Monday, December 31, 2012

Chasing Truth - Part Three - Hard Words


(Amos 7:10) Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.  (7:11) For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.  (7:12) Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thou away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:  (7:13) but prophesy not again any more at Beth-el; for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a royal house.  

Truth is hard more often than not. It’s a diamond. It can cut through just about anything. And like a diamond, even ground into fine particles truth can be quite abrasive and expose hidden layers. It can engrave and reshape useless things into great good things. But the hard nature of truth is the very thing that repels fragile humanity and causes us to dismiss or avoid it. 

There has never been a time, in recorded human history, that mankind has liked and/or preferred the truth. The old testament is filled with stories of God’s prophets speaking hard words to His people, and more often than not, they have responded with stiff-necked obstinacy, to their detriment. Some lessons are too difficult to learn, apparently.

There was the exception of Nineveh, the reprobated tribe that repented, to Jonah’s  disgruntled surprise, when he was finally made to speak God’s hard words to them. Even that didn’t last though. Nineveh reverted to its old ways in just over a hundred years and was summarily destroyed, with little trace to include them in historical reference. This ought to be a sober lesson for anyone but, again, humans are cursed with short term memory loss when it comes to behavior choices. Prophets come and go, repentance, at least for the short term, adds to the progress of a people. And then, they do what people do, they forget, compromise, rationalize, and slide gently away into a  softer, more blissful, self-serving blindness, which, at least in the case of God’s chosen people, has always resulted in slavery. Always means without exception.

The first bad sign of a reprobated society usually manifests itself in the devising and embracing of synthetic truth. It looks good and sounds good, but, in fact, at its core it is the antithesis of good. But it seems so good because it is often much more gentle, palatable and thus easier to swallow. It claims it represents “love”. Who doesn't like love? The hallmark of this kind of truth is the absence of the requirement for humility, repentance and internal change. 

It looks as though in this touchy-feelly age we have come to a pinnacle of this kind of substitutionary truth. Only syrupy words of comfort, inclusion, tolerance and acceptance are allowed because, after all, who wants to hear that in order to be salvaged he/she must admit to bad behavior and resolve to change? Hard words are not only rejected as having no place in this enlightened society, they are bordering on illegal and certainly punishable by rejection and expulsion. Hard words must be silenced. If that doesn’t work, next comes imprisonment. Say the hard words and reap the honor of being public enemy number one. 

Prophet or not, in any age, a teller of truth is labeled everything but good, especially if the truth spoken is proclaiming doom for those who will not repent. Naysayer, doomer, anti-social, curmudgeon, cranky, judgmental, negative nelly. Who can abide with such a downer? And ever it has been. But one day, a day of reckoning, the truth, hard as a diamond, will finally emerge from the manmade muck that has been piled on top of it and  it will shine the light of truth into every dark corner. And liars and lovers of lies will go the way of the people of Nineveh. 

Hard is as hard does and no where is it written that we have to like it for it to be true.

For Christ,
Meema

(Thessalonians 2:7) For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only [there is] one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way.  (2:8) And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming;  (2:9) [even he], whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,  (2:10) and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  (2:11) And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:  (2:12) that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Free Will



Have you ever been in a tight situation and made a promise to do or be something else if only the hard circumstances would ease and the outcome turn out in your favor? Did you follow through when all was said and done? In other words, did you keep your promise? 

Interesting thing about promises is that they are almost always toward a higher good, aren’t they? I mean, think about it. A child who promises his parent that he will behave or clean his room or stop pestering his little sister is actually promising to rise to an already assumed expectation of that which he knows he should be doing anyway. A kid never promises to be a liar or a thief or a bully, does he? 

So, cutting to the chase, we know right from wrong instinctively, even from a very young age. We know what God expects of us, if we are willing to admit it. So it isn’t much of a stretch to promise that we will conduct ourselves appropriately when our finger is caught in a ringer. We also know when to be sneaky and to lie to protect ourselves from a chastisement that we fully understand would result from being caught. Just like kids. 

We are children who already know what their parent wants from them. What we don’t understand is that, like a good parent, God not only wants what is best for us and He wants us to trust that He knows what that might be, He also wants us to grow up spiritually with grace so that we will easily recognize and make the good choices that are in our own best interest. Thus He wants us to truly want what He wants, not merely identify what it is. This is a subtle distinction to grasp, but important, nonetheless. 

However, wanting what He wants always means giving up certain things, and that might be the crux of our obstinacy. First of all it requires forfeiting our right to ourselves, and tuning in to what we know to be true about the higher good. Secondly it means leaning on Him without reservation and accepting that what we had planned might not have been the direction He wanted us to take and then willingly leaving it behind without lingering doubt. Did He not admonish Lot and his family to not look back? Remember what happened to his wife when she just had to take one last sentimental look? 

