A Shift in Values

Some of our biggest challenges arise from overcoming bad conditioning.

Our society has an obsession with “saving time” — by which is implied not wasting something that is precious and hard to get. There are a whole raft of assumptions behind this image that are just plain wrong. This presumes an accountability to all manner of authorities, but none of them are ordained by God. Further, it presumes a type of accountability that is contrary to divine design. Oddly, a major element in this obsession is that if you don’t cram your time with efficiency in maximizing measurable accomplishments, you aren’t taking control of things. The real truth is that if you embrace this obsession, control is the last thing you’ll get.

We get all kinds of shock and dismay at the notion that people can be property, but in Scripture, everyone is owned by someone else. But you are always accountable to a person, not a nameless, faceless, disembodied thing that turns out to be most cruel and uncaring master of all. That thing becomes the excuse for the most rapacious and cruel demands leveraged by any number of people who fancy themselves agents of it. They can reject all accountability to you because that thing stands there as the false god who is unmoved by individual plight. It’s a deity with thousands of names that you might recognize: society, common sense, social responsibility, the community, the law, etc. The myth of “we the people” as government is just an excuse to ignore the plaintive cries of the abused.

The Bible presumes a lot of patience because God doesn’t demand a thousand little checkpoints of accomplishment. The bigger issue with time is getting you to move inside your soul from your natural fallen state into full communion with your Creator. There are no goal posts; it’s really up to you how far you let yourself be driven. But there is no other point for being alive, so it really doesn’t matter what you accomplish in other terms. The stuff you do is merely the side-effects, not the point of it all.

There’s no sin in filling your time with distraction, unless that distraction itself leads to sin. The morally best way to fill that time is in worship and direct communion with God. My long bike rides? That’s worship time that uses a physical activity to permit the mind the focus on God. If I had a job that matched my physical limitations and temperament, it would be about the same thing. I could go about my work on the simple basis that work is a good way to pass the time while I reflect on my Lord. It’s an added bonus that working usually benefits others, so I can be even more grateful, but the real objective is not what I accomplish. It’s all about the glory of my Father. If He grants that I have gainful employment, I’m blessed in one way. If my circumstances force me to fill the day with other things, I’m blessed in another way — “a house-husband’s work is never done!”

We have to find our incentive with God. This is the biggest challenge of all. He owns us; He is the ultimate point of accountability. You can know in your heart when things aren’t what they ought to be, and pray for relief. You can learn to be patient with situations that are less than ideal, and make the most of the time God gives you to glorify His name. You can be content until He moves you somewhere else. You don’t have to love what you do or the people you have to face; you have to love the Lord who put you there. Be cynical; Christ was cynical about a lot of things. You aren’t going to change anything that matters except what’s inside of you. Suffer the afflictions of mundane human obsession with grace, because there is nothing more important for you.

I’m not doing what I really want to do right now, but I’m waiting until the fruit ripens.

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FYI: Soulkiln Server Down (Fixed)

Not sure what’s going on with the static server but if you are using the email address at soulkiln.org, I can’t get the emails. Please notice that the problem is not with mail delivery on the blog address (soulkiln.blog). The email address posted here on the blog interface under “Contact me” (middle right) is working just fine. The problem is you may also have trouble getting any documents that are linked on the static server, as well. There’s nothing I can do about it right now, but I’ll let you know if anything changes.

Update: It’s been fixed.

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Adjust Your Perceptions

You cannot know Christ without your heart. It may well be you are His, bought with a price, but you cannot truly know Him without a mystical encounter through your heart-mind. It’s not a question of sentiment, though it will most certainly have a strong emotional impact. It’s most certainly not cerebral, because that you only brings knowledge about Christ. You must know Him as the core of your convictions, a personal loyalty only the heart can hold.

We are born under the dominion of Satan. That’s part of what the Curse of the Fall means; we are born in sympathy to his agenda. His agenda is to deny you the heritage of blessings, to keep you away from the Flaming Sword at the Gate of Eden. As long as you keep eating from the Tree of Knowledge, you cannot eat from the Tree of Life. The Forbidden Fruit is your commitment to trust your intellect over your heart; it’s the rejection of God’s revelation.

