Saturday, June 11, 2016


This is not a new post... It is one I found while looking for something else.  Since changing computers, everything is filed in a rather random way which I don't like on my new as I find things I have written, I plan to post them here even if the dates are inaccurate... just so I can find them again.   I think I might have written this ten years ago...because it has been at least 10 years that I have been deliberately "dropping anger" and receiving what comes from the hand of God.

I also mention my goal to "challenge the falacious assumption", without really clarifying what I mean by that.  What I mean is that often conclusions are based on false assumptions. Statements are made, which would be true if the assumption they were based on were true...but it's not.... Like, affordable housing will solve the problem of people living in a tent city at City Hall. It won't...because there are large variety of reasons that people are indigent, not just one. (this is just one current example...of many possible....but I'm sure, at the time of writing, I was thinking more of assumptions about the nature of God....than current events. is the post, just as relevant to me now as then.

Several times lately the words of a long forgotten pre-school song from when our kids were toddlers have come back to me.  I remember thinking that they were silly words for little children as they were unlikely to ever understand the meaning.

Root them out, Get them gone,
All the little bunnies in the fields of corn
Anger, jealousy, malice and pride,
They shall never in my heart abide.

Isn't it interesting that what we learn by rote as children sometimes comes back to us profoundly as adults.  If we could really learn to love as Father does, there would be no place for these "bunnies" in our "corn".

There were a few years when our girls were young teens when it seemed they were on a cycle of anger with each other......offending and then being offended.  I sometimes thought (and told them) how wonderful it would be if one day  one of them would just skip their turn.  Simply not take up the offence, and so not have a reason to lash back.  

Have you ever noticed how profound a difference a reaction makes? If you make a little Faux Pas in traffic say, thoughtlessly drive the limit in the fast lane (as I have been known to do at times - even though everyone knows you're supposed to go 20K over the "limit") and someone zooms up behind you and honks their horn to force you over and then gives you the finger as they fly past you..............  And then there are those people who just smile and wave at you, knowing they have at times probably been guilty of the same crime.

Then there are the door-holders.  They see you coming with your arms full and they hold the door for you and smile and say good morning.  What a wonderful thing they do!  These are the kind of acts which cycle.  That is, you are more likely then, to greet the next person with a smile or an act of kindness.  But when someone is cranky with you it can start a cycle can think about it all day and drop little acid rain on whomever you meet.

My double barrelled new years resolution this year is to:
1. challenge the falacious assumption, (clashing worldviews) and
2. give up anger, contempt, and condemnation

It is a real balancing act to do #1 without doing #2.  It is difficult to do #1 in love and meekness.  I think the key is that I just need to challenge not to necessarily win or fix or even correct.  

If I can really learn to love, I will have #2 beat.  Until then, the key for me has been to simply give up these reactions.  I have asked Father to help me by flagging these reactionary emotions for me.  They rise up so automatically and easily,  and it is such a relief to just deliberately "let them go".  It is even quite humorous at times.  One time  I was talking to Leroy about something that got me going with anger, and I could see that he was picking up my offence with me.  ( it was so important I can't remember what it was now)Then I told him how Father had flagged my anger and put the thing in perspective for me........and I noticed a visible relief come over Leroy's countenance.  It was like taking his blood pressure.   First I pumped him up till he was tight enough to be almost alarming and then I just released the pressure and he just sighed and sagged with relief.  I thought, "How many times have I caused poor Leroy to pick up my offence with me, when I should have just given it up?"

Anyhow, now I have given you the impression that I am a seething volcano of anger, and that's not really accurate.  However, Father has been showing me that "the wrath of man does not work Father's rightness."  As I often do, I have asked Father to do for you what I have asked him to do for flag anger, contempt, and condemnation when it arises in you so that you can deliberately drop them and replace with love, mercy, humility, esteeming others, etc., and that your own joy and peace of heart will be multiplied as you do.

This whole issue is related, I think, to the increase of His government of which you spoke in your recent email.  Dallas Willard in his book, The Div. Conspiracy, which has been so useful to me the last few years, describes "His kingdom" as "the range of His effective will".  May it ever increase in our lives and in our world!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Minister's Daughter

This morning, I grabbed my Grandpa's poetry book and it fell open to this poem which was written in 1880 by the Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Dad when I rejected the notion of a hell of eternal torment and had begun to learn what I was to lose by that choice. I call it a choice for lack of a better term...because you don't really choose what you believe you just believe what you believe... and you either own it, or you live a lie....  He said, "Well, you never heard me preach about hell."   And I said, "but the threat of hell is foundational in the teachings of the is the "given" that is the undercurrent of everything."  

