Glorious Good Friday

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“I have suggested in conversations that whilst church and religion is a great “starter pack”, just like kindergarten, there should come a time when “church” says, “That’s it – now leave here and find the world, find others like you, grow as you will never grow staying here – goodbye.”

I have never had a positive response to that.”

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Another “reflection” on the annual Easter Festival now underway.

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“Either “The bible says we should gather together – that is church”, or “But where would we go, and how would we find others like us?”

Just like questioning Easter.  Tinkered-with and sexed-up to keep it fresh – but essentially the same thing year after year – a surprise party without the surprise.

Does this sound jaundiced?”

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“Yes it sounds jaundiced.

Because there is an alternative.  To actually be one of those “radical faith festival celebs” (just without the festival or the celeb).  Radical faith is no more than thinking outside the (religious) box – enjoying the freedom to allow God out of that box – finding “nourishment” more and more in the everyday AND the everywhere AND in everyone.”

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Why not head over to “Does this sound jaundiced?” and have a look – it is Good Friday after all.

Thank you –

Paul

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Making God in our own likeness (r)

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We are built for the light.
The light of life. The light of new living.
We are built for the light.

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We are built for the dark.
The dark of night. The dark of renewal.
We are built for the dark.

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You are each built diverse.
Strength in diversity. Richness in living.
Why do we not value diversity?

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We are taught to fear.
Not good fear. We are taught bad fear.
Why do you do that?

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You are taught control.
Not control to balance. To control all-everyonething-crap.
What “diversity” in that?

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We are taught un-love.
Transaction of fear. To confuse one with the other.
And now you fear love.

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You talk of false teachers.
Those who teach unfear as love.
We prefer correctness and belonging.
We prefer a flock the same we call diverse.
A monogamous diversity all the same.
Safe to bitch and unchange.
Safe to whine and unlove.
Safe to transact “love” and “law”.
And blame “God”.
Or somethingone else.
Have no other gods … ?
We have made biblically and scripturally correct
Your new God of Gods.

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Correctness in fear (of being wrongalone)

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And so you teach correctly
To (correctly) fear and (correctly) unlove
To (correctly) seek sin and (correctly) transact grace
To (correctly) bind together those who (correctly) follow
To (correctly) out-reach those who (incorrectly) unfollow
We don’t want our (correct) bible changed (really)
We don’t want change (really)
And this is taught as correct (biblically)
And that results in fear (and unlove)
Which isn’t false teaching at all (really)
You teach
Our new God of Gods (really)

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But taught un-falsely correctly

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(r) = reproduced from “Making God in our likeness” – Just me being curious 

Set Limits Around the Mountain to Make it Sacred

Dawn, Sun, Mountain, Landscape

Our lives are moving before us as we fail to catch up. The world is fast, but God is slow. Silence is not found in a place, but deep inside our souls. Silence, speak less. The rule of Saint Benedict #21, “To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” Keeping silence in the light of community. Your home is that community. And it is not silence as in the traditional notion of silence, this silence is a peace. This silence is holy. This silence as young mothers is the inner core of what we hope to achieve and pass onto our children.

I hear from many mothers whose lives are in tumult. They want peace. Life is chaotic, children are chaotic, don’t let anyone fool you. Our expectations are high but are kids are four. Their conscience is barely formed… We are shaping clay, God is the artist through our hands.

And this is hard. It is harder when we look to attain Christ’s holiness. Secular happiness is easy to achieve- a cheap bottle of wine and a night of debauchery. It will make you happy, but it will not sustain you. Why does the world tell us as mothers to run away from our vocations? We don’t need a break from our children, we need a break with God.

The focus of our lives has to be the mountain, we must surround it. From morning until evening, our lives could use some assistance from the likes of Saint Benedict. A focus on God. Rising early to study Him. Spending the day surrounded by Him. Treating our families as the monastery community and not trying to live in spiritual isolation, that is not holiness. 

Place the beautiful boundaries around your time with God. Don’t expect your children to get up late, you get up early. Sacrifice is hard but needed. We grow in beauty and holiness when we set limits around the mountain to make it sacred, just ask Moses.

If we cherish something, we protect it. We stay on guard. We surround it. If we keep our mountain sacred, we keep the center of our life, Jesus sacred. How else will we protect our time with him if we ourselves have no boundaries?

