As I have said before, on occasion I enjoy exploring the world of science and especially physics. These were some of my discoveries and musings from last night. I hope you enjoy these quotes and thoughts while possibly understanding why this subject piques my interest.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
Recent discoveries in quantum physics (the study of the physics of sub-atomic particles) and in cosmology (the branch of astronomy and astrophysics that deals with the universe taken as a whole) shed new light on how mind interacts with matter. These discoveries compel acceptance of the idea that there is far more than just one universe and that we constantly interact with many of these hidden universes. (Franks)
THE KINGDOM WITHIN?
There is no one reality. Each of us lives in a separate universe. That's not speaking metaphorically. This is the hypothesis of the stark nature of reality suggested by recent developments in quantum physics. Reality in a dynamic universe is non-objective. Consciousness is the only reality. (Franks)
ANOTHER SCHROFF FAMILY? ....... GOD FORBID! LOL
Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.
The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 1o X 1028 sq. meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelg?nger* any less real. The estimate is derived from elementary probability and does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite (or at least sufficiently large) in size and almost uniformly filled with matter, as observations indicate. In infinite space, even the most unlikely events must take place somewhere. There are infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices. Max Tegmark
*doppelg?nger: an apparition or double of a living person; a
The specter of shadow worlds has been thrown into relief by the December release of "The Golden Compass," a Hollywood blockbuster adapted from the first volume of Philip Pullman's classic sci-fi trilogy, "His Dark Materials".
In the film, an orphaned girl living in an alternate universe goes on a quest, accompanied by an animal manifestation of her soul, to rescue kidnapped children and discover the secret of a contaminating dust said to be leaking from a parallel realm.
Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science".
The parallel universe theory, first proposed in 1950 by the US physicist Hugh Everett, helps explain mysteries of quantum mechanics that have baffled scientists for decades, it is claimed.
In Everett's "many worlds" universe, every time a new physical possibility is explored, the universe splits. Given a number of possible alternative outcomes, each one is played out - in its own universe.
A motorist who has a near miss, for instance, might feel relieved at his lucky escape. But in a parallel universe, another version of the same driver will have been killed. Yet another universe will see the motorist recover after treatment in hospital. The number of alternative scenarios is endless.
It is a bizarre idea which has been dismissed as fanciful by many experts. But the new research from Oxford shows that it offers a mathematical answer to quantum conundrums that cannot be dismissed lightly - and suggests that Dr Everett, who was a Phd student at Princeton University when he came up with the theory, was on the right track.
Commenting in New Scientist magazine, Dr Andy Albrecht, a physicist at the University of California at Davis, said: "This work will go down as one of the most important developments in the history of science."
According to quantum mechanics, nothing at the subatomic scale can really be said to exist until it is observed. Until then, particles occupy nebulous "superposition" states, in which they can have simultaneous "up" and "down" spins, or appear to be in different places at the same time.
(Press Association Ltd)
Everything you're about to read here seems impossible and insane, beyond science fiction. Yet it's all true.
Scientists now believe there may really be a parallel universe - in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them. These other universes contain space, time and strange forms of exotic matter. Some of them may even contain you, in a slightly different form. Astonishingly, scientists believe that these parallel universes exist less than one millimetre away from us. In fact, our gravity is just a weak signal leaking out of another universe into ours.
The same but different
For years parallel universes were a staple of the Twilight Zone. Science fiction writers loved to speculate on the possible other universes which might exist. In one, they said, Elvis Presley might still be alive or in another the British Empire might still be going strong. Serious scientists dismissed all this speculation as absurd. But now it seems the speculation wasn't absurd enough. Parallel universes really do exist and they are much stranger than even the science fiction writers dared to imagine.
It all started when superstring theory, hyperspace and dark matter made physicists realise that the three dimensions we thought described the Universe weren't enough. There are actually 11 dimensions. By the time they had finished they'd come to the conclusion that our Universe is just one bubble among an infinite number of membranous bubbles which ripple as they wobble through the eleventh dimension.
A creative touch
Now imagine what might happen if two such bubble universes touched. Neil Turok from Cambridge, Burt Ovrut from the University of Pennsylvania and Paul Steinhardt from Princeton believe that has happened. The result? A very big bang indeed and a new universe was born - our Universe. The idea has shocked the scientific community; it turns the conventional Big Bang theory on its head. It may well be that the Big Bang wasn't really the beginning of everything after all. Time and space all existed before it. In fact Big Bangs may happen all the time.
Of course this extraordinary story about the origin of our Universe has one alarming implication. If a collision started our Universe, could it happen again? Anything is possible in this extra-dimensional cosmos. Perhaps out there in space there is another universe heading directly towards us - it may only be a matter of time before we collide.
BBC Two 9.00pm Thursday 14 February 2002)
THE END OF CREATION
It is fun to explore, however we must always end up with Christ, where on bended knee and hands upraised we acknowledge that all of creation finds it end shrouded in His Supernal Love. The brightest of the men of science are apt to contemplate the deepest complexities of nature and scratch their heads. Thank God at the end of the day we who know Jesus can find our peace and solace in the simplicity of knowing Christ the creator, keeper and end of all creation. Aren't you glad!
And over all His vast domain,
Each measurement's degree,
His love surpasses every score,
From outer edge to inmost core,
And yet aboundeth more and more,
The whole creation to restore.
A God of love is He.
God bless and may you enjoy a fruitful and prosperous New Year,
PS. Joian, I failed to mention that I got a signal the other night that these moon babes in a flying saucer are going to abduct me on my birthday Wednesday night. They said they are going to bring Elvis with them so it ought to be a good time. If I make it back I'll be sure to share :-)
Every once in awhile you run across a writing that is simply genius. This piece is in the "humorous category." Joian sent it to me and I passed it on to my son who loves to write. I hope you get a kick out of it like we did.
By the way I have been having the "punch Bob" nature worked out of me lately. I used to live by the motto; "it takes a big man to cry but it takes a bigger man to laugh at him."
Seems I've been getting beat like a rented mule without giving recompense in a couple of religious venues I share my thoughts on. Joian reads the barbed responses and winces as I return mercy and love for evil. Thank goodness she is spared the sight of me often folding into the fetal position while whimpering, "mama ...... mama" lol
Neither man nor rat can properly fold the laundry -DAVE BARRY-
Are you a male, or a female? To find out, take this scientific quiz:
1. Your department is on a tight deadline for developing a big sales proposal, but you've hit a snag on a key point. You want to go one way; a co-worker named Bob strongly disagrees. To break the deadlock, you:
a) Present your position, listen to the other side, then fashion a workable compromise.
b) Punch Bob.
2. Your favorite team is about to win the championship, but at the last second the victory is stolen away by a terrible referee's call. You:
a) Remind yourself that it's just a game, and that there are far more important things in your life.
b) Punch Bob again.
HOW TO SCORE:
If you answered "b" to both questions, then you are a male.
I base this statement on a recent article in The New York Times about the way animals, including humans, respond to stress. According to the article, a group of psychology researchers have made the breakthrough discovery that -- prepare to be astounded -- males and females are different. The researchers discovered this by studying both humans and rats, which are very similar to humans except that they are not stupid enough to purchase lottery tickets.
The studies show that when males are under stress, they respond by either fighting or running away (the so-called "fight or flight" syndrome), whereas females respond by nurturing others and making friends (the so-called "tend and befriend" syndrome).
This finding is big news in the psychology community, which apparently is located on a distant planet. Here on Earth, we have been aware for some time that males and females respond differently to stress.
We know that if two males bump into each other, they will respond like this:
FIRST MALE: Hey, watch it!
SECOND MALE: No, YOU watch it!
FIRST MALE: Oh yeah? (They deliberately bump into each other again.)
Two females, in the identical situation, will respond like this:
FIRST FEMALE: I'm sorry!
SECOND FEMALE: No, it's my fault!
FIRST FEMALE: Say, those are cute shoes! (They go shopping.)
