Today’s Discernment: The Battle Fatigues

Good morning!

Can poor-er health wear us out and keep us from the purposes God create for us to move in?

I’m up very early, reading about health and fitness. Been pondering my ill experiences as an overweight person – vs when I’ve been fitter and leaner. People, in general, are nowhere near as kind, outgoing and just plain cordial with you when you’re fat. You may not get a job you’re after, not to mention a date, and many people simply don’t take you seriously. I don’t think it impacts me terribly, but it’s a noticeable difference. Just smiling, when you’re fit, more people smile back.

Now, some may say, Well, that’s just your poor, fat attitude and confidence level, or lack there of, speaking. Haha But I’m very outgoing and personable with most people I encounter. I smile and laugh most days. I won’t give examples, but it’s been ridiculous these last couple years. And maybe it’s more to do with the political-social schisms in our nation than otherwise, who’s to say. I have read plenty of other bloggers and articles on fitness/health pages who’ve said as much, and I decided to opine also.

I’ve been on both sides of the fitness fence, so I have seen both. I really believe that there are two or three major stigmas in society that don’t get much attention or scrutiny. Everyone knows irs not right to treat others differently based in appearances, but its as common as anything. If you’re overweight or obese, if you have mental illness, or physical handicap you will be often treated poorly, unfairly, or as if you’re nothing and not worth giving your time or consideration. I don’t mean to leave out the homeless, they also get a bad rap. And for what? Falling on hard times, falling through the cracks. It could happen and does happen to all kinds of people, rich and poor, great and small. On the other hand, doing nothing but losing weight, it seems many people will engage you more favorably. I know that’s true.

I do my own grocery shopping, usually a couple times of week, in order to buy more fresh vegetables and fruits, and sometimes meats (I don’t mind frozen), and not have things expire or go to waste. It works for me and it’s something, among my weekly routine, I look forward to. I have a list, and know what I can make for the week. I try to keep the right foods on hands, so I’ll keep my hands off the poorer food choices. I follow an ‘out of sight – out of mind’ philosophy, and I don’t stock up on junk food.

So I’d say, I’m about halfway there. There – being aware of my nutrition and general calories. But I’m really getting away from what prompted me to write this…

You have heard it said, Life is a battlefield.

Love…too, can be. The dating scene, for instance.

We have to practice love to learn and know it. We have to eat right, and it takes learning and practice – and exercise – to experience physical and mental wellbeing. The two, eating and exercise, play a major role our life: in our energy, attitude, personal view, others view of us, interactions with others. How many times a wwek do we have meals with our friends, colleagues or family?

And look when you’re shopping for food. When I began to really put more thought into what I eat, and passing by the poorer choices, I realized that the store has much more poor food than healthy. You can take as semi example, all the fruit and veggies and meats and dairy are at the edges of the store. The rest is nearly entirely processed food, sugar, salt, saturated fat, and so on. All you really need is what’s in the margins of the store, but most people buy the bulk of their food from those aisles within.

I forget where I was going with this post. Haha So Im just going to throw out an unrelated thought whether it ties in or not.

I was thinking about a battlefield. A war consists of many large battles, among many different places. Today is just a little skirmish ordinarily. But many days skirmishes may lead to a bigger victory overall, and taking you someplace much further than before. There’s a strategic hierarchy to gain victory over a whole war. Little by little, you gain ground. To take ground, you have to Take It. You can’t just decide or agree you’ll take it, you have to have trained to take it, and do the work of taking it.

Do you know how to win, if you’re the enemy without scruples? Injury. Not death. For every man you injure, someone has to cart that man off the field and care for him. And it seems to me that in today’s world, we dont even have to be physically fighting to be in the bigger more meaningful battle for hearts and minds. And the losers are being injured by the millions, perhaps billions.

Get children and families and working single men and women to eat poorly and not exercise. Get them to binge watch tv and movies, and play endless games. Turn their heads from good knowledge and wisdom, to sexual perversion, gambling, debt, meaningless and endless gaining of material and product, and you’ll have actually injured their health, their bodies, their minds and perception, even their very senses.

I think that’s the society we live in, and where a lot of our battles take place, in the ordinary decisions of our daily lives.

Yes, the Bible instructs us that our war is not with flesh and blood – but with prices and principalities in high places.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

And as I dwell on that, I end up concluding that there’s an obvious obscuring of right living, which is then causing man to make up new ways of living, which are usually wrong, sinful and and poor choices.

Now it occurs to me that getting fit and healthy has some part in how I feel and behave. It has some part, in human nature, to how we may be more acceptable to others we approach too. It has part in the overall picture of Godliness in how I may set a proper example – in everything I do.

I wonder what spiritual benefit getting back in physical shape may have. And I’m rather looking forward to understanding it.

But for me, there’s always been a struggle to keep up with eating well and exercise proportionally. I may eat really healthy but without much exercise, I just gain. I may say it’s genetics, aa if it’s negative. But I also know that once I start moving more, call it exercise or work or just abundantly living, I quickly lose weight too. So, shall I conclude that I was made to work and move and sweat more than I tend to? Yeah, probably! And I should attend to it, meaningfully and with purpose.

