On God’s Dime

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:8)

So what does “confirm you unto the end” have to do with remaining “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”? Throw your imagination out to the future and what does that “day” look like? While Jesus did say He was returning, living in light of it takes all our powers of focus and concentration. Sounds like hard work, no? While Jesus never said it’d be “easy”, following Him through thick and thin, He did say we’d have everything we need to go through. Paul says this:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Any notion that looks to an easy, worry-free existence will (and should) eventually be met with a brick wall. Best to slow down and realize that life is life. Doesn’t mean you allow people to walk on you and make life hard–to devalue who God says you are. But any utopian ideal should be seen for the mirage it is.

“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” (Proverbs 18:3)

The top verse shows, by way of “confirmation”, that Jesus is always there. Ready to reflect back to you whomever it is He showed you you were. If this makes sense. There are watershed moments in my life where I see that He took me by the hand and said “friend, go up higher” (Luke 14:10). Be it through a circumstance where I was there to help someone in need, to give them a word of encouragement I didn’t know I possessed, or any of a number of validating instances that reflected back to me the mind of Christ. Paul wrote that we have it (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) and so where is it? It’s there. It starts with Him. With love and joy and peace. Things (figuratively, I don’t know how else to say it) like color and sound. Intangible, baseline qualities upon which we build character and a life. And when the writer of the proverb speaks of the “fool”, and how all he wants is to see himself, the writer adds on by way of qualification, the vistas of (true) understanding and wisdom and all the things that will enable you to keep going. Because if you’re not there yet–you’re not at a place to glimpse your person, why would you want to look anyway?

“In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)

Just because we have a brain doesn’t mean our mind works correctly. Just because our mind works and we have language, doesn’t mean our native tongue is who we are. God speaks. He spoke you and thought you up (I hope that doesn’t sound too politically incorrect). And therefrom, any validation we get must have Him at its source. It all looks to be narrow and stark but if you seek to keep your influences–the influences on your heart–pure, you’ll see what I mean. We’re heading toward something. Everyone in their own time. Jesus is walking with you every step of the way, confirming you until the end.

“Let my mouth be filled with Thy praise and with Thy honour all the day. Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” (Psalm 71:8-9)

Escheat

What is it that you want God to do for you? As if He hadn’t done enough already, ya know. But there’s still that unanswered question. That abstract and intangible longing you may feel. I’m not trying to create need. But if you’re already perfect, I don’t know what I can offer you except a congratulatory applause. How did you get there, pray tell? There has to be a formula for filling in the inchoate and undeveloped aspects to our selves. Perhaps it’s different for everyone, but perhaps maybe there’s some correlation across the spectrum. You, to me, to God.

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…” (Philippians 3:12)

For the person who has everything

Paul speaks to the neglect of his formidable gifts and abilities. I.e. all he had accrued and acquired in his years of service to the Lord. I believe He’s speaking, at least with the portion I’ve proof-texted, to the idea of moving on to do greater and greater things for the Lord–with the Lord. Because if we’re still here, God’s not done with us.

“For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them.” (Psalm 44:3, emphasis mine)

The last line essentially means “God was pleased with them”. You’ll go through seasons of your life where God burns out successive and deeper impurities to your thinking and aligns you in a fuller measure to His will for you. You’ll feel it initially as conviction (but not condemnation) and as that burns off, you’ll realize that you’re pleasing the Lord with the simple things. Ever becoming more Christlike in attitude and temperament. But after that, you might forget about the simple fact that God is still looking on, still pleased with you. And this is where it gets fun.

Extra credit 

“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19)

What if God called on you to begin doing more than your ken? To start affecting things you really weren’t aware of up till now? God could always use a few more prayer warriors on the front lines. And whatever gifts you may possess–you do have them–play in to the battle that is being waged outside your door and in the world. What John says above refers to the darkness in the world. Rewind back to Jesus’ words to His disciples about how “ye are the light of the world” and you begin to understand how you’re called to shine. Into the corners and pockets of darkness that you encounter where you’re led. Shadows of depression, confusion, misunderstanding. God wants to dispel these and He wants to use you. Not just to counter it but to obliterate it. And then to maintain it with prayer and follow up with personal interaction. God bless you.

Canaries and Stool Pigeons (For the Birds part 6)

Coal: mine

“Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)

It isn’t until you actually see the Lord that you begin to glimpse your–or in the case of me myself, mine–sinfulness. The above verse is Isaiah relating his vision of the throne room. More than enough to get one to stop what they’re doing and take notice of God’s holiness. God is more than good to both show you your (my) sin and shortcoming and to also cleanse you of it.

