“You have not been this way before”

Men have been learning to navigate forever. At first navigation was only necessary for those hunter gatherer types as they ventured further and further away from their families and their folds. As relationships grew more complex and began to challenge our circumstances; navigation became necessary as we learned to navigate life as well.

Technology would soon add another element of this learning as men would eventually tame the seas, while aiming for the skies. Of course navigation is only relevant to the one who wishes to travel unchartered territory. For those who desire to chart their own course and walk in paths that we have not walked before…it is for us that navigation becomes critical.

Knowing how to navigate is essential to mitigating fears of the unknown…that primal fear of being lost and disoriented. Most of us have an intimate knowledge of this fear; we learned it as a toddler the moment we allowed that toy in the local dept. store to distract our attention long enough for our parents to abandon us one aisle over. That fear that rushes over us is indescribable as it fills every fiber of our being.

That same fear still strikes at the heart of men even now. We might have been foolish enough to have thought we could outgrow these fears, experience however has taught us otherwise. Given the same analogy of a child lost in the toy aisle and overcome by fear, we are reminded in parenthood that there in the next aisle over is a father who has just realized his child is no longer beside him…while the child is overcome, the father is in panic as his heart is gripped by fear.

Life offers up some very simple truths, perhaps the most common among them is the variable…the unknown. What will tomorrow bring? Will it bring hope or despair, joy or sorrow. The unknown hour has morphed into a monster…it is the thing that haunts us in our dreams. In order to navigate this unknown thing we orchestrate every event in our lives, micro-managing every detail in order that we might evade and escape this monster.

With so many unknowns that faced the children of Israel, there was one simple truth that was to be enjoyed by them all. If they would simply follow their God, things would always work out for their good. In Joshua Chapter three the children of Israel were about to embark on a journey that would take them down an unknown path. Joshua having been elevated after the death of Moses gave these instructions:

 “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before”

What are we to conclude from such statement? The Ark which was to symbolize the very presence of God was to be followed at all times, for they had not been that way before. Thereby we are to follow that same example as so often we are charting a course that we have not been before.

The second truth is that while the Ark was to symbolize the presence of God-there were those Levites who carried it; the Priests of God. These were the men tasked with great purpose; men whom God entrusted himself to; they were men who carried the truth. should they falter in understanding, or give ear to other voices they ran the risk of leading the whole flock astray…in this there is grave consequence.

We are a holy priesthood navigating a holy path of righteousness that others may look upon our lives and know that we are following the only one who knows the way. Jesus said as much himself when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the father but by me.”

Perhaps you have found yourself in unfamiliar territory, and maybe it is that your heart is gripped by fear. The simple solution is to look for the presence of God and follow it, the path may seem unclear or even a little dangerous at times but rest assured that you are safer here than anywhere.

Virginity for sale…

Society has now reached a new standard of depravity, of course this has always been the trajectory and so I suspect, in fact I know that things will inevitably get worse. But when I read headlines like the ones I have read over the course of the last year or so I cannot help but wonder how much lower we can sink.

Virginity for sale to the highest bidder…That’s right; and this is the second time this year I have witnessed in the headlines what I am sure is to become the new fad. How have we sunk to this level of depravity? I ponder the question and ask myself; where have we gone wrong? I think back to a time in Israel’s own history, a time when the Israelites agreed that like the nations around them…they needed a king. God was no longer good enough to govern their affairs…they wanted a king.

Scripture declares that when we push that envelope too far God is willing to hand us over to our own desires, and I am afraid that we are standing on the precipice of disaster, looking down into the abyss of an unknown future and mesmerized by the possibilities of a life free from God. Our desire is a slightly different desire than that of the children of Israel though. Don’t get me wrong, we all still want a king; the difference is we all want to be that king. Others however are not content to have a king rule over them, so we compromise and say “then we all shall be our own kings, and we shall rule over our own lives.”

We shall have the power to determine in our own right what is true and what is false; what is holy and what is not. My body is mine, and I shall do with it what I want; never mind what the scriptures have to say. Holiness is a thing of the past, we serve a new king; a king who’s standards have changed.

Holiness under the new self-imposed kingship is no longer looked upon as a virtue but rather it is a vice. A vice that restrains and holds us back from attaining the transcendent lives we seek. Lives lived with a deeper understanding of the world and of nature. Lives where we no longer seek to explain the former by way of natural exploration, but instead we embark on a journey whereby we choose instead to explore the forbidden, hoping to somehow find meaning.

