Radix Fidem Curriculum: Roleplaying

4. Roleplaying

One of the protocols of sheikhs is giving their adoptees a new “name” — actually more like a title. In the eyes of God, our primary role in His service is shepherd of His sheep. Everything else we do, we must never forget to promote the welfare of His flock, which is His Kingdom.

Thus, the glory if His Name is actually a matter of His role in our lives. The Bible is full of titles for which God is worthy. Stop thinking in terms of what you are and what you do; it’s always a question of who you are. To be more precise, it’s who you are to the people in the context. Context is everything in Hebrew thinking. We view reality on multiple levels at once, but the ultimate reality is who God says we are.

But on the other levels, in each situation we may play a different role. It all rests on the sense of conviction God burns into our hearts. When we pay more attention to that, we can discern what dominion and how much dominion the Lord has granted us for that moment in His name. This is fundamental to Biblical Law.

One of the most critical issues in this is recognizing that God has a heavy vested interest in gender roles. If we fail to seize the role God handed us at birth, we forfeit all the protections of from Satan granted in Biblical Law. Sexual ambivalence is a grave sin, a genuine threat to the shalom God offers. Play the hand God deals you in biology; fighting Him is a losing battle.

Rather, embrace that role with full ardor. Nothing can possibly bless you more than playing the role God assigned for you. Strive to make yourself a signature of what it means to be a man or woman. Strive to understand the underlying Biblical Law principles behind your natural born gender.

Men are assigned the task of moral guardians. They are equipped by God to see moral threats instinctively, and to react in various ways based on their individual calling in Christ. Adam was being lazy in the Garden by not insuring Eve didn’t face temptation alone. He was being lazy when he allowed Eve to choose something contrary to God’s command. He didn’t guard his own treasure from God.

Women are designed to support their men. They are flexible on some moral issues because they have to follow someone who is supposed to be strong. For this reason, the New Testament says Eve was genuinely confused and deceived about the moral question of the Forbidden Fruit. In her passion for nurture, she took what seemed to her the best path. Adam was not deceived about it.

There are a whole host of implications from this, but we won’t get bogged down here. Men tend to be lazy, since the role of household shepherd is assigned by God in His timing, typically contrary to what the man had planned for himself. No good man ever wants to be responsible for a herd of sheep, but a good man will embrace the role when it falls on him and serve his Master with ardor. No good woman wants the moral responsibility for deciding certain things that affect the flock. Only a very foolish woman wants to rule, when God says she is utterly unable. Yet every child of God can recognize certain kinds of moral threat, and will strive to find some way to guard against it.

There are whole range of goofy alternatives to this image Satan offers. Women misapply their nurturing instinct and try to rule, demanding things be nothing but nurturing, and laboring under a very perverted view of what is nurturing. Men want to abandon the flock and go off on adventures that serve no good purpose. Both become blinded to what their sexual roles actually demand, from themselves and among their own kind, but also what those roles require with the opposite sex. Each demands things for their own convenience. Thus, society serves the purposes of Satan in keeping everyone in his service where he can profit by capturing all the blessings God meant for them.

Once again, a core issue is not falling into the trap of how Western society defines these roles, but as the Bible does. The differences are hard to miss once you bother to understand them. Western society at its root is in some ways matriarchal, or at the very least, matrilineal. That is, it’s a heathen mythology that venerates women as morally superior to men. Meanwhile, men are pictured as oversized immature boys. The Bible posits that both are fallen, and both can be redeemed, but men must rule on God’s behalf.

We should hardly be surprised when everyone around us gets everything backwards. Nor should we be surprised when the world persists in this perversion, even when we reveal God’s Word on the matter. The best we can hope for in our fallen world is to demonstrate the blessings of embracing Biblical Law. If they cannot see the beauty of God’s revelation, they are blind indeed, and there is nothing else we can do for them.