If the psychology community needs further proof of the difference between genders, I invite it to attend the party held in my neighborhood each Halloween. This party is attended by several hundred small children, who are experiencing stress because their bloodstreams -- as a result of the so-called "trick or treat" syndrome -- contain roughly the same sugar content as Cuba.
Here's how the various genders respond:
--The females, 97 percent of whom are dressed as either a ballerina or a princess, sit in little social groups and exchange candy.
--The males, 97 percent of whom are dressed as either Batman or a Power Ranger, run around making martial-arts noises and bouncing violently off each other like crazed subatomic particles.
Here are some other gender-based syndromes that the psychology community might want to look into:
The "laundry refolding" syndrome:
This has been widely noted by both me and a friend of mine named Jeff. What happens is, the male will attempt to fold a piece of laundry, and when he is done, the female, with a look of disapproval, will immediately pick it up and re-fold it so that it is much neater and smaller. "My wife can make an entire bed sheet virtually disappear," reports Jeff.
The "inflatable-pool-toy" syndrome:
From the dawn of human civilization, the task of inflating the inflatable pool toy has always fallen to the male. It is often the female who comes home with an inflatable pool toy the size of the Hindenburg, causing the youngsters to become very excited. But it is inevitably the male who spends two hours blowing the toy up, after which he keels over with skin the color of a Smurf, while the kids, who have been helping out by whining impatiently, leap joyfully onto the toy, puncturing it immediately.
I think psychology researchers should find out if these syndromes exist in other species. They could put some rats into a cage with tiny pool toys and miniature pieces of laundry, then watch to see what happens. My guess is that there would be fighting. Among the male researchers, I mean.
It's a shame, this male tendency toward aggression, which has caused so many horrible problems, such as war and ice hockey.
It frankly makes me ashamed of my gender.
I'm going to punch Bob.
(Deseret News (Salt Lake City),
This classic DAVE BARRY column was
originally published on July 2, 2000 )
ABSURDITY: MEN FIX EACH OTHER' S DOOM.
Your creed plainly implies, that men, both good and bad, may, and often do, determine the endless destiny of their fellow beings, by determining the length of their probation, virtually putting them into heaven, by cutting off all liability to lose it, or into hell by cutting off all opportunity to escape it. And this, also, seems to me an absurdity.
We have already presented one illustration of the above proposition, in the supposed case of the mother who made the "calling and election" of her infant sure, by taking its life. Another is found in a sad accident, which occurred at one of our New England seminaries a few years since. Two young gentlemen were in their room, amusing themselves with a musket, quite unconscious of its being loaded, when the one innocently shot the other, thereby determining his soul at once to heaven or to hell forever.
And still another illustration is found in the death of the drunken rowdy, who fell, at the head of the rum-sellers' mob, at Portland, a few years ago. The balls which, at the order of the resolute city marshal, laid him low, cutting off all opportunity for repentance, carried his soul directly to endless torment. Illustrations to our purpose are also presented in war. Two armies meet. Fearful are the imprecations! Dreadful is the carnage! Balls and bayonets are the swift instruments of everlasting death!
The soldier perishes forever, who might reform and be saved if permitted to return to his home of piety. At the hand of his fellow man, he falls lower than the grave. Nor may any tell how many of our revolutionary colonists are now, in endless despairs sent there by the hired Hessians of George the Third. Nor how many of those whose bones have been brought from the plains of Waterloo, as a fertilizer of British soil, are now in the endless despair to which they were consigned by British swords.
And this, especially, when it is considered, that, of all conditions, that of a soldier, in active service, seems least adapted to promote fitness for heaven. Of course, it is a mystery to us how orthodox Christians can advocate war, or their chaplains kneel mid guns, and swords, loaded and barbed with everlasting death! For these, in their view, are the terrible arbiters of souls' destiny, cutting off their probation, and thereby saying, as with the authority of the Infinite, You shall have no more chance to escape.
These are they that rise up in the place of God, and "shut to the door" against their victims forever. Alas! for the orthodox advocate of war! Let me do him the justice to say, that I think he believes in his creed less than in humanity and common sense.
But, further, our point finds illustration under the operation of the code duello, — that miserable product of dark ages, — that most foolish, meanest mode of settling difficulties — that wretched footman of chattel slavery, accompanying its desolating car, as it dashes into the fair fields of Christian civilization.
The duel settles more than questions of chivalric honor. Instance a case. A and B meet at a public house, drink, altercate, challenge, and accept, choose their seconds, retire and fight. The question of honor is settled by the death of B. And not only that, but the question of B's endless damnation also. The fatal ball settles both. For, while A blows the smoke from his pistol, and retires a victor, leaving the body of the slain to his surgeon and friends, its spirit, prematurely driven out, and thereby excluded all chance of salvation, is met by evil angels in the threshold of eternity, and dragged down into the pit forever.
Thus, according to your penal view, is a question greater than honor settled by the duel. And what does the highwayman do? He meets the moneyed worldling in the way, robs him of his treasure and his life, and throws his body into the thicket, or leaves it in the ditch. But is that all? O no! He also robs his soul of all chances to repent, and tosses it into the thick darkness of despair — buries it alive in hell forever!
So your creed. But the absurdity we are exposing finds a fuller illustration, in cases in which the murderer repents in prison, and finally dies, regretting that he sent the murderer into perdition. Such cases used to be, by no means, very infrequent.
We recently read of one, but have not the details now at hand. Let us suppose such a case, and see its bearing upon the subject in hand. A young lady, respectable, but not converted, is met and ravished, under a dark night, by a villain, who destroys her life to escape detection. Sent thus hurriedly to her God in sin, she is, by the conditions of your creed, of course, lost. No cycle of eternity but shall witness her unrelieved despair. Her soul is assassinated. Out of a dark night of time, she is hurled into a darker night of eternity. The brutal hand that cut her probation short off, thereby plunged her infinitely below the sphere of possible life, shut her up in woe, bolted the door upon her, threw away the key, and left her to pine in anguish forever.
So your creed! And now, leaving her there in her woe, let us turn to look after her murderer. As "murder will out," he is detected, arrested, executed. But, while in prison, blessed with a probation which he forbade to his victim, he comes to himself, heeds his spiritual advisers, repents, exhorts the multitudes from the scaffold, and swings from it into Paradise. And there, because he had much forgiven, he loves much, and never ceases to give thanks for the prison confinement through which the mercy of God reached him.
Thus in heaven the murderer sings. But the young lady, his victim, where is she all this time? Lost! lost! He may have time for repentance, but not she. That was forbidden her, by the red hand that plunged the dagger to her heart. Mercy may come to his prison, but not to hers. That red hand of his may live to be washed, and forever twine wreaths for the immaculate brow of Him whose wrath she must forever bear.
Now, brother, your creed, taken in connection with the history of crime, obviously involves multitudes of cases, similar to any and all which we have stated above. This, you will admit. And, admitting this, can you, as the heart of a man beats in your bosom, fail seriously to query whether that creed is not at fault? Can you be confident in that theology, which thus makes the frantic mother, the officer of justice, the warrior, the duellist, the highwayman, and the libertine, the arbiters of the eternal destiny of their victims; so that, in the case last stated, if it was the hard fate of the young lady to be abused, scared into frenzy, and murdered, it was her harder one to be, by her murderer's hand, consigned to the bottomless pit; while he, by the grace of God, which he denied to her, has space for repentance, and goes up to sing in heaven!
Be your own commentator upon what I have said. The notion that the Living Father has made the endless weal and woe of men thus dependent upon the frenzy, ambition, lucre, lust, and brutality of their fellow beings, well, "he that can receive it, let him receive it."
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. 1Ch 16:34
God bless you,
From Our House To Yours
The party lasted longer than usual.........Jack sent a greeting by e-mail and I read it aloud, trying to shield the children's eyes from the picture of a man in speedo's with a huge gold cross around his neck......LOL
This morning I planned a quiet day..........which in my family takes planning. Several of the kids decided to meet for breakfast at Knott's. The day will include viewing the play "Scrooge" at the Birdcage theatre..... and be touched again by Dicken's story of a man who chose things........over people and lived to regret it...........and once more hear the words, "I will keep Christmas In My Heart All Year Long, I Will Be A Changed Man, Just Give Me The Chance To Live". God did give Ebenezer Scrooge that chance.....Just as he has each of us.
