Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

On Psalm 91:2

Psalm 91: 2 (AMPC) “I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!”

Refuge & Fortress.png

It is helpful to picture this dwelling place – as revealed in verse 1 – as a refuge or a fortress. Think about the pictures you have seen of ancient castles, hewn from the very mountain in which they are set. These to be sure can be called strongholds! Often on one side is a sheer cliff that drops hundreds of feet straight into the ocean. The sea crashes against this “wall” in all its great force and fury relentlessly, but in futility, for it cannot penetrate what is on the other side of that wall. Nor can any invading force arriving by ship even hope to enter and overtake. Those who arrive to attack will likely not survive their own efforts.

Huge walls surround this fortress on its other sides, which themselves are surrounded by craggy mountains and beast filled forests that threaten anyone who might be so audacious as to attempt to storm such a refuge.

A drawbridge is its front door – the only way in. Only those with the King’s permission can enter, coming and going, doing his bidding. Only one path leads to this entrance, a circuitous and narrow way. It is well protected by heavily armed and well trained guards, vigilant day and night as they patrol this path and surveil from its towers. One look at them would make anyone approaching think twice about his reasons for doing so! Unless of course his intention is to surrender himself in full to the King, to once and for all throw himself down before the mercies of the throne.

Spiritually speaking, King and Fortress and Refuge are one for such souls. The WAY to the fortress is through Jesus Christ alone, for any in need of God’s mercy, protection, and healing. Everything necessary is inside, for those who have greatly realized their need, having been assaulted by thieves and robbers (false teachers, the devil, the world system, and the flesh, and more – all adversaries of this fortress and those who seek refuge in Him).

Those who seek asylum in this refuge will never be turned away, for here we have Jesus’ own promise to such souls: “All whom the Father has given (entrusted) to Me will come to Me; and him who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out – I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me.” (John 6:37 AMPC)

Life may not seem like such a dwelling place. Even our churches – because of the culture which has assaulted and penetrated all too many of them – may no longer seem like places where it is conducive to finding a spiritual refuge, a place of quiet and reverence, where there is any sort of genuine sense of being “en-fortressed” by the Almighty.

Paradoxically this may have its purpose. Might it be in order for us to better redirect our orientation and intention toward a more prayerful and personal experience of our Lord God as refuge and fortress, in preparation for a time when the outer structures may not be as easily accessible?  Or so that we may be as Mary of Bethany who sat at Jesus’ feet to learn of Him, to comprehend and apprehend Him as refuge and fortress – as the Holy Spirit, through His written Word, makes us increasingly aware that, through Christ alone by grace through faith, we now indwell Him and He indwells us? Could it be so that we become intimately acquainted with the Omnipotent yet personal One Who is not bound by walls made by man?

This is He Who “richly and daily supplies me with everything I need to support this body and life. He shields me from all danger, and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does out of pure fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.” (Luther’s Small Catechism)

Can it get any better than this?

So we can pray this verse in praise of Him in Whom we live, move, and have our being, You are my refuge! You are my fortress, my God in Whom I trust! All thanks and praise be to You alone for this magnificent reality given to me because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ Who purchased and won me to be Your own! Let me live continually, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, in the awareness of Your life transforming love for me. Amen.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

When In Doubt

Just a quick one –

To feel or battle doubt need not be necessarily condemned as sin; it is rather an emptiness that begs to be filled with right understanding, the answers of questions, or a need for information that brings puzzle pieces of the bigger picture into view and puts them together. This is something I had to learn from experience – after a long struggle due to buying into the idea (from previous reductionist religious/spiritual programming) that doubt was a “crime punishable by death,” so to speak. Once I could see it for what it is, then the answers it represented began to fall into place as well, and much needed direction came into view. Never criminalize yourself for doubting, but pray and keep on praying – in spite of your feelings.

Someone needs to hear this, so I am posting this remark. Pass along as you wish.

Posted in Christianity, poetry, Uncategorized

Against The Darkness

Against The Darkness

Now the Light of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,

the Chosen One, the Truth, the Way

shines forth in triumph and dispels the darkness

of this wicked day!

Begone, you vanquished powers of hell,

of Satan, sin, of lies, of death, and woe,

Now unto your appointed place

you must forever go.

The One Who has the victory

now holds this earth forever in His power.

He triumphant reigns,

Who has burst apart your useless chains!

Christ Jesus’ holy name alone we bless and praise,

as in His triumph now our shouts of joy we raise,

and forever throughout endless days.

His holy, precious blood has set us free,

as He the Lamb of God alone

has won the victory!

~ © Blaise ~

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

The Whatevers Part 2

A few “expansions” on thoughts from last night’s post:

https://intoandoutoftheblue.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/the-whatevers/

After yesterday’s post, I felt compelled to expand on it in its context. So here goes.

Beyond the “whatevers” posted last evening (See Philippians 4:8) – all the things we’re encouraged to think on or DWELL on – there is more. That was verse 8, and while there’s nothing wrong with keeping on the sunny side, this verse goes way beyond “positive thinking,” as it continues with verse 9, which says (as St. Paul goes on with the rest of his thought), “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” But who today, with the cherry picking mentality of much of the church, wants to even go there? We’d rather be told what feels good.

A lot of people figure that by “thinking positive,” they can ward off trouble, or even earn their salvation. It’s almost like a magical practice to them whereby they think life can be manipulated; but clearly witchcraft (the spirit of control) is not what the Apostle had in mind here. He certainly knew better. Self sits on the throne in lives where positive thinking becomes a magical practice of manipulating others or circumstances.

