Friday, August 12, 2016

Two Mysteries: Godliness versus Lawlessness

According to the Bible, most humans have it wrong about what godliness really is.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16: 7-11

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now restrains it will continue until he is taken out of the way. 2 Thess 2:7

John 16:7-11 explains the mystery. But it's not a mystery that the carnal mind can fully grasp. The verse tells us that the prince of this world is already judged. What does that mean when we see Satan apparently running loose in the world? Among other meanings, the largest is that Jesus' sacrificial atoning death brought final condemnation and judgment onto Satan. The Holy Spirit's Work within the believer will prove to the world that Satan has been judged.

And yet, it looks to the world that lawlessness is in control. In fact, the world wants lawlessness and wants a king of lawlessness. Lawlessness will continue until it be taken away by God. But lawlessness must have its day.

I suspect the mystery of lawlessness will also have a satanic counterpoint to 1 Timothy 3:16. The Man of lawlessness will be manifested in the flesh, judged by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken down to hell.

The thing to remember is that the restrainer is a mystery and is supernatural. Who knows what it is? It is not limited to a specific time or culture. There is a mystery of godliness which is eternal and there has been the mystery of lawlessness for ages. And there has been a restraining of lawlessness for ages. We know what the mystery of godliness is because we have a verse that explains it: Christ. 1 Timothy 3:16. But we don't have a verse explaining the mystery of lawlessness.
No one government or law has ever been able to restrain lawlessness, but over the years some spiritual restrainer has held lawlessness in check. Lawlessness has not ended. It has yet to end. But it won't end without going out with a big bang. So lawlessness has to have its full fruition. That is one of the reasons why the restrainer stops restraining it in the last days and allows lawlessness to go on full blast. So the mystery of lawlessness and the Man of lawlessness will work together on the earth in the last days.
As Christians, what we can do now is allow the Holy Spirit to use us to show the world the mystery of godliness.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Poem: World Weary

The sun itself is filtered
through clouds
then wafting green leaves
window blinds
short-sighted eyes.
We live in shadows
because we cannot endure unapproachable light 
And some of us know that we live in shadows.
Others mistake the shadows for true light
and call themselves visionaries.

The artistic vision filters too.
A blinding flame
quickly unveils itself
like a flasher on a subway train
speeding through a dark tunnel.
We grasp what little spark we can reach
of the still-flickering idea.
Even so, it dims 
as it passes 
from spirit to mind
and from mind to the creating hand:
words and 
images and 
the elements of storytelling must be used.

Then, the work finished,
is filtered even more
in the mind
then the heart of the reader;
they believe they have caught the flame of our idea
but it is pale fire.

We must accept this:
The world is full of declension.
In this world, 
Everything bright is dimmed.
Everything filters down.

I am weary of all these shadows
of making them
of trying to see the light beyond them.

I am weary of these filters.
Oh to see the  clear sun
without blinking.
To see the heart and soul and joy and pain of another.
To spiritually, emotionally, intellectually
grasp the artistic vision
to perfect it
that all may read it
and understand it
and feel it perfectly.

To see God in all His brightness
the true brightness
from which all bright souls
and bright visions
and bright sunshines come

Monday, August 08, 2016

Poem: That Other World

I have lived long

in that other world


Not in this

Not in the one I should have


But in that other other

world of bright meaning

heart's ease

overflowing affection

and precious and beautiful loves


I'm old now

That world

must go


And this, too,

the world that has failed me

and I it.


It will fade soon enough

already has begun.

And I will fade away from it.

For I'm old now


And the only world that matters

is that other one

The world

I only half-walked in

only half-inhabited


that afterlife

that soon

one day

will be all my life

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The phrase in question: The Future is not Promised

I haven't written a blog post in a while, but last night as I lay in bed I got to thinking of two possible posts.

So the first is this one. And again it's about watching our words.

Bible-believing Christians are told that "Life and Death are in the power of the tongue." They understand that words have power to harm emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. And yet, so often we use certain phrases that just should not be used. I think I wrote a post once about a neighbor who kept using the phrase "My poor son! If it wasn't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all!" Certainly not a thing to go declaring about one's son.

Watch your word phrase: THE FUTURE IS NOT PROMISED.

Why is it said: It's used by some --mostly Black-- folks to show their gratefulness for still being alive, and it is used when someone unexpectedly dies. It becomes a habit. My mother used to say something similar: "I should make my will, God suffereth not." It was a habit with her but it is totally unbiblical. The Bible says God does suffer.

The (seeming) wisdom of the phrase:
When this phrase is spoken, it makes us aware of the work we still have to accomplish, the fleeting lives of ourselves and of those we love, of the sudden turns life might take...including sudden death. It brings God into the conversation by implying that He has plans for us that we know nothing about.

