Deceit vs. Counter-Deceit: Alt-Reality and the Collapse of Common Consensus ( By Chris Anderson)

(The following is an article written by a dear brother, Chris Anderson. I know Chris and have spent time with him in worship, prayer, and discussion about the things of God. When I received this article via email I was once again amazed at how the Spirit of God speaks through his people and wonderfully reminded of how we are all together one in Christ: diverse members, one Body, joined to one Head through whom we share the heart and mind of the Lord.  I immediately asked him for permission to share it with NLI Ministries readers.)

 

Deceit vs. Counter-Deceit: Alt-Reality and the Collapse of Common Consensus ( By Chris Anderson)

I Jn. 5:20 …So that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true….

Gen. 11: 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth….

Ex. 10: 22 …And there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 They did not see one another….

II Th. 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…

Is. 8:12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.”

II Tim. 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

A phenomenon has begun arising to destroy the world’s core capacity for consensus through communications as chiefly conducted by electronic media. Two articles have already come forth from this ministry in this regard under the caption “Don’t Believe a Word of It.” Yet given the intensity and vastness of what is developing, a third article is required.

In order to deal with this deceitful phenomenon, it is necessary to begin by establishing our reference point for truth. I direct your attention to the five scripture passages that head this article. The first identifies our source of truth. The remaining passages all identify the deceit.

The Truth

So we begin with the truth. The knowledge of all truth is ultimately traced to and anchored in the knowledge of God through Christ through the Spirit, Who Is Truth. We who share together in this ministry are seekers of Truth and truth reconciliation inside of our common knowing of Him Who Is True. We rely on the Spirit of Truth in Jesus Christ for our individual understanding and in turn for our cooperative and collaborative common understanding.

So in moving to discuss what we will discuss here, it is vital that I first reestablish our ultimate common reference point for what Truth is. Truth is not established through the empirical knowledge of our senses, which can deceive us, nor in revelation per se, which can also be deceiving to the false heart. Truth is established in our spiritual knowing of “Him Who Is True.”

Thus the more we know Him through time spent in surrendered waiting and listening in the Lord’s fellowship through His written word, the better we come to know “the truth” about all other “else” pertaining to this life and world.

The Collapse of Common Consensus

The reason this is now more vital than we have ever perceived it to be is because the common bases we have historically accepted for scientifically knowing “the truth” about life in this world are now being destroyed in front of our eyes under a deceitful power of accusatory suspicion, creating mass confusion and conflict throughout world society. This assault is being executed throughout the vast networks of electronic media by which we as a world receive information.

In 2016, we touched on the “fake news” controversy that became and remains the buzzword at the heart of political turmoil particularly in America. Through the ability to manipulate electronic media including photography and video, a capacity has always existed and has been exercised to skew news reporting to create false reports and impressions. It is deceit in the first dimension.

However, in the wake of the exposure of such capacity, a second dimensional counter-deceit in the form of accusatory suspicion has arisen to deny there to be any truth to any reporting of any news. The capacity for any reporting of any kind is assaulted to where any and all news is deemed “fake news.” Thus the capacity for common belief in any factuality is being destroyed, producing culture wide confusion, chaos and mental anarchy. In its place, alternate realities based upon conspiratorial conjecture are being advanced as the true reality, not based on the word of God or of His Spirit.

This scenario is not confined to politics but is reaching out to accuse the fundamentals of empirical scientific belief by which society commonly functions.  The most basic propositions of commonly accepted natural reality are now being assaulted as “false” and “fake,” beginning with the charge that scientific belief in a round earth is a hoax conspiratorially foisted upon mankind. Such proponents are in turn devoted to proving the alt reality of a “flat earth.”

In tandem with this is the charge that everything related to the science of space exploration over the last 60 years has been “faked” (man never went to the moon or even into outer space. It was all filmed in Hollywood.) Again, the result of this is massive debate, confusion, the destruction of the capacity to believe anything to be true and for common societal consensus; and the creation of competing alt-realities (worldviews established merely upon conspiratorial conjectures).

Deceit vs. Counter-Deceit

The difficulty at the heart of these controversies is that one dimension of deceit is being released against another dimension of deceit in order to destroy any reliable common perception of natural reality so as to create mental anarchy across the entire human culture.

Please soak in that last statement:

One dimension of deceit is being released against another dimension of deceit in order to destroy any reliable common perception of natural reality so as to create mental anarchy across the entire human culture.

