Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

The Boy and his God January 6, 2014

[written on 1514]

2 Kings 19:32 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.
34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

The thing that moved me so profoundly about that last line was the fact that this was spoken to Hezekiah, king of Judah, 300 years after David’s death.  What was it about this one man David that would cause the almighty creator of the universe to honor him as such that hundreds of years later He continually mentioned him by name and continued to bless his descendants on his behalf?  How was David different than everyone else in Judah’s history?  David was by no means faultless, having committed adultery with Bathsheba and then killing her husband to cover it up.  And even later in his life–a life filled with polygamy and violence (the latter keeping God from allowing him to build a temple for Him)–David’s arrogance caused 70,000 Israelites to be slain.  Yet throughout the books of the Kings God refers over and over to David as His servant, a man after His own heart, and “perfect in heart.”  What was it about David that was so great that it overshadowed all the evil he had done and then put him on a pedestal for everyone to model after?

It all goes back to why David became king in the first place.  Unlike all the kings after him, he was not from the royal line–becoming a king simply because he was born into it. There was no royal line yet.

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

Saul was a tall, handsome, respectable man and fit the image of “The King of Israel” more than anyone else, but his heart wasn’t perfect.  Now God looked throughout all of Israel to find one whose heart was perfect, though he might not fit the image of “The King of Israel”.

So God sent His prophet Samuel to “Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

1 Samuel 16:6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

It turned out that of everyone in Israel the LORD could have chosen, He single-handedly selected the youngest and least likely of Jesse’s sons to be king.  Instead of a tall, noble, robust man like Saul He chose a young, humble boy who was merely in charge of looking after his father’s sheep while his older brothers prepared for war.

Here was a young boy, alone with his sheep each day, amazed by the majesty of God in nature, and singing and playing songs to praise God.  Through the years he came to know and love God intimately, and was unashamed of his love for God, singing it at the top of his lungs for all to hear.  It was in those fields that God established his faith, delivering him from the wild beasts that preyed on his sheep, showing him who his shepherd was.  Of everyone in Israel, the LORD had a special, intimate relationship with this boy, and He knew this was one who had the makings of the perfect king.  A king who would be unashamed of his love for God, dancing for Him in the streets for all to see, yet worshiping alone in the house of the LORD.  A king who loved reading and meditating and proclaiming the word of the LORD — not just the exciting stories in the Bible, but also its rules and decrees (he actually sang songs about the Law and how wonderful God’s decrees were!).  A king who would trust in God for protection and success, not in armies to kill giants.  A king who would follow the Law of the LORD with all of his heart, not even willing to defend himself against his enemy, Saul, because God had anointed Saul as king.  And so the LORD gave all the kingdom of Israel to the shepherd boy David overnight through Samuel’s anointing.

Oh that I could live a life like David, and make such a mark on God’s heart that hundreds of years later God would still refer to me by name and bless people for my sake, even though I’m dead!

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I think about 1 Kings 18:20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

In all of Israel there was only 1 prophet of the LORD?  And of all Israel gathered there, not one person would say they followed the LORD?!  It’s sobering to realize that based on the way I sometimes dance around the subject of God in public, I myself would probably fare no better than the Israelites here if put to an intimidating test like this.  And I can’t help but wonder if when 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him, if the LORD’s eyes would stop on me, and say, “Now, here’s a man after my own heart.”  When the standard of men like that is set to Elijah and David, I know I don’t make the cut, and that grieves me.

What changes do we need to make in our lives to be men and women whom the eyes of the LORD will not pass over?  What is stopping us from living reckless, kamikaze lives of faith like David–going up against a giant with only a slingshot and boasting about it to him?

And what would happen if we did risk everything by trusting in God completely (risking our reputations, our personal desires, our control)? Something like this:

After a series of evil and mediocre kings in Judah, all of the sudden came along 25 year old Hezekiah, of whom 2 Kings 18 says, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.”  What a stir would that cause (actually living like David did) in a country where immorality and “tolerance” had become the norm of society?  Imagine a president showing up all of the sudden and reforming all of our laws to be more strict morally, and less tolerant of religions besides our country’s founding religion, and outlawing everything that goes against the Constitution and the original intentions of our Forefathers?  That would take some serious guts.  Hezekiah did what he knew God wanted him to do regardless of what everyone else thought; he was unflinchingly courageous in his faith and love of God.  So what became of a man that lived like that?

2 Chronicles 30: 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 32: 29 Moreover [the LORD] provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.
30 And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.

And when he was confronted with war he never even had to lift a sword, for indeed the battle was very real, and against the strongest of enemies, but The Lord Himself fought for Hezekiah (as referenced in the scripture at the beginning of this post).  Oh that I could be a Hezekiah who when presented with the worst letter imaginable (a letter from the Hitler of the day saying he’s coming for you next!), takes the bad news and, before doing anything else or consulting anyone, brings it into the house of The LORD to lay it before Him and ask for His help.  Outrageous faith and devotion to God is accompanied by outrageous blessings of God.  Whereas in the past God would bless the kings in battle by allowing them to defeat their enemies through their own swords, for Hezekiah God sent out an angel to destroy the Assyrian army, while he and everyone stayed safely inside Judah [See 2 Chronicles 20 for a similar story with righteous king Jehoshaphat]. And even on his death bed, when he cried out to God to remember how he had served Him wholeheartedly, God heard his prayer and gave him 15 extra years of life.  Oh that we would live likewise and give God a reason to do amazing supernatural things!

