Random Blog Clay Feet: 2009-03
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Blog Launch

I have decided to differentiate a little more in how I manage my blogs. This is my original blog site and I still have been placing a number of things here. But because it seems to sometimes be a hodge-podge of ideas that sometimes don't seem to fit together all that well, I decided to leave this site more for personal notes, events and such that are not so purely spiritually focused, if that makes sense. I already have two other sites for more specific spiritual focuses but I have decided to launch yet another one that will be more of the catch-all for the insights that seem to suddenly appear out of thin air (or Holy Spirit air if you may believe) that are not along the lines of what I am studying in particular. That is already being covered by my blog titled Deeper Word where I focus on whatever area of the Bible I am currently meditating and studying about.

This new blog is going to be where I post the more miscellaneous items of spiritual interest that usually ended up on this site. That will free this one up for more family or personal or newsy types of things – at least that is what I am supposing at this point.

At any rate, this is sure to mess up some of the links to this site until others come to notice that things have changed a little. I hope no one is offended by this.

As always, my primary focus is not to post things to convince others of my viewpoints so much as to simply share what I am learning and make it available for others to ponder. Because of this I have decided to name my newest blog, Spiritual Ponderings. If this is of interest to you then feel free to click on over and see the latest posts that have kicked it off. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired. And as always, I love to hear your thoughts and response and even questions whenever the spirit moves you to do so.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Negative Numbers and the Sapphire Sea

For whatever reason, I found myself thinking the other day about the Sea of Glass described in several places in the Bible, which then in turn led me to another very interesting observation that opened up whole new dimensions about my perceptions of reality.

Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11)

Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like the awesome gleam of crystal, spread out over their heads. (Ezekiel 1:22)

Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them. (Ezekiel 10:1)

And before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. (Revelation 4:6)

And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. (Revelation 15:2)

A number of years ago I received a set of sermons that introduced me to these various passages about this expanse called the Sea of Glass. They went into great detail about the various colors and the deeper significance of those colors and I found it all rather fascinating and informative.

But one thing that interested me and that sent me off in a different direction this time was the fact that in some of these references this surface seems to be viewed from underneath and in others it seems to be described from the other side. But all of them appear to be talking about the same subject or place, just from different perspectives.

Then my mind went to mathematics – of all things. It occurred to me how confused I often get when trying to work with negative numbers, especially when I was younger. What feels logical when working with “normal”, positive numbers seems intuitively backwards when working with negative numbers. Adding and subtracting I could handle reasonably well if I was careful to think it through logically. But when it came to multiplying and dividing, the results would always confuse me with unexpected results.

As I think about this more carefully, I begin to realize part of the problem between what actually happens when working with negative numbers and what feels like should happen from intuition. If I think about the seeming value of a digit – let's just say -15 to pick a random number – and then I take a positive number like 7 and add that to -15, according to the rules of mathematics I will end up with -8.

Now, I realize that anyone well-trained in math will think this is a no-brainer and may even think this is stupid to analyze. But in another part of my brain something reasons this way (not logically but emotionally):

If I start out with a digit that has the feeling of a certain value, then when I add another digit to that digit one would expect the resulting digit to be greater in size.

I realize that the rules that govern negative numbers cause the opposite to take place in this instance. Yes, I realize that with my logical brain and accept it as a fact. But that does not negate the fact that the other part of my brain simply is not wired to think in that way. It insists with my emotions that if addition is happening here, then the digit size should result in something bigger, not smaller.

Now what does this have to do at all with the Sea of Glass described above in various places throughout the Bible? That is a very good question, and here is how they connected in my brain.

I sense that ever since sin entered into our world and affected everything about our existence, our brains and “normal” logic systems always default to thinking that what feels normal to us is in fact the opposite of what feels and in fact is normal on the other side of reality as we perceive it. That Sea of Glass that looks like crystal with the color of sapphire and has fire somehow mingled all through it – that flat expanse that will someday support the feet of billions of the saved who are about to enter the gates into the New Jerusalem may be likened to the dividing point that zero is in our number system as we use mathematics.

That implies that everything below that Sea of Glass, that division between our perception of reality and the rest of the universe's understanding of reality, functions with rules of negative thinking, negative assumptions and the rules somewhat like those that govern math in the negative territory on the number scale. And most people know that the things you expect when working with negative numbers are very different than the results you would expect to see when working with positive numbers.

To add to the complexity of this situation though, consider the additional rules that must be taken into account when mixing the two kinds of numbers. When something is taken from the other side of zero and used on the opposite side, then that too has to be taken into account as to what to expect in the resulting answer produced.

For instance, if you add a positive number to a negative number, the digit size is going to get smaller instead of larger (unless of course it crosses the boundary-line of zero). But if you add a negative number to a negative number the result is going to be a larger negative number relatively (digit-wise).

In the same way, when things from the other side of reality as we perceive it, the other side of that sapphire sea, are brought into our realm and our ways of reasoning, they almost always seem completely backwards to the results that we by nature would expect to experience.

To illustrate this, let us remind ourselves of some clues of this very principle.

But many who are first will be last; and the last, first. (Matthew 19:30)

So the last shall be first, and the first last. (Matthew 20:16)

Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35)

But many who are first will be last, and the last, first. (Mark 10:31)

And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last. (Luke 13:30)

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:38-40)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)

It has always felt to me like many things about the kingdom of heaven just “felt” intuitively backwards. It was like I had to memorize the unusual rules than govern how things seem to be working in some other system in order to make sense of what kind of results to expect. But it never seemed to really help change my gut-level expectations of how things should turn out. All of these sayings on the part of Jesus just seem to most of us to be counter-intuitive. This is also seen in the description of the whole attitude of Jesus as described in Phil. 2:3-11.

So in summary, sin has caused our logic, our intuition, our sense of what is “normal”, to function beneath zero. That is because of the factor of selfishness that always permeates every calculation that goes on in our brain, our thinking and our feelings. We are living currently on the underside of the Sea of Glass, that sapphire expanse that appears like the sky to us above which is a whole different perspective of reality and a whole different set of paradigms and “normals” which feel so unfamiliar to us down here. We are currently functioning on the negative side of that boundary line.

The good news is that God is doing everything possible to not leave us stuck in this underworld where everything is so different than the reality which we were designed to enjoy and in which we were supposed to thrive. We were made for a different world and our hearts are never satisfied with the negative results that are always produced from our normal calculations.

It is because of this that we have to learn to trust in the math of heaven instead of what feels intuitively normal to us. That is what faith is really all about. We have to allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God who will guide us in ways that feel strange at times and even illogical from our perspective or many around us. But this is part of our transition to learning how to live in the real reality which the rest of the unfallen universe has always enjoyed and to which we are headed for to enjoy for eternity if we allow God through salvation to accomplish His intended purpose in our lives.

Legal Tender

I got up this morning to capture another one of those unexpected ideas that was presented to me before I lost it. It is insights regarding the nature of debt, sin and salvation that have puzzled me for most of my life and keeps me looking for more answers that make sense and line up with the principles I have been learning from the Bible. This increased understanding is helping me to further sort out some of the troublesome questions that have haunted me for years. As I have spent time listening to others who have excellent insights into this subject and put that together with what God has been showing me over the years, the puzzle just keeps getting more filled in and the picture becomes clearer. If you would care to read it, I posted it at another of my blogs where the subject matter fits in with the theme of the site quite well. You can read it by clicking here. But be aware, it is not a real short post. Enjoy and have a great day. And I welcome any comments or ideas to enhance my own understanding even further.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Without an Intercessor - 4

The only reason we will ever be without an intercessor is because there is no longer any need for intercession. That point in time will occur when every person has made a final decision about the relationship offered them by God and when that relationship has been sealed or rejected. If they choose to reject God's offer to transform their heart in covenant bonds with Him, they are sealed in the service of Satan. Then there is no longer any need or use for an intercessor, for there is no one to intercede with any longer, no one left to enter into a relationship different than the one they have chosen.

Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. (Isaiah 59:15-17)

As long as there are individuals who have not finalized their choice of which master to render their loyalty and service to, Jesus will continue to intercede with them, seeking to draw them in by any means possible to the side of truth and loyalty to the God of heaven. But there does come a time when people have so hardened their hearts that it is no longer possible whatsoever for them to change their minds. At this point they have destroyed their capacity and ability to choose differently by repeated rejections of the voice of the Holy Spirit. At this time God respects that choice by letting them have the consequences of their own persistent demands. He gives them over – which is the Bible's definition of the wrath of God. (Romans 2:24, 26, 28)

As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you. Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to spite Me. (Jeremiah 7:16-18)

When an intercessor pleads for God to show mercy to those who have completely rejected His mercy, that is an attempt to get God to reverse His decision to respect their final choice in regards to His offers of mercy and grace. There is no point in God continuing to offer mercy and forgiveness to those who have destroyed all their ability to accept it. The only thing left is to release them to their choices.

Some are confused when they read that everyone will bow in willing worship before God. They assume that because everyone will worship that must mean they will be saved as well. But the two are not the same thing.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

At the same time, many take this to believe that because every knee will bow that God will resort to the use of force in the end to get unrepentant sinners to worship Him. But that is equally false because it pictures God as one willing to stoop to the methods of His arch-enemy to accomplish securing worship for Himself. This idea is reflective of the spirit of Satan, not that of our wise, loving heavenly Father. This is something that many of us think is only logical because we cannot perceive of any other way that this could be accomplished. But our own ignorance should not be the basis for our beliefs about God's character.

God values freedom more than anything else. This is because true love can only thrive in an atmosphere free of all coercion. So it simply would be illogical and counter-productive for God to resort to removing people's freedom in order to secure worship for Himself. That is a demonstration of selfishness, not the Spirit of selfless love and compassion that marks the acts of God. It is crucial that we clear away the clouds of deception and lies that still fog our vision so that we can see the real truth about the way God relates to sinners. When that begins to take place it will become much easier for us to perceive the real truth and the motivation that will finally cause everyone, both saved and lost alike, to bow before God in willing worship and acquiescence without any coercion whatsoever.

But while all will be in full agreement that God is absolutely fair in every respect and that He is just in the way He has chosen to resolve the problems that sin brought into the universe, it does not follow that all will then be ready to surrender to His authority or be able to thrive in His presence. In fact, ironically it is their very act of willing worship and recognition of His total lack of coercion that plunges the lost into the emotional agonies described as the fires of hell. For to stand in the presence of anyone who loves you so purely and passionately and has endured your rejection of their advances without the slightest trace of evil or resentment or hostility is to self-induce an emotional torment that is on a scale equal with or more intense than the worst possible torture anyone could inflict on you from the outside. This is the true condition that creates the torments of hell.

He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)

Jesus is currently our intercessor and friend. But that is not for the purpose of changing God's heart about us but to change our hearts about God. When we overcome the lies about God in our hearts and minds through the intercession of Jesus on His behalf, then Jesus, God and ourselves will be in perfect agreement. And the true meaning of the word confess simply means to agree.

And that is the final goal of everything the Godhead and all of heaven has been trying to achieve all throughout this long trial and controversy with Satan's rebellion. God wants to restore fully the atmosphere of full agreement without resorting to any of Satan's false techniques of force, deception or fear. God will finally win this war and He is going to be vindicated using only the truth and the methods consistent with both truth and unfailing love. It is love that is going to overcome in the end, not fear, not force, not deception.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 12-13)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wrestling With God

I am starting to understand better what was really going on in Jacob's wrestling match with the angel of God. As I ponder the crucial point of transition from spending all of his efforts wrestling against the angel to clinging to the angel, it becomes clear as I relate it to my own experience what needs to take place in my perceptions of how to relate to God.

Jacob had spent his whole life in conflict. Even though he had deep urges to be connected with God, he had been operating under many of the same false assumptions about how to be connected with God as most of us have. He thought that he had to work hard at figuring out how to get what was needed for spiritual success and so when things looked dangerously impossible he always resorted to coming up with whatever it took to move forward. But this meant that he often resorted to using methods and paradigms supplied from the counterfeit system of beliefs about God and the results of those choices always ended up making things worse for his life.

I have been learning that living a righteous life can never be accomplished by figuring out all the right things to do, all the wrong things to avoid doing and then asking God for extra strength, wisdom and ability so I can then perform all those requirements. That is the way that seems right to men, but the end of that way is always death. This is because it is all based on the wrong foundation of fear for motivation instead of reactive love and devotion to a God who is so kind and generous and full of blessing that I just can't help but want to serve Him.

Basing our lives on fear is always a bad idea. And as I look carefully at this wrestling event in Jacob's experience that has been held up as the most important turning point in his whole life, I see that it was at this point that God was able to get Jacob to move past his fear-based relationship with Him to a love-bonded relationship with Him. Instead of fighting against God as he had been inadvertently doing for much of his life, Jacob suddenly switched over to living from his heart fully and threw himself totally on the mercy of God in complete dependence on God's desire to love him, to save him and to do whatever He wanted in Jacob's life.

But from Jacob's side, this did not mean that Jacob relaxed in his wrestling. No, not at all. In fact, if anything he struggled and wrestled even more intensely. But from this point on instead of fighting against the love that God had wanted to bless him with all of his life, he now used all of his remaining energy, both physically and emotionally to cling for dear life to the only One worth clinging to. Instead of clinging to his own efforts to get himself good enough for God or to maneuver himself into a place of favor with God, he now chose to intensely trust in God's heart to accomplish this goal and to stop trying to make things work out through his own efforts and ideas.

Jacob's heart had longed for nearly all of his life for the deep satisfaction that only a real blessing could bring. I can identify very strongly with that feeling. Everyone of us is designed to crave most deeply for a blessing that will impart a sense of worth and value, that will bestow on our deepest soul a strong sense of identity and purpose and most of all to satisfy our deepest need for “joy” which is the keen awareness that someone loves us intensely and is always very glad to be close to us. This is what Jacob had been seeking to satisfy for all of his life but in all the wrong ways.

He had tried to satisfy these deep and legitimate cravings by being a good boy growing up. He had tried to get this most needed blessing by stealing it twice from his brother but with very tragic results. He had resorted to deception and manipulation in many circumstances but to little avail. He had tried to find it in love with a woman but even that backfired terribly as he became the victim of his father-in-law's deceptions and jealousy and ended up with four women. It seemed that no matter how he tried to satisfy these deepest cravings of his heart that everything he did only left him feeling a little more hungry than before. By the time he found himself facing the negative consequences of nearly all of his vain attempts to make himself feel valuable all coming together at once, he still felt completely empty and fearful and helpless. He was a rich man according to the measurements of this world, a man who had multiple lovers, many children and everything that is supposed to make one happy. But instead of feeling fulfilled he felt hopeless, depressed and so full of terror that he was at the end of his rope for figuring out any more ideas of how to satisfy the deepest longings of his soul.

At this point in his life his most intense desires to feel loved and valued far surpassed the terror and dangers that tried to rivet his attention as strong as those were. He realized that his whole family's existence was in jeopardy because of his bungled attempts to get right with God in his past and so he found himself in an all night prayer vigil seeking to connect with the God that had seemed to evade his desperate search for most of his life. Yes, God had appeared to him before to encourage him, but that had not brought him into the deep, satisfying relationship with God that he so wanted to know. He still had not learned how to live in a peaceful state of joy and rest in the arms of his God. He had continued to try to work things out himself and now it seemed that his number was up with his brother coming to attack him.

