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Someday soon I’ll walk this peaceful garden,

Where showers come a refreshing mist.

The animals will tread calmly beside me,

God’s hand no longer to resist.

His mood will be my temper, quiet without need,

A presence close and serious, which the heart can only see.

A nature that gives life, to all He aims to please.

His breath sustaining everything, for all eternity.

My Longing seems forever, as time slips slowly past,

But the hunger is not of this world, where the flesh seeks its rest.

Men push and heave in envy, wanting what others have,

Living for the fiction, they ignore the thing that’s best.

The valley of peace awaits all, who see beyond the veil,

Who pass the word forward and share without regret,

Who open their hand in kindness and sooth the heated brow,

And spend their days communing, with brothers in distress.

Seek not this world’s illusions and images that lie,

In ease and entertainment, and things that tempt the eye.

There’s a curtain and an angel, on duty till we die,

Then all is seen clearly, and decisions realized.

Love is Prophetic

Love is a prophecy, hidden deep within desire.

Men ignore love’s potential, and the lateness of the hour.

Love is moving earth below us, and the heaven up still higher,

Yet men slumber in their apathy, ignorant of love’s great power.

Love has forever in the past, and still now does exist,

Even in our hopelessness and the want of experience.

Love is something everywhere wanted, and universally craved,

Its richness seen in poetic verse, and in the child’s face.

Love will certainly in the end prevail, because our desire conveys it forth,

Like the scent of fresh cut flowers,

Love will direct us toward the source.

Love is an Angel announcing “all is not lost,”

Even though our situation, appears so doubtful and so false.

Love’s promise still holds true for those, who faithfully abide,

And cling to the One who was abused, executed, and denied.

Love is the proclamation and the prophecy of the King,

The gift to all who love Him, and His glory forever sing.

Thinking of Christ

I am not a big fan of Christmas. I am sure that Christ does not recognize December 25th as His birthday, and for good reason, it was a date plucked from the air by those who were more politician than Christian. If it really were the birth date of Jesus and we were commanded by Scripture to recognize it as such then it is likely that the pagans would have nothing to do with it. But, like Easter, Christmas is a pagan holiday instituted to achieve a particular purpose. 

So, to forgo being tagged as a heretic, I also recognize that Jesus was born into this world and that He is the Son of the Living God; He just wasn’t born on December 25th. Nor does it matter when He was born. It was the result of that birth that matters and not the fact of it. On December 26th the pagans and all the moderate Christians will begin to gear-up for their real celebration that comes a week later on New Year’s Eve.

Like all things Christian today it doesn’t matter what the reason is, just go along and party, and by all means, don’t mention the TRUTH.

You don’t have to be Catholic to be a martyr. As I was researching the subject for this article I noticed that overwhelmingly the references were to Catholic priest and saints. Let me be clear from the start, you do not have to be Catholic to be a martyr. On the contrary, the definition of the word martyr comes from the  (Greek: μάρτυς, mártys, witness“; stem μάρτυρ-, mártyr-) someone who suffers persecution and death for witnessing to, advocating, renouncing, refusing to renounce, or refusing to advocate their Christian belief as demanded by an external party. This whole definition describes the simple Christian who has first-hand experience of God and becomes a fearless witness of His power and glory on His behalf.

I have written in past articles of the true freedom that believers enjoy and that this freedom also includes the freedom of martyrdom, so well depicted in the image above. As witnesses of the Most-High God Christians are not to be reluctant or afraid to speak the truth of grace and wrath into the social, justice, and economic constructs of this world. If a Christian is to involve him or herself in the politics of this world it is only on this level that they are to participate. When they venture to endorse a person or party they are no longer a witness for Christ, who stands above all politics, but have chosen a “cause” other than the Gospel.

It is this true freedom of the Christian to speak boldly in the face of rejection and persecution that has historically been the cause of martyrdom. It is precisely at that point of greatest conflict that the Christian is called to witness the truth of God in words that cannot be misunderstood.

“If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” Martin Luther

It must be remembered that the state, or the Church, holding power can and may refuse to discuss the issue. It can choose to be the singular voice of authority. It may elect to destroy that which confronts it. This may be the price of direct confrontation and open conflict. This too is historically shown to be a viable option of those in power. Even though this option does not look obvious at this hour we must remember and be prepared as witnesses to offer the ultimate sacrifice; we have that freedom.

It must be remembered also that it was the Church in league with the state, at the crucifixion of Christ, during the time of Constantine, and during the Reformation that was responsible for so much death of believers, and it will be the same in future days when true believers will be eliminated by the Church in league with the state.

