Saturday, May 5, 2012

For Those Who Have Ears To Hear

“If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”—or so goes one of philosophy’s staple questions.  One might think the question too obvious, and reflexively cry, with careless impertinence: “but of course,” wondering why so simple a question was posed.  But even science will vouch that a receiver, a hearer, is needed for sound to be classified as sound.  Thus, the compression of air that occurs within the ear canal that excites the many hair follicles that produces sound, when absent, begs this philosophical conundrum—this question about sound’s existence.  Of course, this riddle derives its intrigue from the fact that it is practically unresolvable: that it cannot be scientifically ascertained.  And anything not scientifically determined does not exist in today’s reality or within today’s scientific imagination.
The smallest organism viewed through the lens of a microscope is larger than the largest stars; just as our myopic moon sometimes eclipses our sentient sun—and makes us walk by its secondary light—sometimes we see men as fuzzy trees in noiseless reveries.   Beguiled by the madness of nearness and internally transported by the music of the distant spheres, implosions become louder than explosions and Black Holes more real than White Lights.  When reality is measured only subjectively it ceases to be reality.   Just as aloneness is unresolvable except by company and the noiseless felling of lone trees unnoticed except within the context of a large-scale deforestation project, so reality is only known in its entire subjective and objective context. 
Yet the disconnection of disparate parts of reality, as splintering facets of knowledge, is behind all commonality of experience; it is illusory to think that artificiality—armless trunks banded together—can reach the status of natural limb and leaf and nature’s intertwining embrace.  Though the essential fiber of my own being is saturated with knowledge unknown to others, parsing me to the core will yield an essential fuel; whether I fall or remain erect is substantially a private affair, but the public eventually hears of my fall (and their scrutiny lights me on fire).
At the back of all there is to say is the lone voice, barely perceptible, even to a sophisticated or discerning ear.  The clamor of the carpet and the tease of the trees are but the white noise canvas upon which the charred and black words accentuate their existence and meaning.  Bold relief is needed to free one from the constraints of symmetry and indistinguishable existence.  Beams and planks and boards are forms of a bygone glory and the skeletal frame upon which I now hang the weight of my internal world; outside lays my past experience among the groves of knotted oaks and lean majestic cedars.  You heard that I was felled; you came and made the best of me.  There upon the forest floor you came upon a silhouette of prostration, silent but for the creaking made lying across those ancient arms: my forbears embracing me and holding me out into the shafts of sunlight peaking through the hole in the now damaged canopy above.  Like a Black Hole, I am known not for who or what I am (or was), but for space I now do not occupy.  My legacy lingers and my past has a voice some have heard; but when I stood sentry over my solitude, when I boldly took my stand, no one saw or heard me.           

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wormhole Salvation

Implosions are just explosions expressed
Another way, as Black Holes are notions
That explain unexplainable motions
Of heavenly bodies as they are pressed
Beyond the limits of known law.  Compressed
Substance—now more substantial; Emotions—
Now more heart-felt.  Religious devotions
Condensing import like feelings regressed.

The pressure inside is a perversion
Of makeup, just as death is inversion
Of life somewhere else.  Weakness bulges where
The essence gathers and compels our prayer.
Through the eye of a needle we go home,
Bare as a baby, skinny as a poem.

The Forbidden Fruit

Vacant is the shallow socket where lies
The panes of gray glassy undistinguished
Portals where runs the saint and extinguished
Soul into the Catacomb of the mind’s eyes.
There, in the recessed inner man, like sties
That swine would seek as a muddy home squished
Beneath their cloven hoofs, we relinquished
Our vision through rivers of soulish cries.

O’ that the sweat could but dry for awhile!
That the tears of hardened flesh could produce
Unimpeded fruit, instead of this guile!
Then would I save my skin, and introduce
The sanctity of imagination;
Then I’d live without investigation!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not a Formula, but a Fountain

(Maturing in Christ which makes the heart and head of one entity from which springs a coherent and pure stream of being).

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:23).”
“For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.  Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, ‘We are not blind too, are we?’  Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, “We see,” your sin remains (John -41).’” 

Just Beneath the Clouds
There is sunshine beyond the clouds
Way above our puny heads
Beyond the secondary light of moonshine
And her third cousin’s twinkling
Stars that brighten the show;
Beyond the production of our collective heads
Beyond the ramifications of our conceived
Conceited eternal destinies
Beyond the mechanical eyes’ reach
Light has yet to illuminate
Our mortal souls.

Satellites circle our circumferences
And answer every angle we inspire,
But when
Oh when!
You mortal souls
Will you understand
And only just
What is clouded?