So in this state of mind, when God himself approached Jacob to give him the very blessing that he so longed to receive, Jacob's life of living first from fear caused him to fight against the very thing that he wanted the most – a hug from his Creator and Redeemer and God. The very time he could have spent soaking in the arms of His Savior he spent trying to fight off and to resist Him instead. How sad that he wasted nearly the whole night resisting the very love and assurance and joy that he was looking for so intently. Because of the lies about God that had distorted his thinking all of his life, he almost totally missed the very opportunity that he had been craving for all of his life.

But fortunately he did not completely miss it altogether. Before it was all done, through the final moments of overwhelming pain searing in his body he came to be aware of the real identity of the one whom he was resisting and his heart leapt into action and he latched on to the only hope worth clinging to. His heart had yearned for a sense of blessing from a Father for all of his life and his hunger for this was so intense that even the excruciating pain of a dislocated hip could not stop him from changing from all-out resistance to all-out clinging dependence. The intense pain only exemplified the even deeper pain that he felt in his heart, longing for the sense of blessing, worth and love that he needed to know to be a real man.

At this point Jacob broke away from his habits of living by fear and plunged into living a life of clinging to love. God had come to him and amplified his fears to the breaking point so that Jacob could see that this method could never supply the deepest needs of his heart. Fear always seems so logical and sensible and natural, but it will always lead us down the wrong path in our pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. Our hearts were not designed for fear but for love and it is not until we reject the suggestions of fear and cling to the unfamiliar but only true source of life in trusting God's heart that any of us will ever be able to receive the blessing that we must have in order to experience fulfillment and peace.

I know that I need to have this experience in my own life. I sometimes sense the intensity of my own heart's cravings for that blessing which I never received from my earthly father. As a result I have lived in a lot of dysfunction in my relationships with others and have had very confused ideas of how to live in relationship with God. God has taught me a great deal of truth about these things over the past few years for which I am eternally grateful. But I also realize that I still don't have that deep sense of value and assurance that was kept from me by the very ones who were supposed to impart it to me when I was young. As a result I can really identify with Jacob and his many attempts to find love in all the wrong ways.

In my study of the Scriptures I realize that God's people are destined to go through a time in the near future called “the time of Jacob's trouble”. But what began to dawn on me a few years ago was that instead of being a time to be terrorized about – as the way this was usually taught, this is going to be the time when we more fully receive that deep sense of blessing and connection with our God that we have been longing for all of our lives.

That is not to say that it will not be terribly painful. That is clear from Jacob's experience. But the fear of pain must be surpassed by our craving and desires for the heart blessing of our Father that forces past every obstacle that tries to keep us from that blessing. I can see that possibly the greatest obstacle that will become evident may be my own mind wrestling against the very channels through which God is seeking to impart His blessing to me. And this is something I need to start learning now, not just in that day when I are forced into this situation.

The reason that these stories are given to us in the Bible is so that we can relate differently to God now based on seeing the mistakes of others in the past. I don't have to try all the wrong ways of connecting with God like Jacob did because I can see from his experience what not to do before I try it myself. The same is true of all the other Bible characters who tried all the wrong ways of figuring out life. We have the advantage of the whole history of the world behind us so that we can learn and take better choices and have better outcomes based on their mistakes and successes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

False Witness Righteousness

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)

Something interesting came to my attention yesterday. I was pondering the problem of how often Christians try to act “good”, put so much emphasis on appearing righteous – whatever they happen to think that means – and focus so much attention on behavior instead of the real beliefs of their hearts. As a result we tend to create a great deal of hypocrisy whether we like it or not. Even Jesus rebuked the evangelism of the Pharisees and told them plainly that the converts they worked so hard to produce only became worse hypocrites than they were.

But this is certainly not just a problem of ancient times or even just some other church. It is a problem of human nature and if we are human we are going to gravitate in this direction. Humans have a sinful nature that has skewed our perception of what is important and has rearranged our priorities incorrectly. As a result we assume that sin has to do with behavior more than anything else and so the way to get away from it is to change our external behavior and intellectual beliefs. Or we may go another direction and think that if we just induce enough intense emotions during some form of worship experience that it will make up for all our failures and that God will save us in spite of our selfishness.

But both sides miss the real point of the problem of sin. Sin at its root has little to do with behavior or even appearances. In fact, such thinking is already deep into the deception that sin causes in our thinking. The original problem that caused Lucifer to evolve into Satan was a shift in focus from internal integrity and beauty to external appearances and beauty. He started a revolution based on the idea that external performance was more important than joyful loyalty to the heart of God. And everywhere that sin has infected minds and hearts this same symptom is always sure to appear.

As I have become more familiar with the bigger picture, the context in which we all live and struggle in this life, the clearer it becomes that the core issue in life is not stopping the bad behaviors we do and eliminating “sin” from our lives externally. It is coming to perceive the real truth about God beyond all the mass of lies and misrepresentations of Satan and learning to live in the light of that truth from our hearts. Our lives are not about putting on a good performance as many suppose but about becoming authentic and useful witnesses in the great trial of God being conducted in the universe.

Consider the following verses in relation to the one above.

Isa 43:10 You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.”

Isa 43:12 “It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And I am God.”

Isa 44:8 “Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.”

It occurred to me that when we encourage people to act like we suppose Christians might act without first having the core heart condition and connection with God in place with a correct view of the heart of God, then we are really training them to become false witnesses. For to claim to be a Christian whether with words or with actions while failing to understand the real reasons that should be motivating such behavior and words is to live a lie while pretending to live in the truth.

When we think that just learning a set of doctrines is all we need to be a Christian, we are deceiving our own minds as well as trying to deceive others. Of course, the nature of deception is that we soon don't realize we are even deceived and become very defensive if anyone happens to point it out. We tend to assume that Christianity is all about performance and intellectual profession. But sadly the truth is that this is actually setting us up to bear false testimony in the trial of God. For God is interested primarily in a heart connection with His children, not a good outward show. He is not waiting for us to get our act together and look good before men or to even impress Him, He is doing everything possible to get us to surrender our efforts at trying to “do good” and to learn to enter into His rest and joy where He can live in us and produce the righteousness that is impossible for us to ever achieve in our efforts.

But when we resist all efforts by the Holy Spirit to reveal the real truth about God to our hearts, when we choose to live in fear and keep our religion only in the external realm of our life, then the only conclusion that can be made about our life will be that we are bearing false witness against God. For God has stated very clearly in His Word that He is the only one who can cause us to walk in His ways if we will allow Him full access to our hearts and affections. Any other method will result in a denial of His claims.

Abraham is represented in the Bible as one of the examples of how to properly live in a saving relationship with God. Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6 NIV) Paul and James both quote this text in their seemingly opposite explanations of how to live effectively as a Christian. But for those willing to carefully examine both sides of this issue it can be seen that James' emphasis on works does not undo the emphasis of Paul on faith but simply addresses the popular notion that one can have saving faith without having it then change the whole life.

The main point that I think is very easy to miss is that without a heart-based motivation for our works, a real emotional and honest attachment in a real relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, it is impossible for us to live an authentic life of true righteousness. The real problem that we are facing is not a lack of righteousness in our lives as bad as that may be; the real problem is a lack of true belief in the righteousness of God. And I think that is largely due to a great lack of understanding of what that word even means to begin with.

Over the past few years I have begun to perceive that pretty much every word and phrase in religion has had its true meaning transposed into something different than its original. As a result, we can use Bible verses to justify all sorts of false ideas about God and about how to get to heaven, etc. But as I have come to realize the real root meanings of many of these words and phrases such as righteousness – which was a real challenge – I have come to see God in a radically different light than ever before. And the more I see the real truth about God and His attitude and feelings towards me the easier it is to want a deeper connection with Him and the easier it is to surrender my will to His will and allow Him access to the deeper parts of my soul.

