Proverbs 28

What you believe you see and experience is just shadow; ultimate reality is the moral truth behind it all. This chapter is full of short epigrams all getting at the same basic idea. They are not doctrinaire assertions of wishful thinking that we know aren’t always the way it turns out. Rather, they are assertions of moral truth teaching men of power how things should turn out under their reign. This collection warns the rulers: Let these things characterize your rule. See with the heart, not with the senses, and know the truth of God’s character.

1. The wicked flee when no man pursues; but the righteous are bold as a lion. This is more than a mere matter of clear conscience, though it includes that. Rather, those who know what God intended are willing to suffer when the whole world perverts His intent because they are driven by His Spirit. What can threaten a lion? Whatever threat we face from human perversion is simply not important.

2. Because of the transgression of a land, many are its rulers; but it is prolonged by a man of discernment who knows right. This is subtle and speaks on different levels. On the one hand, God has a tendency to provoke a frequent turnover on the throne of an evil nation. By the same token, an evil society surrenders itself to all kinds of petty masters and demonic forces. But the main point is for the ruler in training to realize that his best hope for a long and prosperous reign from God’s hand is to be morally discerning and never stop learning.

3. A poor man who crushes the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaves no food. A sense of moral wealth changes your attitude. Will you rule like a poor man, someone who is never satisfied? The second word for “poor” here a different term meaning “dependent.” A greedy king is like a torrential downpour, not just knocking down the crops in the field, but washing away the seed for future crops. It’s too easy to forget that your greatest asset is your people.

4. Those who forsake the law praise the wicked; but those who keep the law plead against them. In moral terms, this echoes the previous verse. If you stop paying attention to the Covenant Law, you will end up promoting some awful people because, in your lust for power, you can’t recognize moral depravity. A king who takes the Covenant seriously will tend to push back against folks who try to manipulate the throne.

5. Evil men do not understand judgment; but those who seek the LORD understand all things. One of the oldest forms of manipulation is appealing to concrete results based on mere human logic. These worldly-wise folks could be found even in the most mystical of cultures. You shall know them by their fruits. If you sincerely desire Jehovah’s favor, you will tend to see all things in terms of His divine justice. It makes it easy to spot evil men because they will emphasize some imaginary professional expertise.

6. Better is the poor who walks in his uprightness than he who is perverse in his ways, though he is rich. Don’t be fooled by apparent material wealth. If it requires perversion to be rich, then you can’t afford to be wealthy. Be a blessing to those who prefer moral purity at whatever material cost.

7. Whoever keeps the law is a wise son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father. Not the best translation, this proverb refers to establishing an early track record of high morals, contrary to the worldly wisdom of “sowing your wild oats.” We might better translate “gluttons” as “riotous fellows.” Hanging out with them is a good way to be passed over as heir to the throne. Passing note: In Hebrew the term “wise son” sounds like “bean bane” when spoken, the kind of thing that becomes a common expression.

8. He who increases his wealth by interest and unjust gain, he shall gather it for him who will pity the poor. The word for “interest” here is usury, illegal under Moses. Your fellow Israelis are family. It’s the image of someone amassing a large estate with the excuse of passing it to his direct heirs, but he does it by preying on his other relatives. This kind of thing was all too common, despite being a scandalous violation of ancient tribal custom. A just king will encourage a proper distribution of wealth across a man’s extended family, the stated reason why God blesses some with wealth.

9. He who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is a hateful thing. This is echoed all over the prophetic record. It’s the image of someone who can’t be bothered to even get to know his sovereign lord, but has the nerve to make requests contrary to stated policy. Among humans insulting, it’s blasphemous in dealing with God.

10. Whoever causes the righteous man to go astray in an evil way, he himself shall fall into his own pit; but the upright shall inherit good. This points directly at the ruler. The image is one of taking advantage of honest men who trust you. Do you think you are so slick? In the long run, you will be caught in your own trap. At the very least you will look like a complete ass while your victims will gain sympathy.

11. The rich man is wise in his own eyes; but the poor who has understanding searches him out. This is the essence of moral failure. Materialism was a significant problem even in ancient mystical cultures. If all you care about is your personal hedonistic comforts, then you won’t even notice when someone can see right through you. They live in two entirely different worlds.

12. When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden. This one is subtle: A king is discerned by how his righteous subjects act. If the men who walk proud and talk loud about how great is their nation are also the good guys, then your reign is probably just. If the good guys try to stay below the radar, you are a bad king. Look around king and see what you have wrought.

13. He who covers his sins shall not be blessed; but whoever confesses and leaves them shall have mercy. The people worth your time don’t expect perfection; they’ll give you room to make mistakes. Repay their mercy by your honesty and sincerity, and work to improve. Arrogance will darken your reign.

14. Blessed is the man dreading God, but he who hardens his heart shall fall into mischief. This is a close correlation to the previous verse. Humility before God wins His favor. Losing that favor is begging for trouble because it blinds you to the pure moral vision of your heart.

15. Like a roaring lion and a ranging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the helpless people. The animals are depicted in their predatory hunger. From our Western mythology this isn’t much discouragement from evil. In Hebrew culture, the predator was a bad guy and the shepherd was the essence of manhood. A good shepherd would handle lions and bears and keep them from the flock.

