Mock Up (For God’s Sake Only part 2)

“Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on. As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?” (Job 21:3-4)

Life is good

So if I understand this correctly, Job is turning from what was just spoken by Zophar in the previous chapter. Zophar the Naamathite proceeds to show us the overarching moral structures and strictures that God has set up to the downfall of those who sought to use the gifts and blessings of God as spoil for their own manipulative conquests (see chapter 20). Really, in continuing on, Job sets up the argument one higher. That’s pretty much the tenor for his answering his friends throughout the book that bears his name. In chapter 21, Job says, yes, these people enjoy life in much the same way as those who aren’t conscienceless. They “live” and “become old” (verse 7). The enjoy their families and the safety of their property (verse 8). Their plans scale and produce fruit after their kind (verse 10). “Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” (vv. 14-15)

This is the human condition. There are times in my life where I get an influx of the same (the aforementioned “garden variety things”) and see the discipline of what it truly means to follow Jesus, fall by the wayside. There was a time in my life where I was depressed and it felt like I was under God’s thumb permanently. I can now tell you unequivocally that it’s better to be in a dark place with Jesus as your cell mate, than free to roam the earth while it slowly burns up. The horrible corollary to what I was experiencing due to my having neglected the ways of God in my (physically) formative years was, should I have experienced an upswing during that season, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons God had for me nor would I have been strong enough to resist the aforementioned temptation to “mock” God and not “revenge all disobedience when once [my] obedience [was] fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:6b)

But God is better

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

When Job answers Zophar, he leads with a brief plea for the floor after which, he tells him, that he can “mock on”. Because Zophar is playing God. Zophar sits across from Job and seeks to spill all the secrets of the Almighty without actually having earned the right to know them through suffering. This is the way. Of Jesus is it spoken that He “learned…obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) And if all someone wants to do is enjoy life for its own sake, or, for their own sakes, how do you think God feels? How does this reflect on what Jesus had to go through to become what He did? I would have to say that it’s supremely insulting.

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name.” (Psalm 63:3-4)

David had seen to the depths God brought him to and consequently had “eyes wide open” all the way back up. Gratitude (“my lips shall praise Thee”) and worship (“I will lift up my hands in Thy name.”) are but a paltry sum for that which God gifts freely in exchange for a fleeting few years of torment and misery and…obedience.

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” (Lamentations 3:27-32)

Making Light

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” (Ephesians 3:2-5)

You got a light?

Real quick before we go any further, this is very important. A phillumenist is one who collects matchbooks and matchboxes. Now, reason it’s so important is because I know without a doubt that you’re going to want to integrate it into your workaday vocabulary. So awesome and underused a word as it is, it may even inspire you to become one. Scour the streets and sidewalks and gutters for them. Because you never know when someone might “need a light”. If you wanna get real specific and particular, the literal meaning of the word is “lover (as in “phil-“) of the light” (Also, it’s compound Latin/Greek in origin. That’s rare.). And as believers, we all could use a little more heat and light and warmth from the Lord during our day. You will go up in flames even as you bring everyone around you along. It can’t be helped.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)

“The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more until the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

God speaks the light into being in Genesis and He again speaks at the beginning of the New Testament with Jesus. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying I am the light of the world:” (John 8:12a) Then Jesus speaks again about light when He says “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5) Now, we know that Jesus has since left us here to see His kingdom come to fruition with the help of the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t mean He’s not still in charge but it’s up to us to see His light diffuse throughout this world. It starts in our heart and grows with each interaction in love and worship. Like a struck match that in turn lights all the ones in the book and the box. A match that will never burn down to a cinder. “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) He tells His disciples. Thing is, Paul came along after Jesus, and called by Him to keep the fire going. Not that it was in any real danger of going out–just that it needed a little stoking and tending in order to conflagrate into what we have today.

Up in smoke/Down in flames

“But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:13-14)

But think about the concept of light as something enabling you to see God and without it only a dim and incomplete picture will form. This is what light is intended to reveal. God speaks light into being in Genesis and then Paul takes a hold of it. According to him, those prior to Paul did not get to know what we barely and incomprehensibly grasp at presently. Namely, the fact that we are truly alive for the first time. That God is creator and in believing in and walking with and loving Jesus, we get access to all of Heaven we need. Our imaginations and perceptions and notions are overhauled. We gain access to the throne of God, cutting in line, so to speak, in front of angels, principalities and powers. Paul continues on to say “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. (Ephesians 3:12) This, from so simple a beginning. A lit match. A tiny strike in the dark that shines and glows and burns hotter and hotter. If you don’t feel it as yet, ask the Holy Spirit to touch you. And if you don’t know Jesus, He’s standing by for the introduction. See, it isn’t enough to just collect the matches that sit idly by unlit and rotting. You truly have to love the light. And Jesus is the light of the world and guess what! He loves you.

