal things?

How mad are men [and women], who so often hear of these things and pretend to believe them; who can live but a little while (a few years); who do not even expect to live here longer than others of their species ordinarily do; and who yet are careless about what becomes of themselves in another world, where there is no change and no end! How mad are they, when they hear that if they go on in sin, they shall be eternally miserable - that they are not moved by it, but hear it with as much carelessness and coldness as if they were no way concerned in the matter - when they know not but that it may be their case, that they may be suffering these torments before a week is at an end!

How can men [and women] be so careless of such a matter as their own eternal and desperate destruction and torment! What a strange stupor and senselessness possesses the hearts of men! How common a thing is it to see men, who are told from Sabbath to Sabbath of eternal misery, and who are as mortal as other men, so careless about it that they seem not to be at all restrained by it from whatever their souls lust after! It is not half so much their care to escape eternal misery, as it is to get money and land, and to be considerable in the world, and to gratify their sense.

Their thoughts are much more exercised about these things, and much more of their care and concern is about them. Eternal misery, though they lie every day exposed to it, is a thing neglected, it is but now and then thought of, and then with a great deal of stupidity, and not with concern enough to stir them up to do anything considerable in order to escape it. They are not sensible that it is worth their while to take any considerable pains in order to it. And if they do take pains for a little while, they soon leave off, and something else takes up their thoughts and concern.

 Thus you see it among young and old. Multitudes of youth lead a careless life, taking little care about their salvation. So you may see it among persons of middle age, and with many advanced in years, and when they certainly draw near to the grave. - Yet these same persons will seem to acknowledge that the greater part of men go to hell and suffer eternal misery, and this through carelessness about it. However, they will do the same. How strange is it that men [and women] can enjoy themselves and be at rest, when they are thus hanging over eternal burnings: at the same time, having no lease of their lives and not knowing how soon the thread by which they hang will break. Nor indeed do they pretend to know. And if it breaks, they are gone: they are lost forever, and there is no remedy! Yet they trouble not themselves much about it, nor will they hearken to those who cry to them, and entreat them to take care for themselves, and labor to get out of that dangerous condition. They are not willing to take so much pains.

They choose not to be diverted from amusing themselves with toys and vanities. Thus, well might the wise man say, Ecc. 9:3, "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil. Madness is in their heart while they live; and after that they go to the dead." - How much wiser are those few, who make it their main business to lay a foundation for eternity, to secure their salvation!
Jonathan Edwards

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Don't You Know Who I Am?"

One of the last people I would want to be right at this moment . . . is Arlen Spector.  I may be wrong, but from rough observation he looked to be an epitome of the opportunist spirit.  "Opportunist"? . . . meant in the sense of one who will switch allegiances--maintaining no firm principles--at the drop of a dime, always angling to protect, bolster, puff up, laud, assert . . . self.  "King Me" in all his dark, manipulative, vindictive, secret ingloriousness . . . .

But then, who is not likewise such a wretch?  How many others are there, whose worldly pursuits and power craving is the same but just playing out in smaller scale, less publicly? 


"All have sinned and fallen short . . . . "

God is no respecter of persons.  One will go before His blazing perfect justice and say, "look at all the things I did!  I won awards, plaques, titles, greatly respected in my community!  Don't you know who I am?"

Another one will say, "Lord, I know I am unworthy.  Anything I have done . . . what status in the world I achieved . . . all my good works . . . are but filthy rags before You.  I know this and beg your mercy.  It is only by Your grace that I should be saved.  All I have . . . is that I do believe You!  I believe You died for me.  Forgive me . . . . "

To the former, He says, "No, I don't 'know who you are'.  I never knew you.  Go to the one you secretly served all along, your father The Liar--depart."

To the other criminal, the one who believed, He says, "Today you will be with me in Paradise."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The High And Inner Place

You feel so alone.  No one but you really understands all of the little nuances, the little hurts that come and go, unseen, un-felt . . . except by you.  The personal dreams, plans, wants, desires . . . put aside, and as time marched on, finally left to die, as you found yourself sacrificing them to placate and provide for others.

Somewhere along the way, you found God--or, rather, He found you . . . in the midst of your life's progression.  Your eyes were opened and you realized and accepted that it IS only Jesus.  Where before the scriptures sat dead to you--something old and mostly irrelevant but for a few choice verses, now they come alive and speak to you, as if God Himself were breathing through them presently, blessedly convicting your heart, your mind, your very soul . . . calling to you to be holy--to WANT to be holy.  At some point you realized that your life was not going the way you had once imagined--and there must be a greater hope! . . . a further purpose--some meaning that transcends the daily grind, as it has come to be . . . .