The reason this must be identified is because the body of Christ is 1) being sucked up into this realm of conspiratorial counter-deceit over the natural realm and 2) is experiencing this conflict within Herself regarding the very things of the Spirit and spiritual truth.

The Lure Without

Let’s take the first point first:

The body of Christ is being sucked up into this realm of conspiratorial counter-deceit over the natural realm.

As Spirit-sensitive believers in Jesus, we inherently know that the world is filled with deception. We know that conspiracies exist on many levels, both political and scientific. The New World Order is such a conspiracy. So is the theory of Evolution. These are fairly well known and identifiable conspiracies based in the readily observable evidence.

What we are not however as savvy to is the counter-deception of “alt-real” philosophy based in a spirit of conspiracy exposure that plays off the first dimension of deceit. Under this spirit, true spiritual discernment corrupts into a counterfeit spirit of suspicion on which believers adopt alt-real worldviews based in the belief that all natural reality is being faked—whether political events, violent tragedies, natural disasters or scientific achievements—and their job is to expose it and convert everyone to their alt beliefs.

The net effect of this is that believers are being lured out of their prayer closets and listening chambers, leaving their first love to become caught up into both sides of the conspiratorial “reality” debates, and so swallowed up in the mass confusion. (That is the satanic objective.)

The Lure Within

Now to the second point:

The body of Christ is experiencing this conflict within Herself regarding the very things of the Spirit and spiritual truth.

This ground is more familiar to us but bears repeating. As prophetic people we understand that satan counterfeits spiritual gifts. We know there are false ministers who possess genuine gifts. Judas was the first in that line. We also know there are false / counterfeit gifts that mimic the gifts of the Spirit. There are false tongues and false healings and false miracles. (Simon the sorcerer had this capacity.)

For all these things we require discernment. However we as a body are equally afflicted by the spirit of counter-deceit. It is the spirit of suspicion masking as the spirit of discernment. This spirit’s job is to cast doubt on every work of the Spirit and His ministers, whether genuine or not, charging every Spirit minister and movement with some kind of hidden complicity in the “anti-christ one world agenda,” all bringing the church to a place of internal disempowered confusion and strife. (We saw this so clearly in the Lakeland affair.) The end is to leave the church within Herself wondering, “How can we ever believe whether anything going on is of the Holy Spirit?

Passing the Test

So here is what we want to recognize about what is going on.

First, this counter-spirit of deceit answers to the strong delusion God said He would send in the final end times because people refused to love the Truth. Remember, God is always testing our hearts for the state of our love. It is to this end that the tempter has been released to prove our hearts before Him. We saw this in the teaching on Lying Signs and Wonders. So, if we are a people who fail the test by failing to love the truth, we will become subject to the spirit of counter-delusion.

We should first recognize however that this spirit was not originally intended to judge the church (any more than hell was originally meant for man). The spirit of counter-deceit was intended as judgment on the world. And it is judgment on the world. The chaos now being experienced culture-wide over alt-reality based on the spirit of conspiracy exposure is unlike anything we have ever known.

But because the world is in the church, the church has to be sifted, and if we in the church fail of our first love, we will come under the world’s judgment. Our own common reference points of belief with the world over scientific realities are under this assault. And we are seeing this happen as believers—and I mean prophetic believers—are getting caught up into arguing for the “flat earth.”

The spirit of alt-real counter-deceit is the real power behind the confusion that was put upon Babylon and the darkness experienced in the plague of Egypt. It says it was so dark that they “could not see one another.” This speaks to the destruction of the common reference points for natural reality the world shares among its own.

In the same passage about the plague of darkness, it goes on to say though that “all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.”  This article is meant to be a “sons of Israel” article for God’s people. It is to give light in our dwellings amidst this present darkness. The Lord wants us to remain in His Light as the True One, and not get caught up in the no-win war between deceit and alt-real counter-deceit, where all proponents on all sides lose.

The Pull of Conspiratorial Alt Reality

But in particular, this article is given to keep us from falling into the error of alt-real deception through attacking everything as “fake.” This is where the Lord’s word to Isaiah comes in:

Is. 8:12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.”

Don’t be feeding on “infowars.com” and all the websites and news outlets dedicated to exposing conspiracies, prophetic and otherwise. They do not have the real truth, even if they may have a part of it. They are still feeding on alt-real counter-deception.

Please notice that all this confusion is coming through the mass airwaves. It is all coming through mass electronic communications with the power to manipulate communications media of every kind, audio and visual. And you know who is the prince of the power of the air. The chaos is not coming through your Bible! It’s not coming through your prayer channel!