I guess, I admired Dad for expressing what he did to me...but I was a bit disillusioned too...that he would just remain quiet about what he believed...when it makes such a difference in our perception of who God is.  "WHO GOD IS" is very important and profoundly effects our relationship to Him.  It's why Jesus reconcile us to show us who He really is. (think, "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.)

I think the false image creates a destructive dissonance and is often the reason that people walk away from "religion."  Atheist humorist George Carlin likes to say,

“Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money!”

People find this funny.  Why?  because it does resonate with what "religion" has taught and it shows up as a rediculous caricature the "god" of "religion." 

Anyhow... I really can't say more... although I have much more to say... Here is the poem... I particularly like the 15th stanza...because a false image of God is, as the poet has expressed...quite idol...
The Minister's Daughter

In the minister's morning sermon
He had told of the primal fall,
And how thenceforth the wrath of God
Rested on each and all.

And how of His will and pleasure,
All souls, save a chosen few,
Were doomed to the quenchless burning,
And held in the way thereto.

Yet never by faith's unreason
A saintlier soul was tried,
And never the harsh old lesson
A tenderer heart belied.

And, after the painful service
On that pleasant Sabbath day,
He walked with his little daughter
Through the apple-bloom of May.

Sweet in the fresh green meadows
Sparrow and blackbird sung;
Above him their tinted petals
The blossoming orchards hung.

Around on the wonderful glory
The minister looked and smiled;
"How good is the Lord who gives us
These gifts from His hand, my child.

"Behold in the bloom of apples
And the violets in the sward
A hint of the old, lost beauty
Of the Garden of the Lord!"

Then up spake the little maiden,
Treading on snow and pink
"O father! these pretty blossoms
Are very wicked, I think.

"Had there been no Garden of Eden
There never had been a fall;
And if never a tree had blossomed
God would have loved us all."

"Hush, child!" the father answered,
"By His decree man fell;
His ways are in clouds and darkness,
But He doeth all things well.

"And whether by His ordaining
To us cometh good or ill,
Joy or pain, or light or shadow,
We must fear and love Him still."

"Oh, I fear Him!" said the daughter,
"And I try to love Him, too;
But I wish He was good and gentle,
Kind and loving as you."

The minister groaned in spirit
As the tremulous lips of pain
And wide, wet eyes uplifted
Questioned his own in vain.

Bowing his head he pondered
The words of the little one;
Had he erred in his life-long teaching?
Had he wrong to his Master done?

To what grim and dreadful idol
Had he lent the holiest name?
Did his own heart, loving and human,
The God of his worship shame?

And lo! from the bloom and greenness,
From the tender skies above,
And the face of his little daughter,
He read a lesson of love.

No more as the cloudy terror
Of Sinai's mount of law,
But as Christ in the Syrian lilies
The vision of God he saw.

And, as when, in the clefts of Horeb,
Of old was His presence known,
The dread Ineffable Glory
Was Infinite Goodness alone.

Thereafter his hearers noted
In his prayers a tenderer strain,
And never the gospel of hatred
Burned on his lips again.

And the scoffing tongue was prayerful,
And the blinded eyes found sight,
And hearts, as flint aforetime,
Grew soft in his warmth and light.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This is a painting  by the wonderful Victoria watercolorist, Leslie Redhead.  I hope that Leslie won't mind if I put this charming picture here. Admittedly...these are wrens and they are not sparrows and they are in a maple tree...not a Victoria Lilac....even so...

I have a little bird house, charmingly painted and decorated by a grandchild and wedged into a crook in the branches of the Victoria lilac tree.  It has held a nest of little sparrows once or twice in past years.  I looked for it today, and found that it had been moved.  It must have fallen down and been replaced by the neighbor children. So it was somewhat askew and I took it down to examine the interior by lifting up the hinged roof.  Inside was a nest…in a state of disuse and broken a bit by it’s tumble from the tree.  The nest was made up of grass, moss, bits of fluff and what have you…but woven in amongst the other materials was a surprising amount of hair.  Human hair.  Obviously (to me)….MY OWN  hair…a lot of it. I wondered how a little bird could have gathered so much of my hair to build her nest.  As I have worked around the yard, flicking my hair out of my eyes…taking my hat off and on…I never noticed the loss of a few hairs here and there caught by the wind.  But the birds must have a sharp eye for such materials when they are doing the important work of building their nests.   My mind went to the words of Jesus in Luke 12: 6&7

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, 
and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not therefore: 
ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Sometimes our losses are heartbreaking and sometimes they are of very little concern to us. But great or small…they are never to no purpose.  We have a loving father who is watching out for the sparrows (and the wrens) and at the same time noticing and caring about everything concerning us...right down to the hairs of our head.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christian Leadership or the Easy Yoke?