With true humility, you finally understood that you needed help--BIG help.  You became ashamed of your thoughts, your past actions, your tendencies and longed for a real, live Savior!

Holy Spirit touched you and opened your eyes--now you can see . . . .

Yet, those around you, for the most part, still do not.  They roll their eyes, laugh, shrug it off . . . . To them, you have become a "fanatic", a "stick in the mud", "too extreme", "judgmental" . . . .

But now you see the stakes.  This thing is real, and it is serious.  It is all too clear that so many are lost, ignoring God, mocking at notions of His wrath--and many of these are loved ones, old friends . . . maybe even your spouse.  How horrific it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and feel His grieving at the blasphemies, perversions, lies--outright sin, rebellion and evil--that the fallen, corrupt, devil-inspired culture permeates with and is constantly pouring out on your children and loved ones!  And they are utterly blind to it!  And call YOU the wayward one! 

How about the times, lying in bed, praying to your Lord, and feeling the hatred and loathing of the enemy--THE Enemy--right there with you, feeling so trapped and alone where only you see and know all the subtle ways he (the devil) attacks you through the vessel of your mate, your spouse, your child.  They do not know they are being so used and if you were to tell them they would call you insane, foolish, "sick in the head" . . . . ?

But you know . . . and see the truth, and suffer silently, though sometimes verging into doubt, starting to wonder whether maybe "they" are right after all . . . . Why are there so few who see it like you do?  The whole culture is against you--thinks you are mad, "old fashioned" . . . too strict and "self righteous" in your opinions and viewpoint . . . .

However, there ARE others like you!  This you know, because you meet them from time to time.  You have read their words in books or "online" . . . . You may be one who is able to slip away to congregate and fellowship with the like-minded--those fellow believers who also have received the revelation of His reality, His truth!  Some are only able to do it via the Internet . . . .

In any case, it is a cold, hard and sometimes terrifying situation . . . when you come to realize . . . that you are "yoked" to people/someone . . . who--even if you love them, and they "love" you--are spiritually at odds with you.  Face it, you are "sleeping with the enemy." 

One thing to quickly realize as well--and deploy as a defensive tactic  . . . is to see and know that "they know not what they do."  It is not personal--in your secret, pragmatic view of them.  He or she . . . is not the one against you.  Learn to see that it is THE DEVIL working through them, using them as a vessel, trying to shake you--take YOU down.  They are simply typical sinners, as were you, who have not been saved by faith in the Lord alone.  Remember, you TOO were once a blind, lost, rebellious, sin-loving vessel for Evil Spirit . . . so never can you be too haughty.  God . . . and other believers . . . waited on YOU to see the Light . . . so, in your frustration, anger and impatience, which are bound to flare at times, recall that only by the grace of God have you come to know the truth . . . . Otherwise, you are no different than the ones who oppose and contradict you . . . .

Through practice and prayerful steadiness of heart, soul and mind . . . you can learn to see that it is not your--ie., husband . . . wife . . . son . . . daughter--whoever . . . that is coming against you; rather it is simply "old scratch"--Satan, or one of his demonic attachments, working tirelessly to thwart, demoralize, confuse, undermine, smear, accuse . . . etc., YOU . . . the newborn believer and disciple of Christ, Jesus-Yeshuah.

When the attacks come, do not be tricked into responding with old habits--the old ways of "fighting fire with fire" . . . but instead, recall the holy Person of Jesus, where He suffered and deferred to the Will of the Father.  As bad as it may be for you at times, simply recall what HE went through . . . and how He alerted you that any follower of His was bound to be the butt of some abuse and persecution in this God-hating, demonic world . . . .

Primarily, however, remember . . . that you are not OF this world.  This is not your home.  The others, still lost in their sin, bound for death and damnation, are ever trying to make their home in this world, against all odds . . . but not you.  You belong to another.  Your bonds here are temporary.  And you only answer to Him, your King, your Master, your Savior.  No matter what they throw at you, you answer to God, NOT to any other.

Same with them.  They will answer to the Judge for how they responded to your witness, to the testimony of Holy Spirit and His law written indelibly on their heart.  Whatever tricks and subtly cruel acts perpetrated against you, it is always the case that you turn to Jesus for comfort, within.  There is your sure refuge.  Do not let the wiles of the Wicked One seduce you into reacting internally or externally in ways that begin to weaken your hold on the truth, or betray your decision.  Nothing and no one can invade that holy space where you remain in relationship with the only One Who ultimately matters.  In the hereafter, you WILL be with loved ones.  You will not recall or lament those who did not choose to go.

