“Whoever wants to have fellowship with Christ and be a partaker of his Kingdom must also do like him here on this earth. Whoever would inherit with him must have much pain here for the sake of his name.” – The Earliest Hymns of the Ausbund
The Conditions of Discipleship
When writing to the servants of God, one should begin with our God and King Himself, the good, the supremely good, the all-good. Of all created and rational beings, endowed with the dignity of free will, some are friends of God, some are his true servants, some are useless servants, some are entirely estranged, and there are some who, for all their weaknesses, take their stand against Him. We simple people assume that His friends, O holy Father, are properly speaking those intelligent and bodiless beings who surround Him. His true servants are all those who have done and are doing His will without hesitation or pause. His useless servants are those who think themselves as having been worthy of the gift of baptism, but have not guarded their covenant with Him; while, it seems to us, the strangers from God, His opponents, are the unbelievers or heretics. His enemies are those who contravene and repudiate the commands of the Lord, but make stern war against all who obey Him.
Each of the above has his own special character and is deserving of fitting analysis. But for ignorant people like ourselves there is nothing to be gained by investigating them now. So, then, with unquestioning obedience let us reach out our unworthy hand to the true servants of God, to those who devoutly urge us on and in faith compel us by their commands. Let us make a treatise, with their knowledge as the implement of writing, ‘a keyboard dipped in their subdued yet glorious humility, applied to the sleek electric monitors of their hearts,’ or rather resting on ‘the tablets of the Spirit.’ Let us write on it divine words, or rather seeds, and let us begin like this. – John Climacus, the Ladder of Divine Ascent
The King’s Way to Gaurd the Convenant
Jesus (the King) says, “Simon (the King’s people), stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”
Then Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciplemust deny themselves and take up their crossand follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
The Reward of the God’s Covenant Gaurded
“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.
“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
“See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.
If you’re still under the curse of Islamophobia, or any kind of rage, then you’re going to miss most the messages God’s Spirit gives you, here and anywhere else. If you still hate, then you still sit in the darkness without a light. If you are saved, then the only thing you need in your life is the sactifying work, the fired hammering, of his Spirit upon your soul. I try to hand it over to him every morning for that work. But if you hate, then you can’t even read an email from him. Hate is spiritual blindness. Hate is the primary spiritual difference between faith and religion. I could recount all the things Jesus said on this issue, but I don’t want further shame the already shameful.
Hate is nothing but an expression of fear. It’s flaccid spiritual impotency masquerading as strong and effective power, or worse, feigns authority which should be legitimately exercised power. Remember the lesson to the willy-wavers. They and their hate were hallow brags that murder. All of that will be annihilated in the end. And believe me, at that point, it is the most fearful event a creature could ever witness. So dump it all now, while you might. Oh, man… I already know many— from neocon-puritans to anything-goes universalists— will say, “But certainly it is written that God and Jesus hate, and the psalmist brags on hating God’s enemies!” We will get to that down the road.
For now, if you’re in that dying state, as all were, then study what Jesus said about love and hate. He’s still saying it now! Live up to your name as a wise primate, learn God’s discpline by applying it only to yourself. Stop staring at everyone else, like a bunch of chatter-box apes fighting over a watering hole. It’s shameful, and it’s the season for it. Luther proclaimed, “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self.” If I may be so bold, I say, I fear my hate towards any other flesh more than Saladin’s, or any other army, because I desire to fear only my Lord and my God. Yet I have their enemy within me, my self. I only need a faith that seeks love as I am freed from hating others. That is the realization of the people, the Kingdom, Jesus desires. Make no mistake… peace with God, service to the world, and justice in creation all mean vigilant war, in-turn, on self, selfishness, and self-centeredness.
There will be a kingdom of conscience now or nothing now, because every other thing is already in line for ultimate annihilation. As that Church grows, so will everything else. But today, in the land of Elmer Gantry, it’s less of a tent revival and more of a three-ring circus tent on fire with drunk clowns and merchants clogging the exits… mostly personalities on display and few principles at work. If you really knew that, then you couldn’t hate and you’d appeal most firmly for love’s sake to those on their way to destruction. There is no terror or oppression, no worldly rule of any sort, by a people intimate with Christ.
So we’ve been given a gift, some time, to make changes to please God alone. It always starts as an inside job. But I see, the whole world sees, a hell of a lot of hate and terror, lies and fear about the most ridiculous garbage, from many who were called by Christ but now just promote their dark revelries with his name. Jesus sees it too, or else I wouldn’t be here involved in this jacked up operation. For me, for years, I’ve “detached in love” and cried “send the Fire!” perfectly willing to let the Judge sort out everybody. As usual, the joke’s on me… but that’s much better than shame on me. Our Father desires different, and I enslaved myself to his orders without contingency to his End… not my fear’s daily provocations of hatred or self gain.
The Trustworthy Sing
Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out. The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.
A Trustworthy Response
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
One of My “Light Afflictions” for ” a Peculiar Glory.”
Mercedes will always be one of my favorite people. She was the abjectly poor mother of three in Mexico City, who was abused, periodically and savagely, over years by a man who pretended to be a husband. She saved and borrowed just enough money to take her kids to San Cristóbal de las Casas and then to a tribal village near the frontier with Guatemala. She said angels gave her the money and Jesus told her where to go. And man, I believe her. She followed them to a place she had never been and where she knew no one. Once there, she worked to give a better life to strangers, and by doing so built a community that would support, foster, and defend a better life for her children. The newness required faith. He did amazing things with her to help other single aboriginal mothers and widows and orphans to organize and build a thriving crafts trade. That’s faith, all-the-while she never sat in a pew, better to obey Jesus and serve others… he sat on the ground mostly with people like her. Apparently he still does.
She did so well that the male elders of the village made her the first female elder. I hope there’s been more since. And you should see how fat and happy her kids were! You know how the Mexican government responded? They labeled her a communist, and threw her in a marked category. They treat drug lords better. Truth is she couldn’t tell me Marx’s first name and never heard of Engels. She said that she learned her techniques by asking shop owners back in the city what to do. The truth is the government burned Chiapas trying to destroy an independent people’s way of life in an impoverished land. (Why is a story for another day, just know for now we’re all accomplices, imputed with somewhat lesser corporate guilt). Even if they got her, Jesus will hold her closer than I did on that day, with my most polite brotherly side hug.
I don’t display pictures of target sites as a rule, suffice to say it was difficult. We were prepped with antibiotics and a few primitive antivirals (a rarity in the early 90’s). The toughest part of any assignment is step one in the protocol, after initial assessment. It is borrowed from basic battlefield triage when you don’t have superior facility back up. To save as many as possible, you must first cut out those who are beyond help, “breathing DOA’s,” from the very sick who might make it with the treatment at hand, critical cases. I never thought it would happen in hospitals here, but it did. I simpathize deeply with all the shot-callers, because this step, more than any other one, will determine the success or failure of the mission when supplies are limited. It’s also the step that leads many heroic women and men of good conscience to quit or worse.
In that step, the full range of emotions is on display before you from the people, praises to curses. In that moment, you know the bigger picture and you must act compassionately yet decisively, while you are terrified and sick with grief. It’s a beating that clears the soul of delusions and the mind of distractions, while the people and the staff are all “out to lunch” on their delusions and distractions, hopes and dreams, fears and resentiments. You only need to do it once to figure yourself and this world out. I am better for having done it a handful of times. I finally got to a place of gratitude with it, but I never wanted to do it again. That was my cup. God and my Lord know I would have preferred their innocent scourging and rugged cross to picking it up again.
I had good news for the community and bad news. The good news was obvious but the one’s who didn’t agree, well, they tried their best to make it bad news for everybody. The shamans or curanderos could be great allies or turn into murderers very fast. They had long and involved relationships with the public that were useful. Part of the village wanted to throw us a party, while others wanted us gone or dead. The ones that cared about the people were angels, but the ones in it for their own gain and prestige were different characters. I had superior situational awareness of reality on my side, but for most proud people that ain’t enough. I tried to describe the “unseen realm” that Western medicine mapped out, but it’s completely alien and therefore strange and dangerous fire to many. I mean, it’s hard enough to get country club folks to take the full course of antibiotics. Time is an ally, if novice staff can keep their wits. Over time the weight of the war shifts, as reality makes itself more apparent day after day, week after week. The winnowed come to the light, while others retreat, in ever increasing dishonesty and hatred, with the shadows and die with their gods in hand on the threshing floor.
So, you wait and watch more people suffer and die after the first die as others rise and walk out, better than new. As they do, mothers start by bringing their sickest children first and then, more and more come. The day people started coming, some “wise folks” whispered melodic incantations over me as I tried to sleep in my hammock, just like jezebels calling on angels they do not know (actually they are at war with) to keep their status and hate-filled darkness in power, in a mad realm of lies, corruption, and death run on hate, based solely in fear of truth. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic for the witches and the ones they bewitched. Their curses pissed me off at first, many decades ago, but I prayed and God turned their curses into our lullaby, even when the cycle repeats in new ways… even to this day. So that now, I have never slept better in my life.
It is all a pattern of experience, now a half-life really, that God has burned and hammered into my soul over the years, sometimes very obviously and other times almost imperceptively subtle. And the switch from knowing it in a physical register of others to seeing in a spiritual register of one’s own… That is the most mind blowing and soul cleansing experience a real human can have. My soul went from a cosmological know-it-all with fire in my bones to someone with a little more patience, less co-dependency, and even some appropriate dispassion… finally. The last sounds bad, very bad, but it is the most necessary tool a true healer will ever have.
John Climacus calls it Περί απαθείας. No, I am not being a pedant or showy, but if you just translate “on apathy” you’ll miss the essence in trans-culturating the term; you’ll over essentialize and relativize the term only to recontextualize the concept in error. Climacus describes it as his next-to-last step on The Ladder; it’s a vision of the biggest picture possible: a redisposition within self that can only result from the Spirit resurrecting the soul prior to the body’s physical resurrection. In my experience, it is as painful as it sounds. But in large part, that’s only because it took the measure of my selfishness and depravity, and I had plenty… and I still manage to produce some more every now and then. The air is so rare on that penultimate rung that many Western doctors and professional shaman label it mystic nonsense or worse. I am so freaking tired of being a living and breathing counterfactual to their shenanigans and skubalon, but at least I ain’t hateful like them.
Some of the tenderer hearted maybe asking, “Hey dude, what’s the story of your fiancée? Spill!” Well, long story short, we met in a literal garden and it was “a ton of bricks scenario” at first sight for both of us, but after a time she believed a lie, wouldn’t drop a bad habit, and was murdered.
More? If you are sensitive just leave it at that, and please skip to the next paragraph. She was incredibly brilliant and kind, one of the most philanthropic women I‘ve ever known. When she shone, angels were her only competition. She was born to a wealthy mid-western family, educated, buttoned-down, and proper on Sunday promenades with “good people.” But on every other day, they covered up and reinforced the darkness of sexual abuse perpetrated on her by her grandfather. For their reason she couldn’t quit binge drinking when the pain got too great. Once on a winter home from grad school holiday binge, she was abducted in a parking lot, and was found days later beaten and raped to death in a ditch off a barren state highway.
Her mother told me she never saw her happier than when she was with me and wished I’d taken her away. Her mother was the only family member who ever came close to acknowledging any part in the tragedy. I imagine they’ll all die in denial, but my love suffered and died in large part because of their denial. Don’t be quick to judge because many, even some you may admire spiritually, are playing a significant role in abusing a beloved daughter, the bride of Christ, with their ego-defending selfish denial. For myself, I have learned through years of excruciating pains and humiliations that I alone can’t save any one. So I serve, witness, and follow orders, even when it horrifies me. It takes real faith, and it only comes after my former faith has been tempered in the fire of risk, fueled by truth, and blow by the Spirit… in a drawn-out process.
Thirty years down the line now… and I don’t even count the loss among the five most traumatic events in my life, top ten but not top five. Even among heart-felt attachments, in some ways now, I feel like it is better than my second fiancée who cheated on me when I went to Israel, and we never talk anymore. Or an odd third, a sighted betrothal of sorts, in which I just never was going to be the high-rider she wanted. But those stories aren’t for today, and all that failure got me as close to success as I might ever be with my wife, yes, “my one.” I count it all as gain in gratitude, and I have only the best of will towards the formers. That’s not me being humble or faith-filled, it is honestly how I feel. But that profound shalom didn’t come cheap or easy in a flash of salvation. In fact, I looked ugly hateful and stupid selfish most the way through it.
What matters today, as I looked back on these memories, is they make almost perfect sense, after not making any sense for too long. I understand more fully what God was doing all along. I don’t ask “why?” anymore, but upon the tides of pain that evoked all my “whys?!,” I learned to love better, faster, and as long as possible, until God says “release,” even though it is still a daily struggle. Most importantly, I learned beyond the pain of a tortuous death, many times over, what my God and my King want and how I must respond. Now, I simply praise God for the gift of each minute under fire that formed their real faith in me, by God, for the service only he’s called me to (more on that next post). I do fear how well they’re teaching me “release,” but I know that’s a righteous fear of God because we’re usually alone when I feel it.
A couple of faithful events occurred soon after she was finally relieved of her pain and madness. A Jewish teacher named Shlomo, a friend that I’d never met but seemed somehow failiar, walked up to me in Half-Price Books in Rice Village and told me to read Job. I said I had. He told me, “No read it every year as you feel G-d’s refining cycle through you and out into the world. After a time, he’ll tell you what you need to know for the next year.” He was right, so I have been faithful in that practice, but never perfect, and God has keep his messenger’s end of the deal. It is kind of God’s thing: faithfulness. He tries strenuously to impart as much as he might to all those he calls. But the might depends on the person’s daily “yes.” And because, in return, he sees widely differing results, only a few are chosen. He even gave us a few pointed stories on the subject, but they’re hard to hear, so many ignore them or discount them. Again, I won’t insult you with a list of retellings. You really ought to let him tell you personally by reading them yourself.
The second event was somewhat more peculiar and difficult. It was one of the “why nights” that I could not find peace or sleep. Two very solemn angels came to me while I was face down on the floor. They silently put their wings over me, tip to tip, and then a voice said, “I will darken your eyes, so you may find peace and draw out others to my peace from their darkness.” It was not the answer that I was looking for, but the pain was so great I accepted just hoping for a change. And sister… change I got. I studied chaos math to find cosmic order in the late 80’s, and then I studied broken human systems in the early 90’s, but it all came together in that pit. I’d like to share what I saw later, but we’d lose the point today.
The point is it happened twice more, over decades, once in late ’99 and again in ’06 during my own Mark 3:21 experience… and that’s a whole other story, and a half too. I even tried to blind myself in ’03-’04, but that’s a bad, very very bad, idea. I do not grasp, nor would I recommend soliciting God to do it apart from his way, the recovery is not easy any way that it happens. Even in God’s way, when handed to me, I had to watch people I love die, and most others be misled by the simplest of demonic or selfish tricks. People will not like you, and those more spiritual folks you want to help and lift up too may accuse you of the greatest abominations, because self (their selves) is the greatest enemy to their own spiritual growth, in general, and faith, in particular. I had to learn to stand and watch, and only serve when and how directed.
