Showing posts with label metaphor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label metaphor. Show all posts

Thursday

Don't Look At The Waves

Matthew 14 tells this story.

As soon as the meal was finished, [Jesus] insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

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That’s kind of the season we’re in, isn’t it? An awful lot of wind coming against us, battering us with waves of nasty stuff in the news. And us, trying to walk on the water to Jesus.

When we look at him, we’re in good shape. But when we look at the nasty stuff that the world is throwing at us, that the media is shouting at us, it’s easy to lose our nerve and to sink. We end up crying out for help.

But while that’s embarrassing (and we get incredibly soaked by the waves and scared) and uncomfortable, it’s not such a bad thing to get rescued by Jesus from sinking, I don’t suppose.

A Very Messy Narrow Way


I’ve been reflecting on something interesting recently.

I have some children, and now they have children. And of course, once upon a time, I was a young child myself.

All of these children have the experience of birth in common. A few children take the short cut: someone opens things up and brings them from a world of comfortable, constricted darkness into bright lights and loud noises and then spanks them on the butt. Terribly confusing.

But all the rest take the longer route: their world of comfortable, constricted darkness gets more and more crowded. Then the real pressure comes, and their world gets terribly tight, insane amounts of pressure.

And then suddenly all the pressure is gone, and we’re in this wide open space. This guy smacks us and somebody else scrubs us up, and then there’s all that cuddling.

But it’s never that tight, never that constricted, never that narrow a place ever again. We can do anything, we can go anywhere, though it might be a while before we master the right skills.

This is where these curious thoughts have been taking me:

My life in Christ is sort of like that. Somebody who knows what he’s talking about said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life.”

For some reason, this reminds me of the birth process. Narrow is that gate, and difficult is that way which leads to life. And messy. It’s really messy.

But after the mess of birth, oooooh how much freedom. My world is never again that tight, never that constricted, never that narrow a place ever again. We can do anything, we can go anywhere, though it might be a while before we master the right skills to get around and to be less messy.

Yes, the gate into the Kingdom is narrow. And let’s be honest: it can be pretty messy, too. But once I’ve passed the gate, things in our life in the Kingdom are a whole lot less about “Thou Shalt Not,” than it is about “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

A lot of us have grown up with parents and preachers and other folks who have regularly slapped our hand and said, “Don’t touch!” or warned us not to try this thing or believe that thing. And there are some things that we should maybe not touch yet. Apparently I tried to drive my dad’s car when I was two, and had just crawled out of making mud pies. For some reason, that didn’t go over so well.

Yes, there are some things that we’re not ready for (don’t try to drive when you’re two). Yes, there are some things that would distract us from what’s best (don’t stuff yourself full of cookies just before dinner).

But all in all, there’s WAY more “yes and amen” than “do not touch” in the Kingdom of God.

Go forth. Explore. Discover your freedom.


New Respect for the Word of God


I used to proudly and unquestioningly hold to a particular standard of belief that I now find myself questioning.  Some will likely call me a heretic for this. Heck, back then, I would have called these questions heretical!

The reason for questioning is simple: I live in the 21st century, among a highly industrialized, aggressively secular global community. I don’t live among a first century community of farmers in a religiously-dominated culture, or among a bronze-age nomadic society. I marvel that I didn’t catch this sooner.  

And with this in mind, I’ve found myself concluding that “the most literal translation” of the Bible won’t actually be helpful to me. So I’ve abandoned my search for the most literal translation of the Scriptures for several reasons:

• The original texts of the Bible are full of stories, parables and metaphors: it wasn’t actually written for literal interpretation. Looking for “the most literal” translation strikes me as fundamentally contrary to the writing styles and methods of the Biblical authors.

• In order to have an effective, “literal”, word-for-word translation of the Bible, we need to have an equivalent English word – and ONLY one English word – for every Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic word of the original texts. And we aren’t even close to that. These languages are completely different from their roots up.

• Literal communication of agrarian metaphors and religious allusion don’t translate well (if at all) into the Information Age. The ideas are valuable, but we need to translate the metaphors, either during the translation to English, or during my reading of the English translation. Knowledge of grafting grapevines, for example, is not prevalent in my world.

• There really is at least a measure of truth behind the principle that as years go by, both the skills and the resources for Bible translation advance. Therefore, all else being equal, there is real reason to expect that more modern translations will ultimately capture the heart of the Scriptures better than earlier versions.

• I don’t actually need divine wisdom for dealing with slavery, temple prostitution, arranged marriages, leprosy, and other topics that the Bible did deal with literally. But there are principles that, if I consider them metaphorically, have application to my Facebook interactions and my driving habits.

• My other challenge is that I no longer am as interested in the (admittedly priceless) words of famous first-century (or much earlier!) followers of God. I’m actually more interested in hearing the Word of God Himself speaking to me through their words. [see John 1:1-2, Hebrews 4:12-13]

I still respect (and study and read) the NASB and NRSV and other word-for-word translations of the Bible. I value those translations, and I seriously respect their goals!

For the last 50 years or so, I’ve used my paper-and-ink Bibles very heavily, and worn them out regularly. So I’ve replaced my “primary” Bible pretty frequently. And curiously, I chose to get a different translation for my primary study & ministry Bible every few years. (My thinking back then was that I wanted to get past the mindset of the translators, and hear the heart of the authors behind the translation.) So I’ve avoided growing up loyal to any particular translation.

In recent years, there have appeared some fresh translations that are aspiring to translate the heart of the content, rather than to shoehorn an English word into being an equivalent for a Greek or Hebrew word that isn’t even part of our thinking in this century. As a result, these are fresher to my understanding and more accessible to my emotions than the shoehorned vocabulary of earlier versions (consider “adjure” or “husbandman” or “prick against the goads”).

I’ve been listening to the Bible rather a lot recently, more than reading it (“Faith comes by hearing….”), and while I own audio versions of four different translations, I find myself most inspired, most provoked, most comforted by The Message Version. Not even a little bit of a “word-for-word” version, their goal was to communicate Scripture into the actual, everyday vernacular that we speak today. I think it succeeds wonderfully!

I chose it primarily to get out of the normal “religious” thinking that I’d grown up with listening to KJV and NIV preachers, and it’s worked for that purpose.

When I’m digging into the Greek & Hebrew, I still use the older, more traditional translations, particularly the NIV.

