Boasting – more than annoyance

Father, I am grateful for today, for today’s opportunities, for its promise, for Your creation of it, and for Your presence in it.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Proverbs 27:1

Me: Good morning Father!

ABBA: Good morning Jon!

Me: Rejoice now, wait-and-see for tomorrow? No boasting?

ABBA: Boast not of self.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

James 3:5

Here is a list, containing reference to boasters. See what company it keeps:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 1:28-32

If, instead, you speak truthfully of Me and of My workmanship in your life you will unleash My power for good.

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16

These things apply to you as an individual. Individuals make up families, organizations (from churches to governments), to all of society. I Am able to make the difference between health & joy and rot. The choice is yours.

Me: Thank You Father! I love you!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

Kingdom of God

I am grateful for Your faithfulness!

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:14

Me: Good morning Father!

ABBA: Good morning Jon!

Me: Jesus told us in Matthew 6:33 to seek first Your kingdom. How does one do that?

ABBA: It would be beneficial for you to look at what the scripture says about My kingdom. How does one recognize it?

Me: Sounds like a good idea, of course.

ABBA:

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

from Exodus 19 (please read all)

For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 11:45

I Am the Lord. The citizens of My kingdom are to listen to My voice, do what I say (from the heart, for what I say is from My heart and is good).

[My] throne … is for ever and ever: the sceptre of [My] kingdom is a right sceptre.

Psalm 45:6

I Am equipping them to be as I Am. In fact, if you try to be as I Am in your own strength, you will surely fail. I created you to abide in Me (John 15:7). I send My Spirit to guide you (John 16:13). Your fleshly desire to be an independent agent is of the evil one. Do not entertain his lies, which are designed to get My children to defect from My kingdom.

I Am the Truth. Those who would worship Me must worship in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) What is worship but acknowledging My sovereignty in My kingdom and your proper relationship with Me?

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.

from Psalm 22 (please read all this Messianic Psalm)

In My Son Jesus, I Am making a way, a way for salvation available to the ends of the earth, to any who will receive Him:

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40 (also Messianic – read it all, if you please)

Strength in Me is the lot of those who tarry with Me, strength not known even in the youth of men. In Me, they are changed:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

Such are the laws of My kingdom, written in the hearts of My children, every one doing My perfect will because it is right, not out of fear of retribution, but for love (1 John 4:18).

[My] kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and [My] dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Psalm 145:13

The decay that has entered the world and all flesh through sin is defeated in My kingdom. My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 3:2

None may enter without repentance. And the time for that is now (Joel 2:1):

At that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3

The downcast shall give up their depression, for My children walk in light and joy.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Those in My kingdom always do right, no matter the cost.

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:19

Woe to those who obfuscates the truth, but blessed is he who shows it by word and deed.

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

It does not matter what men deem acceptable. I Am judge.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Matthew 7:21

Lip service does not bring change, but My will is a transformation:

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:38

I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;

Matthew 8:11

I Am not willing that any should perish.

2 Peter 3:9

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

Matthew 10:7

Those who are after My own heart want the best for everyone and make the most of the time they are given.

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Matthew 11:11

For even John had doubts relating to being able to distinguish between My eternal promises, the power of the Spirit, and the merely temporal things affecting the flesh.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

Those who would, enter the kingdom by seizing upon the chance with everything that is within them.

Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. Matthew

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Matthew 13:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9

There is definitely more to the kingdom than meets the eye, for the eye has never seen the things of the Spirit.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:2-3

There are many wonderful surprises ahead!

Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field…

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Beware of the deceptions of the enemy, clearing away the resulting destruction of sin requires hard work and patience. His work tends to have residual effects which have to be battled long into the future, like tares[1] shedding seeds in a field of wheat. As Jesus’ explanation to the disciples makes clear, you must endure the children of the devil with you until I come for you. My fervent desire is that some of them will listen to you, turn, and come to Me. They can be transformed from tares – which only look like wheat until they begin to produce their toxic fruit – into real wheat by My power. Do you not realize that since the fall all were sprouted as tares? Corrupt men reproducing after their kind:

[Note 1: Tares: the bearded darnel, mentioned (only) in Matthew 13:25-30 . It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine. – from https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/tares/]

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Psalm 51:51, 1 Corinthians 6:11

He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Matthew 13:3-32

From the smallest start, work in the kingdom becomes great. I Am the Lord. Did not the Ransom of mankind spend His first night in a manger as a helpless infant?

