Become aware of God, in whose presence you are while you pray . . . Then take a formula of prayer and recite it with perfect attention both to the words you are saying and to the Person to whom you are saying them. — John Climacus
Why do some persons ‘find’ God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us. & Nothing in or of this world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God. ― Aiden Wilson Tozer
He didn’t know how it was to be done but he felt quite sure now that he would be able to do it. The Lion drew a deep breath, stooped its head even lower and gave him a Lion’s kiss. And at once Digory felt that new strength and courage had gone into him. & We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. ― Clive Staples Lewis
The God of gods—it’s God! —speaks out, shouts, “Earth!”
welcomes the sun in the east,
farewells the disappearing sun in the west.
From the dazzle of Zion,
God blazes into view.
Our God makes his entrance,
he’s not shy in his coming.
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.
He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
he’s taking his people to court:
“Round up my saints who swore
on the Bible their loyalty to me.”
The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
that here God is judge.
“Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak;
Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
or drink drafts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”
Next, God calls up the wicked:
“What are you up to, quoting my laws,
talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
lying is a serious art form with you.
You stab your own brother in the back,
rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
you thought I went along with your game.
I’m calling you on the carpet, now,
laying your wickedness out in plain sight.
“Time’s up for playing fast and
loose with me.
I’m ready to pass sentence,
and there’s no help in sight!
It’s the praising life that honors me.
As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.”
Isaiah was that fella… but then… something happened. Sure, he had a righteous uprbringing and Godly education within an honorable and God-fearing family. So too, he had spent his adult life ceremonially interceding for others and occupationally concerned about the well-being of others. If anyone ever should’ve, or could’ve, been all chummy (familiar and unsurprised) by God, then Isaiah would be he. Sure, sure, he had great and meaningful visions at a pivotal time on God’s calendar… He even spoke for God to Their people!… But then… This happened when he went to the temple in the year King Uzziah died:
Isaiah saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,
Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
His bright glory fills the whole earth.
The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said,
“Doom! It’s Doomsday!
I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted—
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”
Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said,
“Look. This coal has touched your lips.
Gone your guilt,
your sins wiped out.”
And then I heard the voice of the Master:
“Whom shall I send?
Who will go for us?”
I spoke up,
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it;
look hard, but you won’t catch on.’
Make these people blockheads,
with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes,
So they won’t see a thing,
won’t hear a word,
So they won’t have a clue about what’s going on
and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.”
Astonished, I said,
“And Master, how long is this to go on?”
He said, “Until the cities are emptied out,
not a soul left in the cities—
Houses empty of people,
countryside empty of people.
Until I, God, get rid of everyone, sending them off,
the land totally empty.
And even if some should survive, say a tenth,
the devastation will start up again.
The country will look like pine and oak forest
with every tree cut down—
Every tree a stump, a huge field of stumps.
But there’s a holy seed in those stumps.”
Yup, that happened. All deference to Mister Tozer, but I am not sure that Isaiah “took pleasure” in God’s prescence, at least, not in that moment. Maybe later. But that whole nation thought Isaiah was ready or he wouldn’t be going into the Holy Place. I am sure Isaiah thought he was ready. But he wasn’t. To be fair, who could be? And to his credit he nailed the landing: his response was impeccable. ‘I am the absolute worst!’ Or that is to say: ‘Compared to God, I am the worst among the worst sinners.’ I believe that because the book says so (repeatedly) and that’s the reality of the situation when all else fades into nothingness. God consciousness in toto, unmitigated holy situational-awareness, in soul-scorching presence always evokes that exact response. That’s why, thankfully, 99.9999999% of the time, on Earth, God works around us most subtly, but NOT imperceptibly. He’ll circumambulate us just beyond the light-line of our campfire, the event horizon of our awareness. When He does come up close in stealthy ways, otherwise mysterious, all so that the willing and honest can raise their awareness, in exercises, to know Him better, always… most often, if only so that we won’t run around like our hair is on fire.
