Are You Serious?

It can be difficult to know who is!

It’s always been a challenge for me to figure out and I suspect others probably wonder  the same about me! Of course at times I wonder how seriously some things actually should be taken. Perhaps it’s because of my analytic nature that I focus so much on details and have a tendency to be more literal in how I understand things. I’m someone who’s quite serious,too much so in fact,who’s trying to interface with a read the fine print “Just Kidding” world.
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This fixation of mine seems to play out most noticeably in my relationships, both personal and professional. I don’t think it’s really so unusual or remarkable in any way,on the contrary! I see this mindset as being rather common hence the familiarity of the phrase in our culture. However,when combined with any sort of OCD or perfectionist tendencies it typically leads to disappointment and frustration on the part of all who’re trying to understand the appropriate roles of the respective parties in any given situation.

Enough setup?

Looking back on my spiritual journey which for me began at age nine or ten it seems to of,almost without fail, follow a distinct pattern. I find myself being drawn into “all things spiritual” until I reach a point where I can’t find answers to my questions or perceive “it” or myself, as somehow being in contradiction or one of us not living up to the associated claims. All of this is based on or evidenced by how I see “God” manifested in the world, in myself,and in other Christian people I know. At times the answers I do find seem to conflict with what’s taught or simply lead to more questions.

Here’s one…

Is Christianity the perfect ideology for people with low self esteem?

The idea of redemption was never hard to sell to me…As a youth I was so full of self loathing that the idea of being someone other than myself or a better version of who I was seemed like an answered prayer! (I’m still rather frustrated on this score) There are times that I think Christianity would be the greatest thing in the world, that it’d be worth screaming from the rooftops about if it simply did what it claims to do! I suppose that yet again I’m just “doing it wrong” but it’s awfully hard for me to conceive of a God who loves us so much and yet Who would make it so complicated or confusing to be redeemed or to get a taste of that victorious life we’re teased with!

In first Corinthians fifteen Paul talks about our faith being in vain. I don’t think I’m taking too great of an interpretive leap here to juxtapose the relevance of his statement to our spiritual lives. To me He seems to be saying that if Christ didn’t walk out of the grave then what we believe is in vain. If we’ve been crucified with Christ,born again and are in truth new creations in Christ which will someday rise just as He did,why are so many of us still dead in our sins?

“Because someday hasn’t come yet dummy and as long as you dwell in this tent of flesh,you’ll fight this battle regardless of how you feel about it”…The Holy Spirit

WOW! He’s in a mood today…

Anyways, my point is that if our new lives in Christ aren’t a miracle of some kind isn’t what we’re believing also in vain? I understand the eternal aspects of this statement but I also have to believe there are significant implications for our here and now lives as well! It is a bit confusing when you read what Paul says in Philippians about his own righteousness.

Philippians 3:9

KJV And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Or verse 12 of Chapter three in which Paul goes on to say…

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

And of course this confusing admission of his own inadequacy.

Romans 7:14-16

KJV For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Obviously Paul saw himself as a work in progress! That he was running a race,not that he had finished one…

There are however ways to know we’re on the right road!

Galatians 5:22

KJV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Certainly I”m not SO arrogant to in any way expect more from myself than Paul did!

Or am I?

Or pigheaded enough to be unforgiving towards myself when God the Father has already seen fit to forgive my many sins…

Surely not!

WHEW! Glad that’s been cleared up…

So, then what am I really so unhappy about or what are my real expectations?

Oh not much…

I once heard an analogy when I was in addiction recovery that related to what’s known as “recovery time” and “clean time”. It served to help distinguish the differences between them. The phrase “clean time” relates to how long someone has gone without using whereas the term “recovery” is an indication of the healing that’s occurred in someones life, of how much of the causative component involved in a persons addictive behaviors have been dealt with. Clean time is also known as “white knuckling it” the idea being that a persons sobriety is a function of their own “self will” and that inevitably it will fail.

Recovery time is so much better because once we understand the reasons we used to begin with we’re much,much less susceptible to their influence. Nothing is quite so liberating to an addict as understanding why it’s not just “okay” to be who they are and sober but how actually fantastic it is! They’ll never go back to using because they understand how much better off they are where they’re at! It’s no longer a struggle to stay sober,because from this new perspective you know that YOU’VE WON! And that you can live in victory over your addiction because you have something that’s SO much better!

That’s what I want from my spiritual life!

I’m tired of white knuckling it!

And I can’t stand the frustration of the failure that comes with it.

Which is what most religion comes down to in my opinion

and I definitely don’t believe in that.

What I do believe in is love.

And it’s transformative power!

So what I want is a personal encounter with it, or Him…

1 John 4:8

KJV He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

After all that I’ve been through…

all that I’ve seen and done.

I have to be honest enough to say I don’t have it!

which gives me the perfect opportunity to end this post using my title and the likely reaction to it by some!