16. A ruler lacking understanding even adds oppressions; he who hates unjust gain shall prolong his days. This echoes the previous verse. It’s the image of a balance beam: Light on moral wisdom means heavy on oppression. By contrast, someone who has no use for plunder but prefers social stability is the kind of king who draws fearsome support from his people.

17-18. A man who is pressed down with the blood of a soul shall flee to the pit; do not let them uphold him. Whoever walks uprightly shall be saved; but he who is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. The imagery suffers in translation here. The Hebrew language is a little ambiguous, but it begins with the picture of someone who rushes though life seizing what they want without a moment’s consideration of what is good and morally just. They tend to violence along the way as they slide quickly into the moral swamps. There’s little you can do for such people so let them go. Contrast this with someone who keeps their feet on the solid paths. He has little in common with the guy who prefers frolicking around sinkholes.

19-20. He who tills his land shall have plenty of bread, but he pursuing vanities shall have poverty enough. A faithful man shall overflow with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich shall not be innocent. The fundamental image is a feudal grant. If you stick with what God has placed in your hands, He will prosper you. Don’t envy what God gives others. Chasing your hedonistic fantasies will be “sated” with sorrow. What will you feed your household? What will your children inherit from you?

21-22. To have respect of persons is not good; yea, for a piece of bread a man will transgress. He who hastens to be rich has an evil eye, and does not know that poverty will come upon him. It’s an ancient figure of speech to be a sucker for pretense and appearances. Will you be a king cheaply bribed to save someone’s fake reputation? It’s not that such kings are blind, but that they see the world through a perverted lens (“evil eye”). He knows the value of nothing.

23. He who rebukes a man shall afterwards find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue. The word translated here as “rebuke” means specifically to stand up for what is just and right. Even if such defense of moral truth comes sharply spoken, it’s easier to accept that compared to the sorrows of flattering words that lead you astray.

24. Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “It is no sin,” he shall be a companion to a destroyer. As always, the context is a tribal society; all your neighbors are likely to be relatives. One would politely call any community elder “father” or “mother.” The word for “rob” is not that specific; the Hebrew term implies snatching or plucking in any sense. Thus, it’s the image of someone who thinks it’s just a game to prey on older people in their own clan. It doesn’t matter if what you take doesn’t seem like much; it makes you an ally of anything that threatens social stability. Righteous kings won’t tolerate that kind of thing.

25-26. He who is of a proud heart stirs up fighting; but he who puts his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool; but whoever walks wisely, he shall be delivered. Translation loses the play on words here. The Hebrew image is a “fat heart” — someone committed to serving his own pride. Trusting in the lord conjures the image of humility, a “hungry heart” committed to penitence before the Lord. The penitent will have a fat soul, instead, well fed on God’s truth. The second sentence merely restates it in different words, but uses a figure of speech that we easily miss: Trusting in one’s own heart is equivalent to making yourself your own god.

27. He who gives to the poor shall not lack, but he who hides his eyes shall have many a curse. This is not a question of giving what someone asks or yielding to scolding demands made by professional charity operators. This is a matter of a king who is blind to human need. Even if the Law of Moses protects the king from being cursed by the people, refusing to acknowledge the suffering of those you rule will bring God’s disfavor.

28. When the wicked rise, a man hides himself, but when they perish, the righteous increase. This repeats verse 12 above, but in a slightly different context referring to the peasants. Who will weep, and who will rejoice, when you die, King?

Context and Separation

No other human has the authority to decide for you what is the will of God.

People do have the authority to exclude you from things He has placed in their hands, by whatever means necessary. The only question, then, is discerning the boundaries of dominion. We rightly reject the notions of justice and dominion that arise from traditional European and American custom as arising from a heathen background. All divine justice is rooted in Ancient Near Eastern feudal law and custom because that was God’s Law ever since the Garden of Eden. Once you understand that ancient system, it’s not hard to discern where your boundaries end and those of another person begin.

So long as you respect the boundaries as God revealed them, the worst someone can do is ostracize you. That ends up being the sum total of New Testament church discipline, as well. That’s because the earthly legal authority vested in the Covenant of Moses ended at the Cross. It was forever afterward a record of the peculiar expression of divine justice, a critical source in understanding God and what eventually made the Cross necessary. The Covenant was meant to fail in a certain sense, but it did embody a reflection of God’s moral character.

Under the Law of Moses, the community could carry out various forms of punishment, up to and including capital penalties executed in various ways. But even then, the execution rested on the violator remaining in physical custody of the covenant community. Should the perpetrator flee the jurisdiction of that community, pursuit was generally prohibited. An awful lot of Mosaic penalties depended entirely on the violator trying to stay within the dominion of the covenant. A great many penalties consisted of withdrawing covenant covering, treating the violator as outside the covenant protections. It meant they were no longer regarded as family. The idea was the protect and promote the stability of the covenant community.

Very few violations were such a serious threat as to justify execution. It was not a question of some threat to “law and order” as the phrase is used today, but a threat to the fragile human unity of a tribal community. Everyone under the covenant was considered the same as blood kin in one degree or another. All covenant members were your covenant family, and the closer their kinship, the greater their liberties in your human existence. Close kin could make demands distant relatives could not. Someone who could hear you snore at night knew you better than someone who rarely saw you. They were more likely to be merciful where you needed it and strict when you crossed the line. Everyone understood this instinctively.