He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”

Matthew 13:33

Never underestimate the effect your words may have when you encourage another to seek life in the Son.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matthew 13:44-46

There is nothing in the physical realm which compares to the riches of the kingdom, which I Am.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; Matthew 13:47-51

Matthew 13:47-51 (please read)

I Am going to sort the good from the bad. I Am a righteous judge.

And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

Matthew 13:52

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:19

Even so, your body, mind and emotions will respond (transform to be conformed) to My Spirit as you bring them into subjection by your own choice.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:1-4

Little children are guileless, loving, and humbly accepting their parents.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves… So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Matthew 18:23-35

Forgive. It is the way of the kingdom. All the ways of the kingdom are My ways. My nature and character are the nature and character of the kingdom. Be holy, for I Am holy. This is your kingdom calling.

Me: Wow! I had not noticed lately that Jesus had so much to say about the kingdom of heaven. Thank You Father! I love You!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

Dear Reader,
Thanks for hanging in there if you have read this far! Here is an earlier post about Covid the Cat (today’s Featured Image) and how he came to be with us.

Also, if you don’t really care for the King James version of the scriptures, I understand. They take some getting used to. I am using the KJV because it is the only version that is in the public domain (not under copyright). Please feel free to follow along in whatever version you choose! I guarantee you will benefit from the comparison anyway. – Jon

Mortal Fear Antidote

In times like these, or any other.

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 King James Version

(The featured image taken outside Larry Pearson’s metal shop in Radcliffe IA.)

Reaping the Whirlwind

Two and a half years ago I wrote a blog post called Subsidized Vandalism about the extensive new wind farm being put in near us by MidAmerican Energy. I won’t rehash that original post here. The link above will open it if you like. I took the featured photo for this post down the road from where I live on Sunday this past week. You may have heard about the “wind waste” problem related to aging wind farms. Did I mention this one is less than three years old?

I believe we are charged by God to be good stewards of His creation, though I have witnessed much done by men that has proven to the short sighted and destructive. Some short sighted and destructive behavior can easily be attributed to me. If one hangs around me long enough, though, I will be heard to say that failure to “count all the beans” if a fatal economic flaw in many projects. I would be hard pressed to imagine an undertaking where that ill wind blows more faithfully than in the wind-energy industry.

I understand that many are being – how shall I say this? – proselytized by the climate change religion whose preachers assert that we have been much worse than poor stewards of creation; but predict with certainty in their voices that we are on the verge of destroying the earth’s ability to sustain us. The preachers are often in our schools; that particular religion is apparently OK within those walls. The motivation is usually held to be greed, rather than pure malice. Those who live where there is public transportation may blame drivers of cars. Those who need a car to get to work may blame eating meat. The point seems to be that someone must be to blame. I suspect ignorance is the most prevalent root cause of casting blame. Any climate change non-believers must endure attempts to shame any who are capable of such, into giving assent to any effort that can be remotely classified as “green”. We have to save the planet at all costs, after all.

Once one discounts the existence and promise of the Creator, it becomes easy to let fear consume all hope and believe the (carefully crafted and oft repeated) propaganda that we are feeling the breath of the mercenary evil who have set themselves over us and backed us up against the final precipice of doom.

I might as well own it. You can probably tell by now, anyway. I am one of the “deniers” that drive the fearful-of-climate-change-due-to-man to distraction. There are many reasons that I take this stance. Some of them are even based on science. However, the most powerful is a promise that I find in scripture. (At least I admit that mine is a religious argument.) The promise was made to Noah after the earth was destroyed by flood. In Genesis 8:22, we find this:

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

And in Romans 3:3-4

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

I trust God with my future. You can trust Him with yours. As a Christian, I don’t even worry about the case where earth “ceases to endure”. I have other promises of my continuance and that of anyone who believes in the One who has made it possible for us to get past anything (Romans 8:38-39). I “get” that those without belief in God persist in hopeless worry. If that was my state, I would never risk getting into a car.

Enough of owning my view on climate change. Let me get back to the rant at hand.

