I noted previously a prayer request for another vehicle. One of our regular readers asked for a better accounting of how we are doing this. It seems to me I have no reason to keep this so very private if I want you to pray intelligently.
We do have something of value to exchange or sell toward the price of a vehicle. It’s current value is just over $1000 and there’s no doubt we can sell it for that. We’ve held onto it for just this kind of situation. Here in Central Oklahoma, that could buy something useful. We paid about that much for our 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee a few years ago and aren’t disappointed in how it all worked out.
Our experience has been that we can trust God, take our time and let Him show us the best deal for the money. We have time because the Jeep still runs. It seems the issue is related to electronics, dicey to diagnose and very expensive to fix. It costs more than it’s worth right now. So our Jeep runs pretty good when the ambient air temperature is cooler, and gives us trouble as it rises past 55F. At that, five miles is about the limit, which is roughly the distance my wife drives to work. Meanwhile, I’m doing some shopping today on my bicycle because the store in question is farther than that. Riding 30+ miles at a time is no big deal for me, so it’s just a question of carrying the load and enduring the conditions.
I don’t doubt that some of you wish you could help. God bless you, but don’t use our PayPal link for that on the donations page if you are working in US dollars. It’s really hard to move that money out into cash or to transfer to anyone selling a vehicle. (We don’t trust PayPal with our banking info.) Honestly, you really need to pray first and foremost. Yes, I’m convinced it makes a difference. If you want to contribute materially, email me (ehurst at soulkiln dot org) and ask for details.
Here in this part of the world, we can probably still find something decent with our current resources. We are starting our market research right now; my wife is in charge of this because God keeps blessing her efforts. I know that I can find something pretty good for $3000 easy, but I’d frankly be surprised if our parish and others contributed that much. This is not a big fund-raising campaign, but I’m not embarrassed to accept gifts from anyone. FYI, or personal inclinations are toward a small pickup, but we would accept a full-sized one, too.
This is not an emergency and we are patiently waiting for God to show us what He has in mind. Thank you for your love and support.
Update: The reader who asked me about this has a challenge to all the rest of you: She’ll match dollar for dollar any donations I receive for this vehicle.
I’m watching it almost every day.
It’s an addiction, cultivated within our Post-Modern Western society. It’s the result of cascading errors. First, they deny that there are higher planes of existence. This totally abnegates hope and aspiration, a reason to live. Substituted in its place is a very shallow drive for pleasure, though defined in many ways. The use of logic itself becomes little more than a form of pleasure. Indeed, the summum bonum is entertainment, somewhat more than pure physical appetites. Even casual sex is more about the art form than it is indulging hormonal drives.
But the result is a false dichotomy. There are three human lusts in Scripture: flesh, eyes and pride. In our Western society, the proper order is keeping the third in service to the second. There is a faux denigration of primacy for mere fleshly appetites or the primacy of pride. Letting either flesh or pride dominate your interests is considered pretty much the same basic sin, while moral goodness if elevating the lust for various flavors of intellectual entertainment. Thus, the lower reasoning power becomes king, and everything else is somehow déclassé.
Yet this leaves a broad highway for mere entertainment to dominate. There may well be endless debate over which types and flavors of entertainment are superior, but the basic assumption remains that humanity has no higher aspiration.
Among the many things our society does to pervert femininity, it’s the elevation of drama that destroys real romance. Women are given naturally to some higher interest in drama than men, but in our inevitable Western drift to feminism, taming males means making them more interested in their own brand of drama. The most common expression of male drama is various expressions of heroism and virtuosity in hobbies. In our current social context, a primary form is gaming. Women carp about men gaming, particularly computer gaming, but this is the best you can get when Western feminism rises to rule social convention.
This elevates to demigod status those who are adept at making role-playing-games happen. Both the designers and developers become quasi-priests, while the most adept players are the quasi-warlords. The man who plays exceeding well, invests resources in organizing gaming activities and runs his own RPG server is king. This is entirely the only reasonable expectation from feminist political dominance. Feminist carping about the resulting Western masculinity expressed in gaming is simply the natural result.
