Scanned Photos 08

One of the most memorable volksmarch trips was down in Weywertz, Belgium. The village is perched on a hilltop not far from the German border, and the folks here spoke German, mostly. Belgium is like that, not having any official language and using four on signs in some places — Flemish (almost Dutch), Walloon (mostly French), German and English. But the most memorable thing was that the Warche Creek was the only water course in Belgium clean enough for swimming, so far as I was able to find out. In fact, this stream fed into Lake Robertville, a reservoir just downstream where swimming was allowed.

By far the most beautiful terrain in such a small country was Luxembourg. I was hoping to see a lot more of it, but military duty kept me away from it. It was only an hour’s drive or so from where I lived, and I never got enough of the beauty. This is a view of the Sûre Reservoir near Insenborn.

Just a little downstream was Esch. This is the view back up the hill from the only public parking lot in the village. This thing sits on a high ridge that juts out into the Sûre River, forcing the water to curve sharply around it. What’s left is a teardrop shaped area where the neck is only about 400 feet (120m) across.

I recall this farmhouse being in the village of Mont, Belgium. There’s two places with that name, and this one is in the hills above the Meuse River, near Godinne. However, I cannot locate it for certain. There were so many just like this on the hilly roads running up from the river.

Another ancient house still being used, this one was once a millhouse. Nobody grinds grain with a watermill these days, but some have been preserved. I was unable to line up a good shot on the one attached to this building.

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They Need Heart-Led

Radix Fidem is our covenant, our approach to doing religion together. The Kiln of the Soul online parish is my implementation of Radix Fidem. Anyone can take the idea of Radix Fidem and run with it; nobody needs my permission. But I am the elder of Kiln of the Soul, the actual human organization. And the only reason you join Kiln of the Soul is because you like my approach to things and have no where else to go. The only membership requirement is that you can tolerate my leadership. You don’t even have to declare it to anyone.

The primary reason anyone would join a virtual parish like Kiln of the Soul is because they don’t get what they need from any existing church. There really aren’t that many people who want a church home and can’t find one somewhere. It takes a certain sense of calling to find any use in an online parish. So far, it’s been quite rare, when you consider how many people out there claim to follow Christ. Kiln of the Soul was sort of a last resort for me, and I’m frankly surprised that is has gotten as big as it is.

Over the ten plus years on this blog, the limited interactions I’ve had with people here indicate that it will never really take off. We have just over a thousand subscribers. Current traffic is around a hundred hits per day, and often less. Of those, quite a few are interested only in the computer related stuff I’ve written. I’m glad I can serve them in one way or another. It helps give me a reason to live. But the online parish part remains a tiny portion, going by the response I get from readers. If you don’t leave a comment or communicate with me privately, I don’t know you are there as a member of the parish.

Right now, the parish appears to consist of about two dozen people.

I’m not asking you to check in; I’m not campaigning to grow the membership. There was a time when I was hoping that might happen, but the Lord has shown me that He has other plans for this ministry. It will remain a tiny handful of people working together, mostly because we have no where else to go. I would much rather people belong to a flesh and blood organization in the real world, because Christian faith is something that really does work best that way. Most of what I teach is aimed at making face to face interaction better; that’s the crux of what I teach with all this blather about covenants and Biblical Law. I sincerely wish it was unnecessary to have a virtual parish.

I have no doubt that at some time in the future, the wrath of God upon America will bring about conditions favorable to growing a physical congregation around my faith and ministry. It would really surprise if some of you folks don’t report something similar happening in your own lives. As long as people in the world around us can keep moving along in their comfort zone, they won’t be looking for something different from what they already have. I am utterly convinced those conditions will change enough to break that down. I’ve had visions and dreams about the wrath of God falling on America, if not the rest of the world in general. The same faith that tells me it’s coming is the faith that teaches me to prepare to face it. People will notice and inevitably a few will want some of that shalom.

But the mission burning in my soul is far wider than that. The thing that eats away at my conscience is how many millions don’t have any hope of shalom when it’s their spiritual birthright. They belong to Eden, but don’t have a clue how to find the path back to the gate. They belong to Jesus but haven’t found the vast treasures He left for us. The full blessings of the Covenant have been hidden from them. I could care less if they join my merry band, but they do need to find their shalom.