We live at a time when “Leadership” is the thing which everyone seems to strive after.  Everyone wants to speak for a large group of *others*.  I used to pray that my children would be leaders and not followers.  I meant it in the sense, that they would swim upstream against the crowd rather than just take the path of least resistance and go with the flow.  Not necessarily that they would lead a crowd... but that they would not be led by the crowd.

Leadership is power.  That’s why it’s so highly prized, and why it’s so important that we are careful about the leadership we submit to in our lives, and that we challenge those who sometimes assume leadership over us.  Someone may be our teacher or leader for a season by our choice  but we need to be careful not to hand over our  conscience to any other person.  It is our life…our only life.

Matthew 23:  (Amplified Bible)
8 But you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers.
9 And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven.
10 And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ.

I noticed these three verses...each verse in conjunction with the role of one of the three members of the trinity and how WE relate with the triune God according to John 17:21.

  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, 
that they also may be one in us: 
that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Verse 8 tells us not to assume the position of teacher.  I have known a lot of gifted teachers...but I think there may be a difference between a gifting... and office.  That's where I would draw a line.  Our gifts are not to give us a position...but to bless others.  We know from passages such as John 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  and  Hebrews 8: 10-12 (and others) that the Holy Spirit is our teacher…. So the implication is that  since we are not the Holy Spirit…we should not assume His role as teacher for any individual or group.   Our role with respect to the Holy Spirit is to listen and to get wisdom…to HEAR.

Verse 9 tells us not to call any man our Father nor to assume the position or title of  this is why I have such issues with titles conferred on religious leaders.  God is our Father, and no-one should receive the title father, or reverend or any such thing.  Nor should we presume to be a spiritual father to anyone else.  We only have one Father, and our part in the relationship is not to BE Him….but to LOVE Him and to emulate His love and character in order to become like Him and bear His glory into our  world.

Verse 10 speaks to the idea of leadership….pastors, shepherds. Often at times of crisis, gifted leaders arise. This is God's prerogative... But I believe we are wrong to give and to assume these as offices.  In the book of Samuel, the people prefered to have a King rather than the wise Judges which had God had spoken through in the past. but according to 1Samuel 8:7  "And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."

THE LORD is my shepherd. Jesus is the one to whom we look for leadership and example and direction. He’s really good at this so we do harm to insert ourselves or anyone else in this role.   1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”  Our stance toward the leadership of Jesus is to simply  FOLLOW in simple trusting obedience.

Having said all that, we as individuals can  effectively move at the impulse of Father’s love to speak a word of wisdom into each other’s lives, or to support each other along the journey by pointing each other to  Christ our leader… reminding each other who’s workmanship we are,  and who we are becoming. This is our role in making disciples  and joining in the work of Christ, which is reconciling men to God.

But these are not on going offices (with titles, status and salaries) to be proud of in some religious aristocracy….nor levels of government in some institutional religion.  They are relational, momentary, opportunities to be a part of  Father’s plan of overcoming evil with good.  Not cutting out a niche and building (and monetizing) our own  kingdom, as institutional religion so often does…but bringing the kingdoms of the earth into alignment with the Kingdom and the Glory of God.

Our roles are to listen to the Holy Spirit, to love our Father and to follow Jesus.

This is the easy yoke Jesus talked about....because we share it with Christ who does all the heavy pulling. And if we have this yoke  on…we are ready to move at the impulse of His Love.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Love Is

I've been thinking a fair amount about love lately, and thought I'd blog some of my thought (while I still have them) I have a lot to learn and so I hope I will have more to add to this in a future post, but I will think about that later. As I was contemplating the end of my 40 year marriage, I thought of the many times we had sung the words of I Cor. 13:

1  ¶Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4  ¶Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8  ¶Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

I asked Leroy if we might both meditate on these words, and memorize them...but of course, he declined. Not, I suspect, because he rejects the Bible...but because the suggestion came from me... and he did reject me. I memorized it anyway because it is so full of truth and beauty, even though I struggled with verse seven..."Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." ...because I knew I had given up hope...and was very discouraged about bearing and enduring all things.... This chapter of 1 Cor. will always be the best description of what love looks like...but how rare it is to find it in ourselves or in others. "...seeketh not her not easily provoked...thinketh no evil..."

Then I read something which made stop and think (still thinking) I can't find the quote am unable to cite it's author here...but it was to the effect that ...
"It's not love if it knows the reason why."
Does this not fly directly in the face of so much of what is written about love? A notable exception is Elisabeth Barrett Brownings poem, It's not about reasons...but ways...