If ELECTION is true, then the matter is already decided anyhow.  It remains now for you just to continue your walk . . . knowing that the Good Shepard WILL retrieve EVERY single sheep that is His to collect.
If it all boils down to free will . . . then it results that all those who wanted God and His Kingdom . . . WILL end up where they wanted to be.  Either way, the final roll call will be exactly what perfect justice demands and provides . . . .

Whether we are in earthly relationships with like-minded believers or not, it is still the case that we are alone where it matters most--our unique, individual relationship with God, one to one.  We all are alone in a crowd  . . . and we must make friends with this fact . . . . When others come against you, which they always will in some form in this fallen world, you are suppose to just go deeper, more earnestly into the fastness of your fellowship with the Lord.  Every circumstance . . . is an opportunity to delve more genuinely into the good news of the Gospel.  Just remember the Gospel!  You were lost, destined for death and hell, yet, He saved you, because He loves you--even while you were in rebellion against Him.  God came "down" to this demon-wrecked planet . . . was born as a man, and took upon Himself all of the punishment that was due the rebellious creation.  Then He rose, conquering death and provided the Holy Spirit to awaken you and lead you safe and sound, back to His eternal city!  In the midst of your trials, do NOT let this vision slip from your instant recall!  Remember it daily!  Recall it many times through the day and night.  If there is anything like a mantra for the Children of God, it is in recalling and retelling (to oneself and others) this startling, wondrous story.

Then, what are these tiny missiles and darts tossed your way?  They are powerless, duds, inept!  Nothing and NO ONE, no matter how closely related to you in this TEMPORARY span of mortal being, can separate you from your Lord, your Messiah!  So what if the Spirit leaves you for a time, or so it "feels"?  What does that change?  Nothing of the facts!  Stop being so dependant on feeling . . . . Live in the KNOWLEDGE and FAITH of what was done . . . FOR YOU, regardless of moments of darkness and solitary trudging!  Live HIGHER!  Put your mind and heart and soul UP HIGH--higher than emotion, bodily and personal "needs" and wants!  Stay where your BELIEF lives!  Others . . . may come, may go, may hang around . . . or not.  You were not made for them!  You belong to the King of the Universe!  HE is your mate, your endless friend, your constant companion, whether you detect His presence or not, you KNOW HE IS THERE, because His Word says so, and you have already agreed to live by it! 

You have a Heavenly family.  Some of them may be with you now, and it will be wonderful to be with them again in Paradise.  Others, you haven't met yet.  Brothers and sisters . . . whom you will know and love and cherish throughout the rest of eternity . . . .

Continue to pray for your loved ones here and now, that their eyes be opened, but knowing that His will . . . WILL be perfectly completed . . . once this pilgrim's trek is through.

You are no more alone than any single one of us, here on this temporal plane.  We are all alone, where IT COUNTS (meaning none of the people around us should be between us and the Lord) . . . . Yet we are NOT alone where HE COUNTS, for we were made, each one of us, to have a personal relationship . . . with God.  Find that place--that HIGH AND INNER PLACE--where you are NEVER alone!  The devil merely wants you to focus on creatures and mourn over their proper attentions or lack thereof . . . and have you constantly engaged with serving and fussing over idols . . . .

The crux of this life's challenge, however, is to have you realize AND LIVE AS SUCH, THE FIRST COMMANDMENT . . . daily, hourly . . . where NO ONE and NO THING comes between you . . . and The Lord! 

Temporarily "yoked" to an unbeliever . . . or not . . . the challenge, the lesson is the same.  LOOK to God, to the Kingdom of God, which is within, and to come in future fulness, ABOVE ALL . . . . Seeing to it . . . that no one . . . and no thing . . . thwarts you . . . from keeping your eye . . . singly focused on . . . His glory and the world to come.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

On Being Yoked To An Unbeliever

Surely, one of the saddest, most frustrating, difficult challenges to a person--to a Believer--happens when you (the Believer) are in a relationship with someone who does not believe.  It is all the more disturbing when the other claims to be a Christian, but, in actuality is a false convert.  They will use Bible quotes and church doctrines to manipulate, intimidate and control the Believer.  But though they use the Word and God's name, they are not led by the Spirit, but instead are led by their own selfish agenda (disguised as "spiritual") which is really influenced more by Evil Spirit.

