A critical element in Solomon’s Ecclesiastes is the otherworldly advice to ignore yesterday and tomorrow, and obey the moral imperatives of the day.
It’s not as if we make no plans. For example, I have a regular workout schedule. Six days each week, barring intervening necessities, I ride my bike at least ten miles (16km). By no means would I have any imaginary intentions of competing or even sport riding. I ride because it gives me some good head space. As a side benefit, it does keep me in decent health. Doing this is obedience to one of those impressions in my spirit that is hard to explain, but forms a moral imperative for me.
Today I rode past the property on North Triple X Road in Choctaw that was washing away into the North Canadian River. The recent heavy rains caused the river to wash out the banks near this property, eating away some 20-30 feet (6-9m), making a much wider channel. The water level is typically ten feet (3m) below the land level, so it’s a significant threat when it washes out from under the buildings. The owners are named Buford, and they had to get help evacuating their movable goods when they woke up one morning to find the river very near their barn. By the time they got help, half the barn had already fallen into the river. It’s bad enough I can see it all from the road. The Bufords were worried about their dog, because it spent it’s whole life there. They had offers to kennel it, but couldn’t bring themselves to put it in cage, so they left it on the property. They still feed it daily and so forth, but the poor dog gets bored with no one around.
Most of the dogs who chase me are no genuine threat. The few who are get a face full of pepper spray, which is precious few of them. The spray works really well when you hit them in the eyes, which I’ve managed to do consistently so far. But the tactics the dogs use in chasing tells me a lot. Biters will get right up on my feet and start snapping. Other dogs will wander around in front or behind, chasing because it’s a challenge. The Buford’s dog came sneaking out between the wheeled trash bins in the driveway, but never really threatened me. So I stopped and we got acquainted. Like most dogs, if you stop and get off the bike, he was actually afraid because I was no longer vulnerable. I got him to come to me so I could pet him and talk to him a bit. He’s pretty lonely. The time lost was a small sacrifice to a higher moral priority.
Tonight I’ll go out after bathing in insect repellent and try to pick some blackberries. I’ll have to wear long pants, knee-high rubber boots and gloves in this heat because that’s the only way to avoid poison ivy and some of the ravenous insects, all of which grow alongside the blackberries. I’ll share some raw with the neighbors, but most of them will become jam. I’ll share that, too.
Later this summer I’m hoping to pick pears from a couple of trees in the area, whose owners invite folks to do so. When it comes the fall and we have a freeze or two, the persimmons will be ready to pick. All of this fruit is rather easily preserved in various ways, and I hope to put up enough to last until next picking season.
That is, if nothing much changes in my world. And I’ll keep blogging pretty much every day, and I’ll publish more books — if nothing stops me. Frankly, I’m half expecting things to get ugly here in the US this summer, but I have no way to estimate how it will affect me. That’s because I can’t really estimate just what will become ugly, or how ugly. I figure we’ll have some economic troubles we have seen before, maybe some political troubles we haven’t seen before, and likely some other unexpected events nobody dreams of yet. I can’t plan for that stuff, aside from making sure I understand the generalities of moral imperatives with more clarity. Who knows? I could die between now and then, or during the hullabaloo. And maybe the Internet will become impossible for some reason. Meanwhile, I expect such things in the general sense of a prophetic message of which I’m utterly certain, though I can’t explain how it came to me.
I’m sure the proper course of action will be apparent when the time comes. I’ll obey the moral imperative of that day same as I do it now.
We are not wired for sedentary living.
Rome fell long before the Danube River froze over and the German hordes sacked the city. Whatever she might have been in the past was long gone before Christ was born. That’s because Rome forgot everything she learned on her way up.
While there is a broad general pattern of imperial failure, it would be foolish to nail down precise turning points. Too many factors overlap and the timing of events can easily get out of sequence. However, the failures are pretty much the same in principle, if not in fact, or every empire in human history. The same failures apply on the smaller scale, so it won’t matter what you call the particular human organization that is coming apart.
Even if you forget the entire matter of the Two Realms, there is something painfully obvious for everyone to see: Never wallow in luxury; comfort is a liar. All the decisions you make will suddenly become reactive because you imagine that you have something to protect. All the negative human emotions start coming out and controlling your choices. You will no longer see your world truthfully. You can no longer afford to pursue what you really believe in, because you won’t believe in anything in particular.
God has made us capable of doing an awful lot of things He doesn’t like. He gives us enough rope to hang ourselves, but every civilization we know about carries the same truth in her ancient lore. Once we are no longer starving, but simply hungry, we are at our very best. It’s not as if anyone can simply create a permanent culture of utilitarianism and Spartan self-denial. It requires sharing and giving generously so that you never have more than you can protect by yourself. We can all work together, but the root of human power to advance is having just enough for the immediate future, just enough to give confidence. Technology and cultural passion are the two greatest variables, but the underlying formula doesn’t change. There comes a point when our concern for tomorrow — whatever that means in relative terms — stops us from moving forward today.
