Kiln blog: They Could, But Won’t

A prophetic message that uses politics to make a point; excerpt…

Judah didn’t have to face exile in Babylon. Even after all their many failures, slipping into idolatry, they could have settled into their punishment at God’s hand by serving Babylon quietly. Jeremiah said as much, but the Judean leadership kept trying to play politics with Egypt, playing her off against Babylon.

By the same token, I will tell you that the Democrats in the US can still recover and win the public over to their side. But it won’t happen, for much the same reason that Judah kept rebelling against Babylon: They refuse divine wisdom.

Listen to your heart for a moment. What happens to Christians who don’t pull their conscious awareness up into their heart-minds? This has no effect on their eternal destiny, but they will completely miss out on the heritage of faith in this life. You cannot truly walk with Christ without your heart in ascendancy in your soul. On the other hand, you can walk in your heart’s wisdom without Christ. The difference is that, in the latter case, you miss out on the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, you can still discern what’s wise according to the moral fabric of the universe, but you won’t really know God and you won’t have that prophetic edge in your planning.

You can read the rest of this message by clicking this link to Kiln of the Soul of the blog.

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The Field of Harvest

One of the pillars of Christian Mysticism is a commitment to truth. All truth is God’s truth; everything worth hearing is going to reflect in some way the divine moral character of our Creator. He is Truth personified; truth always reflects something of His personal nature. We use synonyms and parabolic symbols to indicate this, calling it the Word, divine revelation, His glory, etc. It has little to do with facts, but it most certainly sets facts in order by providing a structure and order based on moral significance. That only thing that matters is what God says matters.

We rejoice when His glory shines. It means that things are in their proper places. It’s a taste of shalom, which in turn is a taste of Heaven. It’s a touch of Eternity and we can’t get enough of it. We still rejoice when that glory shines to expose sin through His wrath. And we rejoice when the facts are pulled out into plain site to shatter deception, because at the same time, it is a manifestation of how this world is a Shadowlands.

I’ve tried to warn that reality is flexible, and that those of us who fully embrace heart-led living will see the variability that un-hearted folks cannot see. But we certainly understand their viewpoint; it was ours once. We know what sort of impact a better accounting of the facts has on them.

As God’s wrath falls upon America, it’s not going to be like the Flood, where everything starts from scratch. It will be a lot of havoc and destruction, and in the midst of it will be a certain targeting of those whom God deems particularly offensive against His revelation. But we know that those people will not simply cease to exist. Rather, they’ll be pushed aside as events sweep past them and leave them behind. Meanwhile, those who are useful to Him will surf that flash-flood current far into the future. Those left behind will sink into obsolescence, no longer having a significant part in things, anchored to a fantasy of the past.

I’ve been trying to indicate something about that flash-flood. The action is the Internet, folks, not the legacy forms of entertainment and information. Where the latter has tried to invade the former, it already fails even now. The recent national elections were won and lost on the Net. Specifically, it was via social media, not the mainstream sources. If you happen to be in any way politically active, you had better get to work on that social media machine and forget about the rest of it.

And while you are at it, you have to use it properly. Bringing old media tricks with you won’t work. The single greatest power of human persuasion today is digging, doxing and exposing. Not some wild propaganda smears, you’ll need to present the best facts you can find that speak to the moral sensibilities of those you seek to persuade. You have to understand your audience, and appeal to them. You can’t simply assume that what moves you is going to touch everyone. If you can’t speak the language of the opposition, they won’t hear you.

Meanwhile, we who are simply trying to spread the message of heart-led living don’t have to worry about that. We purposely confine ourselves to speaking the language of the heart because there’s nothing about this that is persuasive. We don’t want folks to change their minds; we want to awaken their hearts to rule their minds. All we can hope to do is trigger a heart-led response in those whom God has prepared to hear that message. The only time we worry about digging, doxing and exposing is simply to make the point that you can’t really accomplish anything useful in politics. Our target audience is a tiny, thin slice of humanity.

And because we are so few and so thinly spread, our primary field of outreach will be that same Internet. We don’t ignore the local outreach by any means, but we should always be aware that the primary path to building a higher density of heart-led folks in meat space means capturing most of them in virtual space. There’s a paradox here: If you make the message too vanilla and broad, it touches no one much. You have to make it your message to reach those few who can be reached that way.