“And when [the Holy Spirit] is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me….and He will show you things to come.” (John 16:8-9,13b)

Report, retort

Sometimes, and I’m being completely serious, you get to be the canary in the coal mine. That little yellow bird whose untimely demise would in turn save the lives of the miners down there with it. It makes me wonder though, would it be such a bad way to go? I mean, who wants to be down there in the bowels of the earth anyway? Digging for gold and treasure. It’s like you trade one type of cage or enclosure for another. Because with spiritual atmospheres, God would have you be so in step with Him that you are in turn attuned to the subtle shifts that herald either forthcoming revival or anything God would put a cap on as not in keeping with His plan. This is what I mean when I say you’re the canary. And I can guarantee you, at the risk of seeming crazy to everyone else, you may well be the only one who sees what’s going on spiritually.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

“For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest. With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver: Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.” (Job 3:13-17)

Observe, obverse

The parallel I’m seeing here is that of remaining where you are for the Lord, as the evil slowly tries to encroach and creep and seep in. To so shine for God (canaries are yellow, after all) that, rather than keel over from asphyxiation, you actually begin to affect the atmosphere in spite of it. To stop it if that’s what He wants you to do. Because it’s one thing to dispassionately bring to God what you see. It’s quite another to pass judgment on it as you observe. And it’s nearly impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit to both be in an atmosphere that conflicts with your spiritual constitution and remain loving and kind in spite of it. Not in spite of the people, mind you, but the darkness and dust. The imperative is to pray. To sing. Not to tattle or silently condemn or hole up in an enclosure of your own making to the neglect of those around you. The Lord will keep you alive as He shines through you.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Home and Away

“Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee…” (Luke 8:39a)

Distill

There is wisdom in retreat. Not in like, running away from the enemy, but in rest. God says in Isaiah (30:15), “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”. Retiring to a place, be it home, a coffeeshop. A favorite camping (literal, figurative) spot. Any place at all you feel alone with God so you can soak in His presence and peace and love. It’s very important one recharges their batteries in this world. You know how it’s done. I find it interesting, at least in the King James rendition of the top verse, how Jesus would tell the man to go back to his house–which could connote “people” or “family”–to which the man decides instead to, well, here:

“…and he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.” (Luke 8:39b)

Distal

I find that once one is away from a familiar situation, it gives rise to all sorts of new possibilities in interaction. You find yourself unencumbered by the atmosphere in which you wade day in, day out. And the moments that follow are infused with wonder and excitement and adventure. Kind of like a vacation. Come to think of it, unless you’re moving out of the area (which I haven’t done in a very long time) a vacation is about the only auspices under which the aforementioned feeling can happen. And this is what distal means: “away from the center of the body”. Or in the case of a specific part, away from the point of connection. Evidently, the man out of whom Jesus cast the legion of devils hadn’t been home in a long time. Honestly, it’s one of the more endearing stories for me because of the contrast. Here (here) you have a man that no one wants anything to do with because of an admittedly serious spiritual sickness. He then turns from that, at one touch of the Lord, into a sweetheart. Praise God. And so he goes home.

What’s the situation?

“Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10)

In Japanese, the words “kore”, “sore” and “are” (each has two syllables) refer to placement. The first is essentially “this”. Meaning the item in question. The second is “that”, pretty self-explanatory. And the third refers to objects out of reach, if far away. Most times, you’ll see them qualified with either “wa” or “ga” as particles (kore wa–“this thing here”). The former indicating that the object in question has already been referred to in conversation. The latter meaning it hasn’t, an as-yet unknown thing. The point I’m getting at is that wherever you may find yourself. Situated away from the Body–i.e. not attending a church–ostracized for God knows why (but never a good reason). Or maybe included in the festivities that seem a little shallow for your tastes. Even a thousand other locations from here to Japan, God is with you. He might feel distant but I can guarantee you it’s not because of Him and it’s most likely not because of you. Think of how the strength and love of Jesus enabled the man to stay where he was. The change was so remarkable that, rather than tag along and accompany Him to wherever He went, he was inspired to remain.

Jettisoning Subreption

“He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” (Proverbs 20:19)

Do you need to talk?

No, seriously. I’m not telling you, I’m asking you. If there’s something you need to say, say it. Be mindful, though, of the facts. Should you want to enfold me in something best left to God and His, I would have to pass. There are manifold reasons why we spill the things we do to those we do. People, shoulders, kindred spirits we think can bear our story and all its attendant details. Let me just say here that life and its drama can get so ultimately complex that there is bound to slip through, some detail that will cause–like an ember to brush–the whole thing to go up in flames. Jesus is the only person who can take all the details and not break. Oh don’t worry. God has a plan of action and mercy and fire-retardant should the thing conflagrate. But it didn’t need to happen now did it?