I got up early and finished straightening up the house.....Still enjoying the thoughts from the night before. We were missing one family and each of us tried to ignore the fact that Misheal and Danny were in North Carolina with their 3 little ones, we missed them terribly. Through the night Owen my 4 year old grandson asked when is Noah (his little cousin and best bud) going to be here? As grandma's house had become their meeting place.
It brought home how I hate being separated from my children, the holidays make it harder. I have learned to live in the moment and enjoy what is instead of longing for what cannot be, we have just these moments together.....and I try not to let myself spoil them with undue sadness......still we decided to call the east coast and wake Misheal and Danny up, then sang into the phone, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", we cried at hearing her voice on speaker phone and were comforted. Sigh.
In trying to comfort her I said, how funny that we can't be completely satisfied when one we love is missing from the family gatherings. Experiencing their absence has caused us to understand how much we love them....... and that's how we learn...........
The spirit of the Lord welled up in me and said, that longing for all to be together comes from me........even though you know my love and love me in return, I still long for the missing ones to live in my presence.........I will not stop until the last one is awakened in me......the blinders are off and every man has returned home............
So truly, I'll be home for Christmas has taken on new meaning ...........one day.........every man, woman and child will return safely home to the Father a much wiser Son.
I pray one day in the not too distant future, our Father will allow us to meet and fellowship with the many friends we have made here on Sonshine.
Until then, know we love you more than words can convey.
The "W" in Christmas - Author Unknown
So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snow caps upon their heads. Those in the front row-center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing"C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message,"Christmas Love."
I was horrified to hear that Joian had published an unflattering picture of me in her Christmas letter. Hoping to rectify that injustice, this is a more recent photo that I think catches my real essence ;-)
Tis the season so I also have two Christmas tales to share with you. The first one is for the guys and the second for the gals. lol
Up until a few years ago I would often find myself surfing in the warm waters of Mexico during the Holiday season. On this particular surf trip I was renting a palapa right on the beach. It was Christmas eve and I was sitting on my porch, before going to bed, when I overheard my young friend Pedro talking with his girlfriend.
Pedro and Rosita were sitting a few yards away from me closer to the the ocean. There was a romantic full moonrising when Pedro said, "Hey, mamacita, let's do Weeweechu."
"Oh no, not now, let's look at the moon!" said Rosita.
"Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I do Weeweechu.
I love you and it's the perfect time," Pedro begged.
"But I wanna just hold your hand and watch the
moon." replied Rosita.
"Please, corazoncito, just once, do Weeweechu with me."
Rosita looked at Pedro and said, "OK, one time,
we'll do Weeweechu."
Pedro grabbed his guitar and they both sang.....
"Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year."
MERRY CHRISTMAS FELLAS
I KNOW WHERE YOUR MINDS WERE !!!!
THREE WISE WOMEN
Do you know what would have happened if it had been
"three wise WOMEN" instead of men, don't you?
They would have asked for directions, arrived on time,
helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made
a casserole, and brought disposable diapers as gifts!
MERRY CHRISTMAS LADIES
WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT YOU !!!!
I grew up in Hawaii so how could I not leave you
with my favorite seasonal greeting.
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou !!!!!
(by the way, the photo is of Baruth, a Black Sea beach evangelist .
I posted it in retribution for Joian's awful blunder. lol)
Is there a more beautiful or succinct message of "the overcoming saint relinquishing any semblance of reward" than that which is portrayed wonderfully in this heavenly scene below.
The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev 4:10,11
While so many in Christendom seek the things of Christ there are those few that have learned that, "in Christ, dwells all that is Good and when we gain Him we lack for nothing." How often I have also shared that God is found not only in the "all" but as well in the "nothing." This speaks of "death and resurrection" of which all things will be processed and reconciled. All must be brought to naught(death) and then raised(resurrection) until God be "All in All."
And once at the end of time, at the consummation, in eternity, “all in all” refers to God being all, when all things are found reconciled and united in the Christ "that God may be all in all." 1Corinthians 15:28.
Whatever has come out of God cannot be annihilated in the sense of it vanishing completely from existence. Paul related it once in a very short but powerful statement: "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom. 11:36). Simply put, everything came out of God, it all passes through Christ and His cross. It returns back to Him from whence it came. It returns in resurrection glory changed to the same heavenly substance of Himself. "Out of, through, and back into God"
Keeping still with the theme of "Christ our reward", the "all in all" and the "all and the nothing" please allow me to share one of my very favorite quotes by Madame Guyon along with an excerpt from a sermon by Jeremiah Burroughs during his ministry in England in the 17th century.
"There are but two truths in the Kingdom, and only two; the "all" and the "nothing." Everything else is a falsity. (Guyon)
The Apostle Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ, to carry it up and down in the world. Indeed, his spirit was full of Christ. He desired to know nothing but Christ, to preach nothing but Christ, to be found in none but Christ. The very name of Christ was delightful to him. He seeks to magnify Christ in all of his epistles and, in these words I read to you, he omnifies Christ. He does not only make Him great but he makes Him all.
Is Christ all in all? Then if we have an interest in Him, it should satisfy and content us though we have nothing or though we are nothing. Why? Because if we have Christ we have all. Though you lack parts, friends, estates, outward comforts, know Christ is to be your all, and is He not enough? As He said, Am I not better to thee than ten sons? So Christ says to the soul, "What do you lack? You lack this comfort and the other comfort, but am I not all in all to you, and better than all?" Yea, be willing to be made nothing, for all is made up in Christ.
Therefore, give me Christ, whatever else You deny me."
Consider that parable in Matt.13:45-46, The merchant man sought after goodly pearls, but when he had found the pearl of price, then he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Now gifts and parts and other achievements are these goodly pearls, but Christ is the Pearl of price. Therefore, whatever you have, be willing to part with it for Him. If God has revealed to you the Pearl of price, let no goodly pearls satisfy you. Many souls perish because they are satisfied with goodly pearls and do not endeavor to obtain this Pearl of price.
Christ says, If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me. (Burroughs)
I pray that if you have not caught a glimpse of God as the "all in all" and the "all and the naught" you are at least beginning to sense His unexplainable Majesty in such. Our God is unfathomably beyond our reason and even our imagination thus we with great lack can but describe Him as filling both the "nothing" along with the "all." Surely our language must always fall short in it's use as portraying such an Almighty and Infinite God.
In closing, please allow me to share this centuries old hymn by Henry Suso. I pray it blesses you as much as it did me yesterday when I discovered it.
"I Am Not"
"I am not;" O words unwelcome
To the lips of men
"I am not;" O words that lead us
Back to God again!
Speech of him who knows the pathway
To that refuge sweet,
Where is covert from the tempest,
Shadow from the heat.
Speech of Heaven, from wise men hidden,
Unto children taught;
Few the words of that great lesson,
Only "I am not."
Heart of man, another language
Is thy native speech,
Spoken by a thousand races,
All alike in each.
"I am,"rich, or wise, or holy
"Thus, and thus am I;"
For "I am," men live and labour,
For "I am," they die.
For "I am," men dare and suffer,
Count all loss as gain,
Toil and weariness and bondage,
Sin and grief and pain.
In the blessed Gospel read we
How a rich man bade
Christ the Lord and His disciples
To a feast he made.
Well it was to feed the prophet;
Thus the rich man thought,
But amidst his wealth and bounty
Lacked he "I am not."
Then there came a sinful woman,
Eyes with weeping dim
"I am not," her heart was saying
She had looked on Him.
He beheld her broken-hearted,
Ruined and undone,
Yet enthroned above the angels
Brighter than the Sun.
All the while in dust before Him
Did her heart adore,
"I am not," that song of gladness
"Thou art, evermore."
For His heart to hers had spoken,
To His wandering lamb;
In the speech of Love Eternal,
He had said "I AM."
