Clay Pots

You’ll recognize the reference to 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in clay pots, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

It’s all about the treasure, not the jars. This is more precious than the Qumran scrolls, because this is something that lives, not fragile shreds of dessicated animal skins with ink. By the same token, we could benefit from a little psychology of persecution. That is, we need to understand the bottom line: We keep this faith alive on the earth. Nobody’s pretending that ours is the only valid expression of truth; it’s valuable as one that is far different from the mainstream. Thus, should the Lord decide to add to our numbers, we rejoice that others are being set free. Should that number He adds be very few, we should rejoice that He has chosen us for something rare.

This isn’t as bad as having to hide in the catacombs. We shall be permitted to operate freely, for the most part. However, there will plenty of people and places who will not welcome us. We can dance outside in the parking lot, singing and humming the music to ourselves. We’ll learn acapella worship. I’d love to have contributions of instrumental music for some of our videos, but there is a place for doing it with nothing except what we carry with us everywhere. The whole idea is seeking what God can do with what He grants us.

This is what I’ll do in some of my videos. Be aware that my project on adding a video channel to our mission will take time, because I seek to portray this strong effort to keep faith alive when there’s virtually no support from human sources. A part of this is teaching folks to think about all the DIY work we can do with minimal stuff. At least part of the time, I’ll restrict my video-taping to just a cellphone. It’s more than just a strong preference for the natural setting; it’s shining the light of God’s glory from cracked clay pots.

Can’t Sleep

Something is burning in my soul and it’s keeping me from taking a nap.

For some twenty years I have been chasing down the dark alleys of my soul, trying to find out who God meant me to be. It’s not as if I have nothing left to learn, but I’ve never had this powerful sense of peace before. This is not something I can keep to myself, and I don’t try. While I can’t give you mine, I can certainly tell you how to find your own. And if I don’t tell you, I’m dead. I’ll spiral down into nightmarish depression and literally die.

How could I not assume it would be the same for everyone else? That is, if you aren’t chasing the demons out of your own life, then they own you and you are already in Hell. Lord knows, I see enough of it around me in meat space. I see people tormented and I long to tell them how I climbed out of my own pit. But our culture makes it hard to do that, and I know that in most cases the only way I can share is when they see my shalom and ask me about it. When they see the glory of Christ shining in my life, they are drawn to seek it for themselves. I’ve often shared the experiences in writing. The sad part of it is how few there are.

I can only assume that it’s the same for each of you. A precious few of you share your faith adventures with me, privately and sometimes in the comments. But out of some 800+ subscribers on the other blog, I’ve not heard from more than a dozen people, and some of those have disappeared. I’ve had a much larger number of people argue with me over the 8+ years of this blog. What difference does it make if you click the “like” button and I never hear your story?

This is not about chatting with me, a poor lonely soul at the keyboard. It’s about telling others who read this blog that I’m not the only one who actually does this heart-led stuff. It’s about the fellowship of moral communion that makes it all more real and powerful for all of us. It’s about showing your gratitude to God by standing up and testifying what He’s done for you. Now if you are doing that in some meat-space venue, I’ll praise the Lord with you. But only if you tell me something about it. Don’t send money or love notes; send a testimony.

And I have to wonder how many of those hundreds of subscribers are making this just a feel-good thing reading either of the two blogs. You might be physically awake, but you are morally asleep. It’s not about trying to change the world. The world will remain fallen long after we are dead. It’s about conquering your own fleshly fallen nature. It ain’t much of a victory if you keep it to yourself; there’s no glory for God if His glory doesn’t shine through you.

We can’t afford to be morally asleep. Can someone turn on a light, please?

05 The Sheikdom of Heaven

Paul was merely following the customs of his day when he wrote his letter to the Ephesian churches. Those first verses in chapter 1 string together a huge image, and in most English translations, it’s poorly rendered. That’s because it’s written by a Hebrew mind trying to stuff mystical truth into the Greek language, and this passage is one those where English just fails completely. You have to read it over a dozen times and toss it around in your head for a little while.

It helps if you avoid any translation that uses “dispensation” in verse 10. That is an inexcusable mistranslation, exposing a serious anti-Hebrew bias. Here’s the deal: Paul chose the Greek word oikonomia to capture the image of a very large Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) feudal sheikdom. You really need to move as far away as possible from words that permit Western notions to leak back into this picture. His words draw the image of a very powerful ANE nomad potentate living in tents. Someone like that doesn’t think in terms of real estate; he has the power to protect his turf and keep out folks who aren’t welcome. But it’s not a permanent occupation; intruders can have it once he moves on.