Nothing else in all of Creation changed at the Fall. What changed was human perception, now locked under the intellect, under senses and reason and emotions. In pulling those faculties out from under the dominion of the heart, those things were broken. Even their own native capabilities are hindered by the deception of the Forbidden Fruit. That term “Tree of Knowledge” refers to “knowledge” in the sense of being the judge, of deciding what is good and evil without reference to divine revelation. But of course, good and evil are not decided by humans; they are written into the fabric of universe. Humanity together is not capable of legislating what good and evil should be; moral truth existed in Creation before mankind was made.

It’s still there, plain to see, but not with the eyes of the flesh. Only the heart is capable of discerning it. Unless you are a priori committed to Christ in your heart, you cannot hope to understand anything about reality.

Don’t be a fool — it hardly matters if you know Him by that name. He was there in Spirit from before Creation and has always lived in the moral fabric of the cosmos. His birth of the Virgin was simply an incarnation. He was always within reach of the heart under any number of names, and still is. That never changed. The advantage now is that He took on human form and demonstrated it. So painfully clear it is that the last bit of excuse was wiped away.

He is the personification of Biblical Law, the personal living will of God. Sure, the specific Covenant of Moses is ended, but the Biblical Law that ever lived behind that covenant has never changed. Try not to get hung up on the English translation of the New Testament when you run into the term “law” — it could indicate any number of things. It could be a reference to the Talmud, which was little more than the civil law of Judea, something pasted on top of the Covenant of Moses. Or it could be a reference to the Covenant of Moses as a specific example of Biblical Law in a particular context. Or “law” could have other meanings best understood from the context.

Don’t be deceived by the moral decay in the natural world around you. It’s polluted by the folly of humanity ignoring God’s revelation. Natural decay was a part of nature from the beginning, the cycle of life God designed. The defilement of human sin afflicts Creation as a whole, including our own bodies. Don’t look for the cycle of natural decay and rebirth to change after Christ returns. Look for Him to heal the moral decay and defilement resulting from human evil. There will be some massive changes, but they will all be a matter of restoring God’s original design.

Nor will time and space end; “eternity” doesn’t mean what you probably think it means. What will change at His return is how humans perceive time and space. Indeed, it’s virtually impossible to explain in words. It will be a reset back to the way it was in Eden. But we will take with us the experiences we have had since the Fall; this will prevent a second fall. Then the Lord Himself will return to walk in the Garden with us once more. Try not to get hung up on some alleged literal meaning in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 and 2 Peter 3:10-13. They are summarizing what it will look like to anyone living at His return. The effects of sin will be burned away.

Test these declarations against your heart.

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Glossolalia and Such

This tends to be a sticky issue because too many people take themselves too seriously. As a consequence, they take their positions on things too seriously, and get mightily offended if your position is different. I’ve had considerable experience working with folks who espouse these gifts, and frankly a significant portion of them are unpleasant company.

You can read 1 Corinthians 12 for a discussion of the gifts (with a wider context of 1 Corinthians 12-14), but I take the position it’s not a closed list. I’ve experienced too many things myself that don’t fit on the list, but clearly arise from the same kind of encounter with the Holy Spirit. I’m convinced Paul was simply discussing what the Corinthians had experienced, and his guidance to them based on his own experience. I don’t think it’s wise to try limiting God to Paul’s advice to them in their context. He also mentions different categories of gifts and I’ve written about those, as well. The emphasis here is on manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Naturally, this leads to talk about the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” and similar terms.

Let me make one thing clear: The Radix Fidem covenant ignores this issue. What you will get is my leadership on this issue, for the simple reason that something like this is a moving target. After I’m dead and gone, it’s quite likely there will be new conflicts arising from new teaching and practices. Meanwhile, I’m hoping I can set a wise example in avoiding boundaries that exclude people on the wrong basis. A certain amount of exclusion is unavoidable, but I take the position it needs to be functional, not a matter of orthodoxy and calling each other names. If your home cell group is “charismatic,” that’s fine. But if you want to remain affiliated under the Radix Fidem covenant, you can’t stir up trouble for other members who aren’t like you.

I reject the common test you run into in charismatic circles (Pentecostals, etc.) that says you must speak in tongues or you are somehow spiritually second class. There are plenty of places and groups where you can find that, so stay with them and leave us alone. I also reject the notion that the charismatic gifts are inherently fake. Granted, my experience has been that way too many folks who flaunt those gifts are fake, and their practices tend to bring moral rot. But let that be the basis for building barriers. Our whole purpose as a community is to encourage moral purity, so your charismatic expressions have to serve that purpose.

The charismatic gifts are optional.

