This is like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, but I had to try. There is so much more I could say on this chapter, but in an effort to be brief, I pray the Holy Spirit help you read between the lines. Take your time, and enjoy. Let the Holy Spirit reveal so much more than I have written. (And feel free to share your own if you have one.)
Monthly Archives: May 2015
I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD HAVE A FAVORITE CHAPTER OF THE BIBLE. I ALWAYS CONSIDERED THAT TO BE “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE”.
So I can’t explain what happened to me the other day when I was having my morning cup of Bible and I read this chapter and it was like, “Wow, I think this is my favorite chapter.”
I have memorized Psalms chapters 1, 23, 91, and 112 so I can quote and pray them on a regular basis, but my favorite chapter is none of them. I also love the chapters containing the Sermon on the Mount! (Matthew 5-7) But it’s none of them either. So imagine a drum roll if you will, as I reveal my favorite chapter to be: St. John 3. (And it is not because of 3:16, even though that is such an important verse, but it is the whole chapter! Even from the way it starts to the way it ends.)
Imagine this, a Pharisee, a sage, a religious leader, a mystic, a seeker of God and truth sneaking around in the dark of night to have a secret meeting with the nomadic rebel teacher, Jesus! In dark of night! This man is desperate for a private counsel with this mysterious man of God known as Jesus, but he doesn’t want his fellow religious leaders to know. He is risking his reputation, his status , everything, to ask this Prophet a few questions. He wants to see for himself! One on one! So he comes like a ninja in the night, hiding in shadows, looking over his shoulder as he hurries along to his secret meeting, and what does Jesus tell him?
“You must be born again.” (Whaaat?)
Can you imagine? Nicodemus is not your average Bible student, and he is not a fool. Most likely he is above average in intellect and very serious about this secret mission. He has seen some of the miracles and he knows this Jesus must be sent from God, but his answers seem to come from another world! He confuses everyone with riddles and parables. Whaaat?
Jesus begins going deeper with the riddle. But can Nicodemus follow him deeper? You must be born of water and the Holy Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.
I can imagine that Nico’s head is spinning as Jesus then say, “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (WOW!)
NOW IT GETS EVEN BETTER! JESUS CHALLENGES NICODEMUS!
“You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?” (WOE!)
This chapter starts out like a book that grabs you from the very first page and just when you think the plot can’t get anymore exciting or intense, it does!
“I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen…if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.”
IN OTHER WORDS, I’M THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN TELL YOU WHAT I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES, NICODEMUS. I’M NOT TELLING YOU WHAT I READ IN A BOOK. I’M TELLING YOU HEAVENLY DETAILS I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES. EVERYTHING I DO AND SPEAK COMES FROM ONE WHO HAS BEEN THERE, AND I HAVE COME FROM THERE, AND I’M GIVING YOU FIRST HAND ACCOUNTS OF WHAT MAN HAS NEVER SEEN! (WOE & WOW!!!)
After this is when he explains how greatly God loves mankind, that he has sent me to save them, and whosoever believes on him shall be saved. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him! However, for those who do not believe, they are judged already. Jesus has not come to judge, but to save us from the judgment already on us!
Now another climatic moment comes when Jesus says, “And the judgment is based on this fact:”… Now stop the movie right here for a moment. This is where a stupid commercial break cuts in and leaves you hanging! The judgment is based on this fact! (What is he going to say? What is it all based on? I can hardly wait to know!) Commercial finally over!
“God’s light came into the world…but people loved the darkness more than the light…for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light…and refuse to go near it…for fear their sins will be exposed.
But those who do what is right…come to the light…so others can see they are doing what God wants.”
What a thunderous revelation! It all comes down to whether we are drawn to light, or not? Whether we love the darkness or the light? God’s light came into the world, but man loved darkness more! This is a strong word of revelation Nicodemus is receiving in the dark of the night!
But the chapter goes on: Nicodemus exits, and John the Baptist enters in! John reveals that Jesus must become greater and greater, while he will decrease, fade into the background. Then he confirms that Jesus has “Come form above, and is greater than anyone else!” We are earthly, he explains, but Jesus comes from heaven and testifies of what he has seen and heard with his own eyes and ears!
AND THEN A VERY SAD STATEMENT: BUT HOW FEW BELIEVE WHAT HE TELLS THEM!
This is a major point, John 3 makes it not once, but twice! Once by Jesus himself, and then by John the Baptist! Jesus is first hand witness to the realities and glories of heaven, God’s Kingdom, and he came here to show and tell!
BUT HOW FEW BELIEVE HIM.
