“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Master, the Steward, and the servants

My sister’s house burned and my brother-in-law, Francis, asked me to help fix it up. It’s a 140 year old house, built at the end of the Civil War, and fixing it up basically means restoration.

He hired a carpenter crew to rebuild the roof and parts of the house structure that were damaged. The lead carpenters are Latinos who speak English pretty well, but the workers speak only Spanish. Part of the reason Francis asked me to be his middleman, is that I speak some Spanish, and also I speak carpenter-ese, having been a framing carpenter for years before joining the Navy.

But the practices of the carpenters are not what Francis expected. Their measurements aren’t always accurate, so, often lengths of boards come up short and leave gaps, boards don’t line up flush like they need to in order to prevent the drywall from bowing out or in, floor joists that should meet studs come up short and aren’t fastened tightly. In short, the work is shabby in the eyes of Francis, and also to me in comparison to how I was trained when building custom homes.

Francis is very particular about how work should be done, because he owns the house and bears all the responsibility for it existing for another 140 years, as well as being sellable if he were to put it on the real estate market at some point in the future. But regardless of his future plans for the house, it belongs to him and he has the sole right to perfection in restoration standards. That right does not rest with the workers; it doesn’t even rest with me.

I am just a go-between. I represent Francis to the carpenters. What I say goes for them, because Francis has vested me with that authority. He comes in occasionally to look around. Often has he been pained at the workmanship, and has questioned me for allowing it to happen. Periodically, he speaks directly to the carpenter foreman, but usually he talks to me and expects me to communicate his desires and to see that what he wanted they did. It’s been painful to me to see Francis less than overjoyed at all the work that has been done. When he points out the gaps and misalignments and shoddiness, I feel his grief to the core. Francis is like my own brother, and I care about how he feels. I don’t want him burdened down with worry and disappointment all the time. I want to see delight and thrill on his face and on my sister’s face.

The carpenters don’t have the same interest in Francis’ feelings as I do. They will do their job and move on to some other home owner. I don’t move on. I am Francis’ brother-in-law forever. I will see him and speak to him and know his concerns or happiness in the house and on other life issues for decades to come. I am compelled to please him in everything with this project. I want to serve him, to make him happy, to relieve him of all doubts and valid fears, not by convincing him that his concerns aren’t valid, but by accepting that they are real, and fixing them or preventing them.

Here lies a beautiful object lesson from life on earth, which shows the role of Christ as our mediator with His Father. God has infinitely high standards for the upbuilding of His kingdom. Much damage has been waged against Him by Lucifer, His kingdom of unfallen worlds and the angelic hosts have been salvaged at the cross, but He remains yet to save humanity. We have the high privilege of vindicating God and His law which have been under attack by Lucifer. Adam had that privilege in the garden, but fell under the subterfuge of the tempter. Yet, in His exceeding grace and faith, God has continued to make Earth the place to vindicate His character. Utterly surprising and amazing to us and the universe is God’s determination to allow faulty and defective humanity, through His grace and power, to demonstrate His righteousness in His mercy and condescension toward us who will never merit even His least kindness. Yet this is His glory.

In our work in His service of self-sacrificing love, we fall infinitely far short of His expectations. All of our work is shabby, shoddy, half-hearted, and reckless, by His standards and even by our own standards of right-treatment of others. We need a mediator, we need a Savior. Christ made Himself a servant. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, …. made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:5-7).

His Father’s representative, He alone understood His Father’s standards, and He alone could fulfill those standards, in His own work and also through His work in His servants. For it is written, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10).

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:1-6).

Jesus alone comprehends the depth of pain that has grieved His Father. Sin has been allowed to persist during all this great controversy between God and Satan, and our Father has not been so distant as to not feel every murder, every lie, every broken trust, every broken heart. And all this perpetrated under the guise of a better government by Lucifer, his experiment which he claims is only limping along because God keeps interfering with its development and also because of our stupidity. We can’t fathom the issues at stake and the warfare that has gone on over our heads for the past 6,000+ years. His human children, created more in His image than any other creation, are completely ruined by sin, a condition He can never accept, yet His torment is that He can’t live without us, and it slays His great heart of love that He can’t protect us from the satanic master of our choosing.

