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99 and 44/100ths Percent

by yin yang Source:http://everystockphoto.s3.amazonaws.com/clean_simplicity_refreshing_19096_o.jpg

by yang yang Source

“Purity”…

We like “purity”… in our water, in our food, in our medicines, toothpaste, or other hygiene products.

But as to ourselves… our character, our morality, our spirituality, our ethics and behaviors…. well…

“Purity” is just not a cool word anymore. It’s like one of those “itchy” words, “uncomfortable” words, that make us squirm in our seats or look down at our toes when it comes up in conversation.

One of those “skewering” words too often abused by some to look down on others, as some self-proclaimed guru of “righteousness” lambastes the culture and all who engage it as “ungodly”, “unrighteous”, and “heathen”.

This is a shame… this “disconnect” between a simple word that we’re all perfectly comfortable with when relating to our water or our food… and the very same word when relating to ourselves, our minds, spirits, souls. It’s a shame, only because this still is, and always has been, an “important” word.

Purity is important, not because God will “love us more” if we’re “pure”, and “love us less” if we’re not. Purity is important because it “maximizes” us and all that is good in and for us, and “protects” us from what is harmful and toxic.

Gonna look at “purity” for a couple posts… because right now we’re looking at “means and methods” for experiencing more closely the intimate connection we have with God. Purity is an important element of clarity and transparency between our own hearts and the heart of God. But the word, the concept, has been so misused and abused that the enemy has made such strides in muddling and befuddling it… we often throw out the baby with the bath water, turning from its abuse…. and miss the critical elements of light embedded within.

For the moment, I just want to point out three simple things about “Purity” by and large, on which we most likely can all agree. This is not particularly “religious” or “spiritual” in application. This is just an observation about Purity, and its mechanics.

There are 3 ways I know of, to compromise “Purity”:

  1. Adulteration – A material may be made less dense and reduced in concentration and potency by the addition of another inert material to it. The addition may of itself do nothing harmful whatever, it simply reduces the effect of the pure substance. (e.g. Adding water to cough syrup adulterates and reduces the health effects of the medicine.)
  2. Corruption – A material may be changed in its essential nature and reduced in its effect or even rendered harmful, by the development of a second material within its mass, that had been a part of itself in potential form, but not activated until the corruption began which depended on the development of the right conditions. (e.g. Food spoils without proper preservation, temperature, or storage because of otherwise harmless organisms already present in that food, such as milk curdling or meat decomposing.)
  3. Toxification – A material may be changed in its essential nature and reduced in its effect or even rendered harmful, by the introduction of some harmful material from the outside environment, foreign to itself. (e.g. Water supply or foodstuffs can be tainted by environmental microbes or chemicals, rendering them toxic.)

These, as far as I know, are the only mechanisms for undermining and compromising purity. They are fundamental and important, and bear as much on the purity of intangible essentials, as they do on food or water. Jesus addressed them, we usually innately know them, but they are not often discussed because the entire topic has become uncomfortable.

In the next few posts, we’ll see if we can get past any discomfort, lay these out on the table, and poke around in this a bit.

Joy, grace, peace, and love to all!

The Little Monk

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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Spiritual Warfare

 

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The Journey

Sunrise CrossTherefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:1-2 ]

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Remember, O man, that: “dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

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These words, these Garden Farewell words, open Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.These were the last words we heard from the lips of God as we were clothed by His compassion, and sent forth from our access to the Tree of Life so that we did not destroy ourselves further.

Gentle Reader, if you come here often, you know that this blog is, in part, an “Experimental Laboratory” of prayer, and that together we explore new and different avenues for the experience of the Holy Spirit teaching and guiding.

The Lord is challenging me this year, as in some (not all) past years, to journey through the next 40 days towards Resurrection Sunday (Easter), in a special way. That I will discover something new and wondrous when I reach the Empty Tomb that day.

Every other time I have made this journey (sometimes terrifying or grief-filled, btw), I have traveled this road alone, or with one other for protection. This year, I invite companions, that we make each our OWN journeys, but we can do that in company if you would care to travel together.

We are headed from our homes to Jerusalem for the Passover Celebration at the Temple, before the Ark, at the Holy of Holies. I go to present my gift. I shall come away with Greater gift. I know this, for so it has ever been. But I do not present mine IN ORDER TO receive.

