The Starter for August: Places Where Father Causes His Name to Be Remembered, Altars of Earth, and Cleansing of Lepers

So, I have been realy busy this month because my sons have been down from Massachusetts.  But I have some brief thoughts that highlight our Sunday Morning home group that meets in July during MStar’s sabbatical.
For those that do not know, I am designed to pastor, and have been doing so for my wife for sometime; we also have been doing some spiritual work with our family.
And on Sunday previous, I was live sharing the following.

“An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.”
Exodus 20:24

This verse was chain-referenced to Naaman the Syrian’s account because it talked about an altar of earth.  And what did Naaman do when he was cleansed of leprosy?  Well, gang, he removed two mule-loads of earth from Israel in order to construct an altar in his homeland.  He wanted to construct an altar of earth to HaShem.

Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the LORD.

2 Kings 5:17

Naaman became someone in whom the name of the L-rd was remembered, so much so that Yeshua recalled this healing in Luke 4.
I find it fascinating that in the law, we read legislation about altars of earth and then we find later in 2 Kings, Naaman is removing earth for that very purpose.  I find it further fascinating that the L-rd chose to recall that incident, and bring it into the people’s remembrance in Luke.
Just some thoughts here, gang.  If the L-rd does something strong and hearty in your life, then do not hesitate to do something great in magnitude to mark that occasion.  Sukkot was the time of year, for example, when I was saved, and so these days, I make a pretty big deal about that time of year
It is okay, and even encouraged to mark time when events happen in our lives that alter us for the better.

Where We Confuse the Exhorter

We confuse people for certain Redemptive Gifts at times, for a variety of reasons.
Let me address one in particular: the Exhorter.
Suppose you find yourself conversing with someone who is extremely social, and community-driven. Wherever they go, gathering a crowd is effortless.
As a result, you easily call them out as an Exhorter.
Except for one problem.
Several of the traits you would associate normally with the Exhorter are missing.
So, what could be missing?
It is possible that a person who is heavily community-driven and has a great deal of ROI when it comes to gathering crowds or working with people is not an Exhorter, but someone whose relationship with the Father, who is the G-d of community, and who brings a sense of belongingness, is the strongest of their three relationships with the members of the Trinity.
All day long, I can draw a crowd and am increasingly seen as a safe individual, but I do not believe it is because I am an Exhorter.
I think it is because I am strongest with Father.
This can become another diagnostic tool when you are mulling through your design.

Either/Or Vs. Both/And

I have seen recently the emergence of this idea of a Hebraic way of thinking.
Something that is different from the traditional Greco-Roman way of thinking.
More of a meditating on Scripture, rather than analyzing Scripture.
This model for thinking about Scripture and other things is sometimes touted as better than the model we currently have.
And now, I have some thoughts here.

