Ever Think God May Cramp Your Style?

Greetings!

Seriously, have you ever thought, or even worried, that a  FULL and ABSOLUTE surrender to God and Christ Jesus, including practicing the presence of God (please reference the Category by this same title) might just cause you to lose some of what you now consider to be your most cherished comforts and ‘fun’ in life?

Let’s try to put this in perspective with an analogy.

It is pretty much like a totally destitute, beggarly and homeless person pondering and worrying about what it would be like giving up her or his present life style for that of a multi-billionaire!

Of course, there are limitations to any analogy and what I am emphasizing with this one is the ultimate value when one choice is compared to another….in other words, the HOLY when compared to the human.

Furthermore, even in this lifetime, if we hang in there and let our Father and our Brother have Their way with us, we may reach ‘heavenly heights’  of Spiritual wonderment and joy that defy human understanding….just as the present day and past Christian mystics such as Brother Lawrence experienced. For more reading on mystics please reference the following Categories:

Practicing The Presence Of God

Letters From A Modern Mystic

Why Not Be A Mystic

Of course, there will be some painful and discomforting times along the way just as it would be for any human addict withdrawing from drugs and alcohol. But these are not worthy to be compared with what we will experience presently from bearing the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) and the future glory to come (Romans 8:18)

Until later, take care, in Him.

Fred

 

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Co-Eternal Life

Hi, there!

This excerpt from Oswald Chambers’ book “My Utmost For His Highest” (the entire book is FREE  online at http://utmost.org/complete-and-effective-dominion/ ) wonderfully wraps up nicely how blessed we are to be Christians….beyond anything we can humanly imagine, actually. Emphasis will be mine throughout:

Complete and Effective Dominion

Death no longer has dominion over Him.…the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God… —Romans 6:9-11

Co-Eternal Life. Eternal life is the life which Jesus Christ exhibited on the human level. And it is this same life, not simply a copy of it, which is made evident in our mortal flesh when we are born again. Eternal life is not a gift from God; eternal life is the gift of God. The ENERGY and the POWER which was so very evident in Jesus will be exhibited in us by an act of the absolute sovereign grace of God, ONCE we have made that complete and effective decision about sin.

“You shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)— not POWER as a gift from the Holy Spirit; the POWER is the Holy Spirit, not something that He gives us. The LIFE that was in Jesus BECOMES OURS because of His CrossONCE we make the decision to be identified with Him. If it is difficult to get right with God, it is because we refuse to make this moral decision about sin. But ONCE we do decide, the FULL LIFE OF GOD comes in immediately. Jesus came to give us an endless supply of life— “…that you may be filled with ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD” (Ephesians 3:19). Eternal life has nothing to do with time. It is the life which Jesus lived when He was down here, and the ONLY Source of life is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even the weakest saint can experience the POWER of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to ‘let go’. But any effort to “hang on” to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us. WE HAVE TO KEEP LETTING GO, and slowly, but surely, the  GREAT FULL LIFE OF GOD will invade us, penetrating every part. THEN, Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him.”

There have been many Christians who have experienced the blessed life described above and, thankfully, we have overwhelming evidence of this from numerous writings by as well as about these saints. Besides being evidence by the writings of Oswald Chambers, himself, there are two other examples that can be found at the Category/Posts on here entitled “Practicing The Presence Of God” and “Letters From A Modern Mystic”.

All the best, in Him.

Fred

Thank You Lord

Greetings!

For some time now, “Thank You Lord” or “Lord God” has been my CONSTANT and CONTINUAL prayer to our Father and our Savior MINUTE by MINUTE (repeating it numerous times each minute when possible) and HOUR by each HOUR.