What is asked of us is abandonment of our free will in exchange for His will. Letting go of free will means surrender, to be sure, but it is also blind acceptance and faith in the supernatural power of God to know, better than we, what path we should be taking. He wants us to not only choose the higher good, He wants us to experience the sheer joy of truly wanting the higher good. 

This, then, is the conundrum of free will. God wants us to choose to come to Him, to choose His way, so He gives us opportunities to decide, yes or no. But He wants us to do so willingly, not simply because we don’t want to get into trouble. Taking the high road by cowardice may keep our hands clean, but it won’t instill in us the nature of God. Goodness in and of itself is only a veneer. Only the deep solid grain of God’s genuine goodness dwelling in us can last against the ravages of time and adversity. Desiring this is the only way to get it. Getting it means not looking back to your old ways with sentimentality. It also means practicing. We have to exercise our faith muscle in order for it to grow. We must be ready to listen and obey, without question the small promptings in order to practice listening and obeying the life altering prompts. 

But, like children, we still want to have choices. We want to be the captains of our destiny. And, like children, when we make our bad choices we still want our loving parent to come to our rescue. So, we get in our tight spots and boldly make our promises to be and do what we knew we should have been and done in the first place. 

I’m so grateful that He is patient and has all the time in the universe but I am painfully aware that we are the ones who run out of time.

For Christ,
Meema

Reprinted from I Was Just Thinking - Essays From the Edge of All Light by A. Fields
Available at Amazon



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Life Without Christmas


For nearly two decades I wrote a monthly column called I Was Just Thinking. Every December I looked forward to penning my annual Christmas essay. The early themes focused on the joys of the season, family, friends, events wherein I could express my long standing love of Christmas. Writing about it was always just as much fun as being in the middle of it.

Over time, as I matured and the world started coming apart at the seams, the tone of my essays became somewhat more reflective, introspective and philosophical. My most recent was titled Life After Christmas – a more somber examination of the difficulties of keeping up with the demands society burdens us with during the “holidays”.

I had not thought about if or what I would compose this year until I ventured out one day into the shopping experience. I just needed a string of lights. What I saw, with surprisingly new eyes, while out in the fray, began to churn inside of me. I’ve been letting this ferment for a few days and now I am ready to write about it. I think. This one might be the hardest one, if not the last one.

Apparently Christmas has been hijacked and replaced with a sad, shallow replica. Now, I’m not blind, and, in spite of what some claim,  I have not been away on another planet for the past few years. I know that there’s been a huge outcry, every year, that Christmas is too crass and commercial. Stickers scream out from car bumpers “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON” and “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS”. The ongoing struggle to keep Christmas a religious holiday over a reason to bump the bottom lines of commerce, has been going on for many years. 

But this year, I think the dark side has finally won.

Strolling through the aisles of Christmas decorations in several different big box stores, I made note of the things missing rather than the things offered. Whereas the once specific Jesus themed items used to include nativity scenes, stars, and all the religious symbols attributed to the day assigned to celebrate Christ’s birth, these are few and far between. Lots of snowmen, santa hats, and sparkling LED lit winter type representations line the shelves.  Not so much on the Jesus stuff.

Again, this isn’t a new trend. It’s been coming for some time now. Who hasn’t noticed that Christmas comes earlier every year, now launched simultaneously along with Halloween and Thanksgiving in mid-September, so as to stimulate spending and maximize the most profits out of the last quarter of the year. That’s been around for awhile.

But something has definitely changed. We have turned a real corner. Regardless, and in spite of, the limp efforts to keep Jesus in the middle of the holidaaaazz, the fights to block nativity scenes in public places, to rename Christmas trees, and now, to remove them altogether because of their “religious” inferences, seems to have finally gotten the upper hand. Commercially made products reflect this politically correct attitude now. It isn’t a leap to consider that it won’t be much longer before the secularization of Christmas will finally be complete enough to rename it. Thus removing Christ from Christmas completely. Why not? Christ is just barely there anyway already.

What if Christmas was not? 

What would happen to the economy if suddenly everyone decided to skip Christmas? No more Black Friday after Thanksgiving, fist-fighting and behaving like neanderthals over TVs and video games? No more drunken office parties, no more anguishing over what to buy for Aunt Louise because she always returns everything anyway? No more hauling out decorations and spending days decking the halls? No more struggling to get the schedule for everyone to get together to eat and drink too much?

Aside from economic collapse, what would happen, really, if the atheists and antichrists managed to outlaw all the traditions of Christmas in the interest of keeping religion out of view and in its place, i.e., in the past? 

Well, if all the things, the doings and the trappings, the food and drink, music and gifting, colors and images that have always represented the event we have called Christmas for centuries should be banned one day, I believe those who call themselves Christians would still remember that December 25th is the day we honor the birth of our Savior. It doesn’t even matter if that is not really the day He was born. It’s the day we say, “Thank You, Lord, for the babe who came to save the world.” So, just like in the movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, we would still celebrate in our hearts, even without the stuff. The stuff is of the world anyway and He is not. 