One of the biggest threats to a stable tribal society was adultery. The expectation of not having to share sexual intimacy outside the marriage partnership was powerful. It helped to create a level of trust wholly necessary for a stable society. In a close-knit tribal society, the greatest threat of sexual rivalry came from your nearest neighbors, who were your closest kin. The sense of betrayal would create an intolerable emotional pressure cooker. The Law of Moses granted the women some ownership over her husband’s sexual fidelity, something quite new in that part of the world. Either husband or wife as the wronged party could forgive and the community was required to abide by it; this was frankly the most common outcome. However, either wronged party could also demand stoning as the penalty for catching his/her spouse in the act. The difference depended on whether the spouse had worked much to develop that level of trust in the first place.

And what of divorce? Jesus said it was not really the way God intended things to be, but that Moses granted a man the power to divorce a wife who simply didn’t please him. However, the restrictions on divorce were pretty high, much higher than with surrounding nations. That’s because the context placed an awful lot of power in the husband’s hands. He gets rid of a woman and it means darned little, but for his ex-wife it could mean the end of her hopes for any kind of normal life. The man had to insure that she could at least survive and not simply toss her out on the street. Further, he had to give her a certificate of divorce that allowed her to remarry. She was a fellow member of the covenant.

And what of this other form of marital separation called “putting away” (Ezra 10)? This is simply the practice of separation, typically without a proper certificate. While a Hebrew man could elect to use this when his spouse was an adulteress, in Ezra it applied to women who had not converted, and thus remained “foreign.” These women were not protected by the Covenant. Try to remember that an awful lot of translation from Hebrew and Greek Scripture into English was guided by the Western church based on all kinds of non-biblical moral concepts. Western Christians try to assert their heathen legal traditions on a par with Moses. When God said in Malachi that He hated “divorce” it was actually the practice of removing a woman from her covenant privileges — a mere separation without that certificate of divorce. God cared about the fate of the woman.

While a legal divorce still wasn’t what God had in mind, it was better than what many other Ancient Near Eastern nations did. Our problem today is that we are utterly lacking in any of the context that goes with Jesus’ teaching and with Moses’ Law. We don’t have a cultural background that takes marriage anywhere near as seriously as did the Hebrew people. (Note in passing: Hebrew culture didn’t idolize virginity the way Western Christian culture seems to do.) What we have is a legalistic tradition that raises some imaginary objective standard to the place of God. It’s the same as idolatry, because it worships a god who doesn’t actually exist.

When Jesus referred to worshiping Mammon (such as in Matthew 6), it wasn’t just a throw-away line about greed. It was an established rabbinical reference from ancient times, well before the Hellenized perversion He faced every day. The ancient concept that comes to us under the name of Mammon is materialism, a much broader false philosophical orientation. It includes the kind of legalism that arises from materialistic assumptions. Thus, Jesus was using that ancient nickname for the very core of Pharisaical teaching that was little more than Aristotelian logic, a worldview that said if we can’t test it with our senses and our reason, it wasn’t important. Pharisaical legalism tried to make written Law into something that could be tested that way. Their teaching was the direct result of Moses’ Law perverted by non-Hebrew philosophical assumptions about reality. Hebrew intellectual traditions were inherently mystical; proof was written by the finger of God in the soul that heard His truth. Legalism about divorce is just as much a worship of Mammon as greed is.

Apostle Paul offered dire warnings about spreading your sexual favors around, too. If you have sex once, you are bound to that partner in some unique moral sense. Your life doesn’t end if you can’t carry through on all the moral implications of sexual union, but you have certainly lost something you can’t get back. He also advised his church members to allow a pagan spouse to leave or stay in the marriage, but it was not a legalistic ruling. He also knew that at some point, it could become impossible to continue in a really bad marriage, and that Ezra wasn’t just being a legalistic butthead, though English translations make it seem that way. Those foreign spouses who converted could stay. Paul was trusting God for the power of mercy to awaken pagan hearts. He also worried that this new Christian religion would become known for threatening social stability by breaking up marriages. How many different nasty rumors can you imagine starting from that sort of thing?

So if your spouse hinders your divine calling, how much distance is enough to please God? You are obliged to consider ways to tolerate some level of tension between what you know ought to be and what you can actually do. How many different ways can you disengage and still keep the social structure running along? If you aren’t already led by the heart, you cannot possibly know anything about any of it in the first place. You cannot know the will of God unless your heart rules over your life because God doesn’t speak to the intellect, only to the heart. You cannot defer to someone else’s judgment for what God requires when you stand before Him.

And if you obey the heart, no human on earth has any business telling you it’s not the voice of God.

War on Western Moral Assumptions

Walk by the Spirit — whatever else that means, it requires that we shift the focus of our awareness to the heart-mind.

The matter of “doing God’s will” is not a long list of rules and principles. The actions and their results are mere manifestations, not the thing itself. His will starts with operating from the heart-mind. His will is, by definition, embracing the image of His revealed character as the moral fabric of the universe. It requires exercising a non-intellectual faculty that the Bible calls “faith,” itself just a word that means commitment to live by our convictions.

The path for Westerners typically requires that you first understand the Spirit speaks to us through our convictions. Something in you is capable of addressing what amounts to divine moral necessity in the context of every choice. It will often contradict everything you’ve been taught to believe so that the demands of conviction defy logic. Doing the will of God is not in the content of the decision, but of how you arrived at that decision. Holiness is not in performance or thought, but in a desire to please your Master.