Are You Serious?

The Sacrifice of Praise

In our society, if we don’t abide by the law, chances are at some point we could find ourselves answering to a higher authority. And then there are the laws of physics, far more absolute and impartial, but even they are subject to a “higher law”. Here’s an example…an airplane is much heavier than air and therefore according to the law of gravity it cannot fly. But when the law of thrust and air flow are introduced into the equation guess what? It flies! Because of the over-riding principles of a “higher law” which has dominion over it,what was impossible becomes possible.

The other day I was talking with a friend and I mentioned how glad I was to be “On this side of the cross”. I’d been reading some of the old testament books and was overwhelmed by all the sacrifices they seem to be constantly making. His reply to me was “We still make sacrifices,the primary difference being that everything we do now to honor God has to do with our hearts and not our hands!”

And he was right!

Mankind is still under the law,the wages of sin is still death! And of course the great news is that Christ’s death on the cross paid our sin debt freeing us from that penalty! Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law on our behalf and gave “Whosoever Believes” the opportunity to come under a new covenant based on higher precepts,or commandments. Ones that can’t be satisfied by anything less than the sacrifice of our own most precious possession…

Our Love!

Jesus told the Apostles this…

John 14:12

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Healing people,feeding thousands with practically nothing,raising the dead,turning water into wine, these are just a few of the things Jesus did! How is it possible for us to do these things which are impossible based on the laws we understand? By understanding a higher law!

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Didn’t Christ die to redeem us from the curse of sin,sickness and death? If that’s true,and I believe it is, then the manifestation of what Jesus said then is possible in the here and now! More than that, it’s a foregone conclusion…ye were healed! The victory has been won! We simply must, by faith, acknowledge this truth and the power of the higher law Jesus the Christ died to make available to us!

We’re called to proclaim His Kingdom!

Luke 10:8-9

 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

Matthew 4:23

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

The kingdom Jesus spoke of is a place where there is no sin. No sickness,pain or death. It’s a restoration of The Father Gods creation to it’s original condition as it was when He pronounced it “Very Good”. Not crippled,or sick, or afflicted in any way

Genesis 1:31

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The gospel is “Very Good News” and I believe that the stronger our grasp is on the reality of the higher law which rules there, the less power the laws of this present, perceived kingdom can have over us! We simply subscribe to a higher truth,Gods truth! We choose to operate in it! Choosing to believe what He says about every aspect of not only our lives but the lives of others and the world as a whole…in short,by our adoption into His kingdom we adopt a whole new belief system that transforms everything about our lives! As a result, we’re empowered to speak to the deception’s of Satan’s kingdom and command them to flee!

Healings, deliverance’s, manifested blessings of all kinds!

Wouldn’t you like to see that?

I believe it’s possible,in truth,I think it’s required!

But first, would you give it up for God?

Whatever it is that you love most…

Just like Abraham did with Issac.

Except Gods not asking for your son,

He wants YOU!

To perform a sacrifice of praise, to put your pride on the altar…

And then stand back!

1 Peter 2:5

 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

The American Nightmare

For me it’s sort of an inescapable conclusion that at some point in the future man will look back at what once was the United States and weep. Perhaps he’ll be overwhelmed by the loss of what once was,or enraged by the self serving greed that was responsible for it’s demise! He may even be dumbfounded that people were so complacent, that they let themselves be used for profit and then be tossed out like garbage afterwards.

Call it what you will, absurd perhaps…negative, unpatriotic?

One thing’s for sure, it’s bad news!

In this post and in forthcoming installments I’ll explain my perceptions of why I feel as though we’re  headed for the rocks and leave you to draw your own conclusions.  While  considering how to best accomplish this I was at first discouraged by the scope and complexity of the problem and  then also perplexed over deciding which of our national issues to include. My intent is not to be exhaustive or to bombard anyone with more information than most people care to know, but instead to provoke thought and discussion as I casually relate what I perceive to be happening to all of us who call ourselves “Americans”.

Where to start?

They say that if you’ve got your health you’ve got everything. If you doubt it, simply ask the next terminally ill billionaire you meet which he or she prefers–his or her money or his or her life!

As our nation has become more and more urban and less and less rural something critically important has changed with regard to the average Americans diet and “lifestyle”. People stopped growing their own vegetables and raising their own animals opting instead to simply get a job and buy those things from a store. I believe it was called the industrial revolution. Sounds important, doesn’t it? We then turned this most important responsibility over to corporations whose primary motive is profit and then somehow we’re shocked and disillusioned that they might not live up to the claims they make in their commercials of how they “care about your families health”. In fact, the results of this sort of  “caring” are the primary precipitating factor to practically every major health problem we have in this country!

We’re a nation of over-fed and obese, malnourished people…Huh?