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Matthew 13:52

We engaged with some similar back-and-forth with the New Perspective on Paul, and Old Testament vs. New Testament, and black-and-white-versus-shades-of-gray.
And I can that this mentality of Either/Or has led us to denigrate where we came from or where we are going.
Or denigrating the old church or the new chesed community.
Or church vs. life after church.
Or swearing as reality versus not -swearing as reality.
There are people who just glued to old ways of doing things, and there are people who are glued to the new ways of doing things.  I have seen a whole lot of people set forth these various sides of the coin as the better way of doing things.
In another example, in a church that is hyper-focused on the prophetic, if you get a new prophetic word every week, then in a given year that is 52 words a year.  And did you get to go back and sift through whether any of those words were off, and of the words that were on point, how many did you really get a chance to unpack?
And I cannot help but think, if I trash either where I have been, or worse yet, the old ways of doing things, or if I trash the new ways of doing things.  If I set where I think G-d has been against where I think G-d is going…
Then I have done myself a disservice.
We are responsible to unpack what is ours to unpack.  We are responsible, and especially those of us that are in the office of Scribe, as I am, to bring out and show the value of the old treasures and the new treasures.
And for those who are newly obsessed with Hebrew, this Jew would be the first to remind you that the New Testament was not autographed in Aramaic (ahem, Brian Simmons) or Hebrew, but in Greek.  So, while in the OT, the warrior Hebrew informs the text, the language of the Prophet/Phiolosophers of Greece informs the text of the NT, and is no less inspired.
Ultimately, we are each going to have to flow in where we are strongest and what works best for our individual hardwiring, but if we could do so without denigrating the old or the new, but being able to recognize the value in both John MacArthur AND Heidi Baker, in both Chuck Swindoll AND Bill Johnson, in both John Wesley AND Jonathan Edwards, in both Harvard AND Yale, in both the Old AND the New, in both the East AND the West, in the elements outlined in the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (Scripture, Reason, Tradition, Experience), and yes, there is a life-giving redemptive history that threads its way through the history of the church, then we might understand one another.
Even when John MacArthur takes Heidi Baker to task, as he did in Strange Fire, that does not mean we have to do the same, or that we have to refuse to find truth in both modes of being.  There is value in being sober-minded in our approach to the text and bring the text of Scripture, the whole canon, to our experiences, and there is also value in bringing an enjoyment of the new wine of our experiences to help us read the text of Scripture, if you will pardon the expression.
And while our experiences should not contradict Scripture, we cannot properly interpret Scripture apart from the inner witness of the Spirit of Truth who leads us into all truth and with the anointing that teaches us all things.
The Bible, in both parts, Giver Old Testament and Prophet New Testament, cannot be read apart from the Holy Spirit, lest what ensue results in our spiritual death from the letter of the law.
We need the Spirit
And our experiences are best tempered with a thorough reading of the text of Holy Writ.
We walk best in authority when we walk in both His words and His works.  Both bear witness to His reality.
Just some thoughts.
So, be careful in gallavanting toward your new expression that you do not curse the old expression.
And be careful, in adhering to your older expression that you do not curse the new expression.
There is value, deep value in both.
And in those of us who are Scribes of the Kingdom, the old and the new intersect.  Two sets of curiosities litter our homes.
With those twin lenses, we see as with a kaleidoscope.
 

Exodus 23:26 And Its Implications For Us

23 “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out,
24 “you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.
25 “You shall serve the L-rd your G-d, and he will bless your bread and water, and I will take sickness away from among you.
26 “None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.”
Exodus 23:23-26

Perhaps the only or best explanation for why bad things is not “we live in a fallen, sinful, imperfect world”.
This morning, I had some thoughts as I was making my way through the Torah.
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Personal note:  it is hysterical to me that I hated handrwriting in Kindergarten as much as I did and English all throughout middle school and high school, and now I write as much as I do.  The drive to write is nearly insatiable in me.  I am so grateful that Mrs. Hartley pushed me to write and compose, and I saw some sparks of ingenuity and creativity in composition when I was in Elementary and Middle School.
Back to the topic, David.
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Now, am I saying that the “fallen, sinful world” explanation is not a plausible reason for why things happen?  Not necessarily.
But let’s be clear.  There are aspects of this world where tough, philosophical questions must be answered with regularity.  There are parts of this world that are not under our control.  And yet, there are some elements that are under our authority.  Psalm 115:16 in the 2011 NIV says:

The highest heavens are the L-rd’s and the earth He has given to mankind.

In the Exodus text, the L-rd links miscarriage and barrenness with idolatry.  National idolatry releases indiscriminate barrenness on the populace.
Let me frame a bit of the prophets in terms we should understand.
Nationally-condoned sins, specifically idolatry, sexual sin of all stripes, and indiscriminate bloodshed not executed as part of a system of justice lead to all sorts of nasty consequences in the land.
Freedom from barrenness and miscarriage was promised by G-d in a fallen and sinful world to Israel as a bonus of refusing to embrace idolatry as a nation.
Translation: the barrenness that your loved one may be experiencing may be the result of a national sin.
Translation: miscarriage, which has personally touched me, could be the result of national iniquity.
It’s not merely a 1:1 ratio of sin to consequence for a nation or a people group.
And yes, sometimes bad things happen so that G-d may be glorified in the healing, as Jesus said with the man born blind (John 9:1-3).
But sometimes a series of individuals fall prey to a devouring because a nation embraces a particular line of sin in constradistinction to what the L-rd has instructed.
Through the Prophets, we see nations thrust into the hand of G-d’s judgment for embracing sins as a nation.
Thus, the afflictions of miscarriage and barrenness might be results of group sin, specifically of idolatry.
 