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."
If love has a reason...are not motives to be questioned? If we love someone...doubtless there will be things about them that we love...but perhaps if our love is dependent on those attributes, then motives come into question, and it's not true love, because if the attributes...say wealth or good looks....are diminished, then the love is also diminished. So was it love or was it selfishness? I have heard it said, "What must I do to make her believe that I love her?" and this was rolling around in my head for a long time. Eventually, it occurred to me that, it should be unneccesary to do anything to prove your love. That it should be more a question of "Who is my love compelling me to be?" You see, if the love is not there, there really is nothing that can be done to prove that it is. You can't give what you don't have. It's not possible. But where love is, there is no proof required, because all our life, and all our actions flow out of that love. It is like faith and works.

James 2:17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

These are the verses that the "got to do" people will quote, and perhaps they do provide a balance to the verses in 1 Cor. 13 that the "get to do" people stand on. James speaks to those who are all talk and no action. 1 Cor. speaks to the futility of even the most dramatic action without love. But in a way they are saying the same thing...that the deeds flow out of the love, but without the love, our words are sounding brass...just noise..and our righteous deeds are filthy rags.

Here's another quote that resonated with me this week...(perhaps a little off track...but I'm adding it here to remember it)
"It is very difficult to create authentic relationships between people with such disparate power."
This quote is from an article in a Christian publication about short term mission trips, but it resonates with me in terms of all love relationships. Sometimes love will begin between people with disparate power, but either the power will have to be relinquished or the love will be perverted. In order for love to flourish the superior/subordinate relationship will have to be voluntarily suspended and replaced with a respectful consensus. This is why relationships are frowned upon between people working together as superior and subordinate. This is why relationships are frowned upon between people in a position of power and those under their authority. Love does not go single file or back to front... it goes side by side or face to face.