Need it be recalled that the past records of the great witnesses of the faith, as martyrs who acted in true freedom and liberty of conscience, who ruled out revolution, self-defense, and military honors, refused to kill any man? They understood the enemy as that neighbor which they were called to love even though he holds the sword to his neck. To be called as a witness is not a resignation to some passive activity. To be a martyr is to affirm the sovereignty of our Lord.

“I am certainly a Christian because it is my will and pleasure so to be, then you shall condemn me, if I will to be condemned; hence you could not condemn me if I would not will so as a Christian, it is plain what you can do depends upon my will.” Tertullian Apology 49, 5

Today we hear no talk like this because martyrdom is a word Christians fear. The style of conversation has changed and you hear instead much talk of politics, violence, and hatred. They justify their hatred by balancing it with love for the oppressed and the stricken. It is not on this basis that the powers can be critiqued or assessed because here they are in much agreement with both feet in the world.

To be a witness in the world it must be a deliberate act of speaking truth into the commercial Church and the state, and along with that truth, there comes an undeniable claim to persecution and martyrdom. 2 Tim 3:12, 1 pet. 4:12-14, Mat. 5:44, 5:10, Lk. 6:22, Jn. 15:20, etc.

The persecution and crushing of the Body of Christ call the powers-that-be into question no less so than open dialogue. Once the Body bleeds then roots come forth. Even though it may appear to be impotent and weak the powers are shaken and stunned and their own weakness and inadequacy exposed. The only thing that can stop the Body of Christ is unfaithfulness to the words of the Lord; the replacing of His voice with the echoing voices of men competing for power in buildings of brick and mortar. The voices of men have allowed the enemy to instill fear in the place of faith and trust. They have ceased listening to the Words of the Lord and have instead found a basis in the world and by so doing have become part of the world even though they use many God words well.

Modern Christians live in fear of the world and the only expression of their safety is displayed in their siding with a structure of power and their religion is added on as a hedge bet in case of failure. Hedge betting pays no dividend in the economy of the Almighty, it is either all or nothing. The strait gate makes no allowance for a shopping cart full of “necessities.”

The Word of God is perfectly clear on this issue:

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua24:15

What is your choice?

Risk!

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Risk

Risk

The truly free man lives a life of risk. He leaves his home armed only with truth and with no guarantees. Every day he is presented with newness and starts each sunrise at zero; no script or earthly armor and no dictates of tradition; he is a pilgrim and a stranger and draws others into his circle. His security and peace are in his faith. The truly free man is continually faced with “risk” because it is an expression of his freedom in Christ.

Risk is the natural result of having been freed from the dictates and demands of this world and being a citizen of Heaven. We are to expect confrontation and challenges and must be prepared for this risk, unafraid, as proof of our freedom.

We receive a lesson about “risk” from the Hebrews in their wilderness travels. They were given their daily food and were not to desire anything else, e.g. quail. They were not to keep any of the day’s provision for the next day; it spoiled. They received no more or no less than needed. Jesus confirmed this teaching in His Sermon on the Mount, we are not to be concerned about food or clothing. “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” This is both the definition of “risk” and of “freedom.” Abraham understood risk in his offering of Isaac, and the widow of Zarephath who gave all of her last remaining food to the prophet had the freedom to give everything. Likewise, the disciples left their homes and family to follow Jesus. What matters in our understanding of true freedom is our risk to trust God and God alone. This practice of freedom is our proof of love toward our Father. Just as the others were given a choice we too must choose; “Who do you love?”

Will you wager a risk on God’s faithfulness? Will He be unfaithful to His promises? Am I such a person that I doubt God can keep His promise toward me? Will He grant His promise in such a way that I might be deceived? What are freedom and risk if not precisely going all-in on the faithfulness of God’s promise?

The rejection of risk is the rejection of freedom. The rejection of risk is our rejection of love toward God.

When we accept the risk then others are compelled to trust Him also because they see that we are truly free and that we hazard our lives on His faithfulness. And, in this accepting of risk God is glorified.

Regret

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Sadness and disappointment about a wrong decision or something done.

 

Traveling down life’s road not paying attention and not harassed.

Meandering, thinking, contemplating with no clear vision and no map.

Then out of nowhere and for no reason existence takes a turn.

You thought you were on an easy road, alone and unconcerned.

Little did you know then, that such a simple thing

Has always been your enemy and never was a friend.

You have traveled this old neighborhood and never discerned that line

A border is there and you have trespassed, and fate has said, “it’s time.”

A startled stare and a quick look sideways, then a panicked snort

Clawing the air you begged for distance, but knew you’d come up short.