That’s where we are in the West now, America in particular. It won’t matter what you imagine is the cause that brought us to this, who you want to blame, because there is nothing we can do to fix it. We have passed the point of no return. We are rotten to the core; there are no seeds to plant for the next season. We have lost that sacred balance point between having too little and too much, and now we really have nothing.
It’s not necessary to be a literal nomad, but so far, no one has come up with a cultural context that maintains the ethics and morals to give us that proper balance between stability and reckless abandon. Not a single civilization in the past has been able to capture the spirit of the nomad and keep it alive. In other words, you can’t build it — that spirit has to come as a gift from the God who made us.
The New Testament is loaded with imagery pulled up from Israel’s better past. We are always in the Conquest, always on rise and never past the days of David. We cannot afford to ever think we’ve come to the times of Solomon, because Israel began to die with him. Solomon managed to write a book warning himself about it, then promptly failed to walk in his own teaching. We don’t talk about returning to the days of Solomon, but we have an awful lot of “Davidic” this and that. Yes, David was a complete fool about some things, but every time someone chased him out of town, he was in his element. He did just fine as long as he was on the run.
Whatever it is God calls us to do has to be the sort of thing we can engage fully on the run.
I’m feeling just a tad better. I shooed the Russian Army out of my sinuses and I’m now coughing up their toe-jam.
Today I stayed at my keyboard with full devotion and now I have 68 of 103 finished on the initial rewrite. That puts us at the rebellion of Jeroboam against Rehoboam, son of Solomon.
My granddaughter (and her mommy) have discovered I know how to strip YouTube videos and produce MP3s of the songs. The girl has a functioning toy tablet and they can copy the songs to if for her to play. And she does. Repeatedly.
I’m still not fully capable of deep thought, so you’ll have to tolerate my sick sense of humor.
Oh, and someone roped me into getting a LinkedIn account. It’s under the name “Ed Hurst” and I list myself as retired from working at religious institutions. Heh.
I’m still not able to muster my deepest thinking. The sinuses are recovering, but as you should know, this thing has drifted down into my lungs. It makes me grouchy, not fit company for most humans. I often do what I can to avoid burdening others with my shaky condition by hiding away in my bedroom. My computer is next to my bed. Even in the best of health, the racket from my granddaughters can be a distraction. When I’m sick, it’s pretty tough to be sweet tempered.
I still think most of this gun control noise is just that. It’s a scripted, highly rehearsed song and dance to hide truly evil acts going on in the background. Everybody knows how this is going to turn out, so the drill is designed to keep people busy. The truly nasty surprise is along the lines of poor people having to pay taxes for the first time in decades, people on Social Security and VA Disability will see delays and glitches in their compensation, and so forth.
People in the US need to shut out all that hullabaloo. Take the time to stop and consider what really matters most to you. If it’s anything you can see, touch or name, it’s probably the wrong thing. God’s wrath if falling upon the people of America in the form of the oppressive government they have foisted onto the rest of humanity. Or perhaps, we allowed others to foist on the world in our name. Same result. Because we didn’t use the 2nd Amendment early enough to stop tyranny in government, it’s now too late and God won’t allow it.
Yes, there’s no doubt going to be some bloodshed over this very thing, but that’s not the point. God’s people are forbidden to get involved in the fighting, with few exceptions. Think Hebrew; there are escape clauses, but not the ones most Americans imagine. In general, it’s too late and God’s window for that has closed. We need to prepare for the worst by assessing what we will do to serve His glory when the worst comes.
This will be a crappy post because I’m feeling crappy. This is my annual mid-winter allergy season. I’m running a low-grade fever, just enough to have that icky feeling on my skin. My sinuses feel like the Russian Army has been marching around inside in their bare feet. So far, no blockage because I keep doing a saline flush of them. That the flushing brings no real relief from the headache is proof it’s an allergy, because cleaning with a mild antibiotic has no effect, aside from flushing the mucus.
One of my computer ministry clients tried to upgrade Ubuntu 10.04 to 12.04. Disaster. I’ve never had trouble with it, but Ubuntu lied and said it would be easy and everything was fine. They aren’t techies, and we should not expect them to know better. Even though I got it to work as well as it was going to under Ubuntu, they couldn’t figure it out. The new cellphone interface is user-hateful on desktops. The machine in question is too old for Win7, so I put XP on it. That was the original OS. I believe only one other client may still be running Linux.
I’m watching Linux in the rearview mirror, sprinting off in the wrong direction. (I’m no longer allowing people to defend it here, so don’t try. Linux has its place, but not on the desktop.)
At any rate, the client in question is petty happy with the tweaked version of XP I put on the machine.