Could health and fitness be of a spiritual pursuit? I don’t see why not. I’m trying to find the motivation to use the gym membership again which I already pay for monthly. Haha I had thought some absense from the gym might rack up to a number which would either cause me to cancel it or finally get back to it. I seem to shrug off both.

One thing that has helped me a little is having stopped eating pork, shrimp, and some other things. I was studying hard the unclean foods listed in Deuterinomy and Leviticus. Why are they unclean? And I came to the conclusion that I would give it more serious study and thought. And with that thought, I would also begin to practice it. Knowing that practicing something really helps me know it better. If after a while, it wasn’t understandable, I could always delight again in seafood and pork bbq, which I do like, it’s tasty. But what if I’ve been wrong all these years? I’d like to know!

But the point I want to make here in that is, I’ve had to approach food with more consideration. And I’m more thoughtful about food overall. If my body is a temple, a the bible says, I should treat it respectfully. I should not put in it what won’t benefit it. There are some very nasty things about pork and seafood, besides fish, that were quite unsettling to read. I think in God’s assessing clean and unclean, he’s saying to us, these I’ve made for food, vs these I’ve not intended for food so they shouldn’t be eaten. Science of our day is just catching up to what God told people thousands of years ago. It’s tough to hear, but maybe we shouldn’t have gone so astray in our eating that we have a dozen aisles of junk food in our grocery stores, one just devoted to carbonated syrup water and greasy chips.

Any way, thinking about battles. And skirmishes. Lot of people have poor health, they’re injured and out of the fighting a lot of the time. And they may spend a lot of time dealing instead with the consequences of their choices, in young age, middle age and old, rather than taking hold of and practicing better, being fit – to stand up straight, to lead, to love and help others for the glory of God.

Perhaps I need to think about and oray about the smaller choices I make each day, even fitness, seeing if there’s anything keeping me from better things, holy things, and just good ol simple things and pleasures.

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Today’s Discernment: Death by Overwork?

Work is necessary, work is good, but can overwork be sin and deadly?

Watching a video by CNBC News, describing the working conditions in Japan. They claim that, on average, workers work about 80 hours of overtime per month. They even have a word, Karoshi, meaning “death by work,” which is a official recognized cause of death on some death certificates.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/01/japan-has-some-of-the-longest-working-hours-in-the-world-its-trying-to-change.html

Why do they work themselves to death? Japan is both fascinating and perplexing to me. It’s an island nation, but an economic powerhouse. They come up with so many innovations and technology. And while some aspects of their culture seem docile and peaceful like tea and shrines, they also have a very peculiar, upbeat taste for all things pop culture, and the birthplace of anime and Nintendo. And despite these, also have a high rate of loneliness and suicide, among other sad phenomenon.

A friend of mine stopped me when I spoke very favorably about Japan once. I said I’d love to travel there, and maybe live there indefinitely. He said, You just don’t know!

He instructed me that foreigners, non-Japanese, do not but super duper rarely gain citizenship in Japan, for starters. They’re about the most homogeneous people group of the industrialized nations. He supposed they’re racist, and I don’t know that’s true, but definitely presume their heritage and identity by strong nationalism.

Let’s take all this opinion with a grain of salt. Who’s actually been there and know? My friend hasn’t been there, he’s just read a lot. I’m still really interested in Japan and traveling there.

But studying Japan a bit more, for my own curiosity sake, they do have many problems as well as many accolades. And we’ll just focus in on one today, that of overwork. Why do they work themselves to death?

I don’t know that I can answer this really, not knowing the culture more intimately. But I will say, they strike me as vastly irreligious. It may very well be the hardest nation on Earth to evangelize for Christ. I do not know however. It’s true there is Buddhism, Taoism, animism and ancestor worship in Japan, among other religious traditions; and it’s not uncommon, from what I’ve read, for Japanese to accept many varying forms of religious traditions all at once. What’s one more? But certainly our Lord will not be accepted as just one more god in anyone’s pantheon!

Overwork is a symptom of disbelief, I posture. And I have learned this principle and truth in practice, though for a short while, taking Saturday as a whole day of rest. The certain sabbatarians make a fine point, that a person who sets aside the day for holiness and good, learns to rely on God for all that he needs. He doesn’t worry about taking the day off from work, he trusts God will provide. And so he is well aware of his dependency upon God, at least once a week by the observance, and knows intimately that his view and practice comes into opposition with the world directly, as there are overwhelming numbers of employers who may require he or others work on Saturday, if only occasionally, to be employed.

Now, it seems to me, overwork and 80+ hrs of overtime a month, not to mention death by overwork, may well indicate a lack of belief in God, in His faithful providing and care for people. It may be an oversimplification of the problem of overworking, but I do think it’s applicable. And the reasons for overworking may be numerous. But essentially, an overworking person is seeing no need for rest, but on the contrary, to work as much as possible. Either to appease their employer, or to make ends meet.