From God’s perspective there is no gray—white (all of light and color) and black (the absence of all light and color) share no edges and creates no variable shades; light and dark are both alike to God—complete understanding eliminates all variability and shade—but there is no real absence of light (from God’s perspective).  Unfortunately, light and dark are both alike to us as well (being made in His image); however, without His capacity—lacking absolute knowledge—we cannot but be presumptuous in anything we assert from out of ourselves. Lacking God’s perspective and capacity, we cannot surmount the affects of variability and shade (we see through a glass dimly); we lack even enough light to adjust to light.  Our ignorance is so entrenched that grayness is the best we can do; a mixture of light and dark becomes the darkest dark because we cannot make distinctions.  Reality is something we are only a part of, therefore, we can never comprehend reality without outside enlightenment.  There is no puzzle to solve—no ignorance in God—which would prompt Him, however, to distinguish between right and wrong or light and dark.  His no-shadow-of-turning existence is seamless, without flaw, full of light that ever emanates, and creates no opportunity for grayness.  It is mankind alone that gropes along the edges of both light and dark and mankind alone that is utterly at the mercy for truth and reality to be given them from an outside source.
Even the idea of theology—mankind’s study of God and all things transcendent—is presumptuous.  Only an outside revelation from God alone can help us begin this journey, and only ongoing revelation from Him can take us home.  No formula or calculation made from our finite and truncated perspective can ever define reality adequately.  No statement of faith, therefore, can express God’s revelation of Himself sufficiently without marring it—or in some measure—eclipsing God’s own unadulterated message contained in His Logos.  As Oswald Chambers once said, “In the Bible ‘theological’ and ‘practical’ stand for the same thing (2000, p. 428),” and I would add, are actually the same thing; truth is fluid and all encompassing of factual and visceral elements about God that man can know.  Mankind’s knowledge of God circumvents his own exhaustive thinking about the matter; the most intelligent human minds reach only lying conclusions because they viscerally know more than what they are cognizant of.  Chambers also said, “If anything is a mystery to you and it is coming between you and God, never look for the explanation in your intellect, look for it in your disposition, it is that which is wrong.  When once your disposition is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, the understanding will be perfectly clear…and ‘in that day ye shall ask Me no question.’”  In the end, an atrophied head might not ruin one’s Christianity, but it almost certainly will ruin one’s enjoyment of it. 
The revelation of Jesus Christ, however, is a fountain—a seamless flow from on high (but made through our bellies)—that God alone creates and articulates.  This power from on high does not need mankind’s thoughts or words (but is inclusive of them), but simply mankind’s agreement with what He has already said, what He is saying, and what He will say in the future.  A fountain simply dispenses an ongoing flow of water (the Holy Spirit) and testifies of Jesus Christ—in and outside of time.  Man’s words simply explain—or rather exclaim with wonder about the Christ after the fact—how “…never man spake like this man (John , KJV).”  A preacher must express Christ, not himself or even his wonder about Christ; he must draw from living waters, not stagnant pools of past experience or knowledge.  “Once God has spoken;
twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11).”  “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power; for the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).”
There can be correct and incorrect theological points to be made about Christ and Christianity, but the fatal point is to not be pertinent to the situation, viz., to be powerless.  It is the absence of pertinence or a lack of a prophetic element that denudes preaching of power.  The power of an endless life alone—Christ and Him crucified—is the spigot from which resurrection power flows and imbues preaching with power. 

“These are true words of God…that hold the testimony of Jesus…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:9-10, parts).”

The testimony of Jesus is time and space sensitive only because Jesus Christ has made Himself subject to these constraints for the sake of meeting sinners exactly where they are—the condensation of God toward man is the quintessential sign and wonder—the fullness of all dimension and reality delivering mankind from shortsightedness: a smoke-and-mirror-reality.  This deceptive hiding place, this make believe environment, skews his perspective and disfigures his understanding about reality; only the miracle of salvation realized will change his mind and effectually convert him.  God intervening into the affairs of man, however, is exactly what He does—the eternal dimension bleeding into the temporal one and temporarily transfiguring the point at which these two dimensions meet; a lightening flash of Christ across the heavens of an individual’s mind is a heavenly display that indelibly changes the mind of its beholder.  This incontrovertible vision supersedes all argument or mental calculations.  The extraordinarily objective fact of Christ crucified before the foundation of the world and subjectively applied as predestination—all within the scope of human free will and God’s sovereignty—is thus commingled within the Creator and his creation: an intersection of time, space and eternity.   The eternal and temporal likened to objective and subjective reality—and infusing the temporary and subjective with eternal and objective verities—is a process that seems untenable in the early stages to the newly awakened yet still unregenerate mind; the blindness of man is so entrenched that it often takes years to illuminate it—to renew it enough—wherein it will reason in concert with its spiritual heart palpitations.  The spirit of prophecy is upon this intersection of time and space—yet the eternal message is boundless—outside of and inclusive of this moment.  “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances (Proverbs 25:11, NASB).”