God bless you.

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Till the Light Reaches You (A Better Way to Wait part 2)

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

Stars long dead

Speaking of waiting, while we know the sun’s still around, the starlight we enjoy at night comes from stars long dead and burned out (in some cases and I’m not an astronomer). Now, in allaying any ambiguity as I am about to launch out on metaphor regarding angels and whatnot, any fallen angel is indeed long dead. Some light, you gotta watch out for.

“Then he said unto me, Fear not Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” (Daniel 10:12)

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Proof-texting admittedly, but if you lace these three pieces of scripture together, you’re able to form a simple-yet-powerful aggregate regarding the answer to our prayer–whatever it may be. The angel tells Daniel that he was sent the moment Daniel prayed. I’m guessing, if I may be so forward, that if you’re up on modern-day Christian-y parlance, you might think I’m merely running through a “name it and claim it” understanding of appropriating things from God that we want and need. Firstly, I’m going to say that God meets all our needs (see Philippians 4:19). There’s always that fine line between wanting more, contentment, and not needing anything. And so, wresting the argument out of materialist territory, let’s look at it in light of “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”

A constellation of constituent parts

“Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. That thou givest them they gather: Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.” (Psalm 104:2, 28)

It can be hard to jump into this and jettison any notions we have around these doctrines. We’re waiting for God in the broadest sense (“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20) and also for the particulars. In scaling down our grasping for more, we’d do well to consider just how much we have. I talk to my friend who is heading off to Nicaragua to teach English over the Summer and I’m reminded of that statistic I read way back when saying if you have a job and a roof over your head (nothing else), you are richer than some exorbitant percentile. “And having food and raiment let us therewith be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8) Says Paul. So why ask of God? Certainly, there are always things we’d like to receive. Look at it though in light of what Daniel went through. He was living in Babylon, surrounded by an inverted pantheon (if that makes sense) and so the angel had a rougher go of it. I imagine a resplendent being wandering through a bustling ancient city, parchment in hand, looking for “Daniel”. He arrives and says “thy God”. Evidently there was more than one around. And all kidding aside, I doubt that’s what it looks like. It is serious what angels go through to appropriate the light we need to both see what God would have for us and also prepare us to receive and also protect the gift–whatever it may be.

Here’s the thing. The light is on the way the moment you pray. Jesus says as much. And whether we have yet to see it because it’s not night yet or it just hasn’t reached us, keep praying, “chasten[ing] thyself before thy God.” and waiting. To chasten thyself, in this case means any- and everything from fasting to austerity to contentment. They say as one is starving to death, after a long while, the most wonderful peace envelops. Obviously, it doesn’t have to reach that point but you get the idea. Our God is more than enough, it’s just that, sometimes, the spiritual atmosphere has to change in order for you to receive the light you need. That is the point I am getting at.

In closing and odd as it might sound, look up “quasar” (extra-galactic…?). If you need something like that for your life, know that God is good for it. It’s more-than-likely something that is covered under “Thy will be done” and also, what you want (or need) for you life and call. Blessings.

The Cloud of Knowing

“He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:15)

The Son is shining

Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit in this passage. Something that, prior to Jesus coming into this world and living as a human, was not available for us. There’s complex and dense theology behind the spirit/soul/body state of humanity. Mixed with an understanding of what happened to us when first we sinned (“But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17), it can take quite a while to work out answers to questions, that, if God is real, must have salient answers. But again, Jesus says in the above passage that [the Holy Spirit] shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Here’s a thought: As Jesus is the forerunner for a new way of life, “the firstborn among many brethren” (see Romans 8:29), does this mean the Holy Spirit was learning all the while–taking notes, so to speak–what it looks like for humans to live as pleasing to God and as exemplified and epitomized by Jesus? Not to say that there are things the Holy Spirit doesn’t know. Just that prior to Jesus, there was no one who’d lived as He so as to create the mold, the template.

“Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of His cloud to shine? Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:14-16)

This is Elihu speaking. One should take anything he says with a grain of salt or two because although the words he speaks are indeed true–God is perfect in knowledge after all–a reeducation of the basics of love and forgiveness and mercy was awaiting Job and his friends (including Elihu) a few chapters after. But look at what he says. Perfect in knowledge.

Flying colors

As an aside, there’s a phenomenon in meteorology called snowblink where a cloud reflects the white of snow from underneath. Never seen it myself but it sounds pretty cool. There’s another such thing called irisation where the spectrum is refracted through a cloud. Beautiful. I see that with frequency where I live. And so, starting with the glistening white and making its way through the cloud to where you have the dark of night or of space (is this too big a stretch?), you have a picture of the Holy Spirit connecting us from Jesus to God the Father. And there are colors off the spectrum that we can’t see. What colors do it for you? My favorite color is sea foam green. Its spectrum from mint to and through turquoise up to teal is beautiful. I also like the darker end of the spectrum. For instance, brown. I love orange and brown is merely dark, dark orange. I say all of this to say that all color is in the light. And Jesus is the light of the world

“Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne.” (Psalm 97:2)

“While He yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.” (Matthew 17:5-6)

There’s an old work of Christian mysticism entitled The Cloud of Unknowing. Its succinctly summed up in realizing that one must empty their mind of their own thoughts in order to realize God in the here and now. To accept “the cloud of unknowing” as the entryway to knowing Him. And that’s a simplistic synopsis. I can agree but only up to a certain point. Because we, in and of ourselves, are entering into knowing God better and better but without the Holy Spirit, don’t know what’s already in there that’s of Him. It’s more a matter of wrestling with the thoughts and sharing them with God in order to see what He thinks. To “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) John says “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” (1 John 4:2) The Father spoke through the cloud and testified of Jesus. I would say that the cloud was the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that’s inside you from the Father. Talk to Him. Anytime our thoughts are directed toward the Holy Spirit, it’s either the Father or the Son doing it. I don’t believe anyone thinks about the Holy Spirit in a respectful and loving manner unless directed so by God. The more we build upon those interactions, the more we will consciously and unconsciously live as Jesus did and please the Father.

“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.” (John 16:13)

Judged By Sunlight

“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” (Phillipians 1:10)

The day of Christ

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 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 14:5-6b)

Now, Paul is referring to the keeping (or not) of the Sabbath. Something that isn’t necessarily required depending on how and where you met Jesus. Jesus is “the Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28) He said so Himself.

The so-called “Blue Laws” are still in effect in parts of America. Where it’s illegal to work, buy, sell, etc. on Sunday. It’s funny how Saturday is actually the end of the week, though, and Sunday’s its beginning (Saturday’s technically the Sabbath). However, should you work through the observance of the Sabbath to where you really don’t regard the keeping of a certain day–as Paul is referring to in the above passage–consider another more important “day”: The “day of Christ”.

Only going around once

Some Christians are gung-ho for The Rapture. Others decry it as a devil’s lie (which is stupid, in my opinion–preach for something, not against). There are those denominations who are actively looking for “Thy Kingdom come…on earth as it is in Heaven” (don’t forget “Thy will be done” Matthew 6:10) and don’t really care when or how Jesus returns. There are numerous shades across this spectrum and in all things–“approv[ing] things that are excellent”– I believe that a traveling-light paradigm is the order of the day.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2 Peter 1:19)

Jesus is spoken of above as the “day star aris[ing] in your hearts”. Peter knows what he’s talking about. He’s referring to Jesus becoming real to you in your heart before you worry one whit about how or when or if He’s coming back (He is, He said as much; see John 21:23 et. al.). Because waiting for Christ means so much more than merely “looking busy”. Waiting on Him, day-in and day-out, where it gets ingrained into the fiber of your being, is simply about “looking” for Him. It’s about sitting at His feet (see Luke 10:42) and also walking with Him, about coming unto Him (see Matthew 11:28-30). It’s about knowing Him, now. Not any other time but now. This is what tells. This is how one is “ready”. What are we waiting for?

“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in Thee.” (Psalm 39:7)

In closing, the word “sincere” in the top verse has the Greek connotation of “judged by sunlight”. Let the light of God shine on you by taking your life and all its constituent parts to Jesus. That there is enough for one lifetime. You’ll be so busy walking and talking and enjoying the Lord that you won’t really care about then, all you’ll really care about is now. And Him. And not in that order.

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.