It may seem only reasonable to a man, who has a family he commits himself to caring for, as he should. And there is a tradition of Honor in Jaoanese culture I’m a little familiar with. Such is the case that dishonor is avoided at much or all cost. And they had an old tradition, that’s not practiced anymore that I know of, of falling on one’s sword or gutting themselves if they commit the low act of dishonoring themselves, their family name or employer. But something of this belief in death for dishonor seems to have survived in their culture.

I may have to come back and edit this much later on. I’m just speaking in train of thought and recognize the need for more research. May I have your pardon? I hope so.

It also came to my attention that youth in Japan have it particularly hard when it comes to dating and marriage. The numbers seem to show a dwindling population that cannot keep up with national demands, so this may account for the need to overwork employees. The aging, care-needing population is large and growing. Traditionally, a family is to care for its elders, but perhaps this is problematic for the person who overworks themselves.

Many youth seem not to know how to meet and mingle with other singles. They haven’t obtained the necessary social skills for some reason or another. And therefore many don’t marry and have families of their own. Which is shocking really, since Japan is heavily populated in their bigger cities. Have you seen video or images of their city train stations? Some stations employ a pusher, or many, a man who literally shoves passengers into the train cabin so that the doors can close! I’ve seen similar videos from China.

But we may realise that living in a big city, surrounded by other people, doesn’t necessarily make one a remarkably social person. We can compare the socially acceptable space one comfortably desires in conversation between a person in New York City, New York versus Birmingham, Alabama. The difference is feet.

Any way, I’m interested in why people in many different place work, what they do for work, and how much they work. There may not be a lot of options in some places. Japan seems however yo have many job options, yet working only 40 hrs a week seems like it may be off the table for anyone.

I believe God wants us to rest. It’s a mercy and with love that he asks us to, knowing we need it, and he desires us to remember that He alone create all things, and has Himself the power to support it, knowing even the little sparrow and providing for it and being aware and agreeing if it should die. If he cares for the creatures, how much more does he care for us, men and women made in his image?

I would like to be a missionary to Asia, perhaps Japan. Some would want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.” C.T. Studd

(Who was Studd? I don’t know anything about him, but I remembered his quote)

Some may think that’s an aweful comparison. Japan is like a place just a yard from Hell? It may be a beautiful, amazing place with wonderfully kind people, but all need Jesus. Without Him, they perish like anybody else. Keep that in mind on your travels both near and far.

Can work be like a prison, like Egypt to Moses’ Israelites, or like unrepentant sin, that keeps you or any other from the Lord?

Today’s Discernment: Racers to the Starting Line

brown and white track field

What is the race set before us?

Perhaps when we first heard and believed, we saw with new eyes; excited, yet perhaps could not see it all very clearly. Press on, take courage, knowing that He will give you sight. We do not live by sight, but by faith. The world lives by sight alone, and how tender are they towards you? But the Lord loves you with unsurpassed compassion and patience.

He bestows upon you a gift of heavenly grace and mercy. A gift so marvelous you bounce and beam with joy and excitement and thanksgiving like a child receiving an especially good gift. So happy was I, am I, tears flowed down my face. You’d think I was sad, but I was exceedingly thankful, my emotions welt up and perfumed his feet where I lay, thankful and worshipping the Most High.

So It is very good, His gift, and you and I didn’t deserve it. He lavished it upon us from his kindness and love for us. Tears of gladness for the blood that flowed out for us on Calvary. And He will wipe away every tear, even those of gladness I think, so that only gladness and pure joy remains.

So, do not seek the riches of this world, they are not satisfying nor everlasting. Seek the riches of His Kingdom, they never perish, never get old, and do so satisfy. And neither will you perish. You will be fully satisfied, and want for nothing.

The Lord knocks down and breaks into pieces every idol, every pillar and every tower. But he raises up His people in His power and makes them stand for Him. You are a Godly pillar and tower. You were, in your old way, a dead, unspeaking mass, like a pile of stones, an alter to yourself, made of human hands, and were brought down in His presence. Where the pagans failed, being they were evil, where the images of gold or silver or bronze or iron or even plastic and wood were made to man’s satisfaction for the kings of the earth and all who served them, they were thrown down so that no rock remained upon another. You however have been rebuilt on a firm and solid and everlasting foundation in Christ Jesus. He found you among rubble and in ruins, and gave you new life. This was like a dream I had when I had just become a follower of Jesus. I was amidst the ruins of a city, and I emerged from the ruins seeing Jesus coming down the road with a couple other men at his side. And as I approached them, his eyes were like fire and struck me dead. I awoke a new man. I had the fear of God in me! And yes, this was the beginning of something new, a new life, and I knew not how it would go.

Remember His gift for you, and share it with all joy just as you received it. There’s enough for everyone, whosoever will enjoy it with thanksgiving. It was given freely to you, and you never could repay the kindness. Give also freely to others. His storehouse of treasures never depletes, it is always magnificently full. So as you give freely, do not think you will become empty or without. No, you will receive more! Never tire of doing good. This is your thanks. Never tire of being thankful, be gracious with His people, show them much hospitality and love, and all the gifts that you receive. Lavish them like you were lavished upon. Everyone who recives, will be given more! But everyone who does not receive, even what he has will be taken from him.

There are plenty of nights when I pray, Lord make things new. And I look at myself getting old, and my surroundings getting stale, and my place doesn’t seem to change. Then there are days when, in a flash, it’s all new. A new job, a new house, a new friend, a new situation or difficulty, what have you. I want to be prepared for all seasons and all newness.

What are we looking at? When life doesn’t make sense, and we don’t know what’s before us, don’t forget that the Lord gives sight to the blind, he’s a healer, a miraculous strengthener, a councilor, the lover of our soul. He is Lord and God! Maybe in this moment, you’re just to be thankful and give thanks. Count those blessings you’ve received, and then count them again. In all seasons and peculiar situations and difficulties, even in doldrums, give thanks. And then you will see again! Oh, Lord, you’ve given me all that I need, I have you!

(photograph by KingdomRSVP. Installation artwork/artist unknown.)

You Must Be Ready

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

I sit here wondering about what the Lord wants. He makes it very clear. So why do we disagree in that? Repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand. And follow his lead and example. Go, and make disciples for Jesus. The guess work has been removed, and the work remains. First, take the stick out of your own eye so that you may see clearly to take the splinter out of your fellow.

We’re fishers of men. We’re seed planters. We’re house cleaners. We’re watch towers. We’re tweezers. We’re grapes on a vine.

Have you seen the Kingdom? It is not the kingdom of man, but of God. And it was brought here by Jesus, and poured into his first disciples, the Apostles. And they, in turn, poured into other disciples, the brotherly, loving process of which has been duplicated for 2000 plus years. And here you are! We all give thanks for you! You were born of the Spirit, an heir to the Kingdom of God with us in Christ Jesus.

How do we say, I don’t know what to do, Lord? We do know, and we were told. The Kingdom of God is the Lordship of Jesus. Is He our Lord? Yes! Then what shall we do? Repent and be sanctified by Him. Love and obey Him, for he is good and has purpose and hope to give you.

Love one another, just as he has loved you. Seek the lost, just as he sought you. Build up one another, as he build you up. Everything you do for the Kingdom of God is stored up like a treasure. Once found, it is never lost again. And the Lord of the Kingdom has a vast treasure, and all things are His for his pleasure. Be for his pleasure.

Do nothing he has not shown you to do. Say nothing he has not told you to say. Abide in him and he will live in you, and with you and beside you always. Rest in him, and you will have rest. Does not your soul thirst for more than this world offers? He will quench your thirst forever. Do you not feel you were meant for much more than this world? This world is a training ground for the world to come. Am I worthy? No, Lord, you are! Show me how to love like you and serve like you. How to speak like you, and bless like you.

Make me, You, Lord Jesus.

Not, me, me, me. Lord, you, you, you!

With every new breath I take, let it be like a new breath of life, a breath of your Kingdom. And as I exhale, let it be of your Kingdom, giving thanks and glorifying You. Help me not waste my day nor my breath, nor my sitting or my going. But in everything I do, help me to do it all for you. I am yours, and you are mine, my treasure, my peace, my reason for living. I shall not fall in your presence, and if I fall you will lift me up again, because you are the Lord of my life, Lord of Life and Lord of the Living. Lord of Righteousness and Lord of Peacekeepers. You revive my soul to live, and live abundantly. If we are to seek life, we seek only you. You are my treasure.

Jesus’s command: Love One Another

Sometimes life’s difficulties bring out the worst in us. How we react shines light on our character.

Don’t waste a bad situation, practice your best when it’s hardest.

Sometimes life is going very well for us, and we have no wants. It’s in these times, or when those good times begin to yield to difficulties, that I realise my prayer life has waned and I haven’t been as thankful, or thankful at all, to all which God provides than I ought.

Paul had a thorn in his side. I don’t know what it was. But while he said he prayed often for it to be removed by God, he had come to understand it was for a purpose, to keep him humble perhaps, to keep him motivated in moving forward with the message of the Gospel regardless.

Don’t I know that I too have a thorn in my side! It could be anything, but it signifies our weakness and shortcomings. It is in our confession of weakness that Christ is strong in us. Oh that Christ would be super strong in me, because I have many weaknesses, I know! And have you heard, when you’ve asked him to remove a thorn (or several) because its too much to bare, My grace is sufficient? That’s hard to hear. Why, Lord? You’ve got to lean on Him the more. Don’t stop trying to conquer it in the Spirit, but neither allow it condemn you. That’s what I think Paul was saying when he said he stopped judging even himself. Believe Jesus, believe him more than you currently do, believe him over all things, he will finish his work, he will sanctify you, it will be done!

I do believe he will remove all our thorns, in his timing. Paul’s has been removed, or will be at the resurrection of the dead. He believed, and so should we, that Christ will complete all the work he has set his hands to, even you and me. We will be cleansed, not just a little, but completely and shine like the son, in due time.

What now? We should struggle daily to put off the old man, the old sin, the thorns in our flesh, whatever is weakness that remains, beat the flesh into obedience to the Lord, which is our sacrifice to him, our body is a living sacrifice, we make clean the dwelling of his Spirit, in thanks for all that he is and does. And put on the new man, the new garments of righteousness and holiness, whatever is Good and of God. None of this is possible apart from his grace. And I must remind myself that daily, or I will be frustrated with my own ability, the lack thereif, I can not do it. It is not me, Lord, it’s you. I am not mine, Lord, I’m yours.

I have over the years, as you probably have too, been in arguments with friends and foes, with Christians and non-Christians in person and over the internet or phone text. It should be easier for us to hold our tongues with brothers and sisters in Christ, and not to say hurtful things or more than should be said. But I find that in both instances it is hard.

Who can tame the tongue? The Word says, that power of heaven and hell is there in the tongue. And to us it should not both bless and curse. The Lord can tame our tongue. Whomever can say simply all the right things at all the right times is a perfect person. And we know, none of us are.

I had an argument with a brother the other day. Lord knows I love my brother in Christ. But at that particular time, he rejected me, saying I belittled and criticized him. I didn’t feel I had, and yet to prove that I hadn’t, it occured to me that all I could say in that moment was that I was and always had been his friend and meant no harm. Forgive me, perhaps I had uttered the wrong thing at the wrong time. I am only human, but I had good intentions. And it was a painful experience to allow his hurtful words to fall on me and sting me one by one. I neither got defensive nor offensive. I hope any way. I tried with all my strength.

But what victory in being a peacekeeper for Christ had I gained, if my brother became and was still angry with me? It was a hard day for me, a few days ago, and I still feel hurt. I also do not think I should try at this time to make peace or reconcile with him. I don’t believe he’d allow it to go well.

This might be among a dozen times a similar situation has arose with this friend. And I have reconciled after some time among a dozen times. This time, I’m not sure I should. Not that I will not forgive, but that I think apparently he has trouble forgiving.

If you reconcile with a brother, should either one of you ever bring up past mistakes in the future or present? If you forgive one another, should the thing forgiven ever be lumped with new disagreements? Should any of us store up old hurts, whether they were intentional or not, and unleash them one by one on our fellow? All I could think to say in that moment of insults and accusations being hurled at me was, Your words are hurtful. I would not say such things to you. Nevertheless, he did not stop.

What now? Only time will tell.

I think of those previous arguments and times where we did not speak. Once, he wouldn’t talk with me for a year and a half. It wasn’t until his brother told me he might be receptive, he’s been doing better, that I thought to reach out again. That seems a long time to leave my gifts at the Lord’s alter and reconcile with my brother. I wouldn’t have it that way, but it wasn’t my choice.

It seems in a lot of these times, I had to suffer silence and wait for the right time. I couldn’t simply call or write and resolve the differences. He didn’t apologise and make peace until I did. Again, in this event, I thoroughly apologized and asked for forgiveness. But it was withheld. Who knows for how long this time.

What was it I said that started all this, you may wonder. If I may say here what it was about, he may read it. He knows I write this blog but has never commented on or about it. In any case, if I say it was about A, he may sorely disagree and say it was about B. It really doesn’t matter, it was a semi silly argument to dwell on any way. He thinks however that I sought to disrupt his peace with the argument to begin with. Don’t I have enough going on that I should deal with your petty argument also, he surmised. It’s not so much what the argument was about, but that I’m argumentative with and critical of him. My remaining his friend all these years should testify for itself, I am not abandoning my friend for any reason, for any difficulty. If I am critical, I hope it is rather that I share in his frustration that he can’t change himself. I have said, This may help, try this. But not first before asking if I may offer my advice. I just did that shortly ago, I asked before offering unsolicited advice. I walked delicately, I wore kid gloves as it were.

Lord, help us change, change all your people and make us perfect as you are. I know my friend can’t change himself. Nor can I change myself, we need your help.

I have shared the nature of the argument with a few people I asked council of. What he said, what I said, etc. I left nothing out. If I’m wrong, show me I’m wrong and I’ll accept it. And they all said, try not to worry about it, he’ll get over it.

I don’t know that he will however. He holds onto everything you ever did, whether real or perceived wrongs, and holds them for such a time as use them again as ammunition. What’s forgiveness if there is no forgiveness? Perhaps it’s time I stop trying to make amends and peace and reconciliation. Am I in the right or wrong in walking away? I just don’t know.

We don’t get many real friends in this life, that’s my experience. And yet sometimes you try real hard to be an unconditional friend, keeping no record of wrongs done in the past, keeping no score of equal tit for tat and give and take, and yet it doesn’t seem to make a world of difference. It should be all so obvious who your friends are. Through thick and thin, there they are.

It’s sad to lose a long time friend, but as disruption of friendship becomes a reoccurring theme of the friendship, it’s just the way it is perhaps. One less friend in a world where I already feel like I have too few friends is no picnic. And I’m not the only one at a loss, we both lose. Maybe we’ll both have more peace going our separate ways.

Do you have friendships like this? In my life I’ve usually had one strong, close friend, and then a few somewhat reliable but less close friends, then a few less reliable less close friends, and a lot of acquaintances who come and go. It was not common the two or three times I’ve had a big circle of friends. And in those times, I knew it was too good to be true. Inner strife between one and another friend, out of my control, would split the circle in half, and split again, until it was no more. I got to keep one or two of them if I were lucky, then life happens, marriage, move, what have you.

I remember times when I’d see an old friend, and ask what happened. It wasn’t uncommon to hear, Well you were friends with so and so and me or my friends were at odds with them. And I’d say, What did that have to do with being my friend? Oh, they’d say, I thought it would bother you if you could come by but your friend couldn’t. Hmm. It would have and did bother me more that you just stopped talking to me.

People can be so complicated.

It shouldn’t be this way in the family of God. Shouldn’t the family of God be a taste of Heaven and the Kingdom to come? I think so. Relationships are hard. Jesus knows it. The mind, the body, the tongue, the spirit, all our strength, all need to be given over to Jesus.

What I have such a hard time with is keeping track of everyone’s idiosyncrasies. Everyone has their own threshold to friendships. Their own pet peeves. Their own emotional baggage. Their own difficulties with trust, and communication and Church, and you name it. Some want a tight kinship, some want you at arms length, and everything in between. Some only want you when the sun shines, and others when they’re flush with need of your assistance.

I read something the other day that struck a chord. It said, What is abnormal to someone who’s abnormal emotionally or spiritually is to treat them as normal. I get a lot of guff from that. I try to treat everyone the same, and it blows up in my face. It’s that moment when you think your friend is stronger than he is, and you treat him like a strong friend, and you may be the one in need, that their weakness smashes over your head with contempt for your forgetting however momentarily their limitations.

It brings up a lot of emotions. I’ve had many friends who had need of a shoulder to lean on. And it was freely given. But when I needed a shoulder, or an ear as it were, they became angry and resentful, saying I didn’t respect how much they were going through already and couldn’t handle more. I’m called the selfish one, as my heart breaks.

You don’t have to tell me the world is full of hurting people in need of help, in need of the Church, in the Lord, in his people. I need. You need. We all need each other. You can’t look anywhere and not find the needy. So the mission field is outside your door, wherever you may be. It’s even within your doors, your family whether saved ir unsaved. But a dear, close, trustworthy, brother is still so hard to find? I don’t understand it. Or maybe I understand it just fine. Jesus is the pure, true brother, the brother that is closer than a brother by all accounts, one that all brothers (and sisters) should be like. And may we all be like him one day. That truly will be a Great Day!

Your “mission possible,” choose to accept it, because With God nothing is impossible!..

Love one another! Just as Christ loved you! And still loves you! And He is always with you!

I may yet call my friend and tell him I’m sorry to have upset him, I love him as a brother, and hope we can reconcile as brothers when he’s ready.

Today’s Discernment: Can any man “escape” God?

Are you for God, or against God? There’s no “on the fence” position.

To the writer or a certain blog, why is your blog limited to being against fundamental Christianity, the Bible and God Almighty? Why not also make posts against (or for, if you think favorably on) Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc? Are you now agnostic, or searching for another god, or atheist?

But can you actually “escape fundamental Christianity”? No, you have not gone your own way, not lived your own life, neither ignoring, forgetting nor thinking your own thoughts about other things not pertaining to God, but you’re fixated, you’ve simply turned and oppose God and become his enemy.

This is not escape if your mind is in prison, hating God. But repent, and ask forgiveness of God, and he may show you mercy. Then if you receive his mercy, you can know that, yes, he does show mercy on whomever he chooses, according to his will and not yours. You still may not know why, that’s his business.

He could show mercy on everyone at once. Is that justice? Does it serve his purposes? If you want fair and just, everybody deserves to die according to the law of sin and death. It’s true nobody deserves his mercy, which is why it’s a free gift that no man may boast in himself or works. But what would that do to save every man, and yet God remains unpleased? What does God want?

God may show some men mercy, and yet they still hate him? We have heard the parable of the king. A man owned the king much money, and was brought before rhe king. The man was sorry, and pleaded for his life. The king showed mercy and told the man he was forgiven. The man thanked the king for his grace, and went away happy. Bit the man remembered a servant who owed him money and had the servant brought before him, demanding payment. The servant pleaded for his life he could not pay. And the man had the servabt killed. The king heard about this and summoned the man to him. The king asked the man, did you owe me a lot of money? Yes, he replied. And did I not show you mercy and spare your life when you could not pay? Yes, he replied. Then how could you be forgiven and shown mercy for much debt, but you did not show mercy on your servant who owed you much less? And the king had the man killed.

Perhaps God knowns beforehand which men by their free will will nevertheless hate him, and would not accept his mercy nor his power to be clensed of unrighteousness. And yet by their hardened hearts and disobedience, he uses them for good towards those who, when they do receive his mercy will be thankful, obey, love him and be clensed of unrighteousness. He told Sidon, if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, they would have repented and still exist to this day. But it will be more bearable for Sodom on judgment day than for Sidon.

In the end, one evil undeserving man was justified by God’s free gift of grace through his mercy and saved; and one evil undeserving man died denying this same free gift of grace from God’s mercy – but the man was used by God to help save the other. This work is in no way attributed to that man. Nothing went to complete waste, and God’s good purpose was made known. He makes some be an example for those who are receiving of grace justified, and these same royal by grace to put to shame those made common as an example. God made man for himself, not man for his own self or whatever else he may choose to serve. No man escapes, man is made to serve God’s purposes. Choose to serve God, or choose not to serve God and be made an example that serves God. Love God and show mercy upon others freely, because He first loved you and showed you great mercy.

Today’s Discernment: Christian “Mindfulness and Meditation”?

Can a Christian safely rebrand and use New Age and Eastern Mysticism practice? Or is God’s way as another practice entirely?

There are a lot of people in the world who are hurting. We all know that. And I was just looking into the possibility of being hired as a wilderness guide by an organization which offers recovery programs for youth who are dealing with trauma and difficult life events.

Maybe the youth come from a broken home, maybe they’ve lost a parent, family member or friend. Or, maybe they’re having a difficult enough time navigating socially. It could also be they’ve turned to substance abuse. Growing up is hard to do. We all need mentors.

Scanning the pages of these organizations for more information, in some I kept seeing pages from their workbooks. What are they teaching these kids, I wondered? On one page was a seated image of Buddha, and the lesson was about mindfulness and meditation. I couldn’t read the pages very well, as it was slightly out of focus, but I could see they had illustrated various centers of the body, with explanations on finding holistic balance, or Oneness.

This all reminds me of my time studying in a traditional martial arts training center. The instructors generally do somewhat adhere to and understand the spiritual aspects of the martial art they teach. As a Christian, though I didnt understand exactly the meanings of the saying nor the shrine on the wall, nevertheless I knew it came from ancestor and spirit worship of Japanese religious origin. I did ask the instructor if I may remain silent in such instances, and he said that was fine. My pastor, at the time, who I also spoke with about these things, said he once studied martial arts and thought it was all benign and I shouldn’t worry about it. I do now disagree, its all very symbolic of ancestor and spirit worship, even if they soften it for Western students.

Here also, in some of these camps for troubled youth, are the trappings of Eastern mysticism. And these same things are all around us in the West, USA, Canada, Europe, etc. Indian yoga, and Buddhist mindfulness meditation are not benign. In each of these resides their traditional teaching of oneness. And we find many celebrities today endorsing oneness. They may even strongly say it is not contrary to Christianity.

Their concept and worldview of “oneness” stresses that we are all connected, to the earth, to the elements, to each other, to the universe or creator. This fully contradicts the Christian understanding that we are not all of God, we have been separated from him by sin. Are we All God’s children? No, before we were known of God through Jesus, we were children of wrath and of the devil who is the author of lies, and enemies of God.

Suppose then an organization that, although has a worthy cause such as helping children cope with and eventually have victory over life’s struggles, also imbeds a worldview of oneness? Is this not eastern philosophical indoctrination? Of course it is.

How else does the philosophy of oneness compete with and come against with Christ?

We have the worldview of good and evil, right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness, heaven and hell, soul and flesh. We understand a duality, a twoness as one author calls it, and not a oneness.

These also believe that they may earn Enlightenment, higher, secret knowledge and wisdom, and perhaps be reincarnated as a better being, attaining eventually godlike status. But we know that a man can not save himself, he is in bondage of sin and cannot escape it nor God’s judgment of and through himself and his good works ir thoughts; unless he is reconciled to the Father through the Son whom He sent for us.

Certainly there are some Christians who practice yoga or meditation, and these philosophical “oneness” notions are not apparent to them. Yet there are other Christians who have accepted them, perhaps not entirely aware of their dangers. You will find that some professing Christians will say odd things that amount to New Age philosophy, and they get them from various imported sources that are counter-Biblical.

It’s not that the Bible is against meditation, nor exercise. These things hold some value to us in the body. We are to think on or meditate God’s Word daily and in prayer. Meditation and prayer in a quiet place helps us to remain calm, knowing that God is in control, and listen for God’s voice. If we’re looking within ourselves for answers and understanding, it’s not us we’re looking for, but the Spirit of God who dwells with us and guides us. Eastern meditation teaches something different to empty oneself of thoughts.

Today’s Discernment: Spiritual Secularism?

To be friends with the World is to be enemies of God. You cannot have two masters, or you will love the one and hate the other.

I’ve traveled a bit over the years, though not as much as I aimed to. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that church buildings in many places sat empty, abandoned, shuttered, and were rapidly being sold and renovated to serve a secular purpose, whether a business or a residence. How does that strike you?

Naturally, you’ll see this occurrence in the most secularized cities with much in the way of alternative lifestyles in America and beyond. Key West, FL and Provincetown, MASS immediately come to mind. Been to the Keys a few times, and to Provincetown once to go whale watching and walked around the town. Key West still has a few Christian churches, I would guess. But Provincetown, I can’t imagine it does, I saw no sign of one, but I don’t know for sure. And I point this out, you’ll see in the Canadian link below, they treat former places of worship very poorly and with irreverence. Those towns become unwelcoming places for Christians.

I do think closed church buildings ought to be razed and not rebranded. Notice their language, making places of Christian worship into even more community friendly, open, diverse and spiritual environments. They’re talking about bars and nightclubs as the new spiritual centers of a community? Why, because they pay taxes, create a few dozen jobs, ever sin lifestyle is embraced, and invest in the local infrastructure? Christians may be offended, but who cares, they deserve it because they’re intolerant of sin. But many don’t separate sin from who they choose to be, and take a Christian’s offenses and objections to sin very personally as an attack. What has been your experience?

The Word says it so poetically,

The world says, like a bunch of children standing in the market, We sang a wedding song, but you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song, but you didn’t mourn.

And they hate us for not joining in on nor condoning their worldview.

Interestingly, Canada was just named the top “most spiritual” nation on Earth. They’ve also experienced a downshift in those identifying as Christians. 1 in 4 Canadians are said to attend a church congregation once a week, which is down 16% in less than a decade. The USA has more of a drop. Another article I was reading said Christians now make up 40% versus the some 80% of the population a couple decades back. How they divide the 40% into various denominations or varying doctrines, they said they don’t know. It’s another topic entirely, but among all those identifying as Christians in the US, that 40% of the population, who say they’re saved, how many actually are?

How can Canada be more spiritual while less religiously affiliated, until you take into account what these divisive polls are calling spiritual, they include diversity and well-being, prosperity and health. Open minded and spiritual is just the thing to be, and it’s very individual; it’s the same thing as worshipping your own handmade god, one they’ve fashioned purely by imagination and preference. And it tells them just what they want to hear, You’re good enough, and you deserve your best life now. I bet by similar evaluation they would call New York and California fine upstanding global citizens and highly spiritual even while they show disdain for Christians.

Canada ranked as world’s most spiritual country:

https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/canada-ranked-as-world-s-most-spiritual-country-1.4092373

This seems to be really along the lines of ranking the most Ecumenical nations for tolerance and religious pluralism. There are organizations that rank businesses accoesing to their diversity and tolerance quotient. At the top of the list are corporations like Target and Starbucks. But religion or religious freedom has much less to do about it really, it’s the secularism that’s exalted, and the ever growing string of abbreviated letters of protected classes of sexual sinners. What they say is greater tolerance, is really an intolerance to insistence of any one truth or god. If you pledge to accept everyone just as they are, and keep your moral truth to yourself, and embrace the religion of Unity as it were, then you will not evangelize out of respect for their personal beliefs, and you won’t live out your faith in public, so as not to offend anyone. This is the same as being friends with the world – and enemies of God.

Similarly, the Word talks about a people having a form of spirituality but not exercising the power therein to be a saving faith. Since there is no power in what amounts to spiritual secularism among non-Christians I do think this pertains particularly to Christians in name only (similar to Republicans in name only (RINO) but pertaining to religion) and not to the world at large, but I could be wrong. There is a sense for morality in the world among many people, but they seek to divorce it from the One True God. So they also say love one another, and you’ll want to agree with them, it has familiar ring to it of course, but there’s a difference, they do it their own way, how it seems right to them, not knowing true love, because they don’t know God. They call God’s love, hate, because they do not know truth, and frankly some don’t want to for choosing sin instead.

You may be asking, where does the ecumenical false teaching come into play here? Ecumenism is the teaching that, many Christian denominations and many religions besides, can come together in unity and cooperation to make the world safer, cleaner (environmentalism) and more prosperous. The notion they present by ecumenism is that an era of peace on earth is possible apart from Jesus. But hidden in their fine sounding concept is a peace by force, using world governments, dominion, to manipulate law and put pressure on religious holdouts who are fixed to their god(s) and worldview. In otherwords, they’re making war with the saints. Eventually, the pressure and coercion will give way to violence on their end. However well meaning this ideology og unity between all mankind may sound, it is misguided (not of the Spirit, but of the world), it is evil, led of the devil, preparing mankind to accept the antichrist.

Aspen Institute Conference on Age of Religious Nationalism

https://www.aspeninstitute.org/events/conscience-community-citizenship/

Unbeknownst to many congregants of Christian churches, there have been world councils that habe met to each sign agreement to cooperate to achieve world peace through diplomacy. Again, on the surface it may seem like a good idea. But what does the Word say? What has light to do with darkness? There are accounts in tbe Bible where God’s people sought alliance with their enemies in order to secure peace. But the enemy is cunning and deceitful, and does not uphold their end of the deal.