It Changes Nothing

This is fiction based on a dream I had.

Let me tell you about something that happened on my last job. I was hired by some guy who had a defense contract to manage supplies related to some obscure piece of equipment. We had about a dozen people in the operation, and most of my work was related to tech support for the team, but more than just computers. I used my fancy laptop on the job a great deal because we had to travel so much.

Right after I signed on, we had to fly up north somewhere on a cargo plane, because we were escorting some pallets of supplies. The boss suggested we take a nap because it was a long flight and we would land sometime before dawn. I climbed up on one of the pallets because it had padding across the top. I grabbed a spare tarp for cover because the interior of the cargo bay was unheated. Pulling my jacket off, I rolled it up as a pillow.

When I woke up a few hours later, I found the cutie on the team was curled up against my back. I moved a little and rolled over onto my back. She mumbled something about, “Don’t expect a hand job.” While I was repulsed by what I thought was a very naughty sense of humor, I simply replied with sarcastic deadpan, “Oh, darn.” I dozed off again.

When we began descent for landing, I got up and started composing myself for the rush of work we would have unloading. One of the guys leaned up close to me and said quietly, “Be careful with her. She’s just a big tease.”

I turned with a faint smile. “Watch me. She won’t get anything I wouldn’t give anyone else.”

During the morning she did tend to act as if there was something between us, but I never warmed to her at all. I’m pretty tolerant with unusual requests, but kept up my nonreactive front, especially when dealing with her.

We were sitting in a private lounge attached to a hanger. Some were in some chairs along one wall, and about three of us were at one table. I had done some work on my laptop, and then closed the lid and slipped it back into my bag. She arose from her seat along the wall and walked over to the table. Trying to look her cutest, she asked me, “Can I play some games on your computer?”

“Nope. I never let anyone use my computer.” Again, I kept my mild and nonreactive tone.

With some exaggerated affectation, she pouted and said, “I thought I was special.”

I turned my head a little to one side. “I never gave you anything I wouldn’t give anyone else. The only thing that separates you from the rest of the team is that you’re a gold-digger. You just make more demands.”

She was genuinely angry. “I hate you!”

I leaned back and closed my eyes, stretching my arms up. “I knew that already. Nothing has changed except your false impression.”

She turned and stormed out.

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Divine Presence in Biblical Law

Biblical Law is its own reward.

We need to understand that shalom is both requirement and reward. We need to keep before our eyes how Biblical Law is the character of Christ. We should desire it by reflex as the best we can have in this life. But the power to obey is part of what God grants to us as a blessing to our faith.

We need not worry ourselves about the mechanism of faith when dealing with others. There is no mechanism; it either lives or is dead. We aren’t in a position to know if another person has faith, and faith has them. We can sense in our hearts that God is making someone our mission, and we can by faith discern how to handle them in grace, but we cannot know for sure they are spiritually alive. All we know is how God wants us to treat them.

There is no objective reality that we should worry ourselves with; there is only mission and calling. With this lack of certainty about the state of any other person in this world, we seek to build a shalom that is organic. It is alive of itself and is not under our control. It is a partnership, an alliance under Christ’s dominion.

Thus, we dispense with trying to know factually whether someone has the same faith we do. Instead, we focus on that vibe of compliance with Biblical Law. That’s the ultimate sense of reality we need to live in Christ. In this focus on Biblical Law as the Presence of the Holy Spirit, we then organize our mission of living in terms of apparent compliance. This is what mysticism means for us; it’s an otherworldly sensing of things with a very practical focus on what we can do about it.

What can we do about other people with whom we are serving and worshiping the Lord? We seek compliance with Biblical Law in the sense of cooperating with God and His revelation. We don’t have to judge; the living Law of God does that. We go on what it tells us, not in the sense of judging but in the sense of how we plan and implement our own cooperation.

People stuck in the Western mode of thinking will tend to see this as legalism because they cannot see what we see. Be prepared to endure this misunderstanding in their minds. Press on with cooperation with Biblical Law. “Keep your eye on the prize” means just that; it’s the upward calling of Christ. It’s increasing cooperation in your own conduct and in how you encourage others. It’s seeking the vital life force of holiness. In terms of practical communication and action, the focus is Biblical Law.

In the process, we make room for a lot of people and their behavior that doesn’t seem to reflect this holiness. We have enough weakness in ourselves, so we should hardly be surprised when it shows up in others. But we give people in our mission field of operation room to be something less than holy. We give them room to find grace through Biblical Law. We build a community of faith that includes people who don’t appear to have the full backing of faith. We build a religion of cooperation in the assumption there will always be some growing toward full faith and conviction.