That is important. I do not invite you on a “Trade Caravan”. I invite you on a “Pilgrimage”.

If you would like to come along, to join this caravan, then welcome to you. Feel free to pitch your tent over there for tonight, and tie your camel or donkey up yonder. Enjoy the time, the company, and the food.

This should be a very interesting trip.

Blessings and grace to thee — The Little Monk

 

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Cabbage Patch?

Cabage Patch DollI am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. [Romans 9]

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Remember Cabbage Patch Dolls? A few years ago, no Christmas was complete without at least one such doll under the tree in nearly every American (at least) home. So cute, so squishy… and the BEST part? An Adoption Certificate! Every Cabbage Patch Kid was an orphan, officially adopted and taken into the child’s family to be loved, complete with Certificate.

How many of us heard (lol, or even preached) sermons and messages around our “adoptions as sons, joint heirs with Christ”, and saw Cabbage Patches used as illustrations? Much of my life, I have looked at these various “adoption” scriptures, and felt a bit “cabbage-like”… grateful waif, fortunate to be adopted by so gracious a King, not left bereft to wander the earth a pitiful orphan.

Yes… yes… yet… yet… it didn’t feel right. It seemed not to fit, somehow. To be adopted into God’s Family, snugged up close in and to His heart, joint heir with Christ… yes. Yes, that fit. That felt right.

But somehow, beyond that, I could never quite capture the sense of having ever been “alien”. I could capture “rebellious”. Yes. I have no difficulty identifying as a “brat”. (If you’ve followed these posts very long, you know this well.) I could relate to that, even to being a “runaway”, yes. But, I know Who created me, Who fashioned me from before my mother’s womb. Who designed me from before the beginning of time. If not He, then who? Who else could possibly have created me, if not God? So, while I could understand the “enfolding” of my adoption, I could not quite grasp my having been “orphan” in the first place.

And yet, what else could these “adoption” verses mean?

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Now, I want to be very careful here…

Prayer and Bible Study led me to a realization and conviction I found utterly amazing and life changing. THAT led me to some “theology study”, exploration and examination of commentaries and other authorities wherein I discovered that I was not alone in having seen and considered this new perspective. In fact, I was stepping into something of a small, but hotly contested, debate of some very technical historic and linguistic minutiae.

Like Don Merritt, I do not debate “any more”*. So, I just want to tell you about something I’ve come to consider true in MY universe, in MY Bible, in MY spirit and relationship with God. This truth has caused great “settling” and “peace” in me, feeling parts settle into place more comfortably than I’ve ever known before. However, as I share this, I don’t intend to debate or enter into any dispute. If your prayer life, Bible study, scholarship, or affirmation of spirit do not lead you to the same realization that mine did me, please feel free to cast this aside, and follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit for your own life. That’s really important to me. Thanks.

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OK, I was working on preparing a message, and the text was in Hebrews, and I came upon the author’s discussion of us as “sons” rather than “illegitimate children” regarding discipline. This led me to reflect on the concept of our “adoption”.  And, contrary to the need of my sermon preparation, Jesus just focused my attention deeply on this word, “adoption”, and go look it up.

The term appears in Galatians (4:5), Ephesians (1:5), and Romans (8:15, 23; & 9:4). Each time, English Bibles translate this term… “adoption”. In Greek, (and we’re not going to get lost in Greek exegesis, I promise)… in Greek, the term is “huiothesia” (various endings). StrongNotes tells us that this word is a compound translated as meaning “placing (or positioning) as a son”, and interpreted as meaning “adoption”.

Now, after looking at this word very closely, God posed a question to me. It was… “Given that Paul was a skilled lawyer, trained under Gamaliel, careful with words and concepts… did Paul discuss this word and concept as a Gentile? or as a Jew?”

At the time, I assure you, Gentle Reader, I was as confused as you might be right now, reading that. Upon further pondering, I realized that perhaps there was a “traditional Hebrew” meaning to this term “adoption/positioning as a son”, that differed in some way from our modern understanding.

To make this long story a bit shorter, I discovered that indeed there was. There’s actually quite a bit written about it, but it is “controversy”, and I’ll not present it that way. Let me just lay out two different perspectives for interpretation, and leave you to examine your own spirit (look upon your own Rose), and determine which is the better “fit” for you.

