What’s in The Box 2

So, what is in the box that makes you you?

Human kind has been philosophizing on this topic from dim ages past. Are we simply animal machines of a slightly higher order, with not much more value than a lemming? There are people who believe this, which helps to explain their attitude about everything from abortion, to infanticide to euthanasia. With no moral code, with man having no value greater than a mouse, it makes no difference whether we keep or throw away our offspring. Or Grandma. There is in their mind, therefore, nothing to declare right vs. wrong… except of course if you should rape or threaten their children. Suddenly they are finding they do believe some things are inherently right, with other things totally wrong. However, their commitment to the idea that there is no moral code outside of themselves, and that we are evolved animals only, is so strong that they develop split brain thinking when faced with harm that touches them. This becomes necessary when you believe two opposing views; unless the beliefs are compartmentalized, the brain cannot process or hold both at the same time.

Many people believe that man is made up of body and soul. The soul is a rather vague concept of the life force which departs at death as the body returns to the earth. There is a general belief that there is a God somewhere, that he started the whole thing, and if we behave right and do good our soul will find eternal bliss somewhere when we die. If anyone brings up the word ‘spirit’ it is assumed to be a synonym for soul.

There is general agreement that there is a standard, or absolute, outside of ourselves which declares that some things are good, and to be pursued, and other things are bad or off limits. Some care enough about eternal bliss to try to behave themselves; others find the effort too great and decide early on the whole thing is a farce, or that they are doomed anyway, so let’s eat, drink and be merry. Devil take the hindmost. Regardless of their response to life, most in this group truly know there is a standard which they fail to meet on a regular basis. There is often much striving to appease the somewhere God to earn points which will admit them to the eternal beyond. Their prayers are directed to the God Out There, hoping that somehow they will be heard and helped.

A third group is of people who have seen and believed the words of the Bible in 1 Thessalonians “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What? There’s a difference between the spirit and the soul? The 
Bible declares it to be so, in fact using different words in the Greek and Hebrew for each. They are not interchangeable words for the same reality, but describe distinctly different parts of our being.

On the basis of Biblical truth I understand that in each of our packaging there is a spirit and a soul as well as our body. Each has an important part to play in developing who we are and who we are destined to become. Someone has well said: “We are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body.” Since each is important, it behooves us to unpack the topic more fully. Our (successful) lives depend on it.

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We’re In!

Many people with whom I engage do not have a grasp on their identity, although they have been self-identified as Christians for years. This failure of knowing is revealed by insecurity of being, search for significance, hair-trigger defensiveness and the like.

For this I fault the traditional church which has been big on pointing out sin, you miserable wretch, you, and all the ways you need to follow to remain in the fold of their acceptance. Although they teach “It is by grace you are saved, and not by works,” their very requirements whether stated or implied, are translated as works-to-earn in the mind of the believer so that there is much “doing” – with its accompanying sense of never enough, and little “being,” with its feeling of rest, acceptance and joy.

What scripture shows, and the Church tends to overlook, is that the Almighty, God of Everything, has come to this little planet, down to our level, and has self-identified as our Father. He has (already) dealt with the sin problem and now incorporates us into Himself in a huge, other-worldly embrace so that we experience life two in one, as it were. We really do become His children, not just His creation along with lemmings and butterflies. Since we are (already) accepted and loved, we should not have to prove it, or strive for it. Instead, we rejoice that He is within our very beings and go forward into fullness of life totally loved and unafraid.

Wow!

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Morning’s Musing

I was thinking that there are many things I cannot do – but, there are some things I can do.

Then: Of those, there are things which I do not do well, but there are some which I do do well.

Therefore I am exactly as it pleases The Lord.

All of the threads that have come down the generational stream contributing to the tapestry which makes up my particular DNA and person-hood play a part in defining my identity and the way I am able to give a unique expression of the glory of God. The threads are many: I pictured the Romany milking a goat, providing for his family’s needs; a seaman facing storms on open water; a stolid Dutchman in meetings attending to village matters.

In all this there is design, purpose. The scripture about the pot confronting the potter comes to mind. Accusing the potter of insufficiency is common to all of us. Why do we do this?  Rather than accepting and rejoicing that our gifts are adequate in God’s eyes, we grouse and complain, in effect accusing the Designer of All of some shortcoming. We suggest to Him that He could do better by us, giving us the gift that someone else has. In this state of dissatisfaction we then strive to become something we are not and were never intended to be.

