Tuesday, August 26, 2014


What rules, precepts, laws, commandments are we to follow?

John 14:15, " If ye love me, keep my commandments"

I ask what commandments did Christ mean in this verse?

The question was posed in the comments following a post in Michael Boldea's blog. Knowing that my answer would not be embraced with a big ‘AMEN!’ and that it would be too long for a short answer, I choose to respond here, where no one will see it. There’s two ways to look at this, either I just prefer to avoid contention or I am a coward. Maybe both. 

For me, the issue is not that Christ was referring to specific commandments we must follow to be holy in John 14:15, but that we do not give the Holy Spirit enough credit for being able to speak God’s living commandments into our hearts. We think we must have a written list of do’s and don’ts and that we have to know these rules in our heads in order to be holy. But Christ’s commandments are not a static list subject to the understanding of our great intellect. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit indwelling within us, individually, prompts us to live automatically as He commands, minute to minute. It is an organic, living law that quickens us to discern and act on fundamental right and wrong, regardless the push back we might receive from the world–or other Christians.
There is no Biblical reference to abortion but we automatically understand it is wrong because we have “thou shalt not murder” embedded in our spirit. But it isn’t the commandment that tells us what to do or not do, it is the Holy Spirit interpreting for us how to apply the commandment when there is no Scripture to reference. No Scriptural reference to doing drugs? The Holy Spirit will tell you how God feels about that. How about divorce? Manmade law says you can’t. What if your husband beats the tar out of you every night? Legalism says you have to stay and take it until you die only and unless he has been unfaithful and if you divorce him you can’t remarry because, well, it’s the Law of God! How does Christ feel about it though? I know it's a slippery slope to start assuming Christ can direct each individual according to His will for that individual so hard rules must be enforced. Right? All those pesky exemptions start adding up and the holier-than-thou crowd raise a collective ugly head to start proclaiming and judging. 
What was that Scripture about not judging lest you be judged? Oh, let’s not go there! It gets all sticky and causes other Scriptures to be tossed back and soon it’s a mud slinging fight. 
In the same vein, when Christ commands us we know when to speak and when to be silent. That’s not one of the big Ten but it is something we should listen for and obey. We don’t go to church on Sunday and cheat our customers on Monday either. That’s another embedded commandment “thou shalt not steal” but in the modern world mild dishonesty in business gets redefined as just best practice. Everyone does it, even ‘good’ Christians. But when Christ is truly within us, He causes us to discern what is right and wrong, regardless what is normal behavior of the world and our spirits are quickened by the greater moral standards He requires us to obey.
In short, Christ’s commandments that we are to obey can be anything that the Holy Spirit reveals to us as do or don’t, in the here and now, customized to us as individuals in the Body. It is a Way of being His will not just striving and working up a sweat looking as though we are doing His will because we have the check list. The only way to determine if one is Christ directed or not is the fruit. Obedience bears good fruit. It is visible and quantifiable. 
The spiritually surrendered are also spiritually mature and willing to hand over the reigns to the Holy Spirit who guides us through the often confusing maze of modern life and deters us away from lazy acquiescence to man-made doctrine that seeks to conform us to man’s view of what holy means. 
Christ’s yoke is light, He told us. That means we don’t have to work at being holy, we have to let go and allow Him to be holy within us. We are only vessels. All we choose is whether to be vessels of honor or dishonor. We can fill ourselves with good intentions, good works and self-righteous interpretation of what being holy means or simply allow Him to fill us in the way we are most useful to glorify Him.
For Him,

Monday, August 11, 2014


(Philippians 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

All things to do with creativity, especially music, has always been inspirational to me. I have dabbled in nearly every art form at one time or another. Learning to play guitar was a source of great joy for me before Arthur Itis came to visit and took up residence in my hands. I’ve never been attracted to rock and roll, though, not even as a teen (when rock and roll was invented), so I am equally not attracted to the more raucous Christian music which, to me, is merely rock and roll with Christian lyrics. But I have always walked a solitary path and have never expected that anyone else like or see things the same way I do–and, not surprisingly I rarely find any who do.

I have often thought of God as not just the Great Creator but the original author of creativity. Just look around at the naturally created wonders we live among. Humans are beautifully, mysteriously made, as well, each with commonalities and individual differences, each of us like one-of-a-kind art. God imagined His Creation and then spoke it into being. Even the laws of science are His creation. For every action there is reaction, for every positive there is negative; God designed it thus for His own good purpose. 