Roman Law, which evolved over time in many ways into our own Common Law, and modern law, saw “adoption” as a process by which an alien child, a child of a family outside a particular bloodline (often an orphan), was legally brought in to the lineage of a family. One family embraced and enfolded the child of another family (or no family), and they took on the status of an heir, deriving the benefits of family membership and name.

Hebrew Law, Jewish tradition, however, has a different process for “son placing” than this. This term, to Paul as a Jew, was vastly different than “taking in an orphaned waif”. This term was used to mean something much closer to “investiture”. Each family had a patriarch, head of the family. When he was ready, and when he felt his selection ready, he would select his “heir”, his “legatee”, to follow him as head of the household. It is reported that this was most typically the first son (the double-portion son), though he did not have to be from inside the family.

The most worthy son was generally selected, typically at about 30 years of age, formally laid hands on his shoulders and publicly identified as the “heir”. He was “placed in the position of sonship” as fully adult, fully competent, fully selected, and now… fully empowered by the father to do business in the name of the family and commit the family by his word. This was not bar mitzvah, the “coming to adulthood” of all males at 13. This was the assumption of legal primacy and legacy over a family, the assumption of inheritance. Interestingly, this could be of a biological heir, or otherwise. Most commonly, of course, the firstborn son. But it could be an unrelated son, “adopted” and elected by the father, to head the family.

* I just spent considerable time out hunting down footnotes and such to back that up… but realized… No, that’s not what I’m doing here. For those who want to study the technical theology of this, that’s fine. The references are out there. Just explore the Hebrew traditions surrounding the recognition of the principal heir, the holder of the legacy, and you’re good. But this is not a “term paper”, and I shall not make this into one. *

Here is what resulted in and for me, from this study. The term “joint heir with Christ” took on an entirely new meaning. Jesus alone “earned” the role of Preeminent Heir. There is no question possible, of His Primacy of Place as the Firstborn, Only Begotten Son of God. What amazes me… alongside that… alongside His determination to rescue us and bring us life in place of death…

As if that were not wondrous ENOUGH… He, the Father, and Spirit… have chosen out of their Infinite Love and Grace to “invest us fully” as His Sons… “son place us as joint heirs” with Christ HIMSELF! There are no words for this. No words that make sense of this for me. He raises us as fully His children in His house, and, when we attain “maturity”, when we are “ready” or “finished”, and the tutors and managers have done their work… He is prepared to invest us with the authority and endorsement to “do business in the family name, in His Name.”

But NOT as “red-headed step-children”. Not just as “foundling neighbor kids”. Not as “homeless waifs left on a doorstep”. We were “related family” already, “natural born” to Him. He created us, He sustains us always, no other. But, when He “adopts”, He takes us by the shoulders, declares us ready to claim our legacy, authority, responsibility, and accountability… and sets us on our feet, now to conduct the Family Business alongside, in, and through, Jesus the Son Himself.

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This “paradigm shift” has been very significant for me. Not so much as to what I DO… that has not changed. But it has been significant in the increased intimacy and closeness I’ve experienced with God. In some way I cannot explain, it was rather like I was always told I was an “alien”, though I never sensed that… and then suddenly I’ve found I was not. It’s like a tension that used to be there, and has now disappeared.

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Whichever way one looks at “adoption”, Gentle Reader… marvel at the wonder of it. Who could possibly imagine such a thing? That God Himself would order reality such that we, plain old you and me, might be adopted as Joint Heir with Christ, Him as Firstborn among Many Brethren. No words for that… just fills me with awe… Isn’t that something?

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* “Why I don’t debate any more” Don Merritt, Life Reference, October 13, 2013.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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The Gift Box

The BoxIt was Christmas Morning at the Magic Monastery, and all the monks were filled with joy and excitement. A wondrous Christmas Tree stood in the Great Hall, and St. Nicholas had come and gone the earlier night, leaving beautifully wrapped gifts for all the brethren.

I could scarcely contain my excitement as my name was called and a brother brought me a gorgeous gift box with a great scarlet bow on the top and a card reading, “Merry Christmas, Little Monk, from Your Father.”