So you’re welcome to write me off as a heretic if you feel the need to. Keep in mind that “heretic” was a word invented during the Inquisition specifically to accuse those who [gasp!] thought independently of what the religious government told them to think. Yeah, I aspire to do that.

But you’re also welcome to join me in exploring the riches of the Word of God as He expresses Himself through the word of God.




Running Ahead of the Pack

Forerunners move out from the crowd they've been running with, to a place ahead of the crowd, where they are an example for others. As a result, it is not uncommon for forerunners to feel isolated, alone.

You need to know that that’s not isolation: that’s forerunning: it’s part of the job description of a forerunner – running ahead of the crowd, not with it – and that solitude is part of God’s provision for you. (Remember how Jesus sought it out? eg. Mark 6:45-46)

Others among the crowd see your example and move forward to join the forerunner or to even move beyond you. So the forerunner will have an empty spot, a vacuum, behind you, where others used to be, where others used to be. The more effective a forerunner is at bringing others forward, the greater the vacuum. Anyone trying to pull away from that vacuum will feel the vacuum pulling back.

Forerunners, that’s one of the things you’re fighting: you need to stay out of that vacuum; you may feel forces pulling you back. Resist the influences trying to pull you back to where you used to be. You need to keep pressing forward, keep reaching for the high calling in Christ Jesus. That’s who you are; that’s how you’re made.

There are others who need to move forward to fill that space behind you, who need to draft behind you, who will be encouraged to keep the pace you set.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…. (Hebrews 12:1)



Lukewarm Laodicea?


I’m tired of people looking at Jesus’ letter to the Church in Laodicea and misinterpreting it.

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

So many preachers preaching from this passage, saying it’s better to be hot or cold. That’s fine, but then they drive right into the ditch. “Hot,” they say, is a person who’s “on fire” for God. And “Cold,” they say, is the opposite, someone who’s turned off on God. But people that are just “meh,” people who aren’t really passionate one way or the other are said to be “lukewarm,” and, they proclaim boldly, “God hates lukewarm!”

The encouragement to be passionate for God is wonderful. The thought that God likes atheists or passionately anti-Christian activity more than half-hearted Christianity? Yeah, that’s balderdash. You can argue that a half-hearted lover of God is better than a hater of God, or you can argue that God loves ‘em all the same, but you CAN’T argue that God loves haters better than folks that are tired of trying.

The root of this whole metaphor comes from Laodicea’s city water supply. This isn’t about half-hearted people. This is about water.

Laodicea, you see, had no reliable springs, no reliable city water of their own, so they imported their water.

They imported water from two other cities: Hierapolis (about 6 miles south) and Colossae, about 10 miles east.

Hierapolis was famous for hot springs, and the water they got from there was still hot if it was fresh. They were (and still are) famous for hot springs, for healing waters, where people can sit and soak their wounded or aging bodies.

Colossae was in the mountains and the water they got from there was cold if it was fresh. Since Laodicea spent summers consistently above 100ºF (38ºC), cold, refreshing mountain water was wonderful and refreshing and invigorating!

Both sources of water had a fair bit of minerals in them: they actually invented something like manhole covers to get into the pipes and clean them out regularly, because the minerals would build up and keep the water from running freely. When the pipes were clogged, the water sat in the pipes, rather than flowed through the pipes.

If the water had been sitting, stagnating, in pipes or in a pond or cistern somewhere, it was neither hot nor cold: it was lukewarm. It was also probably unsafe, so spitting it out is a really good thing to do.

But the statement here isn’t that God vomits out people who aren't passionate enough, though the call to passionate following is appropriate. The statement here is “Be who you’re called to be.”

If you’re going to be a healing person, where broken people can come and soak away their pains, great. Be that!

If you’re going to be a bracing drink of cold, mountain water, that’ll wake folks up and get them motivated, great. Be that!

Don’t sit in the pipes so long that you just gum up the works and nobody gets good ministry. And don’t sit and stagnate. That’s not good for anybody.


Whatever you’re called to do: do it. Be passionate about it! Don’t just sit and stagnate. 

Stupid Chickens

Chickens.

I have some chickens. They make good eggs and good soup.

But chickens are dumb. Stupid. Completely unintelligent. Goldfish are smarter than chickens. And so I learn a lot about myself from them.

These chickens are domesticated. Really domesticated. They know me as their provider, almost as if I were their god. Any time I open the back door, which they can see from their chicken yard, they cluster around the near side of their pen, eyes on me.

Any time I come near the chicken yard, they cluster around near me, knowing that I am their provider, knowing that very often, when I show up, I bring good things for them to eat. 

They’re constantly looking to me for their provision: what will I bring them today? They remind me of the apostle’s promise, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights,” only in this case, every good and perfect gift comes from me.

The other day, I brought a large handful of their favorite vegetable, kale, and I tossed it into their pen. They ignored the kale. They didn’t even notice that I’d tossed their favorite veggie into their pen. They just kept their eyes on me, knowing that I might give them something good to eat.

I explained to the brilliant birds: “I already brought you something good to eat. I have already provided for you. Go enjoy what I’ve already given you!”

And they clustered even tighter around that side of their fence, watching to see what I’d give them.

They were so intently focused on the fact that I am their provider, focused on what I might provide for them, that they completely missed the fact that I had already provided for them.

And as I watched them, I heard Father clearing his throat, drawing my attention to their actions. And I knew I was guilty.

There have been times that I’ve been so focused on God, who is my good provider, focused on what God is going to provide for me, that I completely miss what he’s already provided for me.

I’m learning to give thanks more, and to solicit provision less.


Explosions All Around Us

Some folks among us have had violent, “earth shaking” events in their lives recently. Some have been asking, “Why Lord? Why me?”

A good gardener (or “husbandman”) has many tools at his disposal, some which are not intuitive.

Our gardener has been preparing some of us for growth by detonating charges around us, even underneath us. Sometimes, all we see is the explosions going off around us, showering us and those around us with detritus.  

Occasionally, we may see our bearded Gardener, twinkle in his eye, as he stands back from a freshly lit fuse. It’s easy to suspect that he’s bringing harm from the detonation, and this is undoubtedly where we get the idea that God works to harm us.
It’s true that God allows in his wisdom many things that he could, by his power, prevent from happening to us. And it’s likely that he does set off some of the blasts that startle us and discombobulate us.