So...This is more of two fragments of posts...but I will leave them so for now.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I've been reading Preston Eby's Bible study on the book of Revelation, called "From the Candlestick to the Throne." In part 124 (and yes...years into it...he is still only at Rev. 11:1) where it talks about measuring the temple... Anyhow, I wanted to keep this writing on WORSHIP, so I decided to clip and paste this chunk from the middle of his paper...and post it just as P.E. has written it. I have often thought of writing a song based on Isaiah 29:13 "... this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me..." This is fairly long I guess...but in a nutshell...worship is not just singing a little song or saying nice things about God... Worship is about spiritual prostration... subordination...about living and moving and having our being in God our Father. I hope this can stand alone....without having read the previous 123 parts of the study...I think it does...but I've read the rest...Anyhow...begin quote now:
In this hour the glory of the Lord is filling HIS TEMPLE! In sons there is coming expression of the true ministry of priesthood before God and unto God. God is raising up within His chosen ones an establishment of worship in the Spirit and by the Spirit. Men have done all sorts of things and called it worship! Rituals, ceremonies, liturgies, singing, lifting up the hands, loud praises, shouting, and dancing have all been accepted as worship unto the Lord. I do not mean to say that those things are not of God. But God is doing a new thing! The command has gone forth, “Rise, and measure the altar!” God would have us examine all our religious concepts of worship, lay the plum-line upon them, take the reed like unto a rod and assess the very essence of them, and learn by the Spirit what true worship is! No longer shall it be contingent upon a gathering of people, no longer shall it be an outward show, a response to the command of men to stand, sing, raise the hands, clap, dance, speak in tongues, and praise the Lord, but it shall be worship that springs and flows from the inner sanctum of our inner son, ignited and energized by the fire of God upon the altars of our own hearts. It shall never draw attention to the worshipper, or to worship itself, or be dictated by man, for if man must coax and coach and manipulate then it is not true worship, not in the spirit and not by the spirit. Oh, yes, there is a worship that glorifies the Lord in the heavenly places of the Spirit. How our hearts yearn for this! Many have found themselves cut off and devoid of everything they once thought was worship, and this has led to some questionings about what their spiritual status is, but fear not, my beloved. What you thought was worship probably was not true worship at all; do not lust after the leeks and garlic of Egypt! They are pleasant and taste good, but they are the food of the house of bondage. The Lord is cutting off all former realms, everything we thought to be worship, and leaving us void that we might finally recognize by the “measure of the altar” the true worship that is born of the very spirit of sonship! All the former heavens we have dwelt in are rolling up as a scroll, and we are even now being ushered into a new heaven with a brand new atmosphere of HIS presence and glory. Aren’t you glad! Well did Ray Prinzing set forth some of the principles of this “measuring of the altar” when he wrote, “For sure, the church realm moves on a soulish level, be it a charismatic realm, or more fundamental. All their worship appeals to the ascetic sense of the soul, stimulating the intellect, or stirring up the emotions, enhanced by the will of the leader manipulating the will of the congregation to sing, shout, dance, or whatever they propose for them to do. This does not necessarily mean that the soul realm is sinful or wrong, but it does signify that we need to be FULLY JOINED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, if we are to bring forth fruit to His honor and praise. “True discernment can keep us from becoming involved with just a ‘form of godliness’ which is devoid of the power of God. If it is only a soulish emotion that is stirred, there will be no power in it. For example, the repeated singing of a chorus — does it sing its way into your spirit, until you become lost in adoration and worship to God? Or, does it only stir your emotions to become a soulish song and dance which satisfies the flesh? We do not criticize soulish manifestations, if they are used to lead on into a deeper realm, but they must not be substituted for the pure moving of the holy Spirit. There is no good substitute for the anointing! An understanding heart is also vitally needed to discern between what is ‘will worship’ and that which is truly the outflow of the spirit within. Colossians 2:23 speaks of ‘a show of wisdom in will worship.’ Far too many of our religious expressions are only a form of WILL WORSHIP. By that we mean, either someone else willed you to do it, or else you set your own will in that direction as a means of obtaining favor with God, hoping to become more spiritual, or for some other reason. “Whenever a form, ritual, or ceremony is devoid of His life, will-worship takes over — a manipulative control with rigid regulations. We become a performer, according to the will of man, rather than a worshipper of God. Thus, as one man well stated, ‘Much of our worship time is nothing more than a ‘happy hour’ in which the participants can enjoy a good time.’ A contrived plan is brought out, who will lead, what songs will be sung, how the tempo will be increased, and we are on our way — programmed according to the will of man! We can sing all our favorite songs or choruses, clap our hands, dance, shout, and have an emotional spree that is carefully orchestrated by the will of the leader, so that we laugh or weep or worship according to their psychological design, and the flow of the music. But where, in all of this will-worship have we really worshipped in spirit and in truth Him who is King of kings and Lord of Lords? The will of man must be surrendered to the will of God! “It has been well stated that you can praise the Lord from your memory circuits, as you recall His wonderful works, but you can only worship Him when you are conscious of His presence. Worship demands the presence of the one being worshipped! And there is that recognizing that He is with us in every hour of our day, so that at any given moment there might rise from our spirit a flow of adoration and worship to Him. ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.’ Therefore we can worship Him right where we are! It does not require a formal arrangement, cathedral, stained glass windows, padded pews, soft organ music so that we begin to create an atmosphere which we think lends itself to a form of worship” — end quote. To sit at His feet means to be a worshipper. It is much more than drawing nigh to God with our mouth and pouring forth beautiful expressions of praise or impassioned petitions. “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23). The emphasis in this passage is not on worship, but on TRUE WORSHIPPERS. I do not hesitate to tell you that much of the so-called spiritual worship in this hour is in fact idolatrous, for many have made an idol of worship, they worship the beauty and glory and thrill of worship, rather than worshipping the Father. But true worshippers are true worshippers because they do not worship for the ecstasy that comes to them, but in spirit and in truth it is all directed UNTO HIM ALONE. To worship “in spirit and in truth” means to worship out of our spirit in reality. What we do or say is not of prime importance. What we ARE is the thing that matters, for out of a state of being comes our doing. The Holy Spirit cried through the prophet, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoreth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me…” It is not sufficient to worship God as an act. If you are not in your state of being a true worshipper, your worship is vanity, matters not one whit how beautiful or spiritual it may appear or sound; it is not in spirit and in truth because it is not originating out of your spirit and is not proceeding out of a state of being. “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, hypocrites” (Mat. 15:7). A hypocrite cannot worship God, matters not how high he raises his hands, how loudly he claps, or how expressive the words, it takes a worshipper to worship God! God is looking for those who have become true worshippers. “This people shall be unto me for a praise, a name, and a glory.” The man born blind whom Jesus healed, with wisdom and understanding declared, “If any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth” (Jn. 9:31). He did not say, “If any man worships God,” but, “If any man be a worshipper.” What a word that is! God heareth not sinners, he said, but if any man BE A WORSHIPPER OF GOD AND DOETH HIS WILL, HE HEARETH HIM. Multitudes of people daily “worship” God, but only a few ARE WORSHIPPERS! The simple truth is, it is impossible to worship God externally! Oh, yes, one may go through the physical motions of singing, shouting, prostrating the body, and many other physical actions, but that does not mean he is worshipping. God is a spirit, Jesus said, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Those are the only two “places” where the Father may be worshipped! Abraham is a classic example of a true worshipper. There arrived for the faithful patriarch that most solemn of days in which the voice of the Almighty fell upon his attentive ear, commanding, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Gen. 22:2). Though this command filled Abraham’s heart with pain, yet he would not be as surprised to receive it as a father would in our day; for such offerings were very common among all those people in the land where Abraham sojourned. Abraham, being strong in faith, never for one moment doubted or disobeyed God’s word. He knew that Isaac was the child whom God had promised, and that God had promised, too, that Isaac should have children, and that those coming from Isaac should become a great nation and a company of nations. He did not see how God could fulfill His promise with regard to Isaac, if Isaac should be slain as an offering: unless, indeed, God should raise him up from the dead afterward, a thought which Abraham’s unwavering faith did not discount. But Abraham undertook at once to obey God’s command! He took two young men with him and an ass laden with wood for the fire; and he went toward the mountain in the north, little Isaac his son walking by his side. For two days they journeyed, sleeping under the trees at night in the open country. And on the third day, Abraham saw the mountain far away. As they drew near to the mountain, Abraham said to the young men, “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5). Ah! He did not say, “I and the lad will go yonder and offer up a sacrifice,” but “we will go yonder and WORSHIP.” So great was His faith in God’s promise that Abraham declared, “and WE (Isaac and I) will come again to you.” He took the wood from the ass and placed it on Isaac, and the two walked up the mountain together. As they were walking, Isaac said, “Father, here is the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?” And Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb.” And they came to the place on top of the mountain. There Abraham built an altar of stones and earth heaped up, and on it he placed the wood. Then he took Isaac and tied his hands and feet, and laid him on the wood on the altar. And Abraham lifted up his hand, holding a knife to kill his son. A moment longer, and Isaac would be slain by his own father’s hand. But just at that moment the angel of the Lord out of heaven called to Abraham, and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And Abraham answered, “Here I am, Lord.” Then the angel of the Lord said, “Do not lay your hand upon your son. Now I know that you love God more than you love your only son, since you are ready to give up your son, your only son, to God.” The message is clear — Abraham WORSHIPPED GOD in the offering up of Isaac! The “measuring rod” applied to Abraham’s action reveals that he was indeed a true worshipper! When called on to offer up his son, he did it as an act of worship. He prostrated himself, not physically, but in his spirit he bowed low before the will of the Lord. He worshipped! He never raised his hands, sang, clapped, shouted praises, or danced, but his offering up of Isaac was an act of true worship in the presence of God! Worship is from the Hebrew word shahah meaning “to bow down, to prostrate,” and from the Greek proskyneo meaning “to prostrate, do obeisance to.” Worship is the honor, reverence, and homage paid to superior beings and powers, and to God. It is not words at all, but an attitude, a state of being, a reverent and submissive bending to God’s will. It is not what you are doing that matters most, but the spirit behind your action. You can pray for something and it can be just a selfish, proud, egotistical thing. Or it can be an act of worship to God. It is worship when it is GOD’S WILL you seek, that His kingdom might be brought to pass in the earth! When David brought the ark to Jerusalem according to the word of the Lord, he worshipped the Lord in the beauty of holiness (I Chron. 16:29). Why did David have to go back for the ark twice? Because the first time it was not an act of worship. It was an act of triumph: he was somewhat arrogant because they were conquering their enemies! If it was worship they would have brought the ark according to God’s way, but they thought, If the Philistines can haul it on a cart, we can do the same. They were carelessly and thoughtlessly doing it their way, and so God smote them. But later David worshipped the Lord in the beauty of holiness, because he reverently brought the ark back according to the Lord’s command: on the shoulders of the Levites and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord! When Job, that mighty man of the East, received the evil tidings that his sons and daughters were dead, and all his possessions lost, “Then Job arose and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped” (Job 1:20). I’m sure this wasn’t that beautiful, melodious high-sounding worshipful praise we hear in church meetings today, which we call worship! But Job bowed submissively and reverently before the will of God — and he worshipped. If Job had been a complainer, he would have complained. If Job had been a backbiter, he would have backbitten. If Job had been a curser, he would have