And the world can never overcome that.

Merry Christmas, 

For Christ,
Meema

(Luke 2:9) And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  (2:10) And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people:  (2:11) for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.  (2:12) And this [is] the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.  (2:13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  (2:14) Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.      

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Integrity




integrity |inˈtegritē|
noun
1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness: he is trustworthy and known to be a man of integrity.


Did you know that map makers often include phantom streets to thwart copyright infringement? No big deal, even clever, right? 

Pretty big deal to me because it tells me two important things: First, truth has become a vague concept that is nearly irrelevant now. Second, lying is the preferred way to overcome cheating. Apparently two wrongs make it right is the new acceptable norm and thus we’ve reached a new low.

We didn’t arrive at this new level of depravity quickly, however. It’s been a long slow process actually. One slip and then another, the bar taken down notch by notch until we have now come close to rock bottom. 

What does the world look like at rock bottom?

Using Biblical example I could reference Sodom and Gomorrah. But using a more modern representation of the world gone sour I’d like to recount the fictional story of Pottersville, the miserable alternate possible result of George Bailey having never existed in It’s a Wonderful Life. Who doesn’t know what the good town of Bedford Falls looked like as Pottersville, a sleazy collection of strip clubs, pawn shops, violence, thieves and liars. As bad as that description is, I can imagine a more progressive version of Pottersville might include useless brain dead crack-heads hanging out on corners focused on nothing but how they will get their next hit, graffiti on every square inch of crumbling buildings, every conceivable form of reprobated human activity, salacious sexuality exposed and proudly paraded for anyone to see in all matter of media. Fear, addiction and sickness, in mind, body and spirit would rule. Anything would be allowed so long as it did not threaten to pull someone out of the cycle of bondage to self destruction. The only rule would be that there would be no rules regarding behavior so long as it felt good.

In modern Pottersville I would expect that any attempt to maintain a moral code would be met with loud opposition and eventually those still clinging to the concept of baseline morality being in the best interest of civilization would be ostracized and vilified.  They would be shouted down until they could no longer be heard. The 21st Century Pottersville would officially define and support good as evil and evil as good, passing laws to support this position. Lying would be so rampant it would be expected. Everything would be upside down and backwards compared to Bedford Falls.

Heroes in Pottersville 2012 would be the old villains of Bedford Falls. Blood sucking vampires, witches and warlocks would be the iconic champions of the new normal, teachers of the new morality. Celebrating evil would be the common themes in children’s cartoons, TV sit-coms, movies and music. Superficiality in everything would reflect the underpinning of lies and lying and the adoration of good image, regardless how unreal, would be more acceptable than what is simply true.

All references to the old standards of human decency, work ethic, health and well-being, in mind/body/soul–integrity in general–would be tossed to the trash heap and left to be devoured by rats in the dank alleys. The children of Pottersville, those who manage to survive to adulthood, would have no recollection of the old standards and therefore would become the perpetuators of the norm until it all finally implodes, to everyone’s utter shock.

In the fictional story it was clear to anyone that Pottersville was not a good place and destined to a bad ending. It was meant to be representative of how important integrity is and how things go to hell in a hand-basket when integrity is not present. 

It was just a story, though, not a real true place. 

But life often imitates art because deep in the recesses of human imagination there is a place where collective memory knows the difference between right and wrong, between that which feeds, grows, and builds up or destroys, and that which supports continuum instead of annihilation. In this dim realm of the subconscious we recall the real places in history that did choose the low road and perished for it. In this misty memory is where we are given the freewill opportunity to choose between what simply feels good in the moment only to kill soon after, or promises to build up in the course of existence and end well into eternity.

When presented with the stark comparison, it is hard to imagine who would choose to live in Pottersville instead of Bedford Falls. Who would choose slavery to freedom, sickness and death over health and life? Who would choose lies over truth? 

The author of lies, who hates integrity and will lie to, cheat and seduce as many as possible away from it. That’s who. 

For Christ,
Meema 

(Joshua 24:15) And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Conundrums


(Matthew 24:12) And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold.  (24:13) But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.  (24:14) And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come. 




I think a page has turned and we are writing the last chapter of a book that has been in progress for several thousand years. I’ve struggled with this concept, that we truly are in the last days. And this has little, if anything, to do with the dire predictions of those who adhere to the Mayan calendar. This is more about man’s absurd arrogance and delusions of invincibility. 

It seems to me that a black fog of ignorance, like a virus has spread over the entire world. It is global and pandemic. Over the past few months I’ve watched in wonder as things that do not make sense have completely been allowed to take over. 

For example, no one seems to care that Japan is dying because the tsunami that devastated the Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011 is old news. We only pay attention to what is being reported in the here and now because not only do we have very short attention spans we have been carefully groomed to believe what we are presented with; just like in a movie, we can only digest things in two hour increments. Deadly radiation spewing out into the air and water, well, what is that to us anyway? Don’t pay attention to that because it might interrupt commerce. So people are dying, fish, beef and grains are poisonous. Commerce must continue! Ignore it, it will go away! The advisability of building nuclear power plants on an active volcanic island should not be challenged! Science rules!