But it is always for our good. The blasts that throw dirt all over our carefully planned lives loosen the dirt around our roots, making room for fresh growth, fresh nourishment, and from there, fresh fruit.

And those explosions that disturb our peace and frustrate our own plans often kill off the grubs that chew on our roots, the little foxes that spoil the vines, the demons that contentedly prey on our hopes and our fruitfulness.

The reality is that if we’ve been praying for “more of God,” for “more fruit,” or for “expanded tentpegs,” then these jolting and disheveling explosions may be the answer to our prayers. They’re making room for growth, easier growth, in our lives.

Maybe it’s time to give thanks for the earth shaking events in our lives, or at least for the results of them. 

The Fighter’s Regrets

Have you ever woken up with a song floating through the fog in your mind? Sometimes I think that’s just an echo of a dream or a memory, particularly if it’s a song I’ve heard or sung recently.

How about a song from your ancient history in your mind as you woke? I actually pay more attention to these; there’s less chance that it’s just my subconscious expressing itself.

I’d like to share one of these with you. You may find the process interesting, but I believe the lesson might apply to several of us.

Recently, I woke up with a song from my youth playing in my mind, and trust me, that’s from a long time ago. The song had nothing to do with the dream as far as I could tell, and I could only remember snippets of it – really only one phrase.

But that phrase kept replaying in my mind: that caught my attention. And as it replayed, my memory of the lyrics grew. This also suggested to me that this might be from God. So I spoke with Father about it, acknowledging that I thought he might be up to something; I asked for insight, and I paid attention as the memory of the song replayed and expanded in my mind.


Some themes began to stand out in the lyrics that kept playing in my memory. One of them definitely seemed to have the fragrance of my Father about it, so I meditated on that one. That is, I thought about it; I let it roll around in my mind to see what might come from it.

When my mind began to warm up (you know, I really appreciate the fact that God invented coffee!), I fired up Google and looked into it a bit more. And I realized that even after my memory had been playing it back for an hour or two, I had remembered only one verse out of five; the rest hadn’t come back to me, though those verses had actually been more important to me when the song was new.

Here’s the song: https://youtu.be/MYPJOCxSUFc. It’s called The Boxer, by Simon & Garfunkel. It was the last verse alone that spoke to me through the morning fog:

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains*

This verse had literally never made sense to me, but suddenly, there was a message in it for me.

It speaks to me, but I’d like to share it with you, because I suspect it might speak to other, too, and maybe that includes you.

I confess: I’m a man of fairly strong conviction. I stand up for those convictions, and it’s not inappropriate to say that I fight to maintain them. If I believe something to be true, I’ll fight to defend it.

Father gently pointed out that I, too, carry reminders of those fights, reminders, I suppose, every glove that laid me down or cut me till I cried out. I’ve paid a price to defend my convictions. Like the fighter in the song, the price has been paid in several areas of my life: in my memories, in my body carrying the stress, in the solitude that comes from having lost relationships.

Then he drew my attention to the fighter’s vow, and that I’ve made vows like that as well: “I am leaving, I am leaving” but I don’t leave. I remain. I still defend my beliefs, my convictions, and I’m still laid down and cut up sometimes. I’m still wounded from the fights that I am convinced are right and good. And they still bring the fruits of “anger and shame” into my life, just like they did in his.

(Didn’t someone say “You shall know them by their fruit”?  Hmmm....)

This is something that’s come partly from my character (I believe that standing up for “what is true” is important), partly from my youth (I was taught that truth is important and should be stood up for).

But this fight may have been fanned into the biggest flame from my years in Bible-believing churches. “This is what I believe to be true, so I must defend it at all costs.” We teach that, we believe that, in many evangelical churches, and while we defend different truths in denominational churches, we still defend them vigorously.

Think about how Christians respond when a movie comes that we don’t like out (remember Russell Crowe’s Noah?). Consider how Christians respond to “The Homosexual Agenda” or to political candidates, or to the abortion issue.

We’re taught to fight. And we do fight. Vigorously.

And let’s be honest. We don’t win these fights. Hollywood’s marketing now counts on “Christian outrage” as a publicity tool for their controversial movies, and they’re always right. Christians have not affected “The Homosexual Agenda” that we’ve stood against, abortion is still a very big business, and we’ve never once had an Evangelical believer in the Whitehouse, despite our fights on those issues.

The world knows: Christians are fighters. They don’t win, but they sure will fight. Behold how much they fight.

Father hasn’t been talking to me at this time about the issues in themselves. He’s only been using them to illustrate the fight, to illustrate the blows and the cuts that so many of us have taken in the fights.

Then he drew my attention to the refrain:

“Lie-la-lie. Lie-la-lie-lie-lie-lie-lie, Lie-la-lie
Lie-la-lie-lie-lie-lie-lie, lie-lie-lie-lie-lie.”*

Oh my. It’s right there. I’ve sung this haunting refrain with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and I never saw it: there’s a lie here, and the refrain rubs my nose in it. That’s a lie, lie lie!

There’s perhaps some room for discussing what the lie is. The song itself identifies one:

“He cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains.”*

And I’ve done that. I’ve declared that I’m quitting this fight. But I haven’t really done it. I’ve lied. I’ve gotten tired of being beaten up, tired of the anger, tired of the shame, and I’ve tried to quit the fight. And I’ve failed.

As Father comforted me in this, I realized that for a fighter, the fight is a choice. It’s an option, but only one of several options. I don’t actually need to fight.

As he held me and murmured his love for me, I realized that these are not fights that have helped me, or have helped the Kingdom, not even a little bit.

I occasionally have “won” a fight, but what was the result? Maybe I could say I won, that I defeated someone who believed differently. So what? Now they’ve been defeated, now they’re wounded, too. And now they resent me, and worse they resent my message, and they resent the truth that I fought for.

You know, I don’t think anybody’s ever been bullied into receiving the truth, have they? Oh, sure, we’ve bullied people into acting like they know the truth, but that’s just equipping them for hypocrisy. That’s not a win, not really, not for anybody.

For myself, I’m going to reflect on this for a while. I’m wondering if I might actually defend my beliefs better by walking them out than I would by fighting for them. I don’t know. I’ll think about it.