The difficulty is that our sense of awareness begins with the arrogance of the intellect in presuming to define what is good and right by whatever capabilities it holds as the highest faculty. Intellect and reason usurps the faculty God gave us for knowing His will — conviction resting in the heart. Instead, we pervert the image of “heart” as some quasi-emotional thing simply because we happen to notice that it often brings on potent emotional responses when it opposes logic. The a priori assertion that reason is the highest faculty of man is the main problem, for this is the very foundation of the Fall. This is eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Hebrew thinking, that “knowledge” is the assertion of reason as if senses and reason together are all we need to understand reality.

How it is that so very much of Western Christian religion buys into this fundamental precept — that faith cannot defy logic — is a long study in the history of intellectual hijacking of the Apostolic religion.

In the final analysis, what specifically you choose to do in any given context is not the focus of discerning whether it is holy or not. Holiness is in the path you chose to arrive at the decision. That we might between us be driven to different conclusions about what is the best course of action is simply a manifestation of our fallen nature, not some flaw in the process. Further, it serves no divine purpose to debate who is right or wrong; the question is only whether we should in that moment work together or separate far enough to avoid conflict.

Even when I use such language, a large portion of mainstream Western Christians will imagine that they can buy into the teaching. But then you try putting that to work in their real-world projects and see how quickly they decide we don’t belong in their program. Their objections will be slathered in Western moral biases. We can be sure that walking by the heart-mind must of necessity lead you on a collision course with Western assumptions of what is morally right. Even if we use the entire package of Western intellectual traditions of scholarship, we still arrive at the recognition that the very fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality and morality in the West represents a powerful rejection of what Jesus believed as a Hebrew human. It’s the unspeakable arrogance of Western thinking that sees the truth and of this and simply asserts that the Western notions are somehow universal, and that God was patronizing to the Hebrew people because they simply wouldn’t understand the truth of European tribal mythology.

Walking by the heart will inevitably draw you into conflict with that fundamental assumption. Walking by the heart can only draw you closer to the Hebrew moral assumptions that Jesus lived and taught. You would be amazed how people stumbling upon the truth of heart-mind living can study all kinds of stuff that Westerners would never touch, stuff that is also completely outside of biblical revelation, and still find themselves repeating the fundamental truths of Scripture as understood by the Hebrew intellectual traditions. And why do they not then confess Christ? Because so far as they can find, the message of Christ perverted and buried under a rejection of the heart-led existence they discovered. The Church demands they reject the truth of God’s moral justice in order to be a “Christian.”

If you live by the heart-mind, you cannot escape God’s moral character. The only way you can avoid God’s truth is to remain dead to your heart-mind. God designed us to find Him in our hearts, not in our orthodoxies. The only way you can get closer to God is to reject Western Civilization.

If, on some level of your awareness, you are not at war with the fundamental assumptions of Western society in all its manifestations and flavors, then you are not walking in the Spirit.

Mind Slaves

If you change someone’s mind on something, you haven’t accomplished much. Sure, it probably comes with a package including the person’s actions and words, but that’s just physics.

It’s hard to overstate the perversion of Western mythology. Let’s remind ourselves of the proper biblical approach to thinking about our existence. On the one hand, Creation is a marvelous expression of God’s character. What He has done naturally reflects His Person, and the link between Creator and Creation is a living thing in itself. The very moral fiber of His divine nature keeps Creation intact. As soon as He loses interest, it all goes away. Creation is a direct and wholly dependent fabrication of His imagination. Try Colossians 1:16-17.

Do you notice how language breaks down trying to express it? How do you pull all that higher truth down inside of Creation when Creation is just a figment in His mind?

So we acknowledge that Creation is unspeakably grand and beautiful because He is also unspeakably grand and beautiful. Why do we have so much sorrow then? The Bible doesn’t explain all the details, but God gave us a certain amount of free choice in this thing and we chose wrong. Your consciousness isn’t the issue; it’s His thoughts on the matter. So all we really know is that we somehow enter into this life flawed, and trying to pin the blame somewhere else is pointless. Whatever it was or could have been or should have been is not down that path. The only path out of this mess is accepting the Creator’s assessment of things.

Indeed, it’s so simple and easy we are rightly shocked more people don’t take it. All we have to do is embrace His assessment. He’s the one who made it and keeps it working, so why argue with Him about it? Suddenly the world becomes that unspeakably beautiful place He made it, instead of sorrowful place we made of it. Creation is not fallen; you and I are fallen. Unfortunately, we are the pinnacle of Creation, so our fallen state afflicts all of Creation in certain ways we are hard put to describe. In Romans 8, Paul doesn’t try to explain it but offers a dramatic image of how Creation moans and groans to God about being confined under or fallen nature. Creation itself is looking forward to our redemption.

In various ways, Paul and the other Apostles teach us that some measure of that redemption takes place here and now, but that the full realization is still down the road somewhere ahead of us. In that same chapter of Romans he notes how beautiful life is under that redemption right now, but how it just doesn’t compare well with what comes later. Celebrate your redemption now as a foretaste of what is to come.