Meanwhile, I’ve decided to fold my OT History study into the Ancient Truth series. I’ve gotten through the Period of Judges (37 out of 103 lessons).
And the world here is going crazy and you won’t see it on the news.
How could anyone imagine I don’t promote fitness and well-being? On the other hand, I more often promote not taking this life too seriously.
I take what God gives and try to make the most of it. Not because there is any particular value in those things, but I know beyond all doubt I am accountable to Him for what the opportunity costs of His glory. If you get all wrapped up in seeking, and spending large amounts of money on, the maximum health opportunities, you may be missing the point.
So, yes, I do hope you’ll pay attention to good health advice. Eat right and exercise. However, there are some things more important than “live long and prosper.” If you aren’t seeking God’s face as to the balancing point, you aren’t paying attention to what really matters.
At one time it had been a mining station. When the ores played out, the mining company moved on, auctioned off the equipment and allowed the facility to rot. Except it was in a place which seemed oddly shielded from most degrading particles. Somehow the random alignment of free floating asteroids in the belt, along with the isolation from most radiation sources, allowed the old seals to keep functioning and the place never lost any air. It was stale, but breathable.
During one of the many interstellar wars and pogroms and other conflicts the fleeing Brotherhood ship stumbled onto the one planetoid in the belt which had been previously inhabited. Their sensors had only picked up internal cavities, and they were hoping for a pocket they might hide their crippled ship. It turned out to be a docking bay properly excavated. While the fittings were ancient, it was just possible to extend a flexible seal over the portals. A hasty exploration showed it was still quite livable.
In just a matter of hours, they had transferred the power and air generators into place, and the ship was scrapped out for various furnishings. The war went on without them. At last they were free to carry on their research and develop a fairly substantial hospital.
While they had all the standard physical therapeutic equipment, it wasn’t their specialty. This was what in ancient times would have been called a “asylum” or “nut house.” The Brotherhood specialized in treating disorders of the soul.
Typical traffic from passing ships might go like this: “Can you take a patient? He’s a real basket case, comatose and barely breathing.”
To which the station communications would respond: Basket cases are all we handle.
Most people could find ways to cope. Various implants with electrodes, field generators or the ever popular virtual reality implants. It required a peculiar sensitivity to be so devastated as to need real help. These were the only people capable of being helped by the Brotherhood.
They never bothered to document their own history. That was a critical expression of what made them unique in the galaxy. Indeed, they were vaguely aware, only because historians told them, they once had a much longer name, but they never seemed interested in digging into it. They had been called simply the Brotherhood for a very long time, and it was comfortable. The only archives they had were those related to their own research. None of it had names of authors because it all belonged to the Brotherhood.
People didn’t shed their identity to join, of course, nor did they have to surrender all they owned or anything like that. But if they got involved in the work, it was all for the Brotherhood and the good of mankind, not for fame or fortune. No one was turned away, but of course the wealthiest families desperate to save their own were critical to their survival as an organization. It was also what kept them free and independent most of the time.
So it was during one of those boom times when donations were heavy and membership was high, they received yet one more comatose man, tightly balled up in a fetal position. He had been a trainee, found in his cabin after saving the ship. Aside from a few moans when he was moved to a safer place in the sick bay, they couldn’t get him to respond in any way. He did take food and water periodically, and eliminated, but it was all utterly mechanical and minimal. The crew had never managed to get him out of the main portion of his pressure suit.
Only the Brotherhood understood how they did it, and no one would ever talk. They said it was because there was no way to explain it. While a few never did recover, this one did. As part of his recovery, he was offered a chance to stay and learn the ways of the Brotherhood. He went through the basic introductory phase, but decided it was not for him. Not that they needed him, but he decided he really did have something he needed to do. That, said the Brotherhood, was the primary symptom of recovery.
She apologized. “I’m sorry; we’re bothering you.”
My reply almost made her laugh. “Don’t worry about it. Right now being alive bothers me.”
We thought it would be a safe choice, but Mazzio’s gluten-free pizza never digested yesterday. I wasn’t aware of this, and ate another meal on top of it. Unfortunately, the entire digestive system had already shut down. I was up half the night, and even now my tummy still hurts. Pepto-Bismol is my friend.
While I work directly for God, He insists I self-manage. So I’m giving myself the day off. Maybe I’ll be a bit more creative later, but right now, everything hurts and I can scarcely pay attention.
In my rebuke against most churches, one thing seems increasingly common: an utter lack of genuine pastoral involvement in broken lives.
Let’s peel back the layers here. On the one hand, Scripture assumes a church stands to replace the lost legacy of tribal cohesion. There was a time when your neighbor was your close relative, someone acquainted with the details of your life simply because you wouldn’t dare be aloof to your blood kin. You couldn’t hide anything anyway. So they would be gently nosy when things weren’t going right. There was no formal rules for this, and it depended heavily on the loving shepherd care of the family elders. Your pain is my pain, so let’s at least talk about it. Maybe we can’t fix the problem, but you aren’t alone in this world.
