Coming Clean Pt. 3

Coming Clean Pt. 3

What does it mean to walk in holiness and not be Pharisaical in the process? It must be possible because The Lord has commanded it of us. There is an interesting passage in Luke 11:34-36. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.

There are two parts of this which stand out to me. First, “See to it.” This is a clear directive about something we are to do, an action we are responsible for. It is not sufficient to pray that God do it. “See to it!” means it is something which demands our attention. Clearly His objective is that we should each be full of light. Light carriers, light bearers, light shiners. But getting there is something we must tend to.

Second, we usually read “If your whole body is full of light, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” But wait. There is that little phrase between commas which is usually not noticed: “and no part of it dark.”


This means that part of our being can have light within, but there may be places still in darkness, where the light does not shine. It is as if I invite you into my great room, even the guest bedroom and bath – just don’t go down the hall to the laundry. There may be dragons and beasties in there. Yet that is the very place where Jesus wants us to “see to it.” Jesus wants access with His light to the whole house.

We have to have healthy eyes in order to “See to it,” for when they are unhealthy our whole body will be full of darkness. To have healthy eyes means being willing and able to recognize that which defiles us and keeps us unclean. Perhaps this is why the Lord says “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Rev.3:18 In every part of this verse reliance on the Holy Spirit is essential; to become like gold, and to receive a robe of righteousness, and finally to see ourselves clearly are all a part of his work in us. We are never self-made men in the kingdom. At the same time, our desire, cooperation and obedience are necessary to see any change come about in us.

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Coming Clean Pt.2

Coming Clean Pt.2

One of the directives or topics in Scripture that is often overlooked, or skipped as not relevant is holiness. Over time, and with misuse it has become almost tainted. “Holier than thou!” is a pejorative phrase no one wants to hear. It reeks of superiority and pride. The Holiness Movement, which began as an earnest attempt to apply the principles of the Word, soon devolved into outward actions to keep up appearances. In that, it became identified with the Pharisees of old. One could be make-up free, with hair in a bun, but still have unresolved anger and bitterness within. Broken relationships? Well, surely the Lord would understand since they hurt me so! Go apologize to someone on the other side of the church? What? They should be coming over here to me! As Jesus remarked, one could wash the outside of the dish, but it still be filled with all kinds of uncleanness.

We do not fully grasp how much the bitterness and unforgiveness we harbor contaminate our whole being and keep us from true holiness. Rancor and the eventual hatred to which it leads are serious soul defilers, making us unclean like the lepers of old.

We like to proclaim that the work of Jesus on the cross has taken care of all our sin. That is a real feel-good statement. What we choose to ignore often is that our current defilements do two things: they interrupt our fellowship with Father, and the uncleanness darkens a part of our being so that His light does not shine there.

Coming Clean

Coming Clean

Children bouncing up and down on a teeter totter picture well the differing expressions of those who live the Christian life.

On the upside of the teeter totter are those who proclaim the “Come to Jesus and get saved so you can go to heaven” belief. To them, a ticket to eternal heavenly bliss is all that matters. In the meanwhile, let’s just live the way we used to, partying it up and following the self-centered desires of our hearts. We are “In,” so it doesn’t matter if we wear our neckline low and hemline high. Everyone else is forgetting those prudish, Victorian beliefs of staying apart until marriage. What nonsense! What difference does it make if we sleep with someone first? Really, now. How old-fashioned!

On the downside of that teeter totter are the persons who believe that being a Christian means religiously following the established regulations and moral code, of doing “right,” whatever their particular congregation espouses as right behavior. Nothing is as insufferable as the uptight, prudish Christian with his long nose in everyone’s business, while telling us of all the laws and rules we must now follow. His family is “perfect,” his children well behaved. He knows the ways things should be done in the church, the home, the nation.

Yet, he knows nothing of the freedom of spirit, the joy of full acceptance. “This is the way; walk ye in it,” is his byword. He may have at one time known and experienced the love of God, but following the rule book grew into a serious pursuit until it became all he knows. The proper outward actions became synonymous with the central truth of the faith – and was sufficient for life.

In between the rather joy-less rule follower and the hedonist on the other end of the balancing board are the ones sitting in the middle: persons who proclaim “Freedom! We have been forgiven of all our sin guilt so now we are free. Therefore, relax.” They try to avoid both extremes as they begin to learn more through Bible Study and church attendance. They will enjoy the ball games, an occasional glass of wine and take in a concert on occasion even if it means wearing ear plugs. They clean up their act a bit. The swearing goes and those who have lived together find their way to the altar. They begin to pick up some of the rules, seeing them in a new light, but reject some others which do not fit their interpretation of Freedom!

None of the three can understand why his witness has been unsuccessful. He certainly can see why the other two groups do not represent the faith well, but his own inability puzzles him. Something is wrong here, yes.

Part 1


Odd

The waitress for our table was extolling a shrimp dish they offered. “O, no thanks,” I said, looking like I didn’t want to be poisoned. “You can’t eat shrimp?”  Her expression indicated she thought I was very odd. “Too bad. I’m so sorry!” Although I assured her I had lived many happy and satisfying years without shrimp, she walked away shaking her head, unconvinced.

In the same way, when I say that I have not turned on the TV in months, I am looked at as being really odd. I don’t fit the norm. How can I live or enjoy life without chillin’ in front of the tube? Odd, indeed. I know there are those who have the set on almost 24/7, who eat, sleep, baby sit the children and make love by its flickering light. But five minutes of its noise, its subliminal message, is all it takes to jangle my nerves and put me on edge.

