20But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:)
33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Cor 14:)
If you have read much of what I've written, especially this piece on "Law and Works," then I have no doubt it has thrown you off kilter.
For some reason the Lord has not seen fit to let me follow my nature. I guess that's just the way He works. He didn't let Moses, or Jacob, or Paul, or the Apostles follow their nature. He didn't let the early Christians who were eaten by lions follow their nature (I'm assuming it was not in their nature to be food for wild beasts or lamps for Nero's highways).
Anyone who has been in the Military, that is has gone through Boot Camp, or at least has seen movies about Boot Camp knows what a DI, that is, a Drill Instructor is. He is a hard-nosed bossy, in-your-face monster who you try to avoid at best, and want to smash his face in at worst.
The DI's job is to be just as hard and as ornery as he is able. His is to whittle a recruit down from the smart-Alec, know-it-all, ego-filled, the 'world owes me a living' kid who entered the Army; and turn him into humble pie. He is to take the self-confident "Mr America" and turn him into a quivering jellyfish who has no idea who he is.
The DI's job is to take all the rock heads that come into the Army with hearts of stone and turn them into pliable clay that can be molded into fighting soldiers ready to serve their Nation, not themselves.
Once the ego has been beaten out of the kid, the task of the DI, as well as other officials, is to take these ready and willing kids and turn them into confident (not self confident) men. The defeatist skinny bean-pole and the fat slob will be turned into secure examples of solid muscle, ready to work with his unit to take on the world.
The process of moving from runny-nose kid to mighty soldier did not occur over night; nor was the kid expected to do a man's job on his first day in the service. There is a growth process involved. For the first few days it's routine exercise (and a lot of it) and much "harassment" like being awakened gently by the sound of trash-can lids being struck violently with a stick at 2:am. Then being lovingly thrust down the stairs to awaiting shovels where you have the privilege of digging six-foot holes in the ground where you are to tenderly bury a cigarette but, then fill the hole back in again. Or, you may not have to go outside at all but rather have the honored responsibility of cleaning the entire john (bathroom) with your own personal toothbrush.
As you find your anger rising, and your self-esteem (ego) dropping, physical activities take on new levels. The calisthenics around the parade field turn into full-field gear (pack, rifle and whatever) marches; races through, amongst and tangled up in tires spread upon the ground. You will find ten-foot walls that must be scaled (climbed) while wearing all your gear. Never a dull moment. Lots of fun things to do and enjoy at camp.
Food? Lots of it. What it tastes like, or looks like matters little. The gravy slapped on your ice cream tastes just fine, as does the powdery dust that is steadily settling on your entire meal. You find that you are learning to appreciate what you are given instead of insisting your "palate" be appeased.
About midway through your training you have the privilege of crawling 100 yards (length of a football field) on your belly and your back, under barbed wire and over fallen logs. This is in the daytime and is called a "dry run." Later you will be allowed to do this again, just in case you missed some of the scenery the first time around. This time, so it won't be boring, your little excursion is taken in the night time.
At the end of your little vacation you will be presented with a test of your abilities. You will be allowed to march 20 miles through beautiful scenery, usually a desert of some sort. Then you will have the opportunity to wear your gas mask into a little room where tear gas is exploded. And just so you don't miss out on what tear gas is all about, you are allowed to remove your mask and experience the effects of this magnificent invention. (In case you are wondering, it stings where you have shaven, stinks, and burns the eyes something wonderful.)
And that infiltration course, the hundred yard crawl? In case you have been missing the pleasure of its ambiance. you get to do it over again, this time with what is called a wet run. Wet run means you get to do it at night with live machine gun fire 18" off the ground, and real explosion in pits near your head simulating bombs exploding. And just so you have no doubt that there are really bullets in those machine guns firing at you, they have "tracer" shells they use that are like streaks of fire zipping just inches from your nose.
Before this experience the child who entered the service would have done anything to avoid losing his dignity, his ego, and his right to satisfy himself. Eight weeks later he wouldn't take anything for what he had become.