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).”
“And my message and my preaching (Paul’s) were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But…the things of the Spirit of God…are spiritually appraised.  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.  For…we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2: 4, 6, 13-16, parts, NASB).”

Indeed, a promise is given to all destined to finish the race—that we should reach perfection—a maturation that indelibly marks us and seals us within a perpetual state of Christlikeness.  The apparent dichotomy is light shining out of darkness while still robed within mortal flesh; the accusation of hypocrisy only seems unambiguous to the ignorant natural mind.  Walking before God and being perfect is entirely of His doing excepting only our agreement in the matter, viz., our faith in God.  “Only believe” is the simple and perfect antidote for what ails us; unbelief is the brainchild of the brain itself and only those not leaning upon it—obeying its demanding forms of logic, reasonings and musings—will find peace that passes understanding.  The incessant calculating of the natural mind tends only to exhaustion, error and ultimate futility.  The cure:      
A little girl walked to and from school daily.  Though the weather one morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school.  As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning.  The mother of the little girl became concerned as the storm began to intensify.  Hearing the peals of thunder and the many lightning flashes—like flaming swords cutting across the sky—the mother got into her car and quickly drove along the route her child used to go to school and return home upon.  It wasn’t long before she found her, but she was surprised by her behavior.  The little girl was not frightened at all; instead, she was stopping, smiling and looking up into the sky at each lightening flash. When the mother's car drove up beside the child she lowered the window and called to her, "What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?"  
The child answered, "I am trying to look pretty—God keeps taking my picture. 
May God bless you as this child when you face the storms that come your way!
BUT…don't forget to SMILE!

OK…so, grin and bear it, right?  Answer:  Yes and No.
Yes, we would be wise to discern the need to praise, worship and smile even when things are going in a direction that seems counterproductive to ultimate health and happiness.  BUT, that requires faith—a faith that does not believe the circumstances will last, overcome us, or leave any permanent scar.  Contrary to many people’s idea of faith—faith is grounded in understanding (the very reason one transcends the apparent to place faith in something unseen is grounded in their understanding of spiritual matters).
No, a plastic smile and feigned resignation will not do (but others around you might appreciate it till you get a clue)!  BUT, getting a clue is the key—when we have to fake it till we make it we have already failed.  It is true that we can believe something without full cognizance, but without full cognizance, that belief is doomed to die.  Our heart and mind must agree or we are a divided house that must ultimately topple to the ground.   Without enlightenment we are inclined to misbehave; to rejoice always is not some law to simply be obeyed for its own sake (though until our minds are renewed we are experientially under law and thus may operate this way temporarily), but an appeal to reason concerning the ultimate facts of our existence and the ramifications of full knowledge (maturity).  In other words, we cannot long obey something we do not understand; our minds will rebel against it and will sabotage our well-being if its needs are not being met.  The experience of this wonderful salvation is planted in seed form within our bellies—at the very heart of our beings; but as Christ grows up within us it requires our agreement with this growth to reach maturity—and agreement involves the mind.   
God has, indeed, won the victory for us, and even if our temporary experience seems to be lying about that fact—and we seem not to be enjoying the spoils of that victory—we have a choice: to either believe our experience or the news about Christ and His victory.  But why does this way cause us so much consternation?  Why is the road so difficult?  The premise of any argument—the foundation of any inquiry—yields the presuppositions of its questioner and is a key to correctly answer any question.  In other words, from where your question originates and from what spirit you are speaking from matters as much as the naked words utilized.  Contrary to an established cliché, there are stupid questions.  Too many questions asked are presumptuous in nature—devoid of any real thought and consideration of the full breadth of reality (oversimplification); thus, by asking these questions we inevitably get truncated and wrong answers—answers too simple to cover the actual complexity of genuine reality.  The revelation of Jesus Christ encompasses the full breadth of all reality applied—the fact of Jesus Christ is the full breadth of reality.  Until we operate from the mind of Christ we operate from our own mind—and that is exactly the problem.
“All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance (Ex. ).”
"But My servant Caleb…has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully (Numbers , parts).”
The story of the little girl smiling and posing before God is innocent, cute and endearing.  And from the mouth of babes He has ordained praise and displayed His wisdom!  Such reckless abandonment, such simple faith—that she was not in harm’s way—was her orientation (yet not from the standpoint of mature knowledge).  She is correct today—God is taking her picture; but she will be incorrect tomorrow if she continues to think as a child. “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).”
Just as love—as defined in the Scriptures—can believe all things yet rejoice with the truth, so God can make two seemingly diametrically opposed facts kiss.  This Christian journey requires the same embracing of paradox: we embrace both Spirit and Truth—and indeed, the Spirit is truth and the Truth is spiritual.  True love cannot lie to the one it is lavished upon and be a real or mature love; neither can it point out all error in short order (without exercising patience), and do so without engaging even a modicum of heart warmth.  In other words, the heart and the head must be in concert—and expressed in concert—if we are ever to express true Christian love.  The little girl and Caleb expressed the right spirit; the little girl ever remains a little girl statically known to us through the medium of this story alone—but Caleb evolves—he matures.  He endured forty more years wandering in the wilderness—ostensibly for others—before he obtained his inheritance within the Promised Land.  Caleb’s different spirit followed the Lord fully—thus he endured hardship for others—but I suppose he needed the wilderness experience also.  Certainly he gained understanding as he went—though not of the primary or essential kind—he had that from the start; there is a sense where right heartedness never changes and thus never changes our minds.  But expansive understanding is about enlargement to such a degree that it will appear to upturn things we previously held as true.  Enlargement is about width and breadth of understanding (mind) and height and depth of sentiment (heart).  It is called magnanimity (someone large enough and mature enough to not be petty).
  The mountain we have come to mentioned in Hebrews is more pleasant than the mountain the Israelites came to, but I would suggest that Caleb’s mountain—his inheritance—was the mountain we have come to today in the new covenant.  By faith, he transcended time and space and is transfigured upon its peak.  But as he went outside of this world’s constraints to get it right, we can go outside it to get it wrong.  Many Christians come to the wrong mountain—where law is engraved in stone and God is obscured by a cloud of wrath—but this is a real mountain.  And God expresses Himself this way for those who shrink back or give themselves to perpetual playing and dancing; immaturity is a half-holiday at best: its sun sets at noonday.  The questions we must ultimately ask ourselves are: “Will we follow on to know the Lord?”  “Will we reach maturity?”
All formula is truncated and earthly in comparison to a fountain of knowledge and life.  Line upon line is necessary early but insufferable and stilted as one grows and enlarges.  Maturity is about staying in the fountain’s perpetual flow; immaturity is about coming aside into stagnant wading pools—not wrong when young, but insufficient when older.  “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1).”
Chambers, O. C. (2000).  The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers. 
Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Some Thoughts on Psalm 81