Being outside the norm in today’s society immediately makes me suspect. And a bit scary.  We all like to sort people into known groups, things we can understand. Anyone who falls outside our classification system is therefore an unknown, and the unknown makes us nervous.

Since the advent of the television era, we have been captivated by watching stories or drama, whether fictional or news events, unfold before our eyes. Over time it became possible to tell stories with fewer and fewer words, creating and resolving an issue in a 30 second commercial. Gradually, our community attention span has dropped down from reasoned essays to short sound bites. Now if a video clip is longer than five minutes, we tend to skim right by. Too much trouble. Reading fell by the wayside as TV has consumed more of our time. “Read through three paragraphs describing the Norwegian countryside? Don’t have time. Just show me a picture.”

Much more is lost by the fall-off in reading than simply less library usage. Being acclimated to the picture story, we don’t have to think; the thinking has been done for us by those who filmed and directed the camera or drawing board. As an author paints a scene with his word brush, readers engage his or her mind with their own imaginations, developing their own ideas along the way. When I read about a fish breaking the pond surface in pursuit of a fly, I bring my own experiences and history to bear, seeing in mind’s eye something that may be a blend of two different locales, something I have co-created with the writer. But when we watch it on TV we don’t have to think; the pond is there before us. In effect, having a steady flow of pictorial input removes all need to exercise the mind or process ideas. 

Spoon fed pictures and input lead in short time to a habit of no thinking. There is no exercising of process needed. We become accustomed to the lazy mind, taking in without realizing it the thoughts and beliefs of those who prepare the input. In no time “they” have become the controllers, and we, the unwashed, conditioned public, are the controlled. A society so conditioned is then easily led like lemmings to the nearest cliff.

I would rather be odd, thank you.

Relaxed Confidence

God requires a protocol to approach Him. The trick is how to follow that protocol without it becoming rote or religious. To maintain a freshness in our relationship with God without becoming flippant and casual is a challenge to the church and gatherings of believers everywhere.

Balance is needed, always balance between Awe of the transcendent God, and Joy of intimate connection with the Father through the resurrected Christ. This is God Almighty, the Creator of all, and the one who went to the utter end to rescue and then live within us. We need to consider frequently His enormity and otherness, and at the same time walk in everlasting gratefulness of His drawing near. This brings us to a place of relaxed confidence and trust.

Relaxed confidence. That is a position unrealized by far too many in the Body of Christ. If we are relaxed, it means we are not up tight about our position in relation to God, worried that we are standing on the edge of a steep sliding board, at risk any moment of plunging down and away. Striving to attain good standing in His sight is past; we have come to know we are securely in His care and keeping.

But how do those who know come to that place of confidence? The knee-jerk answer is they have faith.  For the not-yet-convinced, or unbeliever, that just sounds like religious talk which has no reality in their lives. They respond with human arguments and atheistic beliefs heard in the past. Faith? Isn’t that just believing something you have heard because you want it to be so? A hope so, maybe so thought? A belief drummed up by the weak and needy?

Well, no, it is much more than that, completely different, yet difficult to describe in worldly, earthly terms because it is a spiritual reality which connects earth with heaven, bringing heaven to earth. Believing what you have heard about God’s rescue plan in Christ is the beginning step, but is not faith. Responding by personalizing it for yourself is the reaching out which instantly becomes faith, opening a whole spiritual world to you and giving substance to something that was not real to you just moments before. As the scripture says, “Faith is the substance of things not seen.”

With faith now in operation, you know that God is true, His word is true, and you can rest in confidence of His eternal care for you. 

This then brings a response of awe and gratitude for the unspeakable gift that He is and has given to us. No room for flippancy here, just a natural outflow of praise and thanksgiving.

The Measure

My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. Psalm 71:15

David did not know the depths of God’s salvation, what it all entailed, nor do we. God’s salvation is so deep and wide it is beyond knowing. What is available to us in that gift? What does it mean that we have salvation? For multiplied many believers, it means one thing: we get to go to heaven when we die. For a smaller number, it means a closeness of God through Holy Spirit in this earthly life through a renewed spirit within. A smaller number still testify to a changed life and ability to rise above former defiling, deadly behaviors. But the gifts of God are far greater in scope and potential than we have grasped. The unplumbable depths will never run dry so that we can reach into that well of salvation (Isaiah 12:3) to meet any need.  Strength? Wisdom? Courage? Healing? Ability to forgive? It is all there, and more.

Like Dr. Seuss’  McElligot’s Pool, there are worlds hidden from the surface view which lead eventually from that shallow pool to the widest ocean.

We may not be able to measure God’s salvation gift, but we surely should “open the box” to explore what has been made available to us. Relying on Him in every situation enables us to see more of His attributes and His character, ultimately giving Him the thanks, praise and glory He deserves.

Top Ten Things re: Manly Men

With the recent flood of revelations about men’s unwanted advances, it is obvious that women are tired of being groped and objectified. So as an add-on to my post on Manly Men, I offer my list of Top Ten Things Women Find Attractive in Men.

Considerate of, but not dependent on parents
Thoughtful of others
Attends to personal hygiene
Aware of and not intrusive of personal boundaries
Interests beyond sex and sports
Understands and uses manners and dress appropriate to the occasion
Has wider emotional expression than angry and not angry
Is true to his word
Good sense of humor – never at other’s expense
Protective, but not controlling.

Gals, if you find such a gem, take him home to meet your parents.