This is why I will not or cannot suspend my disbelief with with the fictions of ear-tickling preachers, monetized prophets, and shade-tree theologs… especially on social media. I cannot wait for the day that I don’t have to sanitize my scrolls. Oh, brother… how they will tell the world lies, big and small, just for the smiling agreement of child-like believers and a little filthy lucre. They got it, but it is not The Weight. Yet they know exactly what’s what, so everyone should believe, do, or not do such and such. They say they’re all high and lifted up, already, but they are not prepared soon to reap what they’ve sown for so long. It is just as a great poet penned:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Also, in person, I cannot tell you how many “prophets” and “apostles” I’ve met, even a “numinous prince” who tried to “correct and edify” me by subscribing me to his news letter (hello low-rent devil, proclaiming your inventive title up front told me everything that I’ll ever need to know about you). But because they have told me they were I don’t believe them. Worse, I’m dubious of the outcome when they finally have their “Isaiah moment,” in reality. They say they’re on Fire, but it is just their pants. They say they’re close to God, but it is just inflated ego. I don’t want to know them. I won’t ever know them again. You cannot trust their mouths. Conversely, I’ve met some real messengers sent by God with the Gospel fruits self-evident in their work, such astonishing fruits of Love, but none of them ever pronounced it up front… not one, not once, not to me. I good cry just thinking about them. I can’t wait to know them better. I can’t tell how many of them I missed at first, or all together. I had to be in fit Spiritual condition, pay close attention, and interact with them a bit. Mostly, I worked along side and only talked if necessary. You can trust their hands and feet. By their fruits, I want to know a whole and holy people like them. It seems to be something to live and die for…
I won’t labor on too much with “the suffering servant Aye,” “the prince of prophets,” because we’ll be using him much more soon. But I believe there are few relevant points to assist a more informed, contextual reading of the works attributed to him concerning our topic, consciousness of God and his Domain. First, over the centuries Israel had become increasingly idolatrous, despite occasional repentance and periodic, decent leadership. There are hundereds of divine offenses listed across the Oracles. Old and new informed commentaries all stress slightly different issues, but most can be boiled down for ease of understanding.
Isaiah notes that God’s people grew mainly in pious religiosity, wealth, and knowledge. In short, they had imprisoned themselves with delusional promises and fooled only themselves with fallacious motives, which were contrary to the Law and the prophets, God’s desire. That alone is enough to tempt and provoke God. But wait there’s more… they had committed themselves to, and derived their “glory” from worldly systems of domination, which included, but were not limited to: lying and killing to maintain a self-proclaimed status of privilege, blaming the poor, rejecting the immigrant, and colluding with corrupt leaders to put a thumb on the scales of justice in that day. Most, if not all, of that is the work of Satan’s reknowned tri-part temptations taking up residence in their hard hearts, and Wisdom says the last offense alone is enough for God to feel hatred toward the offenders. So dear reader, be thee friend or foe, I will say the same thing to both… that over-truncated list is more than enough to make God white-hot with anger.
So too, even when confronted with their sins, they refused to confess, let alone change. This led to the best of them claiming victimhood or declaring pseudo-righteousness supported by their own speculative ideas grown and tended over centuries of apostasy, and the worst blamed God for their problems and wondered why he didn’t give them everything they wanted. In short, they rejected the way of God-consciousness and instead attempted to impose their own consciousness and desires on others. And they did so with a great deal of success for a relatively long time. So, finally, God allowed them to manifest the captivity that they had been building up for themselves a long time.
For a solution, Isaiah got a divine face-full of Reality and did an awesome “about-face.” His formula for reconciliation with God and others was not a long nor an elaborate list. First, he was resolute that God was not a co-dependent. God would help them, but they needed to do their part as His servant. Second, as scary as it is, God’s reconciliation often comes through material confrontation. Divine wholeness is imparted after actual restitution, never after increasing repression and vengeance. If they wanted to make it worse, then more lip-service and repetitive religio-political practice would certainly do that toot sweet. Third, for any of that to be possible, they had to become accountable and quit blaming others, even delusional foes. They saw their day’s version of Antifa everywhere too, like drunks running from imagined devils. Lastly, after a prescribed duration of time, came the Divine Promise, which is the only source of honest hope, as true today as it was back then. The reality of Truth, never their proclaimed version of truth, would bring God’s whole and real healing: shalom. They need not be perfect. They only needed to take the initial steps, then ultimately walkout an amended lifestyle, as God’s power would deliver them and bring them Home. There are infinite facets to God’s consciousness that all his children should bear. But for Isaiah those were themes that recurred throughout his ministry.
The “only” real problem for Isaiah? He had to watch it all happen, like a lone radar signaling a maelstrom incoming from the sea while the “beloved” made men of straw and a religion of cards on the beach. It’s a suffering service much worse than a daily death, for a long time. Jesus wept and lamented for the same reason. Isaiah knew many of the sufferings of Jesus centuries before our Lord’s earthly arrival. You see, that’s the kind of phenomena, lived and textual, that inspires and encourages me despite the ship wreck of human history. So, put a bookmark in Isaiah’s works as will be back in it next time. And I humbly suggest, in full view of God’s unchanging ways and mercy, perhaps Isaiah’s call and directions might be relevant for some of us today. Not to put too fine an edge on my point, but these motifs were also adopted by my Lord for his own theology, ministry, and practice. May we turn to him now.