Sadly, Western minds have turned that redemption into a mere cerebral exercise. That in itself is a form of blasphemy. Western Christian religion is all about proper ideas and thinking and actions, but this whole business of genuine personal connection back to God is shoved off into “Woo Land” that, not only can we not describe it, we can’t even really believe it. We can assert spiritual birth as orthodoxy, but Western thinking excludes the actual boundary layer between this fallen existence and the Spirit Realm. It’s an orthodoxy connected to nothing. Western thinking just barely accepts the notion that there is an entire brain and nervous system in your chest, but cannot possibly admit that there is any faculty above the human intellect. So whatever Western minds make of the heart-mind, it cannot be superior to the brain in our heads. It is permitted only to offer a little advice now and then.

Since God says in His word that He doesn’t speak directly to the mind, but only to the receptors in the heart, that means those who count themselves redeemed are wholly unlikely to know how to talk to God. They can stir up lots of emotion and imagine that somehow it’s not mere emotion, that this particular brand of excitement is holy and what you see at football games is secular. The problem is, however much religion and faith gets stirred up in those football rally worship experiences is as ephemeral as your team jersey. And all the orthodoxy of the teaching and endless classes in the mere words of the Bible, for all the artistry they may indulge, is still just an exercise in the brain. The heart is not reliably affected because nobody admits the heart can be engaged consciously as a superior faculty.

All that’s left is orthodoxy and activism, with some varying measure of emotion thrown in. There is no heart. Nobody accepts the true power of Romans 1:20.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (NIV)

It’s all reduced to a mere figure of speech. Westerners can’t imagine a literal sensory heart that “sees” the truth in Creation. Well, Creation doesn’t witness of orthodoxy; Creation witnesses the living moral character of God. There is no such thing as “objective truth” because there is no objective reality. It’s just whatever God says it is, and since we are fallen, His truth is expressed in terms of Law Covenant. But it’s not Western law; it’s Ancient Near Eastern feudal law — you must become family or you will be a slave in the personal dominion of God. And family will remain personally devoted and loyal to the Person. That’s “Law” in the biblical sense.

If all you change is someone’s mind, then they are still a slave at best.

Psalm 86

Don’t go looking for the precise spot David occupied when he composed this sweet hymn. We have no idea what human historical context goes with this impassioned plea, and precious few humans can even begin to share the moral place he stood. That’s what makes all the difference in the world, because it’s not enough to translate the words if we can’t transport our souls over into that moral sphere of the heart where Heaven calls us to rise from our natural fallen state.

Nor could we guess why the Temple music director pulled this psalm of David into the midst of their collection of songs, but we do understand how this fits into a penitent call that robes every soul sincerely seeking God’s favor. Without the moral tenor carried in these words, it won’t matter where you stand in the entire universe, you won’t stand in God’s Presence.

David begins by depicting a young child begging his father to bend down and hear his tiny voice. The Hebrew figure of speech often translated “poor and needy” is not merely an economic condition, but a sense of total dependence. While most English translations have David referring to himself as “holy” it might better be rendered as “godly” in the sense of morally consistent with God’s character. It’s the image of someone who manages to gaze upon this messy reality from an eternal viewpoint and then acting accordingly. The context is a claim to feudal loyalty. And it’s not so much that David cries all day long like a whiner, but that he cannot imagine going anywhere else with concerns that are far bigger than he.

A mighty lord in David’s time would surely rescue even his own domestic herds if they fell into a tight spot, so there’s nothing wrong with a human servant asking for a rescue from trouble. “Give me another reason to shout to the world what a mighty and good God you are!” So David refreshes his request for an honest hearing of his plea. This day and any day when things are difficult, David will call on no one else.

He goes on to contrast how Jehovah is not like any other deity. Whose gods could claim dividing the waters and making the seabed dry? Whose idols could speak with fire, smoke and earthquakes? Which of the gods dropped food from the sky daily for years on end? Which of the deities drove out entire nations of giants and massive armies with better technology? No god had such a record, and so David notes he can’t imagine thinking of any of them as actual gods. David paints the image of a mighty warrior king leading a vast army that includes all of Creation itself.

Verse 11 rings across the ages and appears in many modern worship songs. Reshape me, David says, and make me like You. Ancient Near Eastern law was conceived not as mere writ, but as the character of the ruler Himself, and David asks for insight into what God intends in His realm. “What would I do if it were You at work here?” In giving fresh life to a ruler’s moral character, David hopes to warm himself in the glow of divine truth as a living force in Creation. “I wanna make You look good, Lord!” After all God has done by bringing David into His empire, how could David not bring God fame? It was as if God had breathed life into David’s dead corpse.

And what did it bring him? David faced relentless opposition from those who were hostile to God’s revelation, those who rejected His call. David simply could not fathom how people might walk away from God’s mercy. In the final lines, he admits he’s just a nobody, wholly undeserving of any good thing. But he does make himself fully available, so if for no other reason, let God reshape David into an ensign of divine authority just to shake folks up. Show them You are Boss, O Lord!

Virtual Catacombs

Step inside my madness for a moment; I’ll leave the door unlocked so you can escape when it gets too much for you.

Review: The Cult is not so much a physical presence, but an avatar, a mental image of a perverse moral presence. We know them not by their physical presence but by the fruits of their labor. My description of The Cult is an abstract of consistent behavior, of how they have operated so far in human history. In broad terms, their aim is to prevent souls escaping the domain and servitude of Satan. Try not to oversimplify how they go about this. By the same token, don’t buy the wild speculations offered to confuse everyone about things.