It has become my version, all wrapped into one, of the ‘approaches’ taken by Brother Lawrence in his “Practicing The Presence Of God” (please reference the Post by this title), the “Jesus Prayer” I came across in “The Way Of A Pilgrim” ( http://desertfathers.webs.com/thewayofthepilgrim.htm ), the writing by the anonymous author of “The Cloud Of Unknowing” ( http://www.catholicspiritualdirection.org/cloudunknowing.pdf ), the writings of William Law and others in an effort to CONSTANTLY and CONTINUALLY have God and Christ Jesus before me….my aid in assisting me to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).

As Brother Lawrence clearly explained, this kind of dedicated attention to God and Jesus can be difficult at first, but after persistent practice, it becomes a ‘natural’ part of you. Personally, I still have lapses but they are becoming fewer, and in spite of this….IT’S WORKING!!

Of course, I certainly haven’t attained to the ‘mystical’ experiences of Brother Lawrence, Saint Catherine of  Siena and so many others but the slow, evolving progress is obvious to me.

Although I don’t exactly “whistle while I work” quite yet, I have become much more patient and calm with menial tasks, which I used to NEVER look forward to! There is a peaceful acceptance of these chores that I never previously encountered.

More importantly, I am becoming more acquainted with our Father and Jesus in a way I cannot humanly describe. Again, it is by far not of a ‘mystical’ magnitude!

It helps keep me from those vain and useless ‘wandering thoughts’ (please reference the Post by this title) as well as my mind off of myself. This is probably why I am more at peace and contented.

I find my daily Scripture readings/studies to be more ‘alive’. Words take on more essence and meaning than they did before and I contemplate on them more often….it takes me much longer to get through a chapter and I thoroughly enjoy it!

I am quicker to laugh and more overjoyed in my spirit when I see or encounter good stuff; and on the other hand, I am also more deeply touched with sorrow by sad happenings, whether by natural evils, human evil and sin or just plain suffering; I cry easier at both the good and the bad.

This short HEARTFELT prayer repeated so frequently is not some mindless, robotic ‘chant’ or ‘mantra’, but rather, an expression to my Father and Savior that is understood between us to represent and include the following, but not limited to:

“Thank You Lord” or “Lord God” represents God and Christ Jesus for:

1.  Your loving and selfless sacrifice Jesus, not only for us believers but also those of the entire world (1 John 2:2)

2.  Just being there the way You are Father and Christ Jesus

3,  Your unfathomable grace, patience and mercy in Divine Love toward me and the entire world….especially believers

4.   Your calling me and guarding as well as establishing me (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

5.  Being able to be “strong in Him Who is invigorating me – Christ!” (Philippians  4:13)

6.  Filling my every need as well doing infinitely more for believers than we can ask or imagine (Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20)

7.  Always knowing what I need without my even asking (Matthew 6:8)

8.  Humiliating and allowing me to suffer when I do not let You have Your way with me

9.  Allowing me to see that You will bring to a GLORIOUS END from ALL the sin, evil and suffering I am constantly and forever observing in the world  (1 Corinthians 15:28 and the Post “All Creation Will Be Saved”)

10. Your precious gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) which not only is my Comforter/Advocate/Helper but will also lead me into all truth (John 14:26), will guide my every step through the day if I allow it (Romans 8:14), allows me to know the very depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) and the mind of Christ, Himself (1 Corinthians 2:16), is always interceding on my behalf with utterances and pleadings to God I cannot humanly understand (Romans 8:26)….but will also enable me to bear the  Holy fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

11. Preparing an inheritance for all believers that is GLORIOUS and MAGNIFICENT beyond human comprehension and to take on an immortal, incorruptible celestial body (1 Corinthians 15:53) and existence EVEN of the nature of Christ Jesus Himself (Philippians 3:21)

12. Having ALL THINGS work for the good for all believers (Romans 8:28)

And, the list goes on!!!

Please don’t misunderstand me….there will always be times for regular, formal prayer. Likewise, during the day, we can spontaneously thank Them for various  things as they may occur as well ask for help as the need may arise.

It is in between these times that I go to Them with the “Thank You Lord” prayer.