Rather, his true wealth is his people. It’s not even the flocks and herds, because that’s the means to keep his people alive and healthy. But his people are the real treasure, because good people can always produce more material goods. Being nomads, their needs are pretty simple in the first place. His whole focus in life is their social stability and welfare. His sole claim to greatness is his success in those terms. Wherever they travel on his business, they flaunt the richness of his provision. That’s his glory.

Paul’s point here is that we need that image to understand how God does things. His primary objective in what He does in this world is just like any ANE nomad sheik. He has His one Heir who has entered His co-regency apprenticeship, having performed the heroic act of winning back the rightful inheritance consisting of many souls. So there’s this transition period where He demonstrates His rightful place on the throne by carrying on His Father’s business. At some point that apprenticeship will be complete and the Father will call in all His vassals and settle up, ensuring that the Son knows precisely the magnitude of what He inherits.

Meanwhile, this is feudalism; the Son has called into His service all kinds of folks and adopted them as kin so that they can inherit their own share of interest in this sheikdom. People with a shared investment tend to act together with an eye to increasing value. And their whole business is to carry His fame throughout the world and attract more investors, people who will in their turn become vested family members, too.

All of that is in those first few verses of Ephesians, folks. This isn’t about you finding your personal peace and keeping it inside. It’s about showing off the glorious treasure of our Divine Sheik, flaunting His rare and fascinating symbols of wealth. We are so loaded up that we can afford to leave our loose change and small bills on the counter when we leave. In other words, we see no great need to correct people’s minds on some objective truth. Rather, we display our casual attitude about concrete reality in favor of what really matters — moral discernment. They can keep all they want of this world, but that means we know they aren’t moved by the implication that they could have something far better. If they want that better stuff, they’ll have leave this world behind, same as each of us have done.

Again, we are raiders of souls. We don’t intend to colonize; we don’t want this world. Let the dead keep their dead world. We’ll sneak in and flash His glory around until someone reaches out for it. Then we’ll hook them up with our Rich Daddy Sheik and keep fishing for more. Eventually our mission will end and we’ll go back home to our own noble household within the Sheik’s domain.

And somewhere way down the road will come that Final Day when the Son is finally paraded before the world as the Heir, and He’ll take possession of everything. Those who cling to this world and their moral blindness will be forced to stand in His Holy Presence with no protection of kinship. God alone knows what that will be like, but for the rest of us, it’s a whole new dawn into some blissful eternity none of us can imagine.

An Epistle for Our Times

In terms of missions — addressing the world around us — we stand in the gateway of Noah. That is, we use the framework of Noah’s Covenant to address the broader needs of humanity. Sure, it complicates things when we are talking to Christian believers, but our general approach remains the same. To the world at large, our religion is more or less the Law of Noah.

On the one hand, the Law of Noah lays out all the basic provisions for living in our world. We’ve discussed the discrete provisions plenty of times under the heading of a call to repent. It includes the traditional Seven Noachide Laws as found in the Talmud. We take that listing with a grain of salt simply because the Talmud is a mixture of corrupt Jewish traditions and just a little bit of ancient lore that didn’t make it into Scripture. However, the more important elements of this does show up in Acts 15. In my study of Acts I describe how some of the seven laws aren’t mentioned specifically because they were already covered under what was then the current legal framework of Roman Law. What’s left is this word from James:

“Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20 NKJV)

This leaves us explaining just what it means for something to be polluted with idols, or what constitutes sexual immorality, but we probably won’t have much trouble with folks wanting to eat meat that was strangled or hasn’t been properly bled. Instead, we have a substantial job explaining why these things matter.

Thus, we come to the monumental prerequisites for actually observing the Law of Noah. This is where we mention the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) feudal government, for that is precisely what was required in Genesis 9 where the Covenant is announced. Further, the context of that covenant assumes a heart-led culture and way of life (AKA, ANE Mysticism). This is where we spend so very much time explaining what that business in Acts 15 summarizes, because Gentiles in that time and place were usually familiar with all of the ANE heritage as a part of their cultural background. Quite significant was that those Gentiles had already sampled a wide array of varying civilizations and had an instinctive awareness that their own culture was not the default way of looking at things.

The Western lack of such awareness is our primary burden. This peculiar blindness is the mountain we must move by faith. It’s not as if we can’t package the external requirements for ready consumption, but the last thing we need is a bunch of folks hardened in their misunderstanding of everything behind those requirements. The Apostles didn’t have to wade through that, so going out and preaching in the town square was the simplest way to get the message out. For us, it’s more like shouting across a thousand miles of distance, even as we stand among the people who need to hear. We have to invest the effort to establish our weirdness visually and with power before speaking does much good.