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Teachings of Jesus — John 10:1-18

Jesus came to restore the Covenant of Moses so that He could lead the nation to its intended purpose. Law was always meant to bring about a consciousness of sin, and to indicate the path to restoration of peace with God. He was going to close out the ritual portion of the Law by offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice. He was going to move the basis of the Covenant into faith by making it painfully obvious where the Law was supposed to take people. The Father sent Him to do this.

The Pharisees had established multiple layers of error and perversion against this very transition, making it nearly impossible. The people were trapped in a system that blinded them, while protecting and enriching the leadership. So Jesus was plowing up the Pharisees’ layers of falsehood and opening the eyes of people who simply didn’t realize how deep the deception ran. He was calling out those people who were locked in a system that hated them and abused them. This was more than a mere political challenge, but a threat to everything the Pharisees had built, and they took it all as a personal insult. Jesus was stealing their sheep, as they saw it.

But Jesus turned that upside down: They had stolen God’s sheep. If they wanted the sheep back under their control, they would have to go through Him. That could mean they were in for the fight of their lives, or that they would have to embrace His teaching. It was polarizing on purpose. The Holy Spirit was the gatekeeper to the sheepfold, and recognized Jesus as the Son of God, the Good Shepherd of the people who genuinely wanted peace with God.

It’s the nature of sheep to follow the voice of the one who was with them out in the pasture. A shepherd was careful to sing or chant regularly so that the sheep would grow accustomed to his unique vocal sound. Then, when it was time to lead the sheep out of their pen, he would simply offer that same song or chant and they would respond. The voice of Jesus was the voice of their shepherd. Even if they had never seen Him before, as was quite literally the case of the blind man in the previous chapter, they recognized His voice because it was the same voice as God’s.

Then He shifted the imagery to say He was the door of the sheep pen. This conjures up the image of shepherds who slept lying across the gateway of their sheep pens. It’s pretty hard to open the gate and sneak in with him there, since it can’t avoid disturbing him. So it is with Jesus, protecting the sheep and opening the gate only to sheep, and then taking them out to His pasture. Anyone seeking to steal God’s sheep would have to kill Him.

The Jewish leadership had not risen in faith to the point of being God’s family, so they remained hirelings. And it showed by their lack of interest in taking risks for the sake of the sheep. When Satan came to raid the Covenant Nation, they failed to protect the sheep. But the Father demands that His shepherds be ready to take full responsibility for His sheep. Jesus knew the Father’s will about such things, and the Father knew Him and trusted Him.

Jesus didn’t have to steal the sheep from anyone. They recognized His voice as the voice of God. The way He taught the Law made it all so utterly clear to anyone who really wanted to see. So Jesus came to lead away those sheep who were truly His, and would join them to His larger flock. His flock would recognize His voice and follow Him. They followed Him also because they were convinced it was safe, that Jesus would willingly lay down His life for them.

Indeed, He claimed to have the full authority to lay it down and take it back up, all in His own timing.

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Draper Bikeway 17

This is a season of change. The heavy flooding is done in our area; we should start drying out here in Central Oklahoma. For several weeks I haven’t ridden much at all, just a few miles to the park and back so I could work out on the equipment there. A couple of days ago my bike told me it was time to put the knobbies back on. My heart is where I heard it, so my brain took a while to process. I know some of the why.

It’s time to get off the roads and start riding just for fun. It will be trails, sidewalks (where safe), and back streets, and I need to be ready to stop for diversions. I should stop pretending I have somewhere I need to go when I’m riding. The knobbies will slow me down just a bit and help me be ready for side trips across most surfaces. Oh, and all through today’s ride, the brakes kept slipping because it’s time to replace the pads.

And then I sensed it was time to swap back to a smart phone. I had been using my wife’s cast-off Essential phone as a tablet, and decided to activate it again for my number. Texting had become such a chore in the flip phone, and the camera was abysmal. These pictures were taken with the “new” phone. I figured that I’d see some damage to the bikeway today. The second shot above was from heavy equipment, operated by the bumbling construction crewmen they hired, which crew has accomplished not very much in the past two years.

