Lionizing Jesus

To lionize someone means that you treat them other than what they really are. Humanly speaking, it means that you see them in an unnatural light and maybe perhaps think they’re more than human, more than down-to-earth and approachable.

Halo effect

“When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, He departed again into a mountain himself alone.” (John 6:15)

Reading through the testaments, one gets this idea that the children of Israel wanted nothing more than a physical representation of that which God the Father promised to them in eons past: namely, that of a king, on a throne, dispensing judgment and edicts, etc. But, true to form, God did things different than expected. He sent His Son to be born in obscurity and grow up among the hoi polloi (yes) and, after that incident in the temple with reference to that long-forgotten prophecy in Isaiah (see Luke 4:21, Isaiah 42 respectively), Jesus is on the scene. He’s the Messiah and all of humanity is left to deal with it the only way they know how. Thank God He sent the Holy Spirit to truly discern the nature of Christ and what it means to approach Him on His terms (see the passage at the bottom of the page).

“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.” (John 4:25)

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the knowledge of just who Jesus is with reference to history and humanity seemed to come to a select few—those whose hearts were ready to hear it. The woman at the well referenced above was eminently set in her ways and yet with a simple realigning of her priorities (and a little bit of sin-conviction), she was lit from within and ended up going out and evangelizing a city that most likely would not have heard the Gospel till God-knows-when (they were Samaritans and they didn’t mix with the Jews; racial tensions, you understand). But think about it: The children of Israel were promised many times—if they had read the scriptures (see Psalm 132:11, Isaiah 7:14, et al.)—that God would send a Savior, a Messiah. And here you have the man himself walking “through Samaria” (John 4:4b) and looking into the eyes of one individual (of many), telling her that He is that One. How then is this example different than the one from the sixth chapter of John above? The rabble, gripped with a mob mentality that looks to hoist Jesus high on their shoulders in order to take him somewhere and make him something other than what the Father had in mind when He sent him, is the wrong response. I can imagine the ignition, the pilot light that started in the eyes of the woman from Samaria when Christ leaned in and whispered those words. Evidently she didn’t see him as anything special before that.

There are several prophecies in Isaiah that describe a multi-faceted individual. Someone altogether human and yet concerned with one thing. The forty-second chapter, second verse says “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.” This means that doesn’t have to do what normally a person seeking an audience would be inclined to do. Yes, he had an entourage of twelve disciples but that was only because he was a teacher and it was tradition to find students and teach them. All throughout his time walking the streets of Israel, he was affecting the change talked about back in the prophecies of Isaiah. Another one from that book (53:1b-2) says “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” In other words, there’s nothing about the outward appearance to Christ that suggests a knight in shining armor or an individual who has an unfounded messiah complex. He’s simply here to do what he was sent to do. It took a widescale realigning of the human experience by those who knew Him to understand, to apprehend the enormity of his person as he went about his day, doing things that were totally ordinary. He asks Philip (one of the twelve) “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” (John 14:9) It takes time to have the light of God diffuse into us to where we see Christ for who he is while we’re here and as we are.

Help is on the way

Here’s the thing about Christ: He’s amazing. He’s the Man. There is a gravitas to His person that keeps one from being flippant and glib in His presence. But this isn’t to say that He inspires a mindless hero-worship bereft of our faculties. To see Him in what light one is accustomed brings a peace and a beauty that nothing else in this world is able to substitute. And He loves you. Don’t be fooled: He is the “Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David” (Revelation 5:5) and due all the worship one is able to wring out of their person. But He’s also a friend. He’ll help you see Him for who He really is.

“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Extrabiblical

Extrabiblical—the prefix in this case meaning “outside” from the Latin—refers to or instance or event or happenstant (singular of happenstance) that is tied in some way back to God. I suppose if you wanted to get extra picky with the etymology, you might just see “extra” as I’ve outlined above and then “biblical” as meaning “pertaining to a book”. Any book, albeit one that is the authority on whatever subject it addresses. For the case of argument, let’s assume we’re talking about “The Holy Bible”.

“I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name.” (Psalm 138:2, emphasis mine)

Playing outside

Jesus, when teaching about trusting the Father for the things that fathers provide uses the illustration of the “lilies of the field” and the “fowls of the air” (Matthew 6:28, 26 respectively) as proof there’s a God who provides abundantly. The psalmist takes all of Psalm 104 to detail the grandeur and majesty of the Lord, even going so far as to make mention of the “innumerable” things in the sea that “wait all upon Thee” (verses 25 and 27). The Lord truly is good and you don’t have to crack open the Good Book to know this. The beauty of it, though, is that once you do start reading it with an open heart and mind, you will begin to see a true picture of the author form.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth.”

Another implication of the word “extrabiblical” could reference a mis-management or misconstruance of something found in the Bible. Peter says “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20) The idea of taking the information contained that very definitely points to a certain thing—even something as-yet unseen or unknown—and then making it mean what we want it to to somehow ensure we’ll get out ahead, is dangerous.