All the more so is the burden upon us as we have already crossed the threshold into a new world, a changed reality. This is the time to invest the effort to see what our faith demands of us simply living a heart-led existence. I have this burning zeal to help you discover the fullness of shalom, the calm assurance that things will work out if we simply seize upon the heart-led necessities. When your convictions speak, that is your Voice of God for the current context, so learn to listen. And then learn to see with moral eyes what may never be apparent to mere mechanical vision. Learn to hear the song of Creation praising the Lord, the bubbly celebration of Life in the natural world around you. Let it feed your soul and keep that vivid existence burning brightly in the world around you.

This is not a time to affix labels in the way Western minds do, where the label is the identity of a thing. If it seems our function is apostolic, it would still be misleading to label ourselves “Apostle So-n-so.” Let’s be happy with Brother and Sister, and then later we can talk about vested roles. I’m on the verge of introducing a new and younger male elder to the virtual staff here in our online parish. All it means is that I trust his ability to lead the way we lead, which is rather like a shepherd calling out to the sheep who might hear, but otherwise letting them follow as they will. If the sheep are not bound by trust, there is no leadership.

So we progress as a virtual parish. We are building a network of voices who share a common vision for how to handle a world about to be shaken to the very foundations. Tribulation has come; we are a tribulation church. God has come on an inspection tour, and He is worthy of our best. We are His living epistles.

Not Competing

Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who attends, and loves, Life Church. She was attempting to play the evangelism card, but of course, that doesn’t amount to much with Life Church folks. I confirmed my faith in Christ and, picking up on verbal cues, noted that I had been ordained to the ministry since 1984. That meant something to her and stopped the conversation from going in a senseless direction.

At one point I mentioned my impression that Life Church is organized as an entertainment franchise. I hastily added that for a lot of folks, that’s enough. Not everyone needs much more than that, and Life Church does it quite well. We aren’t competing for those folks here at Kiln of the Soul parish.

In fact, I’ll be the first to warn you that our target audience is quite small, and likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. The folks who attend Life Church aren’t bad people; they simply aren’t our kind of people. My prophetic ire is aimed at the way our culture has virtually eliminated any serious effort at digging deep into the murky places of the human soul. And when it has attempted to do so, we have ended up with even worse showmanship with all kinds of wacky and bizarre heathen ritual “magic” with Bible verses pasted on the outside. They attack the right problems with the wrong weapons.

Nor do I proclaim that we have the answers, but that we strive to reduce the clutter so that you can find God and His answers.

That appeals to a very narrow audience. Most people are so deeply conditioned to expect everything neatly packaged when they show up, that they cannot imagine the dire necessity of coming face to face with God the way we do here. They simply aren’t ready to build up their faith through a heart-led awareness. Instead, we end up with a lot of people were traumatized by the neatly packaged systems. If not that, then they have at least been carrying around a profound sense of unmet need. That indicates people who were already sensitive to their hearts and didn’t have the language or concept for it.

So this lady is not one of us in the first place, because her heart seems sound asleep. When we discuss the business of the heart with the world around us, it’s not going to ring a bell with a lot of folks. Unless Our Creator has awakened them in some way, our words fall on deaf ears. This is the reality with which we live. At the very least, we have to prepare the ground for such a discussion by demonstrating the power to live that comes from surrendering to the supremacy of the heart.

Most people know that I am some kind of believer. Living by the Law of God in your heart and harvesting the blessings He promised makes it pretty obvious to almost everyone. It’s not that we have no sorrows, but that we handle sorrow differently.

Simple Goal

Keep in mind that spiritual birth and heart-led are not the same. There is a correlation, but they are not the same thing. People can most certainly have one without the other.

We would love for everyone to enjoy spiritual birth. However, Scripture tells us flatly that God alone handles this and we cannot comprehend how it works. The best we can do is become aware of our own spiritual birth.

We have a lot better chance of helping folks by awakening the heart-mind connection. We still cannot do it for them, but we at least can grasp something of the process and work with it on our level here. And we have the blessed assurance that once awakened, it will virtually ensure fulfillment of all the promises in God’s Laws. That is, the heart-mind opens the door to the whole meaning of divine revelation. If we can just get across the message of living by the heart, we can afford to back off and see what comes of it.

It’s not foolproof, but it works so well that it is sufficient as our all-encompassing emphasis. It’s our evangelism. God speaks so eloquently from Creation that we can simply let go at that point, and trust Him for the results of anyone making that connection inside themselves. It’s the gateway for escaping the Curse of the Fall. Best of all, it correlates with spiritual birth.

