Less Load Love

I love my wife, and my family, and clan.

When extra pain enters our world an extra weight falls upon me. I care.

Today two things were given to me. The first I know and just needed a reminder, “Casting all your care upon God Who cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) is a decision and an action.

The second thing is that I love my family, but no matter how deep and wide that love is, it cannot compare to the love which Jesus has for each of those in my love bubble. The love I express falls short, and so in order to love them as much as they deserve, I have to love with God’s love, not my limited human love. It is human arrogance that says I will love and that will help. It simply adds a load, however if I let God’s Spirit love through me, it not only is bigger love, but Jesus is bearing some of the load for love and lightens my own weight and allows me to focus more on The One Who Is Love and less on my caring and, often, inability to cause a positive result with the ones around me.

Human love resides primarily in emotions. If I let God love I can care more deeply, more effectively act for the loved one, and not be drained by emotions that are usually magnified by seeing the pain and not having a ready fix.

At this moment I need this lesson to be carved on my soul. It is the only way to get through.

What Happened?

Like others who blog I follow blogs. But something has happened over time. Only 9 of the bloggers have posted anything in the last year! What happened?

So, O God, I pray for those people who have shared their thoughts and lives with me through blogs over the years. For those who no longer feel called to write, may they know they were appreciated. For those whose lives are in such a place that they no longer have the time or energy to write, I lift them up to You in Your mercy. If any have passed through the veil into Your heavenly arms, I pray for their family and close friends and colleagues. Jesus, I am grateful for the contributions that each made in my spiritual journey, and the glory they brought to Your Name.

Be Content

During our morning devotions today this came into my mind:

I am not spiritually weak because of this pandemic, and I am not obsessed with gathering in person with others who name Jesus as Saviour to get back to “normal”. God has not left me during this time, nor left me without an abundant supply of spiritual food. Indeed, I have never felt alone nor unattached to the people of faith in my life. A strong binding has kept my spiritual comrades close to my heart, in my mind’s eye and in thoughts and prayers.

And then this thought entered the process, one which has both intrigued me and encouraged me for 17 years:

In the Ojibwe language there is no word for “good-bye”! Whether someone is physically present or not, the connection remains intact over time and distance because being face-to-face does not determine the depth of affection and attachment to the people in our life.

The Words of God in the Bible are even more lively and penetrating (Hebrews 4:12) than ever before as I am given a clearer vision of the heavenly realm and reign of Christ on earth.

“So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!…Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!…The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable…I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:1-13 God’s Word Translation©, selected).

We do not need others in order to live with Christ, but we need The Spirit free in us to live with others!

A World of Gods

There is a common story across religions of humans wanting to be gods resulting in rebellion, pride and division. Still today there are people who claim to be spiritual, but live with a lust for personal power, not service. They show no respect to anyone (despite deceptive words to the contrary) and use personal perspective to judge everything and everybody. And they are so wrapped up in their infinite wisdom and unshakable “rightness” they have no room for empathy or humility, despite verbal claims of loyalty to these principles.

So, after decades of experience (including much formal training) and a history of victimization based on my race, gender, religious affiliation and economic status I have something to say:

Praying during worship in Tanzania

I chose, and still choose, heavenly love. I remain loyal to The Almighty, not to any religious institution, dogma or doctrine. Service to Creator and creation costs everything, but I would rather be tormented as a child of The One Who Made me than have an inflated public image of importance and power. I will continue to confirm the accuracy of my observations of others before I complain about, or condemn, people. Reconciliation with the Family who share this Earth is far better than humiliating others for personal advancement or “proving” superiority of personal ideology. To alter a famous line from a famous poem (“Paradise Lost”), “I would rather be the lowliest servant in the household of The Divine One than a governor in the world of evil and hate.”

I pray I would start hearing people tell me stories of humble collegiality instead of betrayal and self-aggrandizement. I would be filled with a soul-joy if I met more people who thought social responsibility was a higher ideal than personal rights and opinions.

The life I have chosen is to follow, without religious trappings, the Jesus of the Bible: Saviour and Only Judge.

Under an Evil Spell

I was in dialogue with a person about a present-day issue. I referred to one of the places in the Bible where this issue is addressed. The response was, “But what limitation do you put on it?”

In my mind I answered, “None!”

This person is one of the too many who have abandoned Scripture and live loyally to the interpretation their religious group places on the Bible. They were inviting me to accept their dogma, which totally negates what God says in The Holy Word. I could not join their heresy.

Several times recently Galatians 3:1-5** has been thrown into my view. It breaks my heart to think that there are so many people who have been “bewitched” into thinking their ideology, their efforts, their self-appointed heroism and their actions which are affirmed only by like-minded individuals (even though rejected by spiritual Christians) constitute righteousness. Alas, it is merely self-righteousness, the spiritual condition of the 1st century Pharisees who opposed Jesus.

Since the modern-day Galatians who are “under an evil spell” (and those at early Ephesus according to Revelation, also) have lost their first love they are called to “repent” (Revelation 2:1-7). If they do not repent Jesus will “come to [them] quickly and remove [their] lampstand from its place”. My call on them to repent has been met with a closed mind, so far, but I keep praying. They do not realize that their “everlasting life” (John 3:16) is at stake!