cursed. If Job was rebellious, he would have rebelled. But Job was a worshipper, therefore he worshipped! He was a man, perfect and upright, one that feared (reverenced) God, and hated evil. That was the testimony of his state of being, which was a state of worship. We may be very congenial and lovable people, with an aura of spirituality surrounding our every movement, when you catch us in the right mood and under the proper circumstances; but when things start to happen as they did to Job, then whatever your state of being is, it will come out! Job fell on his face, and what he was was manifested: he was a worshipper, so he worshipped God! Ah, what would have been our first expression had we been in Job’s place? May God make us true worshippers! Anyone can draw nigh with their mouth and praise God, but it is vanity, a religious pretense if it is not proceeding from a state of being. God wants worship to be in spirit and in truth, which comes out of a worshipful nature: true worshippers worshipping the Father! Truly God is “measuring the altar” of worship this very hour in the life of every man and woman who has received the call to sonship! If there is no complete committal to God, then the offering up of our possessions will not be worship. “Though I give my body to be burnt,” says Paul, “if it is not an expression of my state of being as a worshipper, filled with divine love, it profits me nothing.” Our Father wants what comes out of every one of His sons to be an expression of what He is doing and of what He has wrought in us. True worship is an expression of our relationship with God, where everything within us is done for the glory and praise and honor of God. That is why it made no difference to God whether Jesus did carpentry work for a number of years, or healed the sick for three and a half years. Jesus was a worshipper! He came only to do the will of His Father whether that meant working or waiting, or winning or losing, or living or dying. The Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” when all He had done was carpentry work for about thirty years! When the Father said that He was well pleased with His firstborn Son that Son had never preached a sermon, never taught a multitude, never performed a miracle, never healed a sick person, never raised any dead. Think of it! Can we not see by this that it is only in the spirit of worship that one can sit at the feet of the Father and receive from His great mind and heart the instruction and counsel of His will. May God make us such true worshippers that our walk will be worship! Take the shoes from off your feet, O saint of God, for the ground on which we stand is holy. The spiritual “temple mount” is the holy mount of God! The temple of God is a people. We miss so much vital truth by our careless thinking about the scriptures. Every stone in that temple is a living person, a son of God. We will understand a great mystery when we understand that every item in the temple of God is composed of people. The Holy of holies is a people. The ark of the covenant is a people. The holy place is a people. And now I want to say that the altar is a people! God has an altar people. The altar is the place of worship, and worship is not merely something we do, it is something we are. God is making us true worshippers. These true worshippers are the altar! And now God is measuring the altar. By His Spirit He is examining, investigating, inspecting, and assessing the spiritual condition and quality of His altar people. He is not measuring how melodiously, harmoniously, and sweet-soundingly we can “sing in the Spirit,” or how loud we can shout praises, or how long or articulately we can pray. We can go through all the forms of what we consider worship and never touch the essence of worship. So the Lord says, “Measure the altar, the altar is a people, it is not what they do, but what they are that must be measured!” Oh, yes! Now, my beloved, this brings us to an important thought. If you would measure the altar, don’t attempt to do so in a church meeting on Sunday morning! I don’t think anyone would deny that should you measure the altar in a meeting on Sunday morning you might get a false reading. A better time to measure the altar would be after the meeting, on the way home, when the kids are screaming in the car, the spouse is nagging, and the radiator overheats on the congested freeway. Don’t you think that would be a good time to measure the altar? You see, I find that even many “kingdom people” still go into a meeting and turn God on and turn God off. When the meeting starts they put on what Lynn Hiles has called their “precious Jesus face” and pour forth praises and worship, sing, speak in tongues, prophesy, exhort, and appear so very spiritual, but the moment the last “Amen” is said it is all promptly turned off and they become as another person. A church magazine contained a beautiful picture of a congregation at worship. The children wore smiles. All the mothers and fathers were singing as if they had been made for nothing else. All the grandfathers looked like saints. All the grandmothers beamed, as if it was Mother’s Day. Meanwhile, all the young women looked as if they never had a worldly thought or care. All the young men looked as if they had just made a vow to enter seminary. The choir members wore robes and angelic expressions. The picture, sad to say, was posed. No congregation looks like that! Even so, none of us should have to be told to smile because we are on God’s candid camera. The truth is, however, that oft times the way we appear among the Lord’s people is but a facade. God is measuring His altar, and He is tearing away all our masks; but, thank God, He is also bringing forth in us the true image of His Son. There is light appearing in the face of God’s Christ! You see, dear saint of God, the true character of any person is revealed by the opposing character of another person or circumstance. Not one of us knows what is in us, until someone comes and says or does something to us, that will bring out that hidden characteristic within. It makes no difference what people say about themselves or how spiritual they appear to be. It matters not how loudly they may affirm that natural things do not bother them; if there is carnality or evil lurking within their nature, an opposing character will immediately bring it to the surface. So we can never know the real, true nature of any man until something comes along to oppose him. When everything goes according to ones desire or will, then everyone around that person sees only their “better side.” Nothing ever ruffles them or disturbs them, because they are constantly having their own way, getting what they want. But just let something cross them and the trouble begins! When you see the brother or sister in the church service, you see only the best part of them. Everyone is only sweetness and goodness. The ministers are so gracious and kind, the husbands and wives are so nice to each other and to the children. But just walk unexpectedly into the home on Monday morning, or come into the breakfast circle and you will find out how things are going. Or let someone abuse them, swindle them, cheat them, sell them a car that is a lemon, take advantage of them, steal from them, insult them, falsely accuse them, misuse them — ah, it is time to measure the altar! END QUOTE