But Christ, who alone knows His Father perfectly, has determined to ease Him of His pain. He was made in our form that we could more easily identify with Him. He represents His Father to us, and us to His Father. He took on the form of man, forever cloaking His divinity with humanity, forever the Son of man. His appearance alone speaks volumes in our behalf. This not to appease a resentful King of the universe or to turn His love toward us, but to allow aid in the process of remediation and remission of His Father’s pain. The tremendous hatred for sin in the heart of God will never be comprehended by us, His finite creatures. We do not bow before His sense of justice as we ought, and only His mercy and love overlook our failing and understand our minute comprehension. But the Son of God comprehends it all.

And through His work of intercession, He will have a people redeemed and ready to present before His Father, amid great fanfare and glorious praise to God’s love. Sin finally past, all its issues and ramifications will be resolved and silenced, not by force of arms, but by the force of self-sacrificing love. God’s house will finally be finished and perfectly glorious. His universe, again free from danger and permanently barring rebellion and guile from its borders, God will be surrounded by all His family that is safe and sound.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Rev. 21:3).

Friday, December 29, 2006

Three kinds of people

I was invited to a dinner party recently. The hosting family is from India. He is a consultant at the World Bank, and has a private practice teaching Yoga; she has her own business selling some wares, I don’t remember what. They are living very comfortably, and seem the perfect example of prosperity in America and its amazing social arrangement to provide upward mobility and to get wealth that wasn’t inherited. While they may disagree with me, they have graduated to society’s upper-crust.

So we sat around their lush living room introducing ourselves, beginning with my friend, who invited me, introducing the host and hostess. Each person followed suit introducing themselves. Everyone did so by trying to sound humble while telling of what they do, what they accomplish, how they prosper financially and have made their way up the social ladder.

I was very tempted to get nervous at all their accomplishments and endorsements of each other, since mine were nothing by comparison, “I’m working on my sister’s house.” Earlier in life I would have froze up in intimidation and tried to be a mouse until I could escape the presence of the shame-filled atmosphere. But I was reminded of a thought that held me steady and enabled me to enjoy myself and even add to the social gathering.

This lesson I had learned many years ago, but it had remained only a mental precept until that gathering a couple of weeks ago. It is simply based upon something God told Rebecca when she was pregnant with twins, Esau and Jacob. “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23). The vain and profane Esau and progeny would serve the clever and one-day spiritual Jacob and his descendents. This is a wonderful hope and a powerful principle.

There exist three kinds of people in the world: those who live on the physical plane, those in the intellectual domain, and those of the spiritual. The folks in the physical realm focus their attention on looks and sensation. He wants the muscular physique, she desire to look dainty and pretty. He wants to be tough, she to be comfortable. He wants the car that roars to everyone around that he’s coming or has arrived, she that dream house that helps prop her up in the eyes of others who are predisposed to love the same things. This kind doesn’t go beyond the five senses; their appetites are in the senses; their satisfactions are found here. These qualities seem harmless in themselves, but they produce cowards in the presence of their superiors, the intellectual.

Those who have the mental faculties to concentrate their talents in the intellect will always be in charge of those whose talents don’t go beyond the physical. That nation that excels in education and technology will rule those nations with less emphasis or opportunity in learning. The intelligent ones will always be the boss of the physically strong. The brain will always control the brawn, and cleverness will outdo the cleavage.