You don’t have to meet my approval; I’m not coming to inspect your blogs or your Facebook posts, nor your tweets and what-have-you. But you can be sure God knows. If you paste a “like” here on some of my posts, are you also passing that message on to other folks with your own outreach? Make it your message; only refer people here when you still need some more time to build your message, or you believe it really is the best way to reach them. Either way, you can’t claim to bathe in His glory if you aren’t reflecting it into the lives of others.

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Kiln blog: Psalm 120

Reposted here due to the brevity of content; original post.

We begin here a collection of 15 psalms, each referred to as a Song of Ascents. That term refers to any pilgrimage to the one and only high place for Israel, Zion. This brings the image of puring oneself, refreshing one’s faith in the Covenant, so as to present a purified life to God in the Temple. These psalms were a hymnbook of those traveling to the Holy City for various ritual celebrations.

Our psalmist first establishes that Jehovah is always paying attention to those who love Him. He does not ignore their distress call. In this particular case, he cries out for deliverance from liars.

Some people are such notorious deceivers that it justifies characterizing them as one big snaking tongue. The psalmist asks what would be the proper recompense for people like that. The answer of course is that the fiery darts of deception always come home to roost in literal arrows and torches, the image of destruction.

With so many liars around him, the psalmist feels like he lives in Meschech, a notoriously obnoxious people that lived in the mountainous terrain in the eastern half of modern Turkey. Then again, it’s like living among the raiders of Kedar, Bedouins living in the Arabian deserts south of Damascus. These were barbaric nations that produced almost nothing of value, but spent most of their energy fighting with their neighbors. Such people had no concept of God’s blessings under the Covenant shalom of divine provision.

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Stop the Secularizing

By now you may have caught a whiff of something my recent posts have been reaching for: We live a life of worship.

In that sense, life is ritual. Our human existence on this earth is rightly shaped by an awareness of God’s Law Covenants. Those covenants are God’s revelation of His character; they condition the flesh to obey the Spirit. If you embrace the heart-mind level of awareness, you realize that biblical law is parable, and you can dismiss legalism as a fraud. We don’t march parables around as power, but we see them as signposts to seek more of what God has provided.

So consider what you do. Everything is ritual, an expression of faith. Your choice to arise in the morning recognizes a sacred duty to Creation, which includes your body. Eating breakfast is a ritual of thanksgiving, a ritual meal shared with God. You are nourishing and building a part of Creation, interacting to cultivate shalom. This is your faith in action.

A lot of people turn their religion into a legalistic regimen. So we have fitness training that is fanatical and harsh, and while it may bring certain sought after results, it becomes an idolatry. It tries to do things that may not bring any real blessing. It’s just “success” at some obsession. It’s not that having a drive to push hard is wrong, but that allowing such a drive to become paramount in the decision process makes it your god. It pulls the sacred down to something manageable with mere human talent.

It’s also why some athletes rage when something doesn’t come out as their little god requires. The rage is a sign that something fundamental in their souls is very, very wrong. Their obsession has made them into their self-deity, with implacable material demands. Their god is not our God.

The accident that trashed my right knee was not a tragedy. It was God disposing of His assets as He saw fit. I don’t have to hold full factual awareness of everything involved to sense the blessing. In fact, I remain utterly certain that someone out there has missed a precious opportunity to join in shalom on a much higher level in that they didn’t engage me regarding that accident. He nailed my knee, and some of my athletic ability, to the Cross with His Son. There will always be people who don’t kneel at the Cross and acknowledge the hammer and nails in their own hands. I wonder at what must be His sense of disappointment that they waste His precious offering and tread upon His spilled blood.

But His blood wasn’t wasted and my knee injury wasn’t some inexplicable and pointless loss, except when viewed by a limited human perception. It was a sacred act, as is the careful heart-led obedience that brought me this far into recovery. If I recounted for you every little item that comes to my attention as a blessing from God and the heart-led way of living, I wouldn’t have time for anything else. Not some imaginary total healing of every imaginable complaint, but God has prospered my obedience to His command that I strive to be physically fit. The standard of what that requires is fluid, resting in the heart-mind, not in some scientific standard. With all His magnanimous generosity in my life, I can afford to live with a damaged knee.