You were just too far gone in your lazy doubts and knew you’d wouldn’t clear

Now the easy road and the carefree life spells the end for this little deer.

Old Plastic Flowers
We get so enmeshed in appearances that practically everything is true.
Yet, out of custom or habit, even simple gifts excite great expectation of lasting long and eternal good.
The longed-for completeness that only deep dreams foretell exit in heaps of discarded facts, like old plastic flowers.
Whereunto must a man attend to find the fulfillment which he demands?
And just for a moment, with his awakening, he teeters on the verge of the answering.
He believed then, or so he thought, or that he had misunderstood the thing.
Yet, the love of sincerity has compelled him, “look again.”
Clutch that faint scent of reality, and arrest all your competing thoughts, for our Maker hides actuality,
even in old plastic flowers.

The Truth of the Flower

Is science the truth of the flower? No, the truth of the flower is the image in the brain of the image-maker. Science? It is only a thing of ways and means–pixels on a sensor–binary code in a computer–in relation to the art in the heart of the creator. Mere intellect will never discover that which owes its birth to that which is born in the heart of the image-maker. Argue against intelligent design if you must but watch the children, in whose eyes and hearts, filled with love and fleeting eternity, as they pluck a gift from off its stalk and present to their mother the essence of the Eternal. It is only a flower you say! Has science ever witnessed such weeping from the mother–understanding not the botany of the subject–who receive gifts of pure love from the hands of infant ignorance? This is not the laws of nature or a mere fact; this is the Truth of the Flower.

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The Spirit of God stands at His post watching over the souls of men to guide, chastise, and instruct.

Unbeknownst to the blind are all the seemingly insignificant happenings that cross our path every hour and every day.

The alert person recognizes that all our days are numbered and steps accounted for, nothing falls to the ground without His knowledge and the books adjusted.

Plead your case in the courts of men but know full well that our God is no mere man.

The-Path-to-Freedom

These all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16

To properly understand the freedom that these men of the Old Testament experienced we must first understand their Biblical orientation. This orientation is what gives substance and definition to their freedom. What I am describing here is the condition necessary to engage with the world in a physical way and not with some packaged and programmed presentation which is the opposite of real freedom.

These men recognized that they were “strangers and pilgrims.” This is not just a description of the men of this time but rather a definition of what Christians can and should be in all times. Those who have been born into the Kingdom, whether we acknowledge it or not, are strangers to what is around us. This feeling of estrangement, in these last days of increasing difficulties, is a shared phenomenon in the Body of Christ.

If we will recall for a moment Israel’s wilderness journey we will see that it was both an illustration and a lesson (Exodus 14:10-14). Their choices here were fundamental. They had to choose between either a life in bondage which had the perceived benefits of security, comfort and purpose or liberation in the wilderness, a place chosen to learn real freedom. This fact needs to be taken more seriously. Real freedom exists in the realm where all guarantees, assurances, protections, and obligations are set aside. The freedom of God places us in a wilderness of complete trust and reliance, a place we are to dwell and saturate and make our presence known. If we are called to be free then we must break with those things we have taken for granted. If we accept this call it will mean accepting life in a forsaken place where there is no security and renouncing societies offer of affiliation and membership. It is not possible to consider yourself free in Christ while in the framework of the matrix with its assurances, provisions, affluence, peace, and the desire for comfort and happiness. The Bible shows perfectly that this incompatibility is both radical and final. But, there is something that can prevent us from following through; the weakness of our character and lukewarmness of our attitude will attempt a reconciliation with the old life.

The impulse of the flesh is to try and escape this situation of freedom. We don’t want to be strangers and pilgrims. We want to take something of the old life with us; we want to keep something for the sake of comfort. Our natural instinct is to rationalize and compromise with the situation, to give it moist soil for thirsty roots.

Crucial to this pilgrimage, however, is to adopt a different attitude. Christians knowing the situation and condition of their carnal nature and the world; knowing it they intentionally accept the uprooting of their lives. The call of God is explicit, there must be a clean break, a parting of the ways. Like Abraham, they have seen the promises from afar and deliberately move toward them. These Christians have discerned the plan which is evident in history, they have personally experienced the expanding of their spirit through grace, they have with open heart come to realize that GOD is the One that came and will come, they have comprehended the immense love of God in His Son Jesus Christ, and because they have believed these things they accept and become strangers.

