Upheld

I am grateful for the revelation that You love us; that You ARE love. This is direction in Deuteronomy, is only right.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Me: Good evening, Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening, Jon!

Me: Please forgive my frequent inattention and my various distractions from being consciously in Your presence. I am grateful to be in Your presence even if sometimes unconsciously.

Jesus: When I said that I would never leave you nor forsake you, I told you an eternal fact.

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. John 14:17-19

For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. 1 Samuel 12:22

And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. 1 Kings 6:13

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Psalm 9:10

For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. Psalm 37:28

For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. Psalm 94:14

It has ever been thus: I Am Faithful and True.

And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love you! Thank You for holding Your own so securely!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Things of Him

Low in the west, crescent descends,
Red-tinged, yet ghostly pale.
On frigid air my breath depends,
Crystalline sharpness I inhale.

Gratitude fills my open heart,
God-flux saturates sight,
Distant canine does its part,
Punctuating chill air of night.

Evening “star” tracks along,
Myriad cousins glitter bright.
Crunch of frost an eerie song,
Retreating back inside.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Romans 1:20
Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Generations

I am grateful for Your mercy!

Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Matthew 17:17

He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.

Mark 9:19

And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.

Luke 9:41

Me: Good evening Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening, Jon!

Me: You know, Jesus, that last week I sat through another of those talks about improving one’s approach to the different attitudes and beliefs of the generations. It seems to me the basis of the books and lectures I have been exposed to is that every “generational cohort” has a set of more-or-less common experiences that shape outlooks.

Jesus: What did they say that resonated with you?

Me: I can certainly see a foundation for the notion that major life events could shape one’s thinking. I thought of my own upbringing during the cold war, complete with nonsensical duck and cover drills in grade school. Many in my generation developed fatalistic attitudes, not expecting to reach adulthood.

Jesus: Fatalistic attitudes are not limited to your generation. Why do you say the drills were nonsensical?

Me: A little later in life, when I had real NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) warfare training in the military, and had seen from close-in video records how the shockwave of a nuclear yield tosses everything in the air and then blows it away. I saw pictures of items further out etched on regular walls by the flash. I realized that ducking under a school desk with one’s hands on his head was really a kind of placebo, not a survival tactic.

Jesus: What did you find most eye opening from the presentation on generational interaction?

Me: One thing was hearing the defining anxiety for the latest generation getting to working age (gen-Z, I think) is fear of the consequences of global warming. That it would be incumbent upon employers to present their best “sustainable” face in order to attract and retain these workers because they had a need to feel they were “part of the solution rather than part of the problem”. Another thing was that at least part of the Millennial generation in the United States was strongly shaped by the events of September 11th, 2001.

I had just finished watching a documentary on the collapse of the Twin Towers and building 7 that brought up a lot of unanswered questions and asserted the discovery of residue of high tech thermite in the debris along with steel micro-spheres, which require molten steel to form. Those assertions (with many others) and those explanations that have commonly been put forth are at odds.

During the section in the presentation relating the different concerns shaping the various generations, It immediately occurred to me that no mater the generation, if these things were the defining events, they were all also highly politicized and the narratives that had been put forth were carefully constructed. They all bear the marks of propaganda designed to produce fear.

Jesus: Your observation about playing on fear is as accurate as it is intentional by those involved. Worse things are coming ahead of My return, nonetheless.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 21:25-27

Yet those who listen to Me hear My admonition to fear not.

But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

Luke 12:31-33

Perfect Love gets rid of fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1

John 4:18

And fear of any but Me is inconsistent with who I Am. To be made perfect in love is to grow in perfect relationship with Me. That is not of your own doing, but My gift, if you will accept it.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:8

Me: What about the influence of the parents on the next generation?

Jesus: I gave parents the responsibility for raising their children.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

Deuteronomy 11:18-20

Most have vested this responsibility in stewards from whom they have required no accountability. Many have abdicated altogether. Your nation has adopted law pertaining to public schools contrary to My instructions in Deuteronomy 11 for parents. Much more often than parents know, their children are taught that the beliefs of their parents are outdated and wrong. So even if parents endeavor to teach My principles for life at home, they are being undermined in many cases.