“What could it be?” I wondered, as I shook the box as discretely as possible. It made no sound. In fact, it had no sensation at all. It seemed… empty… which disturbed me a bit. I began to worry.

Was the box truly empty? Had I displeased the Father this year? Had I misbehaved? Sinned? Treated others as less than sacred? Had I disobeyed Him, or crossed His will? These fears shot through my heart like lances of ice.

I thought through the year, all my challenges, temptations, falls… my shortness of temper, impatience, mistrust, lack of faith… my carelessness, my selfishness, my failures in grace. For just a moment, it seemed overwhelming. Of COURSE, this box was empty! What ever made me think that I deserved a Christmas present from the Father of Lights? I was, and had been all year, an utterly undeserving child. Why should I even bother to open the box?

I sat, dejected.

Then, my name was called to open my gift, as all the brethren sat around me with smiling encouragement and the joy of grace on their faces. I wanted to weep. I wanted to tell them my box would be empty, for I’d earned no gift from the Father this year.

But an older monk, a few seats away, just nodded and smiled at me, as though he could see deep into my heart.

“Ah, Little Monk… you are filled with fear. Do not be afraid. All of our boxes are light. Be brave, Little Monk. Trust the Father, and open your box. See what lies within. You cannot see with eyes of fear, look inside with eyes of trust,” his gentle voice intoned, as he encouraged me.

So I took a deep breath, removed the bow and wrappings, and found a carved wooden chest with the most beautiful scrollwork engraved all around, inlaid with silver and gold. The box itself took my breath away. And when I opened it…

There was not “nothing”. Within the Box… was “Everything”. Inside the Box was all I ever needed or would ever need, all my friends and the family of God, all joy, beauty, truth, pleasure, and beyond everything else… love. There were no words to describe… either the Gift, or my heart at receiving it.

As I gazed, rapt in awe, at the contents of my Box, a scroll seemed to float upwards among the infinite contents, and catch my eye. I grasped the scroll and drew it out, as the Box sat warmly on my lap.

“Read it,” the old monk prompted, as the brethren looked on.

The Scroll said: “My dear son, Little Monk. Merry Christmas, and enjoy this Box and its contents in this new life, this new beginning, this new year that I give to you. Never forget, My presents do not come because you deserve them, or because you have earned them. I do not ‘compensate’ My children as employees. I, your Father, give My children GIFTS, simply because I Love you, and for no other reason. I Love you, I seek only your good, always… and I keep My promises. You can always trust to that.

“Remember this, written by My great musician… ‘Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.’

“This Box is My ultimate Gift and contains all other gifts. The name… is Grace. You delight in Me, Little Monk. That is mutual. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

And the scroll was signed, “Your Loving Father.”

All around me, the brethren smiled, nodded, and simply said, “Amen”.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized

 

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The Problem Is…

I think I’ve figured it out…

“Figured what out?” you ask? Glad you asked.

Now, I’m hoping I’m not just having a backsliding attack of “Omniscience”… (see earlier post). But I’ve been wracking my brain for a while now, trying to figure out what’s wrong. What’s wrong with the world? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with the Church? What’s wrong with my clients? What’s wrong with life?

All that.

I know I share those questions with a lot of people. Grandparents, pastors, teachers, ministers, moms and dads, civil servants, even teenagers…

A lot of the time, I hear people opt for the answer, “Culture”. That what is wrong with all those things is our “Modern Culture. The degradation of moral values due to the proliferation of electronic media, materialism, instant gratification, television, internet, etc. etc. etc.” Dunno about you, Gentle Reader, but I hear this argument all the time. Pulpits, talk shows, you name it….

Never been a big fan of this position myself. For one thing, “culture” is inescapable. Anyone’s culture is comprised of the norms, values, and mores… the folkways and traditions… of a particular people in a particular time and place. If you or I suddenly found ourselves in 18th Century Japan, we would not “fit with the culture”, we would be considered “odd”, and if we refused to adapt we would be considered, at best, “handicapped”. Religious practices are an element of one’s culture, but do not comprise a culture in and of themselves.

Nope, never been a big proponent of “throwback vintage” philosophy… “If only life were like the ‘good old days’ (whenever those were)… everything would be fine.” OUR “good old days” include things like Viet Nam, World War II, the Nazi Holocaust, the Russian Revolution, The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, The Great Influenza Epidemic of 1911-1918… just TONS of “good ‘ol stuff” I’d just as soon give a miss, thanks.