This shot shows flood damage from the recent heavy rains. The water washed out the underside of the bikeway. I knew this was going to happen, and this is just the start. The folks who engineered this thing never heard of hydrology, it seems.

That last, unfinished creek bridge on the southern end below the dam is still getting very little attention from the crews. On the other hand, I did see where a little more of the initial layer of asphalt had been laid up on the northwest corner of the lake. I’ll get a picture of that next time I go out there.

So the mulberries are pretty much finished and the dewberries are coming due in the next week or two. Blackberries have another month yet. Right now the mimosa trees are in full bloom with their sickly sweet fragrance everywhere. Those things grow like weeds all over this part of the country. Yep, it’s a season of change.

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Radix Fidem Curriculum: It’s Personal

3. It’s Personal

We should be eager for divine justice. Even when it means our own punishment, we are eager to see justice live on this earth. We live in a fallen existence and perfection is simply impossible, but the wrath of God is the same grace for us as the blessings. Indeed, for us it’s all the same. We are driven to see justice as its own reward and don’t fear the loss of anything we have here, least of all our lives. We are excited by the prospect of going Home to be with Jesus. Every experience of death is a precious gift from God.

So we are quick to call for God to visit, to bring His wrath and His rewards. It’s all the same to us. We aren’t counting the personal costs because none of it will follow us into eternity. It’s all just a tool for His glory.

It’s personal, not mechanical. This is one of the hardest things for a Western mind to absorb: Everything is personal. Nothing is impersonal; objectivity is a myth. In God’s eyes, everything in this world belongs to some person. Someone is accountable to Him for everything. Since the only way to avoid the worst misery of God’s wrath is to keep it friendly and bold with Him, we seize our own culpability for failure. We openly confess our failures and request His power to correct our flaws. This ameliorates the Curse of the Fall for us, and the Father treats us favorably. That includes natural consequences. We submit willingly to whatever comes with that package.

But we know that the slaves in His Creation are not so fortunate. They have long striven to depersonalize everything and remove themselves from responsibility. This myth remains a major problem for us. We have to live with it, even though we know it’s totally false. We aren’t vindictive in holding people accountable to our personal sense of disappointment, but we do try to step back and let God’s justice work in their lives. And if it doesn’t come out like we expect, we accept what God does and move on with the mission. We don’t pretend to know all the private counsel of the Father in dealing with the cattle in His herds.

We certainly can and should know His will for us individually. We know that we must keep an awareness of personal responsibility over everything God puts in our hands. We can and should know when a tool has outlived its usefulness in our mission, and let it go. The flesh will fight against that, but we can nail Adam to the Cross again and move on with our mission.

Every activity should focus on blessing the family of God. If we engage in business, the objective of the world is profit, but for us it is feeding the sheep of His pasture. So if we are in business, then as much as it rests in our hands, we make decisions in favor of the people, not the profits. For example, hiring and staffing is the primary place to invest any profit. God allows people to engage in business for the primary purpose of giving jobs to His family. We don’t pursue efficiency as the primary goal, but maximal employment of personnel. We spread the blessings and profits with His family, our tribe.

Granted, not everyone in the workforce is part of the divine family, but we may not be in a position to know either way. So on the principle of divine justice, we seek to employ as many bodies as the context will permit. That’s how we serve the Lord. And while there are a thousand other issues involved in pursuing that end, we keep our eyes on that goal. We hire and fire based on our best estimate, our best leading of conviction, what will bring the greatest prosperity to the largest number of people. And we show a distinct preference for people who seem to have a decent moral character, naturally.

If we are the manager or employer, then these people become a part of our feudal household, as it were. Not so that we can judge them whether they are slaves, servants or family in God’s eyes, but we discern them in how we are required to handle them on our own level. We realize it’s a hot potato to talk about fairness in terms of prevailing laws, but in our own minds we know that such conceptions of equality are utterly impossible in God’s eyes. So we should try to make it clear, even if we have to avoid saying it, that we will play favorites and see no injustice whatsoever in that. It’s how God does business. But by the same token, we aren’t going to be fools about it. We will measure from our hearts who actually is committed to the mission of the business. Such people will always understand why they are favored, and are wholly unlikely to betray you for petty reasons.