Philosophy and science have officially relieved the old guards of wisdom and truth; guards that had stood at the gates for generations defending the gardens of holiness. As we rush like mad men into the eternal flames of desire hoping to find our freedom; searching, grasping, and hoping that the search will not be in vain. Our thirst for another truth has now rendered us useless; we are weak, tired, and spiritually dehydrated. Our search intensifies and we become like desert travelers in search of life giving water. The illusions that have brought us to this place continue as mirage after mirage lead us on to hope; a hope that one day our truth will be found…it is unfortunately a hope that passes away.

I look with contempt upon those souls; that is until I realize that I too have followed that ghost into the land of nothing at times. In fact the struggle between my flesh and my spirit appears to have grown stronger as I walk the narrow road. My impulses convince me to chase the happy and forgo the holy.

I fight the impulse and I plead with God that he should cause my love for him to eclipse all that my eyes have convinced my heart to follow. I cry out to him for brokenness, realizing that my heart has been pierced more deeply for the sins of others than it has for my own.

I am not a keeper of the truth; instead God hath made me a steward. So I cry to the Lord, that he should first break me over the sins of mine own flesh, that the truth might be applied like a salve to the wounds of sins affliction, only then can I treat the wounds of others.

I pray for the exaltation of holiness in a world where the bedsheets of our hearts have been defiled and the stain of our innocence serves as evidence that we have indeed whored ourselves out to other gods; all the while exalting ourselves as kings.

even so come Lord, even so come…

…إله إبراهيم، إسحاق، ويعقوب

زميل إسرائيل وأنت الأمم الذين عبادة الله، والاستماع لي! اختار إله شعب إسرائيل أجدادنا. جعل الناس يزدهرون أثناء إقامتهم في مصر؛ مع قوة قوية قادهم للخروج من ذلك البلد. لحوالي أربعين عاما عانى سلوكهم في البرية؛ وأطاح سبع دول في كنعان، وأعطوا أرضهم لشعبه كميراثهم. كل هذا استغرق حوالي 450 عاما.

“بعد ذلك، أعطاهم الله القضاة حتى وقت صموئيل النبي. ثم طلب الناس الملك، وقدم لهم شاول بن كيش، من قبيلة بنيامين، الذي حكم أربعين عاما. بعد إزالة شاول، جعل ديفيد ملكهم. وشهد الله عنه: “لقد وجدت ديفيد ابن جيسي، رجل بعد قلبي. وقال انه سوف تفعل كل ما أريد له أن يفعل. “

“من ذرية هذا الرجل جلب الله إلى إسرائيل المخلص يسوع، كما وعد. قبل مجيء يسوع، بشر يوحنا التوبة والتعميد لجميع شعب إسرائيل. كما كان يوحنا يكمل عمله، قال: “من أنت تفترض أنا؟ لست الشخص الذي تبحث عنه. ولكن هناك واحد يأتي بعد لي الصنادل أنا لست تستحق أن فك. “

“زملاؤنا أبناء إبراهيم وأنت الله خوفا من الأمم، هو لنا أن هذه الرسالة الخلاص قد أرسلت. شعب القدس وحكامهم لم يعترفوا يسوع، ولكن في إدانته أنها أنجزت كلمات الأنبياء التي تقرأ كل السبت.على الرغم من أنهم لم يجدوا أرضا مناسبة لحكم بالإعدام، إلا أنهم طلبوا من بيلاتس أن يعدمه. عندما نفذوا كل ما كتب عنه، أخذوه من الصليب ووضعوه في قبر. ولكن الله أقامه من الأموات، ولأيام كثيرة كان ينظر إليه من قبل أولئك الذين سافروا معه من الجليل إلى القدس. وهم الآن شهود لشعبنا.

نقول لكم الخبر السار: ما وعد الله أجدادنا أنه قد أنجز بالنسبة لنا، أطفالهم، من خلال رفع يسوع. كما هو مكتوب في المزمور الثاني:

“‘أنت ابني؛     اليوم أصبحت والدك. “[ب] رفعه الله من الأموات حتى لا يتعرض للإضمحلال أبدا. وكما قال الله، “” سوف أعطيك بركات مقدسة ومتوفرة وعدت لداود

وهكذا يذكر أيضا في مكان آخر: “أنت لن تدع الخاص بك المقدسة رؤية الاضمحلال.” “الآن عندما كان داود قد خدم غرض الله في جيله، سقط نائما. دفن مع أسلافه وتلف جسده. ولكن واحد الذي رفعه الله من الأموات لم ير الاضمحلال.