What the Bible actually says:
1) Don't say "I will go to such a town and make such and such money because we don't know what a day will bring forth."
2) Death and Life are in the power of the tongue
3) Wage war by the promises you received
4) He who hears my commandments will live by them
5) A Man may plan but God's plan succeeds.
6) God tells His prophets what He plans.
7) You will hear a voice which tells you walk in this way.
8) You shall be safe from sudden fear.
9) God's sheep hear His voice.
10) God guides us through dreams
11)  Psalm 91

What is the problem with this verse?
The problem is the word "promised" and the way the phrase definitely states what is or is not promised. You know my dislike of generalities. Generalities create laws. They create expectations, and non-expectations. Of course I know a few folks might say "You're making an awfully big stink about a phrase which even you admit is meant to be respectful; what's the big deal?" Well, that's the danger of certain phrases. Either we believe all our Bible or we don't. Either it's a manual for life or we can pick and choose what to believe.

My biggest complaint about this verse is that it makes God appear sneaky under the guise of saying he is mysterious. And it blames Him for deaths which He might not have ordained. Yes, there is such a thing as someone dying when God doesn't will for that person to die.

We must watch our words or we will curse our lives. Rachel cursed her life and Jacob cursed it as well when he cursed the one who stole Laban's gods. Elisha destroyed his own life when he spared the life of a king God had wanted to kill. Ananias and Saphira destroyed their lives by lying to the Holy Spirit and the church.

God has said that His sheep hear His voice. Is it possible that God warns us everyday about what we should do? Is it possible that God told people what not to eat, where not to go, which friends not to hang out with, what train not to take?

"So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.
He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they lie in their beds.
He whispers in their ears
and terrifies them with warnings.
He makes them turn from doing wrong;
he keeps them from pride.
He protects them from the grave,
from crossing over the river of death." Job 33:13-18

I will focus only on God's promises, though. In the Bible, St Paul wrote this:

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord's battles. 1 Timothy 1:18

This is an important verse. It means there are certain promises God has made for us personally -- through dreams, the prophets in our church or in visions-- and generally through the Bible. These prophecies are promises. But they are conditional on us fighting for them. If God tells Joseph that his brothers, father, and mother will bow down before him...doesn't that give hope to Joseph that he will rise up out of the well, out of slavery, and out of the prison?

In the book of Acts, we are told that Moses supposed his people understood that he was their savior. Apparently Moses knew some prophecy about his life. Nevertheless, Moses left and lived I the wilderness and only returned when God called Him from the fire.

The place to where the Israelites were sent was called The Promised Land.
The Promised Land is conquered because we believe God promised it to us.
Even if Pharoah wants to keep our goods, our children, our possessions, our spouses, we must say what Moses said: "We will leave this slavery with everything that is ours."

This is the reason why we pray "Thy Will Be Done!" The will of God is not easily done. The devil comes against God's people because of the Word, because of the promises and prophecies of God. The promises must be fought for.

We may not all be promised a long life. God told Samuel that the descendants of Eli would all live short lives. Jeremiah was a descendant of Eli, some scholars have said. So even Jeremiah was fated for a short life.

The Bible doesn't say we are all fated to have 80 years. It was an observation: Most people live to seventy, and if we make it to eighty, we have sorrow and pain. So we can't use that psalm to say that we are promised a long life. But age is just a number. The young and the old can die. And some of the greatest deeds in the Bible were done by people who were very aged. (Caleb, etc.)

The important thing to do is to live as the Bible commands us to live, to hear God's voice, to listen to the guidance in our dreams, and to watch our tongues that we don't curse our lives.

So should we say this phrase?  No, I think not.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Poem: On the Deaths of Alan Rickman and David Bowie

Close My Eyes.
Then, Closetland.
And of course Stardust was always there.
Not sure when it entered my mental world.

And yet, strangely,
I am not devastated.
Not sure why the lack of devastation.
Not that I want to be devastated..
but yeah, wondering

I'm at peace.
Perhaps it's age
the now-common death of close friends and older celebs
normal occurrences now.

Younger folks wonder
why the grief for Bowie:
they've never heard of him.

At the same time, other actors much older
are dying or have died
--90 year olds etc--
whom those now mourning Bowie
never heard of.

So yes a daily occurrence,
at my age.
At my age, death is numbing.

Once in a great while
there is this terrifying squeal
a strange overflow of grief
from my own mouth
from my own heart
which leaves me amazed.

And I think:
how strange this grief!
I didn't know this death
would devastate me so much.
I cried so much when Orson Welles died
I thought my heart would break.

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