I may not need to be a fighter, alone in the clearing. I may not need to be laid down, cut open. I may not need to subject myself to the anger and shame.

The Kingdom is not about any of this, is it?

Lie la lie….

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* From "The Boxer," by the American music duo Simon & Garfunkel from their fifth studio albumBridge over Troubled Water (1970) ©1969

Father & Sons Development Co.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that I’m adopted. I was adopted by my Father at a very young age. I love my Father. He’s the best Dad in the world.

Did I tell you I’m working in the family business? The day I was adopted, I started working with my Dad. My Dad’s awesome like that.

When I was really little, he’d carry me in his arms as he walked through the factory floor. He’d stop and visit with machinists and foremen and janitors, pretty much everybody

Once when I was a bit older, I was building stuff with Legos™ in his office, while he worked on something. His desk overlooked the factory floor, and he saw something that caught his attention.

“Son,” he says. “You know Mr. Davidson? Tall guy. Red shirt. Big mustache?”

“I know him, Pop.”

“Son, would you go find Mr. Davidson and ask him to come up to see me? I’ve got something I want him to see.” And I toddled down the stairs to find Mr. Davidson. Soon he and Dad were talking seriously about something on Dad’s desk, and I added a new wheel to the thing I was building.

There was a time after I’d discovered books! Books are wonderful things! I was sitting in a chair in Dad’s office, sounding out a word, when he interrupted me. “Son, Miz Thompson works on the far side of the factory. Would you find her and give her this note?” He handed me the note, and I ran off to find Sally Thompson. She had a wonderful smile, and she used it on me sometimes.

I never did go to normal school. I would say that Dad homeschooled me, except it mostly happened in his office. Is there such a thing as officeschool? We had the best times together in his factory office.

He’d given me an arithmetic assignment that made me think pretty hard. If Mr. Jacobi needs to build this many boxes by the end of the month, how many does he need to build every day? Eventually I puzzled it out right (Dad showed me where I’d forgotten to carry the one, the first time), and he smiled this great big smile! “Son, would you please take this down to Marty Jacobi – he should be in the lunchroom right now – and show him how well you did this.” He wrote his initials on my math paper.

I found Marty. He gave me a cookie while he looked at my work. I munched, and then he smiled, and said, “You’ve got a real smart Dad, you know!” He was right, of course, but I already knew that!

One day he was reading letters. He had a lot of letters, and he read ’em all. One of them made him smile extra big, and he called me to himself. “Son, would you please go tell Bob Davidson that he’s got a new worker coming in the morning. He’ll want to put Cindy on the Quality Control team right away.” I delivered the message. Bob winked at me and nodded. “Sure thing!” he said.

One Thursday morning, Dad pushed my math books out of the way again, and set down his computer in their place. “Son, do you see this? What do you think that means?” and he pointed to a detail on the screen. This was a math test test, I felt sure. I was ready.

“That looks like trouble, Dad. Not big trouble, but trouble. Especially for the QC department. Um… Is that right?”

“That’s right, Son,” and he printed that page. “Would you explain this to Cindy in QC? And maybe talk with her about what to do with it, and bring me your favorite few suggestions.” Later, he picked one of our ideas, and implemented it. That was cool.

So I wasn’t altogether surprised when he set his computer on my desk some time later. He didn’t point to anything, but asked me, “What do you see here, Son?” I studied it a bit, and talked with him about the three or four things I saw. “What about this one?” “Hmm. I saw that, but didn’t think it was all that important,” I answered. “It’s all important, Son. Especially when this is trending,” and he pointed to the first detail I’d seen. “What happens when these happen on the same day?” I hadn’t thought of that! We talked about it and how to help the folks in the factory when that happened. I learn so much from my Dad.

And a few months later, those two things did happen on the same day. “Well, it happened, Dad.” “Yep, it surely did. Well, you know what to do.” I picked up my notes from our planning, headed down the stairs, and called the supervisors together. I explained the problem, and listened to their concerns. One of the guys had already figured it out, so I let him describe the adjustments we needed, filling in details when he needed help. We had the solution in place before the problem was big enough to slow production down.

Eventually we got to the point where I was really running the factory. Dad spent most of his time talking to individuals, or scheduling contractors for the expansion, and he spent a lot of time training some of the other kids, too. If I ran into a problem, he was always right there to help, and there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t figure out.

Figuring things out comes easy when you’re omniscient like my Dad is.

The Ministry of Vitamin K

I was trying to understand some things – I’ll call them “some of the mysterious things” – that Father was doing and saying around me. In the midst of struggling to figure them out, I heard him whisper, “Vitamin K.”

I haven’t thought about Vitamin K for years, possibly decades.

I think he likes messing with my head. And I get that: dads – good dads – are like that: it’s more about making me think, inviting me to come close to hear more, than it’s about handing me answers.

Vitamin K, eh? Well, Wikipedia tells me that “Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat-soluble vitamins that the human body needs for modification of certain proteins that are required for blood coagulation, and in bone and other tissue.”

I needed a little more revelation than that!

This is where we ended up: This is something that my body needs, actually needs fairly desperately. But my body gets all it needs without my paying attention to it, without my understanding it, without my doing anything at all with Vitamin K in mind.

Vitamin K does its job, clotting my blood when I cut myself, and doing whatever it does with my bones (“In bones, Vitamin K takes part in the post-translational modification as a cofactor in γ-carboxylation of vitamin K-dependant proteins (VKDPs).” Yeah. That.), and it doesn’t require the slightest bit of my conscious participation in the process.

I’ve never once needed to tell my body, “OK body. Today, I want you to absorb 120 micrograms (μg) of Vitamin K from the kale and broccoli and chicken breasts that I’m eating for dinner. Then I want you to use that Vitamin K to make my blood clot properly if I cut myself, but not unless I cut myself, and I want you to make my bones do whatever they do when you use Vitamin K on them! Make it so!”   

I just trust that my body will digest the food, find the Vitamin K (and all the other nutrients) and apply them as needed. I don’t need to be conscious of the process for it to work well. For me, that means I need to eat lots of good veggies, some good meat, drink plenty of liquids, but I do that anyway: these are yummy!

So my lesson was this: I don’t actually need to stop and understand every little thing that Father is doing or even every thing that he’s saying to me or around me. In practical terms, that means that I eat healthily: the Word (reading, meditating, studying), in my prayer, in my praise, in my snuggling time, and Holy Spirit will apply them as needed, but I do that anyway: this is yummy stuff!