The King and His Domain
“The world is crowded with” the King’s Domain:
When Jesus got word that John had been arrested, he returned to Galilee. He moved from his hometown, Nazareth, to the lakeside village Capernaum, nestled at the base of the Zebulun and Naphtali hills. This move completed Isaiah’s revelation:
Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
road to the sea, over Jordan,
Galilee, crossroads for the nations.
People sitting out their lives in the dark
saw a huge light;
Sitting in that dark, dark country of death,
they watched the sun come up.
This Isaiah-prophesied revelation came to life in Galilee the moment Jesus started preaching. He picked up where John left off: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”
Also, the Prince of Peace’s earliest citation of a prophet in a public act was a very conscious reading form the prince of the prophets:
He came to Nazareth where he had been raised. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s time to shine!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.
Last year we discussed the fact that the first and last public proclamations of our Lord concernced repentance. It seems that both Isaiah and Jesus were more consciously aware of repentence than any other exercise of active belief. I only add now that repentance is the entree to the Light and his Domain of Light… So, have I talked about participatory and real change too much? Maybe, but, no. “May it never be!”
“Hang tight and just believe right! Then one day, after you die, you’ll be in heaven.” This is clearly not what Jesus, the Law, nor the Prophets, nor even the histories teach. The first few generations of Jesus’ followers wouldn’t have understood that abomination, and you really got to consistently over-leverage your reading of Paul or any other New Testament writings to get there. Historically that way of thinking is the amalgam of gentile fairytales, heaven only after you die… doesn’t exist in scripture. Worldly philosophies first infected the church a couple of centuries later and still later it was codified by state-church in order to lead people down the brimstone path to their earthly rule, not service, while they yet breathed. Trust me all those petty tyrants are singing a different tune now, but after seeing Perfect Justice once, you won’t stay angry at them either. People of the Way, Jesus followers worked on heaven from wherever they stood to wherever they went. To believe the later story about heaven is to call Jesus a liar and imply his earthly ministry was a failure. Too much? Don’t worry, that’s a dragon for us to tame or slay later, just next year I believe. Just pray and keep an open mind.
For now, follow God’s Word and do what pleases our Father. If that ain’t heaven I don’t know what is. What pleases a father most?… Don’t see it? I am sorry but that’s a lack of faithfulness is what our sources call blindness, or some of them might say the wrong kind of faith. Follow and more will always be revealed later. The secret? A spoonful of sugar to help that medicine go down? Live and die as King Jesus and then you’re part of the revelation of his Kingdom for others too! But you might be the last to know it; only remember it isn’t about you, not anymore. I mean even devils know God and believe. Their fault? They want what they want, not what God wants. They’re disobedient at root, so they cannot be part of Heaven anymore or the new Earth. It is here now, and after the grave you can rise or keep falling, to wherever you’re assigned. The project is now, always has been, not in a future that we’re clearly told not to take for granted. Jesus is the first-born of the new crewtion expanding in all directions from him through us to others, by the power of the Spirit. It’s divine design that’s too simple for many. But if you’re still a doubting Thomas, I understand why. So, let’s go to a report that every Sunday school kid knows, but in the teaching, they really need to keep reading to hear Jesus’ whole message concerning his conscious, always present, rule and realm:
“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”
Belief and practice are bound by the Word’s divine mandate. To the minds of the biblical authors, from the table of contents to maps, if you separate them, then you are a wicked schizoid: double-minded, a hypocrite, etc. Hint, let the text do the teaching instead of bias confirmation and keep reading… any good scribe knows that. Also, notice how the paraphraser brings in the Isaianic indictments, symptoms of idolatry — refusal to come clean, denial, and delusion. Like I said, I can always tell an idolater, I just can’t tell them much. Also, Isaiah’s complete commitment to pleasing God is also foregrounded by Jesus. Lastly, even the worst idolater who’s always using the Lord’s name vainly should take note, shed a scale or two, when the King says, ‘this is your crisis!’
Speaking of a crisis of consciousness, choosing your own futile dreams about heaven and it’s Sovereign instead of what Jesus says about himself and his coming will always put you in peril. For if you do, then you may just miss a face-full of God, even if he is right in front of you:
Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”
He went on to say to his disciples, “The days are coming when you are going to be desperately homesick for just a glimpse of one of the days of the Son of Man, and you won’t see a thing. And they’ll say to you, ‘Look over there!’ or, ‘Look here!’ Don’t fall for any of that nonsense. The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes.
It has been my experience that the churches who stress the timing and detailed description of Jesus or Heaven in the image of their own vain imagination of Messianic necessities to serve themselves… tend to be closer to indoctrination camps or social clubs. Service oriented churches are angelic habitats. If you really want to find God or live-in heaven now, then pick up your cross and follow Jesus to serve Jesus.