So the crusade here is to battle the blindness that binds them. I want them to find first the heart-led way of living. Then I want to share with them the meaning of the Biblical Law covenant. But being heart-led is the initial step, the necessary prerequisite for everything else. Without being heart-led, Radix Fidem won’t mean much to them. Heart-led is our version of “getting people saved” as our evangelism. They need to know how to find their convictions so they read them and compare what’s in them against our secondary offer of Radix Fidem. Most of them are unlikely to accept Radix Fidem, but the whole world needs heart-led.

This is why I started the curriculum. This is why that curriculum starts with a disclaimer that we aren’t trying to grow our organization. The heart-led way drives us to share the heart-led consciousness and let people decide from there where God wants them to go. That curriculum will continue eventually, including a somewhat orderly teaching about the covenant of Biblical Law. That theology and practice sampler I wrote isn’t really a good foundation for another book, but the part about covenant thinking is the core for what will follow. It will take a while yet. It’s not the content, but the organized approach to explaining it that is the hard work.

Feel free to contribute to the thought process. Meanwhile, the one thing I really urge you to do is prepare your mind to offer to anyone a fairly organized approach to understanding the heart-led way. The curriculum as it stands so far is just an outline, a logical order that should help to open the minds of people to the work of the Holy Spirit. You aren’t supposed to memorize it, but internalize it if you don’t already have a clear notion of how to present it. That’s why it’s a curriculum instead of a statement of faith. You are the statement of faith; we are all the creed of Radix Fidem.

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Divine Expectations

This is Christian Mysticism.

There is a very strong reason I play loosey-goosey with theology: Your brain cannot contain divine truth. God does not work in the brain in that sense; He works only in the heart. You convictions, written in your heart, are the fingerprints of God and your only connection to His divine moral character.

There’s a paradox we have to deal with. On the one hand, nothing in this world, and nothing that humans accomplish in this world, will even be remembered once Christ returns. Eternity will hold only dim recognition of how bad it was to live in a fallen state. At the same time, we have a critical mission in this world — so critical that there are no words for it. That’s because some of what we can do here in his fallen world does register in Eternity. And the only reason it registers is because it imprints on our eternal souls, not on the world itself.

You and I are obliged to use this fallen existence as a context in which we imprint on our souls the right things, and push against the wrong things. It’s the age old question of defining good and evil: Do we go with revelation or do we work it out for ourselves? Revelation says it’s not a question of what we do, but a question of what it does to us. It’s the morphing of our moral character. What we can know or do is a manifestation of that character, and that manifestation must be true and accurate. We must walk according to our convictions. That is the standard. There is no way we can objectify the standard to a body of information against which others can compare. Your convictions apply only to you. Whatever it is in your heart, your self-honesty and strength of will to obey your own conscience is the standard.

Thus, revelation includes a critical element in how we handle the inevitable differences between each other. There is this damned madness that envisions God as objectively consistent in what He demands, that somehow we aren’t holy if can’t come up with an agreed upon standard of knowledge and practice. We get the idea that we haven’t tried hard enough if everyone doesn’t get the same idea and actions. That’s a blasphemous lie. God most certainly does make us different from each other because that’s part of our design, His design. It’s part of the broader background of human existence against which we are driven to higher things.

Heaven is not some divine conformance. Heaven is not having to worry about conformity.

Union in Christ does not quell all the variations in what’s inside our heads. He didn’t die on the Cross to save our minds, in terms of intellectual context. He didn’t rise from the grave to grant a uniform orthodoxy and orthopraxy. He didn’t ascend to the Father so that we could all inherit the same brains. The Holy Spirit’s “mind” is not like that. It’s a “mind” in the heart, a uniformity of commitment to Christ. The variations that cause so much division in Christian religion is built into our earthly existence, and there is no solution. The only “solution” is to ignore the differences because they don’t matter.

What matters is the ability to obey and do what you find in your convictions. And a critical element in that is the commitment to God’s terms of peace with your fellow believers. That peace is not found in sterile uniformity of thought and action, but in defining boundaries and sufficient space between each other to avoid interference. Holiness is not removing friction, but handling the friction gracefully.