I don’t actually need to be conscious of the everything that God is doing or saying for it to work well, for it to build me up in my most holy faith. 


The Cleaning Lady

The Cleaning Lady


I’d like to tell you the story of a friend of mine, whom I’ll call Chantelle.

Chantelle had just found a roommate and a nice apartment, and they were in the early stages of moving in, when she called me. “I’d like your help in praying over our apartment before we move in.” She and I had dealt with some things together before, and she understood that teamwork is valuable.

So we began to pray. We prayed over the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and declared the destiny we heard Father speaking about for the rooms and their activity. During the prayer time, I slipped away, and tossed a large handful of Dove’s chocolates into her empty room, just so she’s find a nice surprise.

When we finished praying about the public rooms, we headed down the hallway, and we both felt something strange, an unhealthy, unclean presence back there, and we both felt it at the same point, right as the hallway turned the corner.

Cool! A teachable moment! So we discussed it, discussed what it felt like, and I proposed that we check the back rooms individually for more sense of it.

We checked her room first, and there was no sense of that particular darkness, but there were wrapped dark chocolates scattered on the floor. She laughed and picked up a couple of them, and we agreed that this room wasn’t the source for the sense of the unclean that we felt. She offered me a chocolate and we moved on.

We prayed over the bathroom, blessed it, and ruled it out as a source of darkness, and moved on, while she nibbled her chocolate.

The roommate’s room. As Chantelle opened her roommate’s door, we felt the unclean darkness inside. “Aha! I suspect we’ve found a clue!” The roommate wasn’t home, of course; she wasn’t a believer, and wouldn’t understand what we were doing. In fact, there was just a small stack of boxes in the middle of the room.

We discussed the situation. We both sensed that there was uncleanness on the walls, though they appeared a clean white to our eyes. Chantelle stepped into the room, spiritual senses wide open, looking to sense where the unclean stuff was coming from. The closet? Nope. The window? Nope? This place where the bed obviously went? Nope.

That left the boxes in the middle of the room. They were just moving boxes, and only two or three of them; they looked innocuous enough. She popped the last of the chocolate in her mouth and touched the top box. Bingo! This is where the darkness came from! As we talked about the source of the presence, she straightened out the foil that had wrapped her chocolate, and read the quote it contained: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” We laughed!

We didn’t get into the boxes; they weren’t our property, but we felt the need to address the darkness, particularly, the darkness clinging to the walls. So we prayed that it would be removed. Nothing happened. We commanded it to leave. Nothing. We prophesied blessing on the room and its future. Nada.

I had an idea. “Chantelle, why don’t you ask Father for the right weapon to remove the darkness?” She gave me a funny look, but we’d done stranger things than this together. She prayed, and I could see from the look on her face that she’d seen Him give her something.

“What is it? What did he give you?” She scowled. “A washrag.” We laughed some more.

But she began to wield the washrag that she saw in the Spirit against the darkness. In reality, she began to wash the walls with it, and it was the first time that we saw the darkness give way, though it was a fight.

After a few minutes, we recognized that this was going to take all night, and I couldn’t help her, as I was still standing in the hallway (out of respect for someone else’s room).

Another thought presented itself. “I wonder if that washrag is for you to wield, or if it’s for someone else?” We prayed. “An angel is to wield it.” “OK. Why don’t you invite that angel in?” She did, and she laughed. “What do you see?” “A cleaning lady!” We laughed some more.

So Chantelle handed the washrag to the cleaning lady angel, and invited her to wield the weapon. Immediately, she began washing the walls, and by the time Chantelle had reached the door to the room, the first wall was halfway clean; we could both feel the darkness lifting. That was better! We blessed the cleaning lady, and invited her to stay. It seemed to us that her assignment was the back of the apartment, particularly the hallway and the bedrooms.

We felt the freedom to invite a couple other angles to the house. A big armed one was stationed outside the downstairs entrance, and Chantelle assigned another, whom she named Cheese Grater Guy, to the front door, to remove any “Klingons” from guests to the home.

When we left, we looked back at the bedroom windows, and we both discerned what appeared to be a cleaning lady waving happily to us from the roommate’s window. We laughed and waved back.

The really fun part of the story came weeks later, when the roommate cautiously reported that she “could feel a presence” in the back hallway. Chantelle replied, “Yep, and she’s staying here! We’re not going to get rid of that one!”


And the cleaning lady likes cats. Both Chantelle and the roommate had pet cats, kittens, really, who loved to play with them. But from time to time, both women could see the cats in the hallway, playing with someone they couldn’t see with their natural eyes. 

Staying Current with Spiritual Technologies

Here you see the nearly 18,000 vacuum tubes and 6,000 switches of the ENIAC, the first electronic computer.

This was once considered the pinnacle of technological perfection! The first machine that could calculate. How very impressive. It was the best thing EVER!

This device was very expensive, took up an entire room, generated an immense amount of heat, and, based on vacuum tubes, it was nonfunctional about half the time.

While it was the fastest calculating device available on the planet at the time it was made, it is so no longer. The handheld calculator my daughter used in junior high school (it cost $7.99) is faster – much faster – than this behemoth ever dreamed of being.

In like fashion, the computing power in a $19.95 wristwatch is greater than the computers that supported the first moonwalk. That, too, was the fastest computer of its day, but its day has long since passed.

The engineers who were (rightfully) so proud of those machines are no more than curators of museum pieces now.

In some ways, there is a tendency for the church to function like this. Father gives us a new gift (or brings back an old one that was in every day use in the Book of Acts), and we’re all excited: “This is the best thing EVER!” we declare, and we blog about it, and hold conferences on it, and a few very brave souls take it to the streets.

But the Spirit is not through moving. Just like there are newer and better computers available every few months, there are newer and better insights, strategies, gifts from Holy Spirit real regularly as well.

If we intend to stay current with the computer world, we would need an upgrade every few months. That’s overwhelming: it overwhelms my mind and my budget! In reality, I don’t need to upgrade our personal computer every time a newer and better one is available. I just need to make sure that the one I’m using is current, that it can run the current software that I need, and I need to stay in touch with where the world of computer development is going, so I know when it is time to upgrade.