In fact, as I ponder all the crazy things no one is paying attention to, my mind is a swirl of conundrums that simply cannot be easily explained, if at all. Here are some, in no particular order:

• Your government cares about your health and well being
• Scientists are smart and always working to better the world
• It is way smarter to trust science fiction than to believe in God
• You can trust politicians because they always tell the truth
• You can trust religious leaders because they always tell the truth
• When lies are revealed to be lies, you can and should trust the new lies that replace them
• Pay attention to movie stars because they are glamorous so they know everything
• Tolerance is good and any other opinion will not be tolerated
• Diversity means all things different must be tolerated unless it isn't on the list of things considered Diverse
• Drug companies just want people well and living longer 
• Modern technology can only and always will be used for good and never used for evil

People, in general, prefer to believe what sounds good and right instead of engaging their own brains to question what simply doesn’t add up. 

The day of correction is coming though. This you can trust.

For Christ,
Meema

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chasing Truth Part Two - False Humility


Matthew 7:16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?"


Truth is the golden nugget buried under lies and half-truths that are piled up and crisscrossed over and under each other like an old ugly ball of yarn scraps. Over time, as the older threads begin to rot and disintegrate, new lies are tied onto the tail ends and then added to the depth of deception that keeps the golden truth from shining out. But just because the truth is concealed doesn’t stop it from being. It’s there even if you can’t see it. Truth is enduringly real; lies are counterfeit and thus inherently temporary. Truth is the never changing solid; lies are the shape-shifting transparent shadows.  

In this world, and until God says, “Enough!” and Jesus returns to wrap it up, we have no choice but to live in a realm where there is antithesis to everything. Where there is light, there is dark, where there is good there is evil, where there is real, there is also imitation. 

How does one determine what is real and what is fake? If we lean on Matthew 7:16 as our go-by, we are told that we should be able to look to the fruits. Certainly this is solid advise and can be applied to more than just spiritual topics. Who can argue that politics and apostate religion aren’t intrinsically lie-based? Regardless of beautiful, inspiring rhetoric, there always comes a day when lies and promises spoken so eloquently by politicians and preachers can be measured by their fruit/results/outcome/consequences. The truth finally comes to light eventually.

That’s not the problem.

What if for lack of interest in having discernment, lack of even caring what good fruit is and isn’t, we embrace the beautiful lies at face value, and are then blocked from and unable to test whether or not fruit is real or just good-looking reproduction?  

I fear the stumbling block in this age is not so much that we are gullible and easily lead astray by wolves in sheep’s clothing, which has ever been so, but that we have been carefully reprogrammed to abandon discernment and therefore are blinded to the real deal. When given the choice, we eagerly go for the “perfect” fruit, which appeals to our shallow self-righteous “enlightened” propensity to align with what looks right, feels good and faultless by today’s standards. Unfortunately, today’s standards have nothing in semblance to God’s standards and there are many who are tightly, hopelessly entangled in the deceptions and yet haven’t a clue of their dire circumstances.

Humility, for example, has been drastically redefined so that the original intent of this Godly attribute of character is deeply hidden from view. It is a simple truth obfuscated by perfect-looking lies. Nowadays one merely has to appear appropriately self-effacing and pious to be deemed humble, which is by definition, false humility. The real fruit of genuine humility seems to have been kicked aside and isn’t on anyone’s radar anymore. Another way to put it: no one wants to know the truth anymore about anything. Modern society prefers glittery illusion. We want to be entertained, not educated. Now we look no farther or deeper than the appearance of humility therefore merely how someone appears to be is justified as all the fruit we require. And we happily settle for this imitation; delighted and satisfied with our delusions. 

Meanwhile the wolves and psychopaths gleefully prosper from our ignorance.

We do not consider and indeed reject how easy it is to pretend, to play-act, feigning self-denial and picture perfect righteousness, all the while and underneath, pushing a dark agenda that is self-based, self-promoting and self-righteous. I fear this is way worse than a ravening wolf in a sheepskin leading others away from the truth. At some point, since the sheep not only aren’t looking for anything more than what they see on the surface, they are more than just sheered, they are more quickly, easily brought to slaughter. 

We are at a critical stage now, where even when the sheep are presented with the truth and the rotten or lack of fruit revealed, another diabolical twist in the lie of false humility kicks in to seal their fate. They succumb to the pious lie that sheep, i.e. Christians, must not stand up for truth because it isn’t...well...you know...it isn’t humble. 

