Contemplations On The Cross
Lately I've been inspired to embrace a more intuitive and less intellectual approach to life. This means surrendering my will, intellect, all internal programming, and outer-drivenness to the Holy Spirit.
Part of that is learning to listen to what our body may be trying to let us know.
Having been hit with a bout of fatigue for several days, it became clearer than ever that it was time to listen to the body. My appetite was gone, so there was nothing for it but to surrender to the process, and use the time for silence, reflection, and meditation.
It was a bit scary to let go for that long, but the results were worth it. My body would not allow for anything short of that.
In using this approach to the experience of “feeling like I’m coming down with something”, tuning in to the body can result in its “telling” us what it requires, if we can get off the carousel of traditional thinking long enough to “listen”. What is discerned by that listening needs to be honored, as much as possible.
I suspect that, over the normal course of the day, people often think they need to eat or take stimulants just to keep going, when what the body cries out for is water or rest. It’s almost screaming, “Stop now and listen to me!”
Yet our modus operandi in this world is so confused that we get our signals crossed. So we eat instead of drinking more water. We take stimulants instead of a nap or even a retreat. Thus the need for restoration and rebalancing is overwhelmed by a louder voice all too often - the world’s continual lash across our backs. “Hurry, rush, rush, rush... be productive! ”, cries the inner (and sometimes outer) taskmaster who will always drive us and intimidates us with the pressure that we’re just not doing enough.
However Jesus invites us to His way - All who are heavy laden come to Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light. He invites us to stillness and silence and healing - sometimes through our body which say, “Stop! I’ve had enough!”
If the body is allowed what it needs, the Spirit that enlivens it can actually heal basically anything, make corrections, balance, and restore things.
So many people are afraid of this approach to life because they are used to being driven, like the proverbial horse “rode hard and put away wet,” - completely out of rhythm with the rhythms of the Creator and His created order and seasons.
What follows ignoring these inner directions? Dis-ease. Not perhaps some full blown diagnosable malady, but a warning that says, “Hey, you need to lighten up.”
Jesus, the Son of God, often went up into a mountain to pray all night. He sought ought periods of solitude, away from the crowds or even the disciples. If this was good and necessary for the Son of God, then who do we think we are to ignore our need for retreat times as His created beings?
Must we be flattened with dis-ease that hits like a freight train in order to finally get the message that it’s time to align with the Divine?
Perhaps the real etiology of these things may be an inner one. So the question is, what am I doing to connect myself to the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ in the way of heeding Him? Do my thoughts, words, and deeds manifest His attitudes?
If we’re not listening, after a time it registers in the body which is not in harmony. Or the crabby and anxious mind! The body lets us know that it wishes to be intimately connected to its Supernal Source of energizing power!
Our Creator-Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need before we even know it. But will we ask? This means daily regular intervals of prayer, which doesn’t have to be getting down on your knees and begging God for the things you want, or maybe even need. Prayer is the intentional surrender of our will to His will. It can be letting go of our fretful, anxious ways and allowing the Holy Spirit to take over.
It’s important to be as a little child, a royal child, who knows that he can go into Daddy’s throne room anytime and interrupt the board meeting. He knows that Daddy has priorities, and His priorities are His family.
We can meditate on and pray the Scriptures - asking, seeking, knocking. This is an important habit to develop. Our Father in Heaven will never give a stone to the child who comes looking for bread, nor will He give a serpent to the one who asks for a fish. We can count on that. Jesus loves us and He promises this.
Thus prayer may really be simple surrender to our Heavenly Father's Good and His gracious will for us. (Lord, have mercy; Thy will, not mine, be done!)
Your kindly remarks, questions, or prayer requests are welcome here:
For reflection: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?...” (Luke 6:46. See verses 47-49 also.)
I did not grow up in a household that bears a resemblance to an arsenal. This wasn’t even in our consciousness. Yet there was also no objection to anyone having weapons. It just didn’t come up as a matter for conflict, and the times were such that people even felt safe leaving the door unlocked. We lived in that sort of world and mindset.
As the years progressed, times changed, and people were polarizing on the subject of weapons. The problem may not be the weapons themselves, but the fear and aggression within human beings which drives people into seeking out weapons and using them against others. The problem originates in the human condition called “sin”.
Jesus Christ provides the solution to the human aggression problem through redemption, the plan of salvation, and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit - to set us free from fears and aggressive tendencies as we grow in grace.
This is the beauty of the Christian message and a major reason why it is so important, especially in these times, for once again we find ourselves on the brink of annihilation. When aggression is fed and grows in the human heart, apparently so does the size and sophistication of the weapons. The question is, when and where will aggression stop? As Einstein said, one cannot solve problems on the same level they were created.