Paint on canvas can represent uplifting images or the basest of humankind’s dark side. Film or pixels capture and reproduce photos and movies representing either good or evil. Words can be combined on paper or spoken that either lift us up or debase us, that inspire us to strive to be better, to learn and grow, or seduce us into self-destructive bondage. 

And so it is with all mediums but especially musical notes because music is able to tap into our deepest wells of being.

I am intuitively aware, however, at how easy it is for Satan to use our natural attraction to and desire to create things against us because the downside to creativity is that its underlying OS is passion, which is the most unstable, least reliable human emotion, and therefore our weakest point of entry.

But it isn’t the tool or the software that keeps God’s children at odds with His perfect will but how we choose to use unbridled passion for self expression. God made us in His image, including the propensity for innovation and creativity and He gave us free will to employ it productively or destructively. How we choose seems to be dependent on our spiritual maturity. There seems to be a place inside our unconscious human experience that is somewhat bent toward addictions, like children craving candy. In these shadows is where obsessions and idolatry lurk, waiting for any opportunity to leap out and take control. Only maturing in the spirit can recognize and thus muster the strength necessary to overcome this inherent weakness and therefore subdue, refine and master passion in order to create those things we were admonished to fill our thoughts with. 

We are unique combinations of strengths and weaknesses but we resist understanding and accepting this real condition because we continue to expect that God has issued a one-size-fits-all manual to sanctification.  This failure to allow for God’s infinite creative variety is why we strain to co-exist, and why we struggle and fail to devise the perfect vehicle of religion that will accommodate us all on our journey to God. 

For Him,

Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Spiritual Misfit

I read a little book yesterday titled Spiritual Misfit - A Memoir of Uneasy Faith by Michelle DeRusha. It wasn’t what I expected, though I’m not even sure what, if anything, I did expect. Perhaps I thought I’d find words of solace for my spiritual misfitness. Unlike my faith that keeps me at arms length from most people, it was her digging out from under complete lack of faith while living in an openly Christian-based community in Nebraska that made her a misfit. But it was a good read. Eloquent, often funny, and oh so honest. Would that the rest of us who call ourselves Christians would or could be so forthright. 

Raised Catholic in every sense of the word, and once she had gone off to college and then married and moved far away from her family and roots, she had no concept of who or what God is, and managed to hide her doubt that God even existed at all.  She attended church with her husband but could not relate to or connect with the concept of God or Jesus so she was able to disguise herself as a ‘good’ Christian all the while being uncomfortable in church and doubting the very doctrine that is the foundation for Christianity. 

After years of searching, trying and failing and trying again, the author found her right place, not because she was entitled to it, but because she was willing to ask questions without having a pre-fabricated answer readily available to fill in the silent space before the answer could gently show up.

One quote, in particular, was quite good.

In Mere Christianity C.S.Lewis argued that while it is nearly impossible to hand over our whole selves to Jesus, it’s easier than the alternative, which is “to remain what we call ‘ourselves’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’.” These two disparate pursuits do not balance, Lewis claimed, no matter how much we desire both of them. We cannot simultaneously strive for both personal happiness and God; we cannot pursue our own needs and God at the same time. The solution, Lewis stated, is to let that ‘other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in... . Standing back from all your normal fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”

I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with internal conflict over who is God, what is faith, (real faith), and how do you go from non-believer to understander.

This book was in direct contrast to another small book I read this week titled Simplify Your Emotions: Steps to Happiness by Dr. Guy Jordan. In Spiritual Misfit the lesson to be learned is that we cannot make ourselves happy (or perfect) no matter what the cause of our unhappiness. Contentment and happiness comes not from the deep well of SELF help but the outside Source Who loves us in spite of our flaws. The One Who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be made partakers in the joy, not questers for some sort of fleshly happiness. 

The first book is an expose, a disclosure of what the ugly side of selfish looks like. The second book is a feel-good list of steps to finding out how to make up our own artificial, shallow, short-term happiness, if we could just try hard enough.

Man is born broken.
He lives by mending.
The grace of God is the glue.
                ~ Eugene O’Neill

For HIm,