So how can I become like that shepherd boy that God blessed so much?  I believe that years before Samuel anointed David as king, David’s heart was open and surrendered to God, and so through the years God gave David more opportunities for his love and trust to grow.  Until finally David was “perfect in heart” and then, being ready, God raised him up to do amazing things he would have never guessed.  David didn’t love God so that he could one day be king, he loved God because God is more worthy of our love than anything else, and he would have been content to live the rest of his life in those fields with God, his treasure, the most important thing in life.  What more of a blessing could David have been given than a life in the wilderness, with great amounts of time to spend with his loving God?  Certainly not armies and kingdoms and women and riches.

I have to love the LORD my God with all my heart and mind and strength.  Of course that can only be done by the grace of God, so I have to ask for the grace of God — for God to open my heart and mind that I can love Him as David did.  It’s really not as intimidating as it sounds; it’s actually so simple.  God’s not asking us to drain our energy and finances in service to Him, or even to make the biggest impact possible.  God’s just asking us to love Him right now, as much as possible.  That’s it.  Then, to keep loving Him as much as possible in the next moment and the next.  As long as it is right now.  And in that love, God will show His love for us more clearly and give us experiences to grow our relationship and trust until we love Him intimately and publicly without embarrassment, and trust Him unrealistically.  And when our hearts get to the point of being perfect God will zap us wherever He wants us to be, even if it makes as much worldly sense as a shepherd boy being anointed as king overnight.

So for me personally, am I willing to give up everything that makes sense to simply love God with all my heart?  Am I willing to give up my ministry and my giftings and callings and all the ways I think I can make the biggest impact with my life to be seen as a fool for God?  Or am I hiding behind my so-called ministry, so I have an excuse not to do something embarrassing?  Am I really willing to dance before the LORD with all my might in public and worship Him intimately in the lonely wilderness?  Willing to do embarrassing, corny, cliche things like talk about how much I love Him around people that don’t even believe in God?  Maybe God won’t call you to do that, but would you be willing to if He wanted you to?  If for no other reason than He just felt like asking you to do it, and He is worthy of it?  I’ll do it.  Whatever You want.  Not because it makes sense, but because I love You and care about You.  Here am I, Your servant, Your instrument; send me.  I know that whatever You want me to do, You will enable me to do it.

***********

Why don’t we believe that if we love and trust God with all our heart that everything will be alright, and indeed better than just alright? What’s the worst that can happen?  We experience pain.  And then it’s over.  Are you okay with something bad happening to you?

And while you should never even entertain this thought, just for a moment let’s entertain it:  What would actually happen to you if you took a risk and trusted God despite the circumstances?  What if you choose to trust God despite the circumstances and he doesn’t come through like you want?  Well, really, what’s so bad about that?  What if you go down in history as the person whose life fell apart and he died, but he trusted God until the very end?  Isn’t it true that we will never see all the things God is doing before we die?   Why not trust God regardless of how things turn out, if for nothing more than being obedient to God who has commanded us to trust in Him?

Daniel 3:16-18: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, …Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

As Oswald Chambers put it:
“Our Lord has a right to expect that those who claim to be his should have an understanding confidence in him. But too often our trust is in God up to a certain point; then we go back to the panic prayers of those who do not know God.  We get to our wits’ end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in him and his government of the world. He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.  ‘O you of little faith!’ What a pang must have shot through the disciples. And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced downright joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.”

And as the LORD Himself put it in Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

God is pleased so much by our ACT of faith, our CHOICE to obey Him by believing, regardless of the circumstances, regardless if they measure up to the world’s standard of being realistic.  The supernatural by definition isn’t natural, therefore it’s unrealistic, thus God is unrealistic.  And hallelujah that He is unrealistic!!!  Because that means He does unrealistic things like coming through for us in our times of need.  Is it realistic that the almighty, infinite Creator of our world would choose to become a helpless baby, born in a stable, raised in the ghetto, later become homeless, and finally tortured and killed as a criminal?  No, we serve an interesting, unique, mysterious God, who isn’t the kind of God we would make up if we tried.  We serve a God who would rather dwell in a tent than a golden palace.  He has his own personality.  And why would you want anything different? Not only do I love You, God.  I like You.  I like who You are and the way You do things.  You are an amazing, cool God.

And when we love Him and have great faith in Him he likes it.  He really likes it.  A lot.  You know how I know?  Because in the Bible His favorite people, who He blessed the most, were those who had a genuine, loving, unashamed, trusting relationship with Him.  God wants us to rejoice in Him, to be excited about Him, to let Him be part of everything we do.  So that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do we give glory to God (just as he commanded us to have feasts in the Old Testament to be glad and celebrate Him!).  He wants us to sing praises to Him, and chant His name.  Applaud Him and do fist pumps in the air with pride, saying, “They’re no match for my God.  My God can do anything!”

I know this is true personally.  Since having this revelation and living life like David lived it day by day, all of the sudden God has come out of the woodwork: putting the right people into my path at the right time, giving this shy introvert an unabashed passion to worship him publicly with tears (not caring what anyone else thinks), hope and peace in the midst of dark circumstances (valleys of the shadow of death) where normally I’d feel afraid and doomed, and an authentic desire to seek out opportunities to proclaim my loving relationship with God to friends and neighbors and anyone God gives me the opportunity to.

We only live once.  Why not go all out, taking risks to serve God with all our hearts, even if we die?  Live the kind of life that would make someone name their child after you.

After we’re all long gone, only the best of us, even the kings, will get only a sentence in a history book.  I want mine to say: And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

*The musical soundtrack and audio reading of this essay can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/thesecretofdavid

 

The Great Commission hinders The Great Commission? October 2, 2013

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 10:12 pm
Tags: , ,

Right now I’m sitting in a gazebo in a garden mausoleum with pink roses outside to my right as it rains. I’m also getting bitten by a mosquito at the moment, sucking my blood in the midst of the dead people who have no more blood.  Sucking the life out of me in the land of the lifeless.  There’s something profound about all of this, but I can’t pinpoint the significance.