Charles Spurgeon said: “Very likely the most humble man in the world won’t bend to anybody. John Knox was a truly humble man, yet if you had seen him march before Queen Mary with the Bible in his hand, to reprove her, you would have rashly said, “What a proud man!” Cringing men that bow before everybody, are truly proud men; but humble men are those who think of themselves so little, they do not think it worth while to stoop to serve themselves. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were humble men, for they did not think their lives were worth enough to save them by a sin. Daniel was a humble man; he did not think his place, his station, his whole self, worth enough to save them by leaving off prayer. Humility is a thing which must be genuine; the imitation of it is the nearest thing in the world to pride.” 

And CS Lewis put it like this: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”.
If we could stop obsessing over image and turn our focus 180˚ on God’s kingdom and glory, we might be able to regain our discernment and perhaps salvage more remnant. If not, then we pray the days will be shortened less everyone be destroyed.

Philippians 2:3-5 "(3) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (4) do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,"

 1 Timothy 6:3 "If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;  (6:4) he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,  (6:5) wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain."

For Christ,
Meema



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chasing Truth


(Matthew 24:36) But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.
I have met Christians with sharp minds but limited outlook who saw one truth and, being unable to relate it to other truths, became narrow extremists, devoutly cultivating their tiny plot, naively believing that their little fence enclosed the whole earth. An acquaintance with or at least a perception of the significance of what Kant called the starry heavens above and the moral law within is necessary to right thinking. Add to this a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, a good historic sense and some intimate contact with the Christian religion as it is practiced currently and you have the raw material for creative thought. Still this is not enough to make a thinker. 
                                                                                                                                   ~ A.W. Tozer
Here’s a sobering thought: if Christ doesn’t know the hour or the day, then neither does Satan, which is why Satan has been raising up beasts in every era, hoping it would be the last. In his psychopathic delusion, he still thinks he can win, and, at the very least, take as many with him as possible. Is this the last era? The signs are strong but even so we cannot know. All we are given is what Jesus said:

(Matthew 24:13) But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.  (24:14) And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come. 

This tells us two important things: first, we are called to endure to the end and, second, there is an end. Since we don’t know when that will be, we simply endure and find ways to encourage others to do the same. What else do we need to know, for sure, other than Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life, and died as the final sacrifice for sin, thus fulfilling the Mosaic covenant? Our call is to believe this and follow His commandments. There is no other doctrine that can possibly trump, improve or add to this.

I am not good at apologetics or debate. It’s not my thing. I am neither appointed nor anointed to preach or teach or try to convince anyone of anything. I have my gifts and I know where my place is in the Body of Christ and I have no desire to step outside of that. I do love to discuss and share though, particularly with someone who has insight and is not dogmatically inclined to bring me around to “corrected” thinking. I see the Truth (with a capital T) as small glimmering threads woven tightly among dull strings of misinterpretations, agenda-based skewed perceptions and outright lies introduced by Satan to lead astray.
Two years ago I set out on a quest for Truth. As I have read specific blocks of Scripture multiple times (try reading Revelation all in one sitting) and then researched Biblical history, first through records and then through other's interpretations, I found that every accounting had some or part of a truth, like pieces of a puzzle, but no one seemed to have all of the pieces to complete the picture.  Secular accounts do not have the spiritual side and religious accounts often ignore the historical events in order to make doctrine fit Scripture. However, I did discover that Scripture aligns with history more often than dogma does.

How did I recognize this? One might ask who I am to determine what is true and what isn’t? I am no trained Biblical scholar. In every case, as I read and studied a particular point of view, even though it might ring true in part,  more often than not I usually found a specific prejudice and perspective skewed by traceable doctrine-based eschatology. Sometimes I found profound and stunning rationale for disputing long-held dogma even as the same reasoning was abandoned when the interpreter was stuck on a Scripture that counters individual interpretation. In several cases I have found interpretations that fluxed back and forth between deep understanding and liberal interpretation (Spirit of the Word) of some Scriptures to rigid, legalistic (Letter of the Word) adherence to others as it better suited and fit an individual’s ingrained bias.

I am most certainly trained and hyper-sensitive to the persuasive art form of language, both secular and religious, written and spoken.  No denying it, we all have some kind of bias; we all must deal with the limitations of our own flesh. Ultimately, we have to trust that God knows what He is doing and can and does use us, warts and all, as He sees fit. What I have concluded is that many people know some good things, some know many good things and the radiant threads of truth are often there though dimmed by being interwoven with the dull threads of personal perspective skewed by self-determination. 

I have said many times that I believe what we need is the original thing not a “new” thing; the unadulterated simple Truth. The Truth that requires us to listen, obey and trust. The Truth that asks us to set aside “self” and fall into His will. If we could just grasp that, if we could finally understand that faith truly is trusting that which we cannot see, we would not only be better equipped to handle our daily tribulations, we could also allow Christ to shine out of us to others. 

Here’s where I am at in my quest for Truth on the matter of the End Days: if Satan doesn’t know when the end will be, why would he wait to begin his campaign to destroy God’s own sometime in the distant future? My conclusion is that he’s been at it since the beginning, (Revelation12:17) And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus  raising up Beasts with great delusional anticipation that the Beast of that era will be the last.  