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In Everything Give Thanks (1 Thess. 5:18)

It seems from the scriptures that our thanks to God should be an attitude toward Him, because of what He has done; especially in terms of creation; and then in terms of redemption (which it may be suggested… is a stage in the ongoing act of creation.)

But sometimes, although we are surrounded by the wonderful evidence of creation, it all seems quite distant from our personal experience. Although the meadow is full of wildflowers kissed by the sun and dripping with dew, it does nothing to alleviate our personal pain.

We have all heard the story of the little girl who when her mother tried to reassure her that God was with her, replied, “I know God loves me mommy, but, when it is thundering and lightning, I want someone with skin on to love me.” I think, though, that there comes a time when the reverse is true. Human comfort can only go so far and we come to the point that we need to be assured that God loves us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

At such a time, it is simply His presence with us that becomes the focus of our thanksgiving.

Are we thankful for the beauty of creation, for friends and family who love us, for perceived blessings and benefits and privileges…yes. But…

It occurs to me that our thanks is sometimes pretty conditional. Not based on the vastness of God’s plan…but on our own small role in that plan. A personal story by way of illustration:

Our dear little granddaughter at age three began to suffer from the sudden onset of a mysterious illness… Diabetes Insipitus. Missing the hormone which makes it possible to concentrate urine…. She was constantly insanely thirsty…and it went straight through her so she was urinating gallons of almost pure water. Many prayers were offered and medical expertise came to our aid providing an artificial hormone to help with the symptoms…but not an understanding of the first cause.

We gave thanks. Her immediate need and her suffering were alleviated.

It took almost three years of difficult investigation, frustration and prayers….but when the second hormone…her growth hormone… was knocked out, doctors had a diagnosis... Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

We gave thanks. A treatment plan could be put in place and while it wouldn’t restore what had been lost, the growth hormone could be replaced too when the treatment was completed…and treatment would arrest the progression of the disease to other less remediable areas such as organs…brain…bones.

It is with agony that we imagined our darling child undergoing the harsh treatment of chemo-therapy. Why should a perfect little angel, so beloved by all who know her, be subjected to a disease which required a full year of such a difficult regimen of treatment? Wonderfully, though, we find that she is strong, and such a beautifully happy personality that she has not seemed to suffer many of the ill effects of the surgery to implant the port nor the harsh chemicals received through that port.

We give thanks. She is happy and active and robust in spite of the serious nature of her disease and the toxic chemicals used to treat it.

That has been my pattern anyway… And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m thankful (only) for the good (little) things that happen.

But wait just one minute!

We all prayed for complete healing…for several years now. This is not healing! We know that God could have healed her! What’s wrong with God anyhow?

Am I in effect saying, ‘Well… this was the best He could do…at least He tried…at least He minimized the a few things right.’

We can thank God for what he does right….and yell at Him when He lets us down…. We can say there really is no God after all and we are just kidding ourselves to think that He’s involved in our lives. Or we can accept the fact that He is here…with us…not only allowing, not only NOT intervening… but causing. As in the case of Lazarus…where Jesus stayed away exactly long enough to allow him to die…so He could accomplish a greater work than healing.

I guess I find myself circling around to the question of, “Does God love me?” Are the millions of people born since Adam simply fodder? Does He care about each individual one? Or will he just choose a few precious individuals and discard the rest?

Unless God cares about us as individuals, why are we expecting Him to take any kind of an active role in our practical lives? Could He just not pick out the pearls when they happen?

But if He cares about us as individuals, then it makes sense, that He is active in each of our lives. Doing what He deems necessary to bring us from wherever we start out in life…to what He is making of us. “Some through the fire, some through the flood, some through great danger but all through the blood.”

It is hard sometimes, but necessary, to learn to give thanks in ALL things…..because all things are of God. Someone that I’ve read a while back…D. Willard…W. Nee…can’t remember who....used the term “first cause” and it has stuck with me. The gist of it is that though we might be angry about something that has been done to us, we are more able to release our anger if we remember than whoever has wronged us, is only the secondary cause (the tool). God is the first cause. So even if we don’t understand…we are given an opportunity to lay down our anger, receive what has happened from God… and to live and react out of the resource of HIS life; rejoicing that He is taking an active part in our “progress” towards spiritual maturity.

So, whatever is happening, we can be thankful to our Father because we are His workmanship and when we finally learn that He loves us… we will be reconciled to Him and able to “bear all things believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things” knowing that “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.” He loves me…and He is here….and for that, I am thankful.