The Early Bird (For the Birds part 7)

“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee” (Psalm 63:1a)

Far from being “the worm”, I find the earlier you awake to–and this is the kicker–meet with the Lord, the better your (my) day turns out. Perhaps this is how He planned it? It may not have any bearing on those who work graveyard or some such. Those who’ve been awake since last week for some obscure and bizarre case of insomnia. Forgive me for making light of it. The truth, though, of “the early bird gets the worm” works. How do you do it?

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

I once read how our brains reset upon walking from room to hall or where-have-you. This would account for stepping into a room and forgetting why you were there. Can’t say it makes a-hundred percent sense and that’s a highly simplistic paraphrase. But the idea has stuck with me. Referring again to “the day”, notice how each has its own feeling. A feeling that overlaps the yesterday and to where you forget the cares and worries of the previous twenty-four hours. This, I think, is the idea behind this statement of the psalmist:

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

Jesus did it. “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

Earliest I’ve ever arisen was four. I was going through deep, dramatic stuff and I couldn’t sleep. I had slept but I also awoke and the tenor of the times dictated I get out of bed. Rather than stay in and continue to mull over the things that were haunting my dreams, I chose to wake up and take a walk. I had to do this a couple of times during that period and it most definitely helped. Watersheds, they were, in the working out of the particularly vexing spiritual circumstances in which I found myself. As the “worm” is to the “bird”, I received peace and direction and contentment with my lot. God knows how to give to us what we need. And He’s always awake.

“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” (Romans 14:6a)

But again, maybe you’re just not a morning person? No matter. The point I’m looking to get across is that of letting God have your best self before you launch out on the grand adventure that is your day. And if worms are also your thing, then more power to you.

Everything Is Symbolic part 6 Happendix

“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them.” (Psalm 126:1)

The wake

What do you want God to do for you? Hopefully by now you know that “all things are lawful…but all things are not expedient.” (1 Corinthians 6:12) In other words, we can’t turn into God’s will whatever we see and therefore want. And with reference to the “seeing”, not everything that would seem for all intents and purposes like it was God “trying to tell us something” is, or was, that.

“Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things to come.” (Isaiah 41:21-22)

When waiting on the Lord for a clear cut answer as to which direction He’d have you take in light of the numerous influences and thoughts vying for your attention and therefore reaction, the best advice I can offer is wait. A hallmark of the Father is that He is unhurried. It’s humans who decide to push forward in a harried rush to accomplish and acquire. I think about how complex and detail-oriented God is. And yet getting ahead of Him and His simplicity is what causes the machinery to fall apart. God is both perfect in timing and perfect in peace. Always look for His peace when seeking out God’s thoughts on the matter. Bring those pieces of data to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to sift through and determine their worth. This is what a happendix is, after all. When once you’ve gone through that test and trial and you’ve waited for God to come through for you, looking back and seeing all the false starts and “signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9b) and then letting them die where they lay. God’s will for your life is at once simpler and also more beautiful than you could imagine–or make up on your own.

“For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.” (Jeremiah 29:8, emphasis mine)

“As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when Thou awakest, Thou shalt despise their image.” (Psalm 73:20)

Not just dreams, but “signs” and “symbols” (all under the banner of “image”) as well. If “Everything Is Symbolic” as I am looking to posit, then this simply means that everything is looking to transmit some piece of information. And information comes from a mind. But not every mind is worth taking said information into our head and heart and running with it. Assuming you believe in God, it should follow that He wants to communicate to you. “God…Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2a) If what you hear or see or sense doesn’t in some way lead you to Him and His (i.e. Jesus), then it’s not true. To be in possession of some type of spiritual gift–a sensitivity of sorts–can be a double-edged sword as it requires we submit more of our time and attention to the Holy Spirit and see that He witness to the truth of the complexity of our lives. Ask simple questions. Receive profound, life-altering answers. I must admit that I have seen some stuff. Things that I thought meant one thing and that could in no way mean anything else. I hate to sound vague but it’s not worth bringing up the specific instances as they were nothing but lies. But what was so scary is that the “coincidences” in question were so much more than happenstance. Here’s the thing. Do what you’re doing. Wait on God and meditate in His word in whatever way you and He have worked out. And He’ll make sense of everything else.

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)

Everything Is Symbolic part 7 Levular

Concession stand

Almost an oxymoron. They say “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. Like most blanket statements and platitudes, they apply across a thin swath of life experience. And then when you factor in the Holy Spirit and realize that God indeed does have something very specific in mind for each and every situation you encounter (was it any different for Jesus?), you’ll see this homily freeze and shatter. The point I’m getting at is, perhaps there are things–blatant wrongs–that God would have you observe and do nothing about. Granted, there’s all sorts of latitude in this, numerous falsifiying instances in which “not saying something” would end in disaster. Jettison those and think about this with me for a moment.