Speaking of lawyerly masters, the same holds true in the academies and seminaries where I’ve been able to have much better conversations with scribes and seminarians. While I’ve never claimed to be a good student, I have spent a minute in those places. And for all that human knowledge I’ve found tons of theories and arguments, many that I adore, but precious little about the reality of God’s coming Kingdom. And, to date, I haven’t found much help with the issue I’ve been trying to get my head around the past year: what does it mean for there to be no blood on the Bema Seat or the Lamb for the first time in 5000 years? I just checked yesterday, so apparently that’s the new “divine state of play.” I am less concerned but it still worries me, despite the reassurance of “all is well, keep it up.” Omit that shortcoming, I have had the repeated pleasure of passing time with some of the finest teachers and most godly folks you could ever shake a pen at, but still, trying to experience the real King and the reality of our Kingdom… well, apart from the personal testimonies of those who’ve gone out and done the work (there are so many!) … I’d compare it to attempting to learn forestry at a lumber yard. Because Jesus himself says:
“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
If the carrot don’t lure you then the stick will move you. It is a fact on every level. It’s the same charge Isaiah repeated time and time again. Does Jesus lay down the Law to talk about doctrines, icons, translations, manners, theories of sin, form of water baptism, using instruments in worship, minding other people’s business for them, or any of the other superfluous skubalon that “real” Christians have killed others over for the better part of two millennia… and still seek to defame and marginalize, in every possible way, today, here? No, he did not, and he will not! Pay heed to the Source of your acquittal. Don’t look at other people, keep your eyes on “the man in the mirror” and cut out the shit, even if it’s your right hand. I have trudged your halls and even I know your vapors. “Doom” says Isaiah, “doom” says Jesus, so says I.
Yikes and egads… can one read the prophets too much? I don’t know, but I do know Jesus and Isaiah offered very simple solutions for even the most complex of people, if they honestly love Jesus. Then c’mon man. Be more conscious of God’s desires, not yours, to become a member of the family? Simple:
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
“But remember the root command: Love one another…”
The parable too dark? The directions not to your taste? You prefer a “newer model” of “old-time” Christian religion? Yes, yes, peace for I too have seen Holy seed even the most wicked generation, so here is one for the road. It cannot get any simpler than the unique child of God bearing witness:
While he was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers showed up. They were outside trying to get a message to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and brothers are out here, wanting to speak with you.”
Jesus didn’t respond directly, but said, “Who do you think my mother and brothers are?” He then stretched out his hand toward his disciples. “Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
If that’s still too scary, then perhaps try resting with a latter day spiritual giant of smallness, Thomas Merton, who said:
“The will of God is not a ‘fate’ to which we must submit, but a creative act in our life that produces something absolutely new, something hitherto unforseen by the laws and established patterns. Our cooperation consists not only in conforming to external laws, but in operating our wills to this mutually creative act.”
Co-creators and kinetic agents, not little gods nor static sponges, is Kingdom living? Sign me up, as long as God does the work that I cannot. He does, and what’s more, he puts up with me. I do not know God’s reward for my puny sacrifices, lived or volitional, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a demon, engaging the will of God’s consciousness with the best, and worse, of my obedience is the greatest liberty I will ever know on either side of the grave. He asks for my best, but even when I gave him my worst, as long as I kept to stepping, the Spirit always meets me there, on the rising road, even when I was serving in a pit, an actual grave too (no allegory for me, that’s how stupid I am). I learned that time and again, hard ways and easy ways. It is our solemn promise.
What is Near but Falls Away
I know that’s a face-full already but we still got a little more to cover today. God wanted me to stress how connected we are, whether we want to be or not. Your spiritual sickness infects others around you and the body of Christ on-the-whole. The sickness is not a desirable condition for his Domain and Rule. This is the Reality, the 411 of “this place,” today and forever more:
And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
I wanted to delay this point, because today, I know that some among you will twist out part of this as a perverse banner to gossip about others, blame them, and try to control their business. My desire was declined. Even if it is too early in your rescue, God is most compassionate about others. So pay heed with pains. God cares. At best that twist is an immature reading and at worst it’s an eternally fatal act for you and those you infect likewise. God says, “do that and you will die.” So let’s read it and live it as the author intended it. It is a command for ongoing honest and thorough accountability for the body as a whole, and yourself, first and foremost, not other people. Let God’s conscious in you attract others when they are ready. DO NOT drive others farther into darkness or you will be judged to have no light in you. You’ll receive a judgment worse than unrepentant sinners get. Not even you can be acquitted or walk in the Light if you live an unprincipled life, even Calvin calls such people reprobates. Nuff said…
Now, let’s do what I like and expand our view a bit to know the actual reality of God and his Realm as present here and now, always has been, always will be.
Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you. Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.
I beg of you. Keep the Lord’s last admonishment at hand here too, and his desire to work through us to love and heal the vicitims and the sin-bruised foremost in your minds, hearts, and hands. God loves being with us, please don’t stay at tempting Him that other way.
Now something I really, really, really love! Heaven is NOT only about now or its natives… It is an actual place, in actual space, that science is just now discovering!
I started peering into that lakeside decades ago and “I” really wanted to be among the first to prove it… but God formed me with different designs. When the vision first landed on me, I felt like Digory being kissed by Aslan! You talk about inspiration to commitment, “that me” made “this me” look like Eeyore the Donkey.
I’d love to spend a few years sharing with you about stochastically nested realities, non-linear tensor math, and supra mechanics to better explain… but I was admonished. And we don’t want any of the egotism of flat-earthers or regressive geo-centrists (they are all-the-rage again for people who cannot handle reality honestly or responsibly), that’s less God-conscious, not more.
So I won’t overelaborate here… just humbly submit: if it’s the height of human ignorance and arrogance to put God in a box, as most do, then it is much more ridiculous to put bounds on His Domain. And why has it always been done most often by those who proclaim to be closest to Him? That experience has been indelibly impressed on me by Him time and again, be it seminary, church, or academy. Heaven is not just a Who but it’s an immediate where, both here and there, it’s all one, all connected, Jesus says so. My experience in Christ is that the 11 “stable dimensions” plus time (differentially dilated across episodic durations) gets one to the Middle-ground. Above that our learn-ed follow is correct, above that “things” do become exponentially unstable, consciousness and souls and the native creatures shimmy with increasing ferocity… You think it will end you, until you reach the 30th-32nd where all things are safe as houses. If the only One in the 33rd calls you up, the One who designed and holds all creation together, then it’s not that bad… To me it was somewhat like I imagine breaking the sound barrier is… really shaky, boom, and then smooth sailing. But to prove it…the math isn’t there yet, but one day it will. So perhaps, in the meantime, it may be best to instruct: “Hey, Digory let the Lion draw breath and give you a kiss!”
I think I did well there, it’s a paragraph that would make Hemmingway blush but Faulkner would scoff at its brevity. Now to close out with the ditty I put off for too long, the most painful part.
“They call me Ishmael,” “but that ain’t no matter.” 1.0
I was homesick the day I was born. So, God came to me early in the springtime of my youth. It was much later that authorities appointed over me, by God, tried their damnedest to make me ashamed of my relationship to Him. My earliest memories of His consciousness were instructive conversations about the way water flowed and how creatures live in it, and how all things have hidden within themselves orders and a name signed by Him before the half-light of our sins occulted His divine purpose in all things. This story, vignette really, was reaffirmed by mother in some of her last words to me, before she died suddenly of a broken heart. This is not easy to write out, but you know why I am.
My consciousness with God has not always been like it is today, but it did begin very early on. It grew within me despite all my kicking and screaming following behind for pity’s sake. I confess, in part, it was because I wanted to be like what other people wanted me to be. But God wouldn’t abide their causes… He never will. So, the process has often been uneasy but it has always been simple, and at this point I am resigned to the fact it will never end, not even after death. For, now, death’s only real pain comes to me in watching those that I love die, as now, I am advanced in years to an age I never thought I’d reach, for a varied assortment of reasons. Comparing me only to myself in the past, I can confirm that our relationship has never been better or closer, and so too I’ve never been happier with my life in this world than I am today, despite the increasing darkness adored and promoted by so many who claim to love the Light. I fear for them, but I am finally free from their service. So I hope, and I treasure each day because I know it can all end in a flash. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen too much.
What we talk about, how we communicate, and the topics of the discussions have all changed dramatically. But it all began, as it should, where De Leon ends at a waterway, Sims Bayou to be precise. It was a much wilder spot back then; it used to twist and turn at various depths and bends, with trees and thick underbrushed growing out over the water in places. It was the first home my father built for us… we had many later. My mother must’ve had a great deal of trust to allow me to play all day at the edge and in the water. Although I clearly remember seeing her face appear from time to time over the crest of the riverbank, at a distance that seemed to me to be miles above at the time.
His was and is the kindest and calmest voice I’ll ever know. He would talk to me about things that I later learned were foundational concepts in math, physics, and even biology. So too they are many fundamental skills that I rely on to this day when sight casting for redfish in Espiritu Santo. That’s why I go there, for a short reset, not necessarily catch fish. But at the time I just looked forward to taking to Him every day. At the end of the day, I would tell my father what God showed me. Sometimes he smiled and at other times he seemed a bit bothered by what I passed on to him. Mom asked me once, only once, who I was talking to, and she said I reported like a flash, “God, just God.”