“But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.” (Psalm 50:16-17)

“Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” (Proverbs 17:16)

There is power in the Word of God. But even then, if one doesn’t know the “Lord Christ” (see Colossians 3:24), then the sea of lies and misinformation in which we wade around day in and day out will inundate. It’s hard (impossible) to keep one’s head above that tide. And if we think we can get through this life without the “Spirit of Truth” (See 1 John 4:6), we are supremely mistaken.

Even things of the interior, while beautiful and wondrous and remarkable will lead us astray if we don’t take them to the Lord for appraisal. Say you had a dream full of ambiguous and obscure symbolism and action and you awoke with a mixed feeling akin to what John experienced in Revelation (Revelation 10:10): “and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” What would you do? Would you dismiss the evident message-from-God as heresy, something from the enemy? Wait a minute before you do that and pray. Understand the God that Jesus talks about in the parables referenced up top. There are things that He tells us that maybe aren’t meant for us or about us. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and He’ll sift through, not just lies and truth, but meaning. The Lord is still speaking to this day and He wants to speak to (and through) you. But it’s not one-sided. He wants to hear your thoughts on the matter.

In closing, look at Peter. He had gone through all he had with Jesus—we know his story—and it would seem that he went back to some of the old ways of thinking that he had, for lack of a better term, waded around in during his time before meeting Christ. But that’s okay. The Holy Spirit is still speaking. In the tenth chapter of Acts (verses 10-17), the Holy Spirit visits him with a vision (He has to show Peter “thrice”; verse 16), the vision that would forever solve Peter’s adherence to the old ways of the Law of Moses in favor of the Grace offered through Christ (see John 1:17). This is serious! The Holy Spirit continues to clean out Peter’s mind and thinking to be more in tune with Heaven and then look what it says in verse 17: “Now Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean…” Peter is still dealing with an old, dusty, cobweb-filled thought process as to what the pure word of God really sounds like. And remember, the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak anything to us that isn’t directly from the throne of God (see John 16:3) and intended to bless and help us as we serve Him. In the eleventh chapter, he recounts the story of this vision and says “the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting (verse 12, emphasis mine). Peter was doubting. The more we live and grow and learn, the more information we process, the, not harder but more important it is to remain in the simplicity of the words of Christ and of His presence in our lives as provided by the Holy Spirit. They will speak to you—they want to, they are—but nothing they say will contradict what He’s already told you in His Word.

September

I awoke this morning to Earth, Wind and Fire’s September refrain sounding in my head. Not sure if I’m spelling it correctly but “ba de ya de ya de ya” was stuck on repeat. I thought it remarkable not least because I couldn’t remember having heard it in the past number of months, anywhere. It isn’t in my iTunes account and I don’t listen to the radio anymore—where it’s overplayed, regardless of the time of year. But I also thought it amazing as this smallest of registries bubbled up from my spirit: An answer to prayer. Nothing fancy, mind you, just a brief touchstone between God and I. While I fell in love with the song upon hearing it for the first time maybe ten years ago while my parents went through the divorce cycle, I’d since come to disdain it. Back then, however, it was a bright spot, tinged with orange, that always lifted me upon hearing. At that time, I did listen to the radio, like, all the time; something to get my mind off the misery and depression of what I was going through. I think that as my initial affection for the song began to wane and as I took to changing the station every time I heard it following along with that pattern, enough time had elapsed to where said affection for the song could have been reset. And please understand, this song came to me this morning ex nihilo—out of nothing. It was in my head when I awoke. One of those (at least, in this case, the chorus of nonsensical syllables) dream-state thoughts that clears as you climb out of bed and taste the bad breath and rub the sleep from your eyes. I should add that about three or four days ago, I sent up a very deliberate prayer to the Holy Spirit that He remind me of a latent, if forgotten, song from my past. But I wasn’t expecting this.

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

Here’s the thing about how God answers prayer. He’ll do so in a way that will surprise you. One of the curses of being earthbound, as it were, is that we always fight the natural tendency to see things lag and lose their luster and burn out. This had certainly happened with this song and if you had asked me about it, I would have answered along the lines of what you may have intuited earlier in the first paragraph: I’m still tired of it. But with the new dawn and such a quiet-but-remarkable reminder of something that had at one point in my mental space been such a bright spot, I guess I’m inclined to continue listening.

In closing, I would just like to say that God has that ability. Be it a relationship, a season, an affection—really anything that isn’t sinful—can he reimbue with His original purpose and the object’s (however abstract) intrinsic value and nature. Something only He can. Oh, and the song’s been on repeat since I started writing this post.