That idolatry can take many forms, and this is why the manifestation of discerning spirits is so critical to the believer’s life in Yeshua.
So, dear reader, let me close with the following statement.
It only takes a remnant living in Babylon to push back the darkness, but that remnant must be aware of the authority it carries in Messiah in order to see the darkness pushed back.  And that remnant must be willing to discern and step outside of its place of comfort in order to recover the G-d-intended dynamics that are fruits of righteousness.  Even the most well-living of us must be willing to embrace a lifestyle of humility that exposes our sin, asks the L-rd to examine our hearts, and regularly deals with these issues as they relate to perversions of our timelines, our lands, and our communities.
Rejection of idolatry and repentance for the national sins is not a silver bullet (silver bullets are often single-point, catch-all solutions that are sought with amiss motives), but it assuredly constitutes a central part of a complex solution to a whole lot of national consequences that have come in response to a bevy of national sins.
And part of it is not just the -100 people that are doing the worst stuff.  A major part of it is the hordes of small decisions that are made as tiny compromises:  irresponsibility, selective responsibility, non-reality, obedience chosen at the expense of sonship, and other issues.
It is time to gird our loins, run, and ascend the hill, gang.  For far too long, too many of our mothers have been incapable of becoming mothers.  We need to do what it takes to put a stop to that nonsense.

Some Thoughts on Galatians 6:18

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
 
Paul is speaking to the spirits of the Galatians.  Grace is designed to reside in our spirits.  It is not something we can carry in the natural.  It is a spiritual quality.  As a result, it takes spiritual discernment to recognize the grace of Jesus in another believer.
 
We get a whole lot twisted based on what we see as external behavior.  We think we are discerning when all we are doing is looking at the externals.  How about we start developing some internal, spiritual discernment, and start looking at each other’s hearts, and blessing what is inside of someone rather than cursing them based on what is on the outside?
 
Many times we get into trouble as Christians because we don’t see with spiritual eyes.
 
Many times we content ourselves with looking with our natural eyes, and our spiritual eyes are blind.  We need to really pray into asking the Lord to anoint our eyes with the salve from Revelation 3:18 so we can see what He wants us to see and be in tune with the frequencies He wants us to be in tune with.  Because if the world is full of His lovingkindness, and all we are experiencing is the natural in other men and women, and missing the spiritual, it is kind of a shameful evidence that we have a blindness that needs fixing.
 
It would be a shame to miss out on EVERYTHING G-d has for us, simply because we have not asked Him to show us what He wants to show us.

Leviticus 19:34, the Treatment of Aliens, Supreme Court Justices, Abortion, the Hearts of Man, and Going the Distance…

 

It is fascinating to me that before the events of the last few weeks on my home country’s southern borders, very few people I know personally knew about Leviticus 19:33-34.
So, for those who fancy themselves scholars in the Torah, (read: Monday Morning Quarterbacks) let’s expand the key of that text a little bit, shall we?

“ ‘When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’ ”

(Leviticus 19:33–34 ESV)