Jesus Christ provided that higher level of solutions in everything He taught and exemplified. He knew that the adversary of souls is where the real weaponry must be aimed, that it is on a spiritual level - a warfare which calls for peculiar spiritual artillery where "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”(Ephesians 6:13-18) This is what Jesus’ “army” looks like.
The opening verse for this post comes near the end of Luke’s version of the Sermon On The Mount. Jesus had spent the entire night in prayer. He calls His twelve apostles out of a large crowd of His disciples. We’re told (Luke 6:19) that many people were trying to touch Him, due to the great power emanating from Him. As He healed them all, He turns to His disciples and begins to deliver this magnificent and completely other-worldly teaching to them.
There is a lot of “radical” instruction here (You might like to read Luke 6 for yourself at this point.) Everything He teaches is diametrically opposed to the way the world system looks at things. A few examples: bless those who curse you; if someone takes something from you don’t demand it back; love your enemies - that’s what makes you different from the world, since it’s fairly easy to love those who love you.
And Jesus basically winds it up with a provocative challenge: If you’re calling Me your Lord, why aren’t you living according to My teaching? I see this as His challenge to Christians in our times where we need a solution above and beyond the bigger trigger and the fearful, vindictive attitudes which drive their proliferation.
Whatever happened to “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me”? Many reply, “Well, I know Jesus taught this, BUT…”
May we ponder well and carefully all that the Master taught.
Your kindly remarks, questions, or prayer requests are welcome here:
When connecting with some of the thought out there these days among Christians, there seems to be the impression that being more virtuous, more moral, more victorious over sin and the like is through the hard work of self effort. Consequently these efforts, based in our human ideas and mind usually result in failure, just like new year’s “resolutions”.
This approach is like plugging appliances into a generator during a power failure. There’s only so much fuel in it before it runs out, and we wind up right back in the same old fix. Eventually, even if it works at first, the power runs out. Always. What’s needed is to plug into the greater and inexhaustible Holy Spirit Power that never runs out - the connection that was restored through Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago.
I would offer that self effort is based in human ego and is not necessarily the work of Grace. I’m not saying that we should not desire to be more godly or Christ like, but that the power to become whole again is based in the Holy Spirit, and nothing less. Godliness and being as He was in this world are always the goals, as a witness to the world that He is real, available, and offers powerful wholeness / holiness which the world cannot give and cannot take aways. However...
All our striving, all our righteousness, is as filthy rags the Scriptures tell us. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6).
Jesus answer to this is not in priming the pump of self effort but the seeking of God’s own righteousness. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
We surrender the self-will, a limited power source, to the Divine will, the infinite reservoir of Godly power and righteousness! That is the answer.
But then comes another question, “How do I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness?”
The answer is that we show up for work. Only we will not be the ones doing the work. God does this work of restoring us to His likeness through the Holy Spirit - we come in prayer, in the transformative act of surrender to Him and to His will - His righteousness.
“Prayer” means connecting to Divine Grace with the intention of being transformed. It is in personal prayer, praying with others, gathering for Divine Service, receiving the means of grace in the Lord’s Supper.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2). It is always about surrendering fully to our Heavenly Father’s will for us - His highest and best. Certainly we want to not be conformed to the world, but even the awareness, inclination, and power to make the break from that conformity needs to come from God via the Holy Spirit.
Prayer may come in the form of asking, seeking, and knocking in the usual sense that we understand prayer - as petition - as we are encouraged to do. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7,8). The promise is that when we petition God according to His will, in prayer, our requests will be answered. No one is turned away. Every one who asks receives - because this intention is so close to God’s own heart, that His children should be healed and restored - or transformed, a word that is very similar to transfiguration.
“By the renewing of your mind”. Renewing means renovation. We approach God in a variety of types of prayer, including also meditation on His word, praying the Scriptures and Scripture study.
The individual’s intention toward being transformed by God’s Grace through entering into His Presence is one thing; the “spiritual practice” may be different for each of us. It’s important not to rule out that what works for one person may not work for another. God’s way of relating with every one of His children is as unique as that Soul.
The important thing is to realize that we are not transformed by our own efforts of will, and then to find a way whereby each of can come into His presence, connect with His Grace, and find that His Holy Spirit is equal to the task. This does not happen overnight, so we need to be persistent in asking, seeking, and knocking.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18).
My perspectives are just that, my perspectives. Hopefully what I offer may shed a little light to someone who reads it.