If we intend to stay current with what Holy Spirit is doing in the world today, we’d need to fully embrace every new thing he does every week or month or so. That would be overwhelming! It would overwhelm any individual’s capacity for change. I don’t need to be personally involved with every jot and tittle of what Holy Spirit is releasing in the world today; I just need to make sure that I’ve invested myself in what he’s doing, that the move that I’m involved in is the right move to accomplish the task that He’s given me. And I need to stay in touch with the bigger picture of what He’s doing, so I know when it’s time for me to upgrade.

For example, there are a bunch of things that I’m aware that Holy Spirit is doing on the earth today (and I’m confident I’ve not seen it all!). The development of the prophetic gifts has been going on for a few decades, and is now approaching a measure of maturity. The development of apostolic gifts is newer, arguably more complex, and necessarily less mature. The healing movement is in full flower right now, ready to bear good fruit! Father is pouring out immense new understanding of his grace: but the grace movement is still relatively young and unsure of itself. There are signs that God is beginning to release gifts such as are found in Acts 8:39 and 2 Corinthians 12:2; won’t that be exciting!

But the real question is, will we upgrade our gifts, the gifts from Holy Spirit that we exercise, that we have proficiency with? Will we upgrade in order to stay current with where Holy Spirit is moving in the earth today?

Or will we be content with our current gifts, our current grace, our current expertise, becoming stagnant and nearly irrelevant to what God is doing today, sitting in the padded seat of honor on the platform, criticizing the new gifts, the new spiritual technologies? “Who needs those newfangled things? An ‘eye-pad’? What in tarnation is an iPad? If vacuum tube computers are good enough for me, they’re good enough for you! iPads and Androids are HERESY, I tell you!”

It’s a scary thing: moving from being expert in a gift that is not as needful today, since nearly every believer is walking in that gift, moving into the place where I’m as much a beginner as anybody else! The guy on the platform really often resists moving from “the anointed man of power, with the word of God for the hour” to a mistake-prone rookie, the same as any other mistake-prone rookie, nothing special anymore.

I invite us to press in to the newer gifts, not leaving the old behind, into the newer moves of what God is doing on the Earth! I invite us to guard against becoming complacent with the gifts that we’ve become expert in, and become a mistake-prone rookie as we learn new ones! I invite us to guard against criticizing our brothers and sisters who are becoming expert in gifts that are different than the ones that we’re becoming expert in.

And I invite us to pray for those around us who have been the big names, the leaders, the people on the platform with status: they need our prayers and our friendship in this season more, perhaps, than others do.

But regardless of who goes with us, or who stands behind criticizing, let us press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. Let us upgrade, always upgrade, our giftings as he offers them!



Homosexuals And the Move of God

There’s been a lot of talk about an increase in the movement of God on the earth, and how this is the beginning of a new “wave” of God’s interaction with this planet.

Recently, someone asked me a good question: “Where do gay people fit in the next wave? I heard one prophet say they will be a part of it, and they won’t necessarily be delivered, but that they too can walk with Jesus and be filled with the Spirit. Will the next wave deliver them, empower them wherever they are at, help them live single, or something else?

I’ve heard testimonies of Spirit-filled homosexual churches. I’ve heard prophets and evangelists testifying that they’ve been among churches that come from the homosexual movement: not “ex gays ministering to homosexuals,” not “former homosexuals,” but “churches made up of people in the homosexual community.”

The testimonies, from reliable sources, are of churches, filled with the Spirit of God, among the homosexual community. (The testimonies, like the churches themselves, are not in the public eye because of all of the wrath they have received from the religious community.)

I’m committed to learning from others’ testimonies (http://j.mp/WUa9gS), so I will not reject these testimonies. In point of fact, they are fulfillment of prophetic words from myself and others, and fulfillment of God’s promise that he would call people to himself from the ends of the earth.  

So where do homosexual churches fit into this next move of God? For right now, I’ll employ a new phrase that I’ve only just learned: “I don’t know.” (Whew. It feels good to say that.)

I’ve spoken out publicly about two characteristics that I (believe I) know about the coming wave:

1) It’s going to be so different than what we’ve experienced before and what we expect, that it will be hard for most of us to recognize.

2) It’s going to be so big that it’s kind of overwhelming.

When you combine those two, it makes for a real mess: outspoken church leaders who are overwhelmed by things they don’t understand or recognize. That ought to be interesting. Perhaps MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” conference was a representation of that?

But there’s a third thing that (I believe) I’ve seen: this wave, this move of God, being so big, and being so different, will carry with it things that we’ve always considered heresy, wrong, unclean. (Tsunamis are very seldom sparkly clean.)

This is where I put the reports of God moving freely among gay churches: I know (I’ve seen it in visions) God is going to breathe life into the homosexual community, and I hear reliable reports that he has begun to do this already. But wait! Shouldn’t they repent? Yeah, but I didn’t repent of all of my sin until I understood it was sin, and some of that was decades after I was saved and filled with the Spirit. And I guarantee you that their repentance is not my responsibility!

This is also where I put the (equally credible) reports of the New Age movement coming to Christ. I know God is going to breathe life into the New Age community, and I hear reliable reports that this, too, has begun to already. But wait! Shouldn’t they repent? Yeah, but see above.

So yes, the grace of God convicts God’s children of sin, and leads them to cleansing and repentance! Yes! Yes! But He clearly does that in his own time, not in mine.

So how will homosexuals and New Agers fit into the next move of God? I don’t know. I expect that they’ll be involved, but let’s see what God does, shall we? And let’s welcome those He brings into his house!


Monday

The Gadarene Swine Fallacy

We hear it preached quite often that if a Christian isn’t in fellowship with others, she is in greater danger from the various enemies of our soul. We preach (and I, myself, preach) that believers are stronger, safer, and more alive when we’re in relationship with other believers.

But there’s more to that story. It isn't that simple.

There’s an argument that appears in the “Logical Fallacy” section of common logic textbooks, called the “Gadarene Swine Fallacy.” Simply defined, “The GSF is the fallacy of supposing that because a group is in the right formation, it is necessarily on the right course; and conversely, of supposing that because an individual has strayed from the group and isn't in formation, that he is off course.”

When Jesus visited the Gadarene demonic, there were some key players in the region:


  • One man, alone in the tombs, filled with demons and despair. 
  • Local swineherds and their local herds of swine (pigs). 


