50 Shades of Exile   3 comments

This is from the blog Fellowship of the Minds:

Is our land about to vomit us out?

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Sin defiles the land; drought is because of sin

Sexual perversion has been a prime mover in the destruction of civilizations. Is America next?

“‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.’”
– Leviticus 18:24-28

Jackson, Wyoming
California Drought
The Land Vomits

When to Wait, When to Act   Leave a comment

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This is from DRDONLYNCH’S BLOG:

Saul missed the what-God-wants of his life and generation by failing to wait. While we remember his failure for full obedience with regard to Agag and the Amelekites, Saul’s failure to wait for Samuel reset his whole life and leadership long before this more obvious failure occurred.

Saul’s heart was revealed by his failure to wait. Saul’s heart was further revealed when he failed to act. By the time he got to God’s heart about the Amelekites, Saul’s heart held no secrets. In the end, we see his heart included the witchcraft rebellion of which Samuel spoke.

Saul has a heart problem, so Samuel says, God will now choose someone else to lead His people, a man who has God’s heart.

King Saul failed to wait when God waited and failed to act when God acted. He didn’t have God’s heart. When leaders fail to have God’s heart, they fail to represent God, and people begin to respond to without God’s heart. Good leaders so represent God’s heart that everyone who follows them responds to God’s heart.

Saul also missed it by failing to act. In each case, his failure revealed a fatal flaw in his heart. He remained a leader for decades but he never fulfilled his purpose, and we know this because he didn’t have a son to sit on his throne. Saul’s ultimate failure was his failure to properly father, and that failure cost everyone, not just Saul.

Part of the dismal failure of Saul is traceable back to the people of Israel who demanded a king “like the nations around them.” Not just a king, but a king that functioned like the heathen! Saul seems to be such a king, and the failures of Saul seemed to further explain this predicament – God gives us the leadership we deserve.

In this story, Saul fails to wait for God’s appointed time with Samuel and fails to act in God’s appointed time to bring deliverance through Jonathan.

In each case, it is the people who characterize his responses more than God or his leadership assignment. Saul is the people’s choice and chooses the people over God.

The people become impatient and wander off so Saul responds to their impatience and acts rashly. The people hide in fear and Saul responds by hiding in Migron – which means “fear, on the edge, precipice.”

Saul is the ultimate political spirit leader, and his leadership reinforces the prevailing conditions rather than confronting those conditions with God’s leadership. Still, in these circumstances, God does mighty things.

Saul ends up with only 600 men and surrounds himself with them. Jonathan is left with only one person who can help him carry around his armor, but he attacks with the revelation Saul failed to wait for. A great victory begins with one man and his servant. Before the day is over, Jonathan has rallied the whole army, and those who turned traitor with the enemy came back to Israel. Before the battle is over, the thousands who wandered away are fighting the enemy.

About the time you think you have an army, God will prune it down to those who are ready to fight.

About the time you think God won’t keep His appointment and speak strategy, He will speak.

About the time you think you lack necessary weapons, people, and money to wage war, God will use what you have and give you what was stolen from you.

About the time you think you need more people before you obey God, you will discover that what you need is a releasing word that reveals a strategic point of attack that will release the fear that binds God’s people into the enemy they are afraid of.

When the enemy army are confronted, the fear that holds God’s people becomes the weapon that confuses the enemy. Fear to wait. Fear to act. Fear confuses your heart first, then your mind, then your behavior. Fear has a smell that everyone around you can smell.

Jonathan attacked the raiding party. This was the strategy of Philistia to terrorize the Israelis into fear. So, Jonathan attacked the source of fear in order to release it back upon the enemy. That’s strategy! God reveals the enemy and his strategy, then He reveals His strategy to defeat the spiritual condition, the heart condition, that defeats His people. When God people act like God’s people, they always win!

Saul fed the fear, was a product of the people’s response. This is not kingdom leadership. The problem is clearly both Saul and the people, for neither has God’s heart. God’s method of getting His heart into His people is called “leadership.” Saul failed in producing God’s leadership, but David succeeded.