But the highest level we have yet to speak of. The spiritual person will always rule over the intellectual and the sensual person. The spiritual has a peace in the storms of life that are incomprehensible to the others who suffer a bitter and unshakable self-centered nature that goads the soul. They labor under a torment that nothing on earth can quell, not even intellectual attainment and accolades. Recognition and praise, discovery and the satisfaction of curiosity, resolution of nature’s mysteries, all fail of gaining peace of mind, which can only come through bowing to God’s love. God speaks His mysteries to those who seek Him because the mind of the finite has connected with the mind of the Infinite, and those who live otherwise vainly seek to discover the reason of things in life, which the humble child of God has learned in the service of the Master Teacher. The two lesser groups, who have mastered the body and the mind, but not self, envy and vainly compete with the sanctified ones who, having surrendered to God and who being converted and made like a little child, become His channel to bless the world.

The converted and surrendered ones, who have learned spirituality through hardship and loneliness, are the true masters of the human race. It’s not enough to wear the religious garb or promulgate the popular theology; those who do this are only the sensual and intellectual trying to be the spiritual person without having suffered under the difficult lessons of life in order to obtain peace with God. While it is true, that the priesthood has, from the beginning of recorded history, been aloof and held in highest esteem, it has only been the biggest scam producing of the worst evils. It was a false priesthood, and in reality it was again only intellectuals ruling the weaker-minded.

The heart is the source of true spirituality. Mercy, faith, love, godliness, freedom, joy—hardly what appears can make world leadership, yet truly what has moved the world to real excellence. The heart, the spring of every right impulse, the seat of self-sacrificing love, humility, and honesty with self, which are the condition of all true learning, prepares its students to receive the lessons that not even the intellectuals can grasp, who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:7). Those who discover firm reliance on God and His love discover the narrow gate to true success that so few enter into, much less ever find. Those who learn faith stumble upon truth, which weaving like a thin vein of gold its way through every right principle and action, leads on as a guide through all the temptations and resultant miseries that plague the intellectual and sensuous world.

They are not usually looked upon as great, yet they are sought out for answers. They usually tread among the lowly, but do not fear to mingle with the well to do. Their only purpose is to serve God first and others next, to be a blessing to the world. And their self-forgetful wisdom goes uncontested and is greatly appreciated by the whole world. And thus, God succeeds in blessing our race, and is satisfied.

“That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:31)

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Day When Christ Was Born

On which day was Christ born? The news has been out for quite a while now that He wasn’t born on Christmas day. It has become known that that day came straight out of ancient paganism.

In the effort to worship Lucifer, the prince of rebellion, and also to worship nature and man’s great genius in science, the spring equinox in March was made a special day in honor of Venus, the Queen of Heaven, the Goddess of the Eastern Star. She was also known as Ishtar or Easter, and to worship her meant the celebration of sexuality; it was a day for priestly orgies, and general promiscuity among the people.

Then nine months later, the time of human gestation, was another big celebration in honor of the birth of her son, on the winter solstice. It was all about sun worship, praying that the sun would come back for another year of warmth and light. In good faith that all that would happen, the giving of gifts and merrymaking was made a large part of the ceremonies. It was a time of thanksgiving to the great god, Nimrod, who was supposedly born on that day to give life to the world. It was an opportunity to forget the miserable life here in this world of sin by becoming slushing drunken yet still be considered socially respectable.

This ritual, of course, was the father of Christmas and New Year’s Day. All this fun the early Catholic church adopted in order to gain proselytes into the faith. This practice of baptizing unholy holidays of the pagan world grew more and more bold through the 4th century to the end of the reign of the church of Rome. Today, Protestants give their homage to the apostatized mother church, by continuing the idolatrous festivals she sanctified from paganism—“holy days” that are only form, and empty of the true power of the gospel. The religion of following these holy days of the church of Rome is really a method of forgetting God which passes as a method of remembering Him. Christmas, the substitute birthday of Christ, is only a mockery of the true. And the devil is behind it all.

But the Bible shows us when Jesus was born. I’m glad a friend helped me see this. It’s actually very clearly documented in the Scriptures. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about this subject.