And if you are just an employee, you will understand these dynamics even when you can’t act on them. We are obliged by our heart-led privileges to see the world from all levels. We are required to pray and seek God’s face on how to act in a foreign land, for we are aliens to this world. No two of us will have the same answers. But in broad general terms, we aren’t surprised when this obedience to Biblical Law leads away from wealth in a system that hates God’s Law. We don’t take it personally when sinners sin against God, even if we are the proximate target.

God alone is able to help you understand the delicate balance between secular legal requirements and divine justice. Always obey your convictions regardless of the cost. Trust in God to handle the consequences for His glory. Either way, the Western democratic sense of justice is a lie of the Devil. Don’t buy it.

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Radix Fidem Curriculum: Framework

2. Framework

In order to breathe life into your communion with Christ, you must start that long journey of conditioning your mind to think in a biblical frame of reference. Don’t plan on arriving at some destination; explore the territory and discover the delights of God long hidden from you by your own sin nature.

The first step is learning to purge yourself of heathen elements. We could spend years explaining it, but the Western world in general, and America in particular, still carries the legacy of Enlightenment ideals, and this philosophical orientation is not from the Bible. Rather, it is the combined influences from the Greco-Roman Civilization, and the Germanic tribal mythology of Medieval Europe — both pagan and anti-biblical. If you are going to understand Biblical Law, you must vow to ditch the whole range of anti-Christian philosophical roots of Western Civilization. It has fed you the wrong instincts from the start, and will only cause you much pain and needless misery as you try to serve God according to heathen values.

The proper frame of reference is Ancient Near Eastern tribal feudalism and its mystical approach. This is not just packaging; this is a very critical element in God’s revelation. This is part of the Law of God itself. Creation itself is feudal and covenantal. Nothing God said or did then, nor says or does today, takes place outside of this frame of reference. Everyone serves someone; everyone on earth is personal property of one deity or another, and are bound by whatever covenant applies.

Did you know that the notion of Satan in rebellion does not come from the Bible, but from Zoroastrian religion? Satan did rebel, as we learn from Old Testament prophecy, but that was quashed and Satan was demoted, confined to a service he does not like. All of that happened before the Garden, say the prophets (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28). He was the “covering cherub” of God’s Presence, but violated the nature of his position. What we see Satan doing in the Garden as the Serpent is his new mission. He now serves as God’s Jailer.

In the ancient Hebrew thinking, that is more than your local county sheriff’s job. For the Hebrews, every sheikh had a left-hand man who handled his wrath. This high-ranking servant commanded a guard force that maintained a punitive control over those under the sheikh’s wrath. The people in the sheikh’s household who failed him were turned over to this left-hand man to abuse and enslave. It wasn’t mere confinement, but something akin to slavery. All their productivity was consumed by the Jailer; it was how he made his living. It was his job to snoop and spy on folks to make sure they were obeying the sheikh, and to accuse them before the sheikh when he caught them being naughty. Anyone who truly loved the sheikh was protected from these accusations; they did not fall under the authority of the Jailer.

So it is with Biblical Law. Christ has clearly defined in His Person and in His teachings what it means to obey, to be on the good side of our divine Lord. This limits the authority of the Devil in our lives. And how many Christians do you know who don’t understand this situation? How many of them labor endlessly for things they cannot keep because they belong to the Devil? The Devil is not God’s enemy; he is our enemy. He is not a competitor for Christ. Jesus has unlimited authority over Satan and his demons. You have divine moral authority you can use over Satan, too, but it doesn’t work the way most Charismatics teach it. Your authority rests not on spouting magic spells about the Blood of Jesus, but on your heart-led embrace of Jesus’ teaching. This is the Covenant of Christ.