We are fortunate and blessed beyond measure as Christians to ALWAYS be able to thank God and Christ Jesus for ANY and EVERYTHING (1 Thessalonians 5:18)….even that flat tire you have on the way to work when you were running late to begin with (if may have keep you from a nasty accident just up ahead!)!

Our Father and Savior do not allow ANYTHING to touch us that is not for our eventual good (Romans 8:28)….certainly just another reason for us to always and continually say “Thank You Lord”!!

Until later, in Him,

Fred

Why Isn’t God More Real To Me?

Hi, there!

Let’s face it, to many, if not most, Christians God and Christ Jesus are not all that ‘real’ to us in a truly personal sense. Real, in that we actually ‘feel’ Their presence with us continually throughout the day (as Brother Lawrence did as illustrated in the book “Practicing the Presence of God”….please reference the Post by this title.). Real, in that we know Them so personally as to be continually and constantly looking at everything we encounter daily through Them. Real, in that we continually ask Them throughout the day as to what to say, what to do and how to handle situations we encounter during that day.

In the last Post “God And Christ Jesus Are In Us ALL THE TIME!!!”, Scriptures clearly show that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are within us. So, we “know”, then, that we have a reservoir of Holy Presence in us that defies human imagination! However, how much do we “realize” this Holy Presence as true reality? (Please reference the Post on “Knowledge vs Realization”). Paul knew that there was a difference between the two when he wrote in Ephesians 1:17-20 (Concordant Literal New Testament) that he prayed for  all saints to come to a “realization” (vs. mere “knowledge”) of what we have as believers because of the power of God and sacrifice of our Lord Christ Jesus.

The Bible shows quite clearly how we achieve this “realization” and thus be able to depend on and experience the Father and Christ Jesus in a personal way daily. It is revealed in James 4:8: “ Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”. That’s it….pure and simple! Let’s explore this a little further.

Regimented Bible study, ‘mechanical’ prayer and attending church, although beneficial to some degree, DOES NOT qualify as “drawing near to God” (Please see the Post on “Bible Study Is Good…IF…BUT”).

Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, was highly proficient in performing the 3 above noted practices. In addition to this, as to observing the Law in a physical sense, Saul was “blameless” (Philippians 3:6), which was quite an achievement in a ‘religious’, human sort of way. And yet, in spite of all this, Saul would become the “foremost” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:16) and the chief persecutor of God’s saints!! So, obviously, these 3 ‘religious’ practices BY THEMSELVES  will not do the trick in getting us closer to the Father or our Lord in a PERSONAL way.

Believing,in itself, DOES NOT qualify as “drawing near to God” either….even the devils believe! (James 2:19)

What DOES qualify as “drawing near to God” is “practicing the presence of God” (Please see the Posts “Practicing The Presence Of God” and “Letters By A Modern Mystic”). It means to start looking to God and Christ Jesus MORE and MORE in our thoughts and needs. Continually, as best we can at first, conversing with Them (Please reference the Post “Pray On The Potty”) and keeping Them before us at ALL times throughout the day….not only hourly, but eventually minute by minute, as is practical. In this way, we are “going to God” or, if you will, “drawing near to God”….and, in turn, God (and Jesus) will draw closer to us, as a reality.

Oswald Chambers wrote in  MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST (please reference the Post by the same name) that ” ‘Why does God not reveal Himself to me?’ It is not that He will not, it is that He cannot, because you are in the road as long as you won’t abandon absolutely to Him.”

At first, it will be difficult to focus on and go to God and Jesus with such ABANDONMENT because it will be going against our human nature and the ‘flesh’, which opposes the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17). Ridding our minds of useless and frivolous thoughts to focus on God and Christ Jesus MAY ACTUALLY SEEM AS IF WE ARE GOING AGAINST WHAT IS NATURAL….because we have so constantly entertained these vain thoughts for so long as part of our normal lives (Galatians 4:17,23). Even Brother Lawrence admitted it was difficult for him at first to LEARN how to FULLY focus on the Father and Christ Jesus in his waking moments.