I have given plenty of warning that the spiritual condition of parents has long-term consequences.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exodus 20:5

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Exodus 34:7

The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Numbers 14:18

Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

Deuteronomy 5:9

You know anger often comes in response to fear. Consider these instructions.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Colossians 3:21

Me: The presenter of the talk on generational interactions said over and over that different beliefs and outlooks are not wrong and need to be embraced by the other generations, written into policy, and trained into the workforce. It seemed to me an assertion that moral relativism was fine. Just. Fine. Truth? What Pilate said…

Jesus: Here is a truth you can count on.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

I want to talk to you about another passage that you have not recognized is related.

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

Matthew 11:16-17

Do you recognize the voice of the children of this generation? Saying to each other, “Fall into line with us. Do as we say is right and you will be accepted.”

“Peer pressure” and “Wokeness” are the order of the day. But I Am saying, “Listen to My voice! Set your heart on things above! Be filled with My Spirit! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:12-14

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You! I pray you will help me have the right attitudes.

Jesus: You are welcome! I Am working on your attitudes as you submit them to Me. I love you!

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Look to Others

I am grateful for air, spoken into existence and maintained by You to satisfyingly fill our lungs, sustaining life at all times. Awake, asleep, running, or resting; thank You for providing!

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory (ego, overweening pride); but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Philippians 2:3-4 (King James Version)

Me: Good morning, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good morning, Jon!

Me: Considering that passage in Philippians 2, I have to admit chafing if my superiors at work take an opposing stance against any of my ideas of how things ought to be done.

Holy Spirit: Think back to Eve’s interchange with the serpent:

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3

What does verse six say about Eve’s rationalization? She “saw” that the tree produced fruit that was “good for food”, which is consideration for sating the physical self. She was going by how the fruit appeared to her, though I had said that it was deadly. Think of how she had to disbelieve My word. She “saw” that it was pleasant to the eyes, giving consideration to the emotional self. You experience, of course, My voice speaking to you and if you consider sinning against My direction, you know how focusing on the object of your desire instead of Me and My word leads to the same kind of decision as Eve made.

I made clear all wisdom is not from above. Let us look at what James says about it:

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

From James 3 (NASB)

Eve was deceived and she desired wisdom from the wrong source. Notice the component of selfish ambition in verse 14? She did not ask Me for My wisdom. I have made it clear to you, also through James, how to get My wisdom:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5

Finally, having partaken, Eve gave also to her husband. She was looking after her own interests, putting that demonic wisdom to work, right away.

Me: She was thinking, “If it hadn’t been a good idea, I wouldn’t have done it”?

Holy Spirit: She was. How often the deceived try to convince others to follow them!

Me: I definitely see the similarity to Eve’s deception and my egotistical chafing about being overridden at work. I pray you will help me be constant in seeking You and in putting the welfare of others before myself. I ask You to help me be gracious and convincing if You are guiding me down a path that has been opposed and quick to see and acknowledge if the other person is right.

Holy Spirit: That is a prayer I Am fulfilling.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Purple Iris with Dew Drops (gracious gift from the Creator)

A Different Look…

I would like us to look at 1 Corinthians 13 with different eyes.

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

Many are discouraged in these days. Consider this (hopefully familiar) passage with me.

Do you see therein rejoicing? Do you see belief? Hope? Steadfast Endurance? Patience? Humility? Kindness? Does attainment of these seem like a high hurdle? Insurmountable, perhaps?

Consider:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:8 King James Version

The fulfillment of those 1 Corinthians 13 characteristics is in the very nature and character of God. They will not be in us unless and until He is in us. And once He is in us:

The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.
(… but of Yaweh (is) deliverance.)

Proverbs 21:31 King James Version

I recommend a careful meditation on the fourth chapter of Zechariah. Zerubbabel was a leader of the first group of Jews returning to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. The Lord is presenting Zerubbabel with a promise of His support and power to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to rebuild the temple:

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

Zechariah 4:10

For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth, so that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

2 Chronicles 16:9a

Lets get back to those characteristics of our God that we began with, and look longingly again:

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it [a]keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

Is He in us? He wants to be. Do you feel His eyes upon us? Are we depending on His might? The question is, what do we want? Our plan, or His?

