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Signs of Life

The cross is conspicuously and inescapably

Opposed to everything I think and see,

And I’m to trust and be willing;

When in His mercy there’s killing?

The cross was repugnant and incongruity

I could not accept this, this blood-love seizing me.

That mystery possessed me, though resisting unbending,

God’s goodness toward some, and to others life ending.

Then my own soul lay wounded, God’s casualty,

In thought and in body, still determined to flee.

A free wind in the world, against truth blowing,

Like a bird in a window, I could escape unknowing.

His Book’s words spoke soundly, but His justice uneased,

His price for acquittal no man could appease.

So His Son paid it all, with no sense of loss

He laid it all on the ground and then climbed on a cross.

The end of the story is glorious indeed,

God’s justice is severe and yet now we’re set free.

I am yet in this world and will rejoice at passing,

To be lost in Christ’s love for life everlasting.

Adapted from a pamphlet by Followers of the Way

TREASON, n. tree’zn.

Treason is the highest crime of a civil nature of which a man can be guilty. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “treason” as ”attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which one owes allegiance, either by making war against the state or by materially supporting its enemies.”

A traitor is perhaps one of the worst things a person can be called. To sell out your own people, your own country, is perhaps the most despicable thing a man can do. What causes a person to sell out those who deserve his allegiance? Financial gain? Hatred? Bitterness? Deception? Ignorance?

What would you think if your president sent one of your fellow countrymen as an ambassador to a foreign land? His job would be to represent and secure America’s interests in this foreign land. While our ambassador was living in this foreign land, he became very comfortable. He began pursuing a better and better life among the natives of this foreign land. He started becoming so comfortable in this strange land that he became slowly more interested in the affairs and security of this foreign power than the nation that sent him, the nation where he was born, the nation of his father and mother. What would you think if it became apparent that our ambassador was contradicting the president’s commands and the will of the nation? Would you consider this man a traitor? What if he began to work and live in opposition to his leader? Should he be tried and convicted as a traitor?

The Apostle Paul says: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). The Greek word that we translate “church” is ekklesia. It means “the called out ones.” When Jesus was teaching and preaching many people understood rightly that He was coming to institute a new and unrivaled kingdom, the Kingdom of God. Many did not understand that His Kingdom would be an entirely different kind of Kingdom than the earthly ones to which they were accustomed.

Back in the first century A.D., Christians understood that the expression “Jesus is Lord” was in competition with the common political expression “Caesar is Lord.” Tolerance was allowed in the Roman Empire for almost any religion, so long as homage was paid to Caesar as Lord. When the Christians said “Jesus is Lord” they were stating that their King was Jesus. Through their baptism in Jesus they had died to their old lives and loyalties and risen into a new kingdom. They understood perfectly that they could only hold one allegiance, only one loyalty; they could no longer say, “Caesar is Lord.” Many Christians were killed for this reason, as the empire sought to destroy this competing nation in their midst.

So what does this mean for a Christian living in America? I encourage you to read Jesus’ own words and commands for His Kingdom and His disciples. He said that His people would love their enemies. He said that the greatest in His kingdom would be the least. He showed us that greed and pride had no place in His Kingdom. He said there could be no drunkenness, liars, or idolaters in His Kingdom. He taught that there would be no adulterers in His Kingdom; and that “whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Luke 16:18). Compare this to what you know of the United States; with her wars and abortions; her rampant divorce rate, and perverse immorality; her greed and her oppression and ask if the two are anything alike. In America, the strong, the greedy, the dishonest, and the rich are the leaders and rulers of the land, on either side of the political spectrum. In Jesus’ Kingdom, the weak and the poor, the humble and the honest are the leaders.

The question must be asked of you, friend: To whom is your exclusive and sole allegiance? When Jesus commands, “Love your enemy”, and “do not resist the evil person” (Matthew 5:39-44) and America rejoices over the death of her enemies or calls on you to kill or support the killing of her enemies, whom will you follow? When Jesus commands purity of the eye, what do you allow your eyes to look at in a culture that flaunts immodesty and lustful entertainment? When Jesus commands his people to love the poor and care for them, and America promotes the “American dream”, whom will you follow? When the Holy Spirit and the Church say Jesus is Lord and the American flag is raised and the fireworks explode, where is your allegiance, and who is the traitor? Are you an ambassador of King Jesus or have you sold out to American patriotism?

If you claim that “Jesus is Lord” I challenge you to consider your ways and your King. But do not be a traitor; give your full and undivided allegiance to your King. “Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you, and you shall be My sons and daughters says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18). If Jesus is not your Lord, may I first apologize for what has been done by professing Christians in our land to force their ways and views on others? To be sure, Jesus did not instruct His people to ever use force or coercion in any way, at the end of a sword or a ballot box. His is a revolution, but it is a revolution of peace, and of life, and love, and truth. Secondly, please consider the teachings of the real Jesus and His Kingdom. Judge Him not on what you presume Him to be, or by how He has been mis-characterized by an unfaithful people; but rather, as He is, and as He declared Himself to be, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Healer, the risen Son of God, and the One who will return to Judge the living and the dead.

Adapted from a book (Christian Non-Resistance) by Adin Ballou

This is a reflection on the doctrine of non-resistance with respect to the underlying standard from which it proceeds, then on to the justification from which it originates, and then to the sub-principle of duty in which we understand the application.