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.” (Lk. 1:5-7)

As the story continues, while Zechariah performed his duty of burning incense in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared. Gabriel informed Zechariah that his aged wife would have a son. (vs. 8-12)

Said Gabriel, “‘And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’” (vs. 8-17)

Zechariah worked in the temple during the fourth month of the ceremonial year. This is evident when looking at the order in which Abijah served in the temple. According to 1 Chronicles 24, the priestly order was divided up between Eleazer and Ithamar, two sons of Aaron. (1 Chron. 24:1-19). In verse 10 we see when Abijah’s turn came around during the year. Of the 24 scheduled courses of service, the seventh course was given “to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah….”
Here we see that the descendents from these two sons of Aaron, 24 in number, served in the temple throughout the year, each for about 2 weeks. Thus Hakkoz began his round at the beginning of the fourth month, and Abijah began half-way through that month and officiated until its end.

Upon finishing up his duties at the end of the fourth month, Zechariah returned home and Elizabeth conceived. “And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived.” (Lk. 1:23,24 KJV).

As we can see, the time periods concerning the births of John and Jesus, mentioned in Luke, are not based on the calendar year. The months mentioned start from the conception of John in Elizabeth.

Continuing the story, “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’” (vs. 26-33).

Now that we know that Mary conceived the Son of God in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, we have the starting point for counting down to the month Jesus was born. So let’s do some math.

Here is the sequence according to the monthly cycle of life with Elizabeth and Mary.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th

1. Elizabeth conceives John in her first month.
2. Mary conceives Jesus Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy.
3. John is born in the ninth month after his conception.
4. Jesus is born in the 15th month after John’s conception.

Referencing the Jewish ceremonial monthly calendar,
5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

1. Elizabeth conceives John in the 5th month.
2. Mary conceives Jesus in the 10th month.
3. John is born in the 2nd month.
4. Jesus is born in the 7th month.
Thus we see that Christ was born close to the beginning of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar year. This equates to near the end of our October.

The timing of Christ’s birth was very significant. The seventh month was a very important month for Israel. It was called the Day of Atonement. It was the month of judgment, the end of the ceremonial year, when God determined whether or not to keep them as His favored people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the Lord by fire.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a Sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your Sabbath.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the Lord by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.’” (Lev. 23:23-36).

Jesus was born the Messiah, the Holy One, who was to be our atonement.” God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Rom. 3:25 NIV) “For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17 NIV).” And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Rom. 5:11 KJV).

Atonement means reconciliation. Through the coming of the Son of God, we are able again to come to God and serve Him without fear of rejection. Jesus was the only perfect one, the only one in whom the Father was well pleased. He alone, could satisfy the infinitely high expectations of His Father, our Father. Because of sin, we were cut off from life from God. Without His loving care and protection, we are nothing and can accomplish nothing in this life.

Sin had devastated God. This was symbolized, in Revelation, by a book which was completely sealed up and impossible to open. “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” (Rev. 5:1-4). As much as He loved His sinful children, He cannot allow for sin. He cannot endanger the rest of His unfallen universe by contact with us. He could have and should have destroyed us with sin, and have been done with it. But He couldn’t live without us, either.

By Christ embodying that perfection and perfect love that satisfied the Ancient of Days, the only One who had the ultimate in perfect character, and then laying it all down to death, both Father and Son suffering together, can God be forever assured that His creation will be safe from sin, and that sin will not arise the second time. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all…. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Is. 53:5,6,10,11).

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (1 Cor. 5:18-21).
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:2). ”For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.” (Eph. 2:18). ”Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Heb. 6:19).

The atonement has been made. Sin has been dealt with. We have access to God once again. Reconciliation is possible. All we must do is accept it and let it transform us.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Avalanche of Eternal Life

Jesus had four books from which he studied and repeated his lessons. The scriptures, experiences in life, His daily toil, and the book of nature. Today let’s see how the mysteries of nature speak to us the mystery of godliness.

The avalanche theory of transistors provides good exhibition of the unseen work of God and how we must work in cooperation with His work of salvaging us from sin.