The battle for the heart of the kingdom is fought in the hearts of its leaders.

A Dark Road and a Bright Light   6 comments

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This is from the blog Disparate Truths:

I write as my heart is broken, as I anticipated it would be. It was broken by reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. During the many hours I have spent not only reading but also meditating on the message and meaning of this work, I have been, as Dostoevsky might say, drawn into a terrible feeling which has been attempting, for the most part unsuccessfully and frustratingly, to become a thought. Two thoughts, specifically, and I would like to share them.

A very short background to the novel: Dostoevsky’s intent for the novel was “to depict a thoroughly good man,” as he wrote in 1868 to a friend. He saw this as an almost impossible task. Ultimately, the obsessions, intrigues and vices of the world in which the epileptic and kindhearted hero, Myshkin, shows up to in St Petersburg leave him out of his mind in an institution, the only place in this world which seems a fitting abode for such a saint. It is an incredibly moving novel with not a little insight into the human heart and mind. Dostoevsky himself, like the character he created, suffered from epileptic fits during the composition of the novel, and lost his newborn daughter not long after that letter.

The First Thought: A Painting…

In the novel, there is a recurring painting in the dimly lit house of Ragozhin, one of the darkest characters in the novel: it is Holbein’s “Christ Entombed.” One of the characters, Ippolet, reads out to a group gathered for the birthday of Myshkin an incredible critique of the painting. Ippolet is dying of tuberculosis as an 18-yr old boy and reads this excerpt from a longer essay delivered shortly before he fails to commit suicide in front of the party (his gun does not go off and nothing happens).

He reads: “I believe I stood before [the painting] for five minutes. There was nothing good about it from an artistic point of view, but it produced a strange uneasiness in me. The picture represented Christ who has only just been taken from the cross. I believe artists usually paint Christ, both on the cross and after He has been taken from the cross, still with extraordinary beauty of face…In Ragozhin’s picture there’s no trace of beauty. It is in every detail the corpse of a man who has endured infinite agony….It’s true it’s the face of a man only just taken from the cross—that is to say, still bearing traces of warmth and life. Nothing is rigid in it yet, so that there’s still a look of suffering in the face of the dead man, as though he were still feeling it….Yet the face has not been spared in the least. It is simply nature, and the corpse of a man, whoever he might be, must really look like that after such suffering….

“But, strange to say, as one looks at this corpse of a tortured man, a peculiar and curious question arises: if just such a corpse (and it must have been just like that) was seen by all His disciples…by all who believed in Him and worshipped Him, how could they believe that that martyr would rise again?

“Looking at such a picture, one conceives of nature …in the form of a huge machine of the most modern construction which, dull and insensible, has aimlessly clutched, crushed and swallowed up a great priceless Being, a Being worth all nature and its laws, worth the whole earth, which was created perhaps solely for the sake of the advent of that Being…” (380-1, from the Wordsworth edition).

We seldom look upon such a Christ, if ever. Even the feeling which arises from viewing Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” seems small when compared to the painting, in which the body lying there could be any man’s, emaciated, destroyed, hideous. For the same reason, I do not like to think of what I have been through with my depression, the depths to which it has taken me. There is an abyss within the mind where there are no walls, but only what seems to be infinite blackness where one falls and falls but cannot grab hold of anything. For the same reason again, you and I rarely consider the lengths we would go to have what we want, or that the deepest part of our self is that part which considers nothing but itself important, meaningful or worthy, even while whispering to itself that this is most likely untrue.

This was my first thought. It was to meditate upon simply how dead Christ was, and what that death looks like face to face.

The Second Thought: An Abyss of Goodness

This is my second thought: It was that exact emaciated, destroyed and decaying body which lied there after the moment of the most horrible death of the most innocent and loving man, and it was at that exact time, when hope, after being dead for three days, was invisible and hidden behind a total darkness, that God raises up that body at that time as glorified perfection and the embodiment of hope.