Staying in the Truth

So one asks,

Then how are we to know what to believe about anything we are hearing? Was 9-11 staged or wasn’t it? Was the shooting in Las Vegas staged or wasn’t it? Did people really die, or was it all actors? Did some people die at Sandy Hook and the Boston Marathon, or was it all faked? What did NASA fake and what didn’t it fake about the space program? (Are the Challenger astronauts really still alive?) Are these fires and earthquakes and F5 tornadoes being caused by HAARP or by chemtrails or by God?

All I am going to say right now is what I said in the beginning: Stay in your prayer closet, listen for the Spirit, and wait. Don’t come out of there. Don’t venture out into the airwaves.

Remember what Vicki [she and her family are in the midst of the fires raging in California] just said to us about staying hidden in the Lord during the fire. Some things cannot be known until the smoke clears, literally as well as spiritually. (The ones actually in the midst of the fire had no way of knowing what was happening! Their airwaves were cut off.) You just need to abide under the shadow of the military love of the Lord!

In due time, everything will be revealed for what it really was. We don’t have to know what it really was. If something was faked, or part faked, it doesn’t matter. If it was man caused or God caused or both, it doesn’t matter. Determining who did something doesn’t determine whether or not it was God’s judgment. (It doesn’t matter why the Tower of Siloam collapsed. It didn’t change anything for the eighteen who died under it.)

The Lord is on a different playing field with you than that. So don’t venture out to get caught up into the confusion. When you need to know what you need to know, the Spirit will make it clear. He is the Spirit of Truth. But He doesn’t reveal to us all that He knows. He only reveals what we need to know when we need to know it.

As pertains to this ministry, we will only be discussing airwaves issues and any related conspiracy points at the Lord’s convicting of their need to be discussed, and no further. We will offer to this Circle private spirit witness and testimony to whatever is revealed and prompted to be discussed. But we will not be entering into alt-reality discussions and debates over unverifiable conflicting evidences regarding what is said over the public airwaves. This is for your assurance going forward.

&&&&&&&&&&

I have written this to stablish, strengthen and settle hearts, to keep us from counter-delusion posing as “true reality” and from all those things Paul speaks of as “foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

If we can pass this test, we will be well on our way to readiness for the Lord’s voice when He calls our name at the Exodus.

With steadfast love,

Chris Anderson

First Love Ministry

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Operation Cold Heart

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

One of the most if not the most tragic signs of the end of the age is one we tend to overlook the most-hearts in which love has grown cold. The Christian heart, indwelt by the Holy Spirit is to be ablaze with love for God and love for others. But as we witness the strategies of the Evil One being played out across the land, we understand that perhaps his primary goal is to replace the flame of a heart filled with the love of God with the icy resolve of love for self.

True agape love as it is understood within the context of the Trine God is always “other than.” The Father says of the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever.” The Son says to the Father, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” The Spirit glorifies the Son as God’s love is poured out in our hearts, and we cry, “Abba!” And then ultimately we see God’s “other than love” realized in the person of Jesus who gave himself for and to us. This heart of humility, preference , and sacrifice as seen in Christ is to burn within us. We are to have the same disposition as was found in Jesus who, “though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.” This is a heart on fire with love! A stark contrast to the cold, self-centered heart we see on display in many who name the name of the Lord today.

Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.

Sadly, even now many of us are being deceived and have grown cold as deceptive spirits and demonic teachings insinuate themselves into our hearts. One characteristic that is always present in a heart grown cold is the emphasis on “my, me, and mine.” As lawlessness increases the heart can be taken captive by “causes, movements, and things.” The sad result is a heart that once burned with the love of God and others becomes a cold heart that loves itself more than anything or anyone.

Fortunately, when it comes to “Operation Cold Heart,” we have been provided with a fullproof defense: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Rethinking Church Practice and Liturgy

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.  No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say.  But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.  Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul.  One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said [ever wonder how he said it?], “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.

There are so many things that are revealed to us within these various pericopes of the Bible; I must admit that I find my mind wanting to go in several different directions. But I ‘ll put forth a sincere effort to stay focused on what the title of the article indicates that the content found herein will be. I’ve thought about these things for a LONG TIME, studied them in Bible College/Seminary, but woke up this morning and as I worshipped, felt the desire to put some things down “on paper.”