“I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22b)

But first, I must confess that levular is a made-up word. Er, I mean, “a word”. Just because nobody else has used it (to my knowledge) and I’ve never heard it before doesn’t make it any less a word. And so whether you’re a prescriptive linguist (one who seeks to preserve the language at large) or a descriptive (one who merely observes and reports from the field), you can’t tell me (me) that levular doesn’t work. Sure, I could use “levelled” but for my point, “levelled” would necessarily be adjectival when normally it’s used as a verb. Like, “I levelled my gaze at him, silencing the argument”. Okay.

“And the rest will I set in order when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:34b)

See, symbols, beyond a certain point are arbitrary. Extrapolate this out at large and you realize that God speaks to different people in different ways. Prophets, with their long hair and loud voice, throwing it out there to whoever “has ears to hear” are a very different medium than the dream. God speaks through one and the other and neither cancel each other out. As God is at once above His creation and also within down to the particle, every way He speaks carries weight and truth and love.

One night I dreamed I saw the hospital where my mom worked. It took place in the neonatal unit but it also looked like the inside of a local department store. You know how dreams are. Furthering the weirdness, the location also bore resemblance to an imagined intersection with the nurses’ desks a strange cross between that and a streetcorner mixed with fitting rooms and the like. I suppose it all means something but the dream continues. In the middle of all this, I enter an elevator that descends into the earth. I remember going down through many levels of rock with each age of the earth represented by panoramic, almost still life depictions of the period. It all felt odd but the take away message was that life is a mix of levels. Everyone is at a certain level. You, me, everyone. It isn’t about comparison, it’s about understanding that what means something to you doesn’t mean the same to me. And yet you can hear God just as clearly as I.

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Level this at the Body of Christ, knowing first that He loves us all the same, and you see, maybe a little, how God would have you only say nothing and pray when once you perceive something about your brother or sister that even they don’t. Or that they would die of fright if they knew you did. At our deepest level is our Heavenly Father. He loves us there. But–and this is just the way it is–even we don’t see down at that level. We are multi-levelled–levular, as it were–and as He loves us at our depth and even speaks to us there, other levels need some Spring cleaning. We attain to them as life goes on. It isn’t about charting this territory so much as it’s about pleasing God and loving ourselves and others with the love He’s shown us.

Uphill Both Ways (Hapax Legomenon part 7)

A song of ascents

Numerous times throughout the Bible is the Lord referred to as “the most High”. I think about this in contrast to the reference where it says Lucifer sought to “exalt [his] throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13). Were you to open your eyes in a crowded room yet be possessed of no memory whatsoever, all the rules that apply to society would flood in (assuming all you were lacking was memory–still retaining cognition, in other words). To be possessed of this kind of innocence and naivete in the world at large would be an interesting place to find oneself. However, if we awoke with no memory at all, without some vestige of peace or joy or love, life would be hell. I equate this tabula rasa with one aspect of holiness. Granted, mature holiness isn’t just sinlessness but the ability to filter the minutiae of life through “the mind of Christ” (essentially, walking with Jesus). The wavelength, I would say, the angels were on prior to their fall. But the rules still work. Gravity is either your friend or it isn’t. But it doesn’t change. And so, referring again to all those “rules”, consider this. Not only was Lucifer innocent (as in holy), but he did understand. He understood the structure befitting angelic rank and file and all that–similar rules to which we abide by as humans. But we don’t. We would need, like, an extra lobe or two just to process it all.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” (Philippians 2:5-6)

On the side of the angels

Let this mind be in you…

Do you ever think about the life of Christ? Broad question, I know, but think about it. Do you ever wonder, if maybe in the thirty plus years of His earthly life, He forgot what He was doing? I don’t believe He would have but can you imagine were He as fickle of mind as we tend to be, how that would have fared for us as humans? Assuming you believe that along with God exist entities of spiritual, supernatural evil, I shudder at even the slightest possibility of one slipping between a thought of mine. I hate to sound fanatical but not one thought of Christ’s was out of place. He didn’t just obey His Father by healing the sick and upturning the tables. He thought along God’s lines.

“But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (2:7-8)

A quick aside, “sheer” and “shear” sound the same but mean something different. This is called a homophone. While they share the same Indo-European root–sker, meaning “to cut”–the former holds an Old English (newer than IE) connotation of “bright”. Granted, in comparing and contrasting both Jesus and Lucifer, while one is “the Truth” and the other isn’t in any way, each has an element of “brightness”. And this is where, with reference to the Hapax, both all our wits and also the divine perspicacity of the Holy Spirit (something the devil doesn’t have a substitute for) is necessary to remain on the right (correct) side of the mountain. Lucifer was only the “son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12). Jesus is “the bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16) as well as “the brightness of [God’s] glory”. (Hebrews 1:3)

From the ground up

” Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:4-6)

See, there are no two ways around it. Jesus is who He is (now) because of what He went through (here). It wasn’t enough to be born of a virgin or even to be crucified-then-resurrected. He had to fulfill each instance and interstice of the Father. Every single qualification and rule befitting an existent being both inside and out. Granted, He enjoyed it and also He was the only one able to do so. But unless that line was unbroken on the way up, there wouldn’t have been any redemption for us at all. This is what Jesus accomplished in His body and this is why this:

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (2:9-10)

Ghost Writer

Imprint

“Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13)

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

Paul loves the Lord so much He’s willing to die for Him. As Jesus led by example, this option–of martyrdom–is ever on the table. I don’t think about it much, to be honest. But it’s down there God knows where. In other words, there was a time way back when I was filled with the fire of my new birth and I knew God loved me (still do) and I was willing to do any and everything for Him. Even to the point of giving it all up and going home. And before I go any further, this is a high calling. One in which you’ve already given all up to the Lord and in which the circumstances leading to the end are not yours to control. Come to think of it, this is how it is even as we live:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1, emphasis mine)

By the book

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:7)

I think there’s a certain crystallization that happens within when we so saturate our mind with what God thinks on the matter. To “meditate in His word day and night” and “renew our minds” to God’s truth so that He can flow through us and weave His narrative through our own life even as He weaves us into His narrative. Jesus is spoken of in Hebrews (12:2) as “the author and finisher of our faith”. While the word may not quite connote the idea of the rockstar writer with a new bestseller every year whilst the paperback version of the previous follows closely, it fits Him. He is the one who gives us this blank book of our life and encourages us to fill it as we will. With pauses now and again to dip into His inkwell.

Dust jacket

And there will come a time when God writes the last sentence of your life on earth. He knows when and while He does, the pages still look blank. Think about Paul’s declaration at the top of the page. Either or both. “I am…ready to die”. And “to die is gain”. Paul is either supremely cocky or else He knows the one who holds his hand even as he (Paul) holds the pen.

Homeward Bound (Town Crier part 3)

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

So if we really take this to heart, where can we go in this world and how, that doesn’t have the utmost freedom and carefreeness of the Lord Jesus behind it? Or you could simply stay where you’re at and continue to infuse the area with the light that is in you.

“And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” (Acts 18:3)

Think about what it is you do. Your vocation or any special skills you possess. That for which you went to school and obtained a degree. You have this pass in the world that enables you to do what you’re able and serve others. Maybe make a living. While the “hobo” of Americana has mostly faded, the symbol remains. This idea that you can “hop a train” and escape the weary hum-drum of daily life is wistfully romantic. But when you think about it, if you can’t surmount the dreary cares and boredom where you’re at and safe, another locale isn’t going to change things. The thing that distinguishes the “hobo” is their willingness to work. And this isn’t say we don’t help those who are unfortunate if led by the Holy Spirit. The hard word of “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b) is not ours to level willy-nilly and whenever we feel like it. We have absolutely no idea the reasons someone is standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. I digress. The point I’m getting at is, do whatever it is you’re called to do and enjoy it. God has a plan, yes. And if you feel dissatisfied where you’re at. Question it, pray about it. God could be calling you elsewhere, yes. But He could also be putting His finger on a fickle aspect of your personality that, maybe, needs a little more seasoning before its done.

“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:” (1 Peter 1:17)

One possible etymology of the word “hobo” is the contraction of the first two syllables of “homeward bound”. Jesus promised us that He was going to “prepare a place for [us]” (John 14:2), a “mansion” in the sky. If we really believed that, we wouldn’t care where we were or weren’t while here. Homebound or homeward bound, it makes no nevermind. This place isn’t our home.

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A Sense of Place (Town Crier part 2)

“And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching.” (Mark 6:5-6, emphasis mine)

I believe our cities shape us. To a degree, the place we’re planted will form our outlook on life. It’s real hard not to get caught up in the prevailing attitude of your town. And why wouldn’t you? It’s not like cities and the folks therein purposely want to keep you out. Thing about Jesus though, is that He preached things that ran so against the grain that in order for the status quo to remain, one man had to go. It happened in the city in which He healed the man possessed with the legion and in Jerusalem too. Though in the latter, He was put to death. All for espousing something that ran contrary to embedded belief.

“Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)

Word on the street

He tells Pilate that if His “kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight,” (John 18:36). In other words, He came from a place and while He accepted customs and norms befitting one born on earth, that which He carried had no commensurate witness where He went. He tells the centurion that He had “not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” (Matthew 8:10) Evidently, He’d been looking. This bring me back to the verse from Jeremiah.

“And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

See, if you don’t feel at home in spite of actually living within that atmosphere, pray. The only reason you feel disconnected is because you are. This is a coveted place to be. And it isn’t about being “revolutionary” or off the grid for its own sake. The world is a very different place. I believe it begins with the distinction Paul refers to in Romans (8:7) as “the carnal mind”. He says it “is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” The way you think as you have “the mind of Christ” is as radically different from the way of the world as Jesus’ way of thinking was during His time. Referring real quick to the verse from Psalms above the bolded line, you’re exactly where He wants you to be. You might feel weird and off and an outcast. But dig deeper and you’ll feel God. He wants to use you to affect, not just the town, but the world at large.