However, he went on to say “we must at first apply to Him with some diligence. Then, after a little care, we would find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.”. (Again, please reference the Post “Practicing The Presence Of God”.)

And, of course, it takes time. God may need to remove some human barriers within us, and in doing so, it may seem as if we are digressing rather than making progress. However,DON’T give in to this FALSE line of reasoning nor to apparent failure….God and Jesus know our hearts and They will continually work with us as long as we keep trying and are willing to submit to Them.

Please don’t misunderstand me, a believer can have a fulfilling and rewarding Christian journey to varying degrees without achieving this deep, personal relationship with the Father and our Lord….however, I am merely presenting the better and far richer way.

Hope to see you again soon.

Fred

Why Not Be A Mystic

Hey, there! Here is an interesting article I came across at http://freebelievers.com/fbnblog-entry/why-not-be-a-mystic, and received permission from them to reprint it. You might want to also check out my Post: “Practicing The Presence Of God”. Here goes:

May 28, 2011

Why Not Be A Mystic?

Perhaps it was the several years of religious hell I went through, or the overload of information from every side telling me what to believe, how to live, and how to approach God. Perhaps it was the deep longing in my soul to touch the face of God and to simply know Him as real, but I decided to choose the path of the mystic.

First things first, I will say that the only authentic mystic is the Christian, as you cannot know God as He is in His deep mysteries without Christ. If we cannot accept Christ, His sacrifice in His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection, we cannot know God. I would caution anyone strongly against the mysticism of the rest of the world in the plethora of its religions.

Many acknowledge Jesus in a form, but most refuse to accept His deity and His work of salvation as done on the cross. Such people I say stay away from as they are no different than the Gnostics.

So what is a mystic? My humble attempt to define a mystic is one who directly through experience, thought, meditation, emotion and contemplation actively receives and hears from God. The mystic’s religion is not stuff of Sunday rituals and preaching, or the obligatory Bible reading and good works as is expected in Christianity. Rather his/her religion so consumes them in such a way that their whole life is spent saturated in it, living in and out of it. It is all encompassing to the point where there is little room for anything else.

A mystic, in my view, is not one who spends hours practicing ascetics and spiritual disciplines in monasteries, cloistered away from the world, although for a short season I recommend that the seeker would take part in these things. The reason is that it is impossible to know God without living in the rest of the world actively loving and engaging people where they live.

For me, it began in the darkest times of my life. St John of the Cross calls it the dark night of the soul. I have been through several as they guided my unwilling soul into a place of complete abandonment of all things in this world with a deep need and hunger to know my God.

That is what drives me. A hunger. It is a deep, relentless desire and longing to know the presence of my God, to be filled to the point of overflowing with Jesus and His spirit so that, in the end, He is all that I have. It is a realized poverty of the soul, or as Jesus put it, being poor in spirit and hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

I came to this point out of need. Nothing man had to offer in his church institutions satisfied me. If anything, they nearly destroyed me. I escaped only with my life and my sanity. Even still, my soul aches with a longing only Christ can satisfy when I occasionally force myself to sit through a church sermon for whatever reason.

It was the realization that I am loved, filled with His love, and the need to love others with a realization of the passion of God Himself for His church which launched me on this path. When I could no longer find those things in the traditional or mainstream Christian churches of our country, I had to leave and spend my time in the wilderness where God had to speak to me directly.

My time in the wilderness has created within me this hungering and thirsting for God. I remember one church I attended many years ago, a pastor once stated that the church of America is not hungry. It is bloated, overfed, and obese. This was true of me. I was overstuffed with the religious knowledge of various sects and denominations. I wasn’t hungry for God. I was filled. I was filled not with God though, but the junk food of the ramblings of religious men. It was when I left all of that and was starving for three years that I learned how to drink deeply and dine from the water and bread of life within me.

