Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

His Workmanship

Cross : His Workmanship.png

 

Father God, Who is Love – let us never forget Whose we are, by virtue of Your creation and re-creation of us in our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom belongs all authority in heaven and on earth. Please pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us, so that we may always think, speak, and act according to Your nature and will in Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us, to rescue us from this present evil age. Amen.

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

Meek Does Not Mean Weak

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:22-24)

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It is said that Moses was the meekest man above all others on the face of the earth! (See Numbers 12:3) Imagine that for a moment! Here is someone who walks into the court of Pharaoh from whose condemnation he fled years before. Moses then performs miracles by the hand of God bringing about the liberation of the entire enslaved population of the Jews. He leads them out of Egypt. From there he parts the Red Sea, leading these ex-slaves in the wilderness for forty years – refining and preparing them to receive the inheritance of the Promised Land given to them by God so long ago. There in the Wilderness of Sinai he receives the covenants of God’s Law while on the mountain and sees God face to face. Not exactly the average Mr. Milk Toast, as defined by today’s ideas about the word “meek”!

So, we might ask, what’s so unique about meek, since Jesus also invites us to learn meekness of Him? Certainly we’d have to agree that the Biblical kind of meek does not mean weak! It certainly is not characterized by being a doormat. In fact it’s remarkably resilient, powerful, and no nonsense.

Meekness here, rather than referring to timidity, is the boldness which comes only from full surrender to the Spirit of the Living God and to our Heavenly Father’s will – which always has the best and highest in mind for us! Our meekness results in His strength.

Sometimes maybe we get a little confused about how this meekness thing works.

One of the best and surest ways meekness operates is through the prayer attitude of Jesus before His betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Thy will, not mine, be done!” He prays. Obviously this requires radical commitment as well as being able to see beyond the cross and our daily co-crucifixion in Jesus. Yes, we see beyond the cross and hold the vision of our resurrection and ascension – also in Him. We have to understand that the way to is the way through, and surrender the ego self to it.

Meekness has everything to do with the inner view of what we call “faith”. I think the NASB has an easy-to-comprehend definition of that in Hebrews 11:1 – “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Without a faith-view, it’s virtually impossible to practice meekness, for faith is not ever really “blind”.

Perhaps it would be good at this point to prayerfully pause for awhile to consider how God may be calling on us for this kind of meekness in our own life… How does that look? Where is my ego holding me back, with its personal agendas and opinions for its own fulfillment?

Preceding this personal working knowledge is the heart that completely desires the Father’s will, having first experienced His unconditional Love (See 1 John 4:19). We’ve  seen God’s Love for us in action. We know we can trust Him in whatever He asks of us. It means abiding in His Holy Spirit and in His Scriptural Word. Surrender in this case is built on a deep and lasting trust in Divine Wisdom through the experience of its workings.

This is also known as humility… not what I want, Lord, but what You want, nothing held back now or ever. “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way…”

There is no doubt that the journey He leads us on will have a blessed destination. We realize, know, and understand that He never leaves us or forsakes us – no matter where He takes us.

Thus is it not a fairly simple matter to surrender oneself to Him, or to practice meekness,  since we know of His wholly reliable and unconditional lovingkindness toward us?

Simple in theory, but practice is another matter, we might say. More easily said than done?

But this is the point: learning meekness is a spiritual practice. And practice makes perfect, they say… The quality, the virtue, of meekness grows as we allow God to aim His grace toward us, and through us out into life! The more surrendered to Him we become, the more we manifest His image and likeness in the world.

Very soon we will be entering another Lenten cycle. This invites us to further and more deeply consider the meekness Jesus asks us to learn of Him. He invites us to once more walk in the remembrance and realization of His full commitment to the redemptive work in the plan of salvation it was His to do.

As we follow Jesus into this very real and daily experience of fleshing out our co-crucifixion with Him, let us be “bravely meek” and stalwartly committed, as the prophet Isaiah reminds us: “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:7)

Kind comments and insights welcome. Blessings, dear reader.

Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized

Surrendered To Divine Intention

It never ceases to fill me with awe and wonder whenever contemplating the following passage, summarizing why the Church exists. She is the Bride extraordinaire to her Bridegroom, one with Him as a spiritual warrior fighting powers unseen and bringing captives to freedom at the deepest and most profound levels, in Her Bridegroom’s Name.

“…God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God… For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3: 9,10,14-19 KJV)

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Several aims of the Apostle’s prayer stand out dynamically as something worth pondering, something really worth entering into through the work and life of the elect, by way of prayer as the central focus and purpose of our being.

The question is, does our aim as the church align with what is revealed here? Do we pray this prayer with the Apostle, or are we approaching God, in a manner of speaking, looking for beads and trinkets instead of the heavenly spiritual pearls and diamonds of priceless worth?

The first order of business is intention, not of self interest, but surrendered to Divine Will and Purpose. Paul isn’t talking about simply making a better life for ourselves. He is revealing that the the elect are called to a very supernatural purpose – that the multi faceted Wisdom of God is to be revealed by the elect – not just to Earth dwelling human beings, but to the principalities and powers in heavenly places!

(The reader may want to meditate on Romans 8, to access even more insight into “the fellowship of the mystery”, as Paul refers to it in Ephesians 3:9. This fellowship is the “Ecclesia”, the ones Jesus prayed for, those called out of worldly religions and systems, per John 17:6, to a specific and supernatural purpose.)

The second thought addressed is the idea of being strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. There’s much to be done, and it begins with “an inside job” – the work of the Spirit in and through us. Being surrendered to the work of the Cross of our Lord Jesus – His redemptive work – so as to be set free from the entanglements of evil, beginning within ourselves – is what this is about. This takes place in time and space, here and now. It is in the innermost being where the process of salvation begins and continues. We’re liberated at the most foundational level, cleansed, healed, restored and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The third point is that Christ’s Spirit must make His abode in us. This is so easily taken for granted. I’m baptized, so I’m a Christian… I belong to such and such a church or group, so I’m a Christian… I answered an altar call… I speak in tongues… Such ideas are “blessed assumptions”. Assuming does not make it so. Redemption is given freely through Christ, yes. But salvation is a process worked out by surrender to God’s will and work through the power of the Holy Spirit, with fear and trembling.

The fourth issue is this. Prayer in alignment with the Mind of Christ embraces a spiritual and supernatural vision unlike anything we can imagine. Prayer means continual asking, seeking, and knocking so we – being rooted and grounded in Christ Love – may comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of His Love (in all dimensions and directions!) surpassing all knowledge! Why? To be filled up to all the fullness of God – a far greater Reality than most of us ever thought possible!

Something happened a very long time ago. Angels staged a coup in Heaven. Humanity became complicit and was drawn out of its blessed and perfect estate, falling into a cosmic trap. A plan of redemption was conceived by the Godhead and carried out by none other than the Fullness of the Godhead in bodily form – Jesus the Messiah.

He now calls forth His elect to live a life that serves notice to all principalities and powers hostile to our Supernal Father Creator and His children. Those fallen rebels are to be evicted from the Creation which they hijacked, and is to be restored to those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Christ Jesus.

The question is, who has actually heard and understood the call – the call to come out from among the world’s systems, false religions, philosophies, and paradigms and to stand apart in His Name on behalf of His Kingdom which is not of this world? This mission is not for the faint of heart, but in Christ it is also not “mission impossible”, for with God all things are possible. In Christ, let us be about the Father’s business.

Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized

Picturesque Passages 6

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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

A Hard Kind Of Praying

Matthew 5:44,45. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

1Timothy 2:1-4. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers,
petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Luke 23:34. “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’…”

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This is the last thing our fallen flesh nature wants to do, to pray as Jesus prayed, and to pray as He commands us to pray. But picture for a moment the spectacle, the miracle – a multitude being led forth out of a very dark dungeon, a multitude who were once sworn enemies of our Lord and of His Church.

Yet He desires to save them because He knows their souls have been ensnared by the father of lies. The adversary common to them – which they serve – is also the common enemy to us who no longer serve him. Therefore, Christ commands us to pray for them, because the adversary of those we regard as our enemy is the adversary to us both!