 

There’ve been a lot of family deaths lately but I don’t really care. Because families are awkward.   I put awkwardness above family. I give awkwardness and comfort more priority than my own family, my own flesh and blood.

 

Why am I anxious around my family? Because something inside of me feels guilty and sad and fearful that they do not know Jesus and have a relationship with him and thus are not going to heaven. So to escape from the subconscious pain and the awkwardness of my responsibility to share that with them I just avoid them or make awkward small talk. I can’t just enjoy being with them as family or truly, genuinely want to spend time with them for who they are and love them, because this important, spiritual obligation trumps family and love, so it seems to get in the way.  I’d rather just forget about my family and in so doing forget about my responsibility to them.

 

How interesting it is to remember the week that I essentially renounced Christianity and how that instantly broke down the barriers between me and other people because there wasn’t this looming, overshadowing feeling of guilt and responsibility. And I was more likely to hang out with people just because they were people and I wanted to hang out. I would show them love simply for the sake of love with no ulterior motives and no agenda. It didn’t matter to me then what people do with their lives because there was no overarching Law to follow, no worldview they needed to understand.  So instantly I was in the same boat as they were. No better than them, them no better than me. We were just people.

 

So what is it now — now that I’m a Christian again, now that I once again feel awkward around family and friends and strangers — that is keeping me from spending time with people, and just being people with people, and showing them love?

 

It is because I am a Pharisee. I love the rules and I like everyone following the same rules. It makes everything structured and comfortable, and if they are following the rules then I don’t have to worry about them and I don’t feel a responsibility to help them or better them.  [Of course I forget that “rule-breakers” in my eyes are just breaking different rules than the ones I’m breaking.]

 

So what is better? To spend quality time with my family if it means forsaking the Great Commission, or taking the Great Commission with me to family gatherings (making them awkward and tense) fixing a wedge between my psyche and my family?

 

Wouldn’t it be better for me to spend time with people simply for the sake of spending time with them, and loving them, not to influence them towards Christ, but simply to love them?  Love my fellow human beings simply because they are my fellow human beings, my fellow souls, on this planet with me trying to figure out eternity.  Together in the here and now, in the physical, inevitably moving towards death and the unknown together.

 

God is love, so maybe when they feel love they will feel God, who is Christ, and he will reveal to them the face of love.  And maybe he will use me to reveal it. One thing’s for sure, soon enough we will all be dead — one by one — and there will no longer be anymore opportunities to love.

 

Cave of Lusts/Entrance to Paradise December 9, 2012

[written on 112812, with additions on 12812, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Revelation 7: 14b-17]

There is a cave that leads to Paradise.  7 men went in, hoping to come out on the other side.

One man, a coward, left the cave soon after entering, too paralyzed by his worries of the unknown to continue.

In the cave, the 6 found an abundance of the rarest mushroom delicacies in the world, and one man couldn’t help but start eating them.  Upon gorging himself, he grew an unnatural smile and sank to the floor, as the mushrooms had intoxicated him.  As the 5 moved through the cave they came to a wall with a small opening at the bottom.  If they were to continue they would be forced to crawl under it to get to the other side.  Unfortunately, the fat man was too dazed at that point to continue with them.  The group tried pulling him under the wall with them, but he just couldn’t fit and had to be left behind, though they doubted how much further he would have made it even if he could have fit.  But he told them he’d meet up with them in Paradise (though he acted like he was in paradise right now) after he slimmed down in size (as he popped another mushroom in).

Once the 5 all made it under the wall, they found themselves in a tunnel, with what sounded like flirtatious giggling echoing in the distance.  They followed the tunnel towards the noises and turned around a corner to find a band of extremely attractive, nude women.  The 5 moved awkwardly through their midst, trying to ignore eye contact.  But one man couldn’t help at least looking.  He caught eyes with one of them, and soon after was in conversation with her.  The tunnel opened up into a large cavern, but the lecher stayed behind, already being caressed by the women, saying that he would follow them shortly.

The 4 saw the flickering of light bouncing off the cave ceilings up ahead and entered into an elaborate treasure room.  After being amazed by the vast treasure, the group continued, coming to a small ledge that they had to climb over.  But one man shouted “Paradise indeed!” and, finding a treasure chest, filled it with as much gold as he could and planned to follow them out the other side.  However, the rich man could barely drag his heavy chest, and certainly couldn’t lift it over the wall.  They figured he’d figure out the futility of his plight and soon follow them.  He never did.

It looked like whoever had owned the treasure room also had an armor room.  The 3 stepped into a room lined with great, metal armor and powerful weapons.  They thought this would prepare them for whatever lay ahead in the other rooms, so they suited up and grabbed one big weapon each.  However, the only exit they could find was a small, dimly-lit hole towards the top of the far wall.  As they tried climbing the wall, they soon realized how difficult it was to climb with all of their heavy accessories.  2 men, giving up on trying to juggle the weapons in their hand while climbing, threw them to the ground and were able to climb much easier after that.  However, once they reached the hole, they couldn’t fit through with their armor and were forced to jettison it.  Meanwhile the strong man below was still struggling to even climb on the wall, not willing to give up his means of power.

