Latchkey

“And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:6, emphasis mine)

This is God speaking amongst Himself at the Tower of Babel. It’s one of those passages in the Old Testament that speaks to the Trinity (in my opinion) before the Trinity was clearly and succinctly defined. The next verse says “Go to, let us go down…”. And so they intervened. When we read the story of the Tower of Babel, we tend to see it a story of a Divine Intervention along the lines of confusion and misunderstanding. When Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians (14:33) that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace”, he qualifies it with “in all churches”. Granted, this is the New Testament, the New Covenant between God and humanity through Christ’s sacrifice. But at Babel? It would seem the inherent confusion came, not from God’s “confounding” their language, but of the Babel-onians (?) seeking to obtain re-entry to Heaven through means other than ordained.

Coming and going as we please…

“Now nothing will be restrained from them…” As in “held back”? As in “hidden”? I shudder. God is watching and speaking. We as a race are well on our way to unraveling the mysteries of God’s universe. It would seem nothing is restrained from us. As an aside, there are over six-thousand languages the world over. How much more confusion and misunderstanding can we as a race bring upon ourselves? Not because of language, but because of pride? Food for thought.

“And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do.” (Genesis 18:17)

God knows

A rhetorical, if exasperated expression. In spite of the complexity of our brains and minds, we know relatively little. And it’s not that God is unwilling to show us anything. It’s a matter of humility and of timing and of calling. We also tend to do something called forget. And so we trust. Because “knowledge shall vanish away”, (1 Corinthians 13:8) trust and love are the order of the day. Abraham was called by God to start something huge. And so God could be open and honest with him. I would wager that we’re all called to do something earth-shakingly huge for God. As everyone is a piece of Him, having been created by Him, the desires of our heart are limited only by the sky—i.e. our imagination (read: faith). God will show you what you need to know.

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)

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Open-heart

The heart has chambers

Physically, four. Ironically, an atrium—in this case, as a literal room—is open to the sky. The heart’s atria, however, are the two upper chambers. The ventricles, the two lower. None of which should in any way be compromised physically by a breach in their respective walls or ceilings. That wouldn’t be a good thing.

“With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:10)

God aims for us to bring everything we notice to Him, to “acknowledge Him” in all our ways (Proverbs 3:5-6). This is a tall order and I find that many of my ways of interaction and comportment have been forged over the years to be done without thinking. As second nature. Forgive my forwardness here, but how much of the minutae of our day, of our heart, do we take to God in some way, shape, form, or vestige of “acknowledgement”? We may do everything in a state of “second nature” but we have a new nature now. As God has given us a brand new heart (yes) upon accepting Jesus, we’d do well to fill it with only those things that have been blessed and scrutinized by God.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

That’s the one. Throughout human history, God has been speaking. He spoke initially and I don’t believe He’s ever silent. If we can’t hear Him, it’s probably because our heart is attuned to another wavelength. The thing here is, God spoke through every author that’s featured in the anthology entitled “The Holy Bible”. And He’s speaking to you. Out of the thousands of verses and hundreds upon hundreds of chapters straddling the strata of life, God’s Word is a literal love letter—to you. A love letter. I used to think that statement was corny and contrived. I don’t anymore. Every thing recorded therein is meant to draw you to Him. To fill your heart and paint a picture of the Living Word, Jesus Christ. Check it out if you feel so inclined. It’s one book whose author is ever-present when reading.

Auricles/Oracles

“If any man (or woman) speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (1 Peter 4:11)

Auricle is an older name for atrium. Whereas the word “auricle” derives etymologically from the same Latin root that gives rise to “ear”, “oracle” on the other hand comes from a root meaning “to speak”. They might be homophones but they’re also (almost) antonyms. I digress. Peter, in the above verse, is talking about the things we proclaim in church. Because God is still speaking through His children, it behooves us to stay connected, to stay attuned to the same wavelength as He. This will ensure the things that we speak line up with what He already said in His Word.

“Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened…” (Psalm 40:6)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

“He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:22)

What is God speaking to you? Through you? Find the words and verses and passages that speak directly to your heart and hang everything else you hear on those pegs. What speaks to your heart may speak to another’s in a different way, maybe even in a different translation. The point is, God is speaking. Just make sure what you hear is from His heart. Out of all the noise in the world today, listen for God’s “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). Is your heart open to the sky?

“From the heart it has sprung, to the heart it shall penetrate.” Ludwig van Beethoven

For God’s Sake Only part 1

Why should I be afraid of suffering?

I think about times in my life where my blindness had been removed and replaced with an accurate appraisal of how things were. I saw my inadequacy, I saw my need. These things do we have to been shown by the Holy Spirit. We cannot see them ourselves. God is too good a Father to let us see our shortcomings in anything less than the light of His love.

“For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)

The closer we get to God, the more we need Jesus to light the way for us. The closer we get to the source, the brighter and hotter will the source appear. The light gets just a little brighter with each step we take. And the closer we get, the more grace we will need to “bring [our] deeds to the light” as Jesus says in John’s Gospel (3:20-21). The grace that we receive enables us to get closer. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things, relationships, feelings, etc. without first seeing a better thing. Here’s the trick. Aim at the highest to (and from) which all good things flow. Focus in on Jesus and the things that were preventing you and I from getting closer to the source, will fade. If there are things you see that are keeping you from getting closer to the Father, don’t worry and don’t consider the pain you feel that says that it’s impossible to give these things up. Look at Jesus. He’s always looking at you. He’ll help you see things in a different light.

There’s an analogy that’s apt for seasons such as this. It’s one thing to prune a tree or shrub or grapevine to give the roots access to the nutrients that the branches previously had access to thus allowing the plant to produce healthier and bigger fruit. But the analogy I’m thinking of here is that of leaving fruit on the vine for too long. God is calling everyone closer. And sometimes it can be hard to hear and harder to respond. Know this: God never puts His finger on something He wants to change without having in mind something better. And everything we have is a gift in the first place (see James 1:17). Just don’t let it rot on the vine.

“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:18)

Y’know, you can fast from anything? It doesn’t have to be food. And I love this exhortation of Jesus to basically treat yourself right, to pamper yourself, in spite of limiting the things to which you allow yourself access in light of a greater revelation from God. Because you’re doing it for Him and Him alone. Fasting is a powerful tool when used correctly. And if the Holy Spirit intimates to you the desire to give up something, anything, for His sake only, know that He has some better thing in mind on the other side. Just beyond that other step. It might look dark, just wait till you get there. “Ye are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)

“And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, there is no man (or woman) that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or [spouse], or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:29-30) Not an excuse to abandon anyone, just make sure you pray through that thing you think you need to give up. Perhaps it’s the very thought of needing to give something up? The Holy Spirit knows.

Everything With Nothing (part 2)

“For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11)

Infrared

That end of the spectrum (‘infra-‘ means ‘below’) we cannot see. While Jesus did what He did for us, it should be understood that He was the only person who was even able to. The only human being who, through the six-thousand plus year tenure of humanity, had the ability to live the sinless life. The strict and strident and stringent qualification for resurrection. His Father may have turned His back on His Son but after three days, the debt was paid in full. Jesus’ blood spilled out was the perfect offering in exchange for the once-and-for-all eradication of the sin problem.

And so, panning out to the rest of the spectrum, we see that because Jesus was human like us, and also God, it is now possible for us to return to the source of our existence. The circuit is now complete.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:18) I like the King James but the male ‘him’ pronoun refers to all of humanity. Paul says to the Galatians (3:28b) “there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.” That’s the idea. Jesus loves and touches us on a level deeper than our gender, than our humanity. He touches on a level that only He and I have access to, in that order.