That's at the door. That's the advertisements. That's the pitch people are given to get them into the churches. And, unfortunately, new converts are never allowed past the door of the church. They are told they are already fully in the Army of God, and fully trained soldiers the moment they say "I Do." Because they never get past the door, they never see the Parade Field, or the Marching Ground, or the dust-covered Manna from Heaven, or the Desert Infiltration Course under live fire. Now converts are never allowed to experience the Wilderness Experience of Testing as were the Israelites and Jesus. They are told these things no longer exist, even though Christians, including the Missionaries, are going through these very same experiences in other countries. And because they are not allowed into the wilderness, that is to cross the Red Sea, they never get to experience the leading of the Shekinah Glory, the Holy Spirit.
My job is to come down hard. I resist. I don't want to do so. But since the Recruiting Officers will not, I have to. I would much rather they do the job they are supposed to do, and that is to not only birth the sheep of their flock, but to train them as well.
But they won't.
Where do you stand?
When I was 12 I cried out to the Lord to save the wretched person I knew myself to be. It didn't happen. At least I couldn't see it happening. I only knew there was something wrong with me that needed correcting. I was wrong. I was normal and going through normal experiences an adolescent boy goes through, I just didn't know this.
And I'm glad now I didn't know it at the time. Had I known, I wouldn't have learned all I have because of my ignorance.
Was I saved when I fell to my knees in tears, and was baptized at twelve? I don't know. Did I have the Holy Spirit when I was 12? I don't know.
When I was 36 I was arrested and sent to prison. At this time I again cried out to the Lord, and the Lord not only heard me, but spoke to me and through me. His words were short and not sweet, but like a DI He said: "Call my Name." I was in a jail cell with 13 other men, it was 10:pm and everyone was sleeping (convicts do not like to be woke from their sleep). I resisted. The voice (in my head, not an angel or any apparition) said again; "Call my name." again I resisted. Then I felt an emptiness begin to fill my chest, I cried out: "Jesus!"
But it was too late. I lay in my bunk for a day and a half feeling totally empty. As far as I can remember I never got out of my bunk nor ate. I just lay there wanting to die.
Though at the time I didn't relate it, now I know the experience is a Biblical one. When the Israelites who came out of Egypt refused to enter Canaan because they feared the giants; God withdrew His presence from them and told them they would die in the wilderness for their cowardice. And in the very last chapter of Revelation Jesus says very plainly that the "fearful" would not enter Heaven and will be cast out.
I know the feeling, and that is my greatest fear, to be "cast out" again. When I sense that I am creating a barrier to God as I have done in the past, I cry out: "Don't leave me, don't do that again!" and I run back to doing what I am told.
When I realize I've gone too far (and I certainly have. I've acted like the two-year-old who tests his mother to see how far into his own wants she will let him go before she takes him to the woodshed), I make a quick turn around and beg not to be punished.
During this same period of time I found that I was interpreting dreams for the other prisoners and telling them things about themselves I couldn't possibly know. For instance a young black man (who I never saw except his hands that were protruding from his cell) asked me to tell him something about himself (testing me I guess). I started to say I didn't know..., and that's as far as I got because I found myself telling him about his family, his sister, and a few other things I can't remember. He didn't say anything, I just heard him sobbing in his cell. He came in during the night before, and that night he was taken back out. I suppose the Lord had something in mind for that young man, I don't know.
I tell elsewhere about having to talk two prisoners out of committing suicide. I don't know much about the one, I only remember the tearful, pathetic eye of a frantic little man (which is all I could see as he peered through the small slit between our two cells). Things like that you don't forget. The other man later sent me a package of his prized possessions, then very soon later I read where he had hung himself in his jail cell.
I was hearing from the Lord, and I was being spoken through by Him. Was I saved? I don't know. Did I have the Holy Spirit? I don't know.
At that time the Bible preaching tape I was listening to said: "When you are in the center of God's will, you will find peace."
I Got the message. I surrendered myself, turned my life around, and found the peace.
At that same time everything about my life, and my person changed. For the first month I sobbed constantly. At the drop of a pin, I cried. Thoughts made me cry. The word "Jesus" would set me sobbing. I would sob, then I would laugh at myself because I didn't know why I was crying. I was afraid this was never going to stop, and I wondered how I was going to have any kind of social life if I cried all the time. I was cautious in stores, trying to not stay long for fear of bursting out in tears.
Then it stopped. Not totally, I still cry at times. But only for short spells.