The 2 fell with a crash down into another room, much lower than the previous one had been, and were bruised.  After a few minutes of recovering, they noticed a hole in the ground.  While light made their current room at least dimly visible, this hole below was pitch black.  As the one man sat on the edge preparing to climb down, the other man blasted him.  “What! Are you crazy?  You saw how far that last drop was, and that was through a dimly-lit hole.  This hole has no light at all!”  “Well, it’s our only shot of reaching Paradise.”  “Well, who really said this cave leads to Paradise in the first place?  I’m starting to think it was all made up.”  “Believe what you want; I’m going for it.”  “You fool!” said the smart man.  “It’s common science that if there’s no light then there’s no other exit down there! You’ll fall to your death or get stuck with no one to save you!  This was fun and all, but it’s time to go back.  Was the life we had so bad anyways?  Not even paradise is worth this.”
“Say what you will.  I’d rather die trying to get to Paradise than be stuck in the Hell we were in before.”

With that, the last man slipped into the black, bracing himself for whatever lay below.  In the darkness he hit a rock which rolled him into another rock which rolled him into another rock and there he lay, in the darkness, in the silence.  After coming to, and somewhat in pain from the fall, he balanced himself to his feet.  There was darkness all around him as he felt around the cavern room for anything.  He thought that maybe the 2nd man had been right.  Then his eye caught a tiny beam of light coming out of a small hole in the wall, only the size of a needle’s eye.  The light danced around with wild colors, and as he pressed his eye up to the hole he could see glimpses of Paradise on the other side — green pastures and still waters — accompanied by cheerful voices and laughter.  Prying himself away from the hole and its bliss, he began frantically feeling the wall for a door or some kind of exit, as if his separation from Paradise had set him on fire.  He felt nothing.  The room around the hole was completely bare, with no ledge or anything to climb on.  With fury did he pound his fists at the hole, trying to break it open to the other side.  Futile.  Finally, he dropped back into the darkness to his knees, helpless.  There in the dark silence he could hear weeping and gnashing of teeth from his former companions in the previous chambers above, held in bondage by their lusts.

Yet here was this righteous man, who forsook all those temptations in pursuit of God and still couldn’t make it.  He was no better off than they.  In his depravity, the self-righteous man cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Suddenly there was a crash, and the needle-sized hole broke open, filling the room with phantasmagoric light.  Another crash against the wall and the hole opened more.  Then, with a 3rd crash, a sheep from the pasture burst through the rock, bruised and bloody from the struggle, and collapsed, dead at his feet.

It would be the easiest door he’d gone through of the hole experience.  But it was even easier than that.  He didn’t even get the chance to step forward before he was escorted out by a shepherd from the other side.  He had seen the sheep rush over, hearing the man’s crying from within the cave.  But the shepherd was content to have this new man take its place in his flock, saying to him, “I will guide you to springs of the water of life: and God will wipe every tear from your eyes.”

Which part of the cave are you stuck in?

//

 

The Paralysis of Analysis November 29, 2012

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 12:26 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[Written on 112812- while on a spiritual high after seeing Shane Claiborne speak, and then having an extended time of devotion/meditation]

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” ~Heb 12:2

The Christian life is a race.  In a race you can’t think about how weak you feel, how tired you are, but you ignore those thoughts and just keep running.  Otherwise you start to dwell on them and then think how to soothe the pain: “just slow down a little, you can still win, or maybe you can go all out to win a later race.”  No, this is the only race we have to run.

Likewise, don’t even entertain negative/depressing/pessimistic thoughts, because once you allow them in, you inevitably start to dwell on them and then on how to soothe them, aside from God.  When in reality God is what you need to soothe them.  And He will soothe them if you give them to him.

Negative thoughts are never from God.  Why would he ever have reason to put a negative thought in your mind?  What good does it do?  Does it increase your faith?  Make you more in love with Him or others?  Make you more likely to share the gospel or serve?
No.  Never.  Negative thoughts are always from the enemy.

Some argue that they aren’t pessimistic, they’re just being realistic. “I’m a realist.”  But since when does God want us to be “realistic”?  Is the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives realistic?  Is the supernatural realistic?  No.  God has told us to hope beyond hope (Rom. 4:18).  Have hope even when it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem realistic.  After all, we really do have something to hope in that should trump all our current circumstances (salvation from sin/judgement, God’s presence and bliss in Heaven, the love and peace of God, the promise that all things work for our good).

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.”  ~1 Cor. 13:13

This is what you’re supposed to believe is realistic:  that you have to do it yourself, you’re helpless, God won’t supernaturally intervene for you, he won’t give you a supernatural filling of peace, you’re left on your own to fight for your whole life trying to survive (finding happiness, not in God but in food and entertainment and your job and comfort).  But is that really more realistic?  Of course not.  But the enemy plants the thought in your mind and once you entertain it, your emotions embrace it.

And yet this kind of thinking directly contradicts Jesus’ whole attitude on Earth, who said: “Do not be afraid anymore, only believe.” ~Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50

Just stop the introspection and live!  Just keep running!
Believe that God is good and really does love you!  Believe that He will actually keep the promises He made to you in the Bible.  Believe that if you resist the devil he WILL flee from you.  Just try it and see that it actually does work.  It gets easier each time, and the first time’s always the hardest.

When that little man in your head starts nagging again just tell him that you aren’t listening today, and keep running the race.  If he starts up again later, then tell him again and ignore him again.  Who is he anyways that you should believe him instead of God?  Instead of listening to him, listen to God.  Embrace the love, peace, truth and goodness of the things of God which he wants you to embrace.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~ Col. 3:1-2

Look up, not down.

Be others-focused, not self-focused.
(But don’t become judgmental towards others as you focus on them, be judgmental of your own sin first.)
Be others-serving, not self-serving.

