Tongue in cheek…
Another day arrives and in an almost a sneaky sort of way I find myself reflecting once more on what the Lord is doing and I continue reading scripture and to research various spiritual writers all the while thinking certainly the sages must know the intricacies of spiritual matters and Christ. Surely they can provide me insight into this vast chasm of spiritual information. Unfortunately, I find that if you read too many sages you find out that sages disagree with sages. My prevailing question remained that if this walk with Jesus was so simple then why is it so hard? So I would try various churches again, and sure enough, I find the same old disagreements – members at odds, knowing more than the Pastor and I leave empty and disgusted. The churches and their leadership seem more interested in building their ministry and they seem to placate those that might get angry and withhold their tithes and offerings. Actually, I have determined there is not a lick of difference between them and the private sector profiting wherever they can. Have you tried bible studies? I find those a good place to watch the flesh to rear its ugly head as one person’s interpretation of the bible is better than someone who under duress may have been bold enough to put forth an opinion. Just how does the Lord expect this conglomeration of humanity to ever learn of his ways, walk in his ways, and you can forget about, “in one accord”. Incidentally, I used the term “humanity”, you won’t find God using that term, instead, he calls us mankind, kind after kind – kind of thing you know? Wait, that’s it … kind after kind maybe that is the reason it never changes, there all the same kind. Well, I quit again, this time from my religious pursuits and organized religion that is so fouled up and distorted, that if this is what it’s all about, then, there is very little reason to pursue things any further. So instead, I told the Lord I’ll just die. Do you realize how hard it is to die? I mean try not thinking about something for one second. I bet you can’t, I can’t. My flesh is too loud and noisy and I can’t for the life of me die. Did you know that a paradox is a tenant contrary to received opinion; a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet perhaps true? Perhaps this is the basis of my problem I will not use my common sense, after all what sense is there in being common? “The Sons of God are led by the spirit”. Hmm….now I know, I am to be in the Spirit not in my mind. “The mind will never comprehend the things of God”. I will just start operating in the Spirit and forget what I think. Now maybe that is death you know if there is no thought then you must be dead. Now, perhaps I know how to die or am I still in the mind – thinking I finally got this thing figured out. I think I will call this “Smart Confusion”. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves”]. Did you notice I underlined smart? That means I am confused only and not so smart. “God is not the author of confusion”. Foiled again, so it is not confusion but I noticed the verse went on to say but of peace”. I surmise, (notice I didn’t say think) that my focus should be on peace. Didn’t Jesus say: Peace I leave with you: My peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give too you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”. So now I have a “Peace of Heart” to sup on. I have heard that heart is best when cooked slowly, a process of slowly bringing it to perfection. Ah, perfection, now that is a worthy goal. The only perfect one to have walked this earth was Jesus and he said he left me peace but did not say perfection. So like cooking, Spiritual perfection must be a process, but is it obtainable? “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Apparently, perfection is possible, because Jesus says it is of necessity that we become so. So how do we go about this? Somehow we people must get beyond the confines of this world and its ways and move on as a body, the body of Christ. To do this, I think there is a need for a change in the present methodology of religion. Today there are over 38,000 different denominations in the world many of which you would recognize and many you would not because they have become so fragmented, renamed, and distorted from their origins that even the doctrines have become man oriented and contrived. The World Council of Churches brings together 349 churches, denominations, and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing 560 million Christians and including most of the Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. Who knows the number of Pentecostals, New Testament or other types of gatherings? That is, my folk’s, a lot of Religion. Many writers of history including Edward Gibbon in his book, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume One, Chapter 15, we find that there has was a change brought about by the numbers of pagans flocking into the early Christian Church and mixing their similar pagan customs and beliefs with those of the true church. So now it’s possible we have a blend of Christianity or two Christianity’s. Are the churches then teaching beliefs and customs not commanded by God? Obviously the rise of thousands of Christian denominations has brought many different religious perspectives. Each sect produced its own view of Christ, the Bible, salvation, the sacraments, and the intended result. Each of these entities projects themselves as the “True Christianity” and this Variety could be dubbed Christ 57, produces stiff competition among the denominations and non-denominations as well. Kind of like commerce don’t you think? Accordingly, each sect found their beliefs increasingly under attack, or perhaps this is only marketing. I will advertise my product because it is better than the one over there and here’s why. But religious opinions are as fragile as ego and precious as breath. Nobody wants to be found lacking or mistaken. And yet few Christians