If one was to assume that “be in fellowship” is the highest truth, one would have to predict that the community of swine was the safe place to be, and the lone demoniac would be lost to eternity.

But that’s not what happened: the tormented man, alone among the tombs, was the only one who had the encounter with Jesus. The swine did have an encounter, but it was with the legion of suddenly homeless demons. He lived. He thrived (as ambassador for the Son of God to the Decapolis). They died a rather ignominious death.

In this case, and this is not by any means normative, the one by himself was in the right place, and the herd of swine – which may not have been appropriate on the outskirts of a kosher community anyway – were off course.

“In particular, it is of fundamental importance not to confuse the person who may be 'out of formation' by telling him he is 'off course' if he is not. It is of fundamental importance not to make the positivist mistake of assuming that, because a group are 'in formation,' this means they are necessarily 'on course.' This is the Gadarene swine fallacy.”

I still maintain that Believers are healthier in community. But if the only choice available is either life alone, among the tombs, or a community of swine, it may be healthier alone – though there may be (literally) a hell of a price to pay for solitude – than at home in a community of swine.

Of course, the healthiest place is neither among the tombs or among the swine. A small group in my home is infinitely preferable solitude among the tombs, and even community online (now that it is technologically feasible) is better than life with a legion of demons, or a herd of swine.

Hit the Trail!


They were the days of the westward expansion of the United States, the era that history books talk about wagon trains and pioneer settlers. If you were done with “the old ways,” or if you wanted to be part of the new movement, the new explorations, then you moved to Missouri.

In the nineteenth century, Saint Louis, Independence, Westport and especially Saint Joseph became departure points for those joining wagon trains to the West. They bought supplies and outfits in these cities to make the six-month overland trek to California, earning Missouri the nickname "Gateway to the West". This is memorialized by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

These weren’t the only places you could begin your trek from. But Missouri was the place where you could find like-minded individuals to travel with, where you could gather your supplies, where you could learn the safe routes, and dangerous places. Here, you could buy (or learn to build) a Conestoga wagon, hire a scout, consult with others who have made the trip before you, and come back to teach others.

You could actually leave from any place you wanted, but if you wanted to succeed best, you’d leave from Missouri. People didn’t move to Missouri to settle (usually). They moved to Missouri so they could move beyond Missouri. Or they moved to Missouri to equip others who would be going further.

In many ways, the people of God are in a season not unlike that one. There is indeed an expansion, though it’s not toward the west; it’s toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

But the model today is not dissimilar to the model then. If you want to discover the new territory that God is unveiling – and Oh! What territory it is! – then you’ll need to prepare yourself, to stock up, to learn new skills. It will be wise for you to travel with others who have been exploring further afield, or at least to learn from their experience.

Today’s exploration isn’t physical, so we don’t actually need Conestoga wagons (which is kind of too bad, because they’re really cool!). Instead, our exploration is primarily in the realm of the Spirit. But there are still launch points, cities, strongholds where knowledge – vital knowledge, if you’re going to explore – is far more accessible than it is in the rest of the “civilized” church.

Bethel Church, in Redding California, is one such departure point. It’s not the destination, but it’s a good resource point. The people of Bethel Church – not just the leaders, the people! – are often well experienced and well equipped, and willing to share their experienced insight regarding the trails we face: Yes, God is good. No, you don’t need to preach about people’s sin. Yes, you’ll want to develop key relationships. No, don’t pay attention to the detractors who won’t take to the trail themselves.

There are other departure points, every bit as effective, as knowledgeable, as well-stocked for traveling explorers. The point is not that we must launch from this city of Bethel, the point is that the departure city is for departing. Stock up, gather together, and hit the trail.

There are new lands to discover, new freedoms to explore, new aspects of the King of Heaven and the marvelous Kingdom he’s sharing with us to experience, and then to share with others back home.

Aslan said it best: “Come further up, further in!”

Dealing With New Evidence



There’s a principle that we all deal with. When we discover new evidence about something that we already have an opinion about, we are required to re-evaluate our opinion. If the new evidence contradicts what we believed before, then we probably need to change our previous opinion.

It happens in movies: Throughout the movie, you’re led to believe a particular opinion about one of the characters (perhaps “the butler did it!”), but at the end of the movie, new evidence is revealed, or old evidence is shown in new light. All of a sudden, everything changes. My favorite for this was The Sting. When they got up off the floor, it floored me! I realized that I had seen things wrong, interpreted things wrong. And suddenly, I understood previous bits of the movie in a whole new light! Suddenly I understood the characters completely differently.

I saw Philadelphia Story recently. Throughout the movie, Clark Gable’s character looked like a troublemaker, but in the denouement at the end, it’s revealed that he did it all out of love. Suddenly, I understood Mr. C.K. Dexter Haven completely differently!

It happens in TV shows: Well, it did when I watched TV, anyway. In the old courtroom series Ironsides, Raymond Burr’s character did that every week. Barretta, a slightly less antique show, did the same thing. I imagine that many crime shows use this pattern regularly.

It happens in real life: We interpret the news one way, but then something happens that reveals that maybe things aren’t the way the media spun it the first time.

It happened in the Bible: Throughout the Old Testament, we were shown evidence that suggests certain things about the nature of who God is: what His character is like, what moves Him, what’s important to Him. But the New Testament is all about the denouement: Jesus himself is the new evidence, and it reveals a whole lot more about God, and reveals Him more clearly than we’ve ever seen before. And suddenly, I understand previous bits of the story in a whole new light. Suddenly, I understand God so differently, so much better.

For example, throughout the Old Testament, God seems far off and aloof, not really interested in hanging around the human race; after all, He keeps sending prophets to lead them instead of coming Himself. But in the New Testament, we see God in human form walking the streets of a subjugated city in order to be among humankind. Maybe He’s not really far off and aloof! Maybe that’s not a good picture of Him.

The stories of the Old Testament, the way that they were told and re-told and translated, and interpreted through countless pulpits, suggested that God rather enjoyed smiting people; a lot of smiting sure went on in those stories, and sometimes they’re described as God’s actions, and other times, the perpetrator isn’t really identified, but everybody “knows” that God did it, because “that’s what God is like.” (Compare 2 Samuel 24:1 with 1 Chronicles 21:1 for one example.)