When I read this chapter I am hit with so many waves of feelings and revelation that I stand amazed. Questions roll through my mind like, why am I “attracted” to the light, and others are not? And also, how can anyone not be attracted to his light?
In verse 44 John reveals that Jesus has been given the Holy Spirit without limit! So…am I limited? What measure do I have? Can I increase that measure? WOW. Now I am challenged as to what I shall do?
Finally, a thunderous conclusion. This chapter keeps hitting to the very end.
“Any who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.” (The AMAZING grace of God. What a great treasure to be rejected by so many.)
“Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
I see the lightning flash, I hear the thunder roll, and the chapter ends.
KEEPERS OF THE FLAME.
Leviticus 6:12a & 13 > “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning; it shall not be put out.” / “A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”
Luke 12:49-50 > “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished.” Signed: Jesus Christ.
THE LOVE OF ANYTHING WORTHY WILL TAKE US INTO THE FIRE AND MUST BE PURSUED WITH FIRE.
(Partial quote from “Teaching with Fire”).
The cost of discipleship. What is your vision from God costing you? You have no vision? Then you likely have no fire either. What is your function in the body of Christ? What is your mission, your task, your heart-felt assignment from God? Does it burn within you like a flame? If not, then all you’re doing is punching the spiritual time clock, and anybody can do that. You should leave that boring assignment and pursue what burns within!
Jesus said, I must be about my Father’s business! It burned within him. He cleared the temple and then his disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for Your house has eaten me up. (Consumed me!)
Are you on fire? Do you feel his flame within? Is the oil flowing, or do you need a trip to God’s cave? Why are we so occupied with living like kings when we should be living like priest? Ahh, now we’re getting there. The king is not concerned about the fire as the priest is. So many kings and so few priest in the body of Christ. So many sparrows flapping flapping flapping, and so few eagles. So few of God’s children ready to surrender and let go of the things that glitter glitter glitter. But the call is going forth and all that glitters is not gold. Kings will cast their crowns at his feet for the chance to serve. Yes, “his feet”, Mary hath chosen that good thing that cannot be taken from her.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things…many things…many things. But “ONE THING” is needed. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at Jesus feet and heard his word. But Martha was distracted…many things…many things…many things.
Will you leave your kingdom building long enough for a trip to God’s cave, to sit at his feet? The secret things, the secret things. The duties of a priest and that of a king are so very very different. Even the lifestyle is so very very different. So many warriors in God’s body, fighting to slay financial dragons, but so few priest praying to slay lustful dragons. The 6th archetype, the Mystic, the Priest.
The king seeks a castle and a throne, but the priest desires a cave, a place to seek his Master for the fire that burns! Five archetypes to be stuck upon, the Orphan, the Innocent, the Wanderer, the Warrior, the Altruist; but it is the Priest that brings it all into balance, holds the spiritual center, and should be our burning desire. But no, we would be king.
T’is a legend, a fable, indeed, but it holds such a powerful truth, the legend of Camelot! And how did such a city come to grace the imaginations of so many people? A simple mystic known as Merlin. Where would we be without our spiritual seekers? Still swallowed up in the dark ages, that is where, and so was Merlin, so much so that he retreated to a cave where he battled with great depression. So are the spiritual, sensitive to the spiritual conditions of our time, encroaching evil, have you felt it? Is there a burden on your heart for the millions of people lost without Christ everyday? Is there a burden driving you to a cave to fast and pray? Do you feel it? If not…then you are distracted like Martha, but Merlin ran to a cave as he was heavy with the burdens upon him. Depressed about the darkness of his time and knowing what should be!
In the cave a crystal flashed and a vision came! From there, a simple mystic set about to create a place called Camelot! That vision gave rise to many an inspiring Knight in shining armor! But none of it would have happened without the one who had no desire to be a king, and only to seek the secret things the secret things of a world not seen. For we look not at that which is seen, but at that which is not seen. Right?
I hope someone will tell me if anything I have just written makes sense. It speaks to me, but does it speak to you?
The Warrior is not the priest, and much fanfare will come to the one seen slaying dragons, but the secret things…the secret things…the humble world of the priest, given to a supernatural surrender, without whom there would be nothing worthy of a king to reign over, only more and more dark ages. Will you get a vision and be a priest to your neighborhood? Learn of the secret things, practice them, and establish God’s Kingdom where you live?