For Mother’s Day, give yourself the gift of discipline. Set yourself a routine. Rise early and protect your space with Him so that you can live in community with your family and not in isolation. Buy yourself a bible if you don’t have one. Head for the mountain.

Exodus 19:23

But Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot go up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying: Set limits around the mountain to make it sacred.”

5 Positive Things that Occur When Disciples Leave Church

©theverybesttop10.com
©theverybesttop10.com

Numerous articles are published and posted listing reasons why Christians should go to church and the lousy excuses we make for avoiding church attendance on Sundays. We all pretty much know the reasons people leave, so I won’t list them here. Pastors and others in church leaderships make lots of assumptions about what happens to us Christians when we leave church. For their benefit, and for the benefit of those of us who do, I wanted to set the record straight.

1. We have the freedom to establish our own relationship with God without having to follow a pre-established, denominational set of rules.

In solitude, we are able to develop our listening ears for His voice without the stumbling block of anyone else telling us how we’re supposed to listen. We have the freedom to step outside of rules without the construct of an organization telling us what we’re supposed to do or not do in order to have God’s unique attention. We finally have the comfort of talking with God with ease, and telling Him everything we’ve wanted to say. We can talk and listen anytime, and simply be with Him any time of the day.

2. We ask the questions we’ve always wanted to ask.

Without being rebuffed, we have the opportunity to ask stupid questions, deep questions, and questions that relate directly to our own circumstances. We are finally at liberty to bring up questions of doubt, of contradiction, or lack of understanding and have them answered fully without regard for time. We can choose our own study Bible and look through it to help us understand God’s Word, going at our own pace.

3. We find other believers across the nation or world who are exactly where we are, establish relationships with them, and grow and mature our faith with them.

As we join in exploration of our faith together, we open our hearts and minds to different ways of perceiving and receiving the heart of God. We are able to allow more of His Spirit to work in us because we allow ourselves to know Him more deeply. We see a bigger God than we ever imagined, and begin to understand the amazing ways in which He lives and works through others across the world.

4. As we increasingly know God, we increasingly show more of Him.

Our heart and mind transforms. No longer do we live in the fear of doing the wrong thing. Instead, we live in the love of our Father’s embrace. We live in the knowledge there is no more condemnation, and nothing can separate us from the love of God as we live in Christ’s Spirit. We allow the light and love of Jesus to shine through us; this is the glory of God.

5. We begin making disciples.

The more we know God, about His heart for us and about His lavish love and grace, the more we desire to share it with others. We want to make Him known to those whose only experience of God is through those who would present Him as a God of wrath and condemnation.  The more we understand the vastness of God – that He isn’t only for one country or one denomination or one people group – the more we want to shout His name and glorify and honor the immeasurable height and width and depth of Who He is.

6. (Bonus) Some of us actually return to church.

When given the opportunity, without judgment or condemnation, to spend a season outside the confines of church walls, some of us are moved by the Spirit to come back, perhaps in the hope we can make a difference in the lives of church leadership. Perhaps we return as a way to touch the lives of people in our former church. Maybe we come back because we miss group worship or Bible study. Conceivably the Spirit has sent us back to contribute in a way our gifting will benefit the church.

Either way, returning or not, I would ask you who write about those of us who leave church to open your outlook a bit and see it from a different perspective; rather than abandonment, view it as a season of growth.

Angel’s Journal, Entry Five: “A Drama of Choices!”

Journal Entry:

All is quiet now, all the tumult having died away and The Master laid into His borrowed Tomb. Now… there is… TIME!

“TIME”… that principle difference between human and angelic consciousness and thought. “TIME”… that “tick/tock” thing that people experience between one event and the next, one encounter and the next, one element of a sequence and the next. We don’t have that, we don’t know “delay”. For us, all is “sequence”… one thought follows another, like pages in a book. There is no “space” or “distance”, or “process” or “ponder”. We do not “consider” between “choices”. We CHOSE, we MADE our CHOICE, and now… for us… there is simply “discern-and-do” as to His Majesty’s will.

The other difference, a critical difference, between human and angelic consciousness is “illusion-deceit-falsehood”. We SEE, we truly see. We cannot be deceived or fooled or lied to or misled. Dark Ones cannot paint a false picture before us of specious choices, and tempt us to lean away from His Majesty’s will.