But in the New Testament, Jesus, the “God in human form,” the “exact representation of the Father,” who “always does what the Father is doing,” never smites a single person, not even once. And it’s certainly not like he doesn’t have the chance! Rather, he reveals a God who not only turns the other cheek, but lets himself be murdered rather than smite a few deserving Pharisees. The God that Jesus reveals is not a smiter, isn’t eager to judge, always brings healing and life abundantly, and never brings death or destruction. We had understood him wrong before, but now, we have new evidence.

We’ve found ourselves in an interesting place. We have lots of evidence – and I’m going to call it inferior evidence – about who God is and what He’s like. And we have, in some measure, allowed that evidence to create or to inform our opinion of who God is and what He’s like.

We know better now, or at least we should. We have been given better evidence, been adopted into a better covenant. The evidence we have now, in the person of Jesus, and in our own relationship with God, tells us that the wrathful, judgmental, distant smiting God of the Old Testament is not a true picture of who God is. We have better evidence than that now: if we don’t believe it, then it’s our own fault that we’re deceived.





Second Hand Smoke


I felt God drawing my attention to second hand smoke today. 

Second hand smoke is smoke that you breathe from someone else’s cigarette, or pipe, etc. It doesn't come as a result of your actions, but its smell still clings to your clothes, and it exposes you to lung cancer nearly as much as if you were smoking yourself. 

In some ways, it's more dangerous: pipe-smokers (and some cigar and cigarette smokers) don't generally inhale their own smoke, but if you're in their company, you don't have a choice about whether you inhale their secondhand smoke: it's just part of breathing when they're smoking around you. Your body actually experiences more of the deadly smoke than their body does.

In my own experience, there are far more times that people around me are smoking, than there are times when I am the person smoking. (Full disclosure: I do occasionally smoke a pipe.)

Second hand smoke happens in the spirit realm as well. We experience things – smells cling to us; we’re exposed to deadly danger – not because of things that we’re doing, but because of things that others are doing around us. I suspect it is true here: there are far more times when people around me are doing things to stir up the hornets' nest, than when I'm stirring that nest. After all, there are many people around me, and there's only one of me! 

May I encourage us: when we're feeling the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" coming against us, avoid the foolishness of self-accusation: "Well, I must have done something wrong." Sure, sometimes we do something stupid and open a gate to give the devil permission to steal, kill & destroy. And he generally makes use of those opportunities. In that case, all we do is repent, kick him in the teeth, and move on. 

But sometimes the troubles coming against us are brought about by the actions of others: maybe stuff passed on by parents, or foolishness committed by people we're in covenant relationship with, or maybe we've associated ourselves with a group that has given place to some sort of stronghold. Just because we're in relationship with a number of people, there's secondhand smoke around. 

It's probably appropriate to remember that our own actions affect many of the people we're in relationship with; in another way, there's no such thing as a "secret" or a "victimless" sin. 

I'm not trying to bring a teaching on how to overcome demonic attacks: there's lots of that around, and we all remember: repentance is a super-power, and I suspect the 'kicking the devil in the teeth" exercise will still be valuable. 

Rather, this is about diagnosing the source: when trouble comes our way, it isn't always about us; sometimes it's from second-hand smoke

Thursday

Milk or Meat?


There are a couple of places in the NT where the apostles contrasted the intake of believers, using the metaphor of “milk” as the food for babies against “meat” as the food for mature men & women. (1 Corinthians 3, Hebrews 5, 1 Peter 2 are the clearest.)

The apostles (Paul, the anonymous author of Hebrews, and Peter) all seem to reference something similar to John’s stages of Christian growth (1 John 2:12-14): that there are clearly stages of growth for us as Sons of the Most High. John makes it clear: believers in different stages of growth have different needs (for a discussion of those stages, see here: http://bit.ly/QMANqF)

Reflecting on this, I observe several things:

§         There are several places where believers are described as children, as milk-drinkers, often bemoaning the fact that by this stage of their growth, they should be eating meat and changing the world.

§         There appear to be NO places where any of the apostolic writers of the NT acknowledge a group that has progressed from milk-drinking to meat-eating. This may be simply because the epistles were all written to address problems among one church or another, and the churches that made the transition didn’t need corrective letters. There is no epistle to the church at Antioch, for example; it may be that this early center of the Church may have gotten some things right, though we have no record of it.

§         When we are young believers, we require milk. And when we become mature believers, milk is still good.

§         We are expected to progress beyond the basics. We are expected to graduate from being nourished by the “elementary principles” of “milk” to digesting and being nourished by “meat.”

§         So much of the church in our day has not even well learned the “elementary principles”; These are the “milk” or “baby food” of Christian nurture (Quoting Hebrews 6:1 here):

1.      repentance from dead works and of
2.      faith toward God, of
3.      the doctrine of baptisms (note the plural), of
4.      laying on of hands, of
5.      resurrection of the dead, and of
6.      eternal judgment.

A number of prophets and apostles are speaking of the need, now upon us, but growing in necessity, of believers being established enough in theses topics that they are comfortable (and safe) moving on to more challenging topics. In fact, Holy Spirit has been speaking to a substantial number of believers about what some of those more meat-like discussions will be about, but they would only serve as a distraction in this conversation.

As He speaks to me about some of the meatier topics of growth that I see coming to us, I am reminded of two applications that have relevance in this conversation:

1) There will be people (possibly people who are invested in a spiritual “milk-delivery service”) who will not understand of believers’ need for meat, who will speak against it (even accusing meat-eaters of apostasy and heresy), and, sadly, who will succeed in preventing hungry believers in their sphere of influence from obeying the scriptures and pursuing more advanced topics.

2) Those who choose to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, and go on to perfection, not laying again the above foundation, will likely have to go on in the face of such opposition. A very likely booby-trap will be to engage argumentative milk-delivery devotees in extensive discussion about the need for meat, though it will be necessary to discern between those committed to not moving on from milk from those who have only known milk but long for more. A wiser response may be just to “set our face like flint” toward digesting and practicing that which Father is feeding us, and leaving the nay-sayers to themselves.

I believe it will be valuable to recognize in advance (if it is in advance) the opposition that will be confronting us more and more as we run the race set before us. Such battles are often won in advance, when we make our determined decisions of how we will respond before we meet the opposition.

How will you respond when faced with this choice? Will you choose a steak knife, or a warm bottle?