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)

Showing Our Work

“Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” (Romans 2:15)

I encounter love everyday. Someone who takes a little extra time to look you in the eye in public. A person who wishes you well as they leave. Up to a certain point, I couldn’t care less whether or not someone believes in Jesus (beyond that point, I actually really do care—it’s my main impetus). Lest you think I’m slipping in my Evangelical Protestant worldview, know that those I encounter who show love are doing so in a public setting. The public square and under professional auspices into which “religion” doesn’t enter the equation. It’s love, I can feel it.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:29)

How do you show love? There are a thousand ways. Every action you do can be one of love. To have the ability to move about in our body and interact with things of a physical nature. Objects and settings. This is a premier gift. If you have food in your stomach and/or in your pantry and you’re warm in the Winter, you are supremely blessed. The table has been set with life and rather than see the slow atrophy of our enthusiasm as “the natural order of things”, rather burn through that in order to show that what Christ did in buying us back for His father can tell in every little thing we do.

“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

There’s a German word: gemuchlichkeit. While it may not have an exact cognate in English, the highly nuanced definition is that of warmth both metaphorically and also, uh, atmospherically…? To where you feel the acceptance in the room. To where the heat is on and you feel welcomed. It doesn’t take much and you can do this wherever you’re at. As a believer, you bring the presence of the Holy Spirit with you where you go. If you’re so inclined, take some time going forward and look for His presence. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you so you know what’s Him and what isn’t. Jesus was and still is all about love. And the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that we may walk as Jesus walked.

Warning: May Contain Thoughts Designed To Hurt You

“Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

So there are six things with which to fill your mind. Six categories of “acceptable”, if that makes sense. For the sake of equanimity, I’m going to lump “virtue” and “praise” in with them for an even eight. The reason why we need eight is to mirror the “Big 8” food allergies. They are as follows: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat. I’m grateful that I don’t have an issue with any of these. With the exception of soy, I should say. While I’m well aware that soy is in most everything processed these days, I cannot drink soymilk straight up. In spite of loving the taste, I do get something I would identify as an allergic reaction. And I don’t mean to make light of the seriousness related to food allergies as I know (and love) people who can’t touch the stuff.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

Paul’s referring here to a requisite in the Old Testament. Thing is, there are still things to which this rule applies. Things, as inversely cited in the top passage, that we dare not ingest as they would not sit well and may well end in a spiritually allergic reaction. Things like hate and condemnation. The temptation to look the other way and therefore invalidate an individual. That fleeting glance at another person you think would satisfy a spiritually-existential need by way of lust. The rush to hurry the person in front of you and unsettle them. These things will the Holy Spirit tag and prevent you from taking in. But it takes time and discipline and the active acquisition of good stuff. Fill your mind and your pantry with that which isn’t gonna kill you.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:14:16)

It’s worth the time it takes to dial down the noise in your head to know if that which you think will turn out as salubrious, actually will–and not just appear so on the surface. If only our thoughts had those disclaimers that appear on the packaging identifying the facility from which the food of which you’re about to partake, came. And the equipment on which it was processed. The Holy Spirit is here to help!

Don’t Touch

“He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, He reproved kings for their sakes, Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” (1 Chronicles 16:21-22)

One of the super-serious declarations of God. It’s true in everyday life, too. As if the events of both testaments were somehow removed from the same mundane we face day in and day out. They weren’t, actually. And when God spends years and years getting someone ready, strong enough to bear His anointing and ready to distribute it how He will among those who want it, He takes great offense when once another person would seek and appropriate (read: steal) it. Jesus turned and said “who touched me?” (Luke 8:45) when the woman sought to soak up some of His healing anointing. As Jesus is the source and she knew it, He let her go free (“Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” verse 48). I find though, that, anytime someone would want to lay a hand on one of God’s people–if their heart is not right with the Lord–the system of His judgment begins. Granted, Jesus said to “turn to him the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39). But there is also the law of sowing and reaping as applied toward anyone who would hurt one of God’s kids.

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to me Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17)

A little different case but it carries the same idea. Holiness is impossible to gain and maintain–without the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had just arisen and He was brand new (again) to the world. Carrying in His person whatever it was–the atonement for our sin, that’s what it was–He had secured having gone into the depth of the earth and taking back from the devil what he stole. He had nothing against Mary embracing Him. When you see Jesus, that’s all you want to do, I should add. Throw your arms around Him and give Him a big hug. But at that point in His life, the purity of His station had to be kept from any worldly influence. There would be plenty of time for hugging it out, after He had

“Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:22)

Paul tells Timothy here to think twice before touching someone. That’s literally exactly what he’s saying. If you get a bad feeling about a person, doesn’t mean you have to act socially awkward or off-puttingly weird, just be careful what you do with the anointing that resides in you. It’s there for a reason and if you don’t respect it, it will sluice through you without your knowledge and after a while you’ll wonder why you’re so miserable. Because you let the Holy Spirit out of your sight. I’ve done this and let me tell you, not only was I miserable beyond imagining. I also encountered a depth of oppression that I had never sensed in all my life. Hell is real, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t touch it.

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)