“When a stranger sojourns”
That phrase for “stranger sojourns” is translated “sojourner sojourns” as those two words are related to the concept of sojourning.
A sojourner is someone who is present in a country through turning aside to stay there.  That implies they are there with permission of whatever authority approves.
So, mistreating sojourners has to do with people who come a particular nation with the leave of that nation’s prevailing authorities.
Second:
“You shall love him”
Personally, there is a way in which I do not really like the current discourse and the way we have used the phrase “you shall love” and the concept of love; as a nation,  many of us (I would argue most) do not love these immigrants, legal or no, as a group, out of altrusitic motives or real, principled follow-through.  Rather, we parrot the love argument with and eye on a secondary agenda:  the passage of whatever legislation keeps us or our legacy in office one more term.  It is about another term, another law, another justice on whatever court floats your boat and gives you a political or prophetic hard-on.   And when you engage in love that has a bigger motive to manipulate, you have gone whoring after political lovers there, “whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses”.
The perpetuation of whatever status-quo agenda that allows us to putter around with people’s money.  When we use arguments of love and passion for people to advance an agenda that has little to do with love, then we engage in mesmerizing the people.
Thus, appeals to, “you should not do this with a family” or “you should not separate parents from their kids” are not even on the table, precisely because bought-off politicians are using those arguments from twisted motives to argue their particular cases forward.
We are responsible as a nation of laws, to work in the context of those laws, without a thought to our personal motives, and without a though to what is in it for us, politically.
We are responsible as a nation, to keep those people out, or allow them in, in accordance with our laws that are not supposed to be here, and are not using the legal means of coming here.
The problem is that our government is manipulating the law for political points with voting blocs.
Separating parents from kids is wrong.  Keep them together, and ship them back together, if you are going to follow the laws.
Secondly, if you are looking for the hearts of men, then…
Do not abuse Scripture to bash a Democrat.
Do not abuse Scripture to bash a Republican.
Quit bitching.  I am going to repeat that so you catch it.
Quit bitching about one side while at the same time disavowing the problems that inhere to your own party.  You are not the Secretary.  This is not IMF. Disavowal is not an option.
And until we as a nation can find a way to quit polarizing and poisoning the conversation with love out of a twisted motive, and figure out how, in the context of all our corrupt government, to have a discourse that includes material from both sides, that loves BOTH sides, and that refuses to make an enemy out of flesh and blood and until we can find real, practical solutions, in the midst of all that is untoward, that work, we will not be going forward as a nation.
Elect nine pro-life justices all you want and overturn Roe V. Wade.  MP Wilberforce understood that you change the discourse by changing the hearts of men and women.  100,000,000 conversations complete with Wedgewood China.
Also, real, principled discourse based on principles and what the law actually says has not existed in years.  Smarmy, non-realistic discourse that is motivated by scoring political points, on both sides is what prevails these days, sadly.
Further, beyond this, until we repent for buying into a mesmerizing spirit and nominating a criminal and a braggadocious pervert (neither of which were believers through any substantive testimony) for the work of leading us as a nation, we will continue down this path of destruction.
And yes, abortion may be overturned in the laws of the land, and deportation of illegals may happen through the passage of new laws or the enforcement of existing laws, but we have yet to have an Exhorter who understands that both arguments has to be won in the hearts of men.  And yes, it will take an Exhorter or a series of Exhorters to lead us well as a nation, provided that Exhorter or those Exhorters have seriously transformed hearts.
And I think Wilburforce would rather see the latter come to pass in our nation, the transformation of hearts, before the former, the passage of laws.
Prophet nation, there is a better way to win the causes of immigration and abortion, without embittering adversaries.
It takes conversations, millions of those, complete with the Wedgewood China of our day and culture, in order to really and substantively make the case.  Another justice in a court will not fix the problems that we have in our passionate yet vitriolically poisoned hearts and reins.
So, gang, who knows where to find the china of our culture, and who knows how to have the conversations well with the people?
It is time for a real solution, and it is time for someone–or a bunch of someones willing–to go the distance.   The law discussion happens dispassionately.  On the other hand, the millions of conversations have to be had with some attention to both passion and wisdom, to know how and when and where to wisely have those conversations.
Neither abortion, nor illegal immigration, or legal immigration, will be clarified without both actions on both fronts.
And it is not about fasting so we get the right justice.  It is about fasting so that we will go the distance and engage in real substantive WRESTLING with the principalities and authorities so we can find ways to keep turning the conversation in such a way as to long-term direct the course of the nation, given that we, not the President, are the kings and the higher powers of Romans 13 and 1 TImothy 2:1-8, as specified by the Preamble of the Constitution.
And the real question, are you praying for those who are actually in authority?
Are you praying for your fellows in the electorate that make up We The People?
And are you engaging out a pure and unbeguiling affection, not out of a twisted motive, but out of the Father’s heart?
 

Yeshua's Real Purpose In the SOTM

Matt. 5:21  You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’

Matt. 5:22  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matt. 5:27  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

Matt. 5:28  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matt. 5:33  Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’

Matt. 5:34  But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

Matt. 5:38  You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

Matt. 5:39  But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matt. 5:43   You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

Matt. 5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

 
You have heard, via incessant preaching, it was said that, in the above verses, Yeshua was providing a new way to look at the law, and that he was raframing the Law of Moses differently. But, consider the following.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his maile servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Exodus 21:17