Now she thirsts no more for ever,
All she would is given;
None on earth hath she beside Him,
None beside in Heaven.
Oh how fair that heavenly portion,
That eternal lot;
Christ, and Christ alone, for ever
Ever "I am not.
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. Jhn 1:20
(note: one set of thoughts on "all in all" copied from Elwin Roach and "I am naught" intro taken from "The Parable of the Pilgrim" by C. H. McKenna)
This copied excerpt from an old file speaks profoundly if not mysteriously to "darkness" in the realm of our physical world.
"Is God playing "hide and seek". Scientists estimate that 90 to 99 percent of the total mass of the universe is missing matter. Actually, "missing matter" may be misleading--it's really the light that is missing. Scientists can tell that the dark matter is there, but they cannot see it. Bruce H.
About 22% is thought to be composed of dark matter. The remaining 74% is thought to consist of dark energy, an even stranger component. It has been noted that the names "dark matter" and "dark energy" serve mainly as expressions of our ignorance ......" (C. Miller)
If you don't know already, there is a Biblical segue from the physical to the spiritual and it is succinctly expressed within this verse from Romans.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; Rom 1:20
So let us now transition from our short foray into Physics and now visit the realm of Theology and see if we can't find some characteristics of "darkness" with regards to God and also possibly gain some encouragement for those of you that possibly dwell today in a "dark and trying" place. As we will see, in the spiritual realm, "darkness" is certainly no less mysterious than what we find with regard to it's physical counterpart.
And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die."
And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21
A Word of Encouragement
If you have been called of God in this age to see and know Him through the grace of Jesus Christ you will learn, and more than likely have already learned well enough that, "God dwells and hides Himself in "darkness." Most of Christendom will, like the children of Israel depicted in the scriptures above, be content to remain afar off from God rather than meet Him in the darkness. However with God's aionian election, there are those that have been given an absolute referendum of which there is no going back on. These chosen of God have suffered and gained supernal knowledge by the action of God's hand drawing them into the darkness from which God reveals Himself to but a select remnant separated from each generation. These are the His sons that follow in Christ's footsteps becoming God's continual offering for a suffering and fallen world.
He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. Job 19:8
For those of you that might understand that which I have just shared, allow me to address you further on a more personally note with the rest of my message. Surely, of all God's children it is those that suffer with Christ, that hold the very deepest and dearest place within my own heart. For I know with a surity, it is by the sacrifices of God's servant son's that this groaning world will be healed and delivered. This deliverance is the "greater works" promised by Christ two millennia ago and I so believe we are standing at the edge of time when these promised works will soon be manifest. Surely the world cannot suffer it's chaotic and destitute condition much more, before God's sons will be unveiled to bring forth healing and peace.
You, who have heard the call like Moses, must approach and even welcome the "thick darkness" knowing that in such, the Light of God will be seen and realized in it's greatest measure. You have been grouped with a special and peculiar people, held closest to the Father's bosom. The beckoning call of the Son's voice to follow Him and venture forth into the "darkness", which is but another name for "the death of self" is irrefutable and without recourse. In this following of Christ with abandon, you are being changed into His very image while emanating His Light and Life, which this pained world groans and searches for. This is the reality and if you are walking in the Light of Christ, I am sure you have noticed that others see and react to you differently. This is the very meaning ,message and experience of Christianity but how few know it, much less walk in it. May the Light of Christ' countenance emanate from your heart and radiate from your very face that others will note that you have ventured forth without fear to meet God and bring back His gift of Life and Healing for their fallen and broken world.
And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: Exd 34:35
In closing I should leave you with one of my favorite messages by Lettie Cowman. It is a word of encouragement for all, because surely we all shall at one time or another experience some dark places in this world. I pray that with any trial or tribulation, you will learn as I have, that God's Light and Love shines brightest within His "secret place and pavilion" called "darkness." (Psalm 18:11)
"Treasures in the Darkness" by Lettie Cowman
"Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was" (Exod. 20:21).
God has still His hidden secrets, hidden from the wise and prudent. Do not fear them; be content to accept things that you cannot understand; wait patiently. Presently He will reveal to you the treasures of darkness, the riches of the glory of the mystery. Mystery is only the veil of God's face.
Do not be afraid to enter the cloud that is settling down on your life. God is in it. The other side is radiant with His glory. "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." When you seem loneliest and most forsaken, God is nigh. He is in the dark cloud. Plunge into the blackness of its darkness without flinching; under the shrouding curtain of His pavilion you will find God awaiting you.
"Hast thou a cloud?
Something that is dark and full of dread;
A messenger of tempest overhead?
A something that is darkening the sky;
A something growing darker bye and bye;
A something that thou fear'st will burst at last;
A cloud that doth a deep, long shadow cast,
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
It is Jehovah's triumph car: in this
He rideth to thee, o'er the wide abyss.
It is the robe in which He wraps His form;
For He doth gird Him with the flashing storm.
It is the veil in which He hides the light
Of His fair face, too dazzling for thy sight.
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A trial that is terrible to thee?
A black temptation threatening to see?
A loss of some dear one long thine own?
A mist, a veiling, bringing the unknown?
A mystery that unsubstantial seems:
A cloud between thee and the sun's bright beams?
God cometh in that cloud.
Hast thou a cloud?
A sickness--weak old age--distress and death?
These clouds will scatter at thy last faint breath.
Fear not the clouds that hover o'er thy barque,
Making the harbour's entrance dire and dark;
The cloud of death, though misty, chill and cold,
Will yet grow radiant with a fringe of gold.
GOD cometh in that cloud."
As Dr. Cowman stood on a high peak of the Rocky Mountains watching a storm raging below him, an eagle came up through the clouds, and soared away towards the sun and the water upon him glistened in the sunlight like diamonds. Had it not been for the storm he might have remained in the valley. The sorrows of life cause us to rise towards God.
"Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it."
If you have ever read anything that I have shared on this blog I pray you read this. I also would hope you could comprehend and speak by the Spirit, these most invaluable words penned by this author.
"Today, Lord, I give up. I am finished. I surrender. I know now that in my flesh dwells no good thing. Apart from You I am nothing, and apart from You I can do nothing."
In Christ love,
No Good Thing
by Chip Brogden
“I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18a).
It is a great day for the Lord when a disciple of Jesus learns this most basic lesson: that in “me”, in myself, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. This is a very difficult thing for people to learn. Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing. This verse is very well-known. Even so, Christians still attempt to do many things apart from the Lord. We feel like we simply must do something, anything. And even though the Bible says there is nothing good in our flesh, and the flesh profits nothing, we spend a lot of time doing fleshly things apart from the Spirit of Jesus, thinking they are good and profitable. It is impossible to say for sure just how many of the things we “feel led” to do and say are actually just things we feel like doing and saying. A lot of the time the Lord has very little to do with it.
This problem is part of our Adamic nature and it is at work in us long before we are born-again. Before a person becomes a Christian they sometimes believe that they are intrinsically good or moral. At least, they say, there are not as bad as others. But those who know God know that in order for a person to enter the Kingdom they must first see that their righteousness is as filthy rags, that all have fallen short of the glory of God, and that none are righteous in His sight. We protest that we are not so bad, but God says the imagination of man’s heart is only toward evil from his youth (cf. Genesis 8:21). To be saved, a person must stop claiming any righteousness of their own and accept God’s verdict of them. No matter how good they may think they are compared to the rest of mankind, they are, nevertheless, sinners in need of a Savior. They cannot be born-again until and unless they recognize and acknowledge what the Lord says about them and their condition.
We who have received the Lord as Savior have come to this knowledge of ourselves at least once in our lives. There came a day when we despaired of saving ourselves, and instead of clinging to our righteousness, we confessed our sins and admitted our need for a Savior. At that moment, Christ accepted us as His disciples. Confessing our sinfulness did not hinder us from entering the Kingdom; on the contrary, it opened the door for us to go in. The self-righteous, on the other hand, are disqualified by their own good works. How differently the Lord judges things.