I, like everyone else on this planet, have been victimized by false witnesses about God. There is an incredibly huge conspiracy to keep us in the dark about how God feels about us and it has largely been successful. But God is gaining ground on unmasking this conspiracy of lies about Him and He invites all who come into a fuller knowledge of the real truth about Him to become truthful witnesses to what they are encountering in their new relationship with Him.

I do not want to be party to training either myself or others to be false witnesses for God. I do not want to encourage pretending to be Christian while not having a heart filled with the passionate love of the Father. I do not want to motivate people to obedience by frightening them with fears of condemnation or false ideas about God's wrath. I want to increase the light level about God at the heart level and allow this revelation of God's glory to do the work that it does best – produce the righteousness of God in human lives naturally.

When our righteousness is spontaneous, when it is authentic and truthful, when our obedience comes from the heart instead of being forced by the head or motivated by fear, then our testimony in God's trial will become effective to influence others to want to know Him better and respond to His love for them. As we do this we will come into line with the command about bearing false testimony and will find our lives truly authentic and alive. And we will begin to truly know and encounter the glory that Moses begged to see. We shall begin to see the true face of our loving Father.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Without an Intercessor - 3

I just woke up from a very strange, and at the last a very emotionally intense dream. Upon awakening I pondered the significance of this dream and began to realize that very possibly God was drawing my attention to keeping focused on His perspective about a very dicey situation in which I have been sharing counsel and prayer with a friend of mine.

The dream involved this friend, but the situation and the other people involved were altered enough from the real-life version that it did not look very familiar to me. The offended parties in my dream were different than in real life so it caught me by surprise. I think it was intended that way.

Without divulging details that should probably remain private at this point in time about the real situation, I now see that the dream was not so much a parallel to the real-life situation as it was a reminder to allow God full access to the situation even though to all human appearances it seems totally impossible to bring about reconciliation at this point. For at the end of my very strange dream, I suddenly watched God reach into the heart of a very hardened person and draw out of them a confession of His ability to turn their heart back toward their wife that they had rejected for so long.

In my dream I was standing in the next room listening to this amazing confession and see resolution to a problem that I had been trying to work out in a much less satisfactory way that was full of compromise and potential future problems. It suddenly struck me that God's ways of resolving problems was so far superior to anything I can ever come up with that I needed to trust Him implicitly instead of trying to arrange things myself on His behalf. As the amazement overwhelmed me in my dream I began to feel an intense emotion welling up inside of me. As my wife slowly walked into the room where I was standing I just wanted to cry though I found it very difficult to do so for some reason.

But the emotion was so intense in my dream that, as is usually the case in a dream of intense emotions, I woke up and then began to try to figure out what in the world it must mean. The circumstances were so bizarre in my dream that it would make no sense at all in real life which made it very difficult to figure out at first. But then I began to sense as I prayed about it that it was not the details in the dream that were the answer but the understanding that God's solutions would be far better to trust than anything I might come up with for the nearly impossible circumstances that my friend finds himself in at this very moment. If I am to be a true intercessor, an effective friend of the Bridegroom, then I must trust His heart to bring about His desires and to listen very carefully to His Spirit as to how to cooperate with His plans instead of trying coming up with any of my own.

It is very true that God is seeking people to act in the role of friends of the Bridegroom. As I have understood the true purpose of that position over the past few years it has become very clear that this is a very exciting position to fill. Now I am beginning to see how this role is very closely blended with the idea of intercession and the true purpose and function and motives of an intercessor.

In the past two posts I have been examining some background and peripheral issues surrounding intercession as well as touching on the subject of an Investigative Judgment that many believe is happening right now. I have usually thought of this from the perspective of fear which is almost always how it has been couched by those promoting it. But the more I am shedding my context of fear in coming to know the truth about God, the more things like this begin to take on a whole different perspective and understanding. When fear is taken out of the picture then it becomes so much easier to begin to see things differently under the light of real truth. Many things can be brought to view and exciting insights begin to explode everywhere when reality is perceived in the light of a God of pure, unconditional love.

Because I have been spending a lot of time the past few weeks filling my mind with real truth about God by taking every opportunity I have to listen to speakers who have a clear perspective of the gospel much better than mine, I have been feeling a transformation taking place more quickly at my own heart level. I am sometimes amazed at how backward my own heart still is in its opinions about God compared to all the wonderful information my intellect has been exposed to over the past few years. But I also notice that the more I saturate the atmosphere of my soul with the real truth about God the easier it is for the lies about God to begin to float to the surface and be exposed for what they really are. This process is crucial for me if I am to become an effective channel of grace to attract others to want to know God more intimately.

What I am beginning to realize is that I am in training to become an intercessor for God just as Jesus is. A number of years ago it started to become evident to me that the ministry of intercession on the part of Jesus was radically different than what it had been represented to me most of my life. I had always assumed that Jesus was trying to change God's mind about me so that I could go to heaven. But now I am seeing that that kind of thinking is riddled full of all sorts of false assumptions about God, about Jesus and even about myself and my relationship with Him.

As I pointed out last time, since Jesus and the Father are very clearly on the same page in their feelings about me, there is no need for Jesus to try to change anything about God in order to save me. That would be totally superfluous. It is never God's mind that needs changing in any way as I had always thought, it is my mind and heart and opinions about God that need radical updating if I am ever to be reconciled and be able to enjoy His company for eternity. It is the myriads of lies in my own thinking about how God feels towards me that must be exposed as false and let go of if I am ever to be prepared to encounter the immense power and intensity of God's pure, passionate love and to be able to thrive in that fiery presence.

So it becomes crystal clear in this context that any interceding that may be going on between God the Father and us has to be focused entirely on altering our opinions about God, never on changing God's opinions about us in spite of all the religious talk to the contrary. God is not angry at sinners and in need of calming down, sinners are angry and hateful toward God because of their misconceptions about Him that Satan has implanted and reinforces in all the human race. It is us that needs to have our hearts cleansed from the many lies and misconceptions about God before we will be able to receive and embrace His grace and live safely in His presence.

Many parts of this puzzle have been coming together for me for many years now. My new and radically updated understanding of hell and the fire of God was a massive shift for me in freeing me to be able to love God from the heart for the first time in my life. But there are still many more lies about God that keep surfacing all the time and that need exposure and replacement with real truth. My induced fears about the judgment and my confusion about the purpose of Jesus' intercession have also been sources of confusion over the years keeping me from being more fully reconciled with God.

Some of the clearest texts concerning the intercessory role of Jesus are found in Isaiah. This is highly symbolic language and is very easily misunderstood if one does not have a corrected picture of God and His passion. But when it is viewed from a proper perspective it contains very amazing insights about the true role of an intercessor.

Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. (Isaiah 59:15-16)

I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their juice spattered on my garments, and stained all my robes. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year for my redeeming work had come. I looked, but there was no helper; I stared, but there was no one to sustain me; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath sustained me. (Isaiah 63:3-5 NRSV)

What I see clearly in these verses is that God was appalled that there was no one to be found anywhere that would be able to effectively stand up and defend His reputation. So He sent His son to reveal to the whole universe the real truth about God by living and dying as a human. The whole purpose of Jesus coming to live life as a human and to suffer the wrath of humans and demons alike while they tortured and killed Him and covered him with blood was to expose the real truth about the passion of God's love that we so often mistake for anger. But I have learned that when the Bible refers to the wrath of God it is almost always referring to the concept of passion itself which does not necessarily equate with the kind of wrath or hateful anger that we always suppose it does. It is far too easy to project our perspective of wrath onto God instead of seeking to grasp the real truth about God's passionate love for us.