That’s right, we consume foods produced under unnatural conditions which are not only practically void of nutrition but are for many reasons outright toxic to us. Our bodies continue to crave nutrition that our foods don’t have and so we continue to consume more and more in an attempt to satisfy our needs.  What happens is that in this futile process we end up ingesting a incredibly high number of calories we have little or no chance of burning since few of us do very much daily manual labor while sitting at a desk or driving a truck.

Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer…

Recently I met a lady from Africa whose mother came here for a visit. When taken to a local grocery store she was at first very impressed with the great abundance and apparent quality of the food she saw but after tasting it her opinion changed. Within weeks she told her daughter that she had to go home because she couldn’t eat our food. I believe the reason for her aversion is that she simply knew the difference between the real food she was used to and our fake food! I further believe that food does, or at least should have, “soul “. That love is a tangible ingredient that can be touched and tasted, one that’s essential to our health and one that’s sadly absent in our food supply! It seems as though in the name of corporate profit we’ve been duped to the point that we don’t, as the lady’s mother did, even know the difference!

Exactly who are the expediters of this American nightmare? I’m not afraid to name names….Corporations such as Monsanto,Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland top the list of entities who are out to monopolize our food supply and force feed us nutritionally bankrupt, genetically modified,commercially irradiated, poisonous, substances cleverly disguised as food! It’s almost as if our government has pimped out the American people to these food conglomerates, and to the World Health Organization with their “better” ideas such as Codex Alimentarius

But don’t be alarmed.

Because we in America have the best health  sick care system in the world–

And that’s the topic of my next rant blog entitled

“Sick and Tired”

In Jesus’ Name

Who hasn’t called out Jesus’ name in the midst of some threatening circumstance? I’ve heard people who by their own admission weren’t believers let it slip when they were frightened or startled. I’ve also noticed it’s His name that people most commonly use to announce their frustrations over someone or something they feel disgusted towards…as if to say “Lord, please deliver me from the vexation of this”

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People trade on His name and spend it like a currency to convey the justness and importance of their petitions to others or to make a dramatic point.  I’ve seen it used manipulatively at times to engage the emotions or conscience like a “hotline” to peoples’ hearts. In that moment, nobody denies it’s effect or challenges it’s power even if they openly doubt His existence.  why is that?

I think that it’s because on some deep  level of our consciousness there’s an acute awareness of  exactly who Jesus is and just how powerful His name is!

James 2:19

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

I’m pretty sure I’ve felt that trembling inside of me before!

I’m not advocating taking the Lords name in vain, quite the contrary.  What I am saying is that we should use the authority it holds for exactly what it was intended because of all that Jesus did to give us that power and authority over sin, sickness and death!

“In His Name”…

John 15:16

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Luke 9

1Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

2And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

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What might happen if more Christians were to approach their own circumstances and those of others wielding His name with the same boldness and authority as the apostles did. Not vainly, but with the same familiar sincerity some unbelievers seem to have. If we could, after hearing of some needful or hopelessly unfortunate situation pause for a moment of reflection, and then feeling no hesitation or doubt,  place the matter in Gods hands by praying over it in Jesus’ name!

I’d love to find out!

Of course many of us do some or all of those things already. We’ll claim the blood and the authority given us through Christ Jesus faster than some can say,

“No thank you, I really don’t believe in all of that hoo-doo mumbo-jumbo”!

I think too many Christians are scared to step out and claim the authority we have as heirs of Christ. It’s not something that’s taught in a lot of church’s, maybe because most Christians are too spiritually immature and they’re afraid that if they do they’ll end up with a “wildfire” on their hands of people doing all sorts of off the wall stuff  “In Jesus’ Name’…

Better a wildfire than no fire.

2 Timothy 3:5

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

There’s great power in Jesus’ name! As Christians we all have a responsibility to understand that and to respect the power of His name and definitely not take it in vain! I also feel as though it’s a  privilege to share Christ with people and to act as His ambassador to “whosoever” will listen to me. As it was with the disciples, I don’t feel as though our primary mandate is to perform miracles of healing but instead to preach the kingdom of God. Neither do I feel that the time of miracles is past or that we shouldn’t always pray for peoples’ healings and deliverance’s.  It was clear to Jesus that He couldn’t perform any miracles in Nazareth because of the doubt of the people there which supports the idea of our primary function being to “free the captives” of sin first.  When we pray in Jesus’ name, we’re asking for His will to be done in the people or circumstances we’re praying for. But The Lord isn’t going to violate anybodies freewill either! That’s The commission, to show people the grace and love that’s not only being offered to them by God for eternity, but that’s all around us everyday. To tell people of Gods great desire for them to come to know Him! While we’re doing this, we’re called to lay hands on the sick and see them healed, and to not hesitate to take authority over demons wherever we find them, all of these things we’re called to do…

In Jesus’ Name!