If spreading the Life of heart-led is all we do, His glory shines.

The Language of Heaven

In some circles, it is almost trite to say it: “Praise is the language spoken in Heaven.”

That’s because it typically refers to some scripted exercise in emotional manipulation. Yet it remains true that a genuine moment of worship will reestablish your moral priorities and lift your soul from ambient sorrows. I have worked in church music since my teen years. Not because I’m such a great musician — I’m simply competent — but I’m loud and I don’t mind taking the lead.

This is the one thing about virtual communion that I miss most. A recording is still just a recording; it’s not the same as a live experience of communion in worship. What we do here is not a complete spiritual life, but it does indicate the rest. There is a whole big slice of implied fellowship and joy that simply cannot be shared directly via this medium.

And there is also a whole big slice of experiential faith, where you simply live what you believe, things I could never see in the feedback you might offer. You can indicate it by telling it, but you can’t share it directly. It is something we all have to assume takes place, because it has no meaning otherwise.

We can pray for each other, but none of us can lay our hands on each other to share that flaming touch of the Spirit. God can certainly heal long distance, as the Centurion learned when He asked Jesus to heal his servant, but nothing can replace that personal presence of two or more rising just high enough in the Spirit to catch a glimpse of what can and will be.

Revelation is for application, not merely interpretation.

Spirit Scouts

The Boy Scouts taught me: “Always be prepared.”

But we are Spirit Scouts: “Always be heart-led.” That’s as much preparation as we really need.

First off, let me reiterate that the Internet isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. As long as it remains possible, I’ll be here and you can find me if you need me. However, there’s too good of a chance that you can’t access the Internet at times when crisis strikes. You should work toward needing me less and clinging more to the faith and message. I’m no more the Messiah than you are; many of you are more than my equal. Let me lean on you, too.

Don’t just drink from the fountain — gush yourself.

Granted, I knew with divine certitude that I was called to blaze trails. That’s not everyone’s gift. My brain was tweaked to work like a shovel, digging up stuff long buried. But I didn’t do this so I could be alone. I dug it up so that others could find it, too, because that’s the way these paths should be. God laid the paths and has invited some of us to do a little trail maintenance because He intends that someone should live in the land of His blessings.

So take the path and get to know it. Explore that Glory Land and know it for yourself. Settle in, and then go tell others about it. By no means are we the only ones doing this, so don’t be surprised when you stumble across folks who seem to evince a familiarity with this Land of the Heart. God has been calling all kinds of people, dragging them in from under every bush and rock because the people who were supposed to come refused (Matthew 22). We are likely ill-equipped to decide who should be allowed to live there with us, so we allow the Lord to decide to eject whomever displeases Him and fails to wear the garment of holiness He gives to all who ask.

All you can know is what He demands of you, so draw your own maps. Learn to work as a Spirit Scout; don’t just follow others. Right now, the place is really wide open and just getting folks to take a few steps in the right direction is a monumental task. It’s a rugged and narrow way. Share your experiences so we can all know it better. It’s certain you’ll experience something others have missed. Learn to draw the maps for yourself.

Let’s build a new civilization, a new reality. The world still lives in the Shadowlands and won’t leave easily. Their reality is fake, but it’s all they know. It’s a tall order to push those familiar shadows aside and reflect the divine light. Lots of dirt and shadow to shed; everyone is born with a dirty mirror.

Sure, the preparation is never done. There’s always one more new experience — another merit badge He awards. In this way, crisis becomes mundane, another training exercise for something else. If He chose you, it’s for certain He intends to use you. If you are heart-led, you can’t keep it to yourself. Isolation is just a passing condition on the way to fellowship and communion with others. The only reason for being able to stand alone is so you can get enough space to build a new home for others.

Scouts out!

Answering 02: Two Realms

(This is a reblog linking back the other way, for once.)

How do you explain it?

In my mind there remain a handful of people who seemed to understand. They were on their own path and knew it, so I offer not a word of criticism about their choices. Most of them chose to stay in the churches I simply had to leave. I can recall one good church and a segment of time in a military chapel when things were delightful. Military chapel congregations vary because of the mandatory turnover, so the character of that kind of “church” is a broad snapshot of time and you wouldn’t recognize the character of the group later. One such snapshot brought together a truly amazing congregation at a critical time in my spiritual development. The rich atmosphere faded before I decided it was time to move on, but I stayed past that point because of a few fine people. So in general, I can say I miss certain individuals, but I don’t really miss the churches that much.