will undertake the fearsome toil of exposing their doctrines to fresh scriptural scrutiny. Fewer still have the confidence to honestly consider new interpretations, thereby, having no need for a Research and Development Department, because there will be no new models here. To follow the Holy Spirit in the lonely paths of spiritual revelation is, after all dangerous, and there is need for scriptural interpretation so we don’t go astray. Fearing change and incrimination, the denominations found it easier to simply defend their old beliefs. Craving the solace of familiarity, they shut out new ideas and banded ever closer together, seeking the reassurance of like-minded people. Soon the security of friendly faces at the church began to provide more comfort than the denomination’s doctrines. The social aspects of church became more important than its teachings. The congregation of believers took-on a new preeminence in the religion, and a relationship with “the body” eclipsed any need for a personal relationship with an intangible God. Fellowship grew infinitely more important than truth, and entertainment became the essence of Christianity. Now, as in the days of Balaam, the truth of Christianity has been blended with sensual desire. The denominations of today draw their converts, not from a pious hunger for the deep things of God, but from an urge for respectable social interaction. I once had a man tell me that going to church was good for business, you know build up your acquaintances so you have expanded sales potentials. The churches pander to those with a voracity to visit, a need to be noticed, and an appetite for amiable amusement. To feed this craving, Modern Christianity employs every device of social addiction known to man. Today it has become a common carnival of fleshly entertainment, hailing the carnal with choirs, jugglers, fund-raisers, bake sales, games, pageants, plays, sports teams, spectacles, gaudy singers, lurid women, and entertaining speakers who have nothing to say. Take a harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou may be remembered. Have you ever seen one of these evangelists that travel a circuit and after they would give one of their talks have the people line up for prayer? This dog and pony show blew my mind. If you attended more than one of these you noticed the same people always lining up for this thing or that thing and then they would always fall to the floor. One guy once asked me if I would be a “catcher”. Catch what I asked? If these people ever fell near me I would bend down to see if they were faking. And I would wonder why they didn’t progress so that they wouldn’t have to line up for the same thing again. I would want to say to those people, still got it ay Joe? Another experience made me write this little blurb. “I see the Pastor is standing at the pulpit, why isn’t he saying anything John? Well I heard him tell some people in the foyer that he wasn’t going to say anything until the Holy Spirit prompted him. We’ll I’ll tell you what, if he doesn’t say something pretty soon, I’m going to leave. Yeah, me too John, at least 15 minutes has already gone by and people are getting fidgety. Your right! If he isn’t going to speak then what “in hell” are we doing here? How about some brunch? Let’s go”! Christians ought to be savvier than to follow the Pied Pipers in society today. They play their tunes and you sign on and follow as though you have no ability to discern, that for the most part, these people use your ignorance and dependency to pad their bank accounts, sell you products, and stage the next great show or program at a hefty cost to you and you keep on writing checks. Some of these “celebrities” are constantly at the drawing board or in planning meetings to concoct new programs and then market them as the next great movement and then tell you why it is imperative that you attend and guess what, you do. Radio Talk Show hosts, TV personalities, so-called Pastors and Evangelists, book writers all; give you something for your feel good. Do you for one moment believe these people really care for you and do you believe that for one moment these people are unaware of your dependency on them? I heard one prominent radio personality (who says he is a follower of God) speak of an idea he had but could not figure out how to commercialize it so he put it away. Again, I ask are these people really there for you or because demographic research shows that you are a part of a large market to be nurtured and capitalized upon. Churches are in the same kind of worldly business with leaders more concerned about the size of their church than the welfare of their parishioners. They teach a watered down gospel, not getting you too angry because your tithes and offerings are of paramount importance to them. I recently heard a Christian radio news commentator state that because of President Obama’s re-election the Holy Spirit told him to stop the news aspect of his program because people did not heed his warning not to vote for Obama, and that now he was to have a program featuring “a more church like format”. After he requested that people send in money, gold or silver to help finance this new approach, he then proceeded to announce that he would take a week to be with the Lord. On his return from an island resort, he said God told him to keep the news format but continue to advance toward his new teaching program, to include setting up a radio/ studio/production facility kind of like that which has been done by another more prominent internet/radio personality. I’m thinking who is this guy listening to? Is it God, or a voice that is perhaps his own. Following is scripture that has been looked at by me from a distance, because it always sounded good but never seemed to have much in the way of practical application. The reason for my interest is that when you get a little down and out you certainly would hope this to be true but boy I have learned some since those days.