I’ve mentioned in other places how the scandalous document — The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion — is at least partly true if we read it as a description of the plans of The Cult back around the time that booklet was published. There is plenty of exaggeration and broad satire in the document, but a kernel of truth peeks out at us from behind the curtains. However, the plans and expectations were not carved in stone. Some of the ideas didn’t pan out. Still, the general tenor of the basic plan from so long ago is our current reality today.

The Cult favors no identifiable human element outside the boundaries of itself. I’ve noted The Cult has has a vast army of servants, and some quite highly placed in the scheme of things. But most of those names and faces that we would recognize as powerful public and not-so-public figures are not actually part of The Cult. They are guided and used; sometimes they retire well and sometimes they are tossed aside as a reminder to others that none of them are indispensable. I’ve warned that some major projects hold the same status. I sense that the modern State of Israel is one such dispensable project; it’s value is merely contextual. The Cult will eventually let it go because it is neither the objective nor a necessity for the objective. It’s been a very effective tool in deceiving humanity regarding their objectives.

I get the sense that a major turnover is at hand, that we are about to see a great many other projects and people thrown under the bus very soon. Some of the old team will go down with the scuttled ships they crewed. A new crop of servants will replace them and herd us on board other vessels. Some of the old goals and plans are obsolete, as well. But the broad moral deception and control are still there. The only reason the new rising figures survive and are not marginalized or smothered is because The Cult sponsors them as the means to keeping the deception going and the power in their hands.

The biggest challenge for the cult remains the Internet. They are learning to use it, but they cannot change its nature. On the one hand, it is no longer possible to rule without it. On the other hand, it is absolutely essential that they insert a layer of abstraction between common folk and the Internet itself. Since there is no way to actually assert any useful controls at this point on the Net, there must be a way to control the people via their access to it. Currently the primary focus is through massive changes in the operating systems of commodity devices. Not so long ago began a very intensive effort to steer people’s browsing behavior into acceptable channels. Making a certain class of services socially essential was part of this plan, even as the services were incrementally modified to insinuate various forms of control. Look for these same services to become required for certain government services and each other. Look for the services to become interlocking in new ways.

Most of this is easily defeated if you posses some measure of technical expertise. The Cult has also been trying to squeeze the computer technology middle ground, like an obnoxious child who insists on squeezing the toothpaste in the middle. The underlying trend is making the technology more demanding so that users either give up trying or invest a far greater share of available resources just to stay even. The price of expertise is rising while the price of devices and access is dropping. This takes place against a background of general decline in the quality of education so that real life-long learning becomes decreasingly likely. The Internet services and information sources are being dumbed-down to enforce this trend.

As I consider the calling on my life, I find I cannot avoid the task of embracing the greater expertise. If just a few of us who are driven by moral purpose and heart-led awareness can seize some cyber hideout, we can offer refuge, an antidote to some of this moral poison. This vision keeps morphing as I walk farther along the path. There are other areas of expertise than what calls my name. I need brothers and sisters who will find themselves in those other fields of glory to stand with me, at least in the sense of using this virtual parish as the place to offer your particular antidotes to the moral poison of The Cult. This is behind my hopes for a virtual library. I’m hoping to create a catalog that we can share so that visitors need only click on a link to call the file from this FTP server; there are technical reasons that I can’t put a webpage on the FTP server itself. So if you contribute to the library, I need from you some kind of explanation of the item’s value. It’s not the idea that I would examine every item in detail (though I will probably scan for malware and viruses) but that we would work together to build a free information community.

Naturally I’ll have to put passwords on this thing for now. It’s not about secrecy but keeping control. That means you would need to build an element of trust with me in order to gain access. I’m still working through where to draw the boundaries so we can stay below the radar. We have to weigh the risks and sense where God says He’ll cover it with His mercy. We have to discern the boundaries of His covering.

I’m working as fast as I can on this stuff, so pray with me.

Construction and Renovation Continues

I found a much better theme; it was also much simpler to adjust some of the details. The picture at the top will change from time to time; I will eventually get enough of them to turn on automatic rotation. The fonts it calls up are in this order: Georgia, Palatino, Times, serif.

The static site is where I really invest a lot of time. As promised, I’ve begun reformatting some of my books into plain HTML webpage. I’ve updated the links and formatting of A Course in Biblical Mysticism, added The Mind of Christ and a couple of articles referenced by those books. In part, I’m hoping to emphasize the academic character of the ministry on the static site. Thus, I won’t include the computer or fiction works, just the religion and Bible stuff.

Thanks for stopping by!

Shepherd’s Wrath

What follows is a blatant rejection of social standards.

It’s no secret that I despise Western society. This is not some kind of perverse self-hatred. Were that the case, I would still be acting by Western assumptions about reality as some kind of activist. That’s where you get crazy campaigners and mad bombers. No, this is a long and deeply considered rejection after having studied the whole issue academically for years. The shape of my rejection and the resulting plan of action will be anti-Western in itself.