Coveting, in Monday Morning syntax, is desiring something G-d did not design for you to have.  Granted, there are a number of more flowery ways to stylize this concept, but overall, it’s about desires for things that Father did not want.
Yeshua was not reframing the Law of Moses.  Rather, He was reminding those people who believed and lived as though there were Nine Commandments that a Tenth One Existed.
Lust is sexually coveting the wife that is not yours.  That is EVERY woman that is not yours, or man if you are a woman.
Murder is coveting the life that is not yours to end.
Taking oaths is coveting to perform those things that are not yours to perform.  You are only duty-bound to perform those things that are yours from Father.  And if G-d didn’t give it to you to perform, do not even have the desire to perform it.
“Eye for an eye”, which was meant as a form of justice, in this case, is coveting to damage someone when it is not your job to injur them.  The “second mile” is about a better response than harboring the desire (covetousness) to harm wicked authority.
“Love your neighbors and hate your enemies” is the same form of cevtousness as in 5:21-22.
The Son is not offering a new way to look at the law.  Rather, he is offering to remind his hearers of the full extent of the Torah:  it covers desire also.
 
Let me say that again:  the TORAH covers the heart attitudes in addition to the acts, and the Tenth Commandment is what Yeshua is bringing out in this passage.
Craig Keener writes:

Jesus offers an implicity argument from Scripture, not just a cultural critique.  The seventh of the Ten Commandments declares, “You shoall not commit adultery” ( Ex 20:14), while the tenth commandment delcares, “You shall not covet [that is, desire]…anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Ex 20:17).  In the popular Greek version of Jesus’ day the teth commandment began, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, ” and used the same word for “covet” that Jesus uses here for lust.”  In other words, Jesus reads the humanely unenforceable tenth commandment as if it matters as much as the other, more humanely enforceable commandments.  If you do not break the letter of the other commandments, but you WANT to do so in your heart, you are guilty.  G-d judges a sinful heart, and hearts that desire what belong to others are guilty.
Craig Keener, The IVP New Testament Commentary, vol. 1, Matthew (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 116.

Regardless of whether Jesus went beyond his contemporary listeners’ interpretation of the Torah, he did not go beyond what was written in the Torah.  He perfectly aligns with it.
You can cover all of the bases morally and socially by not only eradicating the wrong action, but also the wrong desires.  And I do not laugh at that sentiment, treating it as impossible.  Rather, it is part of the great adventure that awaits us.  What G-d commands of us, G-d enables us, empowers us, or equips us to get the resources to do.
While the first nine commandments deal with wrong action, the tenth deals with the heart, the reins, and the mind.
That is, the tenth commandment shows us a whole host of applications where we might be framing the wrong problem.
And desiring something G-d has not given you is definitely wasting your energy attempting to define and frame a problem that is not yours to solve.
If you want constant adrenal fatigue and destruction to your kidneys, develop a habit of violating the Tenth Commandment by trying to solve the problems G-d has not given you to solve.
Those reins (King James language for Kidneys and Adrenals) were designed to help you solve problems that G-d has for you to solve (see the Hebrew of Psalm 16:7).
They were not designed to help you solve problems such as how you can fornicate, hate, or desire what G-d did not say you could have and still find a way to be okay with Him.
For those who want to work on the spiritual health and vitality of their reins, go here.
And for the rest of you, be blessed.
 

GFO (Golden French Onion) Chicken

I gave this a whirl tonight without prior thoughts for a recipe. A little of this and a little of that, and it worked to serve 6.

NOTE: I love brown rice and because the cook time for brown rice is between 40 minutes and an hour, I had plenty of time to prep this dish.

Prep time is between 15-30 minutes depending on the tools you have on hand.

Cook time is about 35 minutes

My wife told me I had chicken to work with, and so away I went.

This is a variant on my Golden Mushroom Chicken, but roasted and after the fashion of French Onion Soup.

GFO Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts, butterflied to half-inch thickness
  • 1 Can Campbell’s Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup
  • 1 pouch Lipton Onion Soup
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, PRN

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat a Pyrex 9×13 with a decent amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Use other oil depending on the taste you want.
  3. Cut breasts to desired portion size and butterfly the parts that are too thick. I did mine to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Use additional pans if necessary.
  4. Arrange chicken in pan.
  5. Spread some of the soup on each piece of chicken.
  6. Sprinkle onion soup mix on chicken.
  7. Cook uncovered in oven for 27-35 minutes adding cheese for the last 5-15 minutes, depending on desired brownness of cheese.
  8. Serve with rice and steamed or blanched vegetables, or whatever sides tickle your pickle.