From this I can draw a conclusion that what we have been taught to believe about “End  Of Days Theology” is more than likely a tangled mess of pure truth, half-truth, sort-kinda truth and out and out lies. If the prophets of the old testament were mostly preparing God’s people for the end of the old covenant and beginning of the new, is the book of Revelation a summary of that beginning and map through the coming ages that launched when Christ fulfilled and finished the era of the Mosaic Covenant? 

I agree with the concept of types and shadows in prophecy but it makes perfect sense to me that the Apostles were speaking to those directly in front of them about what was about to befall them in their generation. Having said that, I also believe that it is as myopic to say that all of the book of Revelation is yet to come as it is to say, as some do, that it is history. 

There is an absolute Truth buried somewhere in the jumble of dogmatic perception. 

That’s what I am chasing. 

For Christ,
Meema



Friday, September 14, 2012

Tribulation


(Revelation 7:13-14)  13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they?  14 And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


Who are those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb? The uncomplicated answer is: they are those who trust Jesus in spite of trials, persecution and tribulation. Note the emphasis is on the blood of the Lamb, that cleansed them, not tribulation.
                                                    
                                                                                                  + + +

I woke up in the middle of the night recently, burdened to pray for the faithful who are being persecuted for their faith right now, in this very moment. Lord, give them peace beyond understanding. There are tens of thousands of believers in third world countries who are imprisoned or being slaughtered even as they gather to worship. Even now, in America, being Christian is rapidly becoming open for scorn and mockery. How long before it will actually be dangerous to profess Jesus as Savior here? Did you ever think you’d live to see the day in America when just gathering to have Bible study in your own home would be against the law? But this is happening more and more, and it portends to get worse.

Today there are an estimated 70,000 proclaimed Christians in concentration camps in just North Korea alone, who are starved and worked to death because they have refused to renounce Christ and bow down to and worship the dictator. If these are not counted worthy to be raptured “before” tribulation, then I don’t know who could be. Certainly not soft American Christians who have homes, food and luxurious multimillion dollar mega churches to sit in comfy seats every Sunday, singing passionately, tears streaming down, hands raised, earnestly devoted to the doctrine of being changed in a twinkling, (before it gets really bad, you know). 

Can you see the profound disparity in these two concurrent scenarios? How do you suppose God views this contrast between those currently suffering for their steadfast faith and those who believe they won’t have to? 

The world has seen and experienced ongoing tribulation as defined by war, famine, pestilence, plague, holocaust, natural disasters, and the rise and fall of ruling tyrants. The world has seen economic collapse and subsequent depression and the non-believers just dig in and blame and curse God for it all. They repent not. 

(Revelation 9:20) And the rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk:  (9:21) and they repented not of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. 

This seems to be the normal human condition since Adam’s fall from grace. It also seems to be a theme growing into a consensus of the majority nowadays, alternately denying the existence of the Sovereign Creator, and cursing and blaming Him for all the tribulations that mankind suffers.  Here’s the non-believer’s logic: God does not exist. And if He did, He would be “good” and not vengeful because that is not good. Love is good. God is love, therefore God is good. If He existed. Which He doesn’t.

Say what?

Perhaps we simply need to redefine the term Tribulation (with a capital T). It isn’t Christians persecuted for refusing to deny Christ, it’s... wait...let me think... 

No, sorry, I can’t think of another definition as it applies to the faithful who follow Christ and obey His commandments. Christ is the point, after all, and therefore He is in the very center of anything to do with what happens to Christians, and, indeed, the rest of the world. Christ said that we would be persecuted for His name’s sake. He did not include the caveat “except for those in the end days who can’t imagine being tried and tested so they don’t have to.”

What I have been burdened to warn people about is not that we buy into pleasant bits of leaven, “God-is-love-therefore-everyone-gets-saved-in-the-end” and/or “the elect won’t have to stand up for Christ and be persecuted because they’ll get to watch the horrors from a safe cloud”. We are reaching the point of no return. God can and does harden hearts; He has done it before. I never fully understood the concept of the end of Grace until now. The end of grace is when we are left to our self-centered delusions and the door is shut in our faces for them. 

(2 Timothy 2:12) if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;

We are mandated to practice abiding faith, even in the face of tribulation. Today, we are on the brink of the greatest test of our faith since the millions of Christians of the past who remained steadfast in spite of unthinkable tribulation, who were overcomers right up to the torturous end of their earthly lives. But many today believe that was then this is now. Tell that to the Christians slaughtered in their church in Nigeria on August 7, 2012. Say that to the survivors of the 300 who were slain in church in May, 2012. Perhaps the Christians in Nigeria, China, Russia and North Korea and multiple other places around the world don’t count?