These verses make it very clear that Jesus came to take things into His own hands as far as changing minds and hearts about the real truth about God. Since no one else could stand up for Him and no one was even willing to stand with Him during this process, He had to do it all alone. This became very evident during the events that transpired during the last hours of His life before He was killed on the cross. Not even His closest disciples took the time or effort to pray alongside Him for even one hour while He was in His greatest distress. He had to take on the job all alone.

But far from coming to suffer the punishments from an angry God up in heaven, Jesus came to reveal the passionate love that fills the heart of our Father in heaven by contrasting it with the effects that sin has wrought in our own psyche. When real love appeared on earth in the form of a man it was immediately met with resistance, fear and animosity on every hand. It finally came to the grand climax of a fatal collision between the lies about God contained in the hearts of all humanity and the truth about God as revealed in the life and willing death of the Son of God. Jesus has always been in the role of seeking to change our minds and hearts and opinions about how God feels towards us and His true character. This is the core of what Jesus continually referred to when He repeatedly asked people to believe all throughout His life on earth.

Over the past month or so I have been privileged to be used by God to “intercede” on His behalf to someone who had all their life been under the delusions of the enemy about Him and has been very openly hostile toward God and anything to do with Him. Because of a great emotional crisis in his life he has decided to take a new look at what might be true about God as I have shared with him what I have been learning about God myself. As I have shared the real truth about God and prayed with this person, I have been thrilled to see him open up and entertain new ideas and feelings toward God that few would have imagined even possible before.

As I have been used by the Spirit to influence this man's opinions about God and have watched God work in his life and heart, I am reminded frequently that it is not my responsibility to fix his problems but is completely God's responsibility. My role is to keep sharing with him the real truth about God in ways that are relevant to his situation and to encourage him to rethink the antagonism that he has held due to his misconceptions about God from his past.

Last night I received a phone call from him relating to me a terribly devastating turn of events in his situation which could potentially threaten to undo all the progress that he has made in his thinking. At least that was the temptation that I was faced with as I heard what was happening. But I was reminded again that this is not my problem and that I have no business taking on his burden for myself or trying to fix his situation with my ideas. I have simply been sharing with him whatever the Spirit has prompted me to do and I can relax and rest in the knowledge that God is still the same and nothing has changed at all in reality. I am learning more about what it really means to be an intercessor for God.

Intercession is for the purpose of reconciliation, whether it is in a marriage, between friends or with God Himself. This is accomplished by seeking to expose the lies and false assumptions about one party held by another and replacing those lies with truth, especially when it comes to God. To do this effectively the interceder must maintain a correct understanding of the character and feelings of the one on who's behalf they are interceding. If they allow themselves to become entangled in the triangle improperly, if they allow their own viewpoints or emotions to distract them from focusing full attention on keeping a proper perspective and communication with the one whom they are representing, their effectiveness can quickly be diminished.

This means that I must have a great deal of trust in the one in who's behalf I am interceding. I have to have total and implicit faith that God is going to be consistently and intensely interested in the reconciliation and that He is always going to prove faithful to being the way that I am representing Him to be to the other person with whom I am interceding. In fact, I myself have to be very in tune with the feelings and desires of the One I am trying to represent so that I become an accurate reflection of His heart to attract others to change their minds about my Friend.

But again, I remind myself that I must let go of all self interest if I am to be a successful intercessor. If there is anything else expected from this process for me besides joy in seeing the other two parties reconciled and united in hearts with each other, then there is a seed of betrayal present that will sooner or later spring up and cause great complications. The heart of the intercessor must be fiercely loyal to the one on who's behalf we are interceding if we are to be a true “friend of the bridegroom”.

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NRSV)

Father, I choose to be reconciled to you because of the intercession of Jesus to change my mind and heart about what you are really like. I cannot change my own heart but I trust you to do that within me as the real truth about you soaks in deeper and deeper. I also praise you and thank you for using me to be a co-intercessor with Jesus in seeking to change other people's false opinions and feelings about you. I ask that you fill me with your Spirit so that I can experience the joy of watching others be reconciled with you and with each other. This is the joy that John the Baptist shared as he watched others become more attracted to Jesus than to himself. Fill me with the spirit of a true and loyal friend of the Bridegroom like John was. Teach me and mentor me in this ministry of reconciliation for your name's sake.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Without an Intercessor - 2

Is Jesus interceding on our behalf to the Father doing everything possible to convince Him to love us enough to save us? ...to forgive us? ...to avert punishments for us?

Is there an Investigative Judgment going on right now in which every detail of our lives come up before some sort of heavenly Grand Jury or maybe before the Father in order to figure out if we are good enough to be allowed into heaven? Wouldn't this tend to imply that God is somehow not all-knowing? Does He really have to conduct an investigation to figure out what I am really like? Or is this for the purpose of convincing someone else?

If these things are really true or even partially true, then what role does Jesus have in this process? Is He trying to manipulate the facts to make me look better than I really am to get my name on the right list? Does Jesus love me more than the Father does?

These kinds of honest and disturbing questions have caused thousands of people to reject all notion of the existence of an Investigative Judgment taking place at all. But does our confusion and misunderstandings about the nature of such a potential activity give us enough reason to reject it outright? Or is it our skewed pictures of God and our mistaken applications of revealed facts from the wrong spirit the real problem that needs to be corrected instead of throwing out the whole concept of such a judgment process?

We need to keep in mind that just because we don't like the sounds of certain ideas, that does not qualify us to pass judgment ourselves or allow us to determine what should be true or false. It is far too easy to begin to form a picture of God into our own image instead of seeking to know more clearly the real truths about reality as God designed it to start with. As soon as we begin moving down the road of formulating religion based on our preferences or preconceptions, we have inverted our proper relationship with God and are trying to create religion on our own. But it is important to understand that this can happen just as easily with conservatives as it can with liberals.

I believe that it is important to grapple with truth and not be afraid to continually reexamine our assumptions. In fact, I think it is much more than just important – it is vital to having an honest relationship with the God of all truth. It is only from a position of humility and willingness to admit that our most cherished doctrines may be in need of re-visitation at times that we will be capable of embracing extended truths as God brings them within our reach. I know of many who feel very threatened by new ideas or challenges to their assumptions and take such a defensive stance that not even God can break through their stubbornness. But instead of becoming “rooted and grounded” in real truth as they suppose they are doing, they are simply becoming stuck in truth as it has been perceived at a certain point in time while refusing to move along with the ever transforming revelations of truth as God designed we should.

When we become entrenched in a certain philosophy of what we insist is truth and refuse to see it in any new ways, we then turn facts and assumptions into traditions and become cemented in our opinions instead of being willing to grow up into the full measure of Christ. Christianity is made up of many just such demonstrations of this mentality. It is so easy to become inflexible in our opinions about truth and turn them into traditions instead of taking steps beyond our comfort zones to a deeper understanding of the truth about reality. But this is primarily due to the fear that fills our minds.

We are far too dependent on fear to protect us from being deceived. There certainly is a great danger from deception for we live in a world filled with the atmosphere of deadly deceptions produced by the myriad lies of Satan. But depending on fear to keep us from deceptions is a deception itself. God never instructed us to depend on fear to help us come to a greater knowledge of truth. This is a very dangerous assumption on our part but is very pervasive in our thinking. But the Bible very clearly declares that love and fear are exclusive opposites. And since God is love, then to live dependent on fear to keep us in truth or even guide us to truth becomes an oxymoron.

The reason I bring this up is because this teaching of an Investigative Judgment as well as common teachings about the intercession of Jesus for us has been intensely shrouded with an atmosphere of fear for most people. And because this fear itself is seldom identified as the real root of our problems in understanding these things, it has been allowed to remain in place which in turn has distorted very seriously our ability to comprehend the real purpose and nature of Christ's intercession. Until this fear itself is addressed and exposed for the fraud that it really is, we will not be able to have our eyes opened sufficiently to perceive the real purpose and role of Jesus' intercession for us.