The problem with being a mystic is that most people don’t understand the one who chooses this path. But then again, perhaps God chooses me for this and I just hang on for dear life and my own sanity. The thing is, a mystic is so wrapped up in the Holy Spirit that no man can control them.

One of my favorite teachings of Jesus is “He who is born of the spirit is like the wind. No one knows from where it came or where it goes.”

The life of the mystic is the life chosen to follow hard and persistently after the Spirit. Consequentially, no one can control the mystic any more than they can control the Holy Spirit or the wind itself!

It is in this journey that I see no longer the need to follow teachings and lectures, rather, the need to become a physical embodiment of Jesus Himself. This cannot be taught adequately. This cannot be lectured or written about. Yes, I have heard many sermons and read quite a few riveting books about the subject, but it cannot be understood or fully realized in practical living until one embraces this for themselves.

The mystic acknowledges that it is no longer possible to tell where we end and Christ begins, as He is interwoven into the very fabric of who we are. One can no more separate me from Christ as one could separate the food I ate and processed from the cells it nourished and fused with to strengthen or even create new living tissue. If Christ is food, and we digest Him, He then becomes our very cellular makeup and spiritual DNA. We are inseparable.

It is here, my starving soul found the fountain that Christ spoke of which wells up from within unto eternal life. True mysticism is the ability to drink from Christ, the living water in such a way that we will never thirst again. We will never run dry. We will never be hungry again as He is always within us.

Most American Christians I meet are in a perpetual state of starvation. They go to church meetings every week, retreats for mountain top experiences, or whatever they can find to refill and refresh. It is always outside of them and they always worry about running dry. Many seem to think that they cannot function spiritually without the church meetings feeding them. I find many of them leave their “feeding” times for Sundays, and the rest of their week is there for them to do as they please, only to find themselves hungry once again.

I find it funny when people tell me that I needed to attend church meetings so I could be “fed.” I laugh inwardly and reply “I am fed, perpetually from the Bread of Life who is in me. I will never hunger again.” The bread learned educated church men offer will not satisfy forever. I often hear people tell me that they need to go to church for another dose of the Holy Spirit because they feel hungry. If only they knew.

If only we knew the deep riches of God’s Spirit and His treasure that lay dormant inside of us! If only we knew the mysteries that His Spirit constantly speaks to our souls, feeding us with life. If only we could tap into that and live fully and completely!

This search for that fulness and wholeness of life is the path of the mystic as it takes us ever deeper into the heart of God, drinking deeply, eating fully, and then turning around to feed our fellow man in such a way that it whets their appetite for more. Manna in the wilderness sustains, but one does hunger. If one is courageous, we leave the manna that feeds us temporarily, and brave the battles and the giants which threaten to keep us from the land flowing with milk and honey. The path of the mystic is an invitation to dine at the table with the Father forever, as sons, as family, as a part of the Bride of Christ, forever living in His love.

by David Backus

End of article. There are several points on which I disagree with the author, but overall, there is a lot of truth here, and I am grateful he has shared his experience with us.

See you later.

Fred

God’s Silent Treatment

Hey, there!

God’s silence can seem, at times, to make us feel as though  He (and Christ Jesus) might be indifferent toward us in a certain situation or regarding a certain need, which can lead to frustration and discouragement. Of course, NOTHING could be further from the truth as He and Christ Jesus have a Holy Love for us that defies all human understanding and is ALWAYS present.

Please keep in mind there is, for most of us, a time for silence in prayer and in our daily activities when we approach God and Christ Jesus as well as a time to converse with thoughts and words (please reference the Post: “Pray On The Potty”). I say “for most of us” because it seems that some Christian ‘mystics’ did reach the point where they pretty much abandoned  all ‘normal’ forms of prayer and/or worship.