You can’t change others, so don’t try to change others.  Only God can change them, so ask God to change them.  And leave the ball in His court.  Or does He not truly care for them more than even you do?

Ask that God would create a time of silence in their lives when they can hear Him clearly, hear what He wants to say to them, and ask that He Himself changes them, according to His will, in His timing.  That’s if they even do need to be changed the way you think they do.

Don’t criticize others; encourage them.

If you’re convicted about an area of their life, judge yourself in that area first.  And then let God change them.  If they’re to be changed by you at all, let it be by your love and their own love for God, and His spirit drawing them, convicting them so that they change by their own choice, by the Spirit’s enabling.

And remember that while the Christian life is a race, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Think only good things all the time.

🙂

 

These Elaborate Machines November 6, 2012

[as written 81311 – 31712, with additions on 11612]

 
On 81011 during our Bible Study prayer time, when it came time for my prayer requests, my small group leader prayed over me and lifted up my requests from the night, and I just started praying for the requests myself as if I wasn’t me.  As if from my universal, eternal soul that is not confined to a body or circumstances or personality, but the universal spirit that we all have before being shaped by our lives.  As I (the spirit, of God Himself perhaps, which is universally the same but individually molded depending on each person’s nature and nurture) was praying for Miles Prowers, who he is and has become, all that makes Miles Prowers Miles Prowers, that particular character in God’s story of Earth History.

And it produced in me a bizarre sympathy for me, as if I was praying for a dear friend who I knew more intimately than anyone else.  I prayed for his job, knowing just how stressful it was and how it conflicted with his extreme desires to be an artist.  I prayed for his brother, whom he’d always known and loved since youth.  It was a surreal experience that had no reason for happening, it just happened.  Since then I’ve never attempted to recreate that perspective, because it was kind of weird, and I’m not sure it was God-honoring, though I have no reason to believe it isn’t either; it’s just that I’d never thought or heard about something like that, so I don’t know what to think.

 

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

 
But what are we really?  I can’t figure out how to distinguish between soul and spirit and mind and heart and body.  All I know is that in the beginning God created Adam from the dust and then breathed life into him, as if breathing in His own Spirit into him.  As if he constructed all these little organic machines and then turned them on by breathing His electricity into them.  So then do animals have spirits?  Do they have the spirit of God in them, keeping them alive?  Or was it just His Spirit that sparked them into motion and got fate in motion to carry itself out?  Obviously there is a stark contrast between the most sophisticated animal and the dumbest human, in that the dumbest human is still a human being.  Is the contrast because man has a spirit and animal does not?  As if when you took away the spirit in man he became an animal?  Or do they both have the breath of God’s Spirit in them both keeping them alive and man’s body is just that much more elaborate than the animal’s to allow for consciousness?  The electricity through these elaborate machines of ours.

 

Or do man and animal still have spirit at all after the initial God breathe?  If man is cloned will it be an animal version of man, with no consciousness?  I used to think so, but I doubt it now.  He’ll still have all the functions for consciousness that the physical brain allows.  He may be mentally retarded, as a copy is never as good as the original, but that doesn’t make him unconscious.  We are truly unique, self-conscious beings, but are we only machines made to resemble the one true Being?

 

[11612- An interesting note, made by an old, pot-smoking hippie I randomly met in The Parthenon while writing “Fade To White”: The Bible doesn’t say God breathed animals into being, only humans.  So there is a spiritual difference between us and animals, whatever that may be exactly.]

 

Humans are in a class of their own, caught between the animals and the angels, but the choice is ours as to which end of the spectrum we fall on.

 

And yet there is something supernatural in us that allows us to transcend nature and have intuition, feelings and other supernatural capabilities.  So do we each have individual spirits of our personalities, and that’s who we are?  Or are we anything at all?  Isn’t our individuality just the unique combination of our two parents’ previously-existing traits, mixed together and shaped through our surroundings in life?  If we do have individual spirits, where do these spirits and personalities come from?  The only logical conclusion is that they must have been directly assigned to us by God Himself who put certain spirits in certain bodies to have certain outcomes to make History go according to His great plan.  So it all comes around to the fact that we have nothing God has not given to us and we are nothing that God has not made us.

 

But there is no evidence of individual spirits that give us our personality aside from our nature/nurture make up.  I think perhaps more logical is that there is only one Spirit, that is, God Himself, who, according to His will, moves in us individually to give us those supernatural capabilities in certain times.  He periodically manifests His spirit in our hearts and minds and the natural realm to intervene and guide us away from the natural path of fate so that by divine inspiration we change our natural course, that we would naturally go down aside from His intervention.  Of course if there is only one Spirit, then what are we when our bodies die physically (the breath of life leaves) and yet we live on separately?

 
Ecclesiastes 12:7: “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

 
In Heaven what are our souls if we no longer have the body that created our personality?  Without our bodies what’s left?  If we do each have souls are they all the same generic soul/spirit that manifests differently given a different body to come out of, a different-shaped outlet?  It’s a mystery no mortal can solve.  So then, when those bodies die, wouldn’t the Spirit of God return to its source (God)?  This is the equivalent of Nirvana, where we exist in the afterlife, conscious, but not as our individual personality.  Rather we all exist as The Personality of God Himself.  And yet, there’s no mention of that concept in the Bible (our only sure-fire source of truth on the subject).

Isn’t it interesting that the Apocalyptic Bible passages all refer to us having bodies in Heaven.  Almost implying at times that we have no consciousness until our bodies are resurrected/glorified.  So, “we” are nothing without our bodies, but in Heaven our bodies are there, therefore our bodily-induced personalities live on through the bodies that make them.  Still, it’s entirely possible that at some point in the future of eternity even our glorified bodies will fade away, leaving behind the One Spirit in all of us, and “we” return to experience the euphoria of existence in oneness with The Spirit.