To the Chief Musician; set to Philistine lute, or [possibly] a particular Gittite tune. [A Psalm] of Asaph. 
How religious we are when we fail to realize that everything that has breath, every created melody, and every expression is His.  If He so desires, He can redeem it and bring it into His divine plan.  He can take a filthy Philistine tune, clean it up, and cause it to express His purposes. How often do we dismiss an expression of praise that we do not understand, dismissing not only the expression, but also the expresser?  God delights in saving punk rockers, hip-hop artists, rappers, country musicians, and whatever other flavor their expressions come in; God receives them and their expression of praise more liberally than critics or cynics.  Whether these children mature and leave off immature expressions or not is God’s business to address.  Too often, we judge  flavor rather than fruit, and even regarding the fruit we too often get ahead of God and His timing –God gave you time to mature and become fruitful, and we must allow God to give them the needed time to do the same.   
SING ALOUD to God our Strength!  Shout for joy to the God of Jacob!  Raise a song, sound the timbrel, the sweet lyre with the harp.

There is a time to shake off the lethargy and make the SACRIFICE of praise.  Activate God within; let God arise…allow the Spirit to move through you.  Speak and shout in tongues if need be, but arise from indolence and work out what he has worked in.  Placate the rumblings of your mind and its churnings with sweet music; tame the beastly nature and bring your disquieted soul into alignment with His purposes.  No more crying that you have no strength; He is our strength and we go from strength to strength only on the path to Zion anyways.  Besides, our spiritual trek will always sap our natural strength.  Coming to Mount Zion is more terrible than coming to Mount Sinai, because to refuse the heavenly voice is more frightful than to refuse the earthly one.  Our spiritual man is the only man God is speaking to; a further separation from our natural man is being required in this hour to hear the unadulterated truth.  We must SACRIFICE today while we hear His voice.  Sing, shout and raise the strings of your hearts; let the wind of the Spirit pluck our inner chords and make music of His liking alone.    
Blow the trumpet at the New Moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.  For this is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
I believe trumpets have been blowing now for some time; God has been calling people upwards into the higher realms of the spirit for some time now.  It requires that we throw off yesterday, the flesh, and all sin.  To fully orb into all that God has created us to be we must wax larger until we reflect the full measure of the Son.  All statutes and ordinances are to be subsumed into a fluid and seamless adherence to all Truth and Spirit based on the RULE of the new creation disposition within us.  Interestingly, the Hebrew meaning of “statute” is (2706) from (2710); an enactment; hence an appointment (of time, space, quantity, labor or usage); an “ordinance” is from (4941) which is from (8199) –to judge; it means a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced.  Now, an “enactment” is to make something into law –the processing of a new force that will ultimately be the ruling disposition; Israel is representative of our spiritual or heavenly man, and has been appointed the rule for our behavior via the Spirit writing its demands upon our spiritual man’s heart.  The God of Jacob has judged our natural life as unfit to proceed except via a hitch in its giddy-up; God takes no pleasure in the legs of a man (see Psalm 110).  His verdict for us (our spiritual man), is thus against us (our natural man–as far as being the ruling disposition).  This blowing the trumpet, the new and full moon, corresponding to a feast day, and securing proper rule in proper amounts and places is all emblematic of the fullness of our maturity in Christ.  We are to wax brighter and brighter until the full day as we rejoice and again rejoice (both for the death and the life He gives us); we are to obtain our very souls (and bodies) as the outcome of our suffering.  Living in booths upon our own rooftops is being spiritually naked before the world; this Feat of Tabernacles is an autumn feast, a mature feast, where we are spiritually naked and yet unashamed.  So thoroughgoing has been the agency of Pentecost (the Holy Spirit), that we can now ever shout from the rooftops our transcendent message.  We have put away sin and its consequential shame; physical nakedness we yet cover, but our last Adam is unashamedly bare before the entire world.  The Feast of Tabernacles corresponding to our bodies is the third and final stage of the development of the last Adamic race.  Christ birthed Himself within our spirit, grew into our soul, and now has matured into our body; we have become the manifested sons of God as Christ manifests Himself in our mortal flesh.  He has given to us all things pertaining to life and godliness; we MUST work out what He has worked in in this hour.  We are to rebuke our own carnal minds, control our own unruly emotions, and force our own stubborn wills to soften and comply with God; we alone are to mortify/starve our baser appetites –our flesh –and keep diligent watches over all surfeiting; we alone have the power to stop the full development of Christ throughout our comportment (corresponding to our spiritual agreement)/disposition (our soul compliance)/behavior (restraining the action of our body/flesh).   