God is as serious about our choices as he is our faith, because they are one in the same, one maps and reveals the other. It is one of the few certainties I know to be orthogonal to faith down here. In practice, it is a rocky row to hoe in quiet service that costs everything ultimately. It is not a parade of personal beliefs screamed out time and time again for personal gain or advantage, regardless of your self-perceived intellectual knowledge or spiritual maturity. It is a terror and glory of a whole different order, because the process sets you apart. I like the term, “a separate peace.”
God is the only one who can darken a human’s eyes to see more, when men do it with drugs, teachings, or traditions people always see less. Just consult Paul, he knows too, all too well. And the enemies of God’s process have been hard at it a minute now, 1700 years this last cycle. But a few with a little light made it through. That’s faith verses religion reiterated, in nuce… the takeaway for me… through the process and pain and recovery our Father himself enabled me to see stones, “more stones both bright and dark,” entire cities of stone that cast shadows into the darkness of this world. And there’s lots of folks that can preach to the choir, but He, through his process with my daily consent, taught me to speak even into the rejection and silence of men.
The Spirtual life, a faith-filled life, is not a static vision.
“I love everything that flows,’ said the great blind Milton of our times. I was thinking of him this morning when I awoke with a great bloody shout of joy: I was thinking of his rivers and trees and all that world of night which he is exploring. Yes, I said to myself, I too love everything that flows: rivers, sewers, lava, semen, blood, bile, words, sentences. I love the amniotic fluid when it spills out of the bag. I love the kidney with it’s painful gall-stones, it’s gravel and what-not; I love the urine that pours out scalding and the clap that runs endlessly; I love the words of hysterics and the sentences that flow on like dysentery and mirror all the sick images of the soul…”― The Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
When Faith and Love which parted from thee never, Had ripen’d thy just soul to dwell with God, Meekly thou didst resign this earthy load Of Death, call’d Life; which us from Life doth sever. Thy Works and Alms and all thy good Endeavor Stay’d not behind, nor in the grave were trod; But, as Faith pointed with her golden rod, Follow’d thee up to joy and bliss for ever. Love led them on, and Faith who knew them best Thy handmaid, clad them o’er with purple beams And azure wings, that up they flew so drest, And spake the truth of thee in glorious Themes Before the Judge, who thenceforth bid thee rest And drink thy fill of pure immortal streams. – Sonnet 14, John Milton
“Thus Milton refines the question down to a matter of faith,” said Coleridge, bringing the lecture to a close, “and a kind of faith more independent, autonomous – more truly strong, as a matter of fact – than the Puritans really sought. Faith, he tells us, is not an exotic bloom to be laboriously maintained by the exclusion of most aspects of the day to day world, nor a useful delusion to be supported by sophistries and half-truths like a child’s belief in Father Christmas – not, in short, a prudently unregarded adherence to a constructed creed; but rather must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world’s fabric, which are the lineaments of God. This is why religion can only be advice and clarification, and cannot carry any spurs of enforcement – for only belief and behavior that is independently arrived at, and then chosen, can be praised or blamed. This being the case, it can be seen as a criminal abridgement of a person’s rights willfully to keep him in ignorance of any facts – no piece can be judged inadmissible, for the more stones, both bright and dark, that are added to the mosaic, the clearer is our picture of God.” ― Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates
I’ve spoken of faith in a common way, now it may not be as familiar. From origin to end, I see faith as calculus not arithmetic. Faith is not the object of theory. It’s an explosively dynamic product of Spiritual exchange. For the called, faith is the currency of kenosis that throws off sparks of life; desire is kinetic faith’s by-product, not a prerequisite. After all, what is serviceable desire’s only good and right goal, if not our’s and it’s creator? Ultimately, faith in action leads to full sensibility in eternity, and most importantly of all the prize: the closest possible relationship with Jesus forever. He judges all, but he stands for only a few. His Father calls all, but choses only a few. Their Spirit is an open book to all, but empowers only the trustworthy… all according to their submission and willingness freely given in risk overtime. We are the shinning ramparts of God’s glorious works, the bright habitation of his prescence in a world of darkness, all of us stones of the only basilica that God desires to reorder a fallen creation, which Father and Son now openly hand back and forth to one another as the Spirit binds and loses, hammers and fires, presses and draws out the devoted, births us for purification, each according to our faith.
I say all that simply as a shield for my understanding of faith from attack by the more puritanical and doctrinaire… I, we, walk with Mr. Milton in the reading above, for none of his derivative latter-day sects, alive today, knows faith or doctrine as well as he did. Of course it begins with God the Father, perfected through Christ Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit to us with the signature intent of love to serve others until we die. But if “your faith” ends in you (think tip of your nose or pocketbook) or just sits about in “your community,” if you’ve buried the Master’s talents in a field, then I urge you with all the earnestness at my command, dig up your dead faith and spend it or invest it or give it away right now, so that you may live actively and powerfully by faith in eternity.
I hear so much about Nehemiah and others from faith producers, faith fund mangers, and speculators of faith. But God’s kingdom is people of right conscience, not faith recruitment, management, and hoarding as if capitalism is the model. It is not. In fact, it’s the opposite. Real faith is given and taken only for free, like life willingly picked up and laid down only for service to others. There’s the usual suspects, hovering about in the shadows, deadbeat religious folks. I don’t hate them because the only reason they are still in the dark is from a lack of real faith, nothing else. I understand that they’re fearful of losing something that they don’t think they could live without; it’s the great irony and biggest lie of all from their ego flesh (self) or Satan and the world tell them. Letting go and following Jesus is not easy. Don’t sell the lie that it is. So cash out your faith 401k give it all away to become the bride of Christ, or do like me and some others who die trying on a daily basis.
God wants life for his creation and people, and he sends his people to the nations, not to lie, murder, rule and get rich, like a special people all to themselves. Not just people have been destroyed, the entire good creation down here is being desecrated by some, just for themselves, hypocritically perverted even worse by claiming the necessity of that defilement in the Creator’s name. There’s a Stone coming their way. It has always been so, from Nimrod to now, but it will not be forever. Hopefully, not even very long, “soon” Jesus says… It is God’s Way or nothing in the end for every person. God’s anthropology and community are in the liturgy of his good creation. God’s storehouses are overflowing for his will and his glory and his new creation. If you’re about anything else, you might make bank today… but the day you die you’ll have nothing forever. Don’t discard the convenant to the devalue scars; to deny your’s is to deny his for you.
Prayer for Mercy and Help
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?
The God’s Answer
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ imparted by trials.
Defend the Covenant, Live a Gospel Worthy of His Sufferings to be Without Shame
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have…
…What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them “garbage,” that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their appetite,and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Last, just a simple illustration. I was sitting among some “long-timers” (we don’t say “old-timers” anymore because we’re over 50 too), as I do for some wisdom among my tribe. We were talking about faith and life, the relationship and fabrication of both. A retired, Jake-legged pipe-fitter from Pasadena told us his take brilliantly with just a hand and a glove. He said, “This is the problem.” Holding up his hand, nodded to his hand as if it were the boss and continued. “Most people think their life is the hand, and then they go shop for a faith to fit it like a glove, and they mess with it or buy new gloves allthe time according to changes with their hand.” I thought that sounded reasonable and real. But he continued, “In reality, if you’ve ever been face down in front of your Creator, then you’ll always remember that the hand is your faith, and the Spirit suits it, and refits it, with a glove he makes and remakes, and that glove is your life.”
If these last takes on faith leave you feeling raw, weak, and frightened, or even somewhat confused or angry or doubious… Excellent, that’s a healthy response. That sense of general uneasiness with everything we just wrote is a sure sign the medicine is working. Kenosis (what pleases God) rises as stasis (what doesn’t please God) recedes. It can make you feel shaky and even a bit dizzy. In fact, in my experience, the more uneasy and dizzy, even pained, the better I will feel sometime later. It’s the initial stages of obedience in humility — what Jesus modeled perfectly. So the emptier you feel, then the more capacity you’ll have to be filled by the Spirit’s grace under pressure to follow Jesus with your cross.
(Burn or wash out as much “garbage” as you can for sunrise on the Ides of March)
Christmas and I have a few checkers in our past… just ask the Puritans… on both counts. And, in all honesty, it’s not the date Jesus was born. So, for most of my life, I’ve observed the day as a celebration of union around our common life-light and the only right object of adoration. Unity? A common belief and will? Yessir… in, through, and by Jesus as Lone Lord. ‘Word up,’ let us ‘blaze out of the darkness as the darkness can’t put us out!’
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”
We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.
Today the Lord is born, the life and salvation of mankind; today a reconciliation is made of Divinity to humanity, and of humanity to Divinity; today all creation has leapt for joy; those above sent toward those below; and those below towards those above; today occurred the death of darkness and the life of humanity; today a way was made toward God for man and a way for God into the soul. –St. Macarius the Great
Jesus Christ, radiant center of glory, image of our God, the invisible Father, revealer of His eternal designs, prince of peace; Father of the world to come. For our sake he took the likeness of a slave, becoming flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, for our sake, wrapped in swaddling bands and laid in a manger adored by the shepherds and hymned by the angelic powers, who sang: Glory to God in the heavens and on earth peace and good to men. Make us worthy, Lord, to celebrate and to conclude in peace the feast which magnifies the rising of Thy light, by avoiding empty words, working with justice, fleeing from the passions, and raising up the spirit above earthly goods. Bless Thy Church, formed long ago to be united with Thou through Thy life-giving blood. Come to the aid of Thy faithful shepherds, of the priests and the teachers of the Gospel. Bless Thy faithful whose only hope is in Thy mercy; Christian souls, the sick, those who are tormented in spirit, and those who have asked us to pray for them. Have pity, in Thy infinite clemency, and preserve us in fitness to receive the future, endless, good things. We celebrate Thy glorious Nativity with the Father who sent thee for our redemption, with the life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and through all ages. Amen –an ancient Syriac liturgy
He comes not as a fierce man of war, threatening all things living with death, but as a newly born babe, bringing the hope of rebirth and life into the entire realm of death; He comes–but the land of destruction does not meet, does not embrace, does not praise, does not even see its Saviour, and does not hear the Word of God keeping silence in a manger. Virtually in vain does the glory which Jesus Christ had with God the Father before the world was on the lips of the angels, follow Him descending into the world and pursuing Him, attain even unto the earth.-Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow
After the requisite fear and trembling, Mary may have been young, frightened, and lacking in knowledge but she was not blind, foolish, or proud. She knew just what to pray and to do… Yes, carrying a child to term and giving birth is a great work that no man will ever understand. I praise her labor of love in pleasing a God she couldn’t yet fully understand.
I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened— I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
I am not sure how many of scriptures she knew, but a few folks who make a living off insightful speculation make an educated guess that she was reciting a bit of Hannah’s song because she knew how that response turned out, the proper gift response. She took great comfort in some old family folklore. If only the men folk would have responded as well…
I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air. I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation. Nothing and no one is holy like God, no rock mountain like our God. Don’t dare talk pretentiously— not a word of boasting, ever! For God knows what’s going on. He takes the measure of everything that happens. The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces, while the weak are infused with fresh strength. The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts, while the hungry are getting second helpings. The barren woman has a houseful of children, while the mother of many is bereft. God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up. God brings poverty and God brings wealth; he lowers, he also lifts up. He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives— a place in the sun! For the very structures of earth are God’s; he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation. He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step, but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark. No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle! God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky, crashed in a heap and burned. God will set things right all over the earth, he’ll give strength to his king, he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!
Two witnesses who spoke and the Spirit felt either Etta James’ “At Last” or the euphoric phrase quoth by the theologian, Michael Singletary, “Hey baby… we’re gonna be here all day baby… I like that kinda party baby… bring it baby.” Merry Christmas!
Take your pick of gifts to the Spirit, romantic or realistic, light or flame, shine or blaze, candle or star… In the same way that a single wink has a thousand possible meanings, so too there are many, many, many expressions for the right response to God’s Word (“Thy will be done”), which all lead to the same unbridled enthusiasm and effort by his Spirit.
However you chose to express your response to God’s gift, I encourage all to ask the Spirit to remake your heart like their’s. Jesus’ heart is the goal but he’s God too. Mary’s heart, like Hannah’s, was all human, like ours and their’s didn’t fall too short of his own. When he does transform we people, glorious things occur through our labors, life, now and forever in every direction. And another, personal miracle happens in the interim, while God remains the same, our perspective, our understanding of him above all things, grows. This growth is vital for every believer, not just now, but forever. Jesus himself makes it clear that not all estates are the same in eternity. I don’t know about you, but I’d at least like to be able to visit neighborhoods like Mary’s and Hannah’s on Christmases in eternity, even if my assignment keeps me poking the devil with a stick or cleaning up gum in the parking lot above.
For me, maybe just for me, I’ve never been hungry, innocent, or the least in the world. By my teens, I was stuffed, wicked, and affluent to conviction. So I tried to die a martyr’s death. Vain glories were I, and making it to my 30’s was an unwelcome shock. Since then, I try and do whatever, however my Lord commands or askes to the best of my abilities. Many are called to die for His cause, but I haven’t yet. In the interim, I was taught that I didn’t have to risk my life to help captives survive, bring medicine to remote peoples, or comfort the stigmatized in an alien world just like Jesus does. Some others are lucky to get those assignments now, while I do very little. But I learned that I still might spiffy-up things about my poor estate.
I might become more like Jesus, a wiser steward in all things that belong to God. I can reach across the equation to resolve, in light, if only for a moment, some of the inequity, indignity, and suffering in this world that the dark powers have wrought. In time, I hope that I may do more. But this year, all He asked me to do (about the time this posts on Christmas) is pack gift boxes for a few hours, with some friends, for 3rd parties that the coming of God always lifts up, like Mary and Hannah said. That’s my gift. That’s it, and then my fat keister will support all the work my wife does for everybody. Before that we’ll get cozy, watch some sappy Hallmark movies (all with the same plot), and I’ll thank God that “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my life today. Maybe I am not blazing today, but my heart is full, so that my soul might shine a little more, if need be. And need always be. We hope you can too.