Pictured below is with cheese added last 5 minutes. I will probably add cheese earlier in the final cook time, and probably use less olive oil as well. The Onion Soup packet adds a lovely touch of umami/richness.

I think this would work well with Condensed or leftover French Onion soup from home or restaurant, as well.

#benisonsofthemediumrarevariety

G-d's Will Is G-d's Bill

Pardon the crude title, but it gets the point across of what follows, gang.
 
When Jesus issues a command in Scripture, it is because He intends you to partner with him in order to do what it takes to make you equal to the task.
 
When Jesus says, “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we often bring two sets of baggage to the table in reading this verse as well as its mate in Leviticus 11:44 (be holy, for I am holy).
 
First, it seems that many times we think these commandments are impossible to follow, and thus the implication is that we don’t even bother trying for a life of excellence (perfection and holiness) and settle for a lifestyle of compromise and allow sin more of a place than it really should occupy.  We let an identity that is not ours take up refuge as a squatter on our spiritual land, and leave whatever garbage behind that it wants.  And from day to day, we trouble ourselves with kind of picking up some of the trash left behind, hoping that G-d will somehow be able to tolerate us.
 
Second, we have this idea of what perfection looks like and we are under the impression that perfection exists in a particular direction in accordance with our own vision of perfection and holiness.
 
To the first point, these commandments are not impossible to follow.  A governing principle of Scripture is that with a command to some goal comes the resources necessary to reach that goal.  If G-d is going to command something of us, then for Him not to provide us with the tools, raw materials, or resources leading to that goal, is a really grotesque form of cruelty.  Anywhere else in Scripture that we know of where the Creator of the Universe is portrayed as being uniquely vicious without reason or wantonly destructive without reason or purpose?  We don’t serve a cruel G-d who is given to torturing us.
 
To the second point, I would contend that we hold on to our vision of perfection and holiness because we have no idea what perfection or holiness mean to Jesus.
 
Jesus is going to resource us with the tools and materials necessary to move us into perfection and holiness IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WAY HE SEES AND VIEWS PERFECTION AND HOLINESS.  He is not going to resource us with the tools and materials necessary to move us into a place of perfection in accordance with our finite, limited, soulish, stupid, unreachable views of what we think these two items look like looks like.
 
Jesus does not have your idea of P and H in mind.
 
He is not going to command you to be perfect and holy and then not equip you with the capacity, tools, raw materials, or resources necessary to walk in these attributes.  For him to do so is for him to lead us into the path of futility, which is not part of His nature (Psalm 16:11).
 
Nor is He going to command you to be perfect and then expect you to achieve what you think perfection is, in your own strength.
 
Your eye has not seen, nor your ear heard the things and places He has prepared for you, simply because you love Him.
 
His path for you leads to a place of holiness, and a place of perfection, but in order for you to move there, you have to leave behind:
 

  • what your soulish and natural mind thinks they look like,
  • your solution for getting there,
  • your ideas that these goals are exercises in futility, and
  • your resolve to continue along a mediocre, sometimes-sinning lifestyle as a path of compromise

 
And you have to embrace
 

  • His idea of what they look like,
  • His tools and his seasons for you in the present reality, and
  • 2 Corinthains 5:17
  • That you have been transferred from Romans 7 to Romans 8. He has delivered you from the wretched body of death into life.  From darkness to light (1 John 1).  You can go ahead and thank him for making you a new creation, and you were (past tense) buried with him in baptism (Romans 6:4).  You fight from a place of victory rather than struggling upward against sin. You were living in darkness, and now you are seated above every principality and authority (Ephesians 1:21), with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)
  • You have the choice and the opportunity to, instead of being so sin-focused, sin-conscious, and making sin your reference point, being Christ-focused, aware of your calling and destiny, and getting into the car and driving off into all G-d has for you.

 
 
On one hand, if all we live with is an awareness of sin everywhere we go, then everywhere we go we will see opportunities to sin.
 
On the other hand, if all we live with is an awareness of our G-d, our calling, our purpose, and our destiny, then everywhere we go and in everything we do, we will see our calling and purpose and ways and opportunities to fulfill the destiny G-d designed for us, and as a side benefit, holiness, and consecration will come.
 
You have the keys in your hand, follower of Jesus.  Put them into the ignition, and drive.
 