Ultraviolet

As an aside, the color purple represents royalty. Oh, don’t kid yourself. You can like it (or not) for any number of reasons that may or may not correspond with that interpretation but look at the robes of royalty the world over. You’ll see a correlation. And as Jesus is the “King of kings” (Revelation 19:16), He alone has the power and ability to bestow upon us something befitting His “brethren”, His sisters. Namely, the title “children of God”. And so, rewinding back to the first part of this, anyone who sees and considers and accepts the things that Jesus has done and provided for us now bears this title. This is part and parcel of the Gospel. It’s been bandied about and translated and reworded the world over in as many languages as possible. But it’s the same old story. The difference between It and your garden-variety myths and legends and fables is that it’s imbued with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit who makes it real and alive in the heart of any woman and any man who believes.

Wisdom speaks: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was…Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.” (Proverbs 8:22-23, 30-32)

I was told growing up that this is the Holy Spirit speaking. I believed it and then I can’t say I doubted later on but that I then felt nothing either way. For something to take root in you, you have to make it your own. Suffering helps, I should say. Then one day the passage came back to me. The structure around which things grow and form and blossom has been with us forever. The Holy Spirit is that structure (you can say “She”, just don’t say “It”). We just didn’t have access to Him until Jesus made it possible. Until He was broken open allowing the Spirit to escape back into the world on our behalf. All of this is perfectly in concert with free will, by the way. It’s when you consciously choose to walk with God that your will becomes His and another circuit has been completed. Your life in exchange for His. This is what it means to be a son or daughter of God.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God. The Spirit itself (Himself!) beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:14, 16)

Let there be light.

Everything With Nothing (part 1)

“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3)

Let there be light.

I like that. Good choice in words if I do say so myself. I sit back in my chair and fold my arms in repose. I can say and do this (and not have it be a supreme act of folly or arrogance) for one reason alone: because I am one of God’s sons. What does this mean?

The writer of Hebrews lays it out. “But we see Jesus…” (2:9) It starts with Him. Jesus came first to show us how it was done. It says He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death”. Before we go any further, I must say that there is suffering in this world. In spite of the original words of God the Father, not all is light. The dimness and darkness in the world take their toll. Often, it’s not until we’ve become mired in our fair share that we even begin to yearn for the light, for something other than pain and misery and suffering. Paul (who certainly had his fair share) qualifies suffering by saying that it’s “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). Peter says it’s “much more precious than of gold which perisheth” (1 Peter 1:7). Any suffering worth its salt plays in to the sufferings of Jesus, i.e. suffering for the same reasons as did He. If that makes sense. We can’t choose our crucible because we didn’t make ourselves and although we might have gotten into a scrape or a circumstance or a situation through less-than-noble decision making, seen another way, you’re exactly where God wants you. The grass may be greener in Heaven, but your faith is too green for that yet, if I may. Mine too.

It continues: “crowned with glory and honor’ that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man (and woman). For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things…” (Hebrews 2:9b-10a, emphasis mine)

One of the reasons that Jesus came to die is because His honor was at stake. He created us in His image and it’s a bad reflection on Him if He’s not willing to take it (His image) to the grave to see if it stands the test of His Father’s back. That’s right, God the Father turned His back on His Son. When Jesus cried out as to why His Father had forsaken Him, I don’t remember hearing a response.

“…in bringing many sons (and daughters) to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10b) What’s going on here? The music stops. All of Creation grinds to a halt. It says “for whom are all things” and “by whom are all things”. This Creator. The One who started this party has just exited the building. The light goes out.

“And the sun was darknened…” (Luke 23:45)

As an aside, the Sanskrit word for ‘dragon’ is darc. The English language is a node off the branch of Germanic down to Proto-European. Simplistically explained, our language is about as far away from Sanskrit as you can get, linguistically speaking. And our words ‘dark’ and ‘dragon’ come from different Indo-European roots. The correlation here, is that darkness is darkness. A spectrum of black.

“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5) The devil still has no idea what God is doing. While space may be black as night, this creation is based on light. On God. Know this. Revel in it. God did all of this for us.

“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas (Peter), or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Tips of the Icebergs

George Orwell says this regarding the English language: “It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible.”