A caveat here:  As a Christian I am in process to become the very best I can be.  “Yet, to all who received HIm, for those who believe in His name He gives the power (right) to become children of God. “ John 1:12  What a promise, what a hope! In that process we are being conformed to the image of Jesus which is a present and continuing experience. The standard then is not other people’s gifts and talents which we lack, but the standard of Jesus Christ. Excellence should be the norm for every Christ-indwelt believer. But that excellence is to the standard God has chosen for each person.IMG_1099

So I will not be a graceful dancer interpreting story through body movement. I will not be a modern day Rembrandt bringing ideas and concepts to light with paint and canvas. I will not build majestic buildings, invent better surgical procedures, create glorious symphonies. But what I do, I do well to the honor and glory of God alone. Humble as it may be, and unnoticed by the world, if I exhibit excellence in what I do, it is pleasing to God who requires nothing more from me. It is His standard which matters.

Perhaps our personal dissatisfaction is rooted in insecurity about our own value or worth.  The striving to become what we were never intended to be is a clear indicator that we have not grasped fully our true identity as cherished creations of The Lord of the universe. Coming to that understanding brings us (you) to a place of rest where striving ceases.

Hebrews 4:9   - 11  There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.

John Paul Jackson, considered by many to be an elder or senior voice among the prophetic community, recently shared his testimony of being caught up to the throne room of heaven. There before the Ancient of Days, the all Powerful One, he was instantly aware that God was totally righteous, and that he, John Paul, was not. It was only the covering of Christ which kept him from being totally annihilated before that source of power.  He reports that a continual stream of light and power came out of the center – which we might call the heart or center – and with each burst the surrounding creatures and angels would erupt into cries of wonder “Holy!”  “Holy”  “Holy!!” The noise was deafening, between the continual erupting bursts and the responses of those around the throne. Translated into our present day and world what they were saying was “Wow!”  “Wow.” “Wow!!”  These were expressions of wonder at His continual revealing of new facets of Himself. They never became jaded, because the revelations were each more awesome than the other. I was reminded of the Scripture which declares that He holds up the world with His power. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  Hebrews 1:3

Each eruption was another creative act. Each one elicited a “Wow!” Each was something new and truly awesome in the original meaning of that word. It is not too far a stretch to consider that with the creation of each individual – whom the Bible declares is dearly loved and highly valued – the very angels of heaven are exclaiming “Wow!” We are, all of us, made in the image of God. That image is so inexhaustible that even millions upon millions of persons display something distinctive to the glory of God. As no two snowflakes are alike, and no two magnified grains of sand are alike, so is it with His beloved crown of creation: mankind. You are so unique that the angels are “wowing” over you.

The problem is, not knowing or believing that fact causes many of His dearly loved creations to slide into a downward spiral of darkness, rebellion, and woe. The life that rejects the very Creator from which it came is soon a life of strife, a chain of pain. The spouse batterer, the drunk face down in the gutter, the trafficker in pornography have fallen far from revealing the glory of God. The “Wow” has become “Woe.”

It seems to me, therefore, that the first order of business for the church is believing the truth of our identity, teaching it, and best of all, modeling it. Learning our identity is the way into His rest. Anyone who grasps the significance of who he is, becomes changed, radically so. Moving from “woe” to “wow” he displays a clear demonstration of the gospel’s power.

Stillness

 Total stillness now, interrupted only by the cawing of crows in the sycamore down the way. In that stillness there is space and time for reflection, for listening to inner dialog. To think, to ponder, to get in touch with the self within has become a rare thing, a luxury enjoyed by too few. I become aware that I am playing with phrases, constructing and deconstructing sentences, describing even the air around me. People come to mind–family members who are struggling, friends not seen in years, those talked with just yesterday. This brings me to reflection on my own attitudes and emotions. The change, I realize, has been deep and wide. I am not now the person I was 20 years ago, 5 years ago, last month. And I like the person I am becoming. Notice the continuing present. Life is a process. When we stop growing and changing, we start dying.

1428571_45245035    I hear other birds as well. Some newcomers to the neighborhood add their unrecognized song to the surroundings. My pondering continues, now observing creative thoughts, deeper thoughts are stirring. I am struck by the great treasure that is available to everyone, the ability to process and create, bringing forth a new aspect of reality unique to them. However, a world of unceasing noise and distraction removes the stillness, that space and time of quiet in which the individual’s thoughts can take shape, to the blessing of us all. We are therefore all losers in a noisy environment. The unrealized potential creative idea that each person could bring to the world is lost to the din of the day. Our culture has trained us to be restless unless there is a steady stream of noise — the background store and elevator music, the ubiquitous TV. Headphones, iTunes, Pandora. We fear to be left alone with our thoughts; the very idea is foreign to us. In the process, we lose our true selves.