My thought is that there are dark valleys which we have not known, but which exist in the human soul and of which only God knows, and that God is already bringing life to these places which are so dark within us that we cannot perceive them.

God has trod the path of absolute darkness, has been in its cave entombed, and has tasted the tasteless lack of all sensation and the terrible, ultimate slipping away.

God not only knows the evil which we also know of and for which we may or may not feel guilty, but the evil which we do without realizing and whose consequences extend innumerably. He sees that death which comes upon us from nature herself and that death which we pursue headlong in the great, wild hunt for that which will assuage our own soul by means of fulfilling its small and petty desires.

God has been there. God has seen it, and understood it more perfectly. God did not shrink from death, even a death as haunting as Holbein’s portrayal. Knowing it, he walked such a path willingly. Knowing us, he follows us persistently. God has reached deeper into my soul than I can ever know to tend to a garden he has planted in a place as barren as West Texas, so that not only can I eat of the fruit which he grows, but also so I may share of the fruit which all but drops into my hands and whose roots I cannot see.

I Didn’t Ask for This…

Overcome by depression a few days ago, I prayed. I wish I had always taken this first step so immediately in my life; it would have saved years of agony. I told God that I didn’t ask for this depression, and that it leads me to a place of spiritual horror where I never wanted to go. I told God that he gave me this, and that he did it on purpose. I said I that this was illogical and from my perspective causeless. But I also told God that he has never done anything but tend to that dark-soul-orchard, whether or not I put up the “no-help-wanted” sign. I concluded that if he wanted me to endure so much pain, he must have a darn good reason for it. And he does.

The greater the death we see, the sweeter will be death’s own death. The more agonizing the portrayal of Christ we can bear by God’s grace, the more the grace of God will be free and beautiful to us. The greater depths of darkness we perceive within ourselves (because they are there), the more joyous and valuable the friendship with this merciful God becomes. If you suffer, I understand, and we can certainly talk about that. But God understands better.

Holbein and Dostoevsky perfectly portrayed the beginning, the first half of the story. But the rest of the story is why the New Testament is obsessed with resurrection: it is the only true starting point for beauty, for hope, and for selfless love, that is, for life. God does not simply wait for his people to do what is good: He is already at work. Praise God.

Posted August 24, 2015 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

The Importance of the Prophetic   11 comments

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“Head of a Prophet” by Mikhail Vrubel

This is an excerpt from a post published on the blog Grace and Truth:

The Importance of the Prophetic

The prophet represents God. He goes forth from the presence of God and speaks what God has given him to speak. The prophet speaks the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not just speaking the Word, it is speaking it forth in the power of an anointing borne out of intimacy with Jesus Himself. The prophet is the ambassador of Christ in this world, and so the prophet and his message are inextricably linked. A true prophet cannot be separated from the message he brings.

We see this with Ezekiel. God had a message for Israel and He had His prophet to act out what he was proclaiming to Israel. He had to lie down for a certain number of days as a sign against rebellious Israel. (Ezekiel 4)

One cannot receive the prophet himself, whilst rejecting the message he brings. And vice versa is true.

Neither can the true prophet be separated from God. When God sends someone to speak forth His Word, then he/she is speaking it on God’s behalf. Rejection of the prophet and his message therefore is rejection of God and His Word.

He who receives you receives me, and He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Matthew 10:40

The Way of the Flesh

The rejection of the Word of God is normal. What I mean by that is that it is the way of human flesh.   The flesh always resists the Spirit. It always has and it always will. The flesh has its eyes blinded and its heart hardened.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

I don’t know about you, but since I was born again I left behind “normal”. I don’t want the way of the flesh anymore, I am desperate for the way of the Spirit. As followers of Christ, we who are now living by the Spirit should be able to receive and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church regardless of whether it is a message of encouragement/edification or whether it is a message of correction/reproof. You see, the Holy Spirit wants to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ and sometimes the old needs to be torn down first before the new can be built.