 
 
 

Hmmmm….The Fourth of July

I had read a post from one of my friends earlier, who writes:

The 4th of July.  American Independence Day.  Most people have a lot of memories from this holiday.
Personally, I am a bit out of step with the culture.  I never figured out how to experience joy, pleasure or fulfillment out of watching my money go “bang.”
But, as usual, I do have other memories.
In working with survivors, we deal with a lot of tough stuff – wounds, critters, structures, programming…

If you wish to read the rest of the post, follow the link here.
The few Prophets I know at least moderately feel similarly.
And while the Fourth invariably sparkles because of explosions, and making money go “bang” (I swear at least two portions of my spirit are attracted to sparkles and sulphur), it is tied to some other memories.
My dad used to meet my mother in Baldwin every summer after he left, and then in Macon after he moved back to Tennessee, in order to pick us up for the summer.
I remember the smell of Jovan Musk,
and Budweiser,
and the time he lit Roman Candles from his boat in the St John’s River,
and the time we shot the Whistlers into the water and watched the explosions underwater,
and the times our families connected with Bob Purcell’s family,
and the time Nick nearly blinded himself adding lighter fluid to the grill, and Dad’s response of “so, did you learn your lesson, son?”,
and the trips camping in Salt Springs, and that one time on the side of the road in the middle of the night, where we put up a couple of tents and a few hours later, Dad saw some police lights in the woods and snuck up to one of the cops and asked what was going on, and the cop said that they had just had a major drug bust,
And the trips to Cedars of Lebanon that no one alive except for Pat remembers,
And the trips to Mammoth Cave and the spaces under the earth so massive you could fit a small city into them,
And the trip with Joey to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
And his unending sense of enjoying a good laugh, telling a good joke, and his capacity to make anyone feel welcome,
And the scratch of his beard
And the summer I taught at a summer camp for his friend, Pam Stockett,
And the hoards of explosions and the smell of sulphur.
And the places and times when he in all of his drunken woundedness (even though he never laid a hand in an abusive fashion on me) actually manifested compassion and affection.
It was not just about the explosions.
It has been the fabric in the foreground of the explosions.
These summers, I am the father now, and my two sons visit me, and there is no alcohol floating around.
And they enjoy the explosions.
And soon they will also enjoy the camping,
There is a bedazzling, kaleidoscopic array of color that flows in the night sky.
And there is the memory of the year I drove back from Bryan, OH, on July 4, 2012 and remembering the conversation I had had with David and Wendy, after first hearing about what had happened to Hannah Pettengill, and David’s counsel to me concerning my response to Kresha’s list of demands.  And how I could accede to the list of demands for reconciliation except for one:  the taking of medication of any sort.  She was under the delusion that I needed to be medicated for depression and ADHD, and I realized the truth of what needed to happen–namely, that I had for years been starved for community.
And the memory of driving back through Cleveland, knowing what I was going to say in that conversation.
And the trip from Cleveland to Manhattan, and the realization that I needed to stop off in downtown, and walk around, something I had never done before.
And the calm solitude of what I felt when I was in the North Cove Yacht Harbor.  And the massive spirit of fear in the vicinity of One World Trade Center.
And driving out of Manhattan along FDR Drive.
And calling Kresha to tell her what I was going to agree to, and what I was not.
And the sound of something snapping in the spirit realm, like a brown stick, and hearing her accusation that I had DID.
And knowing where this thing was headed.
And the season of alienation, and the few friends that remained loyal in that season of aloneness.
And then…
Death over the course of 5 months.
Filing for divorce on December 7th.
Loss of credentials with the Assemblies on December 31.
And the divorce being finalized on April 15th, the same day as the Boston Marathon Bombing.
And then, the slow recovery of life…
The following July, the trip to Mount Washington.  And the decision that I had made to marry Pam.
And now, living in South Carolina and being able to enjoy my joy, walking with my family in a place where enjoying my joy is legal.
It is definitely an enjoyment of watching my money go “bang”.
But there are added to it a host of memories that…color…the whole experience.
Happy Fourth, gang.
If you enjoy fireworks, then hallelujah, get your fuzzy buns over here next year and most any year and let’s cook ’em off together.  And if you do not, fair warning, my home invitation is open on this day, but know that it will be loud.