The Standard

What is the standard from which non-resistance has emerged? It is the standard on which all creation is based. It rests on the perfect love of God, the absolute, sovereign, all-knowing, righteousness, which sets God apart from all other things, and which, instilled into the fleshly feelings and thoughts of human emotion, produces goodness that exceeds understanding or appreciation. Of this standard of love we read that,

Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”

John expressed it this way,

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.”

This love is not mere fleshly affection, or emotional lust, but a pure, supernatural, painstaking principle. It is a divine energizing, which intuitively and instinctively stimulates the doing of good, i.e. love, to others, whether they be good or evil. In its nature it is unselfish, and does not consider the worthiness of others. Regardless of what others do I will do the right thing; I will love; I will bless; I will “Overcome evil with good.” Therefore, this standard of love is not determined by the worthiness of others, but finds within the standard itself sufficient motivation for obeying and doing nothing but good to all men.

Jesus, in whom flowed the full force of this mysterious love, grasping this great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” brought it forth from the Law of Moses, all damp and dirty with human misunderstanding, and lit an eternal fire. The truth was hidden within it and men could not clearly identify it much less appreciate its brilliance and quality. He illustrated, with His life, that the “neighbor” intended was any human being, a stranger, an enemy, or bitter foe – anyone needing help, – the cruelest criminal, or wretch of our race. Therefore, knowing that the whole world justifies “An eye for an eye,” hatred toward our enemies, and death to killers, Christ reversed the ancient decrees, abolished the law of revenge, and preached the responsibility of boundless restraint, mercy, and kindness.

The Justification

Worldly religion, ignorant philosophy and psychology, and vindictive selfishness have simultaneously declared, “There is a point beyond which self-control ceases to be a virtue and must be released.” Christ unmasked this heartless delusion with a single sentence, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and taught acceptance and everlasting obedience to the law of love.

“I say unto you, do not take life for life, eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. Do not hit back the one who hits you. Give to him who ask, and do not ignore the one who wants to borrower from you. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love, and greet, and do good to them that love you, what are you better than unbelievers?”

This is the true light shining from the heart of the Father, and reflected into this dark world from the face of Jesus Christ. What value are the excessive expressions of non-Christian poets, or the muddy complexities of the world’s philosophers, or the fantasies of psychology, or the sublime prayers of sincere but unforgiving religionists, compared with the divine purity of truth as it is extracted from the Divine source? DIVINE LOVE – is the principle from which Christian non-resistance occurs and continues on.

The Sub-Standard

What is the sub-standard that constitutes non-resistance’s immediate moral basis? What is the essential value of overcoming evil with good? The wisdom of this world has relied on the deterrent of injury, fear, and greater-evil to resist evil. It has trusted in this during all of history. It has educated the human race to believe that their welfare and security depends primarily on their ability to inflict a greater injury on offenders. Hence, it has been their continuous goal to possess an adequacy of injurious abilities to intimidate and defeat their enemies. The clear message of this display of powers is, “Keep your distance; touch not my property; and be respectful because I have the power to hurt you.” For this reason the inhabitants of this world, Christian or otherwise, are tricked and put their faith in evil as their security, and barely one in a thousand will at first allow the nonresistance doctrine to be anything better than a proclamation of cowardice. Nearly all mankind is controlled by the fear of deadly assault or personal injury and unconsciously feel that if they surrender their trust in retaliatory evil that they would be instantly killed, their family murdered, or some other horrible harm imposed.

Very few realize how much they put their faith and trust in this demonic god of human injury. They have enshrined him in the DoD, NSA, CIA, and the U.N. They worship him in armies, navies, militia organizations, battle-ships, arsenals, criminal laws, judicial judgments, guns, bombs, and poison gas. And if we propose that Christians separate themselves from all these evils and live a life of un-injurious charitable treatment of mankind they cry out with alarm, “These have come hither that turn the world upside down!” “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” and “Make America Great Again.” “What would become of our Christian society if war, capital, and other injurious punishments should be abolished?” On this altar Christians have sacrificed human beings enough to people several such planets as the earth, with no other result than to confirm and systematize violence throughout the whole globe. And yet INJURY is still their god, and at his gory altar of revenge and cruelty they are determined to worship, amid the mushroom clouds of deadly weapons, and the groans of a bleeding world.

The Conclusion

But the Son of the Highest, the great self-sacrificing Non-Resistant Jesus, is our prophet, priest, and king. Even though the angered inhabitants of the earth have turned a deaf ear to his voice, he shall yet be heard. He declares that good is the only adversary that can conquer evil. Therefore, He instructs His disciples to resist evil only with good. This is the sub-principle of Christian non-resistance. “Evil can be overcome only with good.”

Faith, then, in the inherent superiority of good over evil, truth over error, right over wrong, love over hatred, is the immediate moral foundation of our doctrine. Therefore, we transfer all the faith we have been taught to value in injury to charity, kindness, and un-injurious treatment, as the only manner of war against evil-doers.

We no longer seek to put down evil with evil, we lift up the cross of Jesus as our banner,  and triumph in the divine motto “RESIST NOT INJURY WITH INJURY.” Let this be the magnetic needle of our narrow way across the troubled waters of Christian reformation, until all called men, shall have been formed into proper harmony with the Kingdom law of the living God – “THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.”

The earth, so long a slaughter-field, Shall yet an Eden bloom;

The tiger to the lamb shall yield, And War descend the tomb.

For all shall feel the Savior’s love, Reflected from the cross;

That love, that non-resistant love, Which triumphed on the cross.

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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DSC_3121-Edit-Edit

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.

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