Certainly it’s not necessarily evil to stay on the bright side, as having a better mental outlook can not only make us feel better, but a good attitude can determine one’s “altitude”, as far as emotionally getting through difficult things. But this isn’t the point of what Scripture reveals to us. Without the Gospel, such attempts at manipulation amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs aboard one’s personal Titanic. What if instead we were to simply lay it down at the feet of Jesus?

A higher view comes along with the opening verses of Colossians 3 – “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, (implying an actual rebirth by the Holy Spirit) keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.” This is not about a cherry picking kind of Christianity where I simply want God to bless what I want, or believe I can “think” my way to it!

Paul is advocating for an uncompromising devotion to Jesus Christ in Philippians 4:9, in single minded discipleship and surrender to the Lord. That’s the practice! It’s not just about so called positive thinking, although we know that Paul and Silas sang hymns and prayed (Acts 16:25) after being beaten and jailed. So if we’re going to practice what Paul practiced, it’s important to be informed from Scripture what that looked like. What was the content of message? How did he and the other Apostles react to their difficulties and even persecution? What was their prayer life like, and for what did they pray? Were they full of self will, or a will surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Way of the cross?

Comprehending these things we can come to a balanced understanding of the relationship between verses 8 and 9. Scripture should be taken in context of not only the verses around it, which complete a thought communicated, but also the entire message of the Bible, which is to reveal Jesus Christ and His sublime love of us and His authority in our life – won by the shedding of His blood. We are not our own!

The fact that we’d rather look at verse 8 without its complete context in verse 9, shows how much New Age / New Thought positive thinking – in some cases more than the Gospel and its implications for our lives – has infiltrated the churches and the minds of Christians. That should make us stop and think, and question where it’s going to take the church, and who’s behind this subtle infiltration. We need always to pray for complete understanding as we read and study Scripture, and that we be cleared of any previous notions founded in worldly religions or philosophies.

Posted in Artwork, Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

The Whatevers

For help in getting past the blues…

 

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Sometimes it helps me to stay positive, or to pull my mind away from things that are bothering me, to choose a Scripture passage and make some art with it. Digital is convenient late at night when I’m aimed at relaxing with my feet propped up. This is one of my favorites. You wind up asking, What are some of the things I can focus on that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, or praiseworthy that are going on in my life and in the world? Goodness knows the world is full of news that’s seldom any of these things. So, even the color and the play of designing something winds up being a blessing that uplifts the spirit. It helps to consciously realize that there is a lot to be thankful for, in spite of the challenges, or to switch from grumbling to gratitude.

I hope that sharing this helps you too!

 

Blaiseintotheblue

Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized

Picturesque Passages 6

Picturesque Passages 6.png

Words of encouragement in a dark time, when we need to be reminded that things are eventually made right, and that all is in His hands. So let us keep on asking, seeking, and knocking – according to His proclamations and promises to us.

Thanks be to God.

“With the kind You show Yourself kind; With the blameless You show Yourself blameless; With the pure You show Yourself pure, And with the crooked You show Yourself astute. For You save an afflicted people, But haughty eyes You abase. For You light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines my darknessFor by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”

 

(From Psalm 18:25-30)

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Where To From Here?

Come To Me .png

We are created in the image and likeness of God. We are deeply, divinely loved and precious to Him beyond imagining.

– However-

We are also a race fallen from His grace, due to being coerced into complicity with rebellion, resulting spiritually in captivity to the arch enemy of God.

But we have been redeemed and have the opportunity to be restored in full! All who receive Christ receive the power to become the sons of God (Jn 1:12)

The question then is, where to from here? Self will, or God’s will which is this amazing plan of redemption, salvation, and restoration through Jesus the Christ?

Posted in Christianity, Holidays, Observations, Uncategorized

Thoughts Post Earth Day

Wonderings among wandering thoughts, or wandering among wondering thoughts (?) while gazing up at the criss crossing tic tac toe patterns in the sky, and considering the many forms taken by warfare:

The best way to honor and support our troops might be to bring them all home from these foreign “theaters” of bloodshed and death. Are they defending our freedoms, or that of an exclusive handful of megalomaniacs who pillage other countries?

Tell your kids and grandkids not to sign up. To whom are the powers that be making these blood sacrifices of our young people in the flowering of their youth?

In my “several decades” on this earth, there have been maybe 5, if that, where “we” have not been involved in some conflict “over there.” Few of us actually recall what peace looks like. And during the years when all the hippies were singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance,” I too had swallowed another flavor of Kool Aid and was wearing a uniform during the Viet Nam years.

Standing military ready to defend the home front? Sure. No question that this is a sensible idea.

But this continual conflict to make sure the agenda of the military industrial complex keeps globally advancing was not what I thought I’d signed up for. How many of the children of the rich and powerful do you see on the front lines? Few if any. Because their kids are far too important to be cannon fodder. But they don’t bat an eyelash at sending ours to defend their interests. Even civilian casualties are looked upon as merely “acceptable collateral damage.”

An evolving species? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s more like 21st century cavemen with fancier upscale clubs and spears. And as Einstein said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Back to square 1?

It makes you wonder – is the abundance we enjoy in the USA at the expense of other nations with a gun held to the heads of their leaders by international corporate interests? I would like to believe that this is not the case. I love my country, but I do have some questions.

For this day let us pray! – “And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4)

“He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.” (Psalm 46:9)

“There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

“And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)

“Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him. “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

“The nations were enraged, and Your wrath has come. The time has come to judge the dead, and to reward Your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear Your name, both small and great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)

Pray!

Maranatha!

Hope you’ve had a great Earth Day.