As I pointed out last time, some very fundamental beliefs must be set into place as a foundation if we are to approach these subjects in a clearer way and see their true beauty and importance for us. One of those foundational truths is that Jesus and the Father are one in spirit, opinion and perspective towards us. Therefore, anything that in any way attempts to undermine that clear fact must immediately become suspect and be challenged vigorously.

As a result, if this fact is viewed as foundational, then any notion or activity assumed to be taking place where Jesus needs to change God's mind about anything becomes a mute point. Jesus cannot be in the business of changing God's mind if the mind of God is already perfectly in harmony with each member of the Godhead which includes Jesus. But as soon as this truth is embraced it creates serious problems about many other assumptions that have gone unchallenged in our typical notions about an Investigative Judgment as well as the role of Jesus in dying for us on the cross. For it is not only those who are trying to defend the idea of an Investigative Judgment that need to rethink their assumptions but nearly all Christians have to reexamine their popular ideas of Jesus dying in our place to protect us from an angry God eager to punish those who have sinned.

These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. (John 16:25-27)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Without an Intercessor - 1

So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:31-33)

For a number of years now I have been revising my thinking about the role of Jesus as our intercessor. There is a statement that has been the source of deep terror for many people that states that there is coming a time when we must live without an intercessor before the Father. And this is to take place before the Second Coming of Jesus.

This statement has been one of the most solid foundation blocks of those who insist on the doctrine and philosophy of perfectionism. I grew up in this ideology and this perception of religion was a deep source of fear and apprehension for me for many years. It fueled my terror of the last day events which were often dwelt upon by others for that very purpose. It was assumed by many that dwelling on this kind of fearful foreboding of the future would inspire enough terror in the heart to cause people to let go of all the sins in their lives and thus achieve absolute perfection somehow so that they would not be lost when Jesus comes.

This belief system is all too alive and well right now in various forms and its proponents are becoming even more vocal and strident in their broadcasting of this false gospel. The reason that I call this a false gospel is because the very word “gospel” literally means good news. But in all the years that I lived under this illusion of believing that it was my job to perfect myself in order to please God and get into heaven, I could never figure out what part of this ideology was supposed to be good news. Everywhere I turned and everything I heard sounded like warnings and fear and terror, not good news that would make me feel excited or even loving toward God as I was supposed to feel.

Over the past few years it has become very plain to me that nearly every aspect of these kinds of teachings are fraught with subtle but dangerous assumptions and paradigms that lend them ineffective for changing the heart in the way that needs to happen to prepare us to live in the presence of God. I could spend a great deal of time covering each item of this that is mistaken, but the most blatant and damaging part of it all is that it is based fundamentally on fear itself as the primary motivation for serving God. To suggest that somehow love was supposed to emerge from this miasma of confused thinking about God only added to my frustration, but that was also supposed to be somewhere there in the mix as well. That too confused me deeply as I was keenly aware of my inability to really love God while at the same time being increasingly terrified of the consequences of not doing so perfectly – and from the heart no less.

But I still believe that the basic facts buried underneath all these false teachings based on fear are still valid. Just because legalists and extremists and even liberals have hijacked and misappropriated nearly every religious word and phrase does not mean that they are no longer applicable for our lives. It simply means that we need the presence of the Holy Spirit and humility and patience to begin to untangle all the lies and fears that have blinded us for so long and we need to begin to discern the amazing beauty of real truth buried deep under the rubbish of false perceptions of God that fill our imaginations.

I have spent enough years now having my lies unlocked, exposed and slowly replaced with valid truth that I feel I am entering a new phase of life, a very exciting and energizing phase where I can begin to experience the strength of the joy of the Lord. As the truth about God becomes more and more clear to my heart I come into more awe and can feel genuine responses of spontaneous love emerging from my heart and emotions, something that was unimaginable only a few years ago.

There are still many pockets of residual misconceptions that keep emerging in my thinking that I need to address each time they show up. But I do not do this in a spirit of hostility as I have sensed in many people who have left my church and become deeply embittered against everything they formerly believed. I find that spirit to be just as dangerous and lethal to my relationship with God as the legalism from which I am slowly emerging. I have to guard myself from much exposure to either kind of thinking and keep my imagination focused on the real truth about God that He has been revealing to me over the past few years and continues to do daily. But as this increasing light exposes yet more of my pain and confusion embedded from false teachings and assumptions about Him, I am eager to have Him show me the real truth about the original basic facts that remain unaffected by the false assumptions and teachings that so long darkened my understanding about their implications.

I still strongly believe that there are urgent warnings that need to be heeded in preparing us to meet our God. The fanatics on the one hand try to frighten us with dark views of a God waiting and eager to punish all who fail to measure up to certain performance standards. The extremists on the other side of the fence usually push people to think that God is so loving and fickle and full of so-called grace that all we have to do is immerse ourselves in a feel-good religion and say some “magic” words in a sinners prayer and “accept Jesus into our heart” (whatever that happens to mean) and we have nothing more to be concerned about.

But what I am starting to see more clearly in this issue of living with or without an intercessor is not so much fear or cheap grace either one; what I am now seeing is the reality of the fundamental purpose and function of the intercession of Jesus in the first place. And as I perceive the true nature of intercession itself I find it is one of those areas that is very liberating for my heart.

My new and growing awareness about the immense danger of God's passionate love for us precludes me from believing in such dangerous philosophies as proposed by many protestants even as the legalism of my past was equally dangerous. It will be fatal to believe that we can be safe in the day of judgment (full revelation of God's power and passion) while failing to have our hearts in perfect synchronization with the pure and unselfish love of the Father. But this is precisely where both sides of the debate fail miserably. They both fail to comprehend in the slightest both the real truth about love and the real feelings that God has for us. They do not perceive the enormous potential of both life and death in the presence of unspeakable glory and power because of the lies that skew their perceptions of the real attitude and passion of God, and particularly on the part of the Father.

Because of the many misunderstandings and false teachings about God from both sides of the isle, it is nearly impossible to approach the subject of intercession and carry on an intelligent, useful conversation about the subject without first addressing the many false beliefs about God that drive the agendas of those involved. But once the fog begins to clear away to some degree about God's real attitude and disposition towards His children, then real progress can start to be made in understanding the true purpose of Jesus' work of intercession before the Father in relation to us.

I believe that the most important fact to establish before anything else about this issue can even begin to make real sense is Jesus explicit statement, "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30) Jesus made this even more clear when He was sharing the same truth with the disciples just before He died for us.

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.... He who has seen Me has seen the Father... "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.... (John 14:7, 9-11)

This is one belief that seems to me to be irreconcilable with the assumptions underlying the fear-based teachings about Jesus as our intercessor before God. I was never able to make sense of these two ideas until my picture of the Father was radically transformed and replaced by the real truth about Him only in the past few years. Then it began to dawn on me that my confusion was rooted in my long-held concepts of God the Father as one who really didn't like me and wasn't real keen on my getting into heaven. At the same time, Jesus was supposedly working very hard to convince Him that I could be trusted to behave if He would let me in – that is, if I was able to perfect my character enough with a lot of help from God. That involved stopping all sinning and getting all past sins forgiven as well. I know it was never stated in those terms, but that was the general gist of the beliefs. This perception in one form or another with slight variations lies at the heart of most conservative Christianity today and even permeates most all other religions as well to some degree.

But this scenario becomes impossible when it is established that Jesus actually meant what He said in the above verses. If the attitude and beliefs and thinking of Jesus are exactly the same as the Father's, it simply becomes ludicrous to try to think that Jesus has to somehow change God's mind about us. That point must become very clear and must be accepted as solid truth or the discussion cannot proceed any further with any reasonable expectation of making sense. This is the foundation upon which everything else about this subject must rest if it is to bring us out of darkness.