Clearly that’s not just mechanical obedience. Such is not a bad place to be, if you don’t mind being treated as a slave or servant in God’s household. But real authority is vested only in the divine family. Your authority over Satan rests on a child’s delight in the Father. The Father reciprocates that delight. He is not a legalist as the Talmud alleges, but it is all very personal and full of favoritism. It takes a lot wilful disobedience to irritate God enough to be turned over to Satan. That shouldn’t encourage you to push your luck, so to speak, but should make you feel safe when you inevitably miscalculate in your obedience. It’s not a question of performance, but a heart-led desire to please Him.

The whole idea is that you learn to identify with God and His agenda. It sounds slavish to our Western ears, but this is how reality actually works. Satan is no legalist, either, but he does like making us think legalistically. That’s where he makes the most profit from us. Anything different from what God revealed will do the trick, so he offers all different flavors of deception to appeal to every perverted taste. And his lawful dominance in our lives operates on a sliding scale; the more we violate the Covenant, the more authority we give Satan.

But God also has a right-hand man: His Son. And for every worry we might have about Satan, we have even bigger joy at walking in fellowship with Christ. The whole point is to be more than friends — a genuine adopted brother or sister of Jesus. Biblical Law is making yourself hard to distinguish from Him. That’s what it means to do things “in His name.” We are all handed feudal missions of service, feudal domains under the Father’s authority. We are His vassals, His loyal family. We don’t seek fairness, but privilege. Yet our greatest benefit is when those privileges are shared with others. We want the whole thing to grow; it is not a limited supply. Rather, it amplifies exponentially as it is shared with others. So we aren’t competitive against each other, but against the Devil.

And Creation is our ally. It cries out longingly for us to recognize our divine heritage and seize the privileges of the Kingdom. That’s what Biblical Law is all about.

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Radix Fidem Curriculum: Conceptualizing

Part 3 (exploring Biblical Law)

1. Conceptualizing

We need to think in terms of Biblical Law. It’s a blessing from God that we have the written record of the Covenant of Moses, for it exemplifies Noah, which remains in effect. But the broader record of Old Testament history and prophecy also helps us understand the upper level of law as faith. We should learn to recognize that “faith” is just a synonym for commitment, trust and obedience. We trust God to stand behind His revelation, to perform what He promises in Moses to those who seek the true meaning of Moses.

We know that Christ taught a confirmation of Moses; every miracle and deliverance was entirely under the Law of Moses. His death was also under Moses, but His resurrection was a matter of faith. He knew beyond all doubt how things would turn out, and exemplified the extrapolation, not merely of Moses, but of the whole concept of law covenant as a manifestation of grace. The mightiest grace of God is declaring to us how we can escape the grip of the Curse of the Fall, and that’s what every law covenant does.

So the first step in thinking biblically is to return once more to that issue of Eastern feudalism: God is our divine sheikh, and we are His household. The only way to understand what He revealed in Scripture is to embrace the imagery within the context of the Hebrew traditions. We can’t extrapolate what that means in our lives until we get it right for the life of ancient Israel. So we envision Him as a potentate whose power over us is absolute. His wisdom is beyond knowing, and His choices for us are by definition in our best interest.

The second issue was must face is the otherworldly nature of things. We aren’t obedient simply so we can reap some visible blessing. We are obedient because the Law of God is its own reward. It defines for us how to reach the same blessings the whole world claims to pursue, but we are granted the enlightenment to see that this world is just a poor shadow of reality. This human existence is not precious; it’s a tool we will discard as soon as it wears out.

But while we are here, we shall embrace the moral character of God that can be found in this universe. We are fallen, but Creation is not. So every manifestation of the natural world around us hums and throbs with the divine character of our Creator. Disrespect for non-human life is disrespect for the Creator who made it, and who called us away from our fallen condition back to Eden. Treat nature with respect, but know that it exists for our use in seeking His glory. All of Creation, from reality as a whole, down to the invisible particles from which the substance of the universe is composed, and every recognizable entity in between, is alive. It is all people to us.

