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?

01 An Elder’s Moral Covering

I’m not a leader; I’m an elder. I don’t lead; I provide moral covering.

You’ll find plenty of biblical references to the symbol of “covering for sins.” It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall. In their innocence, Adam and Eve had no sin to cover. Once they ate of the Forbidden Fruit, their sins were apparent to themselves and they came up with a form of covering that might be okay in the Garden, but would serve no useful purpose once they were driven out. They needed a covering that God provided, and it came at the price of blood.

The symbolism is what we are after here. It rested on symbols common throughout the Ancient Near East (ANE). Somebody has to sacrifice, to shed blood so that we can reclaim the available measure of Edenic living that God allows. It takes sacrificing whatever we think we have in this life to reclaim what we could and should have under God’s covering. Returning to Eden means facing the Flaming Sword of revelation.

He revealed that His covering includes a certain amount of sacrifice by people appointed for the role. It’s a burden that requires a strength only God can provide. For an elder, it’s not a choice. It’s a role chosen by God, though it is rather predictable. It follows established protocols.

If you observe that my life is blessed and seems like a taste of Eden, then you can grab a share of my blessing by coming under my covering. The purpose is not to boost my domain, but to justify having one in the first place. The whole purpose of moral dominion is to provide incubation for other folks who should become elders themselves. I’m propagating my blessing. I’m providing the covering you need long enough and strong enough for you to grow into that role on your own terms before the Lord.

So it’s not a permanent arrangement. And while literal progeny don’t have a lot of choice in who their first elder is, they are always free to run out from under his moral covering and face things on their own. Of course, if they simply stick around and refuse to obey, they will be punished as a means to awakening the awareness of sin’s costs. An elder cannot allow anyone to threaten the covering. Elders were empowered under the Covenant of Noah to execute those who pushed too far, too long, in threatening the covering and refusing to take their sin outside the household.

That’s a symbol of how the church was supposed to operate. It was your moral family household, never mind physical DNA. But here at Kiln of the Soul, we have to reinterpret that for the virtual world. We can’t hug, for example. And we really can’t get to know each other that well personally, though some of you have caught on how to make the most of what’s possible. So there are some of you who cling to my moral covering with a strong kinship despite the geographical distance.

It’s not possible on a purely psychological level. It only works when we share communion on a higher plane. We are trans-dimensional people. We don’t cease being humans, but we have an added component that trumps everything else about us. This alone is capable of making a virtual parish work. Without this higher faculty, there is almost nothing I can do to provide covering. But if you can tolerate what comes with embracing me as elder, then it’s a sure thing you’ll be covered under my shalom of divine moral blessings.

So I’m not here on this blog giving directions. I do set limits, but that’s the definition of covering. You can wander off as you see fit. God knows: What works for me may not work for you. Still, you’ll have to find your own dominion or suffer the loss of some of my blessings. And as long as you stay close, you’ll always be liable to suffer my sorrows, because none of us is perfect. Still, I’m hoping to see you take to your own wings sooner or later. You can keep on bringing your strength back to this virtual parish, but it means sacrificing some things in order to keep things under my covering.

In that sense, perhaps we can redefine the meaning of “leader” and “leading,” but because of the cultural baggage, I would still avoid those terms.

Gospel Missions

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. No matter where you touch the living truth, it always leads to other things. The Western tendency to make thinking discrete and linear, with binary logic, is a major hurdle to overcome in approaching God’s living truth. The only loose ends are you and I, hanging off the outside of this one universal living thing.

I wrote The Cult in part to introduce how demonic influences can take on a life of their own. So instead of worrying about discrete individuals doing this or that great evil thing, as if they were some anti-hero, we put the focus where it belongs.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of moral darkness in this world, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the Spirit Realm. (Ephesians 6:12)

At the same time, I wanted to wipe away the worst of our Western mythology about how evil works, and to begin correcting a large body of false demonology. Our biggest problems do not come from natural threats or human oppression; we can work around those because Our Father rules this world. But a part of His rule is establishing an Adversary as His whip hand. Satan serves God’s purpose, but we have to understand that purpose.

So what God does with natural events and in His herding of humans who ignore Him are together the background against which we manifest His glory. These things are mere context. By faith our hearts know what we should accept with grace and what we should challenge in prayer. When our calling requires something that does not appear likely, we pray for divine intervention. Thus, we are sometimes healed of maladies and sometimes told to live with it (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

However, Satan and his demons are another matter entirely. We oppose him first in our choice to immerse ourselves in the moral life led by the heart. From that foundation, we learn how to oppose demons in more specific ways. And Western Christianity has gotten lost entirely from that ancient viewpoint because the primary effect of demonic activity is deception. The grand success of Satan’s plot to blind us by stealing away a cultural orientation that assumes a heart-led existence remains our biggest barrier to finding peace with God.