Never forget: The signature impulse of fallen femininity is to dominate men (Genesis 3:16). Political feminism was never about equality, but dominance. The consummate feminist is a dominatrix of one kind or another. That they have largely succeeded is evident in the vast horde or feminized men who serve them in political activism. The “real men” call these servants “rabbits.” What no one wants to admit is that both “real men” and “rabbits” are creatures of feminism. That some men will never be dominated is natural, but the entire field of social instinct is limited to this false dichotomy: If you aren’t a rabbit, you are left with a very narrow range of masculine expression.
This suffocating environment makes no allowance for the moral shepherd and shepherdess of Scripture. We will be continually misidentified as something else, depending on the context. I don’t play RPGs because that’s wholly inconsistent with what God has made of me. In the first place, the entire range of fantasy is alien to Scripture. In the second place, there simply is precious little appetite for entertainment in the shepherd’s soul. The drive to guard and shape moral consciousness in self and others makes virtually all available entertainment painful.
I’m left watching as women struggle to suppress the natural results of their dominance in this fallen world while the men struggle to escape in the only routes visible. If it’s not gaming, it’s a broad range of other Western male hobbies, to include very real wars, wars that are inescapably pointless because their objective is always materialist, particularly in the perverted nest-building of Western feminists.
Romance struggles to survive in such an environment.
Walk in the light you have. I’m not here to dictate orthodoxy for others; I can only relate to you what I’ve experienced. Theology as commonly done among Western Christians is wholly misleading because it pretends certitude here in this life among the Shadows. It’s the wrong certitude. If you don’t first and foremost have a driving call to seek God’s face, your theology won’t mean a damned thing.
I consider it a cardinal sin to proclaim intellectual certitude of that sort. It misleads the soul and places the intellect in the executive, the very nature of the Fall itself. It opens the door to a wealth of false expectations and keeps you from turning your face directly to the Lord. We already have way too many things standing between us a God; we don’t need to create more false idols to drain away our one hope for getting out of this world alive.
Again, this is simply my pastoral advisory. You have to find your own path to peace with God. Mine includes rejecting a wide range of varied theological positions commonly found in Western Christian thought. One of those is a broad category called Universalism. This is another case of confusing the Two Realms. It presumes to assert things we cannot possibly know, and misses the point in things we can know.
In essence, Universalism asserts that everyone will go to Heaven and the only difference is that a few of us who are aware of that can walk in peace while waiting our turn. Naturally that’s a simplified characterization, but it flatly denies things Jesus said. It’s based on Western logical assumptions and presumes to judge Scripture.
The moral laws by which we live here are universal. They are universally available. What moves the hearts of humanity to accept or reject and all the varying degrees in between — all of it is wide open and God works with us according to the fundamental covenant of His divine justice, His mercy in revealing the moral nature of the universe. Everyone is free to embrace as much as they can and God has promised to meet us more than half-way. Every step we take closer to His character amplifies geometrically, as it were, the blessings possible in this life. At the same time, we become accountable to keep pushing ahead. Stasis is not really part of the covenant because it’s not possible to ever arrive in this life.
Eternal life in Heaven is beyond human grasp; we cannot even begin to understand how it works. We are permitted limited glimpses into some symbolic/parabolic indications of it sufficient to take action in confidence that God will take it seriously. We are permitted to see some aspects of it so that we don’t get off on the wrong track. One of the primary texts in Scripture is still Romans, particularly chapter 8. Paul flatly says we cannot possibly want eternal life if we don’t already have it. The fallen nature is that bad. Breaking us out of that is an act of divine grace and wholly on God’s initiative. It is most certainly not universal in nature. Some folks will end up in eternal damnation.
The main point to keep in mind is that we simply cannot know for anyone else. We can know for ourselves (see 1 John 1) in a certain sense, but it’s not that intellectual certitude humans crave. It’s more subtle than that. We cannot know how we were brought across the line into it, and cannot begin to formulate how it will be for others. We are warned not to pretend we can know. All this talk of “Jesus came to give us free salvation” has taken on a pool of conceptual falsehood that borrows way too much from an intellectual culture that is alien to Scripture. So while the words are proper, it’s what we make of them that is all wrong.