This is challenging, because I’m still feeling my way along. Aside from bits and pieces of insight, no one else that I know of pursues a comprehensive vision of pulling away from Western Civilization. They don’t look at the underlying sickness; they don’t go back to examine the very foundation on which it stands. It’s one thing when someone disputes the details with me, but I find myself too often confronted with people using a distinctly Western approach to the discussion of how to depart Western mythology. Sometimes their arguments only sharpen my understanding. Too often, I find myself sucked into the vortex.

This is not the City of God; it is not built on the rock of truth. Most of what I’ve seen people doing simply tries to rebuild little portions of this big lie. Renovation won’t help when your city is built on sand, and asserting that sand is stone won’t turn grit into granite. I try to flee, but I’m catching hell every step of the way from people trying to drag me back inside. Sometimes I miscalculate how to escape their grasp. Complicating things is that I still have to do business inside this rotting swamp. I am not Jonah and this is not a penitent Nineveh. Nonetheless, I retain the prophetic mission calling to warn the residents to flee before it collapses.

It gets uncomfortable at times. English doesn’t offer the repertoire of expression for talking about the fallen nature separate from the mortal coil. That’s in part because Western thinking makes no such distinction. It requires a mystical turn of mind and our entire civilization rejects that before the discussion even starts. So I’ll tell you that it can be messy even when I don’t walk away with any sense of guilt from some bad experiences. At the same time, it may take some work to regain my sense of peace because of the jarring discontinuity that grates on my shepherd’s sense of protective justice.

The body is wired for anger; it’s hard to summon all the resources to strike at predators without some sense of wrath. Our society cannot accept the idea of justified anger except under the strictest controls of official sanction from the ruling class. Our culture is schizophrenic about that. We talk bad about the ruling class, but create a new one by vesting people with authority that allows them to deny personal accountability. We permit anger and wrath only when we imagine it is exercised in selfless defense of some bogus ideal of defending our system and our “way of life.” This is a blatant rejection of what God says about such things. Personal anger is not a sin because everything is personal. God holds individuals accountable even when they hide behind some imaginary shield of objectivity. Truth is not objective; truth is the Person of God or it’s a lie. It’s God nature that He deals with us in terms of personal feudal grants of dominion.

Even if you get a little confused about the boundaries of your God-given domain, you should never be ashamed at feeling anger and wrath toward the evil others do. Using harsh words, dramatic demonstrations, yelling and general intimidation — these are socially unacceptable in most cases, yet are very godly nonetheless. Our society instinctively throws all of that into the bucket labeled “childish.” They insist that dramatic displays of dislike are “violence” and inherently evil because it didn’t take place under official cover.

Yet the biblical moral requirement is that we separate that moment of loud objection from any actual physical act of violence. When something in your heart (AKA your convictions) crosses that line from idiocy to real danger, you know instinctively that the anger turns to ice. It’s not a berserker’s rage; it’s purposeful. Western society denies such is even possible. Western mythology insists it is always rage. Take a look at the perverse manipulative psychology behind the so-called “anger management” courses. They deny that there is a God, and deny that He can work through the righteous anger of men and women who defend what He gave them. Those courses assume, and sometimes assert in manipulative language, that you are property of the state. However, the term “society” is often inserted in place of “the state.”

The New Testament says we should not lose sleep over feeling anger (Ephesians 4:26). This presumes you understand that the anger reflex is not a curse of the Fall, but that our fallen nature can lead us into false anger. Passionate displays and so-called “abusive language” are not evil in themselves. There most certainly is a petty and childish kind of anger, and it’s a paradox of Western society that actually cultivates that, but you are supposed to do it with cutting words and lawsuits. You’re supposed to get the state to exercise its wrath for you by proper invocation, and though we make a facade of denying it, you’re supposed to use whatever means of political pressure you can dream up to include bribery. We call it “lobbying.” God calls it “oppression” because everything is personal; that is God’s Law.

There are no easy answers, but if anything keeps you awake at night, it should not be any false sense of shame about being angry and letting people know about it. You might lose sleep because someone manipulated you into assuming dominion over something God didn’t place in your hands, but that’s a separate matter. Turn the disquiet over to your heart for clarification of boundaries and sooner or later you will regain your sense of peace with God.

Vision for a Virtual Parish

Some are just passing through.

We aren’t seeking higher numbers of those who hang around just so we can feel big and important. Instead, we want more people to experience this faith so they can take it on to wherever and whatever God calls them. Only a few of you will feel the need to hang around stay connected; that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

I feel like Peleg (Genesis 10:25; 1 Chronicles 1:19) in whose lifetime the earth went through major tectonic shifts. Every step I take puts me in a place I’ve never seen or expected. If I try to step back, what was behind me is already gone. My heart demands I keep moving forward. I know the direction but not the landmarks.

This whole thing started with a conversation about private communication protocols, passed through the idea of getting a home server, and ended up with a wholly different mission path. This is not at all what I expected I’d be doing. This is not at all what I anticipated or what I had dreamed for years, and yet I am hardly disappointed. I’m struggling with the means and methods for an unexpected kind of mission. The one thing I know for sure is that God is preparing this virtual parish for whatever it is He does next in this world. One way or another, I am seeking to answer the missionary call, but it’s for a world not yet fully born.

God is most certainly steering events in the work I’ve done lately. My human inclinations lie shattered on the ground, forgotten as things moved too fast for me to mourn any loss. For example, I know where that business of using CentOS went: That’s the OS running on our webhost service for soulkiln.org; it’s what is behind the new blog and the static website I’m still developing.