There may yet be some surprising good coming out of it. My mind begs for answers before things come, but my heart is relaxed and can wait for the revelation of all things in due time. The heart doesn’t demand a full accounting of the mechanical, cause-n-effect details laid out, something the intellect would peruse in detail for evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency. God’s miracles don’t have to make sense to my brain, nor is it necessary to impress my brain with awe and wonder for them to be miracles. The definition of things is not submitted for my reason’s approval.

Stopping on one of my long rides to pray is an overt act of worship. The act itself does little to refresh my communion with the Holy Spirit. What matters is that I stop in response to a divine call. Don’t fuss here in your mind whether it was a thundering call of the moment or just a vague sense that I shouldn’t pass up a favorite place of prayer. In a certain sense, I have a constant running background process of prayer and communion with God regardless of what I’m doing. That’s why I tend to stop and pray at all. But we all at least give lip service to the notion that a ritual act of worship does not communion make. It can only express what’s already there. I don’t initiate anything; it starts with God. In all things, He takes the initiative and we respond or don’t.

The same goes for taking a meal; it’s obedience to His call as stewards of His creation. We can easily understand it in terms of the material interaction, but building law from that knowledge is folly. Skipping a meal could be holy, too, just as accepting a baloney sandwich from someone trying to share. I may be careful about what baloney I buy at the store, but I do eat it. And when there’s a windfall, I might go for steak and a beer, or pizza, or whatever strikes me at the moment. It’s not an indulgence; it’s a celebration with God. It remains an act of worship. The action is not ruled by mere considerations of nutrients and absorption. I’m being obedient to the leading of my heart and the results, as men measure them, don’t rank high in my decision.

We could say the same for sex; it’s not meant as a mere indulgence of the flesh, but a holy act of meeting some genuine need. It’s a renewal of the marriage covenant, which is a subordinate clause in our covenant with Christ. It’s not made holy by ritual choices as if I need to worry about God’s divine surveillance and point counting. It’s holy because I’ve surrendered to the guidance of the Spirit in my heart. By the same token, refusing the wrong sexual opportunity is also an act of reverence. God isn’t watching from a distance, nor is He checking the surveillance tapes later — He’s right there inside of me. Wrong sex is wrong because it wasn’t His idea, and so-called “legitimate sex” can also be wrong in some contexts. The valid moral consideration is harvesting blessings. But the deciding factor is not rules that the mind gets to control; the holiness comes from a living flow of communion with God as a Person.

So we have a whole host of Western cultural nonsense that some physical pleasures are “naughty” and we push them into a secular category in our thinking. We carve out this whole swamp of stuff that is fun-but-naughty and we simply must permit the occasional indulgence for any number of excuses. We then give lip-service to how good behavior can be fun, too, but not as thrilling as chasing our fantasies now then. Do you see how that creates false idols in your mind? It becomes a question of idolatry as moral adultery, but God is right there inside you the whole time, forced to endure your shaming of Him.

Stop drawing the image of a cranky old angry god who then throws a tantrum. He’s there weeping because you walked out from under His protection and you’re going to catch Hell for it. You are out of communion with Him, and thus out of communion with Creation, including the people around you. Your pain hurts Him, too.

The act of carrying on in this life is worship, so the question is who gets the glory at any given time. It’s not a question limited to discipline, though it does include at times marshalling the strength of will to push aside the screaming pleading of our fleshly desires. We do that, not in our own strength, but in the power of God’s Presence holding open the door to His rich blessings. You don’t step into a secular moment and break a few rules in “harmless diversion.” You walk out of God’s Presence and fool around with the Devil, who is often masked by heathen idols, and they are in turn often masked by that massive lie that a secular realm exists. It does not; it’s just the prison of Satan with a different paint job.

If you aren’t serving the Lord, you are serving Satan.

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Tactical Heart

Life is not sacred, but living can be.

Because of my service as a Military Policeman, I was indoctrinated in tactical awareness as a pervasive mindset that one never leaves. You crawl into a dark and dismal world, always waiting for someone to take your stuff, your health or your life. That’s portrayed as “reality.”