 

John 17:22:The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me.

 
Our bodies are simply our parents’ bodies combined.  God breathes spirit into us, giving us life, but it’s just the natural mysterious energy as it naturally flows through that machine of our parent-combination bodies.  However, when we’re born again, God’s Holy Spirit indwells us, which is not just the spirit of life, but actually God’s own personal Spirit living in us, actually Christ Himself.  So it’s not just our natural bodies at work, but Christ living and working with that physical body.

Which is why you actually witness people change to become different people after they’re Christians.  Non-believers can try to change and do self-help formulas and show signs of change, but they’re still the same people they’ve always been with the same tendencies they give into.  Only when another being comes into your body, living through you and changing you (not of your own energy and will-power), then can a person actually change into a real different person.  Because it really isn’t them anymore. It’s the perfect spirit of someone else, His mind living in our bodies, making choices and offering an alternative to our natural bent.  I am now partially Miles Prowers and partially Jesus Christ, but gradually becoming more of Jesus Christ and less of Miles Prowers, to the point where Jesus Christ is me, just with the looks, personality and memories of Miles Prowers.

 

Who am I? What am I? What even is “I”?  I don’t know.  Something between a random combination of atoms and God Himself.

 

[The mysteries expressed in this essay were condensed into a song entitled “Fade To White”.  You can hear it at soundcloud.com/terremotoothers.  Enjoy!]

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CASTING [BAL]LOTS September 25, 2012

[as written 51212-61312, with additions on 92412]

 

Is it wrong to vote for something good, if it means that that same vote will support something bad?  When it comes to voting, it’s always a packaged deal.  And unfortunately, while politics used to just be about how the government operates, now America is so perverted and complicated that you’re forced to vote for and against moral issues.  And it’s come down to voting for the lesser of 2 evils.  Every single election. There’s just too many things you have to vote for these days.  But voting for 3 out of 4 good things isn’t bad, right?  I mean, if abortion is really the same disgusting holocaust in God’s eyes that it is in ours then it trumps all other political issues.  Shouldn’t we do whatever it takes to stop it just like we would stop Hitler if given the chance?  It seems obvious!  But it isn’t.  If killing a baby is murder and intrinsically wrong simply because it’s killing a human life, then why is it less evil to kill Hitler?  Is it less intrinsically evil to kill human lives if those lives are evil (or what your country sees as evil)? Maybe.  Maybe not.  Jesus is silent about it and so people are forced to disagree.

 

Stereotypically if I vote against abortion I’m also voting for a government with tendencies to enforce capital punishment and prolong war.  So it ultimately comes down to killing the unborn vs. killing adults.  With something as important as people’s damnation on the line, if you’re going to truly determine the “lesser of two evils”, you need to over-analyze all-case scenarios, taking logic as far as it can possibly go; and you’ll inevitably end up on metaphysical grounds.  It’s wrong to kill, as God commanded in the Ten Commandments right from the start, but which is worse: killing the unborn or adults?

 

Looking at it from a politically conservative side, the unborn are innocent and have absolutely no guilt worthy of punishment, whereas a criminal on death row has been tried and convicted for a crime which the country/state’s majority has deemed deserving of death.  It’s not unfair for the man on death row because he knew the consequence for his action before he did it; it is unfair for the innocent infant.  And when it comes to war, the soldiers that die died for a cause, usually a noble cause like defending their country and family or liberating an oppressed people group, and they also die with honor as a hero in their country (most of the time freely signing up for it).  Whereas the “noble cause” of abortion is to retain people’s careers, convenience and money.  And in the miniscule cases of rape, incest, or potential birth defects (which is often a wrong diagnosis on the doctor’s part), the benefit of abortion is that the child won’t have a potentially miserable life (by not existing at all).

 

But now we get to the crux of the whole issue.  As Christians we don’t live according to a physical perspective, but we need to see everything through the lens of eternity (aka salvation and damnation).  Our first and foremost goal in life should be to help the most possible souls go to Heaven and the fewest possible souls to go to Hell.  This includes the area of politics.
But coming from this traditional Christian perspective, if you’re completely honest, which is really worse: abortion or just war?  What happens to an aborted fetus in the spiritual realm?  Sent to Hell for the sins it didn’t exist long enough to commit?  Most Christians I know (clergy and laity alike) consider this unjust and they assume there must be an age of accountability, in other words a soul isn’t responsible for its sin until it becomes old enough TO sin, or at least consciously reject God’s salvation.  If this turns out to be how God really does things, then all abortees (over 50 million by now) are in Heaven.  But what happens to a “soul-dier”?  Chances are he goes straight to Hell, especially if he’s from a non-Christianized country.  And Death Row?  If they committed a sin worthy of capital punishment they probably ain’t going to Heaven.  Legalize abortion, no one goes to Hell.  Outlaw war/capital punishment and people have a better chance of finding salvation through Christ.  Outlaw abortion and you’ll possibly get a sudden surge of juvenile delinquency.

 

By that reasoning infanticide must be good!  And why stop at the infants?  Why not take it up to the very age of accountability?  Some say it’s 13 as that’s when a Jewish boy officially becomes a man, but other, more lenient, Christians point to the Biblical passage of men going to war at age 20, as if that’s the age that they truly became adults.  So then we should exterminate all people under 20?  And then we’d have to keep people from having any more kids lest they go to Hell.  So amp up the birth control and abortion, and bring back eugenics.  And soon there would be no one to repopulate the Earth and we’d all die.  But surely less souls would be in Hell!  With that line of reasoning you might as well just nuke the whole Earth right now because inevitably there are less people to go to Hell now than in 100 years when the population is doubled!