For those with ears to hear and eyes to see: A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Once the leaven has done its job, though, the loaf is shaped and ready to be baked, sliced, slathered with butter and served up. What shape would you prefer to be in, that which is pleasing to Christ, standing in faith in spite of tribulation, or that which disappoints and grieves Him, steadfast to a doctrine, or a religious formula? 

Hint: This is not the era to be grieving God.

(Jude 1:5-7) I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
For Christ,
Meema


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paradox


(Corinthians 10:3-5) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh  (10:4) (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds),  (10:5) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;  


I am confused. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. At least not the kind of sense I am accustomed to expect from applying old-fashioned critical thinking. I am such an outdated relic now. 

For example:

We are admonished to embrace diversity, which means...
diversity
noun
a diversity of design styles: variety, miscellany, assortment, mixture, mix, mélange, range, array, multiplicity; variation, variance, diversification, heterogeneity, difference, contrast. ANTONYMS uniformity.

And tolerance is another virtuous attribute much touted by impassioned spokes mouths which means...
tolerance
noun
an attitude of tolerance toward other people: acceptance, toleration; open-mindedness, broad-mindedness, forbearance, liberality, liberalism; patience, charity, indulgence, understanding.

Apparently terms like diversity and tolerance have been artfully highjacked and redefined in this new, enlightened age. One is considered to be tolerant and embrace diversity so long as one is plugged into the new stream of consciousness. Live and let live is the age old axiom that all school children in the 20th century were encouraged to adopt. It covered essentially everything fairly well for many decades. If one followed the basic principle of live and let live, one would accept that in general people rarely agree on everything and therefore civilized humans  were allowed to have their opinions and knowing how to keep them reigned in was part of the knowledge of what it meant to be civil.

Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me is another old saw that children of fifty years ago chanted back when someone made a disparaging remark. Sending the message that one was too tough to be hurt by mere words spoken was usually enough to create a stalemate if not completely end a conflict. Today, because out of control hypersensitivity changes the rules hourly, it seems that almost any word one might speak aloud could fall under the updated definitions of diversity and tolerance and might even possibly be cause for arrest as a hate crime. Further, even thinking a word that is now deemed offensive by someone else might be dangerous. The Thought Police is no longer a fictional entity. One must not even appear to be thinking offensive thoughts.

My how times have changed. It’s hard to keep up. In spite of those who continue to wield words like weapons to impose self-righteous rules on the masses, diversity and tolerance still really mean what they used to mean with one new exception: they apply to any concept, belief or life-style that counters the now archaic value systems long upheld by Judeo/Christian precepts. 

So the new definitions of diversity and tolerance should now read as follows:
diversity
noun
a diversity of life style: including variety, miscellany, assortment, mixture, mix, mélange, range, array, multiplicity; variation, variance, diversification, heterogeneity, difference, contrast, except anything that suggests a Christian viewpoint which must not be tolerated. Rioting, ranting, hate-speech and death threats are acceptable as counter measures to anyone who opposes the new definition.  ANTONYMS uniformity.

tolerance
noun
an attitude of tolerance toward other people: acceptance, toleration; open-mindedness, broad-mindedness, forbearance, liberality, liberalism; patience, charity, indulgence, understanding. Tolerance, in its purest form, is allowed for all religious or non-religious belief systems, except Christianity and Judaism, even if another religion openly demonstrates blatant intolerance for any diversity of life style or human rights, especially those of women, homosexuals, or anyone labeled as an infidel, a.k.a., non-believer.

It is a paradox.

paradox
noun
the paradox of war is that you have to kill people in order to stop people from killing each other: contradiction, contradiction in terms, self-contradiction, inconsistency, incongruity; oxymoron; conflict, anomaly; enigma, puzzle, mystery, conundrum.

For Christ,
Meema


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Like Peter


(John 21:15) So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  (21:16) He saith to him again a second time, Simon, [son] of John, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Tend my sheep.  (21:17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  (21:18) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  (21:19) Now this he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.  (21:20) Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned back on his breast at the supper, and said, Lord, who is he that betrayeth thee?  (21:21) Peter therefore seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?  (21:22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? Follow thou me.  (21:23) This saying therefore went forth among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, that he should not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? 

Peter was chosen to be the “rock” upon which was built Christ’s Church, not because he was the most perfect of the disciples but possibly because he was the least perfect (not counting Judas Iscariot). Peter was iconic in that he demonstrated a broad range of base human traits that are so common in all of useven today. He becomes a mirror for us. We can look at Peter and see ourselves. In spite of his proclamation of undying loyalty he was a coward who denied Christ three times–he tried to walk on water like Christ but he lost faith and immediately began to sink. He over-estimated his strength, nor could he even keep awake for his Master's sake in Gethsemane. 