** “You stupid people of Galatia! Who put you under an evil spell? Wasn’t Christ Jesus’ crucifixion clearly described to you? I want to learn only one thing from you. Did you receive the Spirit by your own efforts to follow the laws in the Scriptures or by believing what you heard? Are you that stupid? Did you begin in a spiritual way only to end up doing things in a human way? Did you suffer so much for nothing? [I doubt] that it was for nothing! Does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you through your own efforts or through believing what you heard?

German Police Smash Darknet…

I just read this in Tanzania news:

https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/tanzania/news/international/german-police-smash-darknet-child-porn-network-with-400-000-members–3385874

Ironic Success

As I was in prayer today thanking God for the day, I also had to confess my sins, expressing with gratitude that God keeps teaching and training me. I also said that I chose to be a good student.

At that moment God flashed into my mind’s eye the great irony of that. I am beyond retirement age, with 3 university degrees and 2 professional certificates and I am still a pupil in the Saviour’s school learning the most difficult career with the most-required continuing education of any vocation in the world, namely, being a servant of the Most High God Almighty.

I have taught courses in 3 different seminaries and 2 Lay Schools and yet I am only barely qualified, with many provisos, to be a servant!

May I ever revel in being the least to point people to Creator God Who is the Most.

Not much wonder the Bible emphasizes humility and holiness over works and achievements.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)” (Philippians 3:8 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition©).

Faith in a Worldly Culture

People underestimate how they are manipulated and controlled by culture. I am not talking conspiracy theories here. I refer to the habits and customs that surround us and which we follow without thinking about even when they turn us into an anti-Christ. This cannot be overstated.

I will speak only of the Canadian culture here (though it is part of what is termed the “western culture”). We have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This particular cultural institution has become the foundational motivation for congregations that refuse to follow public health orders during the pandemic. Their claim is that they have freedom of religion in this document which means they are exempt from any law which they interpret to persecute their customary practice of religion. Notice that culture plays a double role in this fiasco.

The congregations are enveloped in a subculture that defines worship as meeting in a certain place at a certain time, and they define this further to be the primary definition of their identity. As prisoners of the wider culture of “rights” they use the secular laws to demand their religious laws as having priority over their responsibility for each other, inside and outside their circle.

This use of rights is entirely selfish. They refuse to see this because that would mean reviewing their subculture of privilege, that their right to act their way is superior to all other “rights”.

Jesus had the right to a fair trial, a right which was denied to the Christ. So did Jesus appeal the kangaroo court? Did Jesus whine on the cross about personal innocence and the injustice foisted upon the “Sinless One”?

No, because secular rights, won or argued in secular courts (or even religious courts) betrays an attitude of mastery or control instead of servanthood.

Here is the extreme example to verify the stand of the Bible (Matthew 5:40-41). Jesus taught that if someone sues you for your shirt, give them your coat also. If you are compelled by a military or civic power to carry a load for one mile, then carry it for two. “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

If a public health order suspends the “right” of congregations to meet en masse in their precious edifice, then the congregation should not only obey it, but over-obey it somehow.

Instead we have self-righteous religious fanatics demanding their “human” rights to reject the teaching of Jesus, deny their community responsibilities, publicly declare that they have superior rights to others in the culture and forfeit the role of serving in their arena of operation.

What is their justification to abandon what identifies people as followers of Jesus instead of self and culture? They are heroes (self-appointed, alas) who are fighting for the human rights of all religious and spiritual people! I don’t need that. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31b).

Even If

Even if the fig tree does not bloom
and the vines have no grapes,
even if the olive tree fails to produce
and the fields yield no food,
even if the sheep pen is empty
and the stalls have no cattle—
even then,
I will be happy with the Lord.
I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.

(Habakkuk 3:17-18 God’s Word Translation©)

Temple Sacrifices

There is a practice among Christians that shows contempt for the teaching of God. It is widespread, insidious and undermines the most basic operation of the Realm of God on earth.

It is about holy space. Some denominations even have a ritual, using “holy elements” like water and oil, to sanctify land/soil before building an edifice to house a congregation of believers on it. When the building is completed it is referred to as “The House of God”.

This term comes from the Old Testament where King David gathers materials to construct, and King Solomon completes, The House of God in Jerusalem – The Temple. This was to become a permanent place to house the altar of sacrifices, replacing the Tent of Meeting which the Hebrews built in the wilderness during the Exodus.

Joshua 22 makes it abundantly clear how serious this was to be observed, namely having only one site for the offering of sacrifices – in Jerusalem. There would have been a civil war if the altar built on the east side of the Jordan River had, as was presumed wrongly by the Ten Tribes, been intended to compete with the one and only Holy Place where God dwells.

Jesus changed this, symbolized at the crucifixion, by the tearing of the curtain which separated the Holiest Place from the rest of the Temple.

Paul makes it abundantly clear that there is to be no holy place called “House of God” for the Church: “Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 God’s Word Translation©).

And what happened in The Temple? Sacrifices! Our role as “temples” Paul makes abundantly clear in Romans 12:1, “Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.” (God’s Word Translation©)