Somehow, deep down, I’ve always known (even as a little nipper) that the key to “what’s wrong with stuff”, wasn’t a matter of culture, nationality, or era. It was deeper than that, simpler than that…

And finally, today, as I helped another counselor understand their client’s needs… it just slowly dawned on me. God just rang, in that still small voice He uses sometimes, and I felt such a solid affirmation on this that I knew I had it. I had the answer. And it was now, for me, forever more “figured out”.

The answer is deceptively simple, and I think I’ve even mentioned it here before… God’s said it to me before… long about New Year’s or so I think.

What’s wrong with…. fill in the blank?

We are systematically losing our sense of the Sacred.

We are raising entire generations without ever communicating to them the truth that, being created in and by the Holy Hands of God, ALL creation… ESPECIALLY PEOPLE… wondrously and marvelously fashioned in and by His Potter’s Hands… are SACRED!!!

A friend told me today how amazing she found it, that people all around her were such “Takers”. That their entire value systems were based on the presumption that they were entitled to take as much from as many as they could, without being stopped. This doesn’t just mean illegal activity… this is a worldview. This is the worldview of entitlement… that for whatever reason or justification someone puts on that… education, occupation, breeding, good judgment, or just blind luck… that that person is innately better than someone who does NOT possess those traits, characteristics, or blessings. And, in that view, the “superior” is entitled to more than the “inferior”, and even entitled to take what “lesser beings” have. She noted that people were incredibly obsessed with only the “Now!”, no past or future, just what they could have and get for themselves right now. .

Some of this rang with me. Some of this didn’t. I admitted that the Lord has been spending many many months now, helping ME learn to focus on the “Now”. But in a very different way than she meant it. God focuses me intensely on the “Now”, because THIS is the only moment we have… to be Present with Him… to love Him… to flow His love and grace forward to others. That so much of theology and religion loves to focus on the “then” (in the past), or on the “out there” (in the future in heaven)… that we utterly neglect the Now… this moment… this person, this relationship, this love, this grace, this blessing, this mercy. It is so easy to be a “theoretical Christian”, rather than a “practical one”. James addresses this with eloquence.

I told my friend I knew what she meant, but I didn’t so much see it as a problem of the “Now”, as a problem of the “Take”, rather than “give”. “Now” is the moment God gives us, gifts us with, to pour ourselves out in blessing to others. It is NOT the moment to exploit others and the world for our own use, pleasure, gratification. That is the essence of Vampirism… to draw life into oneself at the expense of another. We are to provide others with waters of life, welling up from an inexhaustible spring within us…. not draining others dry.

Told her just what’s being said here now, that it seems that the single, simple, “problem” with… well… EVERYTHING really… is the loss of the awareness of the sacred… and, with that… the treatment of all things, and people, as “profane” and insignificant.

Whether on the world stage, in the national arena, our communities, our homes, our workplaces… when is the last time you saw true acknowledgment and reverence to the sacredness of anything or anyone at all?

I’d love to say our Churches were a key to reversing this trend… the lynchpin of the solution. I’d love to say that… but is it not the case that for all too many churches, we are not so much part of the solution as we are of the problem?

Oh yes, we may hear the WORD “Sacred” within such hallowed halls… but listen more closely and see WHO is sacred. God… yes, certainly. And then “Our Clergy”… ok. And then “OUR Members”… all right. And then MAYBE “Other People Like Us, who Think like us, who worship like us!” And… that’s about it. Anything and anyone not “In Here” in “Our Sacred Space With US”… is soiled, profane, sinner, wrong… to be shunned or “ministered to” with rubber gloves, spiritual disinfectant, and a ten foot pole. THEY… are NOT Sacred. They will BECOME Sacred when they “get like us”, “sort themselves out”, “surrender to us”, and “enter our sacred space”.

I’m not saying this is true of Your Church, or My Church. I’m just saying it is true of a multitude of churches I see, hear, and pass through. Oh, you won’t see it on their bulletins or leaflets… but you’ll see it in their foyers and doorways when “the wrong sort” deigns to try to attend. You’ll see it in their deacons’ or ministry meetings. And you’ll CERTAINLY see it in their Business Meetings. When I trained as a “Program Evaluator”, we were taught to “read everything, all the promotional material a program wants to hand you. But, when you want to know what their REAL values are, don’t labor over their ‘Philosophy of Care’ or their ‘Official Statement of Values’… spend your time analyzing their Budget. THAT’s where you see the Board’s real Values reflected.” That’s true of more than community programs.