Truthfully, I suppose that it was something I read yesterday that stoked these embers again. I was reading an About section a church had included on their website, and it read something to the effect of, “And we believe that worship [singing] puts us into the position to receive the preaching/teaching of the Word..” I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, and I began to think again: Why do we do “church” the way we do it? Why do we hold to the practices/liturgies that we do? And ultimately, why do we call what we do worship?

If you’ve ever studied Church History, the obvious answer to the questions I’ve asked extend all the way back to what is known as the Reformation. For the uninitiated or perhaps I should refer to you as “the blessed,” simply stated, the Reformation was what caused the existence of what we call the Protestant church. A breaking away from the Catholic Church ultimately resulted in what we have today: Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, and so on. The Reformers rejected many of the teachings that the Catholic Church maintained. And after much fighting and bloodshed (even amongst the Reformers themselves), the Protestant Church came to be. But the Reformers retained some of the liturgies and practices of the Catholic system, including the priest.  Only now he was called the Pastor. Insert spooky time travel music…, and we come to the year 2017.

Today, we have divided “church” into everything that comes before the Pastor preaches/teaches, i.e., worship and the “true reason” for our gathering together- The Word. Usually it looks something like this: 3 Songs (A good fast one to get ’em going, then some medium to slow ones to induce “worship”), the offering gets collected, the Pastor preaches/teaches (nowadays there may be a “team” that fulfills this position), prayers are scattered throughout at different points during the “service,” and then you go home. This paradigm has been “successful” for a long time. The trouble is: 1) According to statistics, it’s not working anymore. 2) You don’t find it anywhere in the New Testament.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is awakening the Body of Christ to the reality that we need to change. He is challenging us to prayerfully and humbly reconsider the practices and liturgies that we have made into idols. A mighty Wind of God is sweeping among his people: shifting, moving, changing, reviving, and stirring our hearts to surrender all. And asking those who lead, “Are you willing to relinquish control? Is it success or my heart that you truly seek?” Sometimes, the two are not synonymous.

Perhaps the reason for this “awakening” has come to remind us of what true worship is. Worship is relationship, namely, the perichoretical relationship of the Trinity. And our worship can only be “understood” within the context of this relationship, and our participation in it. It is not something we do apart from God, to get to him, or to get him to come to us. Worship is something we “do” in Him. Although worship may/will be expressed through our actions, it is not merely things that we do: singing, preaching, praying, Bible-study, service, etc… It is who we are, men and women living their lives in Jesus, participating in the very life of the Triune God. That which the Father, Son and Spirit have known from all of eternity has been given to us. Before there were angels, planets or people, there was worship. There is no Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…   Worship is not centered around any aspect of worship or liturgical practice, it is centered around the person of Jesus and his union with his people. And it can look different in every gathering as the Spirit provides the order.

As worship is relational, derived from the mysterious perichoretical union the Church has with the Triune God, our coming together is not designated to the control of any individual other than the Spirit of God. While there are leadership gifts,  the shepherds/pastors who feed, watch, care, and guard the souls of God’s people are but one expression. According to scripture, God has also placed within the Body Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists, who are also to equip the people of God for the work of ministry. And as we see in the passages above, when the Church comes together it is not only the “office gifts” that are used, but each member functions according to the grace that God has allotted. We do not have to fear that chaos will ensue, but can trust that as we humbly submit to one another, the Spirit will provide decency and order and correction if needed. To put it in today’s vernacular, “This ain’t no one man show.”

Before I am accused of denying that biblical instruction/teaching has no place in our gatherings, let me say that it should be obvious to anyone familiar with me or acquainted with my writings that I believe that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” As I have said so many times before, I’ve spent a lot of money and time acquiring my degree in Biblical Studies/Theology. I do however question the way we have limited the means by which the “impartation” of the Word is expressed. 

While authentic worship most definitely involves receiving the Word of God, I fear that we have failed in that we have come to see preaching and the “Bible-study” as the only means by which this is to be accomplished. It would seem that we have forgotten Paul’s exhortation to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We must remember that the Bible itself declares that the gifts within the Body are also they that strengthen, encourage, and declare God’s Word. The Word of God, engrafted, alive, and expressed in and through the hearts of believers, holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

I suppose I could talk about buildings, home churches, small groups, etc…, but I think all of that will work itself out as we sincerely seek the Lord concerning these matters. After all, the “where” of worship is any place that two or three gather in his name. So, when it comes to rethinking church practices and liturgies, may we be willing to lay everything we think we know at his feet and trust him to mold us after the kind intentions of his heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Marked