In the Old Testament, those who could gain eternal life would have to go through the applicable law covenant to get there. It was contextual; if you walked in the light you had, God would honor your faith. You were obliged to study it insofar as you had access to revelation. In the New Testament, we can claim that eternal birth without having to first wade through the full history of revelation. Not only do we have the record of revelation easily accessible in most human languages, but we can gain the awareness of our spiritual birth with precious little reading of it beforehand.
It’s not as if spiritual birth began with the Cross. It’s that the Cross reduced the ritual obligations and we need not go through a big rigmarole of conversion. There is one sacrifice for sins on the earth; Jesus closed that section of the Laws of God in His person. The Laws were forcefully moved into their proper place, as a parable for something much more important. The focus is not on observance of the Laws, but the meaning of divine justice itself. If we can embrace the meaning of Christ’s life and sacrifice, we can gain immediate access to the full blessings of the Laws.
His resurrection is another matter. It speaks in ways words cannot, offering to us an awareness of life beyond this realm of existence. It is the ultimate assertion of otherworldly focus, reducing this realm to insignificance. We have only one reason to live in this world, and that is to follow Christ out of it. The whole meaning of the Laws is outside this world where they apply. We blaspheme when we reduce the mighty miracle of grace to a mere formula of ritual and observance of particulars. We blaspheme when we reduce grace to mere intellectual assent. We blaspheme when we reduce grace to a human decision. How it is that someone comes to care in the first place is where the miracle of God begins. That sense of concern goes far beyond mere guilt over sin; it’s an overwhelming sense begging to make peace with God.
There is no magic formula. You cannot sell it; you cannot lead people there if they aren’t there already. In our Western world of manipulation, the whole business of religion has been deeply stained with human willfulness and blasphemy of presuming to understand and control human access to God. The Gatekeeper to Heaven is God Himself, and He alone. There is only one answer when God asks, “Why should I let you in?” It is: “You invited me.” Any other answer means you have no business there. You cannot come to the point of wanting in without having already a standing invitation. God has not changed since before Creation. The fundamental nature of revelation hasn’t changed, either; it has only blossomed into fullness in Christ.
Jesus Himself warned that the invitation is not universal. The story of Lazarus resting in the bosom of Abraham includes a warning that some would not make it.
First, I’ve got a prayer request. After struggling with repairing our Jeep, we still have some trouble. It randomly stalls out and won’t restart until some cooling off. I’ve checked with experienced Jeep gurus and it comes down to stuff like proprietary electronics that no one has any business repairing on something built and first sold in 1996. It just about gets my wife to work and back some 5 miles one way. Most of what I do is on my bicycle, but that’s simply not an option for her. So we need something in better shape, and it will require the funding to match. Pray with us.
Second, I’m about finished with final edits for the Kubuntu book. David Mattichak has asked me to get it ready for Lulu publishing (print on demand), too, with his expert help, of course. After that I’ll be working on another Ancient Truth book covering the Wisdom Literature (minus Psalms and Proverbs, each of which warrants its own volume).
Third, for those of you keeping track, I’m running Scientific Linux 7 — one of the remaining RHEL clones — on one of my systems and it seems they’ve fixed all the stuff that annoyed me so much with RHEL and CentOS 7. All the stuff I’ve already posted here still applies across all three of them.
God bless you all.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said something about not calling someone a fool. That is, in most English translations it comes out like that. If you are legalistic, you’d probably pass over the part later where Jesus called someone a child of Satan, an even worse insult.
You have heard that it was said to an older generation, “Do not murder,” and “whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.” But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says “Fool” will be sent to fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22 NET)
Context is everything, especially in Hebrew teaching. The context is the definition of wisdom versus folly. In the Ancient Near East it was universally understood that wisdom was not some deep thinking alone, but moral discernment. While assessing what you see with clarity and intelligence is a good thing, wisdom is not a question of interpreting facts. It was about recognizing the moral implications of things. There was no higher knowledge possible than moral insight.