She never asked again. But it may have concerned my parents a bit because soon after, they wanted to put me in preschool, perhaps in a hope to have my “imaginary friend” disappear. I think that’s where my core fear, sometimes hate, of a faceless crowd came from. No worries, I am mostly over that now, mostly. But at the time, within the first couple of weeks, my stress and anxiety got so bad that as soon as I was dropped off, I would demand to go into the nap room by myself and cry myself to sleep. I believe that’s where and how I learned to pray and seek his Voice. I told anyone who would listen that I didn’t want to know those people, that wanted to go back and play on the bayou with God.
The accurate reports of my behavior must’ve heightened my parents concern a bit more, because a few weeks later they took me to hospital to get my hearing checked. I picked up everyone’s concern so much that I sweat like nobody’s business and couldn’t operate the adult size stick and button indicator in the sound booth. So, we went to hand signals. I liked that. And physically, my hearing was normal, very good in point of fact. I just didn’t care what most people had to say.
Next came what I believe was my first psychiatric evaluation (taken or given). It was the first time I ever had anyone besides my parents ask me about “the voice in my head.” I remember very little but I do remember him asking me who’s voice it was. I said “God,” with some frustration as if my mother would have lied to him… as if! The next part is all that I remember clearly because God told me exactly what to do next. The doctor asked what God told me to do and what he was like. So, God told me to shut up (still the hardest thing for me to do), walk around the desk and give the doctor a hug. I know I did because I remember how he stank of cigarettes. We talked on for a bit and I feel like I enjoyed the discussion. But it must of not been too important because I don’t remember any of the words.
This is the part my mother repeated back to me just before she went to hospital and died in the terrible spring of 2003. Before work I sat on the edge of the bed beside her, she laid beside my father, who was in the last stages of early onset Alzheimer’s. We spoke of the events above, and she said “don’t ever let go of God’s voice, no matter what happens.” I reminded her of something horrifying that I experienced a few years earlier in a dry and hopeless place. My point to her is the point God made to all the witnesses at hand, if I could have, then I would have then. It was the last time I ever saw her smile.
I asked when was the last time she worried about me hearing his voice. She said that she stopped the day we left that doctor’s office. She said that when she asked the doctor what it was wrong with me or if she should worry. He replied to her, “no-thing, not a single thing, and he thought they might need to worry… but not about that boy.” That was the last time she saw me smile and she grabbed my arm and almost wept. I hope with some pride, because that the good doctor also told her that he left our meeting wanting to know my God more than he wanted to know his own. Mom and I kissed and said goodbye then, I was late for “an important meeting.” As I walked out, that Voice said, “It is time to start letting go of them,” as I walked out the front door wearing the heaviest suit I’ll ever own. I never saw her conscious again, except when they briefly surfaced her from an induced coma to look into my father’s eyes one last time. It was the only time that I ever felt like I felt like an intruder in their lives.
To this day I really hope it was the same God, mine and the good doc’s. I’ve always had good luck with doctors. Maybe he might have thought our “Gods” were different because I didn’t use the name Jesus or articulate a doctrine of some sort. But that’s on him, because even at the age of 4 I knew that if Jesus didn’t create and sustain creation, then no one did…. If for no other reason than Jesus is the only person that I’ll ever know without a seeming beginning or end, no matter who comes or goes, no matter who lives or dies, or no matter who is acquitted or who ain’t.
It seems now, as it might have then, that all I need do is learn to accept things otherwise unconscionable to me, to let the river flow where it might, especially when it goes where I know not. I learned not to want the things conscionable to me, my futile dreams of God I let go. I want God’s consciousness to ever expand in me. Because that is how I grow in him and his new creation fills me. I then go forth with increasing awe in spite of all the novel, daily terrors. Despite his great gift, I too must confess my sin of occasionally wanting to hold on to people and things that God now holds alone, just over the boarder line and above the water. Today, if I focus in good Spiritual fitness, at times it seems I can make out some of their shapes and forms, even hear there voices again. I want to rise to meet them so, so badly. Most of my life, just for once, I wanted to go home… and stay home. Come to find out, as God revealed more of His and Himself to me, I already am and home comes to me.
Invitaion to Blessing
A last little exercise for better Spiritual fitness. Try praying for the person you hate most, that is to say the person or people you might abuse otherwise, until you don’t hate them anymore. Pray for them to receive everything God wants for them and everything they ever wanted and everything you ever wanted. Do it for weeks and months, if you can, it is a game-changer and soul-saver. If that’s too hard, then try number two on your list, and so on.