A critical part of countering that vast deception is the teaching of The Cult. People matter in the sense that they are tools of the Devil who need deliverance. The primary means of delivering them is by delivering ourselves, for in the struggle over our own selves as the battlefield, we have done as much as we can for everyone else. We have shined the light of glory on a volitional path they each must take for themselves. It requires learning to think of victory, not as some discrete event, but an ongoing process. It also requires learning to think of our Enemy as an influence in people, not the people themselves.

Further, for them to take that path and escape deception, that act itself is a miracle of God. It’s not a decision of the mind, but a compulsion of conviction. You and I cannot possibly formulate a means to make that happen in their souls. Decision Theology remains one of the biggest lies we fight, because it hobbles the whole of Western Christianity.

Stop for a moment and consider the moral logic here, the implications of what I point out. Our mission of redemption in this world is not to convince people to make a decision. Our mission is simply walking in the power of His divine moral Law. By showing what that Law looks like, we then have authority to teach it verbally. The gospel message is not magic; it has no power of its own, but requires a vivification in human lives. That’s how God does things. Jesus Christ is the Living Law of God, so the gospel message is not wrapped up in orthodoxy, but in living by His example as the Law — Law = God’s moral character.

The massive disaster of all this church missionary stuff is not that the world hasn’t heard about Jesus. Believe me, the whole world knows His name and has heard some version of the false gospel of Decision Theology. The disaster is that the churches who send those missionaries are themselves so much in need of the real gospel message. The churches are a mission field, and very tough one, at that. What a heartbreaking thing to realize that some church folks are so very close, yet so very far from the gospel of Jesus Christ, the name they claim in all they do.

Consequently, the biggest hassles we face in our faith and religion are the mainstream established churches. If there’s any human influence likely to challenge us, it’s the churches. Not the individual folks, any of whom may be just a step away from claiming the full heritage of the children of God, but the institution and how it serves as a weapon of Satan. That we face an institution is, in itself, the primary evidence of the gravity of this situation. The institutional church serves The Cult by it’s very principle of organization.

This is the one time when we need to hesitate about infiltration. Submitting yourself to the rule of religious organization is a moral compromise that comes with very high risk. The family of God is an organic thing; we should hesitate to even use the word “organization” when we talk about God’s divine plan for what a church looks like in this world. At the very least we must engage the discipline of making sure we never forget that the organization itself is just a tool, a human manifestation of faith; the church organization cannot be sacred in itself.

So we choose something tribal in nature, taking our clues from the nomadic period of Israel’s history, as the one sure way to keep the flesh nailed to the Cross when it comes to doing church. The rigors of wandering in tents as a metaphor helps us squelch the fleshly urge to take ourselves and our doings too seriously. This is part of why I invest so much energy in a virtual parish “organization” — to inhibit my fallen urge to play the hero. Having done all I possibly could, I’m still just an unworthy servant (Luke 17:7-10).

Consider these things.

Psalm 112

What would you expect to see if someone was a sincere fan of a famous figure? Not the obsessive wacko, but someone genuinely taken by the obvious greatness they saw? True fans would attempt to emulate the character of the one whom they idolize. This is what we expect when someone becomes truly smitten by the Creator. This is an adult son who proudly and consciously emulates his father, as if that father were the ultimate model of humanity.

So this psalm celebrates the quintessential Child of the Covenant. No one has to tell such a devoted follower how to act. His heart commandeers his instincts, and moral wisdom overwhelms everything he thinks, says and does. Utterly missing is the slavish rote obedience; this is genuine love and devotion to the One whose very character shines brightly through the darkness of this world. Such a man has hitched his awareness to the moral sphere, a parallel universe invisible to those whose convictions do not rule their decisions.

Hallelujah! O, how blessed is the one who genuinely reveres Jehovah. So starts this psalm. We know how to translate the word “commandments,” but we hardly grasp the concept from within our Western culture. It refers to the broad investment of interest in some domain, and the full range of efforts to express a divine compassion and urgent care for everyone involved. A better term might be self-disclosure, in the sense of moral character. What kind of fool spurns such guidance?