KNOWING CHRIST, KNOWING SELF
When we are new disciples we have truly entered the Narrow Gate but there is still much we do not know and there is still much we need to learn. We know very little about Jesus, and we know very little about ourselves. And so, the Lord begins to lead us along the Narrow Path. He primarily wants to show us two things: who we are, and Who He is. These go hand-in-hand. Self-knowledge is just as important as Christ-knowledge. The revelation of Christ begins when God opens our eyes to know Jesus. The revelation of Self begins when God opens our eyes to know ourselves. When we see the insufficiency of Self and the sufficiency of Christ we will naturally despair of ourselves and look away to Jesus. On the other hand, if we do not see ourselves correctly, we will invariably imagine ourselves to be quite a bit better than we really are. We will mistake fleshly strength for spiritual strength. We will confess with our mouth that we cannot do anything apart from Jesus, but in actual practice we will take it upon ourselves to perform many works. In time all of these works become nothing. We will fail hundreds or thousands of times until we learn the lesson – if it comes from me, if it comes from my flesh, it is no good.
Before he saw the Lord, Paul was self-confident and dangerous. Those who trust in themselves have neither seen themselves nor seen the Lord. I am afraid that many people have the idea that Jesus came only to lend them a hand and help them feel more successful and fulfilled. Today the most popular Christian books tell us how to have a better life, how to prosper, how to be a “winner”, how to improve our circumstances, and how to think nice, positive, encouraging thoughts about ourselves. The focus appears to be on making life here on earth more enjoyable and making believers more self-reliant and self-confident. This may not be the stated intention but it is the inevitable result – and if a few Scriptures can be used in the process, so much the better. It would be a mistake to equate holiness with misery and drudgery; but it is an even greater mistake to tell someone how wonderful they are until they have first despaired of themselves and learned the lesson that Paul learned: “In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.”
Positive thinking is appropriate so long as I am living according to the Truth, but if I am unsurrendered to Jesus and living life according to my terms then I am in no position to think about myself in a positive light: I am positively deceived. We do not need Self-Esteem, we need Christ-Esteem. The more we see of Jesus the less we will trust in ourselves. That is why, once Paul learned his lesson, he wrote, “We have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3b). He then goes on to list quite a number of things that seem important in terms of religion, status, social order, education, and good works – all the things that tend to make one self-confident and self-righteous. With one grand stroke, Paul says, “Yet, I count them all as dung, that I may win Christ.” He simply discards what some people spend a lifetime trying to achieve. Here is a man who knows the sufficiency of God as well as the insufficiency of himself.
“That is fine for new believers,” someone will say. “But I have been a Christian for many years now. I have a good relationship with God, I have had many spiritual experiences and have made great progress. This message is good for younger, less mature believers, but it does not apply to me.” On the contrary, to lose all confidence in myself is the mark of spiritual maturity. Real spiritual growth is evidence by increased confidence in Christ and a decreased confidence in myself. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). You never outgrow these spiritual laws. Anyone who thinks they do not need to hear it again did not really hear it the first time.
THE EXAMPLE OF JOSEPH
We have a fine example of this in the life of Joseph. When Joseph was younger he realized that God had appointed him for a special purpose. God confirmed this special calling by giving Joseph prophetic dreams about his future. Joseph should have treasured these things in his heart and quietly waited for God to bring about His Will. But being young and full of self-confidence, Joseph could not resist sharing these dreams with his father and brothers. As a result, his brothers became jealous and almost killed him. Joseph was sold into slavery and spent many years in prison. It appeared as though his dreams would not come true. Yet God was using all these circumstances to teach Joseph to have no confidence in the flesh.
After many seasons of God’s dealings, Joseph was brought to the palace to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Here was an opportunity for Joseph to finally lift himself out of a terrible situation. Someone had finally recognized him for his gift and they had the power to reward him handsomely for it. But the younger, self-confident Joseph is gone. He has finally learned the basic lesson of “not I, but Christ.” “Can you interpret my dream?” Pharaoh asked. “It is not in me,” Joseph replied. “But God will give you an answer” (cf. Genesis 41:16). And so He did, because now Joseph, emptied of himself, could be trusted. Joseph demonstrated even more wisdom and maturity in dealing with his brothers, freely demonstrating supernatural grace and love towards the ones who meant him evil.
All of our circumstances, tests, and trials are designed to get us to the place that we can say along with Joseph, “It is not in me.” God permits many things to come our way that we could otherwise avoid if we were not so cocky and self-confident. God has to work long and hard to get through to us, but what a wonderful day it is when we finally learn the lesson, bow our head, and surrender everything over to Him. Then He can really use us; but even if He does not use us, we are His nonetheless. Submitted to Him, we are equally content to be where He has placed us, whether we are sitting in the dungeon or sitting on the throne.
THE EXAMPLE OF PETER
Peter is another good example of how every true disciple eventually learns that there is nothing good in his flesh. Peter began his walk with Jesus just as we did, acknowledging his sinfulness by saying, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Some will protest their own righteousness and feel as though they are doing God a huge favor by becoming a Christian. But Peter made a splendid beginning by frankly acknowledging himself as a sinner, and so the Lord took him just as he was and began to disciple him.
After making some progress, however, Peter started to lose touch with himself. He had followed Jesus for three years and enjoyed close fellowship with Him. He had both seen and performed miracles in Jesus’ Name. To all outward appearances he was no longer a “sinful man”, he was a “spiritual man”. Before, Peter considered himself unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus. In just a short period of time you find this “sinful man” arguing along with the other disciples about which one of them will be the greatest! This ought to show us that there is a deeper death for us to die, and the more “spiritual” we become, the more easily we are deceived by our own spirituality.
If a dentist offers to remove one of your good teeth you will probably refuse. But if that tooth develops a cavity it is only a matter of time before you seek out the dentist and have it removed. The greater the pain, the quicker you seek relief. Similarly, when the Lord first speaks of taking up the Cross, we are apt to respond as did Peter: “Not so, Lord! This will never happen to you!” We see no need for death because Self has not yet become painful enough to us. When we are tired of the pain that comes from living in the flesh then we will gladly ask God to decrease us so that He can be increased. Until then no amount of teaching, argument, or doctrine is enough to convince a person.
Peter held out until the very end. He was a very difficult case, but the Lord was patient. When Jesus said that all would forsake Him, Peter protested and announced that even if all the other disciples fled, he would never forsake Jesus. Outwardly he acted and spoke as a deeply committed believer and disciple. But when temptation came he could not even stay awake long enough to pray. Perhaps he did not feel prayer was necessary; he was strong enough to resist without praying! Then, when Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, Peter tried to defend Him with a sword. All these examples demonstrate how very little Peter knew about himself.
It was not until Peter actually did deny the Lord three times that he came to learn the same lesson that Paul learned: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.” After he denied the Lord he went out and wept bitterly. Finally he was broken. He hated himself for what he had done. At last he had seen something of himself, and he was ashamed. If he was capable of denying the Lord Jesus then he was capable of anything. Strangely enough, the more unworthy Peter believed himself to be, the more the Lord sought to restore and encourage him! The Lord does not break the bruised reed. When Peter was strong and arrogant, the Lord weakened him with a rebuke. When Peter was sufficiently weak and humble, the Lord strengthened him with encouragement. What a glorious Lord we have, Who meets us exactly where we are and ministers to us accordingly!
FAILURE SERVES GOD’S PURPOSE
Jesus was not surprised or disappointed when Peter failed. In like manner, He is not surprised or disappointed when you fail. Rather, He is waiting for you to fail so you will be reduced to Him. He has no illusions about you and He knows you through and through. He knows however much your spirit may be willing, your flesh is weak. Our weakness is not the trouble - the trouble is our unwillingness to acknowledge the weakness. Paul has no confidence in the flesh, so he can say, “I rejoice in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9b). But we do not rejoice in our weakness the way Paul does. We either refuse to admit it, or we hide it, or we try to improve upon it, or we try to make up for it by overcompensating in some other area. People will fight and argue with me on this point because they desperately want to salvage something for themselves. They have a fragile self-esteem and this kind of news is too painful too bear.