Melchizadek anticipated Him, he the vicar was watching to see priesthood’s Lord Whose hyssop cleanses creation… Aaron anticipated Him, he who saw that if his staff swallowed reptiles, His cross would swallow the Reptile that swallowed Adam and Eve. Moses saw the fixed serpent that healed the stings of basilisks, and he anticipated he would see the Healer of the first Serpent’s wound. Moses saw that he alone received the brightness of God, and he anticipated the One to come – by His teaching, the Multiplier of the godlike. –St. Ephrem the Syria
He who sits at the right hand of the Father goes without shelter at the inn, that He may for us prepare many mansions in the house of His heavenly Father … He was born, not in the house of His parents, but at the inn, by the wayside, because through the mystery of the Incarnation He is become the Way, by which He guides us to our home. He who sits at the right hand of the Father goes without shelter at the inn, that He may for us prepare many mansions in the house of His heavenly Father …. He was born, not in the house of His parents, but at the inn, by the wayside, because through the mystery of the Incarnation He is become the Way, by which He guides us to our home.-Venerable Bede
He became a servant on earth; He was Lord on high. Inheritor of the height and depth, Who became a stranger. But the One Who was judged wrongly will judge in truth, and He in Whose face they spat, breathed the spirit into the face. He Who held a weak reed was the scepter for the world that grows old and leans on Him. He Who stood [and] served His servants, sitting, will be worshipped. He Whom the Scribes scorned — the Seraphim sang “holy” before Him. –St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns on the Nativity
Well Jesus isn’t a baby anymore in our timeline. No, at this point in the Story he’s something else, and he’s looking down to us intently from North to South. The last time I descended in Spirit and soul from speaking with our Father below the crystal sea to the middle ground where Angel City is blowing and going, Jesus, not Mel, walked me from the meeting place across the living sands to the edge. I was tense because I was supposed to be keeping somethings secret. So while I was all stressed out, he smiled and told me to look down and I saw the earth clothed in souls like twinkling stars. Some were strong and bright, others flickered but wanted to be bright, while still others were dark voids that actually drew in light but reflected nothing. It was all-in-one like a dimmer sky, breathing and moving about the world. Then I saw something I’ve never see before. Jesus began to light up brighter and brighter until even my soul glowed more in His aurorean field. And the souls below, on earth, grew in brilliant refection of Jesus’ Light too, while the stars about us sang louder, and space groaned. But I kept looking at him, even though he told me to look down repeatedly. I never want to leave, but that time it was really hard to even look away.
Now, I don’t know what all that means. Perhaps it isn’t for me to say. It has taken months to unpack it for words. But I remember how it made me feel. I always remember how He makes me feel. Since I read Dante in high school the first time, I always wondered how it felt when, from above, Virgil showed him the mess that lie below, the need and pain in the fiery chaos. So, I thanked my spotless and full-grown Lord of Glory for the gift of that feeling, as tense and intense as it was. As now, I know why Dante wrote that ‘the only just answer comes in the doing of the right deed’ and ‘grim realities await those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.’ Some of my people put it more simply, ‘the greatest liberty a person can know is doing the right thing, not because they are told to, but because they want to.’ I can’t do much but I want to do anything more. I can want that because great saints like Hannah and Mary have taught me how and what to want, to be a soul free and blessed in Reality, not in a disintergrating world view. We hope you are willing to receive and respond to that gift honestly as well, the gift of Jesus for liberating and blessed service to others, from our Father, through Christ Jesus. Joy and peace to all this Christmas tide!
Jesus’ Prayer for His Followers
Jesus said these things. Then, lowering his eyes in prayer, he said: “Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor. You put him in charge of everything human So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, The one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth By completing down to the last detail What you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor, The very splendor I had in your presence Before there was a world. I spelled out your character in detail To the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; Then you gave them to me, And they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, That everything you gave me is firsthand from you, For the message you gave me, I gave them; And they took it, and were convinced That I came from you. They believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world But for those you gave me, For they are yours by right. Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, And my life is on display in them. For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world; They’ll continue in the world While I return to you. Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life That you conferred as a gift through me, So they can be one heart and mind As we are one heart and mind. As long as I was with them, I guarded them In the pursuit of the life you gave through me; I even posted a night watch.”
Jesus prayed this in summation to what he told us before:
The Spirit of Truth
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you. The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself intimately to him… Because a loveless world is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me. I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make all things known to you. He will remind you of all things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. You’ve heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life. I’ve told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me. I’ll not be talking with you much more like this because the chief of this godless world is about to attack. But don’t worry—he has nothing on me, no claim on me. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father’s instructions right down to the last detail. Arise, let’s go from here.”
(sunrise 17.2.21 for my favorite, the season of soul-burnishing, believers’ bootcamp, or Lent)
A Message. God’s Word to Israel through Malachi: God said, “I love you.” You replied, “Really? How have you loved us?”
“Look at history” (this is God’s answer). “Look at how differently I’ve treated you, Jacob, from Esau: I loved Jacob and hated Esau. I reduced pretentious Esau to a molehill, turned his whole country into a ghost town.”
When Edom (Esau) said, “We’ve been knocked down, but we’ll get up and start over, good as new,” God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “Just try it and see how far you get. When I knock you down, you stay down. People will take one look at you and say, ‘Land of Evil!’ and ‘the God-cursed tribe!’
“Yes, take a good look. Then you’ll see how faithfully I’ve loved you and you’ll want even more, saying, ‘May God be even greater, beyond the borders of Israel!’ “Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me!
“You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’ “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship. “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’
“When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer cursed lifeforms for sacrifices in daily worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—dead, blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.
“Get on your knees and pray that I will be gracious to you. You priests have gotten everyone in trouble. With this kind of conduct, do you think I’ll pay attention to you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.
“Why doesn’t one of you just shut the Temple doors and lock them? As I have! Then none of you can get in and play at religion with this silly, empty-headed worship. I am not pleased. The God-of-the-Angel-Armies is not pleased. And I don’t want any more of this so-called worship!
Offering God Something Hand-Me-Down, Broken, or Useless
“I am honored all over the world. And there are common people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me. They’re saying it everywhere: ‘God is greater, this God-of-the-Angel-Armies.’
“All except you. Instead of honoring me, you profane me. You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account,’ and when you say, ‘I’m bored—this doesn’t do anything for me.’ You act so superior, sticking your noses in the air—act superior tome, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! And when you do offer something to me, it’s a hand-me-down, or broken, or useless, or dead! Do you think I’m going to accept it? This is God speaking to you!
“A curse on the person who makes a big show of doing something great for me—an expensive sacrifice, say—and then at the last minute brings in something cursed and worthless! I’m a great king, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, honored far and wide, and I’ll not put up with it!”
Desecrating the Holiness of God
“And now this indictment, you priests! If you refuse to obediently listen, and if you refuse to honor me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, in worship, then I’ll put you under a curse. I’ll exchange all your blessings for curses. In fact, the curses are already at work because you’re not serious about honoring me. Yes, and the curse will extend to your children. I’m going to plaster your faces with rotting garbage, garbage thrown out from your feasts. That’s what you have to look forward to!
“Maybe that will wake you up. Maybe then you’ll realize that I’m indicting you in order to put new life into my covenant with the priests of Levi, the covenant of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. My covenant with Levi was to give life and peace. I kept my covenant with him, and he honored me. He stood in reverent awe before me. He taught the truth and did not lie. He walked with me in peace and uprightness. He kept many out of the ditch, kept them on the road.
“It’s the job of priests to teach the truth. People are supposed to look to them for guidance. The priest is the messenger of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. But you priests have abandoned the way of priests. Your teaching has messed up many lives. You have corrupted the covenant of priest Levi. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. And so I am showing you up for who you are. Everyone will be disgusted with you and avoid you because you don’t live the way I told you to live, and you don’t teach my revelation truly and impartially.”
Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together?
Judah has cheated on God—a sickening violation of trust in Israel and Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the holiness of God by falling in love and running off with foreign women, women who worship alien gods. God’s curse on those who do this! Drive them out of house and home! They’re no longer fit to be part of the community no matter how many offerings they bring to God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse.
“I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t cheat.
You make God tired with all your talk.
“How do we tire him out?” you ask.
By saying, “God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.” And also by saying, “Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.”
An Ebenezer of Honesty Before Moving on to Hope
Before we start, I am putting this here because the only thing that grieves me more than the completely unnecessary loss of life is the arrogant ignorance and depraved indifference that so many who claim Christ (pagans and the lost I understand) show towards the needless suffering that will mark the survivors for decades to come… all the things left undone or openly lied about… What kind of gods do they have, in all honesty? God is not fooled by their performances of worship and acclimations of faith. No, He sees them without excuse no matter their reasons. This should’ve never happen. But it will again, even worse, if enough people don’t get honest.
Contagious diseases highlight the dishonesty of a people and proliferate by deceptive beliefs. Wilfull, especailly self-righteous, ignorance always ends in death. The same social and spiritual maladies that provoked 9/11 from overseas have now been wreaking a similiar mass casualty event everyday within US borders. Who’s the enemy now? Their ever expanding play-list of profligate and delusional phobias (homo, Islamo, political-eco, etc.) which demarcate the idolaters are of little use now, as if any ever were in reality. Wisdom says there’s no end to the fears of the wicked.
Dishonest people have no real Hope, and an even grimmer future, no matter what their chosen entertainment sources tell them. When will the arrogant ignorant come clean? When can they finally quit cheating on God and get honest about themselves? When their money is taken away? Honestly, that possibility bothers me too, but it would only take an instant. More reality checks, as many as needed, are “in the wings.” All God need do is nothing but allow the mountains of self-inflicted consquences to run their course as the nations fall into tumult. All He need do is not bless. But nowadays, who would even notice? How few?
The enemy separates people from God. If you scapegoat your neighbor, then you are the enemy. If you are throwing shade to ignore your own part in the mess, then you are the enemy. If you refuse to look in the mirror honestly, then you are the enemy. Enemy of whom? God, the One calling you to account. But instead of returning, they lie in ever-greater rumors and enable even more death in worse conspiracies and corruptions, just so they can promote themselves, their idols, and their faithlessness to death, literally.
Isn’t the reality check at hand enough? An unnecessary and self-inflicted mass casualty event everyday? This curse is sponsored to the world by the sons of disobedience (spiritual adulterers) desiring the power(s) of air (alien gods), struggling for a rule of lawlessness by rumor, time and again… Vichy-christians who devolved the gospel of Christ Jesus back to the imperial euangelion from whence it came, exchanging service with Jesus for ruling with Satan in perpetual obfuscation and distraction for fallen powers. But then, hallow people can only cast a shadow, because in reality they are not even there for God.
God’s desire edifies and directs faithful people, as he does all rectified creation, in righteousness with open and honest Eyes. The hallow ones are so sick they ignore or deny the death within their walls. They have covered themselves in a landscape of grim evidence, not righteousness. I could map out, as the plague has, the interstitial network that connects their death and deception with their gods now, but they must get honest first. What is the test for infidelities? Does the test of bitter waters even matter when their multitudinous, material infidelities have already polluted the waters across the earth literally, from underground to the open seas?
Only Jesus’ righteousness saves eternally above. But for all of us called to serve below in the meantime, for his ends, doing the right things for the right reasons is a practical gaurd against the selfishness and self-centeredness which is the root of destruction that shaped the past and immediate present. It need not be anyone’s future, neither for self nor other, God’s people nor the nations. I beg you, do not miss that mark. I plead, realign your aim with God’s no matter the cost. Don’t trade eternity for a bowl of comfortable stew!
A faith in “once saved always saved” has become a comfortable and convenient platitude of ease addressing the wrong soteriological question for those in exodus to Christ’s Kingdom. Duh, of course it’s true. Jesus is righteous and judges all; so certainly, he ultimately sends every soul to the one(s) they served in reality. But here and now, we start with a reality check in the wasteland that all the dishonesty has created. The first honest questions today concerning salvation should be: What master (in reality) do you follow and serve (whom are you “saved to”)? What does that path look like? And do your fruits (pick any or all) match scriptural fruits in reality? If I had to essentialize like everyone else does… I don’t like to because process is more honest and real… the one question would be, can Jesus see himself in you and your community? He himself intimates the essential question most simply, “where is your heart?” And Paul talks about “the body of Christ,” still others a “hardness of heart.” To answer it truthfully, honesty is required even if we don’t like the answers. In time, God will change us to a pleasing response.
None of us care what you call yourself or the shape of your communal piety, blessings and lay on! Just know that followers of Jesus, His Way, never traffic in death or deception nor do we ignore or rationalize it; if you really live as Christ did, then death is a gain, no question about it. Don’t you think that Jesus can recognize his image mirrored in his people… no matter what? Cannot others too? How is any “other” ever going to believe a greater truth about any social issue if the same witnesses preaching are in denial about the bedrock, shared realities of plagues, math, or the weather? Even the lost mock if someone preaches life and spreads death. And it is right that they should! In this old, deceptive arrangement others rarely come to the Truth, because the testimonies about life are “unquestionably selective in nature.” Even the wicked recognize wickedness, but the dishonest seldom see and never confess theirown twists.
Honesty is the point origin and abiding necessity for all today’s salvific questions to be answered favorably, in progressive revelation, most often of an educational type. If you simply begin to try that’s enough for today, so don’t be too hard on yourself right now. Arise tomorrow and repeat. God is faithfull and awaits the opening of eyes that He loves in tomorrow’s first light, like a husband without morning breath. It is rare that one is struck honest in a flash, the Sun doesn’t just appear at mid-day; it slowly travels there… more on all that in Lent. We promise, because without honesty today there will never be real transformation nor true unity tomorrow, the kind that Jesus’ marriage bed deserves in the eternity to come.
Honesty For Hope
Again, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.–Dickens
“Bad boys whatcha gonna do” when Judah and the Maccabees come for you? Hide from the light much? What if Elijah pulled up a chair by you? Because the Lion and we are, directly and at-a-pace… To start, for everyone who is alive the Holy Spirit, Truth is our Prime Mover. So, honesty is a journey toward the Light not a staged destination where the lights shine on us. There’s always more to be revealed later by the Light. And the farther down the trail we get, the greater our Hope becomes in the right knowledge of all things and our place, our proper image in his Eyes, within them. If we focus on the honest image of Jesus, then faithfulness plus Light equals a greater (deeper) knowledge of the Truth. My soul is not fascinated by the crystal darklings that shinny god-men have tried to sell me over the centuries to distract my eyes from the Light. I am only enthralled by what Jesus gives me to light the worlds their of dark-nesses.
In the interregnum, between Malachi and the dawning of Righteousness, during a time when even many God-fearers thought there was no prophecy nor miracles… there were people who God worked with in miracles. The biblical saga of the Maccabees is the background for the miracle of Hanukah. I was a typical church boy in the American south while empire was in full rage. So I was deprived of many of these important stories about God and his people, ‘a primitive Christmas’ was the best gloss of disinformation I got from honest church folk. That is mostly a lie. As a college student, my grandparents were terrified for my salvation when they discovered I was reading the Septuagint. Forget the liquor and “Corinthian women,” reading that version of the story was tempting eternal damnation!
Today I can safely report that fear of peril was a lie. They all know that too… now. But their fear, while real, was a non-biblical fabrication by some folks who wanted to justify themselves when they decided to jettison important texts from the bibles we carry around here; too many protestants have always been very cavalier that way (see Luther’s original cannon). But what’s done is done. I know their reasons, and we can’t fix the past… But we can learn not to repeat it. ‘I have not come to bury my brothers and sisters but to lift them up,’ even though some will remain too invested in their version of the past to meet the future honestly. Honestly, reactionary and pious constructivists (be it cannon or constitution) are the most postmodern of thinkers, yet they decry postmodernity… funny that. Do you know how you can tell who’s a hypocrite? Easy, when they shut their mouth the lies stop. But we’ve been called to leave the dead to bury their dead, while we’re headed to Life in Spirit and Truth.
However, I will make a note, upon the memorial Ebenezer, an interesting age in American development. An event horizon when the cannon was truncated, which is not lost to sober, appropriately critical observers. Rev. Miller’s heirs and followers in the Great Disappointment inaugurated that age. Not by accident, it coincided with the rise of the quintessential imperial American slogan of “Manifest Destiny.” It soon found a perfect running mate in the self-congratulatory spiritism of ages by Rev. Darby from England. All of this “just happened” to work well (financially enabled) with prosperity found in the rising industry of the beast. All beginning about 170 years ago, that’s one hell of a mule train stuck in the Grand canyon, or that’s a long bowling alley for bowling pins of today to watch that balled serpent to come rolling at you.