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Father feedeth them. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith”. I asked myself, does He really? I mean why are we always hearing that the food bank needs donations, or help centers in need of clothes? Even Jesus said there would always be the poor among us. O ye of little faith, that must mean my faith isn’t strong enough or something like that? Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Well, if I open the cupboard doors and nothing is in there, then there is certainly no evidence, but the hope might still be there. You have not because you ask not. Wait a minute. This sounds a lot like double talk to me. So let me see, faith is the substance of things hoped for and there is no evidence so maybe if I ask Him, my cupboards will be filled with some evidence that I can eat. I have never had evidence to eat but I am willing to try it. It probably tastes like chicken. Let’s be reasonable I say to my “self”, after all, I know what reason is, I have been reasoning all my life: Let’s see now, reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. The concept of reason is sometimes referred to as rationality and sometimes as discursive (rambling) reason. So my reasoning is rambling kind of like talking too long. “Rambling On”, I think there was a song by that title, wait, there is more to this reasoning business than meets the eye. Reason or reasoning is associated with thinking, cognition, and intellect. Now were getting somewhere. Mind over matter, hold on, we are told that our minds would never comprehend the things of God. (I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart). The way people reason through argument is the subject in the fields of logic. “Now we are one”, is this logical? Reason is closely identified with the ability to self-consciously change beliefs, traditions, and attitudes and therefore having the capacity for freedom and self-determination. Now let’s see, freedom to self-determine, but the Lord says I need a new mind. It obvious I need a mind to determine stuff and if this old mind needs to be replaced then something has to occur before I can determine again. So where does inductive and deductive reasoning enter in to this? An example of deductive reasoning can be seen in this set of statements: Every day, I leave for work in my car at eight o’clock. Every day, the drive to work takes 45 minutes I arrive to work on time. Therefore, if I leave for work at eight o’clock today, I will be on time. The deductive statement above is a perfectly logical statement, but it does rely on the initial premise of being correct. Perhaps today there is construction on the way to work and you will end up being late. This is why any hypothesis can never be completely proved, because there is always the possibility for the initial premise to be wrong. Inductive reasoning works the opposite way, moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories. This is sometimes called a “bottom up” approach. This means I begin with specific observations and measures, to then detect patterns and regularities, I then formulate some tentative hypotheses to explore, and finally end up developing some general conclusions or theories. So this is the function of my mind operating within its own parameters limited in its scope and this is where I mess up in trying to comprehend things with my mind. The only difference then between men, women and other mammals is the soul that God designed in us to link up with His Spirit so that we can both recognize and begin to comprehend spiritual matters which is where everything begins. Therefore, logic must be a derivative of the “self” who determines a course of action that is predicated on decisions of my mind but which mind? This is where I find conflict and confusion, as well as self-justification.
I will speak now of the noise in silence. Living alone has its advantages as well as drawbacks. One thing about living alone is that you are able to introduce yourself to self. A self-named Rob and another self-named Noise or Mind. I say to myself I need to go to the market and get some things and the other self within says ok, or more often than not, counters; we can go later and the other self (me) ends up saying OK. Is this some weird form of marriage? Paul states in Romans 7: 15-21: Amplified” For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]. (16) Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. (17) However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me (the other self?) and has possession of me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out]. (19) For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts] but the sin [the other self-] which dwells within me. [Fixed and operating in my soul]. (21) So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands”. I am beginning to comprehend the other self within me is the one (Satan) who compromises, procrastinates, and circumvents right action, and is the culprit within holding me captive? Wait a minute, buddy, you don’t really believe that do you? And furthermore, how you are you going to stop me, we have, after all, been together these 60+ years. I am, as you know, a distinct part of you, I mean us. Well self, it’s good that Paul went on to say: (22) “For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature] named Rob. (23) But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law at war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs”. The rest of chapter seven and in to chapter eight we learn what Jesus Christ has done for us and we suffer under no condemnation and we find he has done what we ourselves could not do. Therefore, self, let me introduce you to a new Rob, who because of Christ, has reclaimed his household from the former man and though you may still dwell here, you have become a renter subject to new rules and regulations. It would seem to me self that perhaps it would be a good idea to start looking around for a new place to live because additional space in this household of God is going to be needed for growth and development. Consider further self, that I am presenting you a bill of divorcement as I intend to go a different way. Maybe this really is a form of a bad marriage to which I wish to end. If we carefully consider the fact of Satan’s throne sits on this earth, and scripture bears out the fact that he does, then just where do you imagine where that throne might be positioned pertaining to ourselves? That carnal influence is that rebellious “self” that we battle daily and he will not relinquish that chair of authority easily. And though Christ lives within us, we are the switching center between good and evil. God has not yet permanently removed the adversary’s influence from our frame of reference and leaves it to us to become the warrior to take back the land. The problem with learning is that sooner or later accountability comes in to play, and