“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.” (Proverbs 17:24)

plethora, as you most likely know means “lots”. Adjectivized, however, it takes on a negative, if elitist, connotation. Plethoric means you’ve gone too far. I find that if I don’t continue to raise to Jesus the details that are stacked like straw upon my back, I get tempted with something akin to a clinical logorrhea. I talk to much. And, well, “loose lips sink ships” as the saying goes. Jesus encourages us to come to Him with our burdens. Those complex and full-cast dramas of which we play a lowly part. Sure we want to shine. But we don’t want to get burned.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Think about the term subreption. In spite of “talking too much”, subreption is where you leave out a crucial detail. With reference to God, as Christians, it behooves us to take the mundane minutiae to Him to see what He thinks. If you want to keep the peace where you’re at, God will need to tally it all up to ensure each part is bathed in prayer and forgiveness and, in turn, His peace. Because nothing can happen on the front you find yourself unless it’s infused with His peace. Subreption also refers to wrong conclusions drawn from the withholding of information. This is what causes the complexity and the burden you may well feel. Was there something missing in your laundry list of prayer you brought to God? Might wanna check it again and make sure He’s got all the facts. God bless you.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Frowned Upon

“When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” (Nehemiah 2:10)

A wet blanket

So Nehemiah is tasked with rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls that the Jews might start life anew after their exile. And then these two men take notice and try their level best to hinder and stop the progress of God’s plan. Even going so far as to rally their compatriots and countrymen “to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.” (4:8) What we see here is extreme jealousy played out on a nationwide scale. But wound down to your life, how do you deal with the detractors and naysayers? Walls aren’t a bad thing. Sometimes, they’re downright necessary.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37)

Ooh. There’s an exclamation point there in the King James. You gotta know that four hundred years ago, exclamation hadn’t yet been invented. So whether or not the original indeed had punctuation of this sort or not is neither here nor there. They’re rare in the text which makes me look at it again. Jesus is expressing his shock at the hardness of heart of those whom He had come to help and to save. And while I don’t really know about the inclusion of the exclamation in the original text, imagine Him overlooking the city–now restored to its glory–and wanting to keep the strains of thought that lead to exclusion and scorn and discouragement out.

I think that anytime we keep the Lord from encouraging and strengthening us and think that we can do it for ourselves, we alienate Him–from us (“for God resisteth the proud” 1 Peter 5:5). This might sound obvious but think about how it will play out in the days following. If you have not received any encouragement from God (guilty), then you won’t have any to give. People are not self-perpetuating dynamos full of all the ingredients needed to make life tick and move freely. I can only offer so much and if I don’t plead those “times of refreshing…from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19), I will dry up. And I could bleed over into doing just the opposite of refresh. To detract and discourage and downplay and God knows what else. Don’t put it past me. I’m sorry. Thank God He’s always shining.

“In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.” (Proverbs 16:15)

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; Selah.” (Proverbs 67:1)

If you notice someone has walls about them, they’re probably there for good reason. Know this.

Giving Ourselves Away

“Freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8b)

A parsimonious position

Sometimes it’s hard for me to go one further and ensure the person with whom I’m interacting doesn’t get a stunted and stinted version of my best self. If I take a second and hark back to the beautiful ways God has interacted with and filled me up, there’s no reason for me to not be giving. Actually, the only reason I could cite may not even be a valid one. When I, by continuing to be present for whomever God brings across my path, give of my time, attention, whatever, I could be giving myself away. As in, revealing unprotected aspects of myself that aren’t in keeping with the image I present to the world. Hmm… Let me back up a bit.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Colossians 2:13)

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

This is from where we start. Firstly, we can’t give what we don’t have and yet, as the Lord has effectively “freely given us all things.” (Romans 8:32b), we don’t have to worry about running out. God is the supply and the demand is heavy. But I’m worried about what? About giving up something I’m not likely going to receive in return. Something like a piece of my soul or a stretch of my future I’m not gonna get back. This is wrong.

“But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:13)

There’s a difference between the searching light of the Holy Spirit and any inwardly directed scrutiny borne out of what those around (whether in body or in memory), think of you. I believe God shines His light into deeper and deeper depths and will continue to do so until we go home. But any fear that arises from opening ourselves up and letting God flow through us to the neglect of those in need, needs to go. As God holds us and every aspect of our life in balance, the beautiful things in your life can be shared with whomever the Holy Spirit leads you to.

Love, joy, peace, etc. Let it burn inside and roil around a bit. And then give it out. God bless you.