I’m going back and reformatting some of my books into HTML documents. The ebooks are still at Smashwords where they appeal to that audience, but I want a way to reference that material directly from the new blog running on the same server. Turning them into webpages is a much smaller format so as not to crowd the limited space on our account with the webhost. It’s a bit of work because the only way to do it right is by hand, starting with plain text and adding just enough HTML markup to make it display in a browser. I’m also going to host here at home an electronic library, a larger private collection of files to share with parish members. So far it’s already a very eclectic pile of things I’ve found to have some value to my faith. Hopefully some of you will be able to add to this virtual library and fill the shelves. Meanwhile, I’m keeping most of the technology chatter and hobby stuff on the old blog.

At least, that’s the current plan.

While I can feel the big push driving me forward, my eyes can’t quite make out what’s down the road ahead of me. I knew a long time ago that the old way of “doing church” was not God’s plan for me, neither in teaching nor in physical form and structure. In place of that is only the vaguest idea. It reminds me of all those scenes in places like New York buried under so much snow you aren’t sure what’s under the humps. I’ve never been here before; is that a big bush or a car? It’s still winter and I’m out here enjoying the sparkly newness of it all, feeling my way around. I’m wondering how all these changes are going to make that much difference in helping people find their own faith.

Somehow the demands of life in our changing world will drive a portion of folks out of their comfort zones, and some of them will pass through what we do here. The nature of this virtual parish is that it’s just dandy for you to pop in and then disappear again. Some of you are bound to feel called to hang around for awhile, at least. Take what you need because we have lots more where that came from; it’s falling upon us from Heaven. God provides in abundance and we are struggling to give it away. And it’s for sure that some of you will carry it places no one else can go.

Don’t think I’m not enjoying myself playing with all this technology stuff. Part of it is hard work, and I’m compelled to engage elements of it that never really held my interest in the past. But I know I can’t move forward without it, so I’m still studying all the networking technology so I’ll know what’s there. Who can say when I’ll have to use it later? Still, some of this strikes me as really cool stuff. For a few of you who feel the same way, I’m going to offer ways you can interact with this fancy machine the parish donated to buy. We’ll keep it out of everyone else’s way, but God has plans we can’t guess. He’s going to need some soldiers prepared to fight in a totally different kind of warfare.

How can I help you?

Internet Infiltration

How we operate on the Internet follows the same fundamental moral reality that we apply to everything else: It’s all a question of boundaries and dominion. As followers of Christ, we regard our entire human existence as property of God, assets for His glory. Your device is His device; your use of it must reflect His divine character.

A fundamental expectation is that we will not permit Darkness to use our lives. That we are fallen creatures in this world where Satan holds some measure of default dominion means that we must continue in resistance in the sure knowledge that there will be some measure of performance failure. We don’t get wrapped up in the actual practical outcomes because Our Father warned that our human existence cannot be perfected in that sense. His favor is not dependent on performance, but desire. Our exercise of dominion in His name is very limited. Rolling back the powers of Darkness is His gift to us.

So the message of Christ is loaded with a sense of continual battle until the ultimate victory of leaving this dimension of existence for some other — one that is beyond our comprehension. While we remain here, our human nature will hardly remain subdued and obedient. Much less so would we expect the fallen nature of the rest of humanity to play along with moral justice. Each of us has to decide what we are called to do and work hardest at that narrow range of holy endeavor. We shine in the things He chooses for us; it’s His mercy that He doesn’t expect us to do everything. We fight the battles for which we are best armed and allow our fellow believers to help us with things they do better.

So I’m called to make much of this virtual world of the Internet, among other things. In some ways I can use my expertise to lighten your personal load of care; in other ways I work at things you don’t even understand because it’s not your calling. I can tell you that, on the one hand, we do have some allies out there in virtual space. On the other hand, there aren’t very many of them. So I do what I can to help you work with our allies insofar as they can bless us. Some of their works can help us maintain our individual moral boundaries against the Darkness on the Net.

Lots of stuff out there is for us a taste of that Darkness. Some of it is a matter of individual calling, but a lot of it is the relentless demand that we submit to someone else’s controls with an aim to defraud us of God’s glory. That’s Satan’s aim; most of his servants have no clue. For the most part, they simply don’t care about the whole question. They want what their lusts demand and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Their moral awareness is shaped entirely to fit their desires. Their minds will buy into whatever lies it takes to justify what they do. Thus, they regale us with messages according to their perverted sense of moral value, and they complain loudly when we exercise dominion that denies their control.

It’s possible that we might help this or that individual across the threshold into Light, but on the whole we have no expectation of changing what they do. And we still have to go out on the Net and interact with their crap in order to pursue our divine calling. For the most part, we are infiltrating into their world, and striving to pass through while shielding ourselves from their attempts to control us. Our shield of faithfulness to God’s moral character extinguishes their fiery darts of temptation.

So this is what’s behind all my blather about browser add-ons that block this or that, especially advertising. Or my advice that you use this or that browser or run this or that operating system. I’m not dictating for you what constitutes holiness, just sharing my experiences. That’s my calling. Your calling is to filter out what doesn’t apply to your Kingdom service. Together we infiltrate into the virtual space with our vessels of divine Presence.

God bless you with a sense of heart awareness to what matters for you.