In the last chapters of John, Christ asks Peter three times, do you love me? When Peter replies the first time, his tone is sincere and loving, but as Christ asks him again and again, Peter becomes annoyed. All Christ wanted was for him to respond to the command to “feed my sheep” and Peter still doesn’t seem to get it, so Christ must tell him three times in all. How many times does God call to us to do something and we block it because we would rather reside inside the cozy comfort of our spirituality rather than step up to the hard task given to us? It is so much easier to say that we love Christ because that feels so good but like Peter, we don’t want it to require anything of us.

In the last several verses of John 21, we see that Jesus is preparing Peter for his future and eventual death at the hands of non-believers. In a classic response of petulant self-interest, Peter turns around and sees John and asks Jesus, so, what about him? What’s he going to do? What’s going to happen to him?  Like a father responding to a child who wants to know why his brother isn’t getting the same bad deal, Christ tells Peter, “What difference does it make to you what happens to John? YOU follow ME!”  And in an even more classic human misinterpretation, the rumor then gets passed around that Christ said John would not die. John sets this straight in verse 23 but more importantly, in this Scripture, we get a snapshot of Peter’s base humanity and thus our own.

Why would Christ pick such an imperfect disciple to build His church on? Perhaps it was so that, through Peter’s example, we could see how flawed we are also and be encouraged that, just like Peter, God loves and uses us anyway. But even better, Christ also gives us an opportunity, a way to change so that we can be freed from the worst of our failings, those strongholds of the flesh that restrain and thwart our spiritual growth and keep us at arm’s length from the knowledge that passeth all understanding.  Christ offers us this opportunity and even paid the high cost of this way to true sanctification in two words, “Follow Me.”

And though we are most definitely imperfect, what is even worse, we are lazy and often determined to hang onto our old man, even as we seek diligently to be new in Christ. Frankly, we want both. We want to be all new without giving up anything. Certainly that which we know well is easier to cling to than stepping out into the great unknown, letting go of those things that are so ingrained in us. So, we allow Satan to convince us that we can’t really change anyway. We are who we are, we are who we were raised to be. We can’t give up those things that have been so much a part of our makeup. Those things our imperfect human parents instilled in us and those things we have gathered up on our own along the way as we are exposed to other flawed humans who have influenced us. 

Pettiness, jealousy, mean-spiritedness, impatience, grudge-bearing, lack of compassion, lack of forgiveness, self pity, these things and more all spring from the same raw source which is love of SELF. We love and trust ourselves first, our own intellect, we lean on our own understanding and then we think, if we analyze enough, we can figure out God and get into His good grace and reap the rewards of salvation just because we are thinking and wondering about Him. We say the word “God” a lot, we pray and believe we are on the road to wisdom, we learn and use the language of religion, which might, by the way, give us a leg up in the world, imbuing us with “special” skills–like a magician with mystical powers. 

But this is the dangerous, dead end path of fools (and apostate religion) because Christ is quite specific and simply says, “Follow Me.”  It’s not a command; it’s an invitation to a narrow path that leads away from worldliness and self. Many who hear and initially accept this call, have no idea at first what this really means. It sounds like a good idea and initially has the ring of relief from the world’s troubles in it. But to pick up one’s cross and follow Christ requires a conviction of sin. We have to see our own flaws, just as we quickly see Peter’s. Thus we cannot really follow Christ until we feel the sting of conviction and humiliation for the reprobates we have allowed ourselves to be. 

Scripture tells us we can’t put new wine into an old bottle. Similarly, you can’t ask the Holy Spirit to come into your temple until you have done some house cleaning first. Where would you put Him? Could He stand over in the corner behind old resentments? Maybe He could find a small spot next to vengeful thoughts or vain imaginings (translated as being offended at things fabricated in your own mind). Is it absurd to suppose The Holy Spirit wouldn’t object to sharing space with remnants of ingratitude, pridefulness, haughtiness, lust, greed, avarice, anger, vanity, self-will, self-love, and love of worldliness?

But when (or if) you do finally hit the ground upon being faced with your true wretched self and accept that indeed you cannot change yourself, but that Christ can, you then are prepared to reach that level of humility that is required to ask for the forgiveness He offers. This is the moment when the old man dies and the new man, in Christ, is born. It is death and rebirth at the same time. Oswald Chambers refers to this as “attending the white funeral.”  There is no way out of attending your white funeral if you want to follow Christ.  But when you do, that’s when an interesting thing happens. Christ attends this funeral and comforts you.  

(John 14:13) And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  (14:14) If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do.  (14:15) If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.  (14:16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever,  (14:17) [even] the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.  (14:18) I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.

And thus we are born again to be raised up and educated by a new flawless parent – Who fills our freshly cleansed space with His glory and then guides us with His perfect wisdom. We become truly new in all ways, with new vision, new priorities, new behavior, because… (Galatians 2:20) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that [life] which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, [the faith] which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.

Finally as we grow up in Christ we realize we live, no longer for ourselves, but for Him. And as we live for Him, instead of for self, we find that as blessings flow to us, we offer them back to Him by paying them forward so that His perfect will is done, not just for us, but through us. 

For Christ,
Meema