This Following Jesus Business

Jesus came into the world without the generational issues that we have to deal with.  Therefore, He was aware of… and showed… full Christ presence from the very beginning of His ministry.  He did not have traumas, neuroses, and complexes that got in the way of His knowing His Father’s will at all times. Nothing hid His being Christ.  We, however, need to do the hard work of stripping away the issues and distractions to reach that clarity.

I have known people who have died without reaching a clear awareness of Christ.  I have known people who never even tried to address their issues at all, unaware that working out their own salvation is theirs to do.   I have also known people who have reached that clarity and were able to live the last years of their lives in full Christ presence and in full service of the Father.

We have been given the means to do the hard work of shedding all of the interfering stuff.  The Holy Spirit has blessed us with knowledge of dealing with addictions, resentments and hate, illness and diseases.  We have psychology, spiritual healing, prayer, AA groups, solid advice on what to eat, how much exercise to get, the importance of spending time in nature, deep breathing, and good sleep.  All of that knowledge and help has been provided to assist us in shedding our issues.

While working out our salvation, we can spend precious and protected moments in silent prayer and meditation…becoming familiar with that clarity.  With enough consistent practice, we can carry that grounded Christ presence out into relationships, crisis moments, and the world.

But we must still do the work.

Jesus spent His life psychologically whole, unattached to possessions, and undistracted.  He spent time in prayerful meditation to maintain His clear awareness of God.  All other times, He was open to the people around Him and present, in the truest sense.  He was attentive, aware, and conscious.  Follow Jesus’ example.

It is not necessary for us to be crucified on a tree in order to die to our distractions and issues.  But what Jesus demonstrated was that once we choose to, after a time of grief, darkness, and confusion, we awaken full of Christ and ready to serve.

Follow Jesus.

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Protect what is True

(repeated and expanded here from my comment to an article in Sojourners)

Those of us who hold fast to truth and Wisdom must also hold fast and protect what we know of God, love, and justice. With Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego, we know that God can deliver us, but if He does not