The Scripture flatly says you do have control over letting them show (1 Corinthians 14:32-33) and that you should seek shalom, not self. Furthermore, the proof of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life is not some ecstatic manifestation, but the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-26, 1 Corinthians 13). Show me your humble devotion to each other first, then we’ll talk about your gifts of the Spirit. Furthermore, in broad terms I reject the common doctrines about the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Don’t try to drag that into Radix Fidem. Your personal ecstasy does not grant you authority; authority arises from the simple fact that God’s people follow you. It’s a matter of moral instinct, not some imaginary legal right. Meanwhile, we do have a covenant and it’s pretty open, but the emphasis avoids making too much either way of the charismatic gifts.

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Sermon on the Mount 15

Judge Not 7:1-6

Jesus cites another Talmudic teaching. Matthew uses a neutral Greek word for “judge” (krino) — it’s meaning is entirely contextual. Thus, Jesus puts that teaching into a clear context regarding the hypocrisy so common to Scribes and Pharisees, the ones also most likely to quote the Talmudic lore in public. The context Jesus offers is in the sense of minding your own business, something Scribes and Pharisees found difficult.

The turn of phrase is first a stark kernel of truth, followed by a parallel statement in expanded terms. It’s that second parallel statement that tells His audience where He is going with this. Don’t try to inflate your social position by talking down to others. Later in the New Testament, this is stated in terms of going to your brother first in private, because your intention is to seek his welfare, too. You may not know the whole story, so assume the best of your brothers and sisters until you have a compelling reason to start putting up barriers. If they refuse to repent, then maybe you can go public with great care and humility.

Furthermore, there’s too good a chance your brother has been minding his own business about your flaws. If you establish the pattern of building up each other’s lives, it would make for a far stronger fellowship and shalom. Jesus is more blunt in warning that it’s downright stupid to castigate someone in public for a small mistake, because those listening are going to wonder if the only reason you know so much about this problem is because you have it even worse. Even if it’s not true, your attempt to build your reputation will have the reverse effect. We all know that people tend to project their own failings onto others, and it’s most likely the cause for pious public warnings.

If you deal with your sins and obtain God’s mercy, you’ll find yourself far better prepared to help someone else with that same weakness. And if you are humble and penitent enough to get right with God, you won’t be seeking that inflated reputation in the first place.

Granted, the Scribes and Pharisees often performed such public upbraiding under the pretense of sharing “a Word from the Lord” that the poor perpetrator needed to hear from the rabbi’s treasury of deep wisdom. So Jesus quotes yet another Talmudic teaching about holy things tossed to dogs. The context is rather involved on this one, as the meaning is quite specific. Let’s say you designate a particular animal as an offering for the Temple Altar. But something happens before to degrade the offering before it can be surrendered to the priests. It remains holy and cannot be bought back and used for secular purposes. You are stuck with it; you can’t even turn it loose, lest it become the prey of the wild dogs that roamed that part of the world. You have to assume that God had some reason for putting that burden on you. Thus, the ancient rule was worded, “You cannot give offerings to dogs.” It extended to other, metaphorical meanings, as well.

The business of not throwing pearls before pigs was a more jarring image, but still a parallel statement, and one that had seen other uses. Very early in Roman rule, a strong resentment rose among the purists and patriots who didn’t have the guts to actually engage in violence against Rome’s occupation army. These chickenhawks would warn others against explaining the Talmud in ways that these Gentiles could understand. So they used these kinds of phrases about holy stuff and dogs, or jewelry and pigs, to remind each other to keep the Talmudic teachings secret. So secret, in fact, they were seldom shared with common Jewish peasants, for whom rabbis and priests often barely disguised their contempt.

Jesus turns these parables on their heads. He says it in a way that mocks these arrogant chickenhawks. He is warning His despised Jewish peasant audience not to let the rabbis understand the true message of God’s Word, because they are unworthy to hear it. Don’t bother going to them privately with the intent of helping them to understand how their public preening was having the opposite effect of making them look like dogs and pigs. Don’t attempt to lead them to repentance. Just mind your own business and let them be found unworthy when the Messiah comes.

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It Was Never Real

Churches that emphasize changing the world are little more than political institutions.

Such churches have chosen to participate in God’s cattle-herding of those oblivious to His will. This has nothing to do with whether they might actually be the sheep of His flock; they have strayed away from His pastures. They have joined themselves to the wrong herds.