Power that Works

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Ephesians 3:20

I am awed, really, how God is faithful to reinforce the messages He is strengthening in my life. This verse in Ephesians is a mighty example. I tend to get discouraged when I try to communicate truth I find helpful into the lives of friends who are engaged in self-defeating thought patterns and clearly suffering. I am dismayed when it seems my attempts fall upon deaf ears and the troubles of my friends persist. I find myself feeling that there is something I have failed my friend in; some way I have let him down. I stumble into the same trap that Moses did when he argued with God that he wasn’t articulate enough to carry the message (Exodus, chapters 3 & 4).

Of course, it is easier for us to recognize these patterns in others than in ourselves. The things we believe that are not true and that lead us to trouble are not easy to root out precisely because our internal filter (belief system) is contaminated by the lies we believe. These beliefs seldom bear scrutiny in the light of day. They are more like an unconscious subtext running subliminally in the background. Some of them may have come into existence when we were mere “infinks”*, when we didn’t know any better.

Better, I would meditate on verses like Ephesians 3:20 until the truth of it is fully ingrained in my heart that it is God, and God alone, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above anything I would even conceive of. Meditate until I can stand without wavering upon the truth that He is already at work in me to accomplish things that are hard to believe. Impossible, in fact, in the natural realm. The believer ALREADY has the Holy Spirit dwelling on the inside. What is left is is the transforming of the mind to align with this truth (Romans 12:2). In that way – meditating on these powerful truths in scripture – these failures to grasp the truth in daily life can be rooted out. In me. In my friends. In You. In Power.

Eat your spinach, you no good infink. Eat it. EAT IT. Eat it.

Poopdeck Pappy: Robert Altman’s 1980 Popeye movie

All, All, All

I am grateful for the guidance You give us! I am grateful for Your love and example!

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. – Proverbs 14:34

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:35-40

Me: Good afternoon, Jesus!

Jesus: Good afternoon, Jon!

Me: Why did you say, “And the second is like unto it”?

Jesus: Both have their basis in love. Both require an unequivocal attitude; all, all, all. “All your heart” will result in your desiring the most intimate relationship you can have. Not the most you can muster in yourself, but the most you can have in the power of My Spirit as you purpose to submit your heart to Him. “[A]ll your soul” involves your hands and feet and the practical outworking of what you can do. Again, with My empowerment (John 15:5). “[W]ith all your mind”, of course, is talking about what you think of Me (and your neighbor). Is is the truth? Do you see your neighbor as made in My image?

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

All Things

I have been having a conversation with the Holy Spirit the past couple of days. For you who think “conversation” has a narrow definition, the Spirit has been making certain impressions on my heart, which then leak into my mind when I am in a meditative mood (often). In turn, I prayerfully pose questions to the Spirit, asking for clarification. Often a pertinent verse of scripture will come to mind; a process that is only possible if one has taken the trouble to put verses of scripture into one’s mind in the first place. One of those, John 16:13, is relevant to the description that I am giving:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

In any event, the this conversation concerns several notable times in my life when my circumstance turned dramatically and more-or-less permanently for the better, as a direct result of someone close to me either making a decision which negatively impacted them long term, or in another case, absorbed some grievous abuse such that I did not become a target of the same. I think I will not share the details of these, since the persons I am thinking of are deceased now and unable to consent to my sharing.

However, as I meditated on these life-changing events, I was led to a couple of passages. The first is Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

All things – even decisions made of those close to us – decisions which proved to be good for me as this passage in Romans 8 promises even while apparently detrimental to the person following the path they decided upon. As I contemplated these situations from my past, the Spirit showed me that I was, in a way, a beneficiary of Judas’ decision to betray Jesus. (You can read about the beginning of that in John chapter 13.) We all needed Jesus to go to the cross to bear our sin and the death-wage we earned though it. Judas played a part in that, and you can see that Jesus acknowledged that it was necessary. If you follow the story, you find out that it did not end well for Judas, at least in life. Jesus Himself then suffered in our stead on that cruel Roman cross that we might be restored to the position of having God as our Father. I find it humbling to consider that I may thrive as a result of the troubles of others. Did God “do bad things” to them that I might prosper? No, no, no. He is not like that. Their choices were their own. (And in Jesus’ case, it was the reason He came.) Yet mysteriously, His grace persists, causing even the most unlikely of “all things” to work out for my good.