But I bring you good tidings of great joy, dear Christian friend! This failure of Self is the very key to living the Christian life. As painful as it is, the bitter tears of failure provide the water for nurturing the Precious Seed that is planted in your heart of hearts and making it grow. To despair of ourselves is the very key that opens the door to all the power, the victory, and fruitfulness in Christ that we seek. “I KNOW that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.” I KNOW IT, Paul says. No good thing. I know that in me, in my flesh, in my Self, there is nothing. Apart from Him I am nothing. He is Everything. CHRIST IN ME is my only Hope. In one part of me, my flesh, dwells no good thing. In the other part of me Christ lives.
Why do you lack power? Why are you unable to walk in continual victory? Why do you not see fruitfulness? Because power, victory, and fruitfulness only comes to a person who is standing on resurrection ground. God’s holy anointing oil was not to be poured out upon the flesh. God does not grant these things to people who are still living for themselves. Resurrection life is for those who have died already – how could it be otherwise? Unless a man has passed through death he cannot know anything about resurrection. If a person will not consent to the Cross then they will not die, and if they will not die then they cannot be resurrected. If they are not resurrected they cannot ascend with Christ and be seated with Him in the heavenlies, for “flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 15:50).
If you have a Bible Promise Book one of your favorites is probably Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Keep in mind, however, that the same man who said this also said, “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, but this Strength is only perfected in my weakness (cf. II Corinthians 12:9). Also remember that “Apart from Me, You can do nothing” is a golden promise as well. Because I promise you that anything you do apart from Jesus will amount to nothing!
HOW TO ENTER IN
Why is it so difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? Because wealth creates the illusion of control and this breeds self-confidence. Money is like a drug that makes one feel invincible. Once the money is gone the illusion is destroyed and there is a natural humility that follows. Those who are rich in spiritual experiences find it equally difficult to enter in. Often when a person considers himself to be “apostolic” or “prophetic” or “spiritual” or “called to the ministry” they present a formidable challenge. It is most difficult to teach them anything or even discuss something with them because they are not poor in spirit, they are rich in spirit. They like to argue, fuss, debate, and find fault with others. Like the younger Joseph they always have a dream, vision, or word to speak, but they lack wisdom and maturity. They are the type of people who will walk halfway around the world to preach a message but will not drive across the street to listen to one. They want to be seen and heard, but they cannot bear to see or hear others.
Friends, it may be difficult to enter in, but it is not impossible. It IS impossible with man, this is true; but with God, all things are possible. The quicker we accept man’s impossibility the quicker we can accept God’s possibility. The way we enter in is right here: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). God’s solution to our problem is to nail us to the cross with Jesus. If we will accept this sentence of death all our problems will die right along with us. The problems will not die until we are thoroughly dead ourselves. But the day we cease striving and meekly accept the Cross we will find everything is settled. We can protest our innocence and die slowly like the two thieves, or we can quietly commit ourselves into God’s hand and give up the ghost.
What shall we do to enter in? The first thing to do is to stop doing. Then, let us learn to breathe words along these lines: Today, Lord, I give up. I am finished. I surrender. I know now that in my flesh dwells no good thing. Apart from You I am nothing, and apart from You I can do nothing. I do not even know how to pray. I accept the sentence of death, and I trust you to raise me from the dead. As I am decreased, may You be increased. I have learned that I cannot; therefore, I will not. Into Your hands I commit my spirit. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and I will wait for you to raise me from the dead. I will not raise myself. Let Your Strength be perfected in my weakness.
When this is a practical reality for a person, and not just a theory, it will sound like this: I used to be quite confident in myself and very sure, but today I have no confidence in myself. I used to be very active, but today I am content to be still. If God should rise within me, I will certainly obey Him; but if He does not move, I dare not step out ahead of Him. I will work, but I will not work according to the flesh. Instead, I will work according to His Power that works in me mightily, this power that strengthens me to do all things, this power that is perfected in my weakness. I no longer hide my weaknesses, I rejoice in them, and I look for Christ in me to overcome them all. I have surrendered myself over to Him as a bondservant, as a prisoner of the Lord. If I live, I am the Lord’s. If I die, I am the Lord’s. So in life and in death, I belong to Him.
Friends, Jesus did NOT say, “I am the Crucifixion and the Death.” He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Meditate upon the difference! Resurrection and Life is on the other side of this Cross that Jesus requires us to take up. The Cross is the Gate of Life that leads us into the Promised Land of Resurrection. Let us embrace the Cross and glory in the Cross, for it is the power of God for our salvation. Amen.
In my dream I see the lone figure of a man following a road. As the sun sets beneath the hills, a city comes into view. Nearing it, the traveler sees what appears to be a large group of churches. Spires and crosses pierce the skyline. His pace quickens. Is this his destination? He passes an imposing structure, a neon sign flashing “Cathedral of the Future.” Farther on a floodlit stadium supports a billboard boasting that a fifty thousand people crowd into evangelistic meetings there three nights a week. Beyond this, modest “New Testament” chapels and Hebrew Christian synagogues cluster together on the street front.
“Is this the City of God?” I heard the traveler ask a woman at the information booth in the central square.
“No this is Christian City, “she replies.
“But I thought this road led to the City of God!” He exclaims with great disappointment.
“That’s what we all thought when we arrived,” she answers, her tone sympathetic.
“This road continues up the mountain, doesn’t it?” He asks.
“I wouldn’t know, really,” she answers blankly.
I watch the man turn away from her and trudge on up the mountain in the gathering darkness. Reaching the top, he starts out into the blackness; it looks as though there is nothing, absolutely nothing, beyond. With a shudder he retraces his steps into Christian City and takes a room at a hotel.
Strangely unrefreshed, at dawn he arises and follows the road up the mountain again; in the brightening light of the sun he discovers that what seemed like a void the night before is actually a desert, dry, hot, rolling sand as far as the eye can see. The road narrows to a path which rises over a dune and disappears. “Can this trail lead to the City of God?” He wonders aloud. It appears to be quite deserted and rarely traveled.
Indecision slows his steps, he again returns to Christian City and has lunch in a Christian restaurant. Over the music of a gospel record, I hear him ask a man at the next table, “That path up the mountain, where the desert begins, does it lead to the City of God?”
“Don’t be a fool!” his neighbor replies quickly. “Everyone who has ever taken that path has been lost… swallowed up by the desert! If you want God, there are plenty of good churches in this town. You should pick one and settle down.”
After leaving the restaurant, looking weary and confused, the traveler finds a spot under a tree and sits down. An ancient man approaches and begins pleading with him in urgent tones, “If you stay here in Christian City, you’ll wither away. You must take the path. I belong to the desert you saw earlier. I was sent here to encourage you to press on. You’ll travel many miles. You’ll be hot and thirsty; but angels will walk with you, and there will be springs of water along the way. And at your journeys end you will reach the City of God! you have never seen such beauty! And when you arrive the gates will open for you, for you are expected.”
“What you say sounds wonderful,” the traveler replies. “But I’m afraid I’d never survive that desert. I’m probably better off here in Christian City.”
The ancient one smiles. “Christian City is the place for those who want religion but don’t want to lose their lives. The desert is the territory of those whose hearts are so thirsty for God that they are willing to be lost in Him. My friend, when Peter brought his boat to land, forsook all and followed Jesus, he was being swallowed by the desert. When Matthew left his tax collecting and Paul his Pharisaism, they too were leaving a city much like this to pursue Jesus out over the dunes and be lost in God. So don’t be afraid. Many have gone before you.”
Then I see the traveler look away from the old man’s burning eye to the bustle of Christian City. He sees busy people hurrying hither and yon with their Bibles and shiny attached cases, looking like men and women who know their destiny. But it is clear they lack something which the old man with eyes like a prophet possesses.