The best numbers I have heard is that break-even for a wind turbine is around twenty years; roughly the maximum lifetime. The numbers the industry cites in public statements, however, are more like one to two years to profitability. Of course, that includes the subsidies and many other shenanigans. It is maddeningly difficult to get a straight answer about the economics. I do know that here in Iowa there are plans to raise our electric rates to subsidize more wind farms. Why, oh, why would that be necessary in a profitable industry? Iowa wind power has now exceeded 42% of total generated power in the state. We Iowans are apparently all-in.

I started this rambling post to complain about the use of material that is not economically recoverable to manufacture the massive blades. The solution of the wind industry to this problem is to plow up large swaths of western prairie to bury them, where they will never decay while the earth endures. How green does that seem to you?

Lest you come to the conclusion that I am blowing wind waste all out of proportion here are three links to articles in publications that are usually willing to go way out on the limb of veracity to be supportive of anything “green”. If you read these, you will see that even they have a hard time putting a good spin on the waste generated by the wind industry. In the Des Moines Register article, you will see that MidAmerican is creating a great deal of this waste by reworking ten-year old windfarms to install bigger turbines. I would liken this to an individual trading in a vehicle for which he still owes more than its value.

It takes a big rug to sweep all the waste under.

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/10/759376113/unfurling-the-waste-problem-caused-by-wind-energy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-05/wind-turbine-blades-can-t-be-recycled-so-they-re-piling-up-in-landfills

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2019/11/06/few-recycling-options-wind-turbine-blades-head-iowa-landfills/3942480002/

Stubborn

Me: Good morning Holy Spirit! I am perplexed by the way You told Isaiah to deliver a message (chapter 6) that Jesus later quoted in Matthew 13 to explain why He taught in parables.

Isaiah’s Commission

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Jesus’ Explanation

13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Holy Spirit: Good morning Jon! Part of the problem being addressed is willfulness. In your idiom, one might say “he didn’t want to hear it”, or some such expression implying a closed mind or heart. How does that work out in practice? The message being delivered is contrary to the belief or desire of the recipient, so he discounts it entirely.

Jesus taught in parables because they were stories that were easily remembered and contained a somewhat oblique example of the truth that He wanted to teach. This approach at least has a chance of getting past the mental defenses of the willfully disobedient to get some level of consideration. An important aspect of a parable is that it is about someone other than the hearer; it is not a direct challenge to his mistaken beliefs. Nor is is an override of the choice of the individual. He may take it or leave it; spend time musing about it, or not.

You were created with the ability to filter the information you perceive, to categorize, to make judgments as to its value and to remember what you consider important. Control of this process is mostly subconscious and is regulated by your beliefs. Filtering of information was designed to be subconscious. If it were not so, it would increase the burden instead of easing the work the attentive part of the mind must do. Taken together, your beliefs and understanding of your environment is sometimes called your worldview.

Looking inward, people have beliefs about themselves. The same filtering of perceptions takes place related to self and to one’s behavior. For example, if you believe “I’m a good person”, your are less likely to be able to determine if criticism of your behavior is valid than if you believe you are good insofar as you are submitted to the leading of Christ. No one is harder to correct than the person who is completely convinced he is right.

Me: Of course, I believe He is good, and what I do is good if it is of His leading. (Mark 10:18, John 15:5) Still, I recognize that I sometimes have a negative script running in my head. At least I may recognize it if it rises to the level of consciousness or if negative emotions get egregious enough to bring it to the forefront.

Holy Spirit: That is why the scripture tells you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). And you know from the process of learning anything difficult, that takes time and repetition. You should also recognize that as you have submitted to My leading that negativity has greatly diminished over time.

Me: You could remove it in the twinkling of an eye.

Holy Spirit: My way assures that it is obvious that it is your choice.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Iowa Caucus – Monday Night

I used to write a politically-oriented blog because I care deeply about the country that I live in. I care about the Constitution that our founders have left us. I believe the Bill of Rights is an awesome expression of the grace we have enjoyed as a people. I am passionate about trying to help elect those who care about these things too. I care about those who have served in various ways to secure and protect the freedoms that we hold dear. Those traditions go back to the very beginning.

