As You Want…

I am grateful to have the Word of God to hear and the Spirit of God to guide. I can scarcely imagine the universe that some believe exists by some innumerable set of random variations. (That started from what, exactly?)


“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Jesus, Matthew 7:12


Me: Good afternoon Jesus!

Jesus: Good afternoon Jon!

Me: I didn’t mean for it to be afternoon before speaking with You in this journal entry. I went out to plow the snow drifts that accumulated last night, and it was a much bigger job than I expected. Beautiful, though. Thanks for the trio of young deer that ran by, heading North. They were lovely as well. Your creation is full of Your magnificence! Everywhere I look, there is reason for awe and amazement!

Jesus: You are welcome.

Me: Lately my company has been making a distinction in their statement of the “Golden Rule”, that we should treat others the way that they want to be treated. They made that assertion without any further explanation, as though it was self-evident. That has kind of bothered me, because it seemed a modification of my understanding of what the scripture says. I am grateful to You for showing me that I was wrong about that and that my perspective was actually a self-centered one.

Jesus: Yes, I thought it was high time that you had that sorted out. The difference is, of course, seeing it from the perspective of the person you are treating however you are treating them. You are the one who knows how you want to be treated and if you assume that the way that you want to be treated is the way that they want to be treated then you have not afforded them the same freedom as you have exercised over your own desires.

Me: Treating them how they want to be treated instead of how I want to be treated requires me to find out how they want to be treated.

Jesus: Yes.

Me: That is not always easy.

Jesus: It requires building a relationship and being sensitive to their reactions to you.

Me: That seems pretty hard. It certainly is not possible if my focus is on myself.

Jesus: The Spirit is given to guide you into all the truth.

Me: You are saying that truly understanding others is the work of God, aren’t You?

Jesus: Yes. The work of God in you. … and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover. – Ecclesiastes 8:17

Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:28-29

Me: Thank You Jesus! I am grateful to You for the things you tell me. I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Advertisements

Jesus, our Way

I am grateful for Jesus, our way.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’” 2 Samuel 7:16 (Samuel speaking to David; Jesus is the fulfillment.)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

Me:Good morning Father!

ABBA:Good morning Jon!

Me: Thank You for the promises You have fulfilled in Jesus!

ABBA: There is an aspect of Jesus being the way that I want you to consider more deeply. Obviously, Jesus’ death in your place paid the legal debt you owed because of sin. (Death because of sin announced in the garden – Genesis 2:17; explicitly countered in Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ) He is the way to escape the deadly consequence of what you have done because He already endured your just deserts.

Besides that, I want you to think of “way” in the sense that Robert Frost used it in his verse about his travels. I want you to think in terms of the process of life, one thing leading to another; one day’s choices building on the decisions laid down the day before to stand as the foundation supporting today. When Jesus said, “I Am the way”, he also meant that His life is our highest example. He marks the way in the manner that a path guides our footsteps to the destination that He intends. A path does not guide one who does not walk on it. Remember Frost’s line, “ And looked down one as far as I could; To where it bent in the undergrowth;”. Reaching the destination requires continuing to put one foot in front of the other until the end of the journey is attained. In just that way, every step in your life is under your control. You can follow Jesus in the way, or you can turn aside and trudge into the woods. It is really always up to you, step by step, choice by choice.

The truth (I Am the truth) is clarifying. As the refiner’s fire causes the dross to rise to the top so it can be removed, walking with Jesus in the way does that sort of purification. When the scripture says “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, it is speaking of choices you make about that to do with your mind. Here is a signpost along that path: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:8; with the transformation noted in Romans 2:12 as a result and abundant life as the destination of this way (I Am the life).

Me:Thank you Father! I love You!

ABBA: You are welcome! I love you!

Wall Paradox?

I am grateful to be able to stay home today, to just watch it snow and not have to travel anywhere.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:26-28

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; – John 17:22

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. – Ephesians 2

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. – Galatians 5:17

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. – Matthew 10 (v35 quoted from Micah 7:6)

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

Me: Good morning Jesus!

Jesus: Good morning Jon!

Me: I pasted a lot of scriptures in the beginning of my journal entry for today. It seems the Spirit was leading from one to another in a trail of connections. I’m not sure I understand. There seems to be a paradox embedded in there.

Jesus: What kind of paradox?Me:Well, I thought at first, it was all verses about unity and seemingly in agreement with Your prayer for oneness John 17:22.