But hey, who cares about history? People just want to make their own names profitable today. Good luck with all that, but if we want to be with Jesus we can’t keep making the same mistakes repeatedly. Jesus and I don’t mind a little crazy in our brides, from time to time, in fact, we gloat on it a bit. But doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome… that’s just insane. Old school translation might call it the reprobate mind of idolaters, and it is written that Jesus cannot be wed with an adulteress. But I digress…
I don’t expect too many to know the great and intriguing story of the Maccabees that well upon reading this. Maybe sometime in the next year you can rebel against disinformation and read for yourself at least the first two books of the Maccabees and then we can do some ninja hermeneutics next year. For today, to begin, I am just going to share about three levels of honesty that anyone can understand based on the broad strokes of the Maccabean narratives with Judah. Then we’ll end with a really intriguing prophetic image for Christmas and God’s intended end for this age. Basic stuff, no worries.
It was about 170 years before the arrival of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who is the only Messiah. The “holy ones” believed that God had been struck mute and miracles had ceased. How could any of “God’s people” ever be that deaf, dumb, and blind? Arrogance in comfort maybe? Hum. The successor to Alexander the Great was ruling the Holy Land and proving to be a real stinker in the punch bowl of proper temple worship. How? He prominently placed imperial symbols in the temple, covered the sacred ground with burnt cursed offerings, and proclaimed himself a son of God (when he most certainly wasn’t)… all the while ruling in oppression and lawlessness (lies, conspiracy, and rumor). Can you image such ugliness, hate, and evil? Hum.
Now you might think that kind of clear and present spiritual-cum-material corruption would have every real God-fearer in the land very disturbed. You might imagine the lawless one would have been seen coming miles away. You might believe they’d be righteously indignant if only for God’s strong self-regard. But then, you’d be wrong on each account, only a few were angry along with God. You might think, okay, well they couldn’t do anything about it so they chaffed under the wicked yolk. But many didn’t. Most of the leaders had become Hellenized by power, wealth, and status over the people of the land; those poor, ignorant and misled, didn’t have time to think deeply, like professional religious elites did. The poor multitudes could not think about much other than where there next meal was coming from. The few rich folks feathered their nests with “shell collections” and comforting lies. Vultures never had it so good.
The Maccabees were among the few who were neither seduced nor charmed by Greek rule or culture. They were trained critics of culture, for God’s strong self-regard. They honestly refused to become compromised puppets of the ruler. And they led a successful rebellion to oust the lawlessness, cleanse the temple, and set things right. Any student of military history could tell you that the military victories were the result of brilliant and field tested leadership that was accompanied by somewhat miraculous and well timed, in the bigger picture issues, impinging on that theater of Great operations. Warriors from Napoleon to Bradley studied that history because it was that awesome. I suggest you read about it sometime.
Well, hurrah and the cowboy rode off into the sunset, then on the next day came the Day-breaker, the advent of Jesus, the Rightful ruler. But not so fast, a funny thing happened on the way to sunrise. And that dramedy of errors and thrills is best read through a lens of honesty on many levels, if we are to avoid the same mistakes. I mean, er, if ever anyone might see any parallels with today or tomorrow… maybe. Let the reader beware, that conviction is left for them to decide, for the moment. But eye, there’s the rub… unless we honestly assess the situation then and now to operationalize the knowledge in wisdom… we might not make it to the realization of the vision. And believe me, every follower of Jesus is living and dying for that vision.
To do that we need a paradigm shift, from flesh to Spirit, because for those of us who fight for Truth, the fight is never just superficial. The truth inhabits all layers of existence like the accretions of a pearl. Eyes are not enough to peel back the layers to get to the original issue, the disturbance that invoked God’s creation of beauty around the irritation. To avoid sin in repetition is to turn from insanity, so we might mitigate the consequences and shame. Everyone in the Spirit has already been given all power and authority to forgive those who have sinned against us (including ourselves) and then get to work in alleviating the consequences of our failures before we can think with right authority about the sins we see in others.
Culture not is NOT spirit. Zeitgeist is a thing but it is not a spirit in the biblical sense. As a professional medical anthropologist (ret) I can say PhD’s in biblical studies and theology are errant enough concerning all things cultural. And I won’t even go there with all the self-appointed culture warriors, because they rarely, if ever, have the slightest idea of what they’re talking about. As a result, they have done much more damage than they alone can repair… Geertz and Girard are too much for everybody, right now. Just know that whatever culture is or ain’t, it is dynamic, contested, situated, and deeply layered. Also, there’s even more difficulty in tracing, mapping the ephemeral sinews between layers.
For today, all we need to know as we now trudge towards the Light is to best serve God and others we must move from flesh-based perspectives to the Spiritual one. This is what scientists call a paradigm shift. Now, you can rebel, good luck and adios. But you need to know that the greater reality around the everyday reality in which most swim without understanding (try asking a fish what water is, they just stare) is being altered, slowly and steadily, and it is already marking out subjects with significant effects. If you want to be useful and enjoy some divinely potent benefits, then you need to engage the Spirit. It is not that scary or dramatic, go at an easy pace, but please do it.
The definition of a paradigm shift is “a change from one way of being (which became rigid and static) to another movement (where there is movement there is life). It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change (that’s what we want to begin to become for Jesus, be patient).” Mr. Kuhn is credited with first using the term, but I believe we can make out an earlier outline for the pattern in the Apostle Paul when he talks about the duties of a Christian. Yes things to do, after we first take hold of what Jesus offered to us! That is where “the more” and “the difference” is… Ya’know that bothersome other 90% of the biblical texts…
Sacrifice of Body and Mind. So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Oh, I know you’ve heard this many times, but be doers not just sayers… and ironically it is most often deployed when religous leaders call people to do an earthly agenda. No, it will “work” only when people based on a Spiritual way of life manifest divine fruit in the world through proper whole life worship. Any other use is an abuse and those involved will be relieved of any eternal duties. Also, it is definitively both a personal and communal process. The real Spiritual exodus out of the world and aerial dog-fight up to Jesus only occurs when it is driven by increasingly honest people implementing key biblical rudiments: the Word of God (his holistic ordering of all said elements), a salvific journey along a fruit-bearing path in arears (feel free to use your favorite grammar of doctrinal schema, unless or until it dissipates the yield), a perspectival redress of concerns from self to other, and the Holy Spirit in action and in prayer.
With this in mind, the orthogonal take-away from all that history of the Maccabees this season is simple, bitter, and short. Who’s to blame for the failure of the revolt? I mean, if it had been done rightly and maintained honestly, then there may have been a whole other set and setting to meet the arrival of the Lord of Glory. But hey, people, am I right? Got to love them in peace, on the whole!
And that’s just it, the failure of God’s people is rarely, if ever, about one person or one group. As God’s people, we all (EVERYBODY, yours truly most of all!) have work at getting honest and grow in the Light of the Truth every day. It is a process. When we are honest, the Light feeds, grows, and rises us up, but when we’re dishonest the very same Light will burn us to the ground in ashes. Again, nobody can claim perfect growth besides Jesus, and it is he who calls us to try. He also provides us with brothers and sisters to pick us up, as well as a sometimes frustrating but pretty cool Guide. Now some are sicker than others, most often we’re the other but occasionally we’re the some. Yes we all might go crazy but we don’t all go crazy at the same time, like most of Israel has done from time to time. That’s who’s at fault.
Most point at the man of lawlessness himself who desecrated worship and God’s home by corrupting the temple. But that is a really flimsy, fleshy read. Going deeper, it was the Jewish leadership who traded the earthly delights of Hellenization and misled the people of the land; that’s the real abomination, exploiting the people. For as much as God enjoyed his dive on earth, he’s really always been about the people and what they desire in their hearts and worship with heads and hands. That might be truer today than it was then, if you have the honest eyes to see.
Hold your nose so we can hit bottom here, the Maccabees failed themselves, their people, and their God. Over time, the freedom-fighting revolutionaries became the stiff-necked wall-eyed establishment, like sun-scorched prophets becoming ear-tickling priests. For them as a clan it became about earthly reign and religous rule for themselves, their own name, instead of the righteousness of Israel, that is to say Israel’s God. Could you ever imagine being their kinsman redeemer? Wow, what a load! Hum, big picture for now though… the many-tiered failures by a majority of God’s people time and again, not just the sins in “one type of culture,” make one hell of a bonfire and include lots of material fallout with an unacceptable amount of collateral damage. But that past should no longer be our future, even if it is our immediate present. We promise.
A Honest and Biblical Vision of God’s Summation on Earth
What does God want to see? Where is all this headed down the line? What might we be a part of? I learned the basis of this vision from some of my favorite teachers, now I can’t call all of them Jesus followers but they certainly laid great ground work for Jesus… and, hey… Heaven and all creation are run by a small Jewish family concern, but please don’t tell the anti-Semites who claim Christ. We kind of want that to be a surprise for them on their respective big days… unkind? Maybe but, for me and maybe just for me, it is ordered, honest, and biblical as it is written, ‘let the sinners keep sinning.’
When Noah woke up with his hangover, he learned what his youngest son had done. He said,
“Cursed be Canaan! A slave of slaves, a slave to his brothers! Blessed be God, the God of Shem, but Canaan shall be his slave. God prosper Japheth, living spaciously in the tents of Shem. But Canaan shall be his slave.”
Yup, back to Genesis and a patriarch rising from a bender, again. It happens as it’s written, like it or not, God puts prophecy in asses, sober drunks, and history, all of his histories because “the good folks” are actually “the bad boys,” on occasion. Mysterious ways in deed. Maybe there’s even some prophecy in the Maccabean yarns, perhaps a little thing here or there, just maybe. God’s awesome that way; but some, for myriad reasons, want to uncritically project their own desires into the ecstatic visions from lost symbolic worlds. Good luck, because any semiotician worth their salt will tell you that you need to know your situated histories and their contested contexts before you can begin to try to read your symbols rightly. Before that, first you must be fearless and honest enough to rightly assess your own perspective and keep that critique in mind at all times. Those first two steps and keeping a focus on process are where most have fallen off the wagon, so to speak… But we covered that enough below and before. The point is that it’s okay to be Shem or even Japeth but not Canaan, who became a catchall term for idolatry, serving other gods.
I came across the history researching on priestly garments that the writer of Ephesians foregrounds. The vision comes from another Hanukah, a prophetic second one reported to have happened 30 days after the first is celebrated but actually a generation of leadership before the desolation of the temple, which led to the Maccabees’ material warfare and ultimate failure, despite some miracles.
Nonsense? Well there are two Passovers, a second one 30 days later in case you can’t make the first one… multiple services if you will. To get to it you’ve got to have some insight into the history of discussions the masters record when they discuss how to live in obedience to God’s Word. It is from the Gemara in Yoma 69a. I know, it isn’t a text that most biblical scholars discuss and you certainly won’t hear it preached in these parts, but it is relevant context for the texts that we supposedly hold sacred… so we might say it is contagiously holy or immediately holy adjacent… No? Well, you don’t have to think about it ever again. we’re looking at patterns across time, not a new doctrine, God forbid. But you got to see is one picture to see the first Christmas in a deeper way, a huge event in “Christendom” 1700 years ago, and maybe, just maybe, another event in the future that most only hint at expectantly.
“Come and hear: As to priestly garments, it is forbidden to go out in them in the province, but in the Sanctuary whether during or outside the time of the service, it is permitted to wear them, because priestly garments are permitted for private use. This is conclusive. But in the province [it is] not [permitted]? Surely it was taught: The twenty-fifth of Tebeth is the day of Mount Gerizim, on which no mourning is permitted. It is the day on which the Cutheans demanded the House of our God from Alexander the Macedonian (the Great) so as to destroy it, and he had given them the permission, whereupon some people came and informed Simeon the Just (the High Priest). What did the latter do? He put on his priestly garments, robed himself in priestly garments, some of the noblemen of Israel went with him carrying fiery torches in their hands, they walked all the night, some walking on one side and others on the other side, until the dawn rose. When the dawn rose he [Alexander] said to them: Who are these [the Samaritans]? They answered: The Jews who rebelled against you. As he reached Antipatris, the sun having shone forth, they met. When he (Alexander the Great) saw Simeon the Just, he descended from his carriage and bowed down before him. They said to him: A great king like yourself should bow down before this Jew? He answered: His image it is which wins for me in all my battles. He said to them: What have you come for? They said: Is it possible that star-worshippers should mislead you to destroy the House wherein prayers are said for you and your kingdom that it be never destroyed! He said to them: Who are these? They said to him: These are Cutheans who stand before you. He said: They are delivered into your hand. At once they perforated their heels, tied them to the tails of their horses and dragged them over thorns and thistles, until they came to Mount Gerizim, which they ploughed and planted with vetch, even as they had planned to do with the House of God. And that day they made a festive day. If you like say: They were fit to be priestly garments, or, if you like, say: It is time to work for the Lord: they have made void Thy law.”
There you have it! The ruler of the world sent by the enemies of God’s chosen people to destroy God’s abode, but instead he bows before the High Priest, nary a word spoken nor a shot fired. All peaceable like. Oooh wee, get some! Forget all these damned doomsday cults and enticing entertainments! Just give me and mine God’s Word, his vision, and a Star to guide because that’s where I am going! Can’t wait! I hope you caught a glimpse too!
Pardon me… sometimes I get a bit high in the Spirit when he shares the good stuff. It’s written that’s okay time-to-time. You might have seen a foreshadowing of the magi at the manger of Peace, or perhaps something greater to come. There is a lot to unpack there. There is even a prophetic image for Constantine’s so-called conversion that initiated the unholy train wreck that we’re trying to survive today.
I’ll just list a few little things from my notes that caught my eye at my first read. The lineage of the priest (always important) is debated, but the character’s historicity is attested in multiple texts. The suit that reflects God’s glory is interesting, very interesting, and I’m piling information on it high and deep right now (PhD). The time-place rules for wearing it are intriguing. What could be Simeon’s personal reason for stepping out in God’s finery? What social situation could provoke such a bold move? When did/does Jesus, God in the flesh, the Light himself step out in his flesh suit? No matter the whys, the priestly entourage walks through the darkness carrying torch-lights about the suit of lights, so it can reflect those dimmer lights until daybreak. Hum.
But maybe the bigger point, the key for today, is in the portion of Scripture above and before us all in every version of the bible. Perhaps the weight is in the image that the story constructs; Hebrew is excellent that way. And where else would I look for the answer? It is God’s desire and plan, prophecy-cum-promise, that “He prosper Japheth, living spaciously in the tents of Shem.” If you know some family history and the Genesis grammar code, it might roughly translate that ultimately God (not any bogus world system or human construct) will truly prosper Greeks (gentiles) when they are rightly ordered and covered in the Jewish household of God’s abode. And who is the Master of the Jewish household? Whether they know it or not, it is Jesus. Also, a warning from the prophetic text: be on guard against adultery to God (idolatry in any and all other seductive world systems) or there will be an eternal enslavement rather than the forever freedom to which you were called. Please don’t blow your eternal inheritance, even if you think doing the right thing today will cost you too much in your earthly retirement, no matter how yummy the stew. The eyes of Heaven are upon you.