I served six years on active duty in the US Navy myself, longer ago than I usually admit. The “featured image” for today is of one of the ships that I served on during a transit near a typhoon that was churning things up in the western Pacific (photo credit – Ralph Turner) . But I don’t limit my honor to those with military service or to our elected officials, or even to our brave first-responders, who are using their specialized skills and regularly putting their lives on the line on our behalf. As heroic as all those are, who selflessly do these important jobs, I also recognize that the mom and dad who are doing their best to instill a sense of duty and service and love of others into the next generation are also on the front lines doing work that is critical to our survival as a nation.

Today, I spent the afternoon driving around rural Iowa, delivering some last-minute materials that will be used in the caucuses in my Iowa county on Monday night. I hope the turnout is better than the one we saw last year. There was a blizzard, and it was an “off” (non-presidential) year. Perhaps folks wonder, “What difference will it make?” To me, the difference is that I meet with my neighbors and together we show that we care enough to show up. The sacrifices we make to get together are so pale when compared to those who suffered the brutal Winter and supply crisis at Valley Forge (1777-1778) with General Washington. Or how will we compare our time of discussion to the withering fire faced by those who fought their way ashore at Omaha Beach? No, ours seems like a minor contribution. I take it as important in preserving our freedoms for the next generation, none the less.

You might wonder, since this is a passion that I freely own, why I gave up my political blog. The reason is fairly simple, and it was voiced by John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I came to realize that as a nation, while we must work within our political system to do what we can, our fundamental dilemma is a spiritual one. Our diminishing state of spiritual existence probably helps explain the explosion of laws and bureaucratic regulations that have been passed to try to restrain us. Alas, the long line of legislators that we have had since our founding apparently felt the simple and direct Constitution had to be supplemented. The word “religious” used by Adams may not have exactly the same connotation in our day, as it did in his, but unless we return to our mooring as “one nation under God” as our Pledge of Allegiance has it, we will remain adrift and headed for the shoals of destruction – and all those regulations will not save us.

Heart Transplant

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:15-16

Ever ask yourself, “Why did I ever do that”? Jeremiah 17:9 gets right at the heart of the matter; more deceitful than all else and desperately sick. The link above will take you to the biblehub.com entry for that verse, where you can discover that the phrase “desperately sick” could be rendered “incurable”. That diagnosis would seem to paint us into the proverbial corner, wouldn’t it? How is one going to make good on well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions if one’s “decider” is broken with an incurable spiritual ailment?

The good news is that we are offered a spiritual heart transplant. Really, give that new heart free reign, and it can permeate the entire being, transforming and renewing everything!

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

That sure sounds like good news to me! If you haven’t made that decision yet, I pray you will put it at the top of your list and not put it off any longer.

Am I? Are you? #6


I am grateful for having made Eric’s acquaintance.

This is the sixth affirmation found on the piece of Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork that we have been working though.

I Am … More than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

My life is mercifully devoid of deadly peril most of the time. Hardship? More like occasional inconvenience. Nakedness? Hardly ever in public, except nightmares remembered from childhood where I was a helpless mannequin on display in the J. C. Penney store. I guess I was feeling sorry for the public embarrassment of the mannequins that worked there.

Persecution? Well, that is certainly on the increase. It is a plot by dark powers faithfully executed by those who follow them, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The policies of most companies have been changed to restrict open expression of convictions supporting traditional moral values. They may or may not be regularly enforced, but are a snare waiting for the unwary. Does this documentation mean your company is actually against traditional values? They could be. Probably though, they are just observant and pragmatic. They observe that if a complaint is lodged against you they are open to be sued because of your beliefs, unless they have taken a position against them. The courts have proven repeatedly to come down on the side of anyone but the one who is following convictions based on Christian belief. Christ-believers are now in a condition where one can’t work for a living and vocalize one’s traditional beliefs without taking on significant risk.

Most of this is in a still-trifling state, compared to the full aims of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This passage in Romans 8 stands ready to console, however bad it gets.

Death? I am convinced, like Paul, that death is no enemy for the Christ-follower. This doesn’t imply my sense of self-preservation has ceased to function normally. Though I know that none of us gets out of this world alive, I am sure that this existence is not all there is. Yesterday, I learned my friend Eric, who had been valiantly fighting cancer, had passed. I watched him battle the symptoms at fairly close range and fervently prayed daily, expecting his restoration. I never talked with him when I did not come away uplifted by his sense of gratitude and grace. There is no doubt in my mind that the attitude he displayed was merely an artifact of the upward road he was walking, right to the end of this phase of life. There in no end of the list of things that Eric was conquering. If you had known him, you would have seen that clearly too. Death is now one of them.