There is even Paul’s discourse in Ephesians 2 about the breaking down of the “barrier of the dividing wall” apparently segregating Jew and Gentile.

Jesus: That is not quite right. Let’s talk about that first.

Me: What is not quite right?

Jesus: What the dividing-wall divided. Paul was, in fact talking to Gentiles about their having been brought in by my having broken down the “enmity” which represents the thing that the law was pointing out: God is holy and man is sinful. Sin is therefore a definitive division between God and man; the ordinances of the law offering continual proof of the inability of men to keep them – that is, making plain which side of the wall one is on. Paul says explicitly in that passage in Ephesians 2 that I, in My flesh, “abolished” that enmity, that division. The enmity I abolished is the one between God and man. In My flesh, I bore your sin on the cross that it should no longer have legal power over you. He was telling the Ephesians that the same provision I made to bring the Jew in, made a way for them to the brought in as well. There is no difference in the provision. It is one and the same act. So, Jew and Gentile are joined in that they can choose God’s side of the wall.

Look extremely carefully. I did not break down the wall. I broke down the barrier that the wall presents. I made a way (Isaiah 43:19). I AM the way (John 14:6). “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (John 5:24).

This is incomprehensible if you lose sight of the fact that God is Spirit (John 4:24) and sinful man is dead to spiritual things (Ephesians 2:1). The nature of the “barrier of the dividing wall” is death (spiritual followed by physical). The death wrought in man by sin is what separates from God who is the very essence of life. I Am the life (John 14:6).

The rest of the verses the Spirit led you to have to do with the fact that I have not removed your ability to choose your actions while you are still in your physical body. Those verses say clearly that the evidence of that truth is plainly seen; My word sharply marking the division. But if you choose Me, if you choose to walk in the Spirit, then your life can become a fulfillment of My prayer for unity with Me. And if you are one with Me, then you will be one with all others who are one with Me.

Me: Thank You Jesus! Thank You for explaining! I love You!

Jesus:You are welcome! My pleasure! I love you!

Finding

I am grateful for peace with You! I am grateful that You were pleased to go to such extraordinary lengths to bring peace between You and all of us. The most extraordinary lengths that have ever been extended at any time!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. – Luke 2:10-16

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
The angels said to the shepherds, “… you will find”. Did they have to search many animal shelters in Bethlehem? Did they have to poke around the ox and donkey lots of strangers? Were they risking being accused of being thieves, creeping around in the dark?

Jesus:
I cried for them when they came by. The other shelters were silent.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Me:
Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus:
You are welcome! I love you!

trough (not like this picture)

I am grateful that You laid aside Your glory and majesty to graciously serve us in our helpless dilemma, becoming helpless yourself that You might rescue us.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:6-7

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
I am prone to think that I need some kind of position of authority to make a difference, that I would have to be in charge of something. What authority does an infant in a feed trough have? Yet that is the way You came and You have made all the difference. I love You!

Jesus:
I love you! And that is why I came in the way that I came. I want you to make a difference and know that it is not your power or authority or circumstance that makes it possible to achieve the goal set before you.

Coming to Grips with Mortality

A few months ago…

…an F3 tornado ripped through my place of work toward the end of my workday.  Though we were spared any loss of life or life-threatening injuries,  the company made it clear that we all had access to the company chaplains and counselors, and suggested that we managers keep an eye out for signs of traumatic stress in those under our charge.

With two manufacturing plants destroyed and hundreds of personal vehicles totaled, I expected there might be some financial stress, but really, except for a handful who were treated and released at the local hospital, we had all come through physically fine. This seemed clearly miraculous in view of the devastation wrought by the storm.

A good month later, during a monthly one-on-one conference session with one in my group, I was surprised that this person had actually written out a pretty textbook description of post-traumatic-stress symptoms he had been dealing with.  So much for my powers of observation, I had been completely missing it, even though I thought I was paying attention.

I reiterated the availability of counselors in an email and copied one of them in on the conversation.  This younger fellow had not followed through with the counselor a week later, which was his prerogative,  but it still got me to thinking further.

The company recognized the possibility of these traumatic issues, but I felt no effect whatever.  Why was that?  Was it something resulting from military training and the six years I served in the US NAVY? Somehow, that just didn’t seem like the reason.  Was I simply in denial?

When did I first have to deal with my own mortality?  It dawned on me as I considered, that I was pretty young.