To close, if you know any Nostradamus wanna-bes pointing to false Messiahs carrying flashy, mad-power schemes with the future all planed out in vain glory, like Jesus said they would, feel free to tell them, ‘go on and enjoy your banquet in the grave.’ I am just going keep doing what I do, not much and seldom too hard. I’ll just keep reading what God and my good Lord give me every single day, rinse and repeat in the moment, as fairly and equitably as he enables me on that given day. And ultimately I know, as sure as the Sun rises, that we’ll all see what all eyes will see: Satan with every single one of his dirty and destructive servants who ruled upon the earth in lies and corruptions as they finally bow in silence before they are cast down and sealed up, the end for them because ‘they worked to void God’s logos‘ in his cosmos. God will not help a master defined by his servants, he crushes the idols with the idolaters.
Their time is short but ours is not. Sure, I might not know all the hows or whens exactly, that’s a good thing. And I may fall for an instant in death first, just so to see the scene repeated from Glory. Whatever pleases God, I am in. We don’t need a rebellion if we walk in fidelity, just ask Daniel. I know all I need to know for today, I know right from wrong, death from life, and truth from lie. I will not forget or pretend no matter how dark it gets because I wear my flesh to reflect the Light. It is our committed hope and our Father’s desire that everybody else does too, in his honest image, as soon as possible. Happy Hanukah to Jesus!
Besides all that, what ever happened to the Maccabees? Could they have any future after working so hard and so long on a jacked-up legacy? Could God use them? Where’d they go?
The Master You’ve Been Looking For
“Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!” A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance?
He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.
“Yes, I’m on my way to visit you with Judgment. I’ll present compelling evidence against sorcerers, adulterers, liars, those who exploit workers, those who take advantage of widows and orphans, those who are inhospitable to the homeless—anyone and everyone who doesn’t honor me.” A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
“I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed. And because I haven’t changed, you, the descendants of Jacob, haven’t been destroyed. You have a long history of ignoring my commands. You haven’t done a thing I’ve told you. Return to me so I can return to you,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
“You ask, ‘But how do we return?’
“Begin by being honest.Do honest people rob God?But you rob me day after day. “You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’
By saying, “God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.” And also by saying, “Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.”
The Difference Between Serving God and Not Serving Him
God says, “You have spoken hard, rude words to me. “You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’
“When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God. What do we ever get out of it? When we did what he said and went around with long faces, serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies, what difference did it make? Those who take life into their own hands are the lucky ones. They break all the rules and get ahead anyway. They push God to the limit and get by with it.’”
“You’ll be voted ‘Happiest Nation.’ You’ll experience what it’s like to be a country of grace.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.
Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name.
“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.”
The Sun of Righteousness Will Dawn
“Count on it: The day is coming, raging like a forest fire. All the arrogant people who do evil things will be burned up like stove wood, burned to a crisp, nothing left but scorched earth and ash— a black day. But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking. And you’ll tromp on the wicked. They’ll be nothing but ashes under your feet on that Day.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.
“Remember and keep the revelation I gave through my servant Moses, the revelation I commanded at Horeb for all Israel, all the rules and procedures for right living.
“But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.”
(Next stop, a wee Hope wrapped in spare, common devotion at sunrise December 25th)
Rosh Chodesh Kislev is the moon that Jesus, the Messiah, made to mark the darkness of months, darkness that only he can destroy and bring a rebirth of Light. So, the darkness is merely the part of the pangs for rebirth. Birth is sacrifice for a legacy, both in the material and the spiritual realms. Also, now is often referred to as “the month of dreams,” for it contains more daily portions concerning dreams than any other month. It begins the season of hope for the return of the Light.
The daily portion today concerns “fire gifts” inaugurating the time of dreams, for all creation and her Creator. He, our only High Priest tells me, ‘speak to the people of our Logos in all things. Tell them, charge all of them about re-presenting my food, my Fire-Gifts of pleasing fragrance, at the all times. Tell them this is the Fire-Gift that all are to present to God, not the ones that please themselves.’
So, we will speak in flame and dreams, of bad then good, the whole that lays bare the reality of earthly things, now recalled into obedience for rebirth into a promised union. We speak to empower those who are free to serve the Lord, children of our God sacrificing for reconciliation. We speak to correct those who still disobediently occasion disorder upon the footstool. Lastly, we speak to warn the dark ones who are still enthralled to gentile lusts, for they are bewitched and enslaved by a filthy existence.
After Israel left Egypt, the clan of Jacob left those barbarians behind; Judah became holy land for him, Israel the place of holy rule. Sea took one look and ran the other way; River Jordan turned around and ran off. The mountains turned playful and skipped like rams, the hills frolicked like spring lambs. What’s wrong with you, Sea, that you ran away? and you, River Jordan, that you turned and ran off? And mountains, why did you skip like rams? and you, hills, frolic like spring lambs? Tremble, Earth! You’re in the Lord’s presence! in the presence of Jacob’s God. He turned the rock into a pool of cool water, turned flint into fresh spring water.
So Isaac called in Jacob and blessed him. Then he ordered him, “Don’t take a Caananite wife. Leave at once. Go to Paddan Aram to the family of your mother’s father, Bethuel. Get a wife for yourself from the daughters of your uncle Laban. “And may The Strong God bless you and give you many, many children, a congregation of peoples; and pass on the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants so that you will get this land in which you live, this land God gave Abraham.” So Isaac sent Jacob off. He went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah who was the mother of Jacob and Esau. Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan Aram to get a wife there, and while blessing him commanded, “Don’t marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his parents and gone to Paddan Aram. When Esau realized how deeply his father Isaac disliked the Canaanite women, he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son. This was in addition to the wives he already had.
Jacob left Beersheba and went to Haran. He came to a certain place and camped for the night since the sun had set. He took one of the stones there, set it under his head and lay down to sleep. And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground and it reached all the way to the sky; angels of God were going up and going down on it.
Then God was right before him, saying, “I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I’m giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they’ll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.”
Jacob woke up from his sleep. He said, “God is in this place—truly. And I didn’t even know it!” He was terrified. He whispered in awe, “Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God’s House. This is the Gate of Heaven.” Jacob was up first thing in the morning. He took the stone he had used for his pillow and stood it up as a memorial pillar and poured oil over it. He christened the place Bethel (God’s House). The name of the town had been Luz until then. Jacob vowed a vow: “If God stands by me and protects me on this journey on which I’m setting out, keeps me in food and clothing, and brings me back in one piece to my father’s house, this God will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a memorial pillar will mark this as a place where God lives. And everything you give me, I’ll return a tenth to you.”
I just found this pic of my baptism. Pappaw Brooks took the pic, the Trinity is in the background while my mother and father are facing the camera. The two elders are the reason I am posting it. They prayed for me for decades, despite all my ups and downs, ins and outs. I thanked them. All they said in return was that they did it so I would do the same for “many” others. They stressed “many” and I laughed. I am such a fool, because only now I know what it feels like to pray for the ungrateful apostates and ignorant others for decades, only so that they might come clean before it is too late. They, unnamed but raised from death, offer a legacy in our sufferings and anonymity… all for God’s name alone.
Shiloh, Limestone County, Texas
Shiloh, also known as Lo or Luther, is on Farm Road 1953 six miles south of Mexia in northern Limestone County. The name Lo may have been an abbreviation of Shiloh. It is a shambles of a wide spot in the road today. But it will always be the soil of my identity. In the early 1800’s my fraternal blood was among the first anglos to settle there. My grandfather purchased the best land, it held the only artesian wells in the area. They fed the creeks for the Navasota. He dammed up a part of them for that lake in the background, which, I believe, still feeds the creeks.
Shiloh will always be “my happy place,” even though my sisters out-voted me to sell the farm. I am still sad about that but the lessons, memories, and dreams I had there have sheltered and fed me at the worst times in my life. And they still refresh me in crucial times. Recently, I discovered that many of my experiences there echoed those of a hero pappaw handed down to me, Omar Bradley… not Eisenhower, he’s a politician, or Patton, he’s a “jerk.” He served under all of them and said, “Be the one nobody talks about because that’s the man that God talks to.” He was convienced that God worked through Omar for operation Overlord.
I learned to hunt squirrels with the same kind of weapon, the same way, and at the same age. I love that; the small things fitting together just right mean the most in God’s time. It’s an edifying comfort to always have a sure point of origin and summation. No matter how far afield I’ve been called or taken, I have always been able to triangulate with those two points in order to set a new course for home. More importantly, on the best of trips, God has granted me to help some of the captured or sick or lost along the way.
About a decade ago, I had occasion to trace family origins through Scotland in person, to a unique clan of “traditional healers” and obstreperous warriors (typical Scots) prior to the Christianization of British Isles. Our surname was shortened when we came to the isles and again when we acrossed the ocean to the New World. Family folk lore (handed down by the males) is about our whole lineage making a vow to defend the rule of Judah long before then. But who believes stories from family folklore? What does that mean? As far as I know, at least every other man in the fraternal line has been a minister. Not sure of the accuracy of folklore, but so far, by the Spirit, I’ve always been stood up again after getting knocked down in defense of Christ Jesus, his reality and truth. It appears that I am the end of the line. Maybe it is because I never got the paperwork or acknowledgment my forefathers did, but I am good with that because I forsook those dubious glories in obedience of God’s word to me.
The men of my line have always been “deliberate.” That would explain the number of my kin who went mad, drunk or sober, seeing all the counterfeits rising up in American churches. Looking back, I was on rails all along because as I shared before, I got it from the other side too. I do know God takes vows seriously, while too many “special” people switch allegiances at the whims of their “special” material culture agendas. My pappaw lost a lung in Italy to a fascist bullet and he, as a medic and officer, was one of the first to care for those liberated from the Nazi death camps. Even at seminary before the war, he was troubled by what he saw. After the war, especially when the fraudulent “culture wars” started in the 70’s. He decided never to go back to church or finish his seminary training, even after he made some money. He made a lot for a boy who couldn’t afford shoes growing up. If he was good, then his father let him put his cold feet in the grain on the way to market on cold days.
“When they started hanging flags in response to the Soviet threat,” he told me, “then I knew that one day this country and apostate churches would cheer the construction of camps to become just like the Nazis and Soviets.” His point was that people called by God should never sellout to the powers that be. For then, instead of being salt and light, they’d be darkness and salt the earth just like the Romans did to call their murderous work “peace.” That is the semblance of anti-christ, from age to age. He was a real prophet because he died just as the Soviet wall fell and many Americans in apostate churches started rising their blasphemous walls to divide people and rule the world for profit. “The Patriot Church Movement” for example is obvious and overt idolatry in false-fatherhood. How can all that not be going to hell? But trying to teach idolaters latin or what words actually mean isn’t my job. I have orders to grind on the chaos or cut away the darknss, not descend into their black hole. I fear for them. As my great-grandfather used to say, ‘you cannot preach heaven and raise hell, then expect to be saved.’ And I would’ve pitied any fool who tried to put any flag in his church.
Our Lord refused to tempt our God; he flatly rejected Satan’s overt offer for material wealth and earthly rule. Who told all these “special” people that they should openly tempt God? But for decades they’ve been saying, “yes, yes, thank you Satan! More please!” But for me and mine, we will follow the example of Jesus Christ. It won’t take 1700 years to witness very different results for the world and the Church. Just now, I know the better part of 70 million Americans haunt social clubs that either actively support, or passively abide, the same Satanic rules of hate and arrogance of those other, godless nations (waiting for Barna’s number and final advanced election analytics). And who told them to put a thumb on the scales of justice? Wisdom calls them doomed…Talk about a common Caananite woman? C’mon man! A Righteous Jewish Father (the only real father) would never, ever let any of those skanks near his only Son, forget thoughts of intimacy.
Pappaw and the Word of God are right, “the Kingdom of Jesus would never be a republic or single people because God Word’s ordained it after his own rejection.” Damn I miss that man. Where are the men like him?…not many about these days. I don’t image anyone could’ve ever called him a liberal, but I know he would’ve punched any tyrant or any of their supporters in the throat and crushed their balls stepping over them, if any of those frauds ever blasphemed the name of our Lord and God to his face. I’ve done marginally better, yet been rejected more often than he. But, after awhile, what can you say to people that committed to delusion and sin? How does one curse a curse or cursing people? Are they going to have to lose everything in complete horror before they realize that the only thing they are at war with is the Lord God Almighty? Christ Jesus relieved me that burden by giving me orders offer peace first. But soon, if they love war and hate so much, then they will be given what they want eternally. I fear for them.
The forms of godlessness that the enemy has seduced too many American churches into, we discussed in a past posts. None of it can be bound in heaven, for they’ve been abused by the enemy to fail and frustrate the havest. You know all those rainless clouds that lying weather men talk about, “it will rain once we have complete control of the powers be, one more judge, one more president, one more war, etc...” That’s the same motto that godless people used to rule godless peoples with apostate churches for 1700 years. So, I see the wisdom of stoning false prophets in the OT. Anyone else tired of their legacy of lies and false prophecies?
I am looking far down the tracks and high up to Glory, trying to triangulate how long it will take to recover the fields of human florishing and other important social issues, after they’ve been salted with hate, arrogance, and legislation, so that a holy Church might heal all that terror with God’s power in Jesus’ way. “Cleanse the water to save the fish, cleanse the faith to save the nations”…righteous orders from the Righteous One. Many “special” people will argue that’s two different orders so they might split them and insert theirown “special” mission creep overtime, but the orders are one in the same according to my Lord and God. Can you image the owner and sower of a field sending a harvester only to find a multitude salting the earth while screaming the sower’s name? What is Jesus’ way to rectify that type of abomination? What does that look like? How do the righteous come out of them to get to the promises of the owner?
No matter how it works out over time, I promise God’s way is always the same, unlike the ways of the nations and apostates. The enemy always realigns to seduce the weak, but God’s way remains the same, despite the prognostications of fraudlent schemes for global horror and spectacular self-righteousness. If they were right, then it is they who’d be left behind. So let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, for their sakes.
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”
“This is no time for ‘fancy Dans’ who won’t hit the line with all they have on every play, unless they can call the signals. Each player on this team-whether he shines in the spotlight of the backfield or eats dirt in the line-must be all-Jesus*… We have men of politics*, too few men of God… We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without con-science. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living… And if we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant will prove to be our executioner.” — Omar Bradely
I will trudge it out from humanity’s desirous delimmasto Jesus’ desired resolution, darkness to light, in fire and dreams, all for Jesus’ ultimate delight. The primary focus of my work is not concerned with the conviction of sins but rather with the approach to the Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus Christ (he who judges) and our Father (the One from whom all righteousness flows and returns). The myriad erant perspectives of sin (the way God’s enemey’s rearry their forces from age to age in humanity’s sins) are a momentary obstacle meant to kill, steal, and destroy in the maximum. But in “God’s time,” the enemy and their captives’ flithy redress is fleeting in the grand scheme.