Then there are those who are yoked up with outright skeptics and unbelievers.  Perhaps you too were an unbeliever, but somewhere along the line, in the relationship, you saw the Light and got saved; but your mate didn't and still hasn't.  They may ridicule your new found faith; may even outright oppose and antagonize you for it, which makes daily life bereft of the blessed peace and joy of like minds working together, and more often than not you find yourself quite uncomfortably, "sleeping with the enemy."

Also, there are situations where both are indeed Believers--joined together as such--but one is growing faster in the Spirit, outpacing the other, which imbalance becomes a source of subtle resentments, conflicts contentions and jealousies.  This is not so unusual however, and can be an opportunity for both involved to continue growing, unfolding spiritually through grace, humility and patience being required on either side, provided that both remain first and foremost submitted to the Lord, subordinating self-centered interests to the single interest of loving and serving God.  If sincerity is there, the hills and valleys of the relationship can be forged, even if, at times, one is lagging behind, as relationship is designed to be the fundamental workshop for spiritual expression, realizations and growth. 

Some cases are, sadly, irreconcilable where one refuses to follow truth and accede to grace; however, far too many these days throw in the towel, tempted by society's seducing call to satisfy self before obedience to God.

In any case, it is primarily a lonely road the Believer walks in this world of wheat and tares grown side by side; but in every case for those individuals who love the Lord and seek Him first, all such difficulties will be made fortuitous and are an opportunity for the one to deepen, strengthen, purify, broaden relationship with the very Creator of the universe and all creatures.  For each person, regardless of temporary ties and commitments with other creatures must answer singly and solely to God.  Our future and ultimate entrance into the eternal Kingdom will be wholly dependant on our unique, personal relationship with the Savior, Messiah and sometimes it may just be that we are denied intimate fellowship in this life with another Believer.  If so, the person consigned to such a trial must trust and know that God has His purpose in it and absolutely it will be for that person's good.  Our affections are not to be focused nor relied upon the brief, afflicted stretch of this mortal life and "present evil world" (Gal. 1:4), but must be fixed on the glorious world to follow, where all our fellowship with others will be basked in the perfect love of Christ--all that we longed for finally arrived and resplendent with joyful, overflowing divine properties, forever!

In the meantime, what to do?  I suspect someone wants/needs to hear of this; it has been prompting me to address for a while now.  Anyhow, I know that it is a fairly common matter--this of a Believer being yoked in a relationship with another who is of another spirit.  Where children are involved, the matter compounds to being all the more heart-wrenching and worrisome.  Unless the Spirit intervenes, I will continue with some ideas tomorrow on what one can do if one is currently caught in such a scenario; for there is always a way forward in the Spirit, no matter how trapped, confined the body might be.  Often, spiritual warfare is involved, for little doubt, there is a contending spirit--even Evil Spirit--seeking to thwart, demoralize and even destroy, if it were possible, the Believer experiencing such a situation. 

Indeed, there are spiritual "weapons"--techniques--which will always triumph, if one is serious and committed enough in their own Walk, to God, to employ them.

God bless you; God is with you always,
brother (in Christ) thomas

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Power of Truth

It struck me . . . in a recent discussion . . . and related thoughts about the power of truth, a couple of things.
One:  how truth is like a fire--also, in rougher terms, like a dissolving acid.  Steadily, surely, once your heart and desperation has reached the point to want the truth and to know the truth, at any cost, letting the chips fall where they may . . . then It/He . . . begins to work like a consuming fire and burns away at the edges . . . all the dross, all the ignorance and fallacies of prior delusional thoughts.  We are born into a world of lies and self-delusion--steeped in it, from out upbringing, from schools, from popular culture, corrupt doctrines and philosophies . . . and we have all this perfidy swimming around our internals . . . like the veins in marble, embedded in our hearts, subconscious, personality, dreams, ambitions, beliefs . . . deep and fast in many places . . . .

Like one infected with poisons, sick and anemic . . . our eternal soul longs for its home and the TRUTH of the situation . . . .
The Truth arrives, our eyes are opened, and we begin to SEE . . . . And in that Seeing . . . the Light of the Truth immediately starts Its/His purging processes; sterilizing the rot and decay appurtenant the attachments of sin . . . . Dead and temporal lusts and longings lose their grip . . . and wither . . . and dry up and shrivel . . . and fall away . . . under the cleansing heat and light . . . of contact, relationship with the source of all--God Himself, the blazing fire of self existent life and infinite reality.