So the requirement from God here is learning how to live with the natural level of tension, to be graceful in bouncing off each other. It means taking a certain amount of emotional bruising from each other as essential to being alive after the Fall. It means ditching the childhood dreams of having a best buddy who is your mirror, who thinks and acts just like you. Sure, you might come close to that for seasons of your life, but don’t count on it. Take it as a blessing when it happens, but don’t pursue it as a goal. Learn to live with a certain sense of isolation from others in the flesh. Once you stop demanding an almost sexual level of communion with others, you can move beyond your instinctive disappointments and keep the peace and love of Christ alive.

Do I need to explain how human sexuality, and not just in the physical, but in the moral realm, is all messed up because we don’t understand how it’s supposed to work? Do I need to explain how our perverted longings interfere with the entire gamut of our social interactions with the whole human race? When we stop idolizing something that doesn’t exist, we are free to live sanely, according to how we are actually designed.

Meditate for a moment on all the sin in our lives that would evaporate if we simply got a better, clearer image of what God really expects of us.

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Closer to Heaven

Paul’s Letter to the Roman Christians makes it plain that there is nothing we can do on our end to get ourselves or other people into Heaven. The one thing we can do on this level is share the heart-led way. That is something humans can choose. This is by far the best we can do, the only way we can get them as close to Heaven as is possible on our level.

Most of the time, just telling someone something about the sensory heart and the “mind” in the heart, and that we can choose to shift the focus of our consciousness into our hearts, is enough for them to choose it. Once they become aware of it, they realize instinctively it’s true. It may be not be enough to advise someone to focus on convictions over reason, because those terms tend to be loaded with junk notions. However, that’s a start, if you then go on to describe how the Bible talks about the heart as the domain within us that bears our will, or ability to commit to truth and covenants.

So we can build a religion that emphasizes the Covenants of the Bible. We can open the door the same way God did via Biblical Law (AKA following Christ) in terms of a commitment. People can do that, and they can do the heart-shift, all with the moral freedom God granted to every human on the earth. This is why we don’t talk about “getting saved.” We talk about embracing the Covenant of Christ as a moral inclination. We can then teach them how life itself is best understood in terms of the Covenants.

If someone is Elect, this is the atmosphere that will help them discover it. Only the individual can know he/she is elect, and without the proper equipment of the heart-led obedience to the Covenants, they will fail to live their divine heritage. But if we show them their divine heritage, we have opened the door to discovering whatever it is God intends to do for them. This is what we seek to build with Radix Fidem.

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Scanned Photos 07

Not far from where I was living in the Netherlands was the town of Doenrade. Just outside of the town was the old nobleman’s castle. At the time I took this shot of the front entrance, the thing was up for sale. I believe it’s a restaurant now, maybe with rooms. On the backside of the property was an active farm with a separate house on the same coutyard.

Speaking of castles, I was never able to identify which one this second shot shows. All I know is that I saw on a march around Echt, a substantial town on the Maas River between Maastricht and Roermond.

The US Military Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle in Belgium was just over the southern border of the South Limburgs Region of the Netherlands where I lived. I rode my bike to this memorial a couple of times during my tour there. This one has no full time resident watching over it, but it was covered by the guys who were at Margraten in the Netherlands, which wasn’t that far away.

This little jewel stands in Crupet, Belgium. It’s up in the hills above the Meuse between Namur and Dinant. Because I loved hiking that region so much, I recall seeing this thing about three different times. It’s one of the best preserved moat castles in the region.

Here is the AFCENT Military Marching Team taking a break somewhere east of Viborg, Denmark. This was another of those international military marches we took every year while the team existed. This farmer allowed our team to set up a break area on his courtyard next to his grain silos. We made this march two years in a row and ran into some of the same folks we met the first time. I was the waterboy for all of these events, but I got a better bike for the second year.

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Scanned Photos 06

One of my favorite repeat marches was around the city of Ecaussinnes, Belgium. There were some really ancient ruins there and plenty of majestic scenery. The city sits in a bowl with a narrow valley entrance.

This is one of many shots I took of the Ardennes Region of Belgium. This one was somewhere near Eupen, Belgium and the Haute Fagnes Park, sometime in 1989.