Somehow, all that… both “time” and “falsehood”… are bound up with physical matter. Since we are utterly “spirit”, those subordinate orders of being, those things that depend on material substance and comparison to have meaning, simply don’t. They have no meaning or hold over us.

It was in Eden, in the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of material Creation, when His Majesty and The Master began to weave together the spiritual and the material, the substantive, when both “time” and “falsehood” were realized from the potential to the actual. We angels can “observe” such a state of existence, and we can even “participate in” it from time to time (at His Majesty’s bidding), but we do not… we CANNOT… fully experience or comprehend it.

Facility in both spirit and matter are Divine attributes. His Majesty, The Master, The Radiance… they can all create in both spirit and matter. We cannot. But Man… Man, now… Man is fashioned in His image, can enter fully into Him, and in Him can create in both matter and spirit.

What has all this got to do with the horrendous events that have just passed? Well… EVERYTHING! They have EVERYTHING to do with it!

Because we angels are truly “sons of God” created at His hands… yes. But we are purely spirit, we made ONE and only one “choice” (to embrace Him or to repel Him), and we live apart from material time or illusion, in the Eternal. We are, therefore and fully, “servants” to Him and His will.

Man, on the other hand, lives in the material (though with fully spiritual faculties), is subject to material time (the tick-tock kind), and can be deluded and misled. Therefore, MAN lives in a state of moment-by-moment CHOICE regarding His Majesty and His will. Every moment, man gets to choose to embrace His Majesty and His will, or to repel Him.

And THAT… is EVERYTHING… about these momentous and horrendous events these days…

I wrote last of the exit from the Passover Supper into the Garden of Gethsemane on “Thursday night”. From that exit, and the separation of Judas from the group, The Master knew and tried to prepare His (now) “friends” for what the next 18 hours would bring.

So many things occurred in such a “brief” (humanly speaking) span of time… a person could spend years tracking all the threads of all the drama there. The fears, the ambitions, the delusions, the agendas… The Romans, the Politicians, the Religious Leaders, the Pious, the Exploiters, the Voyeurs, those seeking “Entertainment” (as at a train wreck, a public hanging, or a bloodsport), the confusion.

But we angels saw it all a bit differently. We don’t see all the “bells and whistles”, the “flash and sparkle”. I cannot speak to what others saw, but what *I* saw, with intense clarity, was an astonishing sequence of “choices” made by just a handful of “principal actors”, whose decision sequence summarized what happened throughout the region in those hours.

The Actors?

  • The Master
  • Judas
  • Peter
  • The Disciples/Friends
  • Pontius Pilate
  • The Crowds

I will not go through all of that here right now. The “feelings” are yet too fresh and even (odd to say) “painful”. I’ll get more detail down in entries to follow. But all these entered into a series of “Choice Chains”, sequences of decisions where they could follow their conscience (embrace His Majesty and His will), or they could yield to temptation of fear, pride, or avarice (repel Him).

Judas… his “choice chain” is so short and clear. He is likely to be vilified and condemned for millennia as they iconic “betrayer”. And yes, indeed he was… but look at him, his concerns, his decisions and choices, up alongside Peter… and there are just a couple critical places where they are distinguished.

Anyway, enough for now. More entries later. We yet wait and see what will unfold. At this moment, nearly all are consumed with despair and disappointment. The story seems ended… ended behind a huge stone in a hole in a cliff… and the great Kingdom Story wasn’t supposed to end like this!

More to come…

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

Yes, you are here for a reason, but it’s not what you think: Why am I here?

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Look familiar?

One idea sparks another. Your writing and God inspired stories touch my soul. They provide wisdom and truth and open up doors. The likes and comments are human features, it’s the words and conversation that stirs my soul.

I oftentimes find myself writing about God’s gifts and calling. It has been a sort of obsession of mine ever since I can remember. And after finding the truth in God’s son, I chased after it even more. And the commercialization of it led to so much dread and defeat. The idol, that thing that you can’t stop thinking about. They are always “situations,” chasing of dreams. I am talking about the gifts and talents you know God gave you. But you think you’re not using them. And your view is so myopic. Because you are a writer, and you are writing right now. 