I guess I’ve just about ran the spectrum when it comes to “eschatological paradigms.” I think a lot about prophecy, the last days, etc…, and it’s kind of been like watching a trial on “Court TV”: all the arguments sound believable until you hear the next one. I’ve also been told that we shouldn’t think too much about these things, and I understand where most of the folks who say that are coming from. But then as I read scripture, I observe that the Holy Spirit has given a considerable amount of space to the topic; so, I know it’s something that at the least He wants us to consider. And so, lately I’ve been thinking about the “mark of the beast” and the “seal of God” as mentioned in the book of Revelation. What does it mean, and why should we even care?

I guess at this point I could say, “I don’t know,” conclude this article, and everybody go and have a good life. But I do think these things matter. And while I don’t “know” for sure, I’d like to make a few comments that I think are applicable to us “upon whom the end of this age has come.”

WE ALL WILL BE MARKED. In one way or another, each of us will be “marked” as this present age comes to a close. A “designation of ownership” is going to be signified within each of our hearts and perhaps upon our bodies as well. It is not an event that will sneak up on you, surprise you, and you wake up one morning to find: “Oh no!! I’ve taken the mark of the beast.” Or, “What is this mysterious seal of God on my forehead?” No, each of us will be marked because the lives we have lived, the decisions we have made, and the disposition of our hearts will reveal us to belong either to the “Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world” or “the lawless one whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” And whether it be a bar-code, implant, tattoo, visible seal, or an invisible brand upon our very hearts, make no mistake; even now, the truth of who(se) we are is being made manifest.

It’s true, some of us can get carried away when it comes to these things, and I most definitely concur that our intimate attention is to be centered upon the person of Jesus. But I also believe that part of the “Revelation of Jesus” includes prayerful, humble consideration and discussion concerning these matters, with an understanding that we need each other as none of us has fully comprehended “the entire counsel of God.” When it comes to being “marked” I do believe that perhaps the most important thing we need to keep in mind is that a mark or a seal simply reveals to whom or what we belong. And we all belong to someone.

I have a friend, a pastor in Maryland (Timmy Mac!!) who I talk with about these things from time to time. And he told me something the other day that I thought was so perfect, truthful, and eloquent (the kind of thing I wish that I had said). I’ll share it with you: “It takes a lamb’s heart and the seal of God on the forehead to recognize and resist dragon talk.”

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Marked”

#275

We all like the Psalms, the way David and others so poetically describe God and their relationship with him. But it’s another thing altogether to experience those truths, to own them, and know them. I guess that’s the way it is with the Bible as a whole. I mean really, you can know a lot about it and still know nothing at all. True biblical knowledge, true Theology is relational, and anything short of that is just empty religious gnosis.

I think that we as American Christians are entering a time in which, like never before, we are going to have to experience the reality of the biblical story in our own context or we may fail to survive. The trials, conflicts, and economic uncertainty that lie ahead will require more than an ability to quote scripture and recite biblical promises.  We must know that YES, “Your steadfast love O Lord is better than life.” Our hearts will only experience true peace when, “The Lord is with me, whom shall I fear?” is reality. We need to know that the faithful caring intimacy of God is indeed more valuable than having a fat bank account and a retirement package. And believe it or not, many of the trials we are experiencing right now are the very tools with which the Holy Spirit is making real the things we only think we know.

The reality is that in the Christian life, usually, it is in the midst of conflict that we learn and maturation occurs. The battles we are encountering today are preparing us for the wars still to come. As we walk with God, relational experience makes objective truth subjective reality.  Biblical truth becomes our own as we walk with God and comprehend his love in our own experience. It’s how we come to “know that we know.”

“…even though you are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptations. This is no accident—it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire. This proving of your faith is planned to bring you praise and honour and glory in the day when Jesus Christ reveals himself. And though you have never seen him, yet I know that you love him. At present you trust him without being able to see him, and even now he brings you a joy that words cannot express and which has in it a hint of the glories of Heaven; and all the time you are receiving the result of your faith in him—the salvation of your own souls.”

 

TV, Seduction, Balaam, and Boiling Frogs

“…Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. (Rev. 2:14)

Lately, my wife and I have been praying more than ever about what we watch on TV. We’ve asked God for the willingness to let him change our viewing habits and for the grace to act once he speaks to our hearts. His response was immediate and there have been casualties! There were series that we had invested a lot of time in  (too much time) that have not made the cut. There has been no real discussion between us about which shows have to go, its been more like we’ll be right in the middle of an episode, and we’ll both just KNOW. The Holy Spirit is cool like that!