This He ordained in Joseph [the savior] for a testimony when He went out over the land of Egypt. The speech of One Whom I knew not did I hear [saying], I removed his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from the basket. 
Again a form of the word “ordinance” is used; He “ordained.”  God judged –made a verdict –which became a testimony to the entire world that Israel is God’s favored people –and even further so, or more specifically –those that came forth out of the branch of Joseph.  Actually, Joseph being a type of Christ, and having been the forerunner into Egypt, he really and symbolically saved the entire nation from starvation.  Egypt was to have been the furnace of affliction that ought to have prepared the Israelites internally to face the external temptations in the wilderness; their failure to understand God’s purposes, to not realize the fourth one in the fire with them, made them unable to live with restraint and patience –to possess their souls –thus they died in the very throes of a process that was going to eventually give them exactly what they wanted.  So many of His people just do not hear or understand the voice or purpose of their God.  Deliverance has been accomplished in Christ; realization of that deliverance is sadly only known by few.  How tenderly does God yearn to make His people whole; He declares that His heart is turned over within Him and His compassions kindled (see Hosea 11:8).  He also said, “I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.  I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them.  THEY WILL NOT RETURN TO THE LAND OF EGYPT (Hosea 11:3-5 parts, emphasis mine).”  It is also noted that the burden was upon their shoulder and their hands tended to baskets.  Shoulders are made for government, to center the load or weight of something across the entire person (especially with a yoke that situates across both shoulders and might very well have been how they lifted brick and mortar in two offsetting and hanging buckets); we must learn that the government is really upon Christ’s shoulders, and how His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Hands being freed from baskets are similar to unburdening shoulders from harnesses; what free hands might do is able to be done without large conveyances.  So, no more slavery, or working for someone else’s profit or good without proper enumeration.
You called in distress and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! 
Having paused and calmly thought about it, the secret place of thunder could mean various things and might have referred to two possible events of which speak of God thundering.  According to Matthew Henry, this secret place of thunder was either the pillar of fire through which God looked down upon the Egyptians that dared to pursue Israel into the Red Sea, or it was from atop Mount Sinai where the law was given and the threat of death spoken to any that might break through the thick darkness to gaze upon God.  Thunder represents the voice of God; Syrian kings took monikers that suggested they too thundered like the most high.  I am reminded of a line in Wm. Cowper’s poem, Light Shining Out of Darkness: “Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.”  Herein this line is the key to understanding “the secret place of thunder;” we are temporarily a compound being –an affirmed new creation inner man clothed in a condemned old creation outer man –thus we are rightly affrighted by the booming and wrath filled voice on the outside, yet we are calmed by a graceful and peaceful still small voice –whose import rings louder than thunder –on the inside.  Thus, His SECRET is with those who fear Him; they alone interpret the sound of thunder, converting its trembling and fearful exterior elements into an interior calmness, trust and faith.  Indeed, His voice is always a test, and at Meribah, which has several meanings, God weighs our hearts in measure of discernment and obedience.  One meaning, “waters of contradiction” seems the most illuminating; other meanings, “waters of strife” or “chiding” only speak of different voices with different opinions, but the essence is this lack of unity or “contradiction.”  In other words, the chiding or strife simply arises out of voicing contradictory viewpoints.  God tests us here; His sheep hear His voice –will we?  His sheep parses the chatter and identifies His true voice from so much bleating.  Like as God tested Gideon’s army, incrementally whittling away those called but not chosen, so He is ever testing the mettle of His people, skimming away the dross of unbelief and removing the chaff of self reliance; this is done in the caldron of contradicting interpretations, ideologies and theologies.  We need to not be foolish but KNOW what the will of the Lord is; too many voices cause confusion and freezes initiative.  We must KNOW His voice!  He is always the source, but His voice is expressed from the lips of the saved and unsaved alike, learned and ignorant, young and old; even all of creation is telling of the Glory of God –so we are without excuse.  It is our responsibility alone to have ears to hear and eyes to see; a preconditioning and predisposition toward truth has already been implanted within every human heart.  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes , NLT).”  If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another; simplicity of devotion to Christ alone clarifies the waters and tames their uproaring waves.
Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you--O Israel, if you would listen to Me!  There shall no strange god be among you, neither shall you worship any alien god.  I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. 