The world is where Christians must live and spend their days but they are not of the world, they are foreigners, outsiders, and strangers. They have surveyed the world through life observation and experiences. They have seen to what extent it is not theirs even though they cannot leave or avoid living in it. They have made the conscious declaration to be strangers and know that they cannot change or recover it. Their focus is on the individual, and not the world, as something worth saving.

“Forgetting what is behind and pressing on to what lays ahead” they envision what is over the horizon and are compelled to action. Their wandering is not like Cain’s desperate search for meaning; they know where they are going and that their pathway is true and full of purpose. Their wandering has often been mistaken for rebelliousness like Cain, but in essence, it is the exact opposite, a complete reversal. Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. Cain looked to build a city of his own, in his own image. Christians look for completeness; men’s projects are forever incomplete, lacking, and suffer decay. The freedom of Cain – the liberty of the world – is a strong delusion and enslavement to the lie. This has all changed for the pilgrim. They have the true history of sold-out men and in their wake, they produce their own history. With his advance, he leaves a trail in the desert that leads to life; they are, every one, men of renown.

The emancipation is real and complete. Normality, what is that to the Christian? Normal is a scale used by the world to measure its accepted level of insanity. The Christian has severed the cord that linked it with normality. Jesus teaches, “Sell all that you have and come and follow Me.” “Whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” “He that leaves his father, mother, and brothers for My sake . . . .” “Let the dead bury the dead.” How normal is this? Here is the break! Here is the pathway to freedom! All that once was so dear to carnal life on planet earth we intentionally place on the altar along with our very life as a living sacrifice which God accepts.

If this is true then how much more is the break when it includes country, nation, political allegiance, elections, social class, profession, union, and economics. These things are no longer our business; this is the business of the world. These things are only our business in respect to our infiltration of the systems of this world to perform our mission. They are our business only to the degree that we can involve those who we come in contact with to follow us. This is what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did; they carried the message of freedom to the world. They preached a radical break from the illusion of freedom to pursue a wilderness path of truth, trust, and hope of a real future based on faith in the living God of all creation. The Christian summons the whole world to join this pilgrim march toward the eternally rising sun of freedom in Christ Jesus.

If the Christian gives a second thought and grants any significance to this world then he is yet rooted in the world. Our condition then is pathetic even if we have Jesus on our lips; this is the “way of Cain” who was a worshiper of the Most High God only with an eye for novelty and innovation. This Christian is a blind man leading the blind, thus leading men into the ditch of human originality and death.

We are free and uprooted, and march forward, but toward what? Towards our home our true country, the place where our family resides, a place where we are no longer wanderers and strangers and aliens, a place of the presence of God our Father. There we find the end of the journey, the eternal seventh day of rest. “They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.”

The value of these promises devalue everything else, and some will say that this is mystical and anti-social, but the real question is is it Biblical? Yes, we find this teaching throughout the Bible.

As I see it the freshness of this view is that of realizing that it is not negative against the people of the world but that it contributes an element to society that is missing and needed. Being a pilgrim and living in society we do not reject it, we are disassociating ourselves from it, we are still members of society. We have something for society; we want to give it truth and meaning. We can unravel its sordid history, but we can only do this if we have a fixed vision of a true past, a fixed gaze on the future, and legs that march toward it.

In conclusion; it is astonishing that these things need repeating, things that are so obvious. Look at the instruction Jesus gave to His disciples when He sent them into the neighborhoods of Israel. But they bear repeating since we hear just the opposite today. We are taught that we need to adopt similar lifestyles, vernaculars, interest. We must act like them in their mannerisms and dress and have the same commitments and passion, and we have to join in their jokes, parties, and meaningless chatter. This is either a weakness of the flesh or a misunderstanding of Scripture. The pathway to freedom has been blocked, not by the enemy, but by Christians, and effective witnessing is short-circuited. If our word has no force it is not because we are too aloft from the world; it is because we are far too much in it. As Christians, we have no place in the world at all, not in work, not in politics, not in economics, and not in its philosophy and thought. Our witness has no effect if we are conformed to the world.

When God makes us witnesses, when He is not ashamed to be called our God, then witness exists. But, this comes about when we ourselves receive the freedom which He gives and recognizes that on earth, in society, we are strangers and pilgrims. When we participate with the world in its mischievousness we will have a presence but we become sterile.

The Christian pathway to freedom brings about separation. Just as Abraham was separated as our example, we cannot be free for God unless we are completely separated in our hearts and souls from all that constitutes the world. The pathway to freedom is along the road of change. The slave has become a free man in Jesus. His position in relation to God has been changed, as a result, now he must himself transform his position from the inside by the power given to him by the Holy Spirit. Once his will becomes the will of the Father then he will know and act accordingly.

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