[I've told about all this in Confessional and Led By the Spirit so I won't belabor the point.]
My second reaction to finding out the Truth, and how far afield I had been led by the church was to become angry. I was mad to tears. I was mad at churches and at Preachers and at all the Theologians that act so high-and-mighty in their wisdom while leading millions astray and holding them in the door of God's Temple.
And my writing expressed this. After a time I had to withdraw some of my pages to rewrite them and take out that anger. Now I find I still lambast the Theologians and the Preachers and the churches - but I don't play favorites. I put them all in the same sinking boat.
Of course being against everybody and every theory and doctrine puts me a bit distant from everybody. That is not to my liking at all, being the natural-born people pleaser I am. But I'm getting used to the blank stares, and the avoiding of expressing my views around anyone. Every once in a while I forget myself and make a comment that I feel is safe (in church or Bible Study), and get shot down with doctrine. It only happens once every three months or so any more. But I'll learn. At least I have this website to express my views.
I know the Holy Spirit is leading me and instructing me. I have no doubt whatever that the Holy Spirit is within me. I am positive that I am being cleansed and used by the Lord. I do nothing but sing the same songs over and over, day and night, all Christian. I have absolutely no desire any more for Worldly music, of movies of any kind, or my old love, Old Time Radio programs, nor even for the stories I was writing for the Checkerboard and Voices. For almost the last year and a half it has been nothing but the study of the Word.
Do I know the Lord is with me? Does He talk to me as he did twice? (In the jail cell and about my beard, written elsewhere). No. I don't hear His voice. I get little emotional "nudges," almost imperceptible, that show me what I should do. If I don't follow those nudges, I begin to feel uncomfortable and know I either missed the nudging, or avoided it because I wanted to do something else instead. I suppose you would call that "following the peace of God." It might also be considered staying aware of your conscience so it doesn't become seared. That's easy to do, I have found out too many times in my life.
Am I saved? I wish I could report, as do all the preachers, that I am saved and can confidently affirm it. I wish I could say I know for a certainty that I am now saved and will forever be so.
But I can't.
Are you finding yourself finding fault and shaking your head in disbelief at my words because it doesn't fit anything you have read or heard about the Scriptures?
My desire is that you, and everyone else will count me a fool and a lunatic, and I have certainly given you ammunition to believe just that. I would think so myself if I were on your side instead of this side. My hope is that I am dead wrong in everything I say, and that the rest of the world is absolutely right, all thousands of views of the world.
I want nothing more than for everyone to be happy and contented with the view they have chosen to take. Unfortunately, I see the happiness of people like that of ol' contented Bossy, chewing her cud, right outside the slaughterhouse.
But, like I say, I would rather be wrong and everyone else be right. It would make it a lot easier on you, and on me.
I feel like a policeman standing in the middle of a busy intercession trying to direct traffic, without a badge or a uniform, and having no idea of where everyone should be directed to go. I find all I have is a whistle with which to make noise and grab attention.
And though I don't know where everyone should be going, I am the one who knows the One who does know the way everyone should go.
I know it seems as if, by all these hundreds of pages I've written, that I know everything and that I am insisting that everyone agree with me. That is not the case. What I write, I write for my own edification, because I learn as I write; and I write what I have been given, the way it was given. There are many times I want to avoid writing certain things I'm given, or certainly to soften it a little. But the Spirit says: "No." This piece I have just written, Law and Works is a case in point. My intention was to write a simple piece and have all the Scriptures that pertain to Law and to Works presented. The Spirit wouldn't allow it. But, as a compromise I am allowed to write this, a disclaimer, and almost an apology for the piece.
I come off as a know-it-all; as one advocating a new cult; as "Mr Perfect;" as the one and only person who knows the Lord and will be taken to Heaven. I sound like a demanding Stepfather running everyone down and saying they are going to hell because they don't do as he says or believe as he believes. That's the way I sound. That's the way my writings read. How do I know that? Because that's the way it looks to me.
I don't like the way it sounds. I much prefer the tame, pleasant little stories I was writing before - informative, simple, homey type stories. These "you're all going to hell if you don't straighten up your ways," fire and brimstone studies scare me. They raise my blood pressure and cause me much stress. I can somewhat understand what it must have been like for Ezekiel and the prophets telling the kings and all the people they were all going to Babylon and be wiped out if they didn't turn to the Lord. I have a sliver of "going against the grain." These men, of course, had the whole log!.