Once again we see an admonishing element leveled against His people in general and a cry for a listening ear to Israel specifically.  It is a forgone conclusion that His people (children) are to be admonished; Israel (adults), however, is simply implored to listen.  As law proceeds grace so immaturity proceeds maturity; the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ is a governmental transfer from the shoulders of flesh onto the shoulders of spirit.  But alas, and indeed, not all are of Israel; as Paul would later say: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel (Romans 9:6).”  The reaffirmation of the first parts of the Ten Commandments is clearly seen here, and sadly, it indicates the need to lay “again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1, partial).”  This first part of the Ten Commandments is almost the preamble; it sets down the foundation for all the other commandments that follow.  Exodus 20: 2-6 says: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  Now the mouth herein mentioned is the place where are breathing, eating, drinking and talking occur; the preeminent portal of our visage and an expression of the timbre of our being.  It is our voice and words that most reveal to others exactly who we are.  The pleasure He has in His right hand is the food we need and desire; the flesh and blood of Christ are worth stretching our mouths wide enough to receive.  How slow we are to realize that we live and move and have our being only in Him; you sustain all life.  “These all wait and are dependent upon You, that You may give them their food in due season.  When You give it to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, and they are filled with good things.  When You hide Your face, they are troubled and dismayed; when You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust (Psalm 104:27-29).”  Of course, way beyond the natural food we must have the eternal sustenance.  Times of refreshing must come from the presence of the Lord; Job used to minister to others as an ambassador of Christ when he spoke thus: “After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them.  And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain (Job 29:22-23).”  It requires hunger and thirst to desire to be fed and quenched; if we have tasted the Lord and seen that He is good, we will continuously desire to taste and eat of Him.  If we do not, it might very well be that we have substituted idols and images for God and His presence.