Most my age will remember the cold-war drills at school, the patently ridiculous duck-and-cover practice.  These things affected kids all across the country with angst about a nuclear war we were ill-prepared to even imagine. The news media amplified the worries.  Every county courthouse had signs pointing to the fallout shelter in the basement.

As I thought more carefully, though, I remembered that in my particular part of the country, because it was sparsely populated, the US government decided to locate their first widely-deployed Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system, based on the Atlas missile.  Many worried that these installations made our otherwise-remote area a high value target. Perhaps they did.  But over the course of a very few years, it became clear that we were in more danger from mishaps with our own missiles than from those of the other Cold-War participants.

Timeline:

Attitudes

As common as the school drills across the nation were for my generation, in my particular locale, none could miss the arms race and the often open silo blast doors that could be seen on the 70 mile drive from Portales to Roswell NM along highway 70.  The emergency response to the explosions was hard to miss also. The explosions were covered in the local newspapers without giving much real information.  As I recall the gist of my parents talk at the dinner table, the military would only confirm what everyone obviously already new from observation and reports from those civilians nearest to the damaged silos.

Holey Work

When My dad started working on the family fallout shelter, that was hard to miss too.  He used our farm tractor and front-end loader as deep as it was useful.  He talked to a contractor friend about borrowing a backhoe, but the impetus of the Cuban missile  crisis was short-lived and there was still harvesting to do.  The hole next to our well house gaped unmolested  in the arid Eastern New Mexico prairie for the next 20 months.

Boys seem to have a penchant for constructing hideouts and forts.  My brother and I had a habit of making them in the ground by digging a hole  and covering it with salvaged boards.  This was probably not the safest activity for us, though the holes were seldom very deep.  It really annoyed my dad, who had to remember where these pitfalls were if he walked around our ranch after dark.

When the fourth missile exploded in its silo in Frederick Oklahoma, putting my brother and I to work in the bomb shelter pit probably seemed to my dad like a natural solution to the random-hole problem.  We were clearly experienced excavators. 

We dutifully labored under the June sun in the fifteen foot square pit. I wore a white-painted army helmet liner to keep the sun off of my head. The hole was already three feet deep when we started.  The top soil was thin, probably less than a foot. Below was only caliche rock.  It would yield only to a pickaxe, the only useful tool available to us. Given enough effort, a shovelful could be loosed to be thrown laboriously out of the hole. We proved wholly inadequate to the task.

I give this level of detail to take us back to my original point about coming to grips with one’s mortality.  We could not work with shovel and pick in the  slowly deepening depression without the realization that it was like digging your own grave.  A chasm where one would only be forced to huddle if the world was poisoned above. The information about the half-life of nuclear material makes it clear even to ten year old boys that coming back out of a finished shelter would not ever be sunshine and roses. And we could not even finish the hole for it.

No Different, Really

I had to recognize that like my team mate at work.  I had to come to grips with the possibility of my own demise and had to deal with it emotionally. It’s just that my recognition came gradually at the age of ten and his came suddenly a little later in life.  I also have to remember that I always have the comfort described in Psalm 23:4 which others may not have found.

 

Polarization

Mahaska Morning

I am grateful to have the opportunity to commune with You, Holy Spirit!

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ – Jeremiah 29:11

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. – John 16:13

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
The enemy, I know, is constantly waging a propaganda war, detracting from the message of Truth and hope. He even has his mouthpieces spouting that their particular lie is the truth, that we should be incensed about whatever they are harping about and revolt against that which, I can often see, is proceeding according to Your plan.

Holy Spirit:
This is not new. It has been this way since he showed up in the garden to tempt Adam and Eve. Jesus spoke of it in Jerusalem:

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44

Those who will turn their hearts to Me and put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6) will be able to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one by the shield of faith. As the schemes of the devil progress, you will continue to see stronger polarization in beliefs. I am watching over My Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). I say I am working a plan to provide for your future and to give you reason to hope. Have I not said it, and will it not come to pass (Numbers 11:23, Psalm 33:9, Isaiah 55:11)? Those who are open to Me will have the opportunity to walk in the Truth that I Am revealing to them constantly.

Those who reject My voice, will be like those Jesus was speaking to in John 8. Their hearts are hardened. This was predicted:

“Son of man, you are living in a rebellious house. They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house. – Ezekiel 12:2

Me:
Thank You Holy Spirit! Thank You for Your guidance, for revealing the truth and the promise of the future, for giving hope! My faith is in You, God, for You are good and nothing that stands against You will prevail! I love You!

Holy Spirit:
You are welcome! I love you!