Transistors are made of material called a dielectric. In other words, a material of mostly positive or negative charge. The dielectric is “grown” in a lab where an element gas “settles” into a very thin solid, and then can be chopped up to size. The positive dielectric attracts negative charges and repels positive charges. The negative dielectric does the opposite.

A dielectric tends to concentrate the electric field within itself as voltage is applied to it. As the dielectric interacts with the applied electric field, charges are redistributed within the atoms or molecules of the dielectric. This redistribution alters the shape of the applied electrical field both inside and in the region near the dielectric material. (Sorry for the technical words, some of this is cut/pasted from a webpage on this subject.

In the dielectric, when voltage is applied, all the protons (positive parts of the each atom of the dielectric) run away from a positive voltage source, and all the negative electrons move toward the positive source of voltage. Since some dielectric materials are positive and some negative, the material, as a whole, either repels voltage or attracts it, just like a magnet with magnetism. The reaction inside the dielectric is the reverse from the above description for negative voltage sources.

Now it gets interesting. If we place two opposing charged dielectric substances beside each other, a positive dielectric next to a negative dielectric, we have a composite material that will insulate part-way through, even though it could conduct in the second half. But if we make the first material much thinner than the second material, so that the repelling ability of the thinner material is much less than the attracting ability of the thicker dielectric, then as the voltage increases, the barrier that is repelling the voltage, and which holds back any conduction of current, will atomically become thinner as the electrons redistribute away or toward the applied voltage. And when voltage becomes high enough, the electrons pushing from the conductive half will finally arc through, and the insulating “thin” dielectric will fail under the onrush of backed up electrons that were trying harder and harder to get through the thin insulating dielectric, as the voltage increased. This is called an “Avalanche” because the threshold was reached at the point of insulation breakdown and a sudden large movement of voltage breaks through the barrier holding it back and rushes in to its attracting voltage.

According to one website, “Once the necessary field strength has been achieved, all that is necessary to start the avalanche effect is a free electron, and since even in the best insulators a tiny number of free electrons are always present, an avalanche will always occur. In devices that exploit the avalanche effect, the electric field is normally kept just below the threshold at which avalanche breakdown is possible, resulting in a current that is highly dependent on the generation of free electrons.

As avalanche breakdown begins, free electrons are accelerated by the electric field to very high speeds. As these high-speed electrons move through the material they inevitably strike atoms. If their velocity is not sufficient for avalanche breakdown (because the electric field is not strong enough) they are absorbed by the atoms and the process halts. However, if their velocity is high enough, when they strike an atom, they knock an electron free from it, ionizing it (and this is referred to as impact ionization for obvious reasons). Both the original electron and the one that has just been knocked free are then accelerated by the electric field and strike other atoms, in turn knocking additional electrons free. As this process continues, the number of free electrons moves through the material increases exponentially, often reaching a maximum in just picoseconds. The avalanche can result in the flow of very large currents, limited only by the external circuitry.” An avalanche in picoseconds— that is, millionths of a millionth of a second.

So, in a transistor which is composed of three opposing charged dielectrics, if a huge voltage is sitting at part of it, which is like the large material of dielectric in the above example, it will sit there waiting until the thin dielectric material next to it senses just a very small voltage, and the Avalanche of that large voltage will short circuit, through the third dielectric, to ground. Thus, a very small amount of voltage can control a very large voltage. In radio electronics, this allows a weak signal passing through the air and vibrating an antena, to be added to a large voltage from a power supply in the radio, and resulting in vibrating a large speaker and turning an inaudible radio signal into an audible large noise.

What are we getting at here? How does this apply to spirituality? Maybe some have noticed the lesson already.

Our strength toward goodness, like the small voltage on the thin dielectric, is very minimal, if alive at all. But we can ally ourselves with God’s power for that goodness and love, which is a huge resource, even infinitely and unimaginably so! Our goodness is only sparks that die out ever so quickly. (Is. 50:11). But He is a God who answers by fire. (1 Kings 18:24). As in the case of Elijah, the fire from God consumed the sacrifice, the stones of the altar, and even licked up the water that had been poured on top of the sacrificial lamb.