You want to let it go--all the lies, all the corruption, the sin--and yearn increasingly only for that which is true, holy, pure, perfect, good . . . .

 Two: there are those who are just as desperate to maintain . . . the lies, the illusion, the delusions.  It can appear like this . . . . The person is always tired, worn out . . . stressed out . . . because they work so hard.  So hard at what?  At maintaining their self delusion.  They have a whole Babel's Tower of stories and narratives they cling to about this life, about this world and their place and purpose in it (always vastly exaggerating their relevance and importance IN and for it) . . . . They have convinced themselves that they are indispensable and necessary . . . . They have to keep up a whole set of narratives about other people as well, keeping score, "this one owes me . . . that one didn't respect me . . . this one rightly gives me deference . . . those ones are lowly, inconsequential . . . . "  Tabs must be constantly kept on one's status in society and efforts made attempting to get others to agree with their concocted mythology, "look how important and exceptional I am" . . . .

It's tiring work, keeping up illusions and self delusion, and "no one works as hard as me!" . . . is often their claim and demeanor . . . .

Then, there are those that are constantly nagging, suspicious, paranoid, and never happy with others.  Others are always in the wrong and must be harangued and corrected. It is stressful, anxious work . . . getting others to conform to your deluded vision of life, of relationships, of this world . . . .

Such a person is never at rest, never satisfied . . . with themselves, but especially with others.  Other are constantly NOT conforming to the person's expectations.  But those expectations are based in the inner world of falsity, lies, perfidy described above . . . so how can there be rest?

This is why people who have not really found The Truth . . . are always criticizing and demanding and irritated, whether they hide it or not; for they live in a world of mythology and self-centered expectations projected on others, on reality . . . so they are ever at war . . . trying to always, through little zingers and jabs, to make others conform to their inner (warped) vision . . . .

Oh, the purifying radiance of the Lord!  He (lovingly, but firmly) begins at once to dissolve, through the Light of His Truth, the whole rotten mess.  Those that love the darkness, where the mess grows like fungus, hate His Light and those who spread it.  They thrive in the dank pitch of inner, endless night . . . . What a burden, keeping up the mountain of lies and delusions!  So tiring, exhausting!

Meanwhile, the lambs drink at the living waters' edge, resting in the sunlight, reprieved from the  dreadful maintenance of sin-wracked ego . . . .

Such . . . is the power of Truth . . . .

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Dangers of Unequal Yokage

"seeker" . . . re your question in the comments a little while back--sorry for the delay . . . having no computer has made it even a little more difficult than usual to address all i would like to . . . . Probably by now you have already decided what to do about the band situation . . . . All I know is . . . is that when are a musician--when you "have a musician's heart" as Shawn McCraney described it to me . . . then . . . well, I know that you really don't quite feel fully alive . . . unless you are "doing" music somehow, some way . . . . In general, however, I also know that it never works . . . to be "unequally yoked" in relationships or partnerships  . . . with unbelievers . . . . I don't know if they are or aren't, but just something to consider, aside from the musical angle . . . . I know that we often are tempted to join ventures with unbelievers thinking we will keep our faith and position and spirit strong and hopefully have an influence on them . . . but what usually happens, is that you end up hiding the Spirit . . . to get along . . . . and avoid Gospel talk and matters . . . so as not to offend . . . or, if it does come up, you water it down . . . again, to get along and not offend and derail the joint venture, whatever the the partnership or project might be . . . . And over time, also what tends to happen . . . is that the "spirits" attached to the unbelievers . . . subtly . . . start affecting and infiltrating YOU . . . . It works like leaven in the bread . . . fermentation seeps in . . . . Then, you find you have to start compromising in little ways (at first) ie., the kind of songs you are expected to play . . . the kinds of lyrics you find yourself singing . . . the places you might play . . . and you always must be wondering and on guard . . . if these are things that Holy Spirit is comfortable with . . . . Ie., are you singing about or promoting through the music . . . fornications? . . . lawlessness . . . blasphemies . . . in hidden, subtle ways . . . or maybe even not so subtle? . . . . Are you grieving the Holy Spirit . . . just because you want to be playing music so bad?   Trust me, I know the temptation well . . . . When I am involved with some . . . ANY type of musical project . . . I come alive--it brings an indescribably personal joy and enthusiasm to my life that is sorely lacking otherwise . . . . Right now . . . I have musical ideas . . . and am desperate to get back to writing and recording some new material . . . but the necessities of life are just too overwhelming at present . . . so I can only wait and hope and pray that He opens a way, if it be His will . . . .
In the bigger picture, whether it's music or any other personal love and interest . . . the adversary is always nearby . . . seeking to have you compromise in the spiritual walk . . . knowing that where you are most tempted--those things you personally, individually are most drawn to, which resonate with your personality . . . there you are most likely to start letting your guard down . . . . A little here, a little there . . . . Before long, you realize you have "drifted" . . . from the Path . . . given in to the temptation to pleasure self, serve self . . . above obedience to the "demands" of discipleship . . . . And, usually, you have not inspired or changed anyone else to come to Jesus, but rather, find that THEY have drawn you AWAY from Jesus . . . via the route of your particular interest or passion . . . .