I told about my crying out as a teenager of 12. I told about having God talk to me and through me in Jail at age 36. I told about receiving the Holy Spirit when I was 66.
At what stage was I "Saved"? When was it I began to receive the Holy Spirit? At what point did I (or will I) have reached the full stature I am supposed to be capable of at this stage of time?
I don't know the answer to these questions. And I may possibly never know the answer.
If this view is correct, and I suspect it is, then what most of the preachers are teaching is correct in that you begin to have the leading of the Lord from your first heart-felt plea. Whether this is true or not is not for me to say.
My point, in all my writings and studies, is that too many of the churches and Pastors (shepherds) are holding their sheep back from following the leash because they are telling the sheep to settle back and do nothing because they are already "there." They are spoon-feeding babies that are kept as babies instead of raising them into full adults and preparing them to be soldiers. It's not the job of the church to make soldiers of the sheep; that's the job of the Holy Spirit. But when the shepherd acts like a dotting mother and tries to secret her poor little lamb from the war, she robs him (or her) from their adulthood and their destiny.
And on the other side of the coin, those churches who give a sheep a list of do's and don'ts that are supposed to make them worthy for heaven are misdirecting their sheep and making them feel comfortable with their "works," instead of pointing them to the Holy Spirit who will determine what "Works" they are to perform, if any.
It's not in the do's or the don'ts, nor the not doing anything at all that makes the difference. It's in the Who is doing the instructing and guiding that counts. The same "Works" done though our flesh that will be burned as dead works; could very likely be "Fruits of the Spirit" when done through the person by the Holy Spirit.
One person's sitting back and not working may be Fruits of the Spirit. Another person's running about frantically doing great works could just as easily be works of the flesh.
The warriors of Israel crashed the walls of Ai in the flesh, and were run off with their tails between their legs. These same soldiers took a leisurely walk around the city of Jericho and conquered it.
The point is not where you stand right now. The point is, are you moving forward in the Lord, or are you just standing around your church.
For many years I have been wondering how God talks to people. I would ask this of those who say they have heard from God, and I doubted each of them because of what God supposedly said and the way he supposedly said it. I listened to tapes and read books, but none seemed to ring true (at least from what parts I had read).
There have been stories I've heard that did sound true, and those experiences not only fit my own, but those in the Bible who have heard from God as well.
One story I heard ran something like this: A man was at wits end and was laying on the floor crying out to God, trying desperately to find God's will for him and what he should do. The answer came: "Get off the floor!" That was the extent of it. The man did just that and started working his life forward.
When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees he did not speak kindly to them. When God spoke to Paul, He did not ask, He commanded. When He called His disciple, He did not ask, He commanded ("Follow Me.").
All through the Bible I see this same pattern. Once a relationship was established, which took a lot of hard knocks and a long time, God spoke Man to man to them. God spoke to Moses in a commanding tone until he was trained, then God called him: "one God spoke to face to face as one speaks to a friend." (Ex 33:11). And again we find the same in James 2:23 where Abraham was called a friend of God after he proved his faithfulness. In John 15:12-15 we see Jesus telling His disciples that, after following Him all that time and learning all the things Jesus was sent to teach them, He would no longer call them servants, but friends. And this included all the disciples, even Judas who failed at the end. As evidence of this we see Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss in Matthew 26:50, and still yet Jesus calls him "friend." Remember, Judas had learned "All that the Father had to teach them" through Jesus. Yet he failed.
But, going back to the Scripture in John we see that Jesus called the twelve friends "If" they obeyed His commandments. If! Please keep that in mind. "If" seems to get lost in the translation of the Bible between the Pulpit and the Congregation. Another phrase that gets lost is "Obey my commandments." I don't know how you interpret the Words, but I see them as very conditional, and very "Works" oriented.
We sing: "What a friend we have in Jesus," as if it was a free gift like Salvation. I don't see this anywhere in Scripture. I see dedication and a lot of following and a lot of conditions attached even after Jesus chooses to call His 12 disciples friends. Nor do I find anywhere that even one of the Apostles referred to Jesus as their "Friend." Instead I see over and over again where they refer to themselves as servants of Jesus. And not servants in name only, but in constant and perilous service.