But My people would not hearken to My voice, and Israel would have none of Me.  So I gave them up to their own hearts' lust and let them go after their own stubborn will, that they might follow their own counsels.
The levels in which His people avoid obeying Him is again seen in the above text; His people do not hearken, or obey His voice, but Israel will have none of Him, which seems to go further.  To have none of Him suggests a lack of intercourse and intimacy that goes beyond words; a child may disobey parental authority and somewhat –only temporarily –breach intimacy, but an adult may be unfaithful to his spouse and irredeemably breach it.  When one repels another, the constraints of love nearly impel us to do more than plead, but wisdom dictates that all is lost along these lines.  If a lover will not come to us voluntarily than neither will  coercion accomplish our desire; and really, the nature of love leaves no recourse but to let the object of our affection go their own way. The Lord loves His people, and, of course, must even originate His people’s reciprocal love; nevertheless, when there is no reciprocity there is no intimacy, no courting and no marriage.  Those that do not return the love of God forsake their own mercy and end up making their own single bed.  They have cut off the very source of life; because God is love, to refuse love from Him is to refuse any and all expressions of Him. We were designed in relationship to Him; when we refuse Him we are but a shell or shadow of our original design.  We are designed to have life, and that more abundantly; “But the rebellious dwell in a dry land (Psalm 68:6).”  God is all vista and we are all void; He is 100% right and we are 100% wrong.  Stubbornness and rebellion are likened to witchcraft because all we can conjure up without God is death; to follow our own counsels is to go down a slippery slope that empties into the bottomless pit.  Oh, may we never be on our own, having only a darkened and futile mind to counsel with!
Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! Speedily then I would subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries.  [Had Israel listened to Me in Egypt, then] those who hated the Lord would have come cringing before Him, and their defeat would have lasted forever. 
The Lord longs that we not only hear His voice, but that we obey His words and His person; to walk in His ways is to walk not only in the exactness of command and its seemingly tyrannical demand, but in His disposition or attitude.  The Lord is a God of first and forever sentiments; all His dealings with us originate from an absolute orientation.  What you thought of God when He first broke in upon you is the basis of all future dealings with Him.  When He pleads with those in Revelation to return to their first love He pleads from its absolute nature and its requisite demand; we always regress when we come off the center of this sure initial love.  Our understanding may enlarge and even our appreciation for all that God is might increase (and ought to) just as our capacity to express love might also increase.  But the essential material of the love of God is God Himself and therefore it never increases because it is of a solid eternally inhabited whole.  Sealing His people’s fate with bonds of love is also a sealing of our enemies’ fate with bonds of wrath.  The idea of a slow displacement of our enemies in the Promised Land might not have been necessary if we had learned our lessons in the wilderness; and if we had been more responsive to God initially (in the land of Egypt) the wilderness experience might also have been unnecessary.  For us to forever defeat our enemies we must forever win our love for Him; obeying His commandments is the only evidence to prove we love Him.  God is not divided and He walks in complete and perpetual victory; we are one with Him in spirit, and ought to be in soul and flesh.  We must cease deviating in our minds and stop indulging our flesh if we are to remain a house undivided; if not, we are the divided house and must come crashing down (fall).  It is time to agree with God and to remain erect upon the solid rock foundation that is Christ.      
[God] would feed [Israel now] also with the finest of the wheat; and with honey out of the rock would I satisfy you. 
The finest of the wheat is the finest of humanity; for our spiritual stock to feed upon this is to be redeemed.  To be given back our lives as booty is the promise given to all that lose their lives for His name’s sake.  To actually become what God originally made us to be is the greatest expression of praise and adoration we can give our Maker.  It is the very essence of humility to remain –not groveling or elevated above others –but within the outline or parameters made for our unique expression alone.  When Satan told Jesus that he desired to sift Peter as wheat, he was questioning Peter’s motive; his contention that Peter was not real (made of pure wheat) was an astute observation that might have proven true if it were not for the Lord’s  prayers on Peter’s behalf.  How aligned are we with the accuser of the brethren when we base accusations against others solely upon our own truncated and spotty vision?  Feebleness and fragility is the human condition and chaff is the depth of our vision.  Our Lord read hearts perfectly because of perfect sight, and He judged no one; we are so often blind to even our own heart, yet we judge many with hardly a whit of evidence.  The finest of the wheat is about the spirits of just men made perfect; all the roughage of the wheat has fully purged their earthly bowels.  The Lord’s threshing floor lies dormant because He has finished His work in these sons of His.  Being purified, they receive more than the essential water out of a rock.  Having ate all of the lamb, with the bitter herbs and unleavened bread, the purified saint now begins to feast upon Christ with the sugary delight of honey and the loaves of heavily glutinous wheat bread.  Having endured the onslaught of the cross, he now is granted some reprieve, and can now walk in the fire as a purified immortal.  The bitterness is gone; sweetness has returned.  Now he rejoices in every fire, and the trials and tribulations cease to move him; sorrows evaporate under the brilliant glare of joy that he now sees and begins to feed upon
Honey means revelation and it glistens the eye; new life is breathed into endurance as the end from the beginning is realized.  The Rock is the root of every sweet flower and to enjoy the fullness of Christ we must be cross-pollinated.  Just as many stings might occur in pursuit of pure honey, so we must endure much stinging to obtain the sweetest revelation.  We must become a city compact together; if war is needed to bring peace, if flesh must be rebuked to reach spirit, then we must be willing to pay the price to place our  unity on spiritual ground.  We can no longer pray and seek God with all our hearts and then shove aside the answers because we do not like the vessels used or the methods employed.  It takes the pollen of a thousand flowers to make a cup of honey, and it will take many unified Christians to clarify our mind and individual purpose.  We see and know in part; the more that become one, however, the larger our one is, and the greater our part or portion grows.  It takes courage and purpose to delve deeply into life with others; the deeper we penetrate into our brother or sister, the more real we become with each other, the more stings we will encounter.  Our flesh and theirs will object to such intrusion; nevertheless, if we are to sweeten our lives and others we must deal with each other at a stamen level.  A stamen is the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower; we must have intimacy at a reproductive level if we are to see new births and have spiritual children to nurture and teach. 
It is exactly like Christ to be identified with a common rock because it is just like Him to extract the extraordinary from the ordinary; likewise, He desires to manifest Himself in our natural bodies (wheat) having pressed through our souls as a revelatory expression (honey).  In other words, if others are to taste and see that the Lord is good (and that through us) let us become a delicious and nutritious loaf of honey wheat bread to a starving populous.        