 
Hold on.  Take a breather.  How’d we start with “who should I vote for’ and end up with nuking the Earth?  Isn’t it always right to save a soul from Hell no matter what it takes?  At that rate it’s better to kill them and essentially save them from Hell in doing so (Hell being infinitely worse than death).  But then we’re playing God.  Taking vengeance when “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord.  Breaking His clear, certain commands for an uncertain greater good.  Isn’t there something intrinsically evil about murder?  Should you ever do evil, even if it produces a good deemed as more significant/influential than the evil?  Isn’t there really absolute truth and morality?  So that if it’s wrong to kill then it also must be wrong to kill Hitler, even if ending 1 evil, guilty life saves 6 million lives.  But isn’t that essentially the sin of omission?  You personally commit no murder, but by your refusal to murder you murder 6 million innocent people instead.  And here we are back to the “lesser of two evils” stale mate.

 

[Checkmate:  While it’s wrong to kill, isn’t it worse to assist in someone going to Hell?  In the case of the holocaust, it isn’t as much about saving the lives of 6 million Jews as much as it is about saving 6 million souls from being sent to Hell early.  Isn’t it better to send one undeniably evil man to Hell in exchange for the souls of 6 million Jews ?  Surely many of those 6 million (though many were undoubtedly Christians), if they were rescued, would have sought and found Christ after the horrors of the holocaust.  This is the one valid argument for killing I can think of.  Still I feel safer not killing anyone and leaving the mysteries of the after life to God.]

 
All this to say, no one really knows what’s truly right and wrong on these issues, because quite simply we don’t know for certain exactly how the after-life operates.  We outlaw an obvious evil like abortion (only for it to cause more souls to go to Hell), and we hasten the hand of God’s “obvious” justice by wiping out the Hitlers and Charles Mansons (but they, along with the evil and good soldiers fighting around them, go to Hell in the process) before they murder the innocent (which are more likely to go to Heaven when killed than the enemies when killed).

 

But abortion is an obvious evil which surely God wants stopped as soon as possible, and war is a less obvious evil, some would argue a necessary evil (as it’s always been around, has been used for many noble causes, and was even God-ordained in the Old Testament).  And when you consider how many deaths we’re talking about here, when it comes down to it, nothing touches abortion.  All the murders of Hitler and Stalin combined are less than the number of abortions in America alone.  And there’s no way to know how many executed criminals and fallen soldiers will actually go to Hell, versus how many un-aborted juvenile delinquents will go to Hell.  Maybe one is more than the other, maybe they’re the same.  But the whole point of this is to show that you can only follow the logic so far before you get sucked into a whirl-pool of circular arguments where philosophical speculation is the basis of your conclusions.  Are you willing to take the gamble?  There’s nothing in the Bible that definitively says “there is an age of accountability” or how many “infidel” soldiers go to Hell.  But you make your theoretical calculations and cast your lots.  Inevitably voting for someone’s damnation.

 
So.  When all the arguing dies out, you’re left with one question:  Is it right to support something that seems good even though it will have some consequences that seem bad?  Good luck with that one.  In other words, which would you vote for?  Blowing up Africa, Europe and Australia, or just blowing up Europe and Australia? Obviously I’d never vote for Hitler, but if he was running against Stalin, I’d have to think about it.

 

Or should you wash your hands of the whole thing, being innocent in your own eyes but essentially assisting evil by not stopping it? It’s because of your uninvolvement that the world keeps getting worse and worse.  The sin of omission again, perhaps even worse in this case since you did no good at all, neither to the 1 man nor the 6 million.  Was Pilate really guiltless just because he publicly washed his hands of the whole affair, protesting it?  No.  The blood of the Son of God was on his head as well, even though he didn’t scream with the jews “his blood be upon us and our children”. (Matt. 27:25)

 

But what if by voting for the lesser evil you’re withholding your vote for good, withholding your vote from a candidate who is not evil?  Who would you vote for: Hitler, Stalin, or Jesus?  Jesus has no shot at winning, because he tells the truth and not what people want to hear.  By voting for Jesus (who won’t win) you’re essentially voting for whichever candidate does win (which is inevitably going to be a worse candidate than Jesus, but more than that will promote some form of evil).  But wouldn’t Jesus want you to vote for Him?  Your vote for Jesus is a vote for the right thing in every area of politics.  Even though he doesn’t win you are still voicing your opinion as to who you want to win, and what policies you want the government to have.

 

After all this, past all the questions and ambiguity of my own personal opinion, politically I’m leaning towards finding the best possible candidate (even though he isn’t likely to win) and getting involved to do whatever I have to to make it likely for him to win.  Even if he doesn’t win this election, I’ve made it more likely for independent candidates like him to get elected in the future, outside of the 2 party nominations.  Isn’t that what Jesus would want?  If He was running for president, we’d feel obligated (but excited) to vote for Him (a vote for nothing evil, unlike the other candidates), but also forced to realize that the only way for Him to get elected is for us to get involved and make people want to vote for Him.

 

I end with an open-ended statement:  Vote for the candidate that will allow the most souls to go to Heaven, and the fewest souls to go to Hell, but is there any way to truly know which candidate that is?  I know one that definitely is, but he won’t win…yet.