In with the new

The Bible says much regarding the speaking out of that which rests dormant and deep in our heart and mind. It all boils down to the same principle. Namely, that of thinking before you speak. And having a clear mind and heart from which the words you speak echo the heart and mind of God. It really is that simple.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34) Jesus is saying that the words you speak, as well as the words you hear, are the tips of the icebergs (for good or ill), resident deep on our insides. Think before you speak. And love before you think.

Now, assuming you’re expressing truth and honesty and not just mouthing “idle words”, the boiled-down essence of a heart on fire for God will come through. No one knows, fully, the effect that our words have on the hearer. How many times have you listened in or heard an offhanded comment that speaks directly to something going on in your life that the speaker couldn’t possibly know you were going through? Has it ever? Jesus also said that we would “give account” for “every idle word” (Matthew 12:36) that we speak. Best to not say anything until we have something thoughtful and loving to express.

“Commit thy works to the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

I find that the outworkings of our actions originate from the state of our mind. If the above verse affects you in any way, take heart. There was a time in my life where I was so unsettled in my mind that I had trouble doing the slightest tasks without feeling and acting like a complete scatterbrain. I suppose the kernel of truth resident in what Solomon was saying took root in me. Because it wasn’t until I sought Jesus through my mental ineffectiveness that I really began to have a clear mind. Yes, depression and confusion clear up (their constituent chemicals balancing out). But unless you want to come out of those states with an intact and warm and soft heart, the only way to indeed have one’s “thoughts…established” is to commit, to hand over, one’s life to the Lord.

From this: “Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb…” (Isaiah 44:2)

To this: “Nay but, O man (and woman), who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20)

Whether or not we assent to God as Creator, humility is indeed required to overcome any “foolishness” and “slovenliness” inherent in our mind. To admit that we don’t know it all and strive for more clarity and precision. I’d like to have my words resonate with the hearer and not just fall on deaf ears. Even if the person to whom I am speaking diametrically disagrees with me, the clarity of mind I’ve endeavored to carve out should come through. Help them make an informed decision or see things refracted in a different light. This is my prayer.

And maybe then we can get to work cleaning up the English language.

Out with the old

Challenging One to a Dual

What are you looking at?

“The light of the body is the eye: If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)

The whole of life boils down to a sort-of binary, if that makes sense. The simplicity of faith in Christ is maintained through all the hustle and bustle and busyness of life by “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1). Binary, in the sense that there are all sorts of other places in which to invest our attentions. And yet, all the time, God is looking at us, straining to make eye contact. If thine eye be single

Surely you’ve heard of Strabismus? It’s painful just thinking about. Where both eyes are looking in opposite directions. I would say this plays into what Jesus was saying by keeping one eye on Him and the other, elsewhere. “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee…” (Matthew 5:29) But surely, it’s not your eye’s fault, is it? Is it.

The Urim and Thummim were essentially ancient dice that the Hebrew high priests used to help determine aspects of the will of God (this was prior to receiving the inner witness of the Holy Spirit). While “Urim” means “lights”, “Thummim” refers to, not “dark”, but “perfections”.

“This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (1 John 5-6)

And then David says this:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me…” (Psalm 23:4)

Did you ever wonder where God is? Out of all the points in space from which to tangentially look out into infinity, did you ever stop and think how God, from wherever He may be sitting right now, has connected with you? Food for thought. Thing is, He does it from within. Through Jesus and then the Holy Spirit. Or, not necessarily in that order? I don’t know. I do know that if you have the slightest inkling of desire to connect with your Heavenly Father, He’s already there. See, with reference to John and to David, walking in “darkness” all depends on the…not quantity, but quality of the light within us. If you have any light, any light at all diffusing through your being, it’s from God. The rods and cones in our retinas are sensitive down to one photon. One little point in the universe. That’s pretty awesome. That’s the connection. God’s looking at you with eyes of love. Don’t turn away.

Light. Dark. God wants to shine through you to reach the world. Know that wherever you find yourself, God is there with you. Ready to fill you with His light and love. And ready to send you out wherever you want to go! Don’t kid yourself. It’s challenging and rewarding in equal measure (more so the latter, if I may). It takes time but it’s so worth it.

Forget to turn off the lights