“لذلك، يا أصدقائي، أريدك أن تعرف أنه من خلال يسوع مغفرة الخطايا يعلن لك. من خلاله كل من يؤمن خلو من كل ذنب، تبرير لم تكن قادرا على الحصول عليه بموجب قانون موسى. احرص على أن ما قاله الأنبياء لا يحدث لك: “انظروا، أنت تسخر، تتساءل وتهلك، لأنني سوف أفعل شيئا في أيامك التي لن تصدق أبدا، حتى لو قال شخص ما لك.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

Weapons of mass distraction; a term I recently read in an article about apologetics. The Author was using the language to define a generation of people who are content to be, and consigned to the distractions of this life so as to remain ignorant of the truth that surrounds them…the truth being that of Gods existence and the manifest destiny of all mankind. The rich and the poor, the housed and the homeless, the pauper and the powerful, the heathen and the saint…we all shall come to the hour of deaths visitation.

But what should come after? Many will not incline their ears to the truth; truth is the twine that binds every man to eternity, and those who are in possession of such truth must own the outcome as well as the income. Do we share the truth and likewise are we guarding the truth…taking every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ, while protecting our minds from the doctrines of evil men; men who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing and oppose the work of God…which is the cross of Christ.

An elected ignorance of truth is no substitution for innocence. That defense may bode well for us at times, when our current judicial system chooses mercy instead of justice because the guilty knew not the laws they had broken. The problem here lies in the fact that our government is not an accurate reflection of God’s mercy or his justice. As in most cases the movie is never true to the book, so it is in our day that the movie being played out before us has fallen short of the book that it was meant to portray.

The book itself portrays a much different picture of God than that of the government that has done its best to replace him. Yes, God does grant us mercy, but it is never granted in the absence of justice. The two go hand in hand. We all stand guilty before God, because all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Thereby it was necessary then for Christ to have fulfilled all righteousness while offering up himself as a substitutionary atonement in our place.  God’s justice was met with his mercy; that all might have the privilege of a holy priesthood.

So then, what remains of man in a time when distractions have become inactions?  Look around a bit and witness the never ending distraction affixed to the palm of our hands.  Our fingers are more active than our feet! How can we go and do likewise if we never leave the comforts of our home? We are content to live in a manufactured world where everything is carefully scripted and manicured to our interests. Blocking that which we don’t want to see and ignoring the messages we would rather not hear.

Man having created the technology that accounts for our slavery must remember that Christ has not subjected us again to this yoke.  We are living, breathing creatures with a soul that has no end.  While conspiracy theorists run the red flag up the pole warning the citizenly of the coming zombie apocalypse, the rest of us are witnessing it as we watch the masses being consumed by mans glory rather than Gods.

The only question is: where that soul shall remain? The truth has knowledge of the answers we seek. Therefore if we shall incline our ears for answers, it would behoove us to first come into the knowledge of truth, and by it the truth shall set us free.  These weapons of mass distraction are slowly becoming the weapons of mass destruction. Destruction that will witness a generation of men, women, and children be damned to hell forever. Yes, our distraction has verily come to be….our inaction.

In a sense we are called to slavery…not to consumerism, but to Christ, and it is Christ whom will set us free, and it is us that shall be consumed.

The cursed blast of slavery has, like a pestilence, withered almost every moral bloom. I know not how any person can feel a union with such a monster, such a child of hell. I feel a burning hatred against it and look upon it as one of the most odious monsters that ever disgraced the earth. The iron hand of oppression daily endeavors to keep the slaves in the ignorance to which it has reduced them.

— William Knibb

“Forgive them father…they know not what they do.”

It is becoming increasingly difficult to guard my own heart from being hardened against a people who desperately need Christ. There of course will be much dialogue in the coming days about what happened in Manchester.  The talking heads will all express their condolences to the families that just yesterday afternoon were preparing for a night of entertainment, only to end the evening grieving the lost.

Our government as well as others will convene more meetings as to how best to address the issue at hand…terrorism and hate. There will be some that desire to eradicate this problem through military and police action, and there will be others that want to address the core of the problem instead of dealing only with the symptoms…the ideology.

Unfortunately there will likely be none who are willing to stand up and present an alternative idea that deviates from the standard solutions that have failed time and time again. I agree that military action is sometimes a necessary step in establishing peace. I also know that true peace can only come with a renewing of our minds. We must address the ideology, which is at the core of terrorism. The world however has not a suitable replacement for the ideology that exists within Islam. Surely we could teach the golden rule and expect others to fall in line. The golden rule…”do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. To teach such a simplistic truth without exposing the power behind that truth is to error in the truth.

