Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Jesus In The Flesh

What is of paramount importance to God? As time goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer that it is about our being in this world as He (Jesus) was in this world and in this life. True religion, worship in Spirit and in Truth, has little to do with the performance of rites and rituals, except that these communicate the foregoing to us, and need to be received as such as we participate in them.

Neither does amassing a great deal of religious / spiritual knowledge accomplish being Jesus in the flesh – the reality of being in Christ, with Christ also being in us, and manifesting His life within and through us – as we see, recognize, and acknowledge Him in every person God puts right in front of us, along our path each day every day.

Rituals, observance of days and calendars, and spiritual knowledge should enhance this experience and edify it. But the personal, prayerful attitude with which I must approach Jesus constantly is, Lord, how do You wish to work in and through me today? Who will You send my way that I ought to see and serve as You right now? If I am part of Your Holy Body, I want to get real about this! Please send Your Spirit to me so that I may have the capacity for awareness of You, and the will and the wherewithal to serve You as needed today and every day.

The Churches have been rent asunder for 2 millennia over rituals and perspectives. Anyone who thinks this is not so has not been present in Earth reality but off on some other tangent – as we think and dwell on “our tribe’s” narrative, to promote it. The question is, is it the tribal narrative we pitch, or the Living Christ? We may be guilty of being incredibly shallow thinkers, naive or “ignore-ant” of history, as well as in denial of the workings of the fallen, finite, frail, feeble human mind.

Do we not tend to quibble more over the lesser realities of form and miss the substance? Jesus hits the nail on the head here: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay tithes of mint, dill, and cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:23-25.

It’s rather amazing how He mostly has issues with the religious leaders, who were so blinded by their perspectives that they could not recognize the very Messiah they claimed to await! He’s not advocating for throwing out the rituals, but they were in severe neglect of what all of it meant! We might say they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It begs the question, Do we?

The fact is that, if we come face to face with the simple but radical person, claims, and teachings of Jesus and the Apostles every day, with every person Christ sends our way, it would be blatantly obvious how everybody has missed it (including yours truly; Lord have mercy!), blind as we are. Conflicts and disputes are often over perspectives and rituals, but seldom over the fact of our failure to notice the outrageous, insane love called for by Jesus, whereby He says that all men will know you are my disciples! See John 13:34,35. Could it be that these things have become stumbling blocks to the manifestation of Jesus in the flesh?

Jesus calls for “evidence based Christianity”. The walk needs to match the talk, as has often been said – a reality that is so potent that it can proclaim without a word that we know Jesus The Christ, that we belong to Him, that we are actually in Him and He in us. The Holy Spirit must bring conviction of this very real need! Scripture is full of this word of admonition, revealing the fullness of Christ. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:16. What is also revealed is our failure to live out from what we have been given and what we claim to be!

1 Corinthians 13 should be prayed, pondered, and practiced daily and continually by all of us who claim the Name of Jesus Christ, because it is out here on the rugged terrain of this life desert that we are tested, trained, tried, and hopefully made true to Him in what He asks of us. And it is not simply about the behaviors of Love, as we can see, but about the attitude, the interiority, from which they arise.

If all I had of the Bible was a little paper containing this word of Love, inward heart spiritual digestion of it would be enough to sustain me here in my own desert. Or even the contents of the admonition of Jesus Christ: “Love one another as I have loved you. Love your enemies. Do good to those who are spiteful to you. By this difference will it be known that you are My disciples.” The “diet” of the desert is simple. Manna for the Israelites. Locusts and wild honey for John. Bread form the ravens of Elijah.

Only self serving kings need daily sumptuous feasts and lavish banquets. God has written the former “diet” on our hearts. Men have given us the latter feasts through the ages. We are without excuse. Libraries full of books are feasts; they are fine. However, we should be warned, “The words of the wise are like goads, and the anthologies of the masters are like firmly embedded nails driven by a single Shepherd. But beyond these, my son, be warned: There is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:11-13. (Can I get some amens?)