Life is in Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God. I need to be reminded at every turn that I am a conqueror over the issues of life. God has given us in the scriptures a perfect life manual, He has given us a reprieve in Jesus from the spiritual death sentence we each had earned. He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to move in the life we are called to live. Why, you might ask, would I need to be reminded that I am a conqueror over life? You can likely answer that question yourself before it is fully formed on your lips. Life is sometimes not a bed of roses. Sometimes if is filled with many of the other troubles in Paul’s list. For me, though, it is my past history as a serial abuser of the free will that God has graciously given me, doing things that I wanted to do that were not in my best interest. Why? Well, inexplicably, because I wanted to. Still, I find Him unfailingly faithful. Unerringly true to His word. Helping me to be more than a conqueror, even over life. And this is the best part, simply because He loves Me.

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Are you? Am I? #5


I am grateful for the fascinating uniqueness of every person. You, our Creator, are AWESOME!

I Am … A new creation. — 2 Corinthians 5:17

(This is the fifth entry on Christy Mitropolous’ artwork.)

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Me: Good morning Jesus!

Jesus: Good morning Jon!

Me: I want to ask a hard question.

Jesus: Yes?

Me: I was grumpy and surly last night. Even working outside on a gorgeous spring evening, I seemed incapable of proper appreciation.

Jesus: You were preoccupied with comparing your performance at work against your perception of the many demands on your time. You scarcely notice the extra-special sunset I created. Have you thought about why having more to do than you can focus on causes you stress? One of the people you met with yesterday about the likely impact of changes to an electronic controller published an email naming you an expert on the subject at hand.

Me: The guy who actually made the changes was out sick. I knew the details because he reports to me and had graciously kept me involved because he recognized the stakes were high, business wise. But to your question, I feel like a juggler who is struggling to keep all the balls in the air. The last act of my day at work was fielding a question from my manager, who asked me something I had not had time to study. I had no idea.

Jesus: When I was “in the flesh”, so to speak, I answered such a question, about the consummation of all things.

I said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. Mark 13:32

My point is, there are things it is not up to you to know. Or do.

I am glad that you recognized your attitude was not right yesterday and then brought it to Me. If your peace is disturbed, it is a red flag that something in your beliefs is not founded on the truth that I Am in control and that I Am willing to guide you through. You have a tendency to think “new creation” implies final perfection. What it means is because the power of sin is broken in Me, there is the possibility. A baby is a new creation, who has a lifetime of learning and development ahead following the process of becoming (v21) what he is created to be.

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love you!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Are you? Am I? #4


I am grateful for more Spring-like weather! Time to rake the gravel out of the grass from plowing the driveway last Winter!

The fourth statement on Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork is:

I AM – A slave to righteousness. Romans 6:18

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 16:15-23

Me: Good evening Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening Jon!

Me: My wife reminded me of Jim Richards’ definition of righteousness, as living the way things ought to be (I’m paraphrasing).

Jesus: When you were living the way you thought things ought to be, you were not righteous. Finding out My definition of the way things ought to be and living according to that in the power of the Spirit is the way to be free from enslavement to sin.

Me: I have had large swaths of my life when I agreed your way was right, but still did not or could not follow it.

Jesus: Yes, mere agreement will not suffice to transform your life. What was the word Paul used as an indicator?

Me: Obedience?

Jesus: The proof is in the outcome. Obedience is a verb. Agreement is a position. Change requires action. Obedience in your own strength is works, and as you know from experience, you will ultimately fail. Obedience operating in My strength, in the grace I have extended to you, is key; I will never fail you.

The other day, in a meeting with friends, you observed that the trajectory of your life had gone from a steady downward spiral to one that was consistently upward. There are many ways to describe the divide Paul is speaking of in this passage. It all comes down to this: will you walk with Me, or not? Many think this means asking Me to walk with them. That is not the way to freedom either.

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You’re welcome! I love you!

Christy Mitropoulos Signature