In my dream I imagine the traveler turning things over in his mind. “If I do go out there, how can I be sure that I will really be lost in God? In the Middle Ages Christians tried to lose themselves in God by putting the world behind them and entering a monastery. And how disappointed many of them were to find that the world was still there! And the people here in Christian City who are preparing to go to some jungle or a neglected slum, maybe they’re coming closer to what it means to be lost in God. But then, a person can travel to the ends of the earth and not lose himself.”
The traveler turns again to see the old person starting up the road for the narrow path down to the deserts edge. Suddenly, his decision mobilizes him and leaps to his feet, chasing after him. When he catches up, they exchange no words. The ancient man makes an abrupt turn to the right and guides him up still another slope which steepens as it rises toward a peak shrouded in a luminous cloud. The climb upward is very difficult. The traveler appears dizzy and begins to stagger. His guide pauses an offers him a drink from a flask hanging over his shoulder. Panting, he drinks it in great gulps. “No water ever tasted sweeter than this,” he says with great feeling.
Now look there.” The old man points beyond them to a vista not nearly as monotonous and desolate as it had seemed earlier. The desert below has taken on many colors and gradation. In the far distance blazing light is throbbing and moving on the surface of the horizon like a living thing. “There is the City of God! But before you reach it, you will have to pass through those four wildernesses you see. Directly below us is the Wilderness of Forgiveness.” The traveler notices small, dim figures making their way slowly in the direction of the city, separated from each other by many miles.
“How can they survive the loneliness?” Asks the traveler. “Wouldn’t they benefit from traveling together?”
“Well, they aren’t really alone. Each one of them is accompanied by the forgiveness of God. They are being swallowed by the desert of the Lord God’s vast mercy. The Holy Spirit is saying to them as they travel, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ They are made whole as they travel.”
Just beyond there is an expanse of blue. “Is it sea?” Inquires the traveler.
“It looks like water, but it’s a sea of sand. That’s the Wilderness of Worship. Here, look through these glasses and you will see that people are walking there, too. Notice how they begin to group themselves here. They are having their first taste of the joy of the City worship. They are discovering how they were made for the worship of God. It is becoming their life, the white-hot source of everything they do.”
“But don’t people also worship back in Christian City? What’s so special about that wilderness?”
“Worship, that is true worship, can begin only when a life has been utterly abandoned to the desert of God’s presence. Out there the heart begins to worship the Father in spirit and truth.”
Looking beyond the blue wilderness to where the desert rises in red and fiery mountains, the old man explains to the traveler that among those reddish mountains is the Wilderness of Prayer.
“Passing through that wilderness travelers find it necessary to turn away from every distraction and concentrate on prayer. They quickly learn that there is no possible way for them to survive but by crying out to God continuously. By the time they reach the outer extremes of that wilderness, prayer is their consuming passion and their supreme joy. It appears at first that the City of God is just beyond the Wilderness of Prayer. But there is one more wilderness hidden by those mountains, which you will pass through before you reach your destination. It is simply called the Harvest. You’ll know it when you reach it. And beyond the Harvest is the City itself. Your name is known there. Your arrival is awaited with eagerness. Come, let’s begin our journey.”
“Nightfall doesn’t seem to be a particularly propitious time to begin a journey like this,” he says.
“Don’t go back to Christian City,” the old man exhorts, gazing at him earnestly.”
“Not even at this hour? That way I could get a good night’s sleep and start first thing in the morning,” the traveler adds hopefully.
“But your rest is out there,” he urges. “Walk on now, into the desert. The Holy Spirit will help you. Don’t be afraid to be lost in God. You’ll find your life nowhere else.”
"Escape from Christendom" by Robert Burnell ( Originally Published by Bethany House Publishers in 1980 ) The rest of this writing can be viewed at at an acquaintance's blog. I hope you read on, as we must escape the clutches of modern day Christendom and embrace Christ Jesus, who has been lost in what has become dead religion. It is time to come out of the organized gatherings of Babylon, that we might avoid sharing the whore's fate which is inevitable destruction.
This is the link to the rest of Burnell's message and I pray you read it all the way to the amazing finale. I believe it will change your life as it did mine.
So I had just moved to Oklahoma from the beaches of SoCal to attend college. For some crazy forgotten reason I joined the Baptist Student Union intramural flag football team. After the first play of the first game I came back to the huddle all fired up and shouting obscenities about our opponents. My team mates were aghast and told me that I couldn't swear because this was a Christian team I was on. I was doubly aghast and said, "you mean to tell me you play football without swearing!"
That was the beginning of a long season for both parties; the team and myself *%!@*&#!
I also believe those prudish BSU boy's set God's plan back by five years as far as getting me saved. lol
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
Well over thirty years ago, I sat in a home Bible study when I first heard the "Luke 21 verses" quoted above. Deep within my heart the theme of the "perplexity and distress of nations" took hold as I knew this would be profound in my walk with Christ. Today as I look within myself with it's "imaginations" and also without at the world with it's own nations, I do believe whole heartily that our redemption does indeed draweth nigh; it is even at the door. How often I see with the world news reports, that there is ever more increasingly futility in finding solutions to the cataclysmic situations and forecasts that face mankind and this world. More gripping, even more real and yes increasingly distressful, is the perplexity I often feel within myself, as the last bulwarks of self sufficiency and understanding are stripped away by circumstances and situations divinely appointed for "my death of self."
It seems often the dilemmas arising from life are without answers and we must fall upon Christ that He guide and direct us, all the while giving us peace, knowing He will neither fail nor forsake us. More so with each day, we are finding we can do nothing of our self and that's a good place to be. When we are weak, He is strong and our futility must be realized as whole that His strength be whole. This is the miraculous action of His Life in exchange for ours. This is our death and resurrection which is a day to day affair until we be filled with His Full Glory.
When we find there are no logical answers to life's problems, I believe we are getting close to seeing our redemption, both personally and corporately. Surely today Christ is preparing you and me along with the rest of mankind to surrender our carnal notions and inventions. Man's natural wisdom has for all recorded history left us barren of peace and void of anything except temporal stop gap solutions that often fade faster than they are implemented. This morning I read these closing paragraphs to a writing (below) and I thought, "what a mess we have, when we must make moral judgements, all the while knowing no reasonable judgement of any sort will suffice."
Such is the wisdom of natural man and of this world. God has ordained it that man through his own abilities will never solve the dilemma of death and suffering that faces each of us along with our brethren. Corporately and personally, we as Adamic men must finally be brought to naught that Christ our miraculous and supernal Saviour and Lord will be realized as the "End All" of our distresses and perplexity. As you read below of these "perplexing" and yes, "distressing" scenarios; one hypothetical and the other real, I pray you would find cause to "cast all your cares upon Christ." It is Christ, Who possesses the Keys to Life whether it be the temporal life of this world or the Eternal Life of God. Jesus truly holds "all of life and all of our lives" within His grip. "Come, even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Lifeboat Ethics and World Morality
In philosophical ethics, one of the major hypothetical scenarios one discusses is "lifeboat" ethics. The instructor paints the "lifeboat" scenario:
You are captain of a passenger boat, responsible for the lives of your passengers, which has an accident in the middle of shark-infested waters. No messages of help were sent before the crash, so rescue is not expected or likely. The 30 passengers and crew all cram into the lifeboat (capacity 29), which is immediately encircled by sharks. There are no weapons upon the lifeboat, and the raft is beginning to sink due to the overload. The nearest island (deserted, of course) can be seen, but you cannot reach it without at least one passenger jumping out of the lifeboat to certain death by being fought over and eaten by sharks. You, as captain, cannot be the martyr yourself, since only you have the requisite skills to help the 29 people survive once you get to shore, etc.
The probability of the boat sinking with 30 people is 100%, the probability of being fought over and eaten by sharks (once in the water) is 100%, and the probability of outside intervention (e.g., rescue) is 0%.
You ask for a volunteer, to give their life to save the group. If only one person decides to give his/her life for the other 29, then the 29 have a decent chance of making it to shore.
No one volunteers, after repeated requests. You are now forced with killing (against someone's will) one innocent person, or letting 30 (innocent) people die in the jaws of the sharks.