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Anyhow, just thought I’d share these reflections with you, Gentle Reader. Want to change the world? Treat EVERYONE as the sacred child God has fashioned them to be. Sinner or saint, they are more likely to respond to love and respect than to anything else. Let young people know, there is not only a “God out there”, but that He is here, too… and we are surrounded by the wonder of the sacred.

And if, just maybe, you happen to be in or near one of those “There’s US…. and There’s THEM” type Churches? Well, maybe you can help them remember who Christ came to heal, to save, and to live among. (The sick, the sinners and lost, US!) How amazing is it that the King of All, the Lord of Hosts, would lay all that down to come be Light in OUR darkness.

How fabulous… that while we yet rejected and despised HIM… He and His Father freely chose to treat us as Sacred.

I’m yet such a work in progress, Gentle Reader. Keep me in your prayers, and thank you! Blessings and Grace to thee!

Little Monk

 

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Peace from Conflict

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
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Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father,We are the clay, and You our potter;And all of us are the work of Your hand.
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Romans 9:19-24 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

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Have you ever sought peace in the midst of conflict? Ever sat watching the news on TV and think, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Whether we think about the world at large, or the nation, or our county and town, or our families, or even our church… we are often faced with the reality that we so easily hurt and wound one another. And we wonder, why? How do we do this? Or, more to the point, how do we STOP doing this?

I teach, preach, and counsel in my vocation. And recently I found myself praying just to understand… how to be a peacemaker… how to help heal wounded hearts… how do we stop wounding one another?

God is just so incredible. You wouldn’t think He could answer such a prayer, but He did. He showed *me* at least, how I could become a peace bringer, and avoid ever again wounding another by my carelessness, arrogance, or malice.

It started with John 14:27… showing me that He, and He Alone, brings peace. That *I*, for one, tend to hurt another when I am “troubled” or “fearful”. When I myself am calm, at peace, self-assured… I seldom if ever lash out. I am unthinking and hurtful when I am anxious, stressed, worried, or otherwise fearful about a situation or circumstance. In Christ, when I am focused on my servanthood in and to Him, rather than on my own self-centered agenda, I have the “resources” to be a peace bringer. Without Him, I don’t stand a chance.

Next, God showed me His name as “Potter”. Whether the Jeremiah passages, or Isaiah here, or the Romans passages… GOD HIMSELF fashions every person who ever has been, or ever will be, born.

And He really HELD me here for a long time. Think about that a moment. Ever watched a Potter? Really?

I mean, there’s LOTS of way to MAKE STUFF, if that’s all He were about. Blacksmithy, woodworking, carpentry, even stone sculpting. Everything else uses “tools”… the crafter manipulates “tools” to shape the material.

Not so with the Potter. The Potter fashions His creations with His naked hands. (Did you ever see the Movie “Ghost”? If not, you may want to check out the scene on YouTube, accompanied by “Unchained Melody”, starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. It is sensual and intimate, so here’s your “mature audiences” warning. But the scene has deep meaning as well.) It is that “intimacy” that is my point! No other form of “fabrication” so intimately connects the artist with the product as wet clay pottery. There is deep involvement, love, CONTACT… for God to fashion us from clay.

As He showed me this, The Lord said, “Those hands… those hands fashioning you… those are MY hands! Considering Who I am… the Holiness in these hands… how holy is that vessel I craft?”

I cannot explain what happened, so you, Gentle Reader, will just have to bear with me here, but as I simply pondered this… sat and soaked in this imagery and in His question… the most incredible realization just seemed to steal over me like sunlight creeping forth beyond a shadow…

“We are SACRED!”

Me, yes. But not only me, of course. EVERYONE so crafted. Every person on Earth, from the beginning of time to the very end… everywhere… fashioned from before the beginning by the Holy Hands of God… thought of and loved from before the womb. Sacred vessels… fashioned specifically and individually, unique, by the Mind and Hands of God… designed to be a suitable dwelling for He Himself, The Lord of Hosts!