Over the long haul, the Great fact is that growth in the Spirit is the maturation of faith and inasmuch as you attune to the Spiritual realities and experiences, you release and are released from the curse of sins in numinous mitigation (our Lord’s prayer), while Jesus Christ alone puts away the sins themselves. So by his Grace that the very disease, the leftover consquences and repricussions, take on a spiritual character, as a challenge to grow up. No other spirit nor people can do that, apart from those serving with(in) the Spirit sent by Jesus into his people: overcome all challenges to grow, heal, and fulfill His Logos according to our Father’s design for living.
But first, we begin, we must circumscribe the darkness and the power of a “special” people, in order to expose them in the light, so that the Light might scatter the power that underlies their fallen forms of godlessness. So that the Light may reorder all things and arrive in the fullness of time on his earth as he has in the heavens.
Delimmas: man’s towers
Please listen to Rabbi Gordon (5 minutes): Just to be clear of complaint… if you cannot accept the words of a rabbi for occasional instruction and edification, then you’ll have lasting problems with Jesus for your salvation. He is the Rabbi of rabbis.
Important divinely ordained spiritual principles to remember: God uses the devil and his forces to challenge the righteous, holy people. God’s holy people work in God’s good things to make them better, but evil challenges us and gives the righteous the opportunity to overcome. Conversely, to become the destroyer of God’s good things marks you as God’s enemy. You may present yourself as kind and gentle yet feelings of arrogance in pursuit of worldly power mean you are serving evil, by any name. Righteousness comes through repentance, as Jesus Christ called to you first and last during his first earthly ministry. Cast out the enemy in God’s house, his good work, because your eternal life is at risk. No matter what your authorities say, my God and my Lord will judge you by your hearts. Do not let the thoughts of your head or the work of your hands belie your hearts to be marked in service to the liar and destroyer or you will be destroyed with him. My God and Lord are always just and trustworthy, nothing is hidden from them so all souls will go to their true master.
Tower of Babel: The whole world had the same language and the same words. When they were migrating from the east, they came to a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”
The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. Then the Lord said: If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another. So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. From there the Lord scattered them over all the earth.”
Remember this portion concerning what you have built up from earthworks to pierce the heavens and destroy the good work of the Creator. This power of the “special” greedy and arrogant people must be scattered before the Lord returns, or else…
They enjoyed three years of peace—no fighting between Aram and Israel. In the third year, Jehoshaphat king of Judah had a meeting with the king of Israel. Israel’s king remarked to his aides, “Do you realize that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us, and we’re sitting around on our hands instead of taking it back from the king of Aram?”
He turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “Will you join me in fighting for Ramoth Gilead?”Jehoshaphat said, “You bet. I’m with you all the way—my troops are your troops, my horses are your horses.” He then continued, “But before you do anything, ask God for guidance.”
The king of Israel got the prophets together—all four hundred of them—and put the question to them: “Should I attack Ramoth Gilead? Or should I hold back?” “Go for it,” they said. “God will hand it over to the king.”
But Jehoshaphat dragged his heels: “Is there still another prophet of God around here we can consult?” The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, “As a matter of fact, there is still one such man. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom—Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king shouldn’t talk about a prophet like that,” said Jehoshaphat. So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, “On the double! Get Micaiah son of Imlah.”
Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them called out, “God’s word! With these horns you’ll gore Aram until there’s nothing left of him!” All the prophets chimed in, “Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God’s gift to the king!”
The messenger who went to get Micaiah said, “The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous—vote Yes!” But Micaiah said, “As surely as God lives, what God says, I’ll say.”
With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, “So Micaiah—do we attack Ramoth Gilead, or do we hold back?” “Go ahead,” he said. “An easy victory. God’s gift to the king.” “Not so fast,” said the king. “How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?”
“All right,” said Micaiah, “since you insist.
I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills, sheep with no shepherd. Then God spoke: ‘These poor people have no one to tell them what to do. Let them go home and do the best they can for themselves.’”
Then the king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, “See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom.” Micaiah kept on: “I’m not done yet; listen to God’s word:
I saw God enthroned, and all the angel armies of heaven Standing at attention ranged on his right and his left. And God said, ‘How can we seduce Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead?’ Some said this, and some said that. Then a bold angel stepped out, stood before God, and said, ‘I’ll seduce him.’ ‘And how will you do it?’ said God. ‘Easy,’ said the angel, ‘I’ll get all the prophets to lie.’ ‘That should do it,’ said God. ‘On your way—seduce him!’
“And that’s what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom.”
Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and punched Micaiah in the nose, saying, “Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?” Micaiah said, “You’ll know soon enough; you’ll know it when you’re frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide.”
The king of Israel had heard enough: “Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king’s son with this message, ‘King’s orders: Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I’m back in one piece.’” Micaiah said, “If you ever get back in one piece, I’m no prophet of God.” He added,“When it happens, O people, remember where you heard it!”
The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Wear my kingly robe; I’m going into battle disguised.” So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise. Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them): “Don’t bother with anyone, whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only.”
When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat they said, “There he is! The king of Israel!” and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn’t the king of Israel after all. They let him go. Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow randomly into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor. The king told his charioteer, “Turn back! Get me out of here—I’m wounded.”
All day the fighting continued, hot and heavy. Propped up in his chariot, the king watched from the sidelines. He died that evening. Blood from his wound pooled in the chariot. As the sun went down, shouts reverberated through the ranks, “Abandon camp! Head for home! The king is dead!” The king was brought to Samaria and there they buried him. They washed down the chariot at the pool of Samaria where the town whores bathed, and the dogs lapped up the blood, just as God’s word had said.
The devil re-arrays his powers from age to age to better seduce and destroy the arrogant. The false prophets and vainglorious teachers fail to grasp this fundamental principle threaded throughout the Word of God. So, God used them and lying spirts to challenge a “special” people and they failed too… so far. The enemy is elemental and subtle and offered the same deceptions he did to Christ, but “special” people still accept Satan on all three counts… grasping at power and choosing affluence for worldly rule, and they still tempt my Lord, their claimed God. Satan is wicked not stupid; he would not appear in this age as he had before. All their prophets’ schemes arose from the wars of past ages, not this present one.
Repent do not be destroyed with the false prophets and their masters. And if “Nicolae Carpathia” ever shows up, that’s on me, so I’ll go punch him in the throat and crush his balls while I step over his dying corpse. Sorted! Do you really think the enemy would make it that easy?
Recall the Temptation of Jesus, the only Lord of all things: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights,and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written:
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written:
‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Who said that anyone claiming Jesus Christ as their Master (by lived example) could respond differently to these demonic offers today? Turn from those devils and liars and ally with the Ministry of my Lord’s angels, by/in obedience to our standard, Jesus Christ.
Today’s material, last dark tower for earthly powers
To begin, I apologize if this is news to you, a “special” people failed or rejected doing anything about it over 14 years ago, nothing beyond transitory lip service anyway… but do not fear, nothing escapes God. They will be dealt with justly in due course. To those who this word is new, you don’t have 14 more years to waste. I would not wait even 14 more minutes, but don’t panic. I am here to tell you that anyone can be rescued to union with Messiah Jesus, if you trust God and clean house, each according to their willingness and honesty. We didn’t get here overnight but we need to take steps, big or small, everyday.
We outlined the structures of apostacsy that give form to godlessness in previous posts. Remember all the willy waving, er rape and murder? Now, the power of death and lying spirits that took captive a “special” people, who still desire still to be giants upon the earth, must be exposed then dispersed. Jesus Christ will bring the Right summation to all things, after the oppressive and destructive regime of economic worship of these people is brought down.
It is the power of the leauge of nimrods who suceeded the fall of earth’s last great empire. Their uncritical fans and sycophantic prophets are wrong about more than just the beast and the purpose of Grace… they never even admitted theirs’ was the last empire either. But fear not, because they also failed to incorporate the major spiritual principle concerning God’s character. No matter how the enemy shuffles the cards, God is always present to offer peace and rescue to those who earnestly seek him, no matter the depths of their depravity wrought from spiritual illnesses. The battle we are called to is spiritual, not their obssesive contest of issues concerning material culture. In the Spirit, ours is always a plan of peace, sacrfice, and fidelity in the material to purify our spirits in witness to the oppositional powers.
Below is the counterfeit dark circle of Satan, presently ruling the entire earth materially empowered by spiritual famine and sickness. This filty power is meant to mock the Holy Spirit’s last disclosures to humanity, materially destroy our Father’s favored adorment, and diminsh the souls of Jesus’ true Bride. Again, we present the seducing power that kills, both hands and heads, and has driven a “special” people to the brink of eternal destruction. It is the last dark tower that humanity will raise to blaspheme its Creator. With its base within the earth, they have ripped the skies all about the earth… and it came as a dream of fire by fallen angels and lying spirits to complete the arrogance of men.
This age knows it by a human knowledge, by an abuse of man’s power to name angels, the benzine ring: 6 hydrogen, 6 carbon, 6 strong bonds (12 elemental wings as material body), “6-6-6” is it’s notation. It is the archangel of waste in the last age of fallen humanity ruling over a defiled earth– the last abomination, the global false king for desolation, brought up from beneath the earth just to be burned, after God struck it down ages ago, empowered exclusively by the lusts of men that destroys all life just as it is raised just to be destroyed by fire.
Kekule’s Dark Dream: It was very much the same with the Benzene Theory. During my stay in Ghent, Belgium, I occupied pleasant bachelor quarters in the main street. My study, however, was in a narrow alleyway and had during the day time no light. For a chemist who spends the hours of daylight in the laboratory this was no disadvantage. I was sitting there engaged in writing my text-book; but it wasn’t going very well; my mind was on other things. I turned my chair toward the fireplace and sank into a doze.
Again the atoms were flitting before my eyes. Smaller groups now kept modestly in the background. My mind’s eye, sharpened by repeated visions of a similar sort, now distinguished larger structures of varying forms. Long rows frequently close together, all, in movement, winding and turning like serpents. And see! What was that? One of the serpents seized its own tail and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. I came awake like a flash of lightning. This time also I spent the remainder of the night working out the consequences of the hypothesis.
If we learn to dream, gentlemen, then we shall perhaps find truth
—To him who forgoes thought, Truth seems to come unsought; He gets it without labor. —
We must take care, however, not to publish our dreams before submitting them to proof by the waking mind. “Countless germs of mental life fill the realm of space but only in a few rare minds do they find soil for their development; in them the idea, of which no one knows whence it came, lives as an active process.” As I have told you before, at certain times certain ideas are in the air. We hear now from Liebig that the germs of ideas are like the spores of bacilli which fill the atmosphere. Why did the germs of the Structural and Benzene ideas, which have been in the air for a period of twenty-five years, find a soil particularly favorable to their development in my head?— http://web.mit.edu/redingtn/www/netadv/SP20151130.html
The new understanding of benzene, and hence of all aromatic compounds, proved to be so important for both pure and applied chemistry after 1865 that in 1890 the German Chemical Society organized an elaborate appreciation in Kekulé’s honor, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first benzene paper. Here Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros). — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Kekul%C3%A9
“That’s what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.”
Do not misunderstand me, I preach only the Gospel of my Jesus Christ crucified. You need to read John 3:16 right. His Sacrafice is first and foremost about His order of all things (cosmos), then, collaterally with trusworthiness (any) everyone may join into reconciliation. Reading yourself into the true Gospel as the primary or exclusive cause of his suffering is a common abuse of a most basic scripture. You have to really stretch the meaning of cosmos and ignore the structure of the text. God is about his glory, not yours, not unless and until you align with that same will for his Glory, which no creature will share in… eternal life upon that crystal ceiling is the best anyone can hope for… If you claim otherwise, then you have one hell of a fall coming.
To me John 3:16 is a one line catacheism that requires a lifetime to unfurl. First, I’m perteptually awed by what God has done and what my Lord did in life, death, and resurrection for his right governance of all things in summation. Second, I learn real grace, really amazing on his behalf, because I know that I’m barely a comma in a footnote within a library too vast too imagine, yet he still invites me to read all his books. Lastly, because of that grace I’m encouraged and invited to endure all things, in a covenantal faith, like he did, from all people with humility and patience, seeking only to reflect his gracious work in me… only for his reason, not my own interest, that he may attune me in my petty sufferings within the Great Forge of his creative heart. It is a death sentence for me and my way to follow him and his way for eternal life in his divine reharmonizing of all things and everyone else. Even when he raises me, time and again, it is never about me, always less about me. Grace cannot be a badge for me to flash in pride if I am not there. For me, Grace is evidence left in wake of his divine action of where I once was.
But we see, the lost and the sinners see, everyone sees the church of the harlot’s reading. Drunk, choking, and adorned in the blood saints yet shedding none of her own. Wow, they ride high and put themselves first in the passage… all of God’s work and works, the whole story, has led up to being about them. They claim to be already high and lifted up. Grace is a badge to prove all claims and all things are about them, and it their a licence to dictate eternally no matter what they do. Then they argue or apologize that all others must be like them or their neon god will smite and judge everyone else. They endlessly sell the image of the sufferings of Jesus Christ like mature apostles while sitting painlessly in their affluence. Yet, in the very next minute, they rise up to whine and stomp their feet like spoiled brats and demand that their false fathers protect them from the unimaginable pain of being paid to bake a cake for someone they were taught to reject by liars. To them John 3:16 is a flimsy banner, a decrorative token or an enchanting tasliment, to veil a “special,” lethal kind of spiritual arrogance that justifies all their acts against all others, only amongst only themselves. In truth, nothing will ever be about them again because nothing of them will survive the Fire. And even worse will come to their low-filter prophets and vain-glourious teachers because nothing about them is right for sacrifice.
Not enough? Too edgy? Then I call a second witness, God’s longest speech from the Word’s oldest Wisdom, please read Job 38-41. Man, do you see yourself in there? Can you see how small you really are in the big picture? God responds to a man, but where does He place Job in the order of all things? How does Job feel and respond? Do you think yourself more trustworthy or greater than Job, even with repentance? If so, man, prepare for the trials of Job because they are upon you. Look on your works and despair because God is displeased with them. At best, the Spirit calls them “incomplete,” and that’s on a hard curve. I am talking a Satchel Paige curve!
I was ordered to be personal, not too pedantic here (maybe later somewhere else). But yes, the number and image is also about past wicked men and their puppet priests, but their age has long passed. Satan is not stupid. So, the enemy rearrayed and God gave them different names, but they remain the same in the type of their works: greed, rule, death and destruction all by bad faith in temptation of God’s Word and contempt for his good works.
In God’s real stories it is always about types for accurate identification, over timethe signed and signifiers recombine for actualized meaning (material fruits) according to Spiritual principles. In this way it remains an honest test of every person’s conscience and spirit, no matter the age… and yet God has never changed, not one aspect, not a single jot or tiddle. He is so freaking amazing! Who else but God could unfurl such a plan?!
John saw telescopically, through a few patterns superimposed across time, the most misundertsood dimension. We bumped into each other before, and I feel for that beloved, ecstatic hippie because there’s no way that any first century eastern-meditteraian mind could have adquately concieved the process by which myraid exotic and extinct forms of life, their spirit images become set free in mid-air by oblation… all so wicked people and self-absorbed churches could live in affulence and oppression over the least of the earth. The background illumination from the incandescent alga burn off alone is overhelming in sight. I am amazed he did as well as he did with his descriptions.