Let’s look at a few Scriptures and excerpts which should help us to better understand how precious and beneficial this silence can be:

“But more often, God seems to prefer the silence. For instance, when Elijah was waiting for God, he expected something big, just like most of us. But God, the Bible tells us, was not in a heavy wind that crushed mountains or in an earthquake or a raging fire. Rather, God spoke to Elijah in a tiny whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). If God spoke to Elijah like this, why not to us? In order for God to be heard, however, we must decide to be quiet in order to hear that whisper.” ( Utt oh!….I forgot where I got this quote from)

“Be still , and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” Psalms 62:5

“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26

“Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation. In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God.”
— Thomas Keating quoted in The Sun & Moon Over Assisi by Gerard Thomas Straub

“Listen to God’s speech in his wondrous, terrible, gentle, loving, all-embracing silence.”
— Catherine de Hueck Doherty quoted in The Sun & Moon Over Assisi by Gerard Thomas Straub

“Nothing is so like God as silence”.— Meister Eckhart quoted in Why Not Be a Mystic? by Frank Tuoti

“Silence will illuminate you in God. . .
and deliver you from phantoms of ignorance.
Silence will unite you to God. . . .
In the beginning we have to force ourselves
to be silent. But then from our very silence
is born something that draws us into deeper silence.”
— Isaac of Nineveh, seventh century Syrian monk, quoted in The Great Escape Manual by Edward Hays

(The above 4 quotes were obtained from http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/practices/practices.php?id=28&g=1)

Keep in mind, when we are “thinking” thoughts, God and Christ cannot communicate with us….we are not that “multi-dimensional”, yet!

I may add additional scriptures or comments from time to time as I come across them.

Until later, in Christ,

Fred

Bible Study Is Good…IF…BUT…

William Law (1686 – 1761) was an English spiritual writer and mystic who wrote quite a number of excellent books.  ‘Mystic’ in the sense that he was acknowledged as having a personal closeness to God and Christ on a moment to moment basis.  He even alludes to this in one of his writings.  Google  the term ‘Christian mystic’…..it is an interesting subject and an example of why all true Christians should be  labeled as such.

I read so many of his books I forgot in which one (I believe it was either THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT or THE SPIRIT OF LOVE) he said (and I paraphrase) that we can study the Bible almost continuously , and yet, if it does not eventually lead us to depend TOTALLY on God and Christ Jesus in all things, it is of little or no value. ‘Eventually’ in the sense that this always does take time.

The point he was making is that we cannot depend on how much we study God’s Word, read ‘spiritual’ writings, go to church,  throw ourselves into Christian ’causes’, do good works, offer our material possessions abundantly, pray night and day…..if it ‘eventually’ does not bring us to completely forsake our depending our human reason, etc. and, moment by moment, seek God and Christ in ALL we do, we fall far short of achieving the ultimate goal of our calling.

He correctly pointed out  that we receive all of our thoughts and spiritual motivation  from 1 of 3 sources at any given moment.   (1) Ourselves …..any good from these are very limited to what is ‘naturally’ instilled in us, or our basic survival instincts…the rest of them are almost always tainted by  self serving interests (even our most noble acts),  (2) Satan and his demons….we obviously know where this will lead or  (3) God and Christ….receiving from Them is certainly the best of the 3!  And, that is why we must look in that direction moment by moment. (Note: The ‘world’…other humans…do NOT have the ability to originate/instill or implant thoughts WITHIN us as do the 3 above.)

He acknowledged (as do all the ‘mystics’) that this can be difficult at times, especially at the beginning, and even seem unnatural.  But once the glorious presence of God and Christ becomes a continual reality to us…..words cannot describe the ‘supernatural’  ongoing  joy one experiences, as well as the ability to serve as Christ did.

And, yes, Mr. Law believed in the salvation of all.  Greatly admired by Andrew Murray, it is believed that Mr. Murray also accepted this view in his later years…..reference http://www.tentmaker.org/biographies/murray.htm.

An excellent writing on the experience of a ‘mystic’ can be found in PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST by Brother Lawrence….http://thepracticeofthepresenceofgod.com/onlinetext/

Take care, and see you later.

Fred

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