application of that knowledge expected. Remember those good ol’ boys who thought they would go out and show the adversary just how much they knew and came home with their tails between their legs? Kind of makes a guy think doesn’t it? In other words, this is serious business, and it is for this reason a lot of people will not move off “dead” center if for no other reason than fear. That prideful self that is in me is very strong and the flesh declares its sovereignty and declares, I’ll be darned if I will so totally die to myself, so that the only way I am picked up again, is that if God chooses to do so. That is, after all, the absolute end of me and I won’t die easily. I guess this brings us back to “that within I find two”. Perhaps we have come to: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Now who in the world do you think might tempt me, the super self? By the way, which self is speaking here, Rob, or that other guy? A dichotomy is defined as division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action is sort of like the two we find within that Paul speaks of, but it also goes to good and evil, and to the Lord and the Adversary. This conflict of good and evil is the true conflict in the world today and all the wars, threats, and policies that you hear and read about are sub-entities or players that are carrying out the various plans that are part of a world-wide agenda that is far more sinister that one would imagine. “Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities”. Scripture tells us that we are to be led by the Spirit and he will guide us into all truth and Jesus stated that He is the Truth. I do not find much truth in the world and it seems the entire world system is predicated on a massive lie. Christianity too has been fashioned by human thinking, as a device to accomplish human goals. It is not the true church of Jesus Christ. But while this denominational monstrosity has been strutting around the planet, God has not been idle. For even in the troublous days of Noah, when all the people were deceived and sneering, God was doing an awesome work amongst them. Secret in their midst, God was building an ark, and to all but eight souls, this work was foolish nonsense. So it is today, while Organized Christianity revels in their apostate doctrines and fleshly programs, God is building a living ark, though few there are that find it. “The gate is wide, and the road well paved, that leads to destruction; and through it the majorities go. How narrow the gate, and difficult the path, that leads to life! And they are few who find it”! While on earth, Jesus Christ did indeed establish a true church, but it is not a denomination. It is a select and quiet following, unnoticed by the world. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. The true church of Jesus Christ is represented by the woman at the well. Jesus waited for this woman and met her alone when she came to draw water in the heat of the day. “Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus said unto her, “Give me to drink”. The woman at the well was an outcast within her community. But Jesus called her to a personal relationship, and provided her with fresh and powerful instruction. “The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him”. This woman was selected for extraordinary honor. She was the first person on earth ever to receive the full, personal revelation, of the true identity of Jesus Christ. “The woman said unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus said unto her, I that speak unto thee am he”. Dazed by the grandeur of this personal knowledge, the woman abandoned her earthly possessions and ran to tell her neighbors of her royal encounter. The woman then left her water pot, (worldly goods) and went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ”? Unlike the harlot of Modern Christianity, this woman did not then have herself ordained and assemble her friends for food, fun, and fellowship. Instead, she told each of them to go out and meet Jesus Christ for themselves, alone at the well, in the heat of the day. Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. … And many more believed because of his own word; and said unto the woman, now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves. This woman represents the true church of Jesus Christ. She exists today, and like the woman at the well, she has no name. She is not Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, or Pentecostal. When Jesus met her, the woman at the well had served five husbands in succession, and was living with a sixth man out of wedlock. The five husbands symbolize the flesh, the five senses that all men serve in constant self-gratification. The sixth man represents the mind who rules over the senses. Those people, who yearn for mastery over the flesh, will eventually begin to search for God. Most will then enter an illicit relationship with Organized Religion. But if their spirit hungers for God, they will refuse to marry this charlatan. These rare individuals will never be satisfied with bake sales, ceremonies, and superficial doctrines. Instead they will seek out Jesus Christ himself, alone at the well, in the heat of the day. There they will learn his secrets and become what he is. The true church of Jesus Christ is also represented by John the Baptist. At the time of Jesus there was already a vast organized religious structure in existence. But God did not go to that structure with his new revelation. Instead he bypassed their entire religious network, and the word of the Lord went to John, alone in the wilderness. “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar … Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness”. Today as well, the true priests of God are not found in religious organizations. They are a scattered few, the men and women who understand the fullness of becoming a saint of God. These priests do not have a Church, they are the church. These individuals are becoming the truths that others just read about. “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers”. In lonely communion they are following the blueprint of Jesus Christ, and their ministry is by example. “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”. The true priests of God do not gather believers into bundles, with a view to building a business. Rather, they equip them and dispatch them, to meet Jesus Christ for themselves. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. These ministers do not preach their Father’s truth for pay or prestige. Rather, they share because they cannot hold it in. “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind”. Both Jesus and John the Baptist operated outside the religious structures of their day. Both were rejected by the organized church, and killed by the civil government. Both paid for their truth with their own lives. And it is only people like them, who will ever attain the fullness of God.