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?

Misguiding Spirits

What can you do with it?

Keep in mind the fundamentals of moral logic. Stated more expansively, I’m asking that you make that conscious effort to defer to your convictions, written on your heart by the finger of God. Keep in mind that the heart has its own “mind” with a different form of reasoning that rests entirely on moral accountability to the character of God. It’s written into Creation as well as on our hearts.

This has nothing to do with manifesting talents our Western heritage would prefer to ignore, or perhaps consider Satanic simply because it doesn’t fit in with the prevailing orthodoxy. God speaks; none of us fallen humans is authorized to decide for another how He will communicate. However, if your “message from God” conflicts with mine, it’s simply a reason to keep some distance so we don’t get in each other’s way. What we pursue here as a virtual parish would simply not work at all if you can’t humor me and the boundaries I must observe. But the grounds for pushing away from you is not too hard to understand if you have subjected your mind to your heart-mind.

In other words, I don’t care how you get your moral guidance, as long as it is bounced off conviction. I’ll bounce your declarations off my own convictions and decide from there how closely we can work. If it appears your deference to your heart produces comfortable results, we can at least be friends. It’s not a question of orthodoxy because I can’t write it all down in any detailed statement; I have to sense whether your proposal is going to cause trouble to my mission and calling. It’s a living thing, not something carved in stone.

The entire concept of spirit guides is dubious. The record of God’s work in Scripture excludes anything but angels, and we can easily characterize how they operate, because it’s very consistent within the ANE culture. Our culture is so completely alien to theirs that, just as with demons, so I must caution readers that we are ill prepared to deal with the very topic of angels, never mind the actual encounters. The whole thing is so foreign to us that it sounds like mere legend, a kind of mythology that can’t be anchored in our broader sense of what’s real. So when someone tells me they have had some kind of experience with some non-human guiding presence, I have no choice but to ask questions.

For now, there are two primary results that I would expect from any genuine encounter with God or His agents. One is that you will be humble and penitent. Not so much in terms of modeling yourself after any number of cultural models that bear such labeling, but that you will surely set aside arrogance and self-focus. I have no problem with serious self-confidence, by comparison. Two, you would be especially humble and accountable to the Bible. Not slavish bibliolatry, but evincing a sincere desire to avoid conflict with what it teaches. A failure can also manifest in the perverted legalism of proof-texting, too. It’s the message between the lines that is sacred, not the precise wording.

Now it follows naturally that no two of us will get the exact same ideas about how to implement the message of the Bible. If you tell me you reject some portion because you can’t take seriously the presumed author, then I can’t take your claim to faith seriously. That is, I cannot treat you as a brother or sister in the Lord. I can be friends with you, but you’ll be more like a visitor, maybe even an ally, but not a family member.

We have one consistent image of warning from the Bible about guiding spirits — the term in most English translations is “familiar spirit.” It’s a reference to demonic spirit guides, a manifestation of darkness that intends to deceive. It’s primary effect is to guide you in any direction possible except the one God wants you to go.

Go where your conscience directs; that’s the starting point. However, your sincerity of conviction is not binding on me, nor is mind binding on you. I have to obey my own heart.

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.