As I've gotten older . . . I've finally realized . . . and accepted . . . what at first feels like a sacrifice . . . that . . . as a follower of the Lord, as His disciple . . . and as a temple for Holy Spirit . . . some things simply must be given up and avoided--things that I personally enjoyed.  For instance, there are, or were . . . some types of music, certain topics and lyrical themes . . . that I enjoyed exploring, purely from an artistic angle . . . . However, they are dark and of the dark side.  And, I was good at exploring and doing them! lol . . . . BUT, they had to go.  I cannot be a part of that anymore, as fun as it was.

Now, I can only create ie., music, art, writing . . . in such a way that works to glorifying God and serves the work of my Lord . . . . Thankfully, through the sanctifying work of Holy Spirit, I have lost the taste and interest for the prior darker, borderline themes and spirit . . . so, this is no longer felt as a loss or sacrifice . . . . But in the beginning, it was.  I still had an inkling to avail myself certain, diverse 'spirits' . . . and had to forcefully, with discipline . . . refuse to accede to them . . . . But now, they simply repulse me, as they should . . . as I crave and love more and more . . . holiness . . . the purity of His Spirit and GOOD things . . . . . . . .

In the end, it all boils down to "you cannot serve two masters" . . . . We are very clever at convincing ourselves that we are not . . . justifying our mingling of oil and water, leaven . . . into the creation or product or venture . . . . Usually, it is just us fooling ourselves that we are doing something for God, when really, it is just our self interest once again masquerading under some superficial piety . . . .

So . . . as to your question--which was great because it gave me a chance to launch on the broader issues actually involved--I think I would just want to be very wary . . . always . . . of who you are getting involved with . . . THEIR spirits . . . so-to-speak . . . aside from the musical aspect . . . and then, also there is the subject matter of the music . . . does it glorify God?  I know when you are younger . . . this seems not so much to matter and it seems like you can venture into the world's corners without too much danger . . . but, geezer that I am swiftly becoming . . . heh . . . I look back and see that in virtually every case when I thought I could maintain my spiritual integrity . . . while "running with the bulls" so-to-speak . . . (ie., dancing 'round the golden calf) . . . it was always just that I . . . got corrupted . . . drifted . . . lost my way . . . and had to fight my way back, thanking God for His great mercy . . . once again . . . in retrieving me from the world's gutters . . . cleaning me up, and bringing me back to the fold.  I no longer take such chances . . . .

So . . . . If we cannot serve two masters . . . then in every situation . . . the concern and question must be . . . whether we are being drawn, deceived (usually by our self) to try and do . . . just that . . . . THAT is what I would be considering baseline . . . about the prospect . . . . That is something you will know . . . in the Spirit . . . .

God bless . . . and thank you Brenda for your encouraging comment :) Sometimes I feel like I'm just hanging out there, shouting off a cliff . . . into the wind . . . with an occasional sea bird floating by skeptically eyeing me  . . . . (aside, I must add, from the several beloved stalwarts:)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stamp On My Eyeballs

Strolling the wooded glen with Jonathan Edwards . . . .

“If the heart be chiefly and directly fixed on God, and the soul engaged to glorify him, some degree of religious affection will be the effect and attendant of it. But to seek after affection directly and chiefly; to have the heart principally set upon that; is to place it in the room of God and his glory. If it be sought, that others may take notice of it, and admire us for our spirituality and forwardness in religion, it is then damnable pride; if for the sake of feeling the pleasure of being affected, it is then idolatry and self-gratification.”

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”

“Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering.”

“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.”

“Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”

“All truth is given by revelation, either general or special, and it must be received by reason. Reason is the God-given means for discovering the truth that God discloses, whether in his world or his Word. While God wants to reach the heart with truth, he does not bypass the mind.” 

“A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God's power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God's wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.”