We don’t worry about what we cannot know. We cooperate with those who appear to cooperate with Biblical Law. That’s enough. Law remains the focus of activity, because it is for us the manifestation of grace and the divine Presence.

Law is grace.

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Resurrection Sunday 2019

At least as early as His baptism, Jesus was fully conscious of the Cross ahead of Him. It was quite some struggle to make sure the Twelve were ready to carry the burden after He was gone.

Recent events remind me that, being over 60, this is probably a good time to build in some dead-man switches. I’ll be writing a sort of guide for my survivors to handle things and close out the business of my life. I rejoice at the idea that some folks would miss me, but I am also uncomfortable that some folks actually feel dependent on me. The latter is something I’ve tried to address simply on the grounds that censorship is rising, but death is another matter.

To be honest, my prophetic sense tells me I’ll be around for a very long time, but God has been known to change His plans for us. Divine will is not written in stone somewhere. I’m absolutely certain God has activated contingencies in the past few years. Nothing surprises Him and I firmly believe He knows the future, but not in the common sense of determinism. He gives us choices along the way within His plans. Most prophecy is conditional: “If you fail this command, such-n-such will be God’s response.” This is why He had the entire nation of Israel stand on the mountains either side of Shechem and recite the blessings and curses of the Covenant (see Deuteronomy 11 and Joshua 8:30-35).

In the long run, though, the real issue is that we are approaching a time in God’s judgment and wrath on America that lot of things will change dramatically in a relatively short time. Some of what we do now will be impossible before this year is out. Our fellowship should be unaffected, but the I’ve already warned that this blog is no longer the center of it. That is, if you are among those who actually engage our faith community, it should still be possible regardless of this blog. If you are simply a subscriber, maybe you won’t miss it so much.

I really do wish I could meet with some of you for a communion service today.

Addenda: I don’t take myself that seriously, but a few folks have warned me that they consider my work very important. I’m not the person who decides what should happen if I pass on to the other side, but some of you want to plan for it in case it happens any time soon. So answer for yourself this question: What would you volunteer to do for this ministry should I die? What work would you do to avoid losing something that you value? What part of that should I know about right now so I can make it easier?

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Teachings of Jesus — John 7:25-53

We know that Luke managed to ferret out the details of Jesus’ birth and some outline of His early years. His gospel reflects this dramatic tale of birth in His ancestral home of Bethlehem, as a descendent of King David. His parents were on the Roman tax rolls, a public record. They stayed a year or so, then fled to Egypt, to return some years later to Nazareth, where His parents lived back when He was conceived. The Sanhedrin could have known this much, but refused to bother with researching it. At several points in our focal passage here, the lack of factual data is painfully obvious with the Sanhedrin and the cynical residents of Jerusalem, who seemed to know just about everything else.

Jesus met every prophetic test of His Messiahship. Not only were the Jewish leaders ignorant of this, but they refused to look at the Scripture to find out. They had long since ceased to study their Covenant documents, and had embarked on a path that led them to the Talmud. By the time of Jesus, the leadership had already decided their oral traditions trumped the written Law of Moses. Their demands were so radical that they were incapable of comprehending what the Messiah was actually supposed to do when He came. The Pharisees taught that they had God over a barrel; He had to seek their approval to nominate a Messiah.

The Pharisees held in contempt the Jewish tourists from the Diaspora. They were “accursed” and the only reason anyone put up with them was to get their money. When Jesus came along seeking to restore the ancient Hebrew perspective, He placed Himself in the Sanhedrin’s eyes below the accursed tourists. He was a genuine enemy worse than any bumbling Gentile, since His teaching demanded that the leadership, and the Pharisees in particular, surrender their longstanding prerogatives as the Chosen of the Chosen, so pure that God had to seek their rabbinical blessings, lest He lose His throne.

This is no exaggeration. They were possessed of a monumental arrogance.

After Jesus sternly rebuked them for rejecting their own God and His revelation in our last lesson, we see the people of the city wondering how He was allowed to stand in public after the Sanhedrin had issued a death warrant for Him. Had they changed their minds about Him being the Messiah? Can’t be! They were sure He was from Nazareth and that the Messiah would be from Heaven, not some place on earth.

Jesus responded with sarcasm. Oh, for sure, they knew all about the details of His birth. Yes, there was no doubt they had it all figured out. But they were utterly clueless about Who sent Him. They knew some false history about Jesus, but had no idea who their national God was. Jesus knew Him for the obvious reason that the Heavenly Father had sent Him in the first place.