God is ever ready to give us all the power we need to move the mountains of unbelief and sin in us and for those we love. “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18) “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5). “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” (Is. 27:5). “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (Jn. 1:12). “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) .

But how do we normally respond to Christ’s invitation to take hold of His strength? Very feebly. Our natural self-sufficiency and pride feels no need for Someone else running our business, while we make a mess of our life. Yet, though we are weak in righteousness, He will more than make up for the difference. He is that large dielectric of potential energy in His infinite patience and self-sacrificing love, just waiting to imbue us with all that He has. He has a thousand ways to provide for our salvation, of which we know nothing.

Then how are we moved to take hold of His strength? Simple. He works subconsciously in us a desire for His help, and He does this for everyone on earth. We can’t even begin the process of receiving of His abundant grace without His involvement. But as we subconsciously respond to small dispensations of His goodness, faith begins to grow. Something out of nothing—the gift of faith out of obstinate rebellion. But is there anything consciously for us to do? Yes, there is. We must approach God. How do we do that? By moving in close to Him, like the opposing charged dielectrics butted tightly next to each other, by making ourselves available to Him through reading of His words and commandments to us, talking to Him of our most intimate desires and hopes, and obeying what we learn of Him to the maximum extent possible. Our obedience may be small and unworthy; like the opposing charged dielectric materials, our perverse will may be full of opposition and refusals to obey, which in no way counts for the salvation that He has promised to give. Our promises and resolutions may have been like ropes of sand, but we can choose to be Christians. The simple situating of ourselves next to Him in our hopes for a relationship to grow, counts as a green light to God; it is the big GO sign that we have chosen Him instead of service to the devil. He now has our permission to act for our rescue. As we use our will to obey Him, He imbues it with the power from His love and goodness. This is the secret to every successful Christian. Failure to expend effort to trust in God’s love will avail only failure in spiritual life and loss in the material life.

And, through His excellent working, as we grow in faith, through His applied loving-kindness (and despite our ups and downs in response to Him), our desire for Him begins to pierce through the insulating barriers that have kept us from constant communion with Him, and the influence of His Spirit begins to have effect on us. Small at first, and possibly after a considerably long process, which for Abraham took 25 years, for Moses 40 years, and for other people varying times, our gift of faith finally lays hold of God’s grace in a way never before experienced in our life. “Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus.” Desire of Ages, p. 173. His grace avalanches upon us, as He had been perched, anxiously wanting to do for so long, and He is finally satisfied to have another redeemed child reconciled to Him, receiving from Him constantly, while we find obedience to Him bringing us the highest joy, and reap the benefits of living in accord with the just and holy laws of His creation.

Paul described this avalanche of God’s grace so: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, …who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 1:12-14). David compared it to oil. “It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.” (Ps. 133:2,3). “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”(Titus 3:4-7)

As God works in us to respond to His gracious forgiveness and acceptance, we draw dangerously close to surrender. Hardly comprehending our proximity to it, all we know is a hunger for more of His self-sacrificing love. Then suddenly the soul gives up, casting itself down at His feet in thankful worship for a realization of His mercy and patience toward us. “(The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4,5).

Suddenly, the God who answers by fire, moves in and provides victory over our unbelief, as well as for character defects, one falling after another, until we are purified, “even as He is pure,” (1Jn. 3:3) awaiting His soon coming with all His angelic escort.

“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” (Lk. 8:7,8)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A New Man

Jacob had a small problem. Yet it’s a worldwide problem. Willfulness, proud dependence on my own great intelligence, self-congratulation, are pandemic. It crosses all regions and all religions, all nationalities and cultures. It is the human problem. Arabs and Jews, Protestants and Catholics, from the elite in metropolitan penthouses to the lowly family living in a hut built on poles suspended above the jungle floor, from the Pacific islanders to the Sahara Bedouins.