Very closely parallel to this is the intense fear and agitation surrounding the teaching about an Investigative Judgment that is believed by many to be taking place right now in the courts of heaven. This hotly debated concept is believed to be a prerequisite before Jesus can be allowed to return to this earth and reclaim the saved who are waiting for Him. This judgment is assumed to be for the purpose of determining who is good enough to be saved and who is going to be lost. Again, the underlying assumptions and beliefs that distort every aspect of these doctrines cause confusion and fear in millions of hearts unnecessarily. But at the same time there are core truths that are usually discarded and ignored by those who vehemently oppose such teachings. Both sides are clouded in false assumptions about God that endanger their souls from being properly aligned with the Spirit of God in preparation to encounter the dangerous revelation of God's passionate love.

As I began thinking about this and praying for clearer insight, a number of texts came to my mind. I want to ponder them carefully to discover the real meanings and significance of their relevance to this subject that has tortured me for so long, but is now becoming a source of real hope for me. But since this is getting too long already I am going to leave that for another installment while I listen to what God may have to say to my heart about these things.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Codes. Secret Codes. Mysterious codes. I can remember growing up and sometimes being fascinated with deciphering secret codes and even trying to invent codes by which to communicate with my friends cryptically. The biggest problem that I quickly ran into was the lack of any really important information to pass on to them that might need a code to mask it. So what quickly developed was an air of mystery created by the code itself. We wanted to be obvious enough in our use of coded symbols, numbers or letters so that people would notice we were communicating in code to make them very curious. We hoped that they might want to try to crack our code to find out our “top secret” information.

I suppose my greatest disappointment and what lead to the rather quick demise of our use of codes was the lack of interest by anyone else in what we were doing. No one got suspicious of what we were trying to communicate in our codes and so we gave them up rather quickly for something more rewarding.

A few minutes ago I sent off an email with some attached files. As I pondered what those files likely would look like if one were to simply open them with a note editor, I realized that they would make no sense at all in any text programs. They are likely just a bunch of gibberish that would look like trash to most people and indeed that would be their only use if one did not have the proper software and even the right version of that software to decode those digital files.

Even further, those files even when opened with a text editor that couldn't read them would still appear to make more sense than the actual content would appear at a more basic level. Those files are entirely made up of what computer geeks call binary language or simply 1's and 0's. But even to say that is not to get at the bottom of the codes used to encrypt these files. The format used to create the concept of binary language can be found in many physical forms. They may be electrical signals passing over wires or through the air. They may be subtle electronic differences on the surface of a computer disc or in a flash drive. They may even be slight differences in how light is reflected off of the media impregnated in a CD.

Our lives are filled and surrounded with codes of all sorts. Even the very words that we use in print and spoken words are all just codes for meanings and opinions about those sounds or hieroglyphs. If these hidden meanings are different between the people attempting to communicate to a significant degree, then the level of effective communication is seriously diminished. The only way that any of us can convey or receive a sense of what we want to share is greatly dependent our our agreed-upon assumptions about what our codes mean. And even then we can never really be sure that our interpretation is the same as that assumed by another mind.

Thinking about this very long can leave one feeling bewildered at best and can even drive you to distraction if you are not careful. But at the same time I think it is very healthy and helpful to explore the benefits and problems associated with trying to deal in symbols and codes. Our minds as well as our emotions are pre-wired to function in codes and to want to understand other codes. Our sense of curiosity was embedded in our minds to explore and seek to understand codes and languages as much as possible in order to feel better connected at the heart level to other beings that we want to relate to in a deeper, more meaningful way. And by a deeper level I mean any level at all beyond total ignorance and lack of contact whatsoever.

This problem of learning to decipher codes of all sorts becomes very evident in millions of ways. Consider the enormous challenge of trying to establish a new form of codes to communicate with someone whose brain or various communication senses have been severely limited. And yet we know examples of amazing breakthroughs by people who were persistent enough to sometimes spend years attempting to communicate with such people until both minds learned to connect in whatever ways proved to be successful. Even communication with animals is a fascination by some people. I have a very compelling book about a man who has spent years learning how to effectively communicate with whales and other sea creatures with very inspiring results. Another story of the man who talks easily with horses and even deer has made a deep impact of my own life.

One reason that I feel it is very helpful to think about this is to come into more sympathy with God's problem of attempting to communicate with us. Even though He originally created our brains and understands perfectly everything about how we function, sin has wreaked a great amount of havoc on the communication systems and decoding apparatus originally built into us and much of what we originally were designed to do to communicate freely with other beings and even with nature has become severely limited and handicapped.

I am convinced that there are at least a number of capabilities that have been lost or nearly lost altogether over the centuries with only traces of them still to be found in a few people. Because of the rarity of these residual communication techniques most people become very frightened even considering that they might be valid ways to communicate. I also believe that as this has happened that demons have exploited some of these original faculties and have more or less hijacked them for their uses more than for normal communications between humans. Thus there becomes a danger associated with some forms of communication that needs to be in our consciousness, though there is a lot of superstition that goes far past healthy caution and inflames undo fear in many people.

Learning to decode and figure out patterns that may be trying to tell us something seems to be one of the fascinations of the left brain. The left brain is very formula oriented and as such delights in looking for codes to decipher. But one of the greatest hindrances to establishing real and effective communication between many people is the suppression and even ignorance of the central importance of communicating with our heart as well as learning to live from our heart in a healthy way.

Some people have come to believe – and I think I agree to a great extent – that one of the most damaging and limiting things that happened to the human race when sin entered in and infected our thinking and abilities, is that our mind – our intellectual part, and our heart – our emotional and spiritual part, became disconnected in a very destructive way. When sin infected our thinking and feeling, we ended up experiencing conflict between the two sides of our brains. Indeed, this tension between what our right brain believes with its feelings and what our left brain believes with its factual logic is actually the feeling that the Bible calls guilt or condemnation.

Guilt and condemnation are not things imposed on us by God. They are simply descriptions of the very uncomfortable feeling we experience when we are out of sync with ourselves as well as others around us. It is the pain and tension from disharmony itself that creates most of the problems that we in turn blame God for inflicting on us even though that is not directly true. But the many ideas offered to fix this problem can become very dangerous if they only tend to exacerbate it instead of bringing us back into harmony and synchronization with the One who designed us to live in open and joyful bonding with His heart of perfect love.

We are designed to crave and thrive on love. This is the fuel that we were designed for and nothing else is going to make us function well except the original thing. Sin has offered all kinds of substitutes for this original love fuel for our hearts but all with damaging results. Our power is greatly diminished, our effectiveness is limited, our ability to think, to feel and to bond is greatly hampered because we are so often trying to operate our system on alternate fuels that promise to improve our performance but only add to our misery in the end.

The problem with all of the alternatives of sin is that they never allow us to understand the original codes of heaven. God created us to function and communicate using the language codes that would synchronize us with the rest of the universe effectively. But we lost much of our ability to understand that code when sin came in and scrambled the code itself. Now much of the code of heaven gives us mixed messages both in nature and in the lives of those around us. All of this has become infected with the virus of sin that creates great confusion and mixed messages about the God who created it all to start with.

But God has a plan in place to redeem us from this hopeless situation if we allow Him to place a presence in our heart that will train us to relearn the original codes of heaven. But the real issue that must be understood if we are to enjoy this heavenly decoder is that it must reside primarily in our heart and be allowed access to both our emotions and our logic. If it is not allowed to have wiring access to both sides of our brains, then sin's viruses may confuse us so much from either side of our hemispheres that we will come to believe that the decoder itself is mixed up and fail to allow it to fully do its work.