About a decade ago was the last time I gave mainstream organized Christianity a try. I’ve stayed close enough to observe, but far enough away to avoid entanglement. Over the years one truly amazing and disconcerting feature remains constant: The jarring disconnection between words and actions. Not the typical hypocrisy you hear or read about from most critics, this is something far more subtle, and far more damaging. So subtle it is that you might not be able to agree with me, even if you grasp the nature of this thing.

To read the rest of this post, click this link to Do What’s Right blog.

The Heart of Outreach

As we use it here, the phrase “heart-led existence” is the same as walking by the spirit or walking by faith. Our problem is that those New Testament phrases come with a lot of baggage in the minds of readers, baggage that we won’t claim.

It’s not so different from the Orwellian propaganda we face every day from the mainstream culture in the West. Perhaps you’ve heard the old joke that an Anti-Semite is anyone that Jews hate. In other words, the label says more about the slinger than the target. In that same sense, there are more things than you can shake a stick at that weaken faith while pretending to teach about walking in faith. Faith in such teaching is just a superior form of cerebral processing, and the unspoken assumption is that your faith is measured by conforming with someone else’s orthodoxy.

Even if we can get them to use words that suggest the Spirit is above human intellect, they still act and speak as if the whole thing is a matter of right thinking. Take a look at the structure of all their teaching programs, and there’s nothing that reaches above the head. Biblical faith is not a stronger commitment to some orthodoxy. Faith is a faculty that overrules the reason because it comes from a higher authority.

I’ve warned about a common religious and social catastrophe related to Zionism and Dispensational Theology. I don’t care what brand of eschatology you espouse; it’s most likely contrary the Bible. The term “eschatology” refers to rational analysis of some sort; it must of necessity be an intellectual exercise. I’ve tried to point out research by others that show where Dispensationalism came from, how the pernicious lie of eschatology teaching entered the mainstream Western evangelical churches. For example, I mentioned the role played by C.I. Scofield and his marginal notes in certain editions of the Bible marketed in the US.

If you look up his name in connection with his sponsor Samuel Untermeyer in any search engine that doesn’t track you (try Duck Duck Go or Startpage) you’ll get unfiltered results that show the full range of people who have done the research. Chase enough rabbits from the results listed and you’ll learn how Untermeyer blackmailed President Woodrow Wilson into putting Brandeis on the Supreme Court. In other words, the same people are all engaged in a world of evil and it seems to run forever. Most of those stories are told by people who have been marginalized, while the whitewashed lies are everywhere.

Some of the people who write about Scofield have names like Texe Marrs. He does do a good job of getting the story on Scofield straight, but only because he tends to plagiarize folks who actually know. On Samuel Untermeyer, he tends to wander off into speculations that can’t be supported. On just about everything else I’ve seen, Texe Marrs sounds more like The National Enquirer than a pastor of teacher of the gospel. Sadly, the field of those seeking to expose the lies of Dispensational teaching are planted with a lot of tares.

My point is that such information, even when crystal clear and accurate, it still just intellectual data. These people are convinced that getting the right facts will save us. In other words, they are still stuck in the same deadly mudhole that keeps the churches from doing much redemptive work. One flavor of mud is no better than another. They are all slinging mud at each other and this keeps The Cult very happy.

Climbing down into that pit is not the way to rescue anyone. Faith in Christ does not come from right ideas or accurate thoughts. Faith in Christ is a miracle only God can perform in your soul. If your spirit is dead, there’s nothing you can do to bring it to life. God has to touch your dead spirit and fill it with the only spirit life there is — His. When the dead matter of your body returns to entropy, your brain will die with it, but your living spirit will face Him as either an adopted child of His Spirit or a foreigner enslaved to Satan.

Giving people the straight facts for their brains will not breathe divine life into their dead spirits. Whatever it is that God uses for that miracle mission requires that we operate above that level. If you read my previous vision about helping folks recover from the poison of Zionism and Dispensational heresy, it really isn’t about learning all the facts. If you can understand why we can’t support the modern State of Israel, that’s only because you understand the dire imperative of living from the heart. Our primary ministry of healing and redemption starts from simply learning to operate on the moral plane from the heart.

Do you grasp what a vast, unspeakable power that holds? Do you get that walking by the heart is the only way we can walk in God’s divine moral character? That the heart-mind is the only faculty capable of understanding His Person? What do you suppose Creation will do when you walk by the Creator’s habits? That’s our evangelism, our message, our mission. Just live by the heart-mind.

You can’t convince them of the truth with words and facts, but they cannot argue with your heart.