As I’ve thought about my relationship with TV, why it even matters, and the possible effects and consequences of our interaction; it was the story of Balaam and Balak that came to mind. For those of you who may not know the story: Balaam was a “prophet for hire” waaaaay back in the day. Balak, the king of Moab, had become afraid that the people of Israel were going to destroy him as they had several other kings. So, Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel and assure his victory. Long story short, Balaam was unable to utter any kind of curse over the Israelites, but what he did do was concoct a brilliant trap by which Balak could undermine Israel by causing them to defeat themselves. Seduction.

There is no doubt in my mind that Television and entertainment as a whole for that matter can be a tool by which the Enemy of our souls seeks to seduce and entrap us. And like never before, we as followers of Jesus need to seriously consider whether or not the TV shows (including the NEWS) we watch are causing and/or contributing to us introducing spiritual stumbling blocks into our own lives. Are the things I am willfully allowing into my heart, mind, and home hindering my walk with God? Is it hurting my family?

I can’t give you a list of shows that “you can’t be Christian and watch at the same time.” That’s something you’re going to have to work out between you and God. But seriously, how much of what’s passing as entertainment today can we embrace before we begin to suffer spiritually?  How desensitized have I already become to the things that grieve the Spirit of God? To what degree am I at ease with the seduction? Remember the anecdote of the boiling frog.

I’ve got a long way to go, but I want to go all the way. And I’ve learned that sometimes, the first step is saying, “Lord, help me to at least be willing to be willing to let you rule over every part of my world.” It’s frightening, but sometimes I wonder if the truth is that I doubt whether or not God can truly be enough to satisfy my soul should he  remove the things by which I am seduced and to which I have become addicted. God forgive me for making you so small!!

 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.  Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him…Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 

 

 

Mystic

mys·ti·cal: spiritually allegorical or symbolic; transcending human understanding; inspiring a sense of spiritual mystery, awe, and fascination; of or relating to mystics or religious mysticism…

I rarely listen to the radio anymore. With Google Play, Pandora, YouTube, CDs, etc…, I just don’t have the need or desire. Anyway, while I rarely listen to the radio, I hardly EVER listen to “Christian Radio.” Today, I was reminded once again why I do not. Coming through the air-waves was some pastor,  somewhere, warning his congregation against “Christian Mysticism.” He exhorted them to beware of such things as “practicing God’s presence,” sitting quietly and waiting on God (meditating), getting yourself in a position to hear from God (he said something about brain-waves…), and pretty much anything along these lines.

Strangely enough, the one thing he DID do, was hold up the Bible  (and his denomination’s paradigms, by the way) as the only way to truly “hear” from God. I couldn’t help but see the irony: he encouraged his congregants to get truth from a book, a holy book that an invisible God uses to communicate his truths to mankind- sounds pretty mystical to me!

You know, I spent a lot of money and a lot of time in seminary getting my degree in Biblical Studies/Theology; I believe that what the Bible claims about itself is the absolute truth.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

But I want to say something very carefully: the Bible is not God. You can know the Bible, quote the Bible, teach the Bible, and pray prayers from the Bible, but still have no true knowledge or relationship with God whatsoever.

When Jesus was teaching, at one point he told his listeners, ” You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” With that one statement, he declared that true biblical knowledge, true theology, true revelation an life is relational. And how are we who are over 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ physical presence on earth supposed to have an abiding intimacy with him? How are we to be relational?  Well, it is through the Spirit who lives within us. Again, that sounds pretty mystical to me!

Consider the following:

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal…

…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

I could go on, but those are just a few verses that immediately come to mind. And again- it sounds pretty mystical to me!!

I think I do understand to some degree the motivation behind the warnings of many “Christian Leaders” regarding “Christian Mysticism,” but I’d like to offer a word of exhortation if I may:  Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds(Pastors), and Teachers are called to EQUIP the Church, not CONTROL the Church. And effective equipping involves understanding that each member of the Body of Christ is indwelt by the Spirit of God or as the Apostle John said, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” Care for the flock, feed the flock, Shepherd the flock, but understand that each of us have received the oil of God’s Spirit and are being led by that same Spirit of Truth. Do not let your desire for the well being of God’s people become that which quenches the Spirit.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

(Sounds pretty mystical to me.)