The decoder of heaven is the presence of Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit that is the decoding agent of heaven sent to all who are humble enough to embrace it's presence and allow it full access to their lives. But it is extremely important to be willing to give that Spirit access to the plug-in terminals inside of us that it needs to begin rewiring and re-programming our whole operating systems. Those terminals are located in our heart where the most pain happens to be keeping us from wanting anyone to come anywhere near it. But unless we are willing to trust God with our pain, our confusion and our fears and let Him expose the lies that we are so sure are solid truth, He will never be able to accomplish the necessary transformations and repairs needed to live in open communication with the languages of heaven.

Father, I want you to fill me with the presence of your Spirit right now. I give you unlimited permission to access all parts of my being, my heart, my brain and my core sense of identity. Transform me into the likeness of the original design you desire for me to be. Teach both my heart and my mind to understand the real meanings of the words you have used to communicate your messages to this earth. Fill me with more insight and wisdom through your Interpreter, the Spirit of Truth that Jesus promised to send to everyone willing to receive it.

Thank-you for hearing my request and for eagerly providing far more than I can ever ask for or even imagine is possible. Make me a better communicator of your love through more of my capabilities than I have used before. Restore and heal the faculties of my mind and body that still confuse others and even myself with confusing codes that still are damaged from sin. Let your love glow more clearly from my face, from my body language and from my voice. Let your glory be more clearly exposed through your presence dwelling in my heart – for your reputation's sake.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Problem of Good

Possibly one of the most difficult temptations to discern are desires to do something really nice. I am just starting to recognize this temptation more clearly even though it has been one that has tripped me up repeatedly for many years.

Yes, I know it sounds strange to place a desire to do something nice or good in the category of being a temptation which can lead me into a state of sin. But that is precisely why it is so difficult to discern and relate to properly – because it comes in such a way as to appear to be already something good and therefore I have no need to suspect any evil might come of it. It is so easy to just indulge in it without thinking about it, believing that I can trust the good nature that God has been developing in me over the years. But therein lies the very trap of which I speak.

Now, don't get cynical and think that I am saying that I shouldn't ever do anything nice for anyone or follow my impulses to bless others. That is simplistic thinking and is actually part of the very reasoning that has been my own downfall all this time. The subtlety of this temptation is so deceptive that it needs careful examination to realize the inherent danger in something that appears so patently safe going into it. It is the very fact that a desire or impulse seems so benign as to not illicit feelings of apprehension that gives this type of temptation so much effectiveness.

This was brought to my attention this morning before I once again fell all the way into a slippery trap of yet another one of these little weasels. I was sitting here thinking about something exciting that I had asked someone else to do for me yesterday to make them feel special. As I was sitting here contemplating how nice this could all work out, I felt the quiet conviction of the Holy Spirit asking me if I had checked with Him on this matter. As a result I began to become aware that this could easily slip into yet another one of those frustrating episodes of chagrin that are all too familiar to me, ones where I suddenly discover that things don't work out the way my original motives desire.

I am all too familiar with the terrible results of this trap that is subtly designed to humiliate me, to embarrass me and even to destroy tragically very tender relationships with important people in my life. Of course I can seldom see the dark side of this trap until it is too late and then I usually find myself in a very defensive posture trying to explain my motives to a disbelieving and skeptical crowd. At that point it is very easy to move into anger and resentment which then tempts me to vow I will never ever do something nice like that again to avoid getting into yet another nasty situation that causes me so much pain.

But then I always end up having to repent of that kind of thinking because it stands as a block against doing many of the things that God's Spirit wants to prompt me to do legitimately. So I end up with more painful callouses and memories that haunt me in my collection called Hall of Shame. This has been a source of life-long frustration for me at best and I have puzzled many times as to the loop-hole that Satan accesses in me to keep getting me into these situations.

When I am coming up on the approach side of these circumstances I so often seem blind to any danger signs warning me that there could be inappropriate situations ahead that will cause consequences I don't want. Others seem impatient with me and believe that I am just very dense or stubborn or even in denial to what to them seems like the obvious. But when I consider looking at the situation through their reasons for apprehension I am always put off by the large amount of fear and tradition and even seeming insensitivity that I perceive in their logic. I feel that because they do not appreciate the values that I have for people's feelings and heart needs that they are simply playing it safe and in the process become hardened in their own hearts to the needs of those around them.

Even as I write this I can physically feel the intensity of these defensive emotions swelling up in my chest as I remember various times when I have felt very defensive and misunderstood by everyone around me. I feel betrayed, maligned, shamed and attacked. This is all part of the typical scenario that plays itself out over and over each time this little demon catches me in its cycle of deception. And while I still cannot embrace the reasonings of those who think I am just stupid to fall into what seems to be obvious traps to them, I do want to uncover the real reasons that cause me to find myself repeatedly getting sucked into this nasty pit.

As I began unpacking this over the past few minutes a story came to my mind of someone in the Bible who got caught by the very same demonic trap that specializes in this type of nasty behavior. This Bible character was one of the most respected leaders of God's people and was used by God mightily to accomplish many amazing feats of victory. And yet because he acted on good impulses very much like I have done many times, he found himself in the very same hole of intense criticism, embarrassment and shame that has ended up becoming a part of his reputation for thousands of years afterward.

Since the stories in the Bible were given for our benefit and training, I know that I will very likely find important insights as to the real nature of my blind spots in this area. But I also sense that I need to look much deeper than the simplistic obvious explanations of this story if I am going to find important keys to help me repair whatever it is that keeps getting me into this sand trap.

The story of this ancient encounter is found in chapter nine of Joshua. It is a very familiar story with a seemingly obvious punch line. I just took time to read the whole story and understand that some of the details do not necessarily apply to all of my situations. But the core principle of the lesson of this story does apply very much should be of use for me to apply to my own habits of reasoning. I am also sure that God will remind me of this story over time and continue to impress me with more points that need to be incorporated into my mental early warning system.

One of the main points that is very easy to miss in this story that has come to my attention is what I have previously called the “Elijah syndrome”. It is the great but very hidden danger that a person nearly always finds themselves in after having experienced very rich and exciting times participating in some of God's dramatic exhibitions of power. I have noticed over the years that this is a pattern that is repeated much more than many people are aware of and causes a lot more problems than most suspect. It is one of the most subtle forms of temptation because it approaches us when we feel the most invincible and are enjoying the presence of God at levels that we are seldom privileged to experience. These problem do not always necessarily happen on the heels of intense encounters with God's obvious presence, but the common theme is often a sense of security and peace in knowing that we are in sync with God which can create this most subtle situation of vulnerability that I am looking to expose.

Now, the knee-jerk reaction of typical solution-based religion might be to simply avoid feeling high on God, to believe that allowing emotions themselves to overwhelm us in the presence of God is in itself a mistake to be avoided at all times. This is the tack that I was taught for many years. But long ago I rejected that defensive position because I found it to be a major obstacle to having my heart connect effectively with the heart of God. I have come to see this belief as one of the pillars of legalism which has been a terrible curse for most of my life and has kept me from enjoying intimacy with God that I now see as the central focus of all true spirituality.

I have not changed my mind at all in my opinion about this false approach for avoiding this temptation. I don't think that Elijah should have avoided having his emotions aroused on Mount Carmel or that Joshua should have been dead-pan about the wonderful experiences he had just come through with Jericho and Ai. No, I completely reject a religion that condemns the full participation of our emotions. To the contrary, I believe that a religion that refuses emotions their proper place is a counterfeit religion to be shunned as much as other false doctrines. But that is a peripheral issue at this time even though some would like to make it the main issue.

I believe that a religion that bans the full participation of our emotions is a religion that also bans the involvement of our heart. And since the only true religion that makes a real saving difference in our life is a heart-based religion, then I am committed to a pursuit of knowing God with all of my heart and emotions along with my intellect and every other part of my being as God said we should. But at the same time I need to become aware of how Satan manipulates my emotions to create this loop-hole through which he gets access to my heart and causes me to be deceived by these kinds of subtle temptations just as Joshua got caught in.