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Knights of Cydonia: An Atheist Anthem? September 13, 2012

[as written on 81512]

 

When asked what my favorite Muse song is, I’d have to say it’s New Born, though Knights of Cydonia rivals it. However, while the song’s music as a whole perhaps is a little better than New Born’s music as a whole song in all it’s parts, for me in rating each song I’m biased against KOC for the lyrics. Matt Bellamy was at least at one point a seeming atheist in real life, though that perspective rarely comes out in his songs (and often you’d get the opposite reaction from his lyrics), but this is one of the few songs where it does come out. Which is unfortunate because it’s possibly their best song musically. The one time he bashes God is in the one song that’s best musically! Why pick that song to offend people?

 

Connecting the Lyrics with the Art:
The more I thought about the lyrics, the more it appears to be not only a random, weird nod to Atheism, but in fact an atheist anthem of sorts. The song itself has no mention or reference to either knights or Cydonia, except for the sound of horse galloping in the beginning referencing the knights riding on horses, and the sound of laser guns indicating that these are science fiction/future/space knights. What is Cydonia? It’s the area on Mars in which the “Face on Mars” was found in old photographs taken of the Martian surface, thus “Knights of Cydonia” apparently refers to Martian knights, or knights from the supposed Martian civilization in Cydonia (by whom the Face on Mars was constructed, perhaps in their humanoid likeness). The cover of the album “Black Holes and Revelations” shows 4 men sitting at a table in the red Cydonian desert (it’s not Earth because planet Earth is seen at a distance in the background) with horses on the table, linking them to the Knights of Cydonia (in which the song opens up with horse sounds). Why four knights? It’s an obvious link to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the biblical Book of Revelation (perhaps why Muse chose “Revelations” in the album name).
So how does this connect with lyrics? The lyrics in the song are minimal for a Muse song, but they suggest alot: “Come ride with me through the veins of history. I’ll show you a god who falls asleep on the job. How can we win when fools can be kings? Don’t waste time or time will waste you.”

 

Paraphrased it says this: “Look at the same history I’m looking at. With all the wars, natural disasters, and plagues in history, there’s no way there could really be a loving God involved with Earth. Therefore we’re on our own, and there’s no fate involved in who becomes a ruler; we’re at the mercy of these tyrants who are elected by chance and happenstance. We must not waste any time, but make things right before it’s too late. It’s only a matter of time before they ruin the Earth.”

 

How in the world does this statement at all relate to 4 Martian Knights? Because there’s no God, so life on Earth must have originated from a superior alien civilization on Mars, aka, “Panspermia”, another interest of Matt Bellamy’s lyrics (as seen in such songs as “Exegenesis: Cross-Pollination”). This is a serious proposition suggested by such leading atheists as Richard Dawkins, so it’s not that radical.
[But this is where it gets radical (maybe too radical for Muse): perhaps the lyrics and cover art are suggesting that these Knights of Cydonia, after planting life on Earth, are now in fact running all the politics of the world, establishing rulers as their puppets, from behind the scenes. So electing rulers is really out of our control and we must rise up and take the power back before it’s too late. Also if there’s no God, then the Book of Revelation isn’t supernatural and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that St. John saw are more realistically 4 aliens (a common theory among skeptics, who say the same thing regarding the 4 angels in wheels in Ezekiel’s prophecy).]

 

Atheist Anthem:
Therefore, after establishing an Atheistic worldview, the songs ends with a chorus of people chanting this anthem:
“No one’s gonna take me alive. The time has come to make things right. You and I must fight for our rights. You and I must fight to survive.”

 

Paraphrased, this is essentially saying: “There’s no God, so it’s all up to us. We must take everything into our own hands. We must resist these authorities, to the point of death. We will take control and make the world the place it’s supposed to be.” And then it closes the song with an evolutionary reference to “Survival of the Fittest”: “You and I must fight to survive.”

Sounds a little to me like, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14). It’s an Atheist Anthem.

 

It’s Influence on my Song-writing:
Even though this song seems to have an evil message (if you believe Christianity is the truth, and songs like this steer people away from God’s truth and towards Atheism), it’s so tempting to listen to because the music is absolutely incredible. So people like me end up listening to it and enjoying it, even though we know it is displeasing to God and it advances Atheism (aka, one of Satan’s most successful attacks on Christianity). And what better way for Satan to keep people from going to Heaven, than softening the heart of the average person to the ridiculous, impossible worldview of Atheism, indeed making it look cool and suddenly popular. And softening the Christian’s disgust towards atheism. All through the vehicle of the most amazing, catchy music the world has to offer today. “Though I don’t agree with an atheist, I’ll listen to him speak over and over again because his speech is so attractive and amazing.”

 

It just goes to show once again how powerful music is, even to the supernatural level. And what Satan uses for evil, God can use for good. I don’t know if Muse is actively trying to make people into atheists, agnostics, or deists, but they are. Even if their motives aren’t mission-minded, Satan’s sure are. And so Muse inspires me to likewise make the best music the world has to offer, but to include in the vehicle of irresistible songs a God-glorifying message of truth that wages war against Satan’s army of songs. For if I, as a devout Christian who’s aware of how the supernatural works, am even willing to keep listening to this Atheist Anthem (which I can acknowledge firsthand has caused me for a moment to question God’s existence in a world of pain and suffering), how much more will the average person (with no conviction) be likely to listen to it and be persuaded away from God (being undeducated in apologetics)?

 

And on the opposite side of the spectrum, if I, as a devout Christian following a universal moral standard, go against my convictions of pleasing God to listen to a song for the sake of the flesh’s entertainment, than how much more would an audience with no moral standard, numbed to convictions, be willing to listen to an incredible song, even though it throws in a random, weird nod to Christianity, or even a Christian anthem?

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