Male or female, black or white, employed or unemployed, Catholic or protestant, gay or straight, political or apolitical, own a gun or don’t own a gun, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist, Pagan... The point is - we’re all in the same boat called the fallen Human Condition. These are only a few examples of how the three dominating systems - religion, corporatism, and politics - strategize to divide us one against the other and to keep us stirred up so they maintain control, so that we never embrace or finally reach any real freedom, our Divine Birthright, realize who we are, or experience unconditional love.
There is fabulous, potent, unlimited creativity buried deep within every one of us - as the Human children of God, created in His image! If we actualized this awareness, the Luciferian control game is over. And we then experience freedom from the massive programming which has gone on since the Fall. This is the goal. Some of us call it “salvation”. Salvation is not a religion; it is your birthright from your Heavenly Father restored through Jesus Christ.
The human condition results from this: that we’re all prisoners of an ancient Cosmic war, each in his or her own peculiar jail cell of sin, circumstances, and issues that beset us. All of us to one degree or another. No exceptions. Sin might not look the same in you as it does in me, but no human is free from it.
There are many social commentators bringing us to awareness of what the bad news looks like in the world scene. They keep us focused on it! They come as stand up comics with foul mouths, and news broadcasters and shows from the “alternative” camp and the mainstream.
Here’s why I I think the forces of limitation [henceforth called the “FOL”] leave them alone, and why they’re allowed to tattle as they do. The reason is a rather metaphysical one. The FOL understand the power of suggestion and thought. It works something like this:
1] What you resist shall persist.
2] What you fear will appear.
3] Where the focus goes, the energy flows.
4] How you see is what shall be.
5] As you believe, so you shall receive.
The FOL don’t care that people are aware of the degree of corruption in the world. That is essentially irrelevant. Sign all the petitions you like - it won’t matter. They don’t bother to hide it anymore because they actually want you to focus on it!
Your anger and disdain empower them, enhancing their goals, making it easier and more effective. It’s an energy feast for energy vampires. Fearful creatures are easy pickings for predators and scavengers.
What’s important is to keep the people stirred up with negative mental pictures. This is a very clever method of generating propaganda - not even hiding it in plain sight, but letting people focus on it, support it, and spread it around, in particular through social media [which some perceive is created and funded for this purpose!].
Mind creates! It’s simple “science of mind 101”. If you are among the FOL, and you want to make it easy on yourself - with a diabolical intent for people to experience misery and destructiveness, or eliminate themselves entirely - then you let them create the conditions for themselves, beginning with negative mental constructs, which over time lead to behaviors producing destruction.
The strategy is flawless. Create a focus on negativity, disease, strife, conspiracy, doubt, controversy, conflicts, corruption, and so forth. Divide and conquer. Get them hating one another for their differences. Allow for a consciousness that creates turmoil and even disease and disaster.
Reality is intrinsically bound up in consciousness. Negative consciousness yields negative experiences. Stir up the banal-finite-false-ego self [create problem] and make it perceive its very survival is at stake [create reaction] bringing in alarm and fear, and then offer to be the savior and solve the problems by tightening down control emphasizing “safety” and “security”. [create solution]. And there you have it - the Hegelian Dialectic in action like you’ve never seen it in operation before: problem, reaction, solution.
What’s needed is not the world’s focus or solutions, but Divine intervention, The only mind over matter that matters is “God’s Mind over all matters”.
How do we get it?
We turn away from the problems and all the noise, and place ourselves daily in the Presence of God, with all our questions, concerns, wounds, fragmentation, neediness and yes, sin. We confess, “I’ve blown it; please help me stop doing that, and show me how to live!” We turn from the tempest and turbulence of the outer world to the Lord by asking Him, “What must I do to be saved?”
We ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking - until He opens the door. He withholds no good thing from the one who asks in faith without doubting. His Grace is sufficient. His strength is the perfect answer to our weakness. It is the One True Light to which all darkness - whether within us or outside of us - must surrender.
And as we first surrender ourselves to the One Who is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and infinitely full of transforming, unconditional love, the outer world is changed as each of us is transformed from within. One by one we show up for the work of His love within us, as the Holy Spirit makes us aware of everything that God has provided for us through His written word revealing the Word made flesh.
Dear Reader, where to from here? At this point in time we may be asking ourselves that question. Can directions personal or political be discerned and determined by way of real solutions or by making resolutions?
Solutions are actual ways of solving difficult problems, such as the breaking of bad habits. Thus might resolutions mean visiting and solving them yet again, these persistent things that will not go away in our life, such as bad habits, vices, addictions, and the like? Is there a permanent answer to dissolving these persistent and “permanent” issues, rather than a perpetual re-solving them time after time?
I would offer that there is a Way. However, my answer may not be the “formula” that will work for you. I only share it so that you may consider it, try it if you choose, or discard it and seek another way. But in all of it, always ask the Creator of all things, and answers shall be given - how shall I be delivered of this, Lord? Take it to the Lord directly in prayer!