The terms of this celebration are parabolic. Yes, you stand to gain materially, but that’s hardly the point. If that were all you cared for, you would not be revering Jehovah, but some other deity. So we see the image of his progeny representing the whole product of his conduct in life. What a reverent man produces is worthy of pride, just like a family that becomes famous through the achievements of their children. Such a household never wanders in moral darkness, but like the sun shining, their world is bright and clear.

The Hebrew word for “lending” comes from the image of intertwining two lives together. It is a demonstration of commitment to someone else’s welfare as if it were your own. It’s not a loss, but a wise investment that reaps rewards. Creation itself favors those who are generous with what they have to share.

Such a person becomes an integral part of Creation, taking their rightful place and restoring some measure of the original task of mankind: managing God’s Creation by His divine will. It’s not as if they depend on Creation, but that Creation takes a cue from their moral wisdom. Thus, nothing in this world can shake them. Fear is just a tingly feeling, not a genuine experience. Someone who walks by moral convictions instinctively knows they can face anything.

So it is when people who are less wise come to him for relief, he is able to share more than just a few bites of bread, but the full meaning of shalom comes with every morsel he gives. His very presence in the community is a calming and strengthening influence that restores cosmic moral balance. Those who have yet to sense God through their own hearts can look to this Child of the Covenant as a clue how to find Him.

Best of all, the wicked whose hearts are darkened will find him truly stressful. They don’t want to face people like that.

Rant Mode: Injustice

Just because I don’t talk much about my battles and wounds, it doesn’t mean I have no scars.

It’s the height of arrogance to assume that someone who hasn’t lived with your limitations is unable to sense your sorrows. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Let’s talk about the injustice He faced — we weren’t there with Him, except to help nail Him to the Cross. Our particular sorrows don’t justify crucifying anyone else. He rose and still lives today at the right hand of the Father, and His appreciation for doing good to those who hate you is all the reward we need. Walking justly is its own reward.

If you get close enough to me, I will surely do something stupid and hurt you. Don’t fall into a pity party and assume I delight in causing you pain. Don’t assume that I am somehow refusing some duty to improve simply because my sins are different from yours. “Remove the log in your own eye first” (Matthew 7:1-6). The point here is not that you might actually remove that log, but that you must acknowledge it’s there before anything can change. You have to embrace the enormity of your own sin. Yes, you nailed Jesus to the Cross, and so did I. Let’s stop hammering each other and try to find a path to repentance.

Some of you may recall I’ve used the term “quantum moral reasoning” as a means to drawing attention to the multiple levels of consideration we must maintain at all times. The biggest problem is first recognizing that there are multiple levels. How often have you heard or read arguments that confuse the levels? No, we don’t have a discrete list of those levels; that’s just cultic nonsense that leads to pushing religion back into the cerebral reasoning.

The urge to correct injustice is certainly holy. The urge to defend your God-given domain is also holy, but not if you confuse the boundaries of your domain. Check this out: the word “responsibility” arises from the concept of duty to respond. The “us versus them” is not inherently wrong, but you will rarely encounter someone who understands why God wired that into us. Have you not noticed how the Law of Moses does differentiate between serious threats to human existence versus those that simply require a little nudge to improve? That there are plenty of unpleasant things we are obliged to bear simply because they aren’t for us to fix? And let’s not forget that plenty of capital sin under Moses could be forgiven by the victim and the perpetrator go free. You do have a faculty for knowing when God intends you to forgive.

People are the most important concern in this world of existence. This world can’t be saved. It’s slated for destruction — that terminology is mere characterization, but it points us to the truth. The point is that you will see justice in this life, but only if you see it in the mirror. Nobody owes you anything, least of all God. You are precious only because of some whim of choice arising from His incomprehensible compassion. Even when you have to pull the trigger, it can’t be hatred that paints the target. You have to invest a lot of your human time into deep consideration of such things before they come. Who are you? What did God call you to do and how does He want it done? Your heart knows, so move your awareness into your heart and start bouncing things off your convictions. Don’t run with any tribe until you know for certain that’s where God called you, and then act as an individual voice of compassion. Let no man tell you how God works in your soul.

Justice is not a science and it’s even higher than art. Divine justice is in a class of endeavor all its own. Only an active heart consciousness works on that level. Learn to let a little rain run off your back because God calls you to invest your energy in more important things. By the same token, never assume that physical violence is forbidden in all cases for everyone. Don’t set limits on how God speaks to others. Step away and stop condemning things that aren’t a part of your calling. Respond when your heart knows it falls into your domain, not when it simply pisses you off.

Don’t turn one injustice into yet another simply because you can’t be bothered to swallow some more sorrow.