I recently sat in on the monthly meeting of a government housing apartment complex. In six months time I have watched the Spirit of God transform the atmosphere of that meeting because of a young minister who has sown the seeds of sacrifice in that place. A Priest can bring about transformation that no warrior can. Let us lay aside our kingship and warrior status, no more Superman, let us heed the call of priesthood! The 6th archetype is most powerful of all, the power to transform, the power of connecting man to God!
“And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.” (Ex. 19:18)
GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME.
“The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” (Lev. 6:13)
Redeemed from fire by fire! Yes, T.S. Eliot said it well. Consumed by either fire or fire. Consumed by grace or sin. Am I on fire for God? I have been charged by God to never let the fire go out! Guardians of the Flame!
How do I live with fire? How do I feed the flame so it never goes out? What is this heroes journey? To slay a dragon, to save a city, to live in such a flame.!To light yourself on fire and live there. Where does such a life come from? It is not five of the six archetypes inside each of us. It is not the Orphan, the Innocent, the Wanderer, the Altruist, or the Warrior, but it is the Magician, the Mystic, the Priest.
You must step across the line of mere mortal and flesh, and into Spirit and Priesthood. Blessed art thou Simon, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you! Only God can create a bush that is on fire but not consumed. Try to do this in your own power and you will fail. It will be a strange fire, not of God, and you will be consumed, not eternally sustained. “Priesthood is a supernatural lifestyle of surrender”. (Try to explain that one.) It is mystic. It is the highest level of existence in unity with God. And every one of us is called to it. Being a Christian is more than just being a good person, it is a Priesthood.
Priesthood is a supernatural lifestyle of surrender.
If you’ve never truly been on fire, and if you’ve never truly surrendered, then you know not of what I speak. Neither do you likely believe it, and certainly not crazy enough to try it, after all, look at all the things you might have to lay down, and then what? What if you could not get them back? What if it really did cost you something, like it cost our Lord? Even that fear of not getting it back betrays you. You are not Mystic, not Priesthood, but you are still in a fearful, selfish, carnal state, and you have not tasted of God’s ultimate peace, or joy.
I find myself writing words stronger than I expected. Can I explain any of this? Hhmm, Jesus walked on water. I think water offers us a lesson. I use to be a terrible swimmer, and because of that I had a fear of drowning. My wife, who is an excellent swimmer, tried teaching me how to float, so if I ever got in such a situation, I could simply lie on my back and float. It sounded good. It made perfect sense, but there was one problem. The more you “relax”, the more you “let go”, the better you float. If you tighten up like a rock, you tend to sink like a rock, and sense I had a fear of drowning, guess what? I found it extremely difficult to float. It was very hard to relax and let go when fear was gripping me. Try it some time. You’re scared to death but you’re going to begin mentally relaxing each muscle, slow your breathing, and command your heart to slow as well. Mentally, it is a very hard thing to do, to slow the racing heart gripped in fear.
Nevertheless, floating was there for me. It was there all the time, I simply did not have the faith to tap into it. I was resisting the water, instead of surrendering to it, like a mighty eagle surrenders to a current of wind. Most of us live as little flapping sparrows, not soaring eagles. But don’t we all long to be the soaring eagle? God longs for that for us, and he offers it.
So what does this have to do with feeding the flame in us? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!!!
If we will not surrender to the supernatural habits of a priest in Christ, i.e. a quality prayer life, faith, fasting, obedience, God’s Word, and God’s holiness, then the fire will never be sustained. This supernatural flame that fills the universe with passion will be lost to us.
Do we not believe God’s word? Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these other things will…?
Yes, this is too much for five of the archetypes in us. But not too much for the Mystic, it is where he lives! It is where he burns with passion and thrives! Because he has learned the surrender that feeds the fire! He has gone to the cave and received a God-given vision! Now he is on fire with it, like Merlin who got the vision for Camelot! And then he raised up a King Arthur, who drew the sword from the stone!
No, you would not want to live such an authentic life. That life burns too hot for most of us. We would not dare to be so alive.
A book I once was impressed with, I have puled from the shelf to remind myself of. No, not everything I read is scriptural, but I must admit this book impressed me, about these six archetypes in all of us, and a heroes journey. The book is: “The Hero Within”, by C.S. Pearson. Of course the teaching has passed through my own filters, but I’m mixing some of that into this series. There will likely be more.
Fire purifies. There is a supernatural path bordered with flames, and so alive, not many dare to walk it. Just the Mystics, the Priesthood. The Spirit of God can take us there, if were willing to enter into that supernatural surrender, get a vision from God and burn with it! It’s hard to think about yourself when you’re filled with such passion. As a matter-of-fact, you won’t even miss yourself. Good riddance to the one that was slowing you down. The true Mystic and Priest understands. Just as I eventually learned to float, so can anyone seek God and learn of this way we speak of. The Bible is the authority on this powerful life, and Jesus is its author. (“For we walk by faith, not by sight:”) II Cor. 5:7 Faith…a powerful supernatural force practiced by God’s Priesthood.