The city folks in the crowd were so insulted by this that they tried to seize Him. While John doesn’t answer the obvious question of how or why, he simply notes that no one could lay a hand on Him because it wasn’t the appointed hour of His sacrifice. The implication is that everyone knew it was miraculous. Meanwhile, the Diaspora tourist debated among themselves if the Messiah could possibly do miracles any more wondrous than that. Some of them came to believe, at least on that basis, that Jesus was the Messiah.

When the Pharisees heard such chatter in the crowd, they went back and counseled with the Sanhedrin. It was decided to send the Temple Guards to arrest Jesus, but again, they were unable to do it. Jesus told them they had to put up with Him a little longer, and then He would go back to His Lord. Then He said something cryptic: They would come looking for Him and not find Him. He was going to a place they could not come. The leadership who had accompanied the Temple Guards were puzzled over this. About the only thing they could guess was perhaps He would travel out to the Diaspora synagogues where it was known there would be many Gentile visitors. In those places, it was well-known that Roman Law protected people like Jesus from being harassed by Jewish zealots, since they opened their worship to the public. Maybe He could convert some Gentiles, but no self-respecting Jew would listen to Him.

This continued over the next few days until the eighth and final day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus stood in a very public place in the Temple Plaza and called for those who were spiritually thirsty. By embracing His message in faith, they would discover the meaning of Jeremiah’s prophecy — “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV). This was yet another clear reference to how the Pharisees had ditched the clear and sweet revelation flowing from God in favor of toxic stagnant water stored in porous limestone. That is, they trusted their own reason and imagination instead of what God had said.

John tells us this flowing fountain was a reference to the Holy Spirit, Who had not yet been given to believers, waiting until Jesus was risen and ascended to Heaven. This announcement precipitated a debate among the folks in the crowd. Was a He a prophet, or the Messiah? But wasn’t He supposed to come from Bethlehem as a member of the ancient royal household of David? Again, they were factually unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and was from the royal household, but no one had bothered to find out for sure. Again, some of those in the crowd were infuriated and tried to seize Jesus, but simply could not.

Nor could the Temple Guards seize Him. When they reported back to the Sanhedrin empty-handed, the big shots berated them as traitors, in effect. This is where the Pharisees condemn the crowds openly as accursed, ignorant of “the Law,” by which they meant their oral traditions. Nicodemus warned them it was flatly illegal to put a death warrant on Jesus’ head in the first place without a fair trial. The only response they had was to attack Nicodemus. But it is the Pharisees who showed themselves ignorant, acting as if there was no prophet from Galilee. Both Jonah and Nahum were from Galilee.

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Hands Tied by God

First and foremost: We follow Christ alone. Without any apology, we serve Him at whatever cost to our comfort, convenience, or even our lives.

Furthermore, we assert that most Westerners have no clue who He is, nor who He was during His time on earth. If you don’t take the time to seek a full immersion in His ancient Hebrew cultural and intellectual orientation, you have no hope of understanding anything He said or did. Granted, that means we spend the rest of our lives digging into the details of that ancient Hebrew heritage, and we have to sponsor good scholars among us who will lead the way. Still, this is the task before us in forming churches. We help each other cling to God.

Meanwhile, we also assert that a firm heart-led commitment to Christ as Lord will take you farther down the path of truth than all the scholarship in the world. Any one of you, with a heart-led wisdom and the guidance of Biblical Law, could easily solve most of the world’s problems.

But that’s not our mission. The world won’t listen anyway. Scripture warns us quite openly that things will go from bad to worse as time passes toward the day Christ returns. We are warned not to waste time seeking to make the world a better place in that sense. Instead, we seek to advance our own personal adherence to Christ’s teaching (AKA Biblical Law) as the only mission worthy of His name.

So the issue we face in this fallen world is not fixing anything except our own individual compliance with divine revelation. Everything else is a mere tactical exercise. We seek His glory through obedience and the harvest of His blessings in shalom. Whether we play along, and for how long we do so, is just a matter of heart-led guidance in seeking what most glorifies our Lord. It’s a matter of seeking in prayer and meditation who we are in Him so that we can discern how to act in each context. Our only question is: What has He called us to do?

We don’t give a damn how it turns out on a human level. We don’t care what other people consider to be wise or effective, and their feelings don’t matter. Indeed, since our lives don’t matter, neither do theirs. The whole issue is peace with God seeking His glory. Where is divine justice? It cannot be found in the reasonings of any human who builds on a foundation other than the Christ who calls us into His service. Nothing else matters.