Discussing complex metaphysical palaver is always a fascinating pursuit. But we do well to not hold in a critical eye those we may pridefully regard as “simplistic” or “reductionistic”, when perhaps Jesus regards them as His “little ones.” “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” 1 Corinthians 8:1. Perhaps those we so criticize seek to build on the foundation of the simplicity that is in Christ, our God Who is love! Let us never rule out that possibility. Perhaps they came to an end to sorting through all the available “bricks” and simply laid the foundation?

So if all the big headed, self impressing mental / theological gymnastics keep us away from the reality of Christ love, what good are they? Just how many books – regardless of how ancient (or recent and trendy) they may be – does anyone need? They pile up like a wall of futile defense – against the enemy within ourselves – our blind refusal to love as Christ loves.

With this complexity one can easily deny that Jesus has come in the flesh, which is one’s own body-temple, as well as those to whom He sends us every day.

“By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is already in the world at this time.” 1 John 4:2,3.

To confess Jesus in the flesh carries more than one level of meaning:

1. Jesus as He manifested through the Blessed Theotokos, lived as a man, died, was resurrected and now ascended into heaven – the historical Person – is the first recognition of His coming in the flesh.

2. The Spirit of Christ in the believer: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we remain in Him, and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.” 1 John 4:12-14.

3. We acknowledge Jesus in “the other”, according to His own words. ”When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’” Matthew 25:39,40.

This is how we “confess / witness” as Jesus coming in the flesh in conclusion. We have the revelation of Jesus Christ – we believe – in the historical Savior, eye-witnessed by the Apostles, revealed by the Scripture. We are to acknowledge how the Spirit of Christ wishes to reveal Himself in us, and then through us to all with whom Jesus chooses to identify Himself. There are no exceptions! Enemies included.

Dear, sweet, radical Savior Lord Jesus! Teach us Your ways, which surely are not our ways, for we are finite, and You are infinite. You make possible supernaturally what is impossible naturally! Please set us on fire with Your Holy Spirit so that we will continue in Your Word and truly be Your disciples, and then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free (from John 8:31,32), free to be all that You intend for us, as Your dwelling place from which You manifest Your love to the world. Then keep us aglow in Your Spirit’s holy fire. Thank You for Your magnificent power and Your never failing promises, whereby we become partakers of Your divine nature. Amen.

   

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

GREAT is as GREAT Does

Compiled From Scripture…

Their bodies will lie in the street of THE GREAT city–figuratively called Sodom and Egypt–where their Lord was also crucified. Revelation 11:8.

Fallen, fallen is Babylon THE GREAT, who has made all the nations drink the wine of the passion of her immorality. Revelation 14:8.

THE GREAT city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. And God remembered Babylon THE GREAT and gave her the cup of the wine of the fury of His wrath. Revelation 16:19

The kings of the earth were sexually immoral with her, and those who dwell on the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her immorality… And the woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls. She held in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality… On her forehead a mysterious name was written: Babylon THE GREAT, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. Revelation 17:2,4, 5.

   After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.  And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon THE GREAT! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.

    I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, I sit as a queen and not a widow, and will never see mourning. For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.

    And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, THE GREAT city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.

    And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more– cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots AND SLAVES AND HUMAN LIVES. The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, THE GREAT city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like THE GREAT city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, THE GREAT city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’

    Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.

    Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, So will Babylon, THE GREAT city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.  And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were THE GREAT men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.  And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth. Revelation 18.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Creeds AND Deeds

Please read linked blog first.

https://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/deeds-before-creeds-i-think-not/#comment-3795

 

Remarks bouncing off the link…

Deeds without creeds? Rick Warren popularized this meme. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, he says, “Deeds NOT Creeds.” Throwing out the need for any foundational understanding at all!