By contrast, folly was moral stupidity. Seeing beyond mere words, we recognize that Jesus was talking about allowing anger to control your decisions. Even then, it’s not the same anger that drove Him to clear the Bazzars of the Sons of Annas out the Court of Gentiles. Anger was not the focus of danger here, but Jesus goes on to say things about reconciliation. There is a delicious play on words here about calling someone else a fool when you are the person with a moral problem.
Keep in mind that social stability is the summum bonum in Hebrew law. Not all killing is murder; murder is unjustified killing. So much is obvious from the Law of Moses, which is the broader context here as Jesus teaches according to the Covenant. It’s a paradox that people of good conscience are slow to kill and have to be prodded into executing, especially when their own blood kin get too far out of line. It’s folly to overindulge your kin, as King David did too often, allowing serious evil to overcome the social stability he was supposed to bring. But anyone quick to kill, the way David’s cousin Joab did, was also a fool. Everyone knew this from reading the Old Testament.
We also know that false accusation could get you in trouble. Western democratic traditions make something of this, but we simply have no law against, and only a pretense of social disapproval of, deception in general. In Hebrew cultures, there was no pretense about it. So people like Apostle Peter might be full of crap, making big promises they couldn’t keep, but he would be loathe to lie outright. Yet he did that very thing during Jesus’ trial. It was culturally equivalent to treason. Our Lord’s response to Peter was more painful than death, and it broke him.
Net result: Be very reluctant to close the door on people. Nobody says you can’t protect your calling and your divine stewardship. It’s one thing to recognize you can’t do any more and put as much distance as you reasonably can between yourself and them. That’s not the same as marking them for final disposition. You leave the door open for when/if they change whatever it was that forced you to stop dealing with them. It’s not the words of denuciation, but the failure to turn things over to God. When the New Testament refers to turning someone over to Satan for discipline, notice that it’s not permanent or eternal. It’s just letting Satan do the job God assigned to him. The door to repentance is always open.
That’s the point: Leave room for repentance in your soul, for yourself and others.
I’ve been mulling this over all day; I have to make sure I get it right.
That old prophetic sense is tingling again. It calls to mind the old CCR song, “Bad Moon Rising” — provided you understand that it’s a measure of parabolic hyperbole. To be honest, I’m not really sure what to make of it.
The worst thing you could do is try to read back into this an abbreviated time line. It’s not like that. There are changes coming, some quite substantial, and none of that is surprising. Anyone with a few active brain cells could see we are in for rough times. Again, it’s not that kind of thing.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen various attempts here in the US to ignite something like a civil war, race war, or other kinds of calamity. It never went anywhere because it wasn’t time for it. Here’s the thing most people just don’t get when dealing with God and time: It’s always a matter of ripening, not scheduling. Something has gotten ripe; God is ready for certain things to change.
Why do I share something so nebulous? If there is ever a time to ensure you know your calling and mission, this is it. It’s not as if we could take some human action to prepare in some concrete way. As I noted in a recent post, our human awareness is a critical aspect of how God works. The whole point now is that you take seriously the teaching that your heart is a sensory organ, the place where you operate from a commitment to follow Christ. The heart is the seat of the will.
Tune up your heart sense. Teach your mind to serve the heart and not play the executive role. Your mind is there to organize and implement, not rule. The Spirit of God speaks first to your spirit, and the heart is the primary place for processing such things. Remember that the battlefield is your soul and how you respond to things you cannot control.
Naturally, I’ll mention here that agape is not understood by our Western society, that sacrificial love of the Cross. Yet this is the very power we have to bring God glory. This business of turning individuals into projects for conversion is simply all wrong, and wrong headed. You are the project. How you respond in any context to those around you is the project. Learning to sacrifice yourself to divine love and justice is the whole point. Whether and how others respond is really not in our hands, though we surely rejoice when someone chooses a more just path.
Somewhere in all of this, there’s got to be a mission. I’m probably not the only one in the parish who is feeling that divine tug to be ready to take this message afield. The call to prepare is that mystical thing where we take a moral inventory. Nothing specific in human concrete terms, but give some time to prayer and worship with an eye to discerning weak spots that need work.
Parish, we are arrows in the quiver. The battle is nigh.