We are swimming through the sewage of human-based lies about who Christ is and what He stands for in this world. The greatest blessing we can give to anyone is to walk in the truth of what you know in your heart. The consequences of that belong to God. Don’t you worry about how it plays out, except to watch so you can discern what is required of you next.

Granted, the vast majority of the time we should obey Romans 12:18 — “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (NKJV). That’s a fundamental part of divine guidance in your heart. However, before you ever have to face it, you should expect that it doesn’t always depend on you. Living in “peace” means the shalom God offers to all who seek His face. The image here excludes certain conduct and beliefs. If you don’t see that, then you are blind. God doesn’t bless what seems reasonable to humans; He blesses only what He has revealed as appropriate.

So you will feel obliged to swallow some crap in some contexts, and reject it in others. God rules, and His rule for you begins in your own heart of conviction. No apologies. Nobody says you can’t feel their pain with them, but if you know their pain comes from rejecting God’s truth, you’ll have to close your heart to their cries. We understand the weaknesses of our own flesh, but you cannot go where God says “no.”

Most human suffering is self-inflicted. The only answer is a heart-led commitment to Christ. Without that, your hands are tied by God.

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Biblical Morals in War

If we are going to follow Christ, we cannot afford to insert into our religion a value system that He did not hold.

If there’s one thing this blog shouts out repeatedly, it’s that Western morals do not reflect those in the Bible. Western values arose from a the collision of the remnants of pagan Greco-Roman Civilization and the uncivilized hoards of Germanic Tribal invaders who finished off that civilization. The leaders of the Roman Church at that time thoughtfully and willfully perverted the last vestige of biblical morals to more closely match those of the Germanic invaders so as to appeal to them and make some sort of shallow conversion possible.

Here at Kiln of the Soul, we flatly reject Western morals as hostile to genuine biblical religion. There is some overlap between the mainstream Western “Christianity” and what Christ actually taught, but there are significant differences. Christ was a Hebrew man.

So Christ would stand with King David on treatment of war captives. What does it take to humble the enemy and make them stop fighting? Don’t evaluate that from your own Western mythology; think in terms of how Israel’s kings did things, along with a host of other warrior kings in that time and place. I understand that American civil law will follow its own standard dictates. I am not suggesting that we should campaign for a change in that. My point here is that Christians are poking God in the eye when they evaluate the case of Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher from a non-biblical perspective.

The Bible sees nothing wrong with what Gallagher is accused of doing, given the context. All the more so when you discover that ISIS was created by the US intelligence agencies (led, trained and funded by our people) in concert with those of our allies. This whole war against ISIS was a cynical ploy to fight both sides at the same time in order to destroy third party governments that have done us no harm whatsoever. The relentless and unspeakable evil within our own government is the real problem here, and it should help to explain the wrath and tribulation coming upon the US even now.

So we should pray for Eddie Gallagher that God will have mercy on him for being a hapless pawn in our government’s hideous lies.

Addenda: The Bible sees nothing wrong with assassination of civilian political figures. The Bible sees nothing wrong with meeting force with force. Do you think Israel’s forces would hesitate to do worse than Gallagher? Do you imagine that ISIS would hesitate to do even worse than all of them? Chivalry as a moral value is from pagan mythology, not from the Bible. If we are going to go to war, we should recognize no such limits, in part because nobody else does. That we even went to war in those places shows that are no better.

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Random Chapel Shots

A few random images from my prayer rides so far this week…

First up is a shelter I saw standing on the north bank of the North Canadian River at the mouth of Crutch Creek. You can see a rather primitive attempt in front of the better one. What doesn’t show in the image was that there hung a cable across the river just above this thing, tied between two stout trees. I can’t guess how the cable is used, but I don’t think it’s heavy enough to ride across safely. I believe the river banks with a certain margin are considered public recreational property, but access isn’t guaranteed. I’m guessing the cable is used to make wading across safer. Most of the year there isn’t much flow, and this is a popular fishing spot. This was what I was able to see from my prayer spot.

A good ways upstream from that last shot is the lower dam on the Oklahoma River recreation area. The dam stands just under Eastern Avenue, just south of the I-35 and I-40 Junction. It was a good place to pray with the less than thundering roar of the silty water. There’s nothing hindering anyone walking right down into this flow, but it’s rarely this heavy.

I was unable to stitch these two images together, but this is the same spot, panning farther to the right and viewing downstream. I wasn’t able to stay quite as long here because the winds were high and the fishermen were starting to show up. There was no safe place to lock my bike, and without the isolation from other humans, it’s pretty hard to stay engaged with the natural elements.

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