Am I? Are You? #14

I Am… Accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world , that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:3-10

Before there was a single molecule of earth. Depending on how expansive one is willing to be with the word “world” [Greek κόσμου – kosmou], possibly before there was a single physical particle of anything, anywhere; we were chosen. I shared at some length in my last post the conversation I had with God the Father on the intriguing subject of predestination as an aspect of God knowing the end from the beginning, so I am not going to divert into that mystery here, other than to recognize again that the scripture is replete with these references that center around God being omniscient and eternal. Since we are bound in time (at least for now) and He is not, we presently have little concept of just how these things work.

The important thing for me to see, is that before there was any “there” there, God looked at my need to be rescued from the downward death-spiral of sin and disobedience and determined to save me by the sacrifice of the Son. The word “grace” in verse six also connotes that it is a free gift and contingent only upon my willingness to accept it. In other words, when Jesus uttered, “It is finished.” from the cross, there was no further action necessary from God’s side of things.

God is truly extravagant in His giving. Paul used the word “lavished”. Marvelous. Marvelous! Marvelous indeed! No wonder verse six mentions praise! I return for a moment to the words “He chose” in verse four. We are not accidental beneficiaries. No, we are adopted (verse five). I daresay any adoptive parent will attest that adoption is not a random-chance event; no one ever said, “then an adoption happened”.

One last thing. It says “in the beloved”. I am a first-born son, as far as my natural family goes. Like most first-born children, I was trained early in a performance-based sense of self. I need to lay this mindset down. I understand that intellectually now but it is deeply ingrained. Some might ask, “Just why do you need to abandon this sense of yourself”? The answer is precisely because in my self I cannot live up to the holy life that is being spoken of, life that is even capable of true communion with God. Only One has ever managed it. The real mystery is that He made a way for me to be “in” Him. That is the way of acceptance, the way of salvation, the way of communion, of joy, of peace, of adoption. Of love.

I Am the way… John 14:6

Am I? Are You? #13

I am grateful, Father, to be in Your family!

I Am… An heir of God. – Romans 8:17

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself* beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

* Short side trip: Greek αὐτὸ is the third-person pronoun (he, she, it) determined by context. I believe the Holy Spirit is a person, an essential part of the Person of God (Deuteronomy 6:4), even as our spirit is an essential part of our being. I don’t presume to fault the KJV translation too much; it is impossible for the mind of man to contain a full understanding of God any more than a child knows a parent fully. We may know the Spirit as He incrementally reveals Himself to us in our spirit when we become intentionally still enough to hear.

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Me: Good morning Father!

ABBA: Good morning Jon!

Me: When I went to investigate Romans 8:17 further, I began to meditate on all of Romans 8, and I found it to be a cache of endless treasure (and a few hard concepts).

ABBA: When you were raising children, did you find that they were usually able to comprehend the full depth of things that they asked questions about?

Me: No, they were able to recognize and ask about many things that were both mysterious to them and wonderful at the same time. Deeper understanding often required more intellectual background than they yet possessed. Really, more than I yet possess.

ABBA: How would you answer them?

Me: Some dads would say, “Ask your mother” but I have always been disposed to try to give some response. I wish I could say I generally gave a heart-centered answer, merely acknowledging that it was a complicated question. At a young age, they were usually trying to decide how to relate to the thing, not learn how it was designed. I wasn’t heart-centered enough myself in those days and would ususally give an answer they were unprepared to make use of. I suppose I am still prone to do that if anyone asks me something.

ABBA: Yes, most young children are trying to learn, whereas some adults are trying to control. I understand you want to be accurate. I made you that way. Still, you have to consider the questioner and their frame of reference. I sent My Son, in part, to communicate My love for you (John 3:16) in a way that was unmistakable.