How do we feed the flame to live a life of inspiration? This begins a new series.
Hope you enjoy, and burn brighter every day.
THE HEROES JOURNEY?
THE LOVE OF ANYTHING WORTHY WILL TAKE US INTO THE FIRE, AND MUST BE PURSUED WITH FIRE.
“And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.” (Excerpts from Ex. 3:1-2)
A flame of fire? The mountain of God? Am I a flame of fire? How do I feed the sacred fire bringing meaning to each life? How can I live without fire? How can I live without passion, purpose, love, meaning, joy, and flame? God’s Word reveals it to be a life not worth living. Man’s own experiences eventually proves God’s Word absolutely correct. We must have fire! Or we become robots going through endless motions, repeated circles until we die, the point of Ecclesiastes.
For the follower of Christ it is essential, we cannot live without it, we are drawn to His flame. This thing was birthed in fire on the day of Pentecost, and the old testament Priesthood were commanded to never let the fire on the altar go out! (There will be more on that in coming articles.)
Whatever the passion may be in your life, that flame is sacred to you, but is it sacred to God? Whatever the love is in your life, is holy to you, but is it holy to God? We worship our passions. We sacrifice to them. We do not truly live without them. However, do you see the difference between the sacrifices a man will make in a strip club, as women stoke his flame of lust and he gladly tucks his hard earned money into forbidden places, compared to the sacrifices of a righteous man unto the cross of Christ? Two flames. Both sacred to the one who loves it, but only one is holy in the eyes of God, the other is stoked by the flames of hell!
We will talk of flames of heaven too. We cannot truly live without fire. God invites us to a heroes journey, a life of fire, love, and passion! Consider these words from a poem by T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”.
The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of incandescent terror / Of which the tongues declare /
The one discharge from sin and error / The only hope, or else despair /
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre…
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Dictionary definition of “Pyre” is: A combustible heap for burning a dead body as a funeral rite. (You might want to read the above verse again.) To be redeemed from fire by fire? What is being said here?
Who then devised the torment? Love. / Love is the unfamiliar Name /
Behind the hands that wove / The intolerable shirt of flame / Which human power cannot remove. /
We only live, only suspire / Consumed by either fire or fire.
The more I have read the above poem, the more meaning that has spoken to me. We are called to a FIRE! Consumed by sin or grace! Two flames burn in this earth! Of which are you? Love is the unfamiliar “Name”. Notice the “N” is capitalized. Meaning God.
And then there are those most wretched of souls who have no fire burning. They live flameless lives of depression and defeat. They are most miserable of all. Just going through the motions of life. No energy or drive because there is no fire! And their lives give no light!
I have much more to say on this subject. I want to feed the flame! Broken wings that soar! Let us mount up with the wings of the eagle!
The love of anything worthy will take us into the fire and must be pursued with fire!
(The quotes in this article, other than scripture, are from a book entitled: “Teaching with Fire”. My Bible, and this book has been useful to me in preparing for this series of articles.) Hope you enjoy. I will write what feeds my flame and I hope it will feed yours too. We need more of God’s fire in this earth today. This is one little way I have to help stoke His holy fire. More to come.
Wrapped in mystery and secret things, the Caped Crusader overlooks his Gotham? What might a Priest of Christ have in common? Read on if you dare.
The Encounter III > How big is your Gotham? Your personal assignment from God. Is it just your family? I have seen cases where that in itself might be all a person could do, but for most of us, God expects something more. And how do we go about answering that call? Do we give our all, or… something much less…something less sacrificial… something much more “man-made than God-made”. What is the secret side of our Priesthood? What is God’s Covering, his Cloaking, his Anointing? What does it mean to be a “caped crusader” for God? Batman had his secret side, and if I’m a proper Priest of God, so do I.
But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret… And when you pray…go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in secret… And when you fast… don’t make it obvious… then no one will notice you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret…and your Father who sees everything, will reward you. (Excerpts of Matthew 6: 1-18)
Don had a smile on his face as he cruised around the parking lot in his 97 Honda Civic. What a story this car could tell. Everything from the white rear bumper on a silver-gray car, to the rumpled hood, the soldered gas tank, the repaired brake lines, the fact the car sat for three years and the alternator was locked up when he started it. Soaking it with WD40 and forcing it to turn actually worked, and somehow he now had this great job as a “Watchman”, a guard, cruising around a parking lot in a bad area of town, keeping order, protecting, while a small yellow bubble light flashed repeatedly on the roof of his silver-gray car. In some respects it was ridiculous, but in others it was awesome.