“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beholding The Glory

Whatever our affliction . . . we can look to our Lord and know He went there fully . . . as a man, perfect in all ways, yet exposed to all the evils of this fallen world which beset us in our own time.

Hunger?  He knows hunger, fasting for 40 days . . . the gnawing pain of an empty stomach . . . .

Slander?  He was accused that His power was of the devil . . . . He was called a drunkard, a man of low character who traveled with criminals and prostitutes . . . reviled, mocked, impugned . . . .

Poverty?  He was a wanderer, with no where to lay His head, bereft of the fine conveniences of home and hearth . . . .

Pain?  A crown of thorns pressed into His scalp, beaten, bruised, whipped, pierced, bloody to die hanging on a cross . . . . 

Sorrow?  He was Prince of Sorrows . . . betrayed, abandoned by family and friends, rejected by the people He was born of . . . .

But, we forget . . . . We get involved with the business of the day, our work, our plans, our loves, our repulsions . . . so busy with the cares of this world.  Then we strap on religion or some self-improvement scheme . . . some new system of thought and habit, which takes us away as if in a carriage . . .  on a set of rails, ranging far afield, seeing the sites, chatting and sharing the ride with others of like mind . . . .

. . . . Rambling along . . . in a carriage of lies which comfort, because others are there and sustain the motif in agreement . . . religion, party, club, society, fraternity . . . .

But forgetting Jesus . . . . No longer looking at Him, remembering Him . . . . Relationship broken, dry and dead . . . though living heartily with and for others, seeking their approval and acclaim . . . .

O, the shibboleth shattering power of Truth!  O, the splitting force of the two-edged sword of His Word!  Just look at Him~!

"And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us:  Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God.  For think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds."  --heb. 12:1-3

When you realize Who He is . . . THAT He IS! . . . and what He did . . . so that you, yet a sinner and hater of God . . . will be saved--and not only saved, but inherit HIS righteousness, adopted into an eternal family of the Creator . . . the reality of this and the power of the truth realized . . . begins to transform you . . . from a dead, lost and depraved citizen of the Satanic realm . . . into a LIVING Child of Light, who increasingly hates sin, loves righteousness, seeks truth, hates lies, craves holiness, recoils from blasphemies . . . A NEW CREATURE!

"They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed."—Psalm 34:5

 And He deigned . . . condescended . . . to be born in the dirt and be tempted in all things, exposed to all of the harsh conditions of life in this corrupt, mortal and dying world . . . . There is nothing, between His experience in the flesh, and as omniscient Deity, that He cannot relate to and understand, like a friend, like a Father--even like a mother, sister, brother--that you have or will experience in your own unique life . . . . And everything--yes, EVERYTHING!--that you have gone through, are going through, and will go through . . . IS FOR YOUR ULTIMATE GOOD, if you love Him.

And you love Him . . . by LOOKING AT HIM--pondering sincerely and deeply what He did . . . considering it . . . DAILY! . . . recalling it . . . DAILY . . . after finally looking at the depths of your own lawlessness, disobedience and sin.  You have not kept the commandments of God . . . none of them . . . . You CANNOT keep the commandments . . . and, in your continued disobedience you are slated for a very real sentence to Hell . . . . 

You look at this . . . and are convicted . . . crying out, "Lord save me!"

Then, you See what He did, indeed, to save you!  You contemplate the suffering He bore . . . for YOU! . . . the ultimate sacrifice . . . dying the worst kind of brutal, ignominious death in this world . . . FOR YOU!  Because He LOVES YOU!  

Then, the humility, the gratitude, the thankfulness, the peace and joy and excitement and rest . . . follow, and now, rather than follow some man or woman's set of rules concocted to lord it over you and others . . . . And now, rather than carry on loudly, superficially with the society-loving fools in the carriage pretending to one another to be "good" . . . "acceptable" . . . currying favor . . . . Instead, the vain and cheap accolades of the delusional and of liars begins to fall away in importance to you.

You seek only HIS favor, above all, staying close . . . in relationship . . . to Him, looking at Him, what He did, recalling it daily, hourly, nightly . . . never drifting or straying too far from THE VISION'S sacred orbit--from the vision of His sacrifice . . . and His glorious triumph and ascencion. Preaching along a similar theme, Spurgeon, said:

"I invite you to LOOK AT JESUS CHRIST ASCENDING INTO HEAVEN. After forty days, he takes his disciples to the hill, and while he discourses with them, on a sudden he mounts upward; and he is separated from them, and a cloud receives him into glory . . . . The angels came from heaven—

'They brought his chariot from on high,
To bear him to his throne
Clapped their triumphant wings and cried,
The glorious work is done.'
. . .  With matchless triumph he ascended the hill of light and went to the celestial city, and when he neared the portals of that great metropolis of the universe, the angels shouted, 'Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors,' and the bright spirits from burning battlements, cried out, 'Who is this King of Glory—who?'  And the answer came, 'the Lord mighty in battle, and the Lord of Hosts; he is the King of Glory.'  