I, for one, would never venture to call Jesus "friend," but will fearfully refer to Him as "Master," and do my best to fulfill what He commands me to do moment by moment.
That is how I find that God speaks to man when He speaks audibly: short, commanding, and to the point. The two times I heard from God He used only three words, which He said three times: "Call my Name," and "Shave your beard." Although both times the words were spoken in my head, there was no way I could mistake them for my own thoughts.
I find that one way or another God will get me back on the straight and narrow.
In the past, before a year ago when I made my "turn around" and actually surrendered (repented) instead of just saying I will, then not do it (lying), God gave me a very long leash, that as I said, He reeled in slowly. Now I find the leash is very short, and gets yanked a lot.
This is how God talks to me moment by moment - through my subtle thoughts and my feelings, that is, what we call our conscience.
Our mind is active all the time. I don't suppose there is a half minute that passes that our mind is not talking to itself. Have I described you? Well, I certainly have described myself.
Usually what my mind says (or that I say in my mind, however you want to put it) is of little or no consequence. It's like a blabbermouth who always has to be saying something. If a person talks aloud to themselves the words that we say in our mind, we'd probably get locked up, or certainly for some of us, get slapped.
I have always considered these thoughts as wasted energy. So, in the past, whenever I caught myself just talking to myself, that is blabbermouthing, I would try and direct my thoughts to something constructive.
One day, just about the time I had my "Spiritual Awakening" I asked myself: "Who am I talking to?" It was then I decided to talk to God, instead of myself. And since then, getting better and better at it, that is what I have been doing.
I can't say that keeping my mind on God has actually caused me to be any closer to God, or for Him to be closer to me; there were many things happening at the same time. What was the result of what I don't know. But I do know that keeping my mind on God has caused me to be much more aware of Him and His nearness to us, especially as Christians. I am aware that when I "commit sin" in my mind, I can't just close God out for that moment and think He can't see me. I have no doubt you know just what I mean. I suspect you have done the same yourself. Like the toddler who hides his eyes behind his hands and thinks because he can't see you, that you can't see him.
But He sees, and He's watching. So I am extra careful what I think about.
Except for what I said above, my conversation is totally one way. I often wonder if He is listening, or even cares a whit what I am saying. I talk to Him constantly. Day and night. About every single thing I do. I'm sure He is saying: "Who cares! Just do what you're going to do. Come to me with the important stuff!"
It isn't important that He hears what I say; what is important is that I keep my mind constantly on Him.
This keeps me in touch with my conscience, my purpose, and what I am doing. There is no way I can even have a thought that is inappropriate without knowing that God has to experience exactly what I am experiencing.
I also find the teachings of the churches, that God is here to serve us and not that we are here to serve God (Oh, we hear words to that effect, but there's no meaning behind them) leaves the Lord with no place to reside here on earth. Of course that is a terrible oversimplification of a reality, but I hope you understand my meaning. My hope is to have some place for Him, even though the most I have to offer is this worthless piece of a worn out tent that doesn't even work properly for me.
I find it difficult to pray. When I bow my head, like in church, I feel like it is a mockery. It is a ritual. When I pray it is constantly. I've tried getting down on my knees on a daily basses, all I can say is: "What am I supposed to say? I'm telling you all the time whatever I have to say."
But there are sometimes I do get down on my knees, or more often prostrate on the floor in sobbing tears. These times I am not praying; my entire soul is being dumped out.
As I see it, prayer is not what we do, prayer is what we are! It seems to me, again by my own experience, that man has only one prayer he can make; that is the one that cries out for mercy and repents (meaning it) in tears. From that moment on, we do not pray; the Holy Spirit does the praying. God only listens to the pure word spoken. Those pure words of truth come when we are at wits end, and from His own Spirit who knows our hearts and our needs.
I find this exemplified in the Old Testament where all who were not Israelites had but one option - become an Israelite and follow the Laws to the letter. Otherwise there was but one thing God had to say to the Gentiles - you're goose is cooked!" And when the Israelites acted like the Gentiles, what did they hear? The very same thing as did the Gentiles.
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