Second, we live in a far different time and place, and in Christ we are seeking to reclaim what has been lost from those ancient tribal times. Not in all the details, but in the caring involvement, the closeness and openness we find sacred before the Lord. We rightly bristle at outsiders horning in on family business. It’s a sin for third parties to be curious; it reflects the fallen nature, the Lust of the Eyes. Good people mind their own business, and their business lies in their own kin. The fundamental flaw to all of Western history is no one has any business involving themselves in the details of your daily life if they aren’t related by blood or covenant. Any government which does not respect that is not valid, an abomination to God. Thus, as you can well discern, no Western government is valid in God’s eyes. But we are stuck with them, and we must strive against sin by holding forth holiness.
That holiness is pulling together into the spiritual bond of kinship which is actually the real thing behind the symbolism of ancient tribal life. Your Christian brothers and sisters are closer than your literal siblings. By whatever means one organizes a church body, it must include that deep personal involvement. That we are talking about people who start out as strangers means we hold this image up as our goal, the mark of holiness. We teach it as good and right and necessary to following Christ; we fight the common Western cultural bias for aloof friendliness. Aloof is good among strangers; it is evil inside the church.
But when the church is so deeply wedded to the Post-Modern Western Secularism of this day, you can’t do what Christ demands of His followers. When church is merely a gathering place for entertainment and happy emotions, folks who happen to share some smattering of ideas and religious practice, but nothing of the pastoral care atmosphere, it simply isn’t a church as the term was used by Jesus. If no one on the church staff is trained and equipped to deal with suicidal tendencies, sexual dysfunction in marriages, families under attack from the darkest demonic forces and people whose souls are broken under the strain of an evil world, then your church is badly damaged and a threat to the gospel message.
It’s one thing when people who come from this secular world, in all its sub-cultural variations, and don’t easily trust others. That’s just holy cynicism. But when the church staff does nothing to build that trust, and offers only a shallow and dismissive program, a one-size-fits-all franchise approach, they aren’t worthy of their roles. These days it does take a bit of training to overcome the secular worldly habits, but if the church organizes to become just another business franchise, that church is actually the enemy of Christ. It’s not a portal to redemption, though God in His grace may well work His redemption in spite of such failure.
The measure of success is not the number of people showing up, the size and depth of the budget, nor any of those things humans in this world use to define success. The measure of success is the redemption, however limited, of people’s broken lives because the power of God is coming, not in spite of your staff and organization, but built into the staff and organization. If no one on staff is ready to face the likes of incestuous rape in blended families, then that staff has no business leading anyone anywhere. That garbage happens in real life, and the hidden horrors of sin people wallow in is the real target, and healing such disasters is the real measure of success.
Granted, a truly determined love will work even when a good education and professional training is not available. In my experience, the vast majority of people can figure out what God requires of them once you scrape away the standard collection of lies this world tells. Too many churches build a curriculum of “holiness” which amounts to a select slice of what they already have. Simply offering the best of middle class cultural morality is not holiness. The church staff need an education which emphasizes the stark departure from such, into spiritual depth which relies on the hand of God. Miracles abound in that kind of work.
We don’t need personal reformation, but transformation.
Happy birthday to me!
To celebrate my birthday, I’ve decided to offer a quick comparison. Back in March, I decided to show off just a bit as a test of our new camera. Since that time, as part of my divine calling, I sensed God demanding I get serious about fitness. Aside from simply obeying God’s Laws, I still profess I have no idea why, only that I have the burning conviction it is critical for some future purpose. So I’ve been working on it. Given the camera angle and so forth, the results aren’t stunning, but perhaps you can detect the small changes.
I went from 230 pounds (104kg) on the left down to 215 pounds (98kg) on the right. It’s not a lot, but it certainly feels different at times (that’s 15 stone and 5 for Mark the Trigeek). As of the date of this post, I’m 56 years old, and my typical blood pressure is 116/69, resting pulse usually around 60 bpm.
Perhaps more important are the changes you cannot see. The changes in my diet have been pretty substantial. While I have added back a few carbohydrates, I’m still avoiding all wheat and any GMO grains. I no longer take any acid reducer medications for my stomach. Even my perspiration smells different. The stiffness and tiredness which plagued me for years is gone. I still have arthritic damage to my joints which keeps me from doing any more muscle building, and I’ll never be able to run again, but I can easily keep what I have and make it work better. I sleep better and more consistently, and my mind has a consistent clarity I could not entirely depend on previously.
Yeah, it’s worth doing. Without apology I declare this is due in part to my commitment to obey God’s Laws; this kind of health improvement is a promise of the Laws of God.