And then both they upon the walls, and they who walk with the chariot join the song once more, and with one mighty sea of music, beating its melodious waves against the gates of heaven and forcing them open, the strain is heard, 'Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in'—and in he went. 

And at his feet the angelic hosts all cast their crowns, and forth came the blood-washed and met him, not casting roses at his feet, as are do at the feet of conquerors in our streets, but casting immortal flowers, imperishable wreaths of honor that never can decay; while again, again, again, the heavens did ring with this melody, "Unto him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father—unto him be glory forever and ever. And all the saints and all the angels said, 'Amen.'"   

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Mortal Blow

It is going to be something so simple, so straightforward, that even a child can do it.  In fact, it is easier for a child to do it, and we are to be like a child in our uncluttered faith . . . . And humility.

The expert--the one who has degrees, accomplishments, achievements, plaques, ribbons, trophies, rank, respect among peers . . . is too full.  God cannot stand pride.  It is utterly inane, foolish, pride is, as seen from the Creator's perspective.  Here is a creature . . . who cannot take another step, nor a breath . . . whose every firing of the synapse, every move . . . every muscle . . . . . . where they were born, to whom born, every talent and ability . . . provided the earth to walk upon, the sun and air and water giving life . . . . Everything this creature does and can do . . . sustained, created, provided . . . by God, and yet, there she is . . . . There he is . . . PROUD . . . as if she/he deserves credit, plaudits, laurels for victories and triumphs . . . based on some transcendent, self-existent, innate superior value.

God resists the proud . . . but to the humble . . . He gives more grace. 

Desirous of more grace? 

Then practice humility.  And yes, it is something that can be practiced, like any other skill or art.  Don't think that it is a natural attribute.  Rather, selfishness and pride are natural to the human being.  But beware of false self-loathing, which is just another form of pride . . . where the person is simply frustrated and angry that things haven't gone better . . . . Coveting the wealth and leisure and fame and beauty of others, wishing to have it . . . envying . . . and being angry with oneself because you made dumb mistakes early in life, and so, don't have those things . . . . Here, self hatred is merely a defeated self, resentful . . . and any humility is only accepted regretfully, sourly, grudgingly . . . . Given a chance, you would rush to things which would glorify self and lord it over others . . . .

However, there is a real humility, that can be practiced and exercised--genuine and sweet, which rises like perfumed incense . . . to the Lord above . . . . It is found in the recognition and understanding of our helpless state . . . becoming like a child who knows her absolute need for protection, care--salvation! 

Then, the way to God, to Truth . . . is provided . . . and it must be a way . . . that is accessible to all--not just to scholars and theologians . . . . Not only to those capable of deep study or austere mystical practices . . . .

It is a way . . . immediately profound and immediately effective--which it must be, so that the drudgery of the moment, of the day after day . . . can be made paltry.  So that, the moment--the NOW--is pregnant with potential, with SPIRITUAL potential.  It must be REAL--this way, this relationship with God . . . .

Beyond . . . all the complex doctrines and practices and sacraments and works . . . there is a way so powerful and instant, which can be accessed and employed daily, performed in the child-like state of humility, uncluttered . . . . And it is this:  Look at Him.  Look at what He did.  Look at THAT first and foremost and continually . . . . Don't waste precious time looking at vain and tawdry distractions--entertainments . . . . Life is short.  It can end at any moment.  Even at its longest, it is brief, a vapor.

Of all the systems and methods and philosophies and austerities and practices and doctrines and meditations . . . I have studied and employed--which has been quite a few--this one thing is like the missing key . . . more powerful, more profound, more effective . . . by far--by MORE than far, as all the others end in failure, where this one succeeds . . . THIS ACT, this intention . . . of LOOKING AT HIM, WHAT HE DID, WHO HE IS--is like . . . THE secret weapon!  The hidden key . . . the philosopher's stone . . . the summon bonum . . . the golden thread . . . the missing link . . . the secret code . . . the lost city . . . the mortal blow . . . .

I will explain further . . . shortly . . . . God bless you!

Brother Thomas ©2015

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