As a people in general, we are born with the nature that lays claim to our own lives first. In fact the basic tenets of all that is taught within the halls of our educational campuses around the globe; are that we are to adapt and overcome, strengthening ourselves so that when the process of natural selection takes its course it will be our own genetic codes that are reproduced. Let nature take its course, but be sure to position ourselves so as to be chosen as its passenger.

We simply cannot teach the golden rule without emphasizing the executive authority that established the rule to begin with; that being the person of Christ. Rules much like laws carry no weight if they are not enforced and it is Christ himself who enforces the golden rule. Not by some strong armed tactics so often employed by worldly authorities, but instead by changing the heart of a man to submit and bow in subjection to the law giver himself. Yes, we are transformed by Christ and only then can the golden rule be followed and obeyed.

But like I said already, it is getting increasingly difficult to feel compassion for a people whom follow a brand of religion that endorses the carnage we witnessed last night; children dying…parents grieving…a city on lockdown. I am forced then to remember that so many of these religious zealots have not been trained up in righteousness, nor have they heard the truth.  Allah is said to be the great deceiver even within their own teachings, therefore it is imperative that we come to understand that they have truly been deceived. If we are going to address the core of the issue, we need first to pray, and second to go and teach them the truth regardless of the risk it poses to us. Christ hath come that we should know the truth and that the truth would set us free, and when freed by the truth we are free indeed. Free from sin, free from an ideology and a religion that will damn their souls to hell. As Christ hath said himself…”forgive them father for they know not what they do.”

Torn Asunder…

Behold the temple veil was torn in two…

For thousands of years this veil was fixed in its place, separating sinful men from the presence of absolute holiness. Once a year the High Priest would venture in to this place of great mystery and make atonement for the sins of said men…a daunting and terrifying task indeed.

I wonder what those on the outside must have been thinking; surely there curiosity ran wild as they wondered at the idea of standing in the midst of a Holy God.  Surely they envied the man that was tasked to enter in and hear that voice that thundered the worlds and all that we know into its existence. What must it have been like to have experienced God on that level? How reassuring, how comforting and yet how terrifying it all must have been.

What separated the rest of humanity from the blinding Glory of God? A veil, that’s right, the thing that was to separate a Holy God from sinful men was nothing more than a veil. Yes, we know that when Christ wore that cross upon his back, commending his spirit to God and breathing his last, that the veil was torn asunder. This however has caused me to consider and wonder at God for a time.

I have never considered the veil as an object of mercy, but always as an obstacle for Gods people.  I have thought and considered the jealousy that must have been felt by others as they stood and watched the High Priest enter into Gods presence. How many stood and envisioned a day when they too might be able to do the same; to just stand in his presence and Basque in the glory of an almighty God…even if only for a moment.

Yet had it not been for that veil, the Glory of God might have consumed them all. This veil was itself a demonstration of Gods mercy and grace.  God hath said in days gone by that no man can see God and live. We are told too that God is a consuming fire. We also know that fellowship with God is now only possible through his Son…Jesus Christ. But what about the men who stood outside that temple and waited for the high priest to come forth from the inner chambers that lay hidden behind the veil. Christ had not yet visited himself amongst men and the work of the cross had yet to be completed. What shielded them from this Glory?

The answer lies in the veil.  God was not using the veil as a means to obstruct men from coming into his presence; rather he was using the veil as a means to protect them from his own Glory…

“who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen”.

The day has dawned and the Son shines as bright as he ever has, making clear the path before us and giving sight to the past. Christ hath become the veil that we should abide in him…

1 john 2:28 “And now, dear children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

I imagine what it must have been like for Peter, James and John…as they stood tall upon that mount, side by side with their master, having been chosen from among the rest to enter into this most holiest of hours. Christ was finally to reveal the Glory that lay hidden within his flesh for 33 years, and they would be his witnesses.  Christ would shed (if only for a moment) the veil of flesh that he wore and give freedom to the light that he bore.  This was the great revealing of God, and in this monumental moment we hear the father say “this is my beloved son, listen to him.” Ohhhh, but still we see the mercies of God upon these fallible men, as God would cause that great cloud to envelope them one and all, thereby protecting them from the Glory that was to be revealed in Christ.

God is truly remarkable…and in every way wonder full.