Or if that’s too advanced, then try wearing out this prayer instead of people you love with your same old skubalon. It is traditionally attributed to Mister Reinhold Niebuhr and it is a tonic for the conscious:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
don’t ever walk off and leave me.
How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
I won’t forget a word of it.
Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see
what you show me of your miracle-wonders.
I’m a stranger in these parts;
give me clear directions.
My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!—
insatiable for your nourishing commands.
And those who think they know so much,
ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it!
Don’t let them mock and humiliate me;
I’ve been careful to do just what you said.
While bad neighbors maliciously gossip about me,
I’m absorbed in pondering your wise counsel.
Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight;
I listen to them as to good neighbors!
I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
When I told my story, you responded;
train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me
if you’ll just show me how.
God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me an appetite for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!
Let your love, God, shape my life
with salvation, exactly as you promised;
Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery
because I trusted your Word.
Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—
your commandments are what I depend on.
Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me,
guard it now, guard it ever;
And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces
as I look for your truth and your wisdom;
Then I’ll tell the world what I find,
speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed.
I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—
relishing every fragment of your counsel.
Remember what you said to me, your servant—
I hang on to these words for dear life!
These words hold me up in bad times;
yes, your promises rejuvenate me.
The haters hate me without mercy,
but I don’t budge from your revelation.
I watch for your ancient landmark words,
and know I’m on the right track.
But when I see the wicked ignore your directions,
I’m beside myself with anger.
I set your instructions to music
and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way.
I meditate on your name all night, God,
treasuring your revelation, O God.
Still, I walk through a rain of derision
because I live by your Word and counsel.
Because you have satisfied me, God, I promise
to do everything you say.
I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile,
be gracious to me just as you promised.
When I took a long, careful look at your ways,
I got my feet back on the trail you blazed.
I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet,
was quick to follow your orders.
The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out—
but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.
I get up in the middle of the night to thank you;
your decisions are so right, so true—I can’t wait till morning!
I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you,
of those committed to living by your rules.
Your love, God, fills the earth!
Train me to live by your counsel.
Be good to your servant, God;
be as good as your Word.
Train me in good common sense;
I’m thoroughly committed to living your way.
Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place,
but now I’m in step with your Word.
You are good, and the source of good;
train me in your goodness.
The godless spread lies about me,
but I focus my attention on what you are saying;
They’re bland as a bucket of lard,
while I dance to the tune of your revelation.
My troubles turned out all for the best—
they forced me to learn from your textbook.
Truth from your mouth means more to me
than striking it rich in a gold mine.
With your very own hands you formed me;
now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
your testing has taught me what’s true and right.
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to.
Let the fast-talking tricksters be exposed as frauds;
they tried to sell me a bill of goods,
but I kept my mind fixed on your counsel.
Let those who fear you turn to me
for evidence of your wise guidance.
And let me live whole and holy, soul and body,
so I can always walk with my head held high.
I’m homesick—longing for your salvation;
I’m waiting for your word of hope.
My eyes grow heavy watching for some sign of your promise;
how long must I wait for your comfort?
There’s smoke in my eyes—they burn and water,
but I keep a steady gaze on the instructions you post.
How long do I have to put up with all this?
How long till you haul my tormentors into court?
The arrogant godless try to throw me off track,
ignorant as they are of God and his ways.
Everything you command is a sure thing,
but they harass me with lies. Help!
They’ve pushed and pushed—they never let up—
but I haven’t relaxed my grip on your counsel.
In your great love revive me
so I can alertly obey your every word.
What you say goes, God,
and stays, as permanent as the heavens.
Your truth never goes out of fashion;
it’s as relevant as the earth when the sun comes up.
Your Word and truth are dependable as ever;
that’s what you ordered—you set the earth going.
If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
But I’ll never forget the advice you gave me;
you saved my life with those wise words.
Save me! I’m all yours.
I look high and low for your words of wisdom.
The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me,
but I’m only concerned with your plans for me.
I see the limits to everything human,
but the horizons can’t contain your commands!
Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed;
I reverently ponder it all the day long.
Your commands give me an edge on my enemies;
they never become obsolete.
I’ve even become smarter than my teachers
since I’ve pondered and absorbed your counsel.
I’ve become wiser than the wise old sages
simply by doing what you tell me.
I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil
so I can spend all my time keeping your Word.
I never make detours from the route you laid out;
you gave me such good directions.
Your words are so choice, so tasty;
I prefer them to the best home cooking.
With your instruction, I understand life;
that’s why I hate false propaganda.
By your words I can see where I’m going;
they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back
from living by your righteous order.
Everything’s falling apart on me, God;
put me together again with your Word.
Adorn me with your finest sayings, God;
teach me your holy rules.
My life is as close as my own hands,
but I don’t forget what you have revealed.