Me: The heart message in verse fifteen is one that is at the very center of the good news of the Gospel – that in Jesus we are adopted into Your family and no longer under the fearful severity of the law (which we instinctively understand we have violated). Now, we are brought in by love (1 John 4:8).

ABBA: You understand that the law is satisfied because Jesus suffered the penalty due to you. Do you also understand that as heir you have all of My resources available to carry out our mission? Do you know, you inherited a part of My mission as well? (Matthew 28:16-20)

Look at Romans 5:5. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Do you understand that this promise is that My very nature is being manifest in you?

Me: I am trying to understand. I hope that is what this series is accomplishing for me and for any who read it with a spirit of contemplation. I know these things intellectually. I can read them in the scriptures. It is the heart that is stubborn. Usually, I don’t even realize that it is being so obstinate or that I have some negative self-talk running in the background. I do know that I need to repent of those internal messages that run contrary to the promises You have made to us.

ABBA: Keep listening for My Spirit to guide you into all the Truth. Keep delving into the scripture while looking to Me for Guidance. Commit My promises to memory and the Spirit will bring them to remembrance when you need them.

Now, what do you consider a hard concept?

Me: As I read on in Romans 8, I got to wondering about the “predestination” concepts in verses 29-30 (and many other places). I decided to read a bunch of other’s take on those verses. I was surprised by what I found.

ABBA: How so?

Me: I found a lot of people identifying as “Calvinists”, making all kinds of assertions about You and what this passage means. Some were mostly taking aim at “Armenians” whom they said were wrong to not put enough emphasis on it. Some seemed to be emphasizing Your loving nature, but perhaps only to some particular insiders of Your choosing. Others took what I would say are extreme views, claiming any foresight You have is equivalent to a final determination and that man has no free will and therefore no responsibility. Some claimed they were saved and others were irrevocably out because You had not chosen them. I found that the banner of Calvinist flies over all kinds of doctrinal positions. So much so, that I would say it is meaningless in a practical sense. I am sure I have not scratched the surface, nor that I want to.

Why do people feel the need to put You in some kind of box that they can circumnavigate? Don’t they even have a sense of Your limitless nature? Don’t they ever go outside at night and look up at some of what You have done? And how do some so handily ignore the Great Commission, or the fact expounded in Scripture that You are not willing that any should perish, while recognizing that some choose to reject. And that is another thing, some of these particular Calvinists used the fact that some reject You as “proof” that You did not choose them. If I know You at all, I know that is not true.

I believe you led me to these related scriptures:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance

Romans 3 – Speaks of the inclusive will of God.

Ephesians 4: Grieve not the Holy Spirit. (Why give this instruction if, as I understand the extreme position of some, that the will of God is irresistible?)

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (This explains well enough to me why it is hard to get a persons to change their mind. Their way seems right to them. Convinced of it they are, yes. They don’t see the end because it is, well, at the end.)

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

ABBA: Of course I led you to these scriptures and you know your identity as My child. The philosophies of men do not and can not describe Me. I have repeatedly shown you that a few of those who emphasize My sovereignty do so in order to be dogmatic about something they think they know about Me – that they really have no choice. At least they recognize the universe is not all about them. But they miss this fact; the only one who can restrict Me is Me. You are made in My image in this regard. You can control what you do, too. To belabor the point, I can of My own will, let you act according to your own will. It should not be lost on you that true love between us is not possible under other circumstances.

Me: Thank you Father! I love you!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

Postscript:

I live and work in a community where perhaps the majority of the population attends churches where the members would identify as Calvinists. Many have been schooled at Calvin College, or one of the many similar institutions. Please understand that I know something of the hearts of these people and I am in no wise intending to paint my friends and acquaintances with a broad brush because of the extreme views of the few internet denizens that I mentioned above. I know from conversations with friends that these local churches have active missionary programs. Why would they do that, if salvation was an irrevocably-settled issue through “predestination”? It was through one of these churches that I initially learned that I could have a direct and intimate conversation with God and expect to hear from Him in my spirit through His Spirit.

On the other hand, if any finds him or herself subscribing to the notion that we don’t really have a choice, please keep seeking. Consider this: Why would the scripture spend so much time telling us how to live in alignment with God’s plan, if we could not fail to do so?