What do you do?
In the classroom, this discussion proceeds then to what criteria one "should" use to decide which passenger or crew member is to die--to save the many. It cannot be you--no matter how badly you want to avoid the knowledge that you had to kill someone against their will--since your death would be the one most likely to result in the death of the others (and your death would have been in vain). I repeat, the "I will be the martyr" answer is unacceptable--for in your death, you will likely have 'killed' the others. You, as captain, will be forced to live with your choices, which will not be easy, but will be important to the lives of 28 other people.
Is it the one who has already enjoyed the longest life? Is it the one who has made the least contribution to life (so far)? Is it the one who has the least probability of surviving on the island once you arrive? Is it the one that is likeliest to be a divisive element once at shore (when unity will be essential to the survival of the group)? Is it the most 'morally questionable' one (involving ethical judgment)? Is it one selected by random processes (e.g., short straws)? Do you take a vote? Do you have a 'last man standing' fight, with the people fighting to throw each other off the boat, so that only the strongest people stay on the boat? Do you pick those with the least number of dependents back in the real world? And so on...
Some students will try to avoid the issue altogether, by talking about 'taking their chances' on the boat, on the sharks, or on the rate of travel toward the island. But the scenario is not constructed that way--the 'there must be some other way' fantasy options don't exist...just as in real life tough decisions...just like decisions public leaders in governance have to make some time...If you the captain take a chance (especially given the odds stated above!) and lose all 30, when you could have saved some/most, this is generally considered unacceptable (assuming you value human life, of course).
The death of the person chosen (in most ethical systems) is morally required--but it is only the "big picture" that justifies this violation of their will. Examining the morally of killing them--without placing it in the context of the alternative of killing 30 people--will not lead one to the ethically correct and overall more humane choice. [In fact, in traditional ethical systems, the killing of the individual in this context is not considered 'legal murder', but falls into 'justifiable homicide'.]
This principle can be abused, of course, as we all know from countless examples in history and in the modern world, but this does not invalidate the principle itself--it only highlights the misuse of it. [This principle was reportedly used by Caiaphas against Jesus in John 11:49-50!]
If you—as leader—make a moral judgment to decide NOT to make a choice, then this implies that you would not kill the one to save the 29, and consequently, your moral judgment would kill the 30.
This moral trade-off or dilemma situation actually can be extended in the lifeboat example to an additional (and possibly relevant) sub-scenario:
Once you have decided who to kill (to save the group), how do you kill them?
a. Do you literally throw them off the raft screaming, with them frantically trying to climb back in (threatening to capsize the boat, feeding everyone to the sharks) or trying to pull someone else out so they can get back in, before the sharks seize them in their jaws and drag them underwater?
b. Do you tie them up, so they cannot jeopardize the boat, and then throw them to the sharks to be fought over and eaten alive as they try to hold their breath while sinking in the ocean?
c. Do you knock them unconscious, and then throw them in, so that they only experience the jaws of the sharks for the brief moments the pain brings them up to terrorized consciousness?
d. Do you kill them in the boat (while they are screaming and pleading for mercy), by gunshot to the head, snapping the neck, or strangulation/suffocation, and then throw them to the sharks, so that their suffering is absolutely minimized?
Are ANY of these "pleasant" alternatives?-- Of course not!--they are stomach-churching, gut-wrenching, heart-hollowing alternatives. The very exercise of thinking through this should deeply disturb any compassionate person! My attempts at the Lifeboat scenario over the last couple of years still bring tears and anxiety and feelings of hopelessness to my heart...But when there is no other "way out"--the toughest choices of one's life have to be made...and these choices (and consequences--however important and good) haunt one for the rest of their life...no question about it...But a troubled memory and haunted conscience may be a small price to pay for saving 29 lives...
But are some of these alternatives in the lifeboat more humane than others?--absolutely. [Normally, one selects the method that would minimize pain and minimize negative effects on the survival chances of the rest of the group. In this case it would be the swift death in the boat, than the much more terrifying and painful death by sharks. The implication for our case should be obvious: a swift death for the innocents would be morally preferable .........
Now, some might propose that all must die. Some might say that you the captain discuss the matter with the group and get agreement that all thirty sink and be eaten deliberately, rather than sacrificing someone else, so that the 30 can die with a 'clean conscience' of not having murdered someone (although it is quite questionable whether they would have shared your responsibility for killing the individual--they might have simply trusted you to come up with the tough decisions and accountability for the choices). Of course, your moral responsibilities as captain are rather different: to bring back as many alive to their families as possible, regardless of what emotional state they are in. A group suicide of this type is certainly not out of the ethical question, but if ANY ONE of the 29 do not AGREE/WANT TO DIE this way, then you have done the exact same "against their will" killing as in the traditional 'sacrifice' PLUS you have killed more people in the meantime. [A variant of this would be to not tell the 30 that the boat will sink, until it is too late, forcing them to die "with a clean conscience" without their consent, but this seems less 'virtuous' than the other alternatives.]
This is a vivid textbook illustration, but it shows clearly that specific moral choices must be evaluated alongside the moral consequences of the alternative choices (and even non-choice is a choice, of course). To not choose to do something in this case, invariably results in the death of everyone. In other words--the "big picture".
And, by the way, this lifeboat ethics scenario is lived out in the real world constantly. I remember engaging this puzzle as a student/reader earlier in life, and thinking through it in abstract terms. But the "blood" in it finally registered itself with me the first time--as a business executive in a firm about to go under, putting literally thousands of people suddenly into the jobless category--I had to decide which of my workers I had to fire, in order to keep the other workers with a paycheck for their family...The decision on who "to throw off the lifeboat" so the others could continue to have paychecks is one of the more painful and distressing ones senior executives (at least the "human" ones) have to make...
We really need to see the reality of the trade-offs in complex moral situations. It is not simply the horror of one set of examples versus the horrors of another set of examples--it really is the 'bigger picture' of trying to maximize value and minimize destruction. It's just not as easy as decrying the death of innocents, no matter how heart wrenching that may be to us or to God.
One modern illustration, to show how complex tough situations can be:
I have in front of me as I write this, an article from the U.S. News and World Report of May 3, 1999 (p.41). The article's title is: "Paying for Freedom: When Christian groups buy slaves in Sudan, do they help keep the practice alive?"
"Arab mercenaries, riding fast horses and firing Kalashnikov rifles, swept down from the north. For two weeks, they terrorized this settlement [Nyamlell, Sudan] of 10,000 black farmers, burning stocks of seeds, slaughtering cattle, torching huts. Then they rounded up 400 Kinka tribespeople and marched them away as slaves...Over the past decades, such raids have occurred hundreds of times in a civil war between Sudan's Arab north, ruled by an Islamic government, and the mainly black south, whose people practice Christianity and traditional African religions."
Into this scene comes an organization called Christian Solidarity International, who buys these slaves from Arab middlemen and returns them to their families and loved ones in Nyamlell for free. Is the civic leadership of Nyamlell thankful for these efforts to end the suffering and captivity of their sons and daughters?--No. The civilian commissioner of the country condemns the purchasing/freeing action: "The program is empowering some of these Arabs to continue with their acts...It may seem cruel to block the redemption of our children, but it's necessary in order to halt the trade in the long term."
Now, who's right here? Has the leadership of the country made a bad choice--using "big picture" words like "in the long term"? Or is the relief of immediate suffering of the captives created by the Christian group the right choice, even though it incidentally provides economic incentive for further slave raids?
This is quite complex and simply painting a picture of the immediate suffering of an existing captive is NOT a complete enough way to approach the issue; one MUST consider the future sufferings of future captives as well.
I pray you have gleaned from this copied message how moral judgements made by moral men will always be lacking and thus we groan with all creation for our full redemption and the redemption of our world. I know I have never groaned more, nor as deeply as I do today. Ah, but there is respite and peace to be found! There is an answer to all distresses and perplexity and it is Jesus. Thank God, like me, you can "cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
"Come, even so, come, Lord Jesus."
The Christian Thinktank)