How sacred is that? How holy is that?

There is much speculation these days about the fate of the Ark of the Covenant after the Babylonian Captivity. It captures even the attention and interest of the non-believing world. But just imagine if you can, for one moment… Imagine the Ark were found. Imagine that it were placed on a world tour as the Golden Mask of Tutankhamun was a number of years ago. How many people would come and wait hours or days on line to simply VIEW it? How sacred would we take it? How many pilgrims would travel to be in its presence and pray? Would we TOUCH IT? Would we dare?

And yet, the Ark, sacred as it is… was fashioned by the hands of man. (God’s instruction and blueprints, no doubt… but still, men’s hands). And the Ark contains (or contained) a pot of manna, the rod of Aaron, and the tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Shekinah, the Radiance and Glory of God, would shine forth at times from above the mercy seat atop the Ark, seen by the Children of Israel. Sacred? Supernatural? Incredible? Without the slightest doubt! YES!

God just “ramped this up” as a realization in my heart, mind, spirit as He showed me this incredible Ark and all He did with it. It was that sort of moment of awestricken reverence that hits us from time to time in prayer and may (physically) drive us to our knees, but CERTAINLY spiritually bows our heads before our Awesome God…

And right there… suddenly… BAM! It all changed. It wasn’t the Ark anymore… not a vessel for the most sacred artifacts man had ever preserved from His relationship with God…

It was… a person. Me, you, the next door neighbor, the loud boisterous kid who lives down the street and leaves his toys out on the road, the irritating cougher who sits on the pew behind us, and even the schizophrenic bicycle peddling homeless guy who wanders all over town.

Each of us! ALL of us! Sacredly fashioned, not by the hand of man, but the very hand of GOD! Destined not to be lost in the recovery from a military conquest by Babylon, but destined for eternity and Union with God Himself. Vessel not for holy relics of momentary divine encounters, but vessel for the Living Presence of God Himself in and with us… Intimate Immediate Presence… here and now.

Gentle Reader, it is difficult even to type these words for the power of this simple moment of “realization”. Even to “recall” this lesson, to chronicle it here, is to feel the magnetic pull of His presence trying to draw me again into the worship and wonder of it all.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I haven’t been the same since. If THAT is what we are… if THAT is how sacred we are… if THAT is how God sees us… if THAT is how loved and treasured we are, that Our Heavenly Father would send His Incredibly Beloved Son to live, bleed, die, and rise again simply to rescue and renew such children for His adoption, such vessels to hold Him Himself…

How can I ever dare to wound or injure such a child? How can I treat so sacred a creation with contempt, or disrespect? Frankly, how can I even LOOK UPON such a creation with less than the utmost reverence?

And it’s not a matter of whether someone is, or is not yet, a Believer! If a Believer, that is wondrous! For they now fulfill the purpose of their creation, and can grow in grace, love, power, and authority to be about the Kingdom and Family Business! Wonderful! But ALL these vessels are sacred… because of the Hands Who fashioned them, the love in which they are held and sustained in creation, and the price paid to redeem them.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Conflict? Impossible! Not for me anymore. People are just too sacred for that.

And I realized, this was the point. This is why The Lord chose this means to answer my question. People can disagree. Even strongly so. Peter and Paul didn’t see eye to eye on everything. But neither of them EVER violated the sacredness of the other. This is what I needed to learn.

We cannot wound and injure one another. Why? Because God said not to. (End of “the reason why”).

Now, once the obedience and authority are understood… God has no problem explaining that He has made each person sacred, and we are simply to treat sacred realities with reverence. I can disagree with someone without disrespecting them. I can hold a strong conviction contrary to that of another without devaluing or demeaning them, either directly or by ridiculing their position.

Jesus sort of wound this whole session down summarizing thus:

“Little Monk… I’ve commanded you three things only: Love God absolutely, without remainder, and with all you are and have. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. NOW. Child… you know exactly why We command this! It’s because ALL of that is sacred! You will love all that is sacred, and treat all with reverence!”

I had a teacher once, long ago, who tried very hard to show and teach me this. Decades later… finally I get it.

* sigh * Sometimes, I’m not a quick study! Pray for me now and again! Still a work in progress!

Little Monk

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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