His prayers were being answered. So much was happening! When he hired on as part-time, working the evening shift, who could have known the day shift guy would suddenly, without warning, quit! And he was offered the full-time, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday position. God knew. And now his work schedule was as perfect as it could get. Not only that, but he could pray while in that car, and listen to things on radio, preaching, books on tape, etc. etc. The physical need was met and a strategic position acquired, all in one moment, after that very bad day when he chickened out on the Starbucks job and came home depressed. Then he looked out the window and saw this little car waiting to be fixed. Reluctantly he obeyed God’s lead, and now he sat in the car smiling, for God is good and always has a plan.
When the door opened for day-shift, Don was once again able to reconnect with “Oasis of Hope Church” and help with the ministry birthing at that government housing apartment complex. The need was great, and when he reconnected he discovered there was talk of expansion! The Southern Baptist liked what Chris was doing, they had plans to send teams and help him expand to three new complexes! Soon he would have a ministry outreach every week! But this was only one opportunity whose door was opening, and these other two really had his attention.
Pastor Kerry and his wife Twyla. Their Church on Mass. Ave. and the special assignment from God on Pastor Kerry’s heart, that of reaching the “creative people” of the city. You see, the purpose of this ministry was not geographical as much as it was “gifting oriented”. Pastor Kerry, as an artist, had a heart to reach out to other creative type people, which just happened to include “writers”. Don pondered what this special door could lead to? He had always felt a bit of a loner, misunderstood by others who did not have his pondering ways, because he thought deep about things, sought out solitude, as in his little car cruising around, so he could ponder things and create stories revealing the treasures he uncovered in God. What might this new connection lead to? Only God knew. Pastor Kerry wanted to read his newest story as soon as it was ready.
He thought about the unexpected call from a past disciple. How did God resurrect this old connection? Years had passed and this brother was in sore straights. They met after work and spent three hours together. This meeting had started at a Burger King and ended up in prayer in a secluded cemetery. God’s ways are unique, and His Presence had been strong while they prayed, but what could he leave this brother with? A story he had written, “Flapless”. That story had continued to minister, teach, and uplift, long after the two had parted, until they would meet again in one month, and Don was working on another story called, “Grasping the Wind”. God was still using his gift for writing, but how much more might God have planned?
However, the vision itself, that was the other unknown door. He had not been able to convince anyone at the Pentecostal Church to take up this vision. Perhaps because it was still untried. So the vision fell to him alone, to figure it out, to see what God would do, how do you reach your own neighborhood for Christ? The plan was slowly coming together and soon it would launch, but not without complete dedication to the “SECRET THINGS” of our Priesthood in Christ.
Yes, Don knew full well that was how he had gotten this far, and if it were to continue, then so must his Priesthood habits. After his year sabbatical, he fully understood that being a Christian was more than just being a “good person”, but there was a Priesthood. A Priesthood that God spent 4,000 years paying the price for, and when he ripped that veil in two, in the temple, when Christ gave his life on that cross, God the Father said, “Finally! IT is done!” Finally a supernatural life unlike any other was available for God’s people. Now we could be Caped Crusaders, if we are faithful to the secret things.
God is disgusted with his “SPOTLIIGHT seeking people”, who caught up in pride and desire for admiration, hide in their Church Boxes, proclaiming great things in the safety of their own, while neglecting the lost multitudes all around them, even in their very own neighborhood. We live in a day when some Christians make great and expensive journeys to minister one week in a land whose language they do not even speak, and yet they fail to try and reach their own neighborhood or city where they live all year long. What logical sense does this make? These people speak from pulpits as if they are examples?
We need to wake up. We are losing our own country while we hide in our church boxes listening to speakers who hide in the box too. Is it so brave to go to other church boxes in other countries where the people greet you with open arms, and need your money? Perhaps I should not speak such things? I who would compare Christianity to being a Caped Crusader? A Batman? How ridiculous. But if only Christians would be as faithful to the secret things of God, as Batman was to his secret things.
Is our Gotham lost? We are losing it more every day if we do not wake up to this vision. One year alone with God did this to me. I have more to say about this secret life. And there is a book growing, “Grasping the Wind”, written by a Christian Batman, with a neighborhood to reach and a city to save, one secret thing at a time, as it is revealed.