And so through the inspiration of another Spirit-filled writer, Melanie Jean Juneau and her post Ladislav Zaborksy: Imprisoned for His Catholic Art, I came to realize what God had been teaching me all along, don’t let the gift become your master. 

I find that us creative types especially oftentimes become prisoners of our gifts. The label of  “working” and “full-time” become intertwined with divine desire. I hear this also among the best of friends who hate their jobs and know they are just made for something more “I am suffering, I cannot bear to be here any longer.” 

Welcome to the passion of the Christ.

And I love this excerpt from Melanie’s post:

“While imprisoned, Ladislav felt as if his hands were nailed to the cross because he could not paint but only seek God in the depths of his soul. .. The result of his inner crucifixion meant he no longer fulfilled his own desires but only sought God and His desires.”

Notice he did not say that he felt crucified because he was imprisoned, but rather he felt crucified because he could not paint. And Paul from Just me Being Curious offered such an eye-opening statement on my last post about forgiveness:

“In the daily readings I have there comes up, from time to time, a suggestion to pray for all those who are prisoners of war around the world. And I always nod – and always wonder: why do we think ourselves free simply because we have a computer, a job, a home and a fine “free” life?” 

And Ladislav understood that, and now I do too. We cry out to God because we are still in jobs we don’t like or our talents don’t get us paid. We believe preachers and pastors when they tell us that we have some singular “purpose” or “calling” on our lives that we must continue to seek out day after day. But fear and pain, it is a gentle liar. 

There is only one singular purpose for our lives, and that is to glorify the Lord Jesus in all that we are and all that we do. It is not only in our giftings but also our lack thereof. It is in the hug that we give or the conversation that we have. It is in the minutia. God does not believe in minutia. In every second of every day our lives should be a song and a prayer.

Our inner crucifixion is our reconciliation to the creator moment to moment. It is deeper, way deeper than a NY Times Best Seller or any stadium filled with thousands of congregants. You may think that your purpose is to write, and that certainly may be part of God’s plan. But what if that one post or newsletter or even that one text or email changes the course of life for someone else? It certainly will not make you money or allow you to quit your day job, but it will lead you closer to understanding the role of the creator.

That thing. That thing you want more than anything. That thing you want so bad. It is consuming you. It is overshadowing God. Let it go and watch it fly away. Die to that moment. And then , only then will you be free.

Leave the world behind

“Be His people in the world, ” Father Michael

We all want to be something, something more than we already are. But our motives are all certainly different. In the world, it is money and fame and self-absorption. We are propelled by always trying to be something more. The simplicity and teachings of the gospel are just too much for some with its anti-pop cultural message- the things of this world will pass away, but I will never pass away.

It is counter-intuitive to not want to get credit for our work. It doesn’t make sense to the world when believers sell everything and move halfway across the world to serve as missionaries. Many of us who are believers long for adventures like that, long for God to call us to bigger and better things, but alas, we are still in our minds “stuck” in our jobs and in our everyday lives, no “big” calling, no moving halfway across the world. This for many is disappointing. Looking around at our fellow congregants and saying to ourselves, “I wish that was me.”

I believe that so many times, the church ends up mirroring the world. We get caught up in our expectations of what God will do for us, how he will use us. We want to be pastors or deacons, ministry leaders, travel the world. And although these things may be the pathway for some, it is not for all. We are missing what God has for us right before our very eyes.

We don’t write to please others, or  raise our children the way the world tells us. Our marriages are built on the foundation of Christ, not of the world. We are to be servants at our jobs, and forgive, and pray for those that have offended us and spitefully used us. We are to be light in the darkness. 

Jesus did not have a formal ministry. He took the message into the world; He was among the people. God took on flesh to teach us what it was we needed to do. And those things are clear, seek the lost, preach the gospel at all times and live in the way He has called us. We have to stop looking at the way the world does business, stop bringing it into our churches. The call on your life is right where you are. 

I have found that in that acceptance, there is so much freedom. I, like many can get carried away at times with where I think God should have me. But then I remember Mary at the wedding feast at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

So if you are doubting your impact on your children as a stay at home mom, hate your job in the world, or simply are waiting on God to move you somewhere else, remember who you are serving, the seeds you are planting. It only takes one person to change the world. (Rest in heavenly peace Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)