Whether or not that imagery is factual makes no difference. Jesus commanded the storms as if they were living, sentient and wilful, and that they could be commanded under the authority of divine revelation. How do you think Adam and Eve maintained the Garden of Eden before the Fall and it’s curse of the “sweat of your brow”? Adam didn’t have to sweat in the Garden due to hard physical labor; everything in the Garden responded to the voice of divine authority. Adam before the Fall was able to speak with that same authority that Jesus used throughout His ministry.

Your faith commitment to Christ restores a measure of that pre-Fall authority. But the clarity and vigor of that authority rests on your obedience to your own convictions. Not anybody else’s convictions, but you must obey your own. You must commit to seeking in prayer that God shows you your own heart. At first, the only clue you have is your conscience, and you need to recognize that your conscience doesn’t start pure and clear. It is a dirty window onto your convictions, and it takes time to test and discover what part of your conscience is deceived about reality as God made it. You have to obey your conscience until you know better.

Eventually your conscious awareness (ego) will become more sensitive to your convictions directly. This is where you seek to gain a living connection, to move your ego into your heart. This can be done and it must be done. This is the foundation of turning law covenant into faith covenant. This is where you extrapolate Biblical Law upward into the moral sphere of awareness, a place in your soul where there can be no words and no abstractions, only the very real communion between persons, between you and your God.

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Radix Fidem Curriculum: Community

9. Community

Jesus said that Biblical Law could be summarized in two main points. First is the obvious: You must embrace God as your Lord and commit to His revelation as your sole guide in life. Second is that you must treat His family just as precious as He does. When Jesus used the term “neighbor” in relation to the parable of the Good Samaritan, it wasn’t in the sense of anyone near you geographically. He used a term arising from the Law of Moses recognizing someone who was part of the same Covenant. However, Jesus pointedly showed that anyone who appears to embrace Biblical Law must be treated as under the Covenant. So while Samaritans generally were not under the Covenant, they could be morally observant of divine justice.

By no means did Jesus suggest we treat every random stranger as a fellow covenant member. You still have plenty of outsiders, and even enemies, who have no business making covenant claims on you. For them, you still have your divine mission and calling, the free offer of mercy God has put in your hands for them. But treating someone as a fellow child of God is not based on anything this world regards. Rather, it is based on mutual respect and provisional trust in how their actions reflect Biblical Law. These are the people whose welfare you place in the same basket as your own.

It doesn’t mean being “nice” as most American evangelicals view it. Indeed, a great many Christians, even those truly born-again, do not embrace Biblical Law. They have no more claim on you than any sinner, except that they are obliged to Biblical Law whether they recognize it or not. Thus, you are permitted to speak with them prophetically, rather like John the Baptist calling for repentance. Otherwise, they are not your “neighbor” unless they adhere to Biblical Law. It’s more likely they adhere to some variation on Western notions of justice and fairness, which is distinctly pagan and not biblical.

Thus, we do not treat as neighbors everyone who claims Christ. Rather, we seek to read their hearts and discern whether we can work alongside them to promote shalom. Even truly heart-led children of God can be a bad fit; it’s based on individual mission and calling from God. We can worship alongside a lot more people than we can work with. The sole agenda of any church is growing in grace and getting along with each other. Nothing in the New Testament promotes growth strategies, bigger budgets and facilities, nor political influence. It’s supposed to be an enclave of biblical sanity. We seek to build a feudal covenant family, a clan of heart-led people devoted to Biblical Law.

Within the current context in the US, this is exceedingly difficult. There will surely come a day when the Lord will make that happen, but until then, we seek to develop a collegial society thinly scattered across the land. This faith will grow, and it should be preserved as a corrective for all that has gone wrong with the rise of Western Civilization. We should pray together and wait on the Lord to open the door to spreading our message around the world. This thing does not lend itself to quick growth among a people who grow up hostile to the very existence of a heart-led life of faith.

We cannot simply repeat the mistakes of churches from the past. We cannot allow heart-led covenant faith to sink again into obscurity, but we dare not use the methods so in vogue with the mainstream. We must be patient in living together our genuine commitment to Biblical Law, for that is simply another name for Christ.

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