It may not go away over night, but perhaps you’ll be shown a process which will work for you over time, not based on re-solutions operating from the ego, false self, old adam, flesh, lower nature... whatever you wish to call it, but rather your solution will be sourced in the Divine Mind! God is the Omniscient One. He has the solution to your pollution! You have been given redemption through Jesus Christ, but are you “working out” your salvation? (See Philippians 2:12.)
First of all I’m not so sure that making resolutions to change some bad habit is the approach to take. The focus is still on the habit and looking to fallen self to solve it. Bad habits are very much like children who are addicted to attention: the more they get, the more antics you will experience with them. My experience with my own bad habits has shown me that this is so often the case.
So, since re-solutions don’t seem to work, back to our original question: where to from here? If re-solutions won’t work, then where are the solutions?
May I share what’s been provided to me in a fresh way, as a prescription by the Great Physician? It’s an affirmation and prayer that goes something like this:
Let me align with the Mind, O Heavenly Father, of my Lord Jesus Christ, in full and simple surrender of spirit, soul, mind, body, and strength - consecrated completely to Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit, with my voice given entirely to Gratitude, Love, Truth, and Spiritual Songs! Lord have mercy. Your will not mine be done. Amen.
Resistance really is futile. Approaching an undesirable habit with the ego-will simply does not work. (At best it will result in self righteousness.) The “old Adam” has no abiding power over a bad habit, which is in fact a “child” conceived of itself that it will not easily surrender! There needs to be a Higher Power called into action which will indeed render once and for all the solution. What is needed is a miracle of Divine Intervention, a deliverance from evil, not a re-solution!
Foul language, for example, is one habit that is for the birds! Scripture reveals to us that the tongue is set on fire by hell itself and no man can tame it! (See James 3:2-10.) This presents us with a conundrum. Cussing, lying, put downs, dirty jokes, and all manner of perverse speech have infiltrated our world at every level. This is a more serious problem than we can imagine, and we all seem to participate in one level or another with it. If no human being can tame the tongue, then it must be surrendered to Divine intervention.
Moreover, life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:6-8,21). Is it any wonder then - with this prevalent, profuse, and proliferating profanity - that the quality of life on this planet is deteriorating and seems more dizzying and delusional every day? Could that have to do with the fact that all the cursing and “f bombing” has opened the very gates of hell, causing massive discord and devolution?
If, according to Psalm 33:6, the heavens were made by the Word of the Lord and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth, then might perverted words on the part of we the people created in His image and likeness have a very darkly creative effect upon this world?
And let me address this idea, often vehemently defended, concerning the “right to free speech”. Certainly - if you think that freedom means being allowed to demean and denigrate yourself, others, and your world through the use of profanity, lies, deceit, and any other misuses of the vocal organs powered by thought and breath - you have the “right” to do so guaranteed by the US constitution. We’ve cursed ourselves, called our curses freedom, and then wonder where our freedoms went! All the minions of Hell must be doing some unholy rolling with laughter in the church aisles on this one!
if you are a Christian there is a higher Law which is in place to guide you. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19.) This is the One Who must be called upon to curb an unruly tongue, to deliver us from its causes and effects. Have you asked Him about that lately?
Please be advised that although you have the “right” it may not be right, as in this world where evil is called good and good evil. (You also have the right to remain silent.)
You may be contributing to the downfall of the very thing you most desire - freedom - by abusive, profane, and unenlightened speech. These are reactions of fear, and given the current attitudes, what you fear will appear. There are better choices, effective because they are Divinely inspired and Divinely empowered! God’s “operative Grace” - Perfect Love - casts out ALL fear (See 1 John 4:18).
Perhaps it’s time to turn that loss of freedom around by participating in what supports it instead of what defeats it - at a most rudimentary level.
When we speak, we create. What are you creating by your speech? What does it reveal about the character of your heart ( See Matthew 12:34-37)? Are you taking responsibility for what you’re creating by your words, by the breath of your mouth? Have you ever considered it in this light before?
Moreover, are you intentionally, daily, and regularly “showing up for work” in the Divine Presence of God’s unfathomable transformative Grace - by prayer, study, and meditation on His Word - where the tongue can be tamed?
Life and death are in the power of the tongue! How can we use this knowledge to turn our world around? Here’s a starter: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” (Psalm 150:6) Praise instead of profanity!!!
In this 21st Century and beyond, where we consider ourselves to be oh so enlightened, perhaps it’s time to ask the Holy Spirit to light the candlestick inside of us instead of cursing the darkness around us.