Rejection of the Prophetic Word

The consequence of the rejection of the prophetic Word is judgment and death.

This may sound harsh, but there is a spiritual principle at work here.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” Galations 6:8

Because the Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12) when it is received it takes root in order to bring forth life, just like a little seed.

However when the Word of God is rejected, that place where life was meant to dwell becomes a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum and something has to take that place.   What enters in is corruption.  When Christ is actively rejected after the Word has been preached, a new level of corruption enters into that individual/church/city.

Jesus told the disciples what action to take with those who reject them and their words:

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorra in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:14, 15

The action of the shaking of dust from one’s feet is an act of judgment against that place.

“The Jews thought the land of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any heathen country, they stopped at the borders and shook or wiped off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be polluted with it. Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the Gospel were holy no longer, but were on a level with heathens and idolaters.”

–John Wesley

Jesus brings Sodom and Gomorrah into the picture as a picture of God’s judgment.  It was an awful judgment of fire and brimstone against awful sin. Yet they were judged apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ—it had not been preached to them. How much more severely will God judge the place to which the gospel has been sent and rejected?

__________

Here is my comment to the above post:

Excellent post. Sometimes it is not merely the words of a prophet that are rejected by certain people, but the prophet’s lifestyle of obedience.

But here is some more on a prophet’s words being rejected: Back in 1989 [or 1990] I was attending an Assembly of God in Ames, Iowa. I stood up and gave a testimony on how I was delivered from many demons (I think it is one of the most beautiful and powerful testimonies that I have ever given—it really glorifies God). After I gave my testimony, the pastor (Gary Pilcher) jumped out of his seat, threw the assistant pastor out of the pulpit and told me in no uncertain terms that he did not like my testimony and that I should leave the teaching to him. (I didn’t think I was doing any teaching, I was just giving a testimony of the Holy Spirit’s powerful working in my life.)

Six months later I gave a similar testimony about how I was delivered from many demons (in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established). In my spirit, half of the congregation received my testimony, but the same pastor replied somewhat negatively—I don’t remember exactly what he said. Immediately, the Lord told me to take the shoes off of my feet, shake the dust off of my shoes and walk out of that church. I didn’t do it because I felt sorry for Pastor Pilcher. After the church service, I walked out the door and Pastor Pilcher followed me outside and spoke to me privately. Basically, what he said is that my testimony glorified Satan. When Gary Pilcher said that, he blasphemed the Holy Ghost; he will never get saved. A few years later, Gary Pilcher’s son died of cancer.

The last I heard, Gary Pilcher was the assistant supervisor of the Assemblies of God in central Iowa: when you reject Christ for a living, you can really be promoted up the ladder in the world system of churchianity. The wages of sin (rejecting a prophet’s testimony) is death—spiritual death and physical death. Touch not my anointed, do my prophets no harm.

_____

“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.”

–Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This is Sodom! This is Sodom!
Behold, I Send Unto You Prophets
Jackson, Wyoming Fire, 2012

Obedience, Fasting and Prayer   4 comments

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This quote is from my book The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories, page 51:

“‘The monastic way is very different. Obedience, fasting and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God’s help I attain freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy.'”

[excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Book VI, “The Russian Monk”]

_____

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

“Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”

― Oswald Chambers

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“Be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

_____

Missionary Quotations: Hudson Taylor
Where Have All the Monks Gone
New Testament Circumcision
Paga (Intercession)
Obedience: The Bondage Breaker

The Prophet’s Call   7 comments

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Prophet Amos

This is from the blog Susanne Schuberth’s Poetry:

The Prophet’s Call
By Susanne Schuberth

Those who are aliens here on earth
Endure tormenting pangs of birth
They make the call to share their pains
Alas, the whore is bound in chains
She’s looking for applause of crowds
The prophets though are His ‘all-outs’

They call the stout to leave the wall
So they can hear the desert’s call
That calls for you and me, my friend
To leave that church which is a blend
Of truth and lies we might not see
And if we stay, we won’t get free