This view can shed an entirely different light on our human foes, who are not actually – at least as far as our Lord is concerned – enemies, but human beings like ourselves in need of the Gospel and the experience of their Redemption, just as we are. They are people whose minds and bodies may yet be in abject servitude to the uttermost darkness.

Seldom is it easy to love and pray for those whom we see as the adversary because we comprehend them according to the flesh, rather than perceiving them as our Father in Heaven sees them – as His children for whom His Son died, still in a terrible captivity, awaiting the dawning that awakens them and calls them forth from “the grave” of spiritual death into the glorious liberty and Light of Christ.

Jesus went to the cross for them, just as He did for you and for me. What magnificent and perfect Love it was that looked down from that cross and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

When we begin – by faith that ignores feelings and opinions – to pray as Jesus prayed, pretty soon we realize that it is difficult to hate anyone for whom we are praying. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see them with the eyes of Jesus! Our heart opens up to the horrible bondage they are in. They may have never known anything else! So to hate them is like hating someone who is dying of a terminal disease they were born with, for that it what it is spiritually.

Pretty soon our Father’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we pray for those with whom we are at odds. We simply yearn for our brothers and sisters to also come home, with the all consuming love of the Father Who waits for them, just as He waited for the rest of us prodigals!

Thus we cannot allow disdain for anyone to stand in the way of our praying for them, whether personal or political. Prayer on their behalf is a way of resisting the devil who holds them in his prison, and that dark one desires to arouse feelings in us about the lost ones – feelings which we should reserve toward him who is our common foe!

In praying for our enemies and those who hate us, it is a way of extending our Father’s grace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus to them, as the body of Christ. We cannot afford not to do this… “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:26)

Praying for such as these is a co-participation in the work of Christ Himself, Who came to destroy the works of the evil one! (1John 3:8)

May the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified now and forever! Amen.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Becalmed In The Deep Blue(s)

It’s being reported that numerous faithful Christians find themselves in a space where they don’t feel like they amount to much, as if they have come to the end of themselves.

That may be a good thing.

Having been through this more than once, I would offer the following, only by way of what I learned from it. For what it’s worth to you, here goes.

Sometimes, believe it or not, that sense of futility can be a normal part of the Lord doing His work in us, where the perception is more that He seems absent than present. He can be asking us to move on with Him more by sheer faith than by feelings. We may find that it’s not so much about our will, or our efforts, but being brought by the Holy Spirit to a point of surrendering that will-fullness. We may need to have our eyes opened to the fact that we’ve been striving under our own power of will and ego to “serve” the Lord.  What we thought was serving Him may actually be self effort and self reliance. Flesh effort, not led of the Holy Spirit.

This can come along with a sense of exhaustion, and even the onset of physical health issues. Been there, done that.

It can be unnerving – this sense of futility – and it may last a long time – until we can see and understand this. It is not fun. It’s kind of like sailing along, then being becalmed in the middle of the sea. However, what we may find out is that we thought we were sailing, when in truth we were rowing under our own efforts. And someone has stolen the oars!

What’s somewhat unfortunate is that the overall tone of present day (American – Western in particular) Christianity is to always be doing and doing and doing. Ministers have little to offer in the way of advice, since the prevailing thought is frequently about what we should do, to be “active” for God, rather than what He wants to do for us and or within us. Thus – when we come to the point of being becalmed, and send out a distress call, and it’s advised by a pastor or friend or spiritual advisor to just go and do some more “good works,” or get more active – that counsel may actually be counter productive to what the Lord Himself is trying to get across to us.

He may want us sitting still for His own reasons! “Hey, you, now that I have your attention….”

At that point, it might be good to consider being as Mary of Bethany, sitting at the feet of Jesus and quietly taking in what He may want to let us know, Bible in hand, in prayer. Might it be time to let Him minimize Martha and magnify Mary?

We may discover that He’s calling us up from being a servant to being His friend. Consider John 15:14-16. “You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will remain—so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.”

Fruit emerges due to the branch abiding in the vine. The branch does nothing of its own efforts.

Remember, His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. But I do think that at times He likes to let us in on what He’s doing every now and again… when we have a need to know.

May Christ’s peace, blessing, and understanding be bestowed upon you, dear reader.