We all have a problem and it’s a big one. It tears at us and turns us all into hateful liars, thieves, and murderers. We are all made of one blood and one fallen human nature. No race is superior, no nation or tribe or family has escaped the plague of sin. “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom. 3:13-18). Arraigned before the true standard of God’s Law, the whole world stands speechless and guilty. (vs.19).

How can you get a clearer picture of us than what God describes? In light of all those allegations against us, how have we managed to exist in God’s sight all this time? By His grace and mercy and patience and love, alone!

“To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him;
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him….
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand Thy truth.
Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth: for we obeyed not His voice….
We do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies.” (Dan. 9:9-11,13,14,18).

So we all have issues; we are all dysfunctional. Some look better than others, but that is simply that they are able to cover it up better. Better clothes, a facelift, heavy medication, more free-time while their slaves do all the work—it really appears they are free from the consequences of sin, yet they are just as miserable, even more so. But God is faithful to all, who will work with us to teach us to trust in Him and to lay down our proud wills. When that happens, the vain and supercilious become serious and unobtrusive. The drunken become sober and the profligate become pure. Forgiveness comes easy, patience a cinch. Like Saul of Tarsus, and the king his namesake, both were given a new heart, both changed into another man. (1Sam. 10:6,9) Even so, we can be born again and be given a new lease on life.

Jacob came away from his wrestling match with God a completely different person than the one going into the struggle. Before, he was fretful and disturbed; afterward, nothing could bother him and destroy the peace he made with God. Before, he was at-odds with and unyielding to the God of his father; afterward, he could love Him and fear Him. Before, he was accusational and self-defensive, afterward self-forgetful and ready to diffuse trouble. Before, he served himself, and then others out of obligation, because he had to; afterward he served God out of love for Him, which led him to serve everyone he met because now he loved to. Self-sufficiency broken, he was freed from serving self and soared above the high places of the earth, having overcome through the patient power of God. (Is. 58:14).

“Whosoever committeth sin, is a servant of sin. The servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8: 34-36).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Humility of Jesus

When the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness, (Mk. 1:12) did that affect Christ’s frame of mind? According to Matthew and Luke, the Spirit “led” Him into the desert. Why would Mark say Jesus was driven? Because the Spirit is all about peace and power. Jesus, who had the Spirit without measure, had a deep peace without bottom, and energy like no other. The Spirit’s driving was like in the parable of the marriage feast, the king commanded his servants to go out into the byways and “compel” people to come in. (Lk. 14:23). This parable symbolized the preaching of the gospel just before Jesus returns, and the compulsion was not the point of a sword, but the powerful force of love. Similarly, Paul was uncontrollably constrained to preach because of the magnanimous “love of Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:14).

This indicates that when Jesus was driven by the Spirit, that He was driven by such an abundance of supernatural love and peace that it brought with it a self-possession which would withstand 40 days without food. His was a surrender to His Father’s love that left Him so humble that self-will was non-existent. His desire to test His indomitable faith was like a muscle that craves to be worked and stretched. For Jesus, temptation held no lure. The devil tried every trick he could devise, but Christ’s shield of faith was impregnable to every one of Satan’s assaults. “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” (Jn. 14:30).

Servant of servants, Christ came to show us the Father. The intense meekness of the Son of God gave the express image of His Father, our Father. Down He stepped from the blinding throne of heaven, the object of His Father’s love, and then further down, and still further, all the way to death. Nothing could disturb His peace. It would have been impossible for crucifixion to test Christ’s sinlessness and surrender while communion with God kept His peace fixed and sealed, but His Father broke Their connection. As it is written, “For He [God] hath made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [Christ].” (2 Cor. 5:21). When Jesus was made to be sin, His Father had to turn away in grief and disgust. It was that turning away and breaking of communion that broke the Savior’s heart and wrung from His lips the cry, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Christ’s humility wasn’t just for effect to gain the attention of religious leaders. His humility caused Him to labor incessantly for the service and uplifting of all with whom He came in contact.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8).