Still not sure? Well then, ah… you might just be made for the Fire. I get it. I relate and understand that you’re spiritually ill, so I am here to burn it into the conscience of all that anyone can recover if they are honest. As the Lord of spirits comes in to rest in fullness of his time, I hope and pray that all are given enough time to turn, yet I know that it is written that many will not. So I grieve.
Personally, we’ll return to Shiloh… In the mid-eighties the oil and gas companies really turned the screws in that neck of the woods. My grandfather and a few others fought for a time but Satan’s forces then were much greater and more insidious than the Nazi’s, and even more destructive. First the ground water was destroyed. Then the artesian wells were posioned. Then the lakes became toxic and most of the fish were killed off. Finally, the woods were destroyed and the creatures were scattered as even more pumps came in upon fields of gravel. They destroyed life, made a desert, and called it a really profitable deal… ‘good for everybody!’ Pax Americana come home to brood and rot and trash. The last and greatest victims of every empire are it’s native inhabitants of the homeland, just ask all the “good Gremans.” Here the death is more than material; the worst effects are spiritual and primarily within the ones claiming to be the most spiritual.
I have always feared judgment and prayed for sinners. But my God and my Lord have done a very interesting work in my heart over the years. And today, as I write this post, I must confess that a holy sense of comfort, and the judgment of many that I came out of is not causing me to lose sleep any longer. You must see that my Lord is enthroned now in the very place where he judged the first great tower, and I want to see him move… and God help me, he has made me okay with any time and any way in which it pleases himself, even if it pleases no other, to drop the hammer. I couldn’t say that 14 years ago, even though I had been already rated by multiple agencies as ‘focused and dynamic’ even in ‘the most kenetic circumstances.’ So I am ready. Are you? Better check yourself before you wreck yourself man, the time for honoring yourself is over, especially if you have blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ to do it. Honor God, now.
I am simply a co-worshipper, so I have great empathy. Perhaps that’s why I am the worst of men, so that there will not be a single person that I cannot identify with in all their depravity. For example, just a couple of years ago I was at a conference with a good church fellow who paid for my dinner, the whole group in fact. By all human accounts he is a “godly man.” Kind and friendly, engaging and often grateful, he’s a great guy to visit. Mid-way through dinner I learned he had gained his wealth in oil and gas, not unusal in Houston. And I know he gave money and time to the church, a decent church too. When I shared the story of Shiloh, in a kind and comfortable way (I can be charming if the situation affords), he became sullen. He had a hard time facing me but did not argue the facts. He was ashamed, and that’s good because we can fix that with time and action. He might even shine in time. I would be fully committed to that. But if he had become proud and denied the truth to protect his ego and defend his insults, then we’d have a different issue before the court:
And if some bullying Assyrian shows up, invades and violates our land, don’t worry. We’ll put him in his place, send him packing, and watch his every move. Shepherd-rule will extend as far as needed, to Assyria and all other Nimrod-bullies. Our shepherd-ruler will save us from old or new enemies, from anyone who invades or violates our land.
Your legacy? Are you going to be the last generation to prop-up nimrod bullies who destroy the land or the third generation to usher in Shepard rule? Death or Life? Will you be the last of the darkness or among the first to host the Light?
Do as you please, it is your life and personal will to cast lots with. But as for me and mine, we’ll push as hard as possible, as long as we have breath, to cleanse a place, a people, and a faith to joyously host the returning Light.
We’ve had the worst harvests in 25 years, and even worse… too many of the worst churches in annals of human history. So now, we are transtioning from the captivity of self-will to the freedom of God’s Will. Despoil Eygpt if you please but you won’t need any of those things… their allure should begin to dim, in dawning righteousness.
Two years passed and Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile River. Seven cows came up out of the Nile, all shimmering with health, and grazed on the marsh grass. Then seven other cows, all skin and bones, came up out of the river after them and stood by them on the bank of the Nile. The skinny cows ate the seven healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
He went back to sleep and dreamed a second time: Seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, grew out of a single stalk. Then seven more ears grew up, but these were thin and dried out by the east wind. The thin ears swallowed up the full, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up—another dream.
When morning came, he was upset. He sent for all the magicians and sages of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but they couldn’t interpret them to him.
The head cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, “I just now remembered something—I’m sorry, I should have told you this long ago. Once when Pharaoh got angry with his servants, he locked me and the head baker in the house of the captain of the guard. We both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning. It so happened that there was a young Hebrew slave there with us; he belonged to the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us, each dream separately. Things turned out just as he interpreted. I was returned to my position and the head baker was impaled.”
Pharaoh at once sent for Joseph. They brought him on the run from the jail cell. He cut his hair, put on clean clothes, and came to Pharaoh. “I dreamed a dream,” Pharaoh told Joseph. “Nobody can interpret it. But I’ve heard that just by hearing a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered, “Not I, but God. God will set Pharaoh’s mind at ease.”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. Seven cows, shimmering with health, came up out of the river and grazed on the marsh grass. On their heels seven more cows, all skin and bones, came up. I’ve never seen uglier cows anywhere in Egypt. Then the seven skinny, ugly cows ate up the first seven healthy cows. But you couldn’t tell by looking—after eating them up they were just as skinny and ugly as before. Then I woke up.
“In my second dream I saw seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, growing out of a single stalk, and right behind them, seven other ears, shriveled, thin, and dried out by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the full ears. I’ve told all this to the magicians but they can’t figure it out.”
Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s two dreams both mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh what he is going to do. The seven healthy cows are seven years and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years—they’re the same dream. The seven sick and ugly cows that followed them up are seven years and the seven scrawny ears of grain dried out by the east wind are the same—seven years of famine.
“The meaning is what I said earlier: God is letting Pharaoh in on what he is going to do. Seven years of plenty are on their way throughout Egypt. But on their heels will come seven years of famine, leaving no trace of the Egyptian plenty. As the country is emptied by famine, there won’t be even a scrap left of the previous plenty—the famine will be total. The fact that Pharaoh dreamed the same dream twice emphasizes God’s determination to do this and do it soon.
“So, Pharaoh needs to look for a wise and experienced man and put him in charge of the country. Then Pharaoh needs to appoint managers throughout the country of Egypt to organize it during the years of plenty. Their job will be to collect all the food produced in the good years ahead and stockpile the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, storing it in the towns for food. This grain will be held back to be used later during the seven years of famine that are coming on Egypt. This way the country won’t be devastated by the famine.”
This seemed like a good idea to Pharaoh and his officials. Then Pharaoh said to his officials, “Isn’t this the man we need? Are we going to find anyone else who has God’s spirit in him like this?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “You’re the man for us. God has given you the inside story—no one is as qualified as you in experience and wisdom. From now on, you’re in charge of my affairs; all my people will report to you. Only as king will I be over you.”
So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: “I’m putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his finger and slipped it on Joseph’s hand. He outfitted him in robes of the best linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He put the second-in-command chariot at his disposal, and as he rode people shouted “Bravo!”…
…During the next seven years of plenty the land produced bumper crops. Joseph gathered up the food of the seven good years in Egypt and stored the food in cities. In each city he stockpiled surplus from the surrounding fields. Joseph collected so much grain—it was like the sand of the ocean!—that he finally quit keeping track…
…Then Egypt’s seven good years came to an end and the seven years of famine arrived, just as Joseph had said. All countries experienced famine; Egypt was the only country that had bread. When the famine spread throughout Egypt, the people called out in distress to Pharaoh, calling for bread. He told the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you.” As the famine got worse all over the country, Joseph opened the store-houses and sold emergency supplies to the Egyptians. The famine was very bad. Soon the whole world was coming to buy supplies from Joseph. The famine was bad all over.
But wait! The goodness in the story comes in return…
Joseph couldn’t hold himself in any longer, keeping up a front before all his attendants. He cried out, “Leave! Clear out—everyone leave!” So there was no one with Joseph when he identified himself to his brothers. But his sobbing was so violent that the Egyptians couldn’t help but hear him. The news was soon reported to Pharaoh’s palace.
Joseph spoke to his brothers: “I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?” But his brothers couldn’t say a word. They were speechless—they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing.
“Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives. There has been a famine in the land now for two years; the famine will continue for five more years—neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance. So you see, it wasn’t you who sent me here but God. He set me in place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt.
“Hurry back to my father. Tell him, ‘Your son Joseph says: I’m master of all of Egypt. Come as fast as you can and join me here. I’ll give you a place to live in Goshen where you’ll be close to me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and anything else you can think of. I’ll take care of you there completely. There are still five more years of famine ahead; I’ll make sure all your needs are taken care of, you and everyone connected with you—you won’t want for a thing.’
“Look at me. You can see for yourselves, and my brother Benjamin can see for himself, that it’s me, my own mouth, telling you all this. Tell my father all about the high position I hold in Egypt, tell him everything you’ve seen here, but don’t take all day—hurry up and get my father down here.”
Then Joseph threw himself on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He then kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Only then were his brothers able to talk with him.
The story was reported in Pharaoh’s palace: “Joseph’s brothers have come.” It was good news to Pharaoh and all who worked with him. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘This is the plan: Load up your pack animals; go to Canaan, get your father and your families and bring them back here. I’ll settle you on the best land in Egypt—you’ll live off the fat of the land.’
“Also tell them this: ‘Here’s what I want you to do: Take wagons from Egypt to carry your little ones and your wives and load up your father and come back. Don’t worry about having to leave things behind; the best in all of Egypt will be yours.’” And they did just that, the sons of Israel. Joseph gave them the wagons that Pharaoh had promised and food for the trip. He outfitted all the brothers in brand-new clothes, but he gave Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver and several suits of clothes. He sent his father these gifts: ten donkeys loaded with Egypt’s best products and another ten donkeys loaded with grain and bread, provisions for his father’s journey back.
Then he sent his brothers off. As they left he told them, “Take it easy on the journey; try to get along with each other.” They left Egypt and went back to their father Jacob in Canaan. When they told him, “Joseph is still alive—and he’s the ruler over the whole land of Egypt!” he went numb; he couldn’t believe his ears. But the more they talked, telling him everything that Joseph had told them and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him back, the blood started to flow again—their father Jacob’s spirit revived. Israel said, “I’ve heard enough—my son Joseph is still alive. I’ve got to go and see him before I die.”
Solution: God’s Ladders
Finally, the upstroke, what is all this family folklore about a ladder and angels from the portion above in this post? There are many answers and a few good ones. For this discussion, we’ll connect and contrast the portion with another, often neglected passage that seems short and simple, but those are the best places to slow down and dig in. Nothing in the writings should be ignored. It is wise to appreciate and attune to the small things, from applied chemistry to biblical narrative, if it is true that “we don’t want to miss a single thing.” This least one is hung between two that are often conspicuously discussed portions.
My rabbis taught me to connect the overlooked bits with other similar points, and let then narrative raise the meanings. Let’s begin with the least then close with the first, big one above. I’ll keep it as short as I can so that, the pattern, not the terms, can arise and multiply with the other stories presented in this post. The pattern is repeating today in a new way, but in God’s plan that is a dynamic pattern he established before he created us, so he, only he, might recreate us in like manner in the seasons to come.
And Jacob went his way. Angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them he said, “Oh! God’s Camp!” And he named the place Mahanaim (Campground).
Short and very sweet, isn’t it? What are the parallels and what are the differences with the one at the top of the post? Here are just a few for meaning because brevity is the soul of wit and this post is already so long it might be called witless in form, but we want substance.
Jacob is on the move. He’s going from point A to point B first and then returns years later to point A from point B. On both occasions, there is a middle ground, a place in between places, in which he encounters angels. On the journey from home to a yet unknown place of foreign enrichment and alien blessings. He names the middle ground “place” and there is a ladder, God’s ladder, not a human construction, with angels traveling like him. But their trips are vertical not horizontal. Years later in return, there’s no mention of the ladder but he encounters angels, not a place. All of them are moving for God’s purpose in a spiritual place he names “camp.” Where’d the ladder go? How can a man interact with angels this way?
Both times Jacob is moving in proper authority, so the journey is important and it will occur according to the plans of the only proper authority if Jacob is obedient. Some teachers argue that every challenge Jacob overcomes arose by departing form the plan set before him. Today we’d call that “mission creep,” a potentially catastrophic error that occurs when a servant loses sight of his master’s established objective for any reason. In both lands he had fathers as authorities. Interestingly, it is his own father who blesses him and sends him from his homeland to point B, burdened somewhat like a punishment, as he was at loggerheads about deception and familial rank with his brother. Interestingly, when Jacob returns to his homeland, it is God alone who orders him to return, not his father-in-law, the proper authority in the land of enrichment. In fact, he leaves his in-law’s land, again, with some seeming deception and irreverence to familial rank. But the second time he would’ve preferred to stay and not take the journey fearing more troubles with his family of origin. But both times Jacob clearly acts according to God’s will, despite his fear of loss.
My theory, based on my experience and hope, is God was exposing things were “a miss” in both places even though they were run by the proper powers that be. And he was doing something surprising and wonderful for God, as long as he struggled to serve God under imperfect authorities…Why? What’s God doing? Where’s the ladder? And what of these now “groupie” angels?
Let’s answer the questions in reverse… Jacob no longer just sees angels but he walks with them in order, which could only be by God’s will. It certainly wasn’t a familial desire at either place. He moved from a place of observation to participation in God’s will and solely for God’s agenda, obviously apart from, yet in, his travels under other authorities for their personal agendas. Jacob learned God’s agenda and movements. Afterall, it was he who sent out the messengers in return. Believe me, there is no better teacher of God’s will than the acts of angels who mostly remain silent, while even “righteous” people, who seldom shut up, often twist off in dark ways with the powers that be. Angels do not fail in acts ordered, either glorious or terrible, because their separation from unrighteous angels has already occurred. All that obedience in spite of will of fallen, contested powers is for God’s renown.
The ladder? God, by his own acts and direction in trials and through service to fallen powers, made Jacob a ladder. Nonsense? I have it on the highest Authority. I can prove it by the way things worked out in the biblical stories across the history of God’s interactions with various “special” peoples. God wants to bless all people through a people obedient to him, beginning to end, in his own words throughout his Word and with his Word, Jesus… Alpha to Omega and back. It creates a chain of righteousness, a coveyance of blessing and promise fulfilment from God, through his people, and out to all peoples. Moreover, we know the angels didn’t change, but Jacob certainly did. The proof was in the promise of legacy imparted to Jacob. What Joseph did in the material, Jacob did in the spiritual, and Jesus is doing in both today. I am a witness to that activity and a servant to anyone who wants to know him.
Even more understanding can come from God’s ladder if we briefly contrast it with the towers of men. First and foremost, in the writings we know that men build towers for their own renown, some even put their name on it. In fact, one is right to say their desire to rule is embodied in that activity. Whether it was Babel or the cipher exposed again above, both towers embody the disobedience of men to make a way for themselves from earth to rule in a heaven of vain imagination, a utopia, a name that actually means “nowhere.” And if you participate in those works that is where you will reside forever because you are deeply committed to a corrupt connection between heaven and earth that presents an abomination before the Creator. Even the idea that a human, using a human language, could build their own connection with God is a wicked ideological tower of its own as a corruption of God’s Word, as if any creature could ever compel its Creator to act…it boggles the right-minded.