God calls us to the narrow path
So that we may escape His wrath
That is to come so very soon
When sun is darkened, and the moon
Where you can hear the weak one say
“He strengthened me, I’m on His way”

Don’t we reject the voice we hear
Through prophets’ words and by our ear
They urge us that we make our choice
And listen to His longing voice
The Lord’s still speaking to our heart
Because He wills that we take part

In joining them wholeheartedly
Who prayed to Him for eyes to see
The wickedness down to the core
Of Satan’s wife, his bride, his whore
See, all the years she took from Him
The fat, the wool, the sheep at whim

Still there is time for us to come
Unto the Lord before it’s done
The prophets who stand in the breach
Were called for us to pray and preach
Don’t we despise their words that hurt
Since Christ now wants to sift from dirt

A Prophet’s Eyes
The Prophetic Voice
Josephus on John the Baptist

Being Fed   7 comments

bread

This is from the blog Grace and Truth:

When once a hunger had been born in me for God’s presence then, naturally, I sought to be fed.  The revelation of our own spiritual bankruptcy, whether by food shortage or some sort of crisis, is the catalyst for the formation of a hunger for God.  When we are able to see our spiritual bankruptcy it is then that we can truly seek God in the way He should be sought.  Not as a means to an end, or to fulfill an agenda of our own but by loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  It is because we have seen that without Him we are starving and dying, and in the desperation of soul-hunger we begin to seek after the Bread of Life.  And that’s what I did.  Suddenly the temporal, physical things that used to bring me some degree of satisfaction became empty and vain.  I began to crave Jesus and His presence.  My prayer time was in the evening, and all day long I would look forward to the evening when I could be with Him again.

Jesus said “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27)

God sees our need of Him.   He knows that without Him we are starving.  And He knew that man would reject Him in the Garden of Eden, in order to pursue his own way.  That is why God prepared a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  Because of His infinite mercy, God had already prepared a way to repair the breach between man and God and to bring us back into fellowship with Him.   That way was by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to the cross to bear the dreadful curse for our souls.  Before He was crucified Jesus said:

“I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.   The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?   Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoso eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day.   For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood dwells in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me.”  (John 6:53-57)

Jesus said this to the very people whom, the day before, had been miraculously fed with the loaves and the fish.  He wasn’t referring to cannibalism, He was telling them to look beyond the physical miracle of the multiplied loaves and fish and to see the greater miracle standing before them – God’s own Son.  His life was about to be given for them so that they may have life.  He was going to be crucified, His body broken and His blood poured out for their sin so that they would no longer have to be separated from God by those very sins.  There was no longer any need to starve spiritually.   Here was the provision right in front of them.  In verses 48 and 58 He says “I am the bread of life…This is the bread that came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna and are dead.  He who eats this bread will live forever.”

So here is God’s provision for our spiritual starvation right in front of us.  It is Christ’s Himself.  When we turn away from our sin of independence and pride and put our faith in the Bread of Life then we are filled with His life, by His Holy Spirit.

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Jesus2He is the source of our life and He is the sustainer of our life.  We need to be full of Him.  Nothing else can satisfy, no religious duty or practice, neither anything in this world – only Him.  We need to be in His presence regularly, feasting on the Word every day, allowing His Spirit to convict us, speak to us, minister to us and we need fellowship with others who are full of Him too.  As David, we need to know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord.  We need to know how to feed on Him.

We also need to maintain a hunger for Him. I find that that is more difficult when life is going well.  Although I actually still need Him now as much as I did when I suffered the depressive episode, it’s easier for me to forget that need of Him now that I am free of depression.  That’s why I need to read the Word because it convicts me, washes me and changes me.  I also need to pray regularly because I find that the more time I spend with Him the more time I want to spend with Him and feed on the Bread of Life.

To the Laodiceans, who could not see their own poverty and need of Him, Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Broken Bread and Poured-out Wine

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