The real battlefield of spiritual warfare is your own soul. There is nothing you can do to change the nature of this world. The one thing God does permit us is to change ourselves. Even then, the only real contribution we make is desire. We have to want what God is doing with us, want it every moment of every day. It’s a path that calls to us, not a place we live. On this path, we are permitted to see His handiwork up close and for what it really is. Nothing actually changes except our perception, our choice to stand with Him in His declaration of what’s real, what’s true, what’s good.

So there is no godly plan to systematically relieve poverty, for example; there is only you and I individually doing justice with whatever God puts in our hands. If there is any hope of helping those in poverty, it is persuading them by our testimony to walk in the heart-led path. Once there, God can steer them where He intends them to be. Poverty itself means nothing. Like death, it’s just a circumstance. Until people see that, nothing can help them; they are doomed.

Let’s not make Radix Fidem a place to get lost in trying to change the world.

We are not in this to save human life as it now is. Without the heart-led way and a commitment to divine justice, every human is already dead. That is the default for the entire human race ever since the Fall, so it’s already too late for most of them. This also has nothing to do with their eternal destiny. Every person living on this earth is just a heartbeat away from discovering their eternal destiny, but they will never be ready to face it without a commitment to Christ in the here and now. And following Christ means Biblical Law. And Biblical Law means living from the heart.

Biblical Law also means that the only good change we make in this world is to take people out of it. This assumes you understand “this world” is a doctrinal term for wallowing in the Fallen Realm, human existence under the Curse of the Fall. It is refusing to see what God made and how it actually works. We don’t give them something they don’t already have; it’s there waiting to be born. The Curse is merely the default rejection of God’s revelation. Our one hope while we live is to awaken the truth in ourselves and get as far as possible into divine justice and so we can help others make the same escape. We are here to get people out of this world, in the sense that the root of their existence will be in the Spirit Realm.

There’s nothing else we could do that matters. Without that, we have done nothing; we would not have obeyed Christ. The gospel message is creating a communion of souls who steadfastly reject the fallen perception of reality. When Christ returns, Eden will be restored and the Lord will once again walk in His Garden. Heaven is living eternally in His Presence as His family; Hell is living in His Presence as His enemy, knowing full well it didn’t have to be that way. We have only the duration of this life to accept His free offer.

There’s nothing wrong with the rest of Creation; the flaw is in us. You cannot remake the Fallen Realm because it was never real in the first place.

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Eternal Outsiders

We of Radix Fidem and the heart-led way do not see ourselves as a nation or tribe among others on this earth. Rather, we are a tribe and nation on a totally different level. Our tribal communion is in the heart, and has nothing to do with human political and national identities. Nor do we reject those national and political identities; our religion encourages no interference at all in such matters. We leave those things in the God’s hands.

We operate in the Fallen Realm, but our orientation is on the Spirit Realm. Our hearts are alive in the moral realm where the Two Realms overlap. We sense with our hearts directly the moral truth to which most humans are utterly blind.

We have seen the ugly effects of religion as politics. The record is clear; we are now at the end of a political “Christian” empire known as Western Civilization. It is a very ugly record. But the record clearly shows that we would be just as miserable if our world was ruled by political Islam, or political Hinduism, or political Buddhism. For the past two millennia we’ve seen how political Judaism has played one off against the other, particularly the Muslims and Christians.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.” (Romans 3:10-11)

You might imagine that a good life is possible under any of them, but the problem is fallen human nature. So each of those religions, and other isms that function in the place of religion, are just varied excuses for people walking on each other. We have no home in this world.

This is what frees us to participate from what appears to be an objective position on human aspirations. We could never be true believers under any flag or religious symbol, but we could be the most true and honest servants because our ultimate loyalty is to a divine justice that transcends every human care. This is what “mysticism” truly means: We are very much involved in trying to make things right because that’s why we live, but we approach the question from outside this world.

We don’t have to hide anything; no one believes us in the first place. There are precious few souls in this world willing to stand above it the way we do. We have no discernible agenda in anything because we live only for a justice that no one embraces. For us, it’s the process, not the results. So while there are things we’ll refuse to do, we know better than to think we can make anyone understand unless they can rise out of their intellects and operate in terms of conviction.

Get used to it, Brothers and Sisters. There is no place to rest in this world. It won’t matter who runs the show or what flag they wave, we remain aliens. Shine the light of glory wherever you are.

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