The wicked do their best to throw me off track,
but I don’t swerve an inch from your course.
I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever—
what a gift! And how happy it makes me!
I concentrate on doing exactly what you say—
I always have and always will.
I hate the two-faced,
but I love your clear-cut revelation.
You’re my place of quiet retreat;
I wait for your Word to renew me.
Get out of my life, evildoers,
so I can keep my God’s commands.
Take my side as you promised; I’ll live then for sure.
Don’t disappoint all my grand hopes.
Stick with me and I’ll be all right;
I’ll give total allegiance to your definitions of life.
Expose all who drift away from your sayings;
their casual idolatry is lethal.
You reject earth’s wicked as so much rubbish;
therefore I lovingly embrace everything you say.
I shiver in awe before you;
your decisions leave me speechless with reverence.
I stood up for justice and the right;
don’t leave me to the mercy of my oppressors.
Take the side of your servant, good God;
don’t let the godless take advantage of me.
I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, waiting for you
to keep your promise to set everything right.
Let your love dictate how you deal with me;
teach me from your textbook on life.
I’m your servant—help me understand what that means,
the inner meaning of your instructions.
It’s time to act, God;
they’ve made a shambles of your revelation!
Yea-Saying God, I love what you command,
I love it better than gold and gemstones;
Yea-Saying God, I honor everything you tell me,
I despise every deceitful detour.
Every word you give me is a miracle word—
how could I help but obey?
Break open your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Mouth open and panting,
I wanted your commands more than anything.
Turn my way, look kindly on me,
as you always do to those who personally love you.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise
so nothing malign gets the better of me.
Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
teach me the right way to live.
I cry rivers of tears
because nobody’s living by your book!
You are right and you do right, God;
your decisions are right on target.
You rightly instruct us in how to live
ever faithful to you.
My rivals nearly did me in,
they persistently ignored your commandments.
Your promise has been tested through and through,
and I, your servant, love it dearly.
I’m too young to be important,
but I don’t forget what you tell me.
Your righteousness is eternally right,
your revelation is the only truth.
Even though troubles came down on me hard,
your commands always gave me delight.
The way you tell me to live is always right;
help me understand it so I can live to the fullest.
I call out at the top of my lungs,
“God! Answer! I’ll do whatever you say.”
I called to you, “Save me
so I can carry out all your instructions.”
I was up before sunrise,
crying for help, hoping for a word from you.
I stayed awake all night,
prayerfully pondering your promise.
In your love, listen to me;
in your justice, God, keep me alive.
As those out to get me come closer and closer,
they go farther and farther from the truth you reveal;
But you’re the closest of all to me, God,
and all your judgments true.
I’ve known all along from the evidence of your words
that you meant them to last forever.
Take a good look at my trouble, and help me—
I haven’t forgotten your revelation.
Take my side and get me out of this;
give me back my life, just as you promised.
“Salvation” is only gibberish to the wicked
because they’ve never looked it up in your dictionary.
Your mercies, God, run into the billions;
following your guidelines, revive me.
My antagonists are too many to count,
but I don’t swerve from the directions you gave.
I took one look at the quitters and was filled with loathing;
they walked away from your promises so casually!
Take note of how I love what you tell me;
out of your life of love, prolong my life.
Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth.
Your righteous decisions are eternal.
I’ve been slandered unmercifully by the politicians,
but my awe at your words keeps me stable.
I’m ecstatic over what you say,
like one who strikes it rich.
I hate lies—can’t stand them!—
but I love what you have revealed.
Seven times each day I stop and shout praises
for the way you keep everything running right.
For those who love what you reveal, everything fits—
no stumbling around in the dark for them.
I wait expectantly for your salvation;
God, I do what you tell me.
My soul guards and keeps all your instructions—
oh, how much I love them!
I follow your directions, abide by your counsel;
my life’s an open book before you.
Let my cry come right into your presence, God;
provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
Give my request your personal attention,
rescue me on the terms of your promise.
Let praise cascade off my lips;
after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life!
And let your promises ring from my tongue;
every order you’ve given is right.
Put your hand out and steady me
since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel.
I’m homesick, God, for your salvation;
I love it when you show yourself!
Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,
use your decrees to put iron in my soul.
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me!
I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.
The journey is long and his way is narrow. If that were not true of his Domain, then he wouldn’t have told us so, nor would his Word repeat it so often. So, a lifelong, growing, and ongoing awareness in comprehension and a recreative cooperation of God’s will is what we want. What God wants is in the next post. Also, finally, prepare your thinking cap for next time. In the meantime, make some effort, however small you might think it is, to practice what God has taught us. And for those trying too hard, easy does it. Gaining the mind of Christ takes time, and He wants us to finish well.
(Sunrise January 20th)