It’s not fearful in the sense shivering behind some protective cover. This article paints it as a duty to counter the threats and make them back down, or pay a heavy price for attempted predation. It’s a dog-eat-dog kind of world.

This is what you get when your highest faculty is your intellect. The people who write those tactical awareness guides are often quite religious, but their religion is never more than a part of the broader cerebral approach to a world firmly within reach of human control. So their god is a god of war and they carry their firearms to church.

There’s nothing wrong with being armed in a high-threat environment; if your church stands in a rough neighborhood, carrying a weapon is probably about right. Then again, God my forbid it because He has His own plans to handle things. You can’t know His will about that if you lock your mind against that gentle call in your heart.

The whole business of deciding when to fight and how to fight should not be controlled from the flesh. There are times when the very behavior pattern of tactical awareness is a challenge to someone else that you want to fight. In other words, you can’t assess the whole thing morally based on what your brain can know. You have to assess it from the heart.

If you can’t trust God without confining His lordship to intellectual categories, then you aren’t trusting Him at all. If you feel called to it as part of your mission, go ahead and get that tactical training. It never hurt me to have it, but you can be sure I don’t drive myself from that perspective all the time. The human body cannot handle the constant stress of combat instinct without sacrificing moral discernment.

Instead, aim for a moral heart-led awareness to command your tactical skills. When your mind is totally surrendered to your heart, you’ll discover that you “know” a lot of things the mind could never perceive on its own. You can know when God intends for you to relax while His angels stand guard and the Spirit calls you to prayer, or some other blessed activity. Your actions must address the context in seeking His favor.

The whole of life was meant to be worship. The things you do to seek His glory become a part of the larger ritual of devotion. Life is religion and religion is life. It’s the precious core of seeking God’s face. He made it clear in His revelation that there is a time and place for things like tactical guardedness, and it’s not all the time everywhere. His glory isn’t threatened just because your brain imagines your body is in danger.

Live in your heart, not in your head.

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Kiln blog: On Paedophilia

Another prophetic message; excerpt…

Paedophilia is contained in Western Civilization. It starts and ends with the peculiar mythology of Western values. Take away the peculiarities of Western thinking and it’s not a significant issue.

Have you noticed that the Bible never addresses child sexual abuse? It’s not as if there was no one outside the West having sex with children, but that the sin was never elevated as a particular sin worse than other sexual sins. Westerners are hysterical about it, all the while far more likely to engage in it. In the Bible it’s lumped in with other idolatries; it’s not raised as a significant issue because it was a very unlikely temptation. It requires a Western culture to become widespread.

The whole thing rests on a peculiar idolatry. Westerners worship youth; they also have a very heathen approach to human sexuality in general. We have divorced it from the sacred position it held in the Ancient Near East (ANE). We don’t have space here to draw out the full image of ANE attitudes about sex, but they were both far more relaxed and far more restrained. Sex was never treated as a deity, but was typically indulged in service to a deity. Not in the sense of ritualized rigidity in performance, but the act itself was impossible to divorce from ritual meaning.

You can read the rest of this message here at Kiln of the Soul blog.

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Kiln blog: On Child Abuse

It’s long, but should answer a lot of questions about my position on lots of things. Teaser…

God vests men and women with various types of prophetic gifts, callings and offices as part of the redemptive nature of revelation. That purpose includes a call to repentance, to provoke a sense of conviction about our common sinful nature and to offer the assurance of mercy. It points to a path that takes us out of sin.

There is no objective definition of child abuse. It’s the arrogance of human intellect to assert that such a definition could and should be. Nonetheless, we know that there is such a thing as child abuse in God’s eyes on the simple grounds that there is sin and abusive behavior among humans perpetrated against other humans. The whole concept of Law Covenant as revelation speaks of the need to mitigate sinful nature by erecting boundaries and enforcing them. The primary objective of Law is offering some framework for bringing social stability. While we might like to change human sinful nature, Law cannot do that. Such change requires a miracle of God and none of us is Him.

So we must first acknowledge that the question of what constitutes “child abuse” is culturally derived, and highly contextual. The greatest single problem is both the cause of child abuse, and the aggravation of such abuse through the actions of government. While some things people do are abusive to children, everything the secular state does to children is harmful and abusive. The state is inherently evil.

You can read the rest of this here at our parish pulpit.

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