One of the greatest horrors I’ve had to learn to suffer and live with is the visible truth to me that many American churches have no angels over them. In fact, over 50 years I’ve seen fewer and fewer as the messages of “glory” about the powers that be have occulted God’s message and Spiritual linkage. Who is the only one who can separate you from God? Only you can. The enemy gives tantalizing offers, just as he did to my Lord. The enemy does it all the time but people have to choose the disobedience to God to bear all this filthy fruit. Oh, I know there’s world full doctrinal ego-defense out there for all the wrong reasons, but that’s not God, it is a rape of scripture, and it certainly wasn’t Jesus when he took on flesh.
A value, no matter how divine or wicked, requires human activity to manifest (to fruit) in the world, for better or worse. It is great to announce erudite values and effete beliefs, but until and unless you die to self and follow Jesus you’re just a fool sallying about for your own name. Regardless to personal cost, the righteous embody Jesus only in the way Jesus acted, and that builds a name for God in the world… no matter what other powers do or say. The purpose of God’s linkage to his people is to act through them as a blessing to other people, not to brag about and announce their own blessedness. That deeper truth of Jacob’s ladder is the sap that blossomed into the Greatest Commandment.
The self-righteous abuse the smallest deposit of God’s Power that they were entrusted with to win their wars, fortify their towers, and plead for the restoration of their flesh. For 1700 years this has disturbed and driven away angles, so God’s Power has receded from them to the point of cessation and rumor. But there is a remnant, there is always a remnant, who remain on point working like a rhizome, within and below, like humility Himself, manifesting miracles out of sight of the wicked and beyond the minds of corrupt churchly authorities. The power of God is not stomping about the earth starting wars, defiling the earth, and advertising his greatness like the giants of old or the disobedient elect gentiles of today. That is not God’s way. Why would he act out of such insecurity? He never willy waves!
God’s Power is coming afresh like the dew of heaven, each drop directed by angels to the trustworthy, or like an IV administered by the great Physician for sure, steady, and sustained growth… to be vouchsafe, for the fruition in those the Holy Spirit may trust. This is a surprise to the enemy, the abusive ones who crave earthly power, and craven prophets who got rich on lies. God’s plans always are strange fire to them. Those that plan tommorow’s battles like yesterday’s wars always lose. At present it is not a waterfall, but Jesus’ returning ministry will end up being a billion times more impressive. You must understand that God’s Power is not about winning wars, Jesus already did that. The Spirit of God is coming to rest in the truely faithful now so that one day his people, a people unsullied by earthly grandiosity and pride, will end all wars, be God’s ladders, and restore all things to his order. It is happening, it may take a long time and the wicked may even appear to regain some “advantage” at times and in places, but those pyrrhic victories will only further insure their ultimate shame and eternal destruction. It is happening now or I would not be writing to you now.
Personally I did the opposite of worldly wisdom. When the inherited authority came to me, I quickly sold the mineral rights to restore my family of origin. Many have called me a fool because of the “riches” I gave up. But dear reader, I am the richest man, in God’s eyes, that I’ve ever met. My doctor tells me that if I were any fatter it would be a sin, and my “supervisors” tell me that if I were any happier I’d probably just walk away and take a nap, instead of following orders. I finally have everything I ever wanted and too much more. I never have to live or die for the wicked or the disobedient elect (in my unique but not one of a kind role). I can just walk away and that is a right witness for my God and right service to my Lord. I can feel good about acts now that I once felt as a burden. I serve and witness only so that Jesus may have better. Sure, I don’t have all the trappings held by many of my neighbors, but I am free and growing in Love every day. That is a life’s work and retirement plan all in one. I’ve rejoiced and been honored to work with the angels and “unclean people” in service to my Lord and my God all my days, even in sufferings. You would be too, and now is your time.
Publically I encourage you to work with those you think are wrong in authority, as I did for the disobedient elect, if they are doing God’s will concerning the beast and God’s creation. There is not another 14 years of grace for that tower, that power is bound for judgment and will be scattered economically as God scattered the linguistic power at Bable. Do not mark yourself for eternal damnation just to appear to be in the “right crowd” in this world. Jesus tells us in hard sayings what happens to that crowd, and he has many folds that crowd will never acknowledge. Believe Jesus, I beg of you all. Keep your feet on the ground and your head in heaven to be a ladder of spiritual blessing and material restoration, because the poor and humble will inherit the earth and all God’s riches, no matter what the “special” people in that ‘greatest crowd ever’ say. Know now, Jesus’ angel armies and a lot of peoples, Christian and many more others, who some Christians call “unclean” or “common,” have been out there doing the Lord’s work for decades now. In reality, most of the world and most Christians overseas already get all this… except the last, “special” ones. Who will you be numbered with?
I am here for the righteous… and anyone we might call ‘righteous curious,’ only as long as my God wills it. But for all of us there is only one standard for faith forever: it is obedeince to Christ, in his acts and to our Father’s commands. Jesus said that if love him, then you should know that already. From the garden to the last words of Jesus spoke to everyone in the bible, the elect mark themselves for judgment or reward, for better or worse, based on their obedience to God. Therefore we never brag about election or rule in this world, especially as our Kingdom now arrives and grows. Like our King, we are fully commited to service in our Father’s Kingdom. It’s the only place that matters. We do not judge sinners because Jesus came to serve them and to save any that might become curious enough about him. Did he not come to us all while we were and are sinners? We do not destroy God’s good work, instead we labor in Christ and with his Spirit to restore and reconcile without contingency.
Jesus tells everyone that ‘it is better to serve in heaven with one eye than rule in falleness with two eyes,’ all so we might glorify our Father. Better to be honored by God and despised by people that abuse His name than be loved by people who abuse His name to who make war on God, his work and design for all things. It is better to be consumed by Fire than rebel against your Creator. Disobedence always ends in the Fire. Obedience to God is refined in the same Fire. It never ends, for it is eternal life.
As my Lord promised to all long ago, he and his are now fulfilling the promise in a growing blaze:
“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
To Start a Fire
“I’ve come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up—how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront! From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be—
Three against two, and two against three; Father against son, and son against father; Mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; Mother-in-law against bride, and bride against mother-in-law.”
Then he turned to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’—and you’re right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’—and you’re right. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.”
Now, in the God-season, more than ever, please know there is only one standard to be pursued by any one claiming salvation in the name of Jesus, from the moment of conversion to the instant of perfection within his Ressurection, from lay person to leader, and no matter the role God assigns to each of us. But those selfish believers and every false messiah can be seen miles away, for none of them can approach this example. They reject his sufferings because they adore their own dark glories. Only Jesus lived and died perfectly, so he is the only judge of the living and the dead; it is by his own standard that all is weighed following him, both in rewards and punishments.
Jesus Took on the Status of a Slave
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
No one can follow Jesus without worshippimg him right, but you can worship him a lot, a whole lot, without ever following him and that’s wrong. This is true simply because Jesus’ singular plea to anyone he ever calls is “follow me.” He never says “worship me.” Churches say it, but if none, or only a few, among their assembly are actually following Jesus, then he will judge those churches accordingly. He alone tempers judgment and weighs reward for those he calls solely by how they respond to his unique plea, not how they talk about his uniqueness.
Meanwhile the dead are being judged and I am willing to help anyone else that is willing to be re-made right by the Holy Spirit as part of reconciling the Law of Christ into our Father’s creation. Ours is strictly a volunteer army, as always. So sinners and those who call themselves elect are free to do as they please, some in obedience others in disobeience.
Praise of God the Creator
O my soul, bless God!
God, my God, how great you are! beautifully, gloriously robed, Dressed up in sunshine, and all heaven stretched out for your tent. You built your palace on the ocean deeps, made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings. You commandeered winds as messengers, appointed fire and flame as ambassadors. You set earth on a firm foundation so that nothing can shake it, ever. You blanketed earth with ocean, covered the mountains with deep waters; Then you roared and the water ran away— your thunder crash put it to flight. Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out in the places you assigned them. You set boundaries between earth and sea; never again will earth be flooded. You started the springs and rivers, sent them flowing among the hills. All the wild animals now drink their fill, wild donkeys quench their thirst. Along the riverbanks the birds build nests, ravens make their voices heard. You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns; earth is supplied with plenty of water. You make grass grow for the livestock, hay for the animals that plow the ground.
Oh yes, God brings grain from the land, wine to make people happy, Their faces glowing with health, a people well-fed and hearty. God’s trees are well-watered— the Lebanon cedars he planted. Birds build their nests in those trees; look—the stork at home in the treetop. Mountain goats climb about the cliffs; badgers burrow among the rocks. The moon keeps track of the seasons, the sun is in charge of each day. When it’s dark and night takes over, all the forest creatures come out. The young lions roar for their prey, clamoring to God for their supper. When the sun comes up, they vanish, lazily stretched out in their dens. Meanwhile, men and women go out to work, busy at their jobs until evening.
What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Oh, look—the deep, wide sea, brimming with fish past counting, sardines and sharks and salmon. Ships plow those waters, and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them. All the creatures look expectantly to you to give them their meals on time. You come, and they gather around; you open your hand and they eat from it. If you turned your back, they’d die in a minute— Take back your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud; Send out your Spirit and they spring to life— the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.
The glory of God—let it last forever! Let God enjoy his creation! He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake, points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.
Oh, let me sing to God all my life long, sing hymns to my God as long as I live! Oh, let my song please him; I’m so pleased to be singing to God. But clear the ground of sinners— no more godless men and women!
O my soul, bless God!
Concluding confessions and hope for the next season with broader boarders…
So, the godless structures and power of a “special” people exposed covertly, again, only to spare some shame and encorage repentance, with their nimrod seemingly down, while his master, another nimrod, has been struck in the head by Michael to slow plans for their long schemed invasion; a plan that was made possible by the downed nimrod removing the stops (militarily and by ending the rule of the petrodollar) for other nimrods to invade the middle east for the beast… a slight of hand performed while “the greatest elect ever” were enchanted by moving a “post office” from one part of the greenzone to another. Spiritual blindness always ends in the abscence of stragegic understanding. Despite that, Mel and Michael have things well in hand for Jesus there, while here, Raphael and a few “other angels” have delivered a balm for the plauge as per divine plan/promise, not nimrod’s but he’ll try and put his name on it too. Not bad for one season, huh? All done neither too fast nor too slow and just in time for the season of Light, who is the only real promise keeper.
For complete disclosure I was shown many of these things decades ago. So, I am real earnest in grace and forgiveness now. Because only recently, for my humilty, Jesus told me that all the delay, rejection, and suffering was, in part, about his prepartions in me not just to make judgment simple. I’ve never known the dubious blessings of atheism nor chosing/constructing my own god. We need apologists, but I am the worst apologist. I am with the raised Rev. Lockridge, neither the disobedient elect nor death bed confessions are our “cup of tea,” but trust me, Lucifer be there to stake powerful claims on them in judgment. Believe me, it is best to avoid that situation whole hog or you might just soil your diapers.
I’ve only ever known One, the One no one else seems to talk about, the One they left behind in a rush to worldly riches and rule, so I talk to him and he to me. So much so that the weight of those sustained Disclosures across a lifetime led me to run in sin a few times. I’ve done things that made demons proud, but I knew I was sinning and why. Sound’s bad but it makes the necessity of repentance obivous and it’s articulation very simple. Also, Omar liked to covertly walk among the soliders on the frontline as long as possible before he ever developed an opinion to share with his old friend and commander Ike, because he wanted the truth and knew you go to war with the soilders you have, not the ones you want. Again, I was taught to adore the smallest things and plan for the least among us first.
Many I see refuse to see theirown sins, continue to play the righteous victim, and swear they’ll never be held accountable… and watch… they, the arsonists, will blame the fire department while the house burns down in the coming season. Devils always do… but I am not the Judge. I am a lowly officer of his court for help and guidance. So please, allow me to suggest that until you get the first thing right the last thing will never be right for you. Or please permit me to ask, if you cannot be faithful with the small things of earth, then how can you be trusted with the great things of heaven? I hope at least a few more might turn, for Jesus, but I’ve already exceeded my nominal quota and now I am being called out (praise Jesus!), beyond their isolated small worlds of hate, exclusion, and self-righteousness in which they have wrought so much death and desolation for Satan and his world of sin. I bid them adieus and good luck because I cannot bless them to curse God.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be many more challenges, some will even seem impregnable (been there, done that, got the t-shirt too), challenges to seperate the disobient from the sincere, the righteous from the frauds, but all in all… it’s been pretty fair reboot to the Greatest story and it’s best moments to come. In three and a half months, we’ve already far exceeded my expectations, based on what took three and a half years in secret singleness last time. Still a bit of a head scratcher… but I am greatful for it now, because only anti-christs are adored and exaulted from lying start to filthy finish.
First we all must pass through the sea of dark legacy, filled by a “special” poeple; its is their great natural experiment in human sacrfice to honor their gods, mammon and pride of self-rule. While the sober and rigtheous in the world looked on in terror and fear, for decades actually. I do not balme nimrod but all those who supported him until today. Yes, these human sacrifices they demand by their “rights” will scar generations (materially and spiritually in myriad ways), but the brunt of the eternal consequences will be on those people who kept making bad choices. In democracies, social debts like public health and war are all communally or nationally shared, whereas personal sin, those made by indidvidual choice, go on strictly indvidual accounts. But God will do something predicted yet unexpected, terrible yet glorious, through it all. We serve in sacrifice to mitigate the social sins and witness in humily about the individual sins, because that is what Jesus does. In the Kingdom there is no holy nation, only a holy people who heal all nations in service to all people.
I have been looking forward to raising my eyes again beyond the grim boarders of the contumacious elect in this next season. I don’t want to feed their collective narcissism beyond a warning, again, if only to alleviate my own fear for them. As I said before, I am not angry at any of them, but I am fearful for them because many are today in worse shape soteriologically than they were 14 years ago. For me, appearently, God used what I lamented so much then as the seal of our authenticity now, just like my awful spelling and confusing syntax. Believe me, repeatedly, I told Jesus to send someone else, a poet or bona fided scribe, but he wants to prove that our Father’s Kingdom isn’t about any of that.
In his Light, he makes me cry and keeps telling me that he only wants someones who have the story right in their hearts (where the unseen fruits of their heads and hands cannot be hidden) for the intimate things. Sure you many might be in heaven, but why settle for the cheap seats or risk hellfire outside? “Many are called but few are chosen”… all his sayings are true, so I blame him in my ignorance and he can take it. No one can ever be forced to love, or even like, Jesus enough to follow him… but my testimony remains that if you truly know him, not any one of the commoditized tyrannical knock-offs… If you know him for real, then over time you will only want to adore him more in your following, even on bad days and across seasons of seeming powerlessness… talk about an easy yolk and glourious contract.
Now facing the Light, I know all these things have been done just so that we may turn up joy and devoution to Jesus, beyond all these fallen walls that do not exist in his Kingdom, in the time to come globally. Please, let’s keep taking it easy and keep moving in humility to walk gently for God’s good earth, his house, and his glory alone. Darkness away, no feelings of arrogance and his filthy works allowed… all thanks and praises to the Lord Jesus Christ, now bring God honor and glory in his house at warp speed, but only factor 1, just to take it easy.
(next post sundown December 18th, for a little family history and a lot of family hope)