The forested region called Haute Fagnes (High Fens) was riddled with scenes like this. One of several streams that drained the swampy areas atop this vast plateau in the middle of the Ardennes.

I visited The Hague several times. One trip was during the winter with my kids. We rode the train on one of our holidays and spent the day seeing the sights. This is the beach adjacent to The Hague called Scheveningen. That pier in the background is simply called “The Pier.” There’s a restaurant and a view tower, and these days, a Ferris wheel.

One of the most popular landmarks is the Peace House, AKA the City Courthouse. It houses several judicial institutions, if I remember correctly, to include the International Criminal Court. From this angle you see only the front side, but the sides are actually longer. There’s an inner courtyard and other huge buildings on the same campus.

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Sharpening the Sword

Can you imagine someone like me wishing we could do without the Internet?

There are two issues here. One is that a computer is by far the best way to write, and to store what you write. Two is that the Internet has been the best way to distribute that writing. That computers and the Internet do so many other things is actually a problem for me.

Lately I’ve redoubled my efforts to reduce the information clutter. I use Links from Twibright Labs as my main browser. It does text and graphics, and very little else. When even graphics are more than I want, I still use Lynx browser (text only) running in the Cygwin environment. Third most often I run Kmeleon browser when I simply cannot get things done with the other two browsers. Kmeleon allows me to block lots of stuff on-the-fly with buttons in the interface. When all else fails, I use Waterfox with several extensions that protect the system and itself from most threats.

I also like the Tor Browser bundle for some purposes. I don’t like Chrome except to access Google’s own services. Even then, it tends to crash on YouTube. For transactions that involve money, I use Vivaldi just to firewall those accounts from other Internet activity. Regular Firefox is for my actual work on this blog and our forum. Yes, I’m a real Internet grouch and I took the time to learn my way around these tools to get what I want.

And if various coalitions of countries get their way, the Internet may well be firewalled off into regional sections. I have no idea whether I’ll miss much should that really take hold, but the one thing that makes me unhappy about it is that our current means of outreach is pretty much the Internet. On the other hand, only a small portion of the world’s population can be touched that way. So far, it’s a pretty thin group of folks scattered around the world who even so much as subscribe to this blog. As it is, the most active folks are scattered across the US, and none of us have ever met face to face. There aren’t that many folks in this world capable of processing this different approach to faith from such a feeble means of transmission.

Which brings me to the point of this post: I am convinced we have reached the point where any further penetration must come via a more vivid expression of faith person to person. It’s okay to reference Radix Fidem via the Internet, but the doing isn’t going to happen online. The whole idea behind Radix Fidem is restoring the divine inheritance of God’s children. That means embracing the Covenants and building up the presence of shalom in the real world. And that naturally means touching other people with that shalom. That’s what it means to shine the Lord’s glory in this world.

Granted, this rests on a move of the Spirit. If you can swallow the other stuff I write about faith and practice, then you shouldn’t balk at the idea that the Lord has revealed to me and others in different ways that He is about ready to move. It will likely start slow, but part of that movement of God will be clothed in His wrath. And His wrath always includes people who don’t know Him going crazy and doing crazy things as part of His wrath pouring out in natural disasters. According to Scripture, mass insanity is part of those natural disasters, since our human flesh is part of nature.

There is a very high probability that part of the madness will be the Internet becoming more difficult in some ways. Personally, I’m content with text browsing and email communications. I don’t need to see some of the nonsense people post in imagery. And I’m okay with text messages if you keep in mind that I use a flip phone, so my texting response will be a little slow. But I suspect some of those members of our virtual parish living outside the US, and especially outside the Western world, may soon experience trouble accessing things like our forum or this blog. This is why I wrote the Radix Fidem curriculum [PDF] as an outline to how we can share our fundamental approach with other Christians. Get your copies now, folks, or come up with your own approach. Either way, be ready for some big changes coming any day now.

A critical element in that madness will be both physical and cyber warfare. Access may become spotty at best. Be ready to handle this without so much support from this online contact point. The heart-led way of faith is too important to keep to ourselves. This is the glory of the Lord, so get on the ball and make yourself ready. This will be the only island of sanity as the rest of the world comes apart. Sharpen your sword of truth to turn on yourself afresh.

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