This leads to nothing more than self righteousness, works righteousness for salvation, and the eventual synchretistic view that “all faiths are the same.” It’s implication in the final analysis means no need for a Savior! Opening the door to a one world religion. See how subtle the adversary is!

“Deeds without creeds” is spiritual quicksand, not the rock solid foundation of Christ, the Cross, and the understanding of what the Gospel is all about. Must be why some famous preachers like to hob nob with Oprah, the Pope, Eckhart Tolle, and other promoters of a New Age one world religion. That’s where it goes. St. John warns early believers, “They are of the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective, and the world listens to them.”  1 John 4:5.

Creeds EXPANDED have implications, which every Christian does well to ponder and pray about, whether one’s church confesses a creed on Sunday morning or not. You cannot have deeds in keeping with the Gospel, without understanding the ancient foundational Truth of the church. Just as there should be no issues with reciting the Lord’s Prayer, there should be no issue with confessing one’s faith through the creeds.

This above link is written from a Lutheran perspective, and it’s a good understanding that is brought to the table of Christendom.

Quote: “To say ‘Deeds before Creeds’ is a gross delusion of the Law, and an improper understanding of the Gospel. What we believe effects how we act, and it is not the other way around. Without constantly preaching the Gospel to ourselves, we are all too eager to forget it, and we lick our lips at the prospect of taking the crown of Christ and placing it upon our self-reliance, and work righteousness…”

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

PrayeRant

See link before reading this article.
Articles like this one frankly drive me nuts. Certainly we can pray “spontaneously from the heart,” but if anyone wants to pray the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, then pray it with all your heart! I’m sick of this mindset that practically criminalizes praying the Lord’s Prayer, or using memorized prayers, or a prayer book. For Pete’s sake, have you never been so weary that you didn’t know what to pray, yet feel the need, but the Lord’s Prayer or the 23d Psalm came to mind, and it was prayed from the heart in a state of exhaustion?
And how do you know that praying it does not instill its “teaching” into you in profound ways, since it is God’s Word, taught by the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity Himself to His disciples. It’s not just a template or pattern! If the Lord gave it thus to His disciples, it should be good enough for us. Just because it may be said word for word does not mean it’s done mechanically.
I have been in nursing homes and prayed the Lord’s Prayer with residents who do not know their name or where they are, they are so far gone in dementia, and ordinarily could not speak. But as they hear the words, they perked up and recited it along with me! And there was a sense of God’s presence so strong right then and there. Think that recited prayer was not heard? Think that wasn’t a miracle? Think again!
IMO, these kinds of articles which supposedly “instruct” people in some ways make things more difficult and condemn childlike faith. It’s almost bordering on a sort of legalism that says, “You have to pray our way, so you can only pray spontaneously.”
Hogwash.
I suppose it’s also a crime to chant the Psalms per this mindset. Or pray the Scripture. Something else to demonize?
Another rant for another day.
Posted in Christianity, Observations, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Orange Flags

A bullet point to begin the week:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or peer into things where you never looked before, on any subject, or any issue. Inside we all have “orange flags” about a lot of things. Don’t ignore them when they show up – even where you may have thought a matter was thus and so before. Dare to be skeptical, at least a little, not gullible and naive. Pray for discernment and direction. Knowing the truth is better than false hope any day.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Prayer Request

May we all who are so inclined give thanks, pray, and agree together that God’s hand will keep in check the severe winter storms headed for our Great Lakes region and other areas of the USA. May He Who has power over wind and wave protect especially the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, the frail and elderly living alone, who have little or nothing, those who are ill, and also all lost or abandoned animals, or any in danger of losing their life due to exposure to the elements such as farm animals and wildlife. If He wishes to provide for any need through us during this time, may it be so. May the Almighty One also protect the utilities, power lines, and all infrastructures which we so often take for granted to keep our homes and places of business warm, well lit, and safe. And let’s give thanks for His lovingkindness always. Amen.