The Madness of Mice and Men

“Insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives…”—Ecclesiastes 9:3, partial, NASB.
“Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life,” published in 1998, is a motivational book by Dr. Spencer Johnson that has been adopted by much of the business world as a psychological or philosophical formula to handle the inevitable disillusionment massive change causes in their employees.  It depicts men and mice maneuvering about within a maze in an attempt to find cheese and is supposed to be analogous to the business world rat race.  Within this pitiable constraint mice and men are blind to ultimate purpose; men like mice live only in search of their next meal.  Their environment—a maze—is conceded; and that amazes me most!  Even in Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men,” which depicts the constraints of circumstance and fallen human nature, the characters of the story are allowed to live and die on a large enough stage to at least make them think themselves free to pursue their dreams unmolested.  They live and die under God’s sovereign sky and not under the oppressive manmade regime which is the ceiling of an artificial environment known as the business world model.  The inspiration for Steinbeck’s work came from a Robert Burn’s poem: "To A Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough." The title for his novella came specifically from these lines:
But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
  The inevitability of failure suggested in both Steinbeck’s and Johnson’s works might seem morbid and faithless, but the idea of Dr. Johnson—to continue moving cheese about within a broken system—is more than morbid and faithless: it is cruel and tyrannical.  In Steinbeck’s work, the characters are at least free to think they will not fail, whereas, Dr. Johnson’s characters have already failed before they begin by being placed under plastic rules of thumb.
  A principle—whether a business or moral one—is an enemy of natural behavior and is often used as the insidious expedient of a tyrant.   One’s actual disposition rebels against formulaic and principled constructions; alien principles must ultimately be overthrown.  They are like training wheels on a bike; useful and expedient in the beginning stages of development but cumbersome and restrictive in maturity.  Assuming proper human development is likened to the way “poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship” (C.S. Lewis, 2001, Weight of Glory, p. 28). Indeed, the best laid plans or schemes of mice and men do often go askew, not because of poor planning and execution, but because of this fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of things.  Law is juvenile, servile and a restraint upon all that is animal or flesh; it is a necessary spark to the full conflagration that is grace and truth.  As mercy triumphs over judgment, so law must be triumphed over through perpetual acts of obedience.  These acts of obedience are like blows upon a hammer that drives the stake of law through the rebellious heart of man simultaneously destroying his old nature and staking a claim to his new one.  It is only when law is internalized and matured and the nature inherently obeys either what a man or mice ought to obey that disaster is averted.  No matter how advanced a man might scheme and implement or how rudimentary a mouse might do the same, in the end, all is plowed up, disrupted and altogether discovered.  Who, where, when and how we build our lives is unearthed; the why of the matter is left to archeology (future plowers) to interpret.  What we think and feel are entirely linked to where we have intrinsically attached ourselves; madness and failure if to ourselves we were true, sanity and maturity if we were true to God alone.           
 The inevitability of disaster under Dr. Johnson’s care might be just as inevitable under God’s sovereign sky, and God might be just as cruel and tyrannical, but again, the stage is too large upon which this transpires and the characters too small to see over enough horizon to comprehend where they are placed within this cosmic maze or to interpret God’s intentions.   Youthful optimism might reason that overturning nests are a form of harvesting (which is a good and positive thing) and a jaded pessimism might reason that every plow furrow is a witch hunt seeking to unsettle every home and burn every soul at the stake.  Yet it is an isolated and happenstance tragedy; not persistent enough to be optimistic or insistent enough to be pessimistic. Certainly the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  No matter how outstretched our hands they cannot touch a sovereign sky.  No matter how many plows we put our hands to we cannot dig up enough dirt on anyone.  Yet we live without this knowledge; we stretch beyond the breaking point and we plow everything under without distinction.  Our insanity is not an insanity of principle but of nature; we cannot take steps to extract ourselves from the pit because the pit is that pit at the core of our being where that stake has already been driven.     
 The difference, of course, a distinction that must be made, is that Dr. Johnson is not God, whereas God is far more than Dr. Johnson.  There are only so many placements of cheese in Dr. Johnson’s world; madness is inevitable because of limitation.  It is God’s inscrutableness, His illimitedness, the very idea of infinity that makes sanity possible.   A free will has free reign within an illimited sky; any imposition by a God with an inscrutable nature is meaningless from our perspective because any definition of anything is always in relationship to His inexhaustible nature.  Thus, the stake driven through the heart of our being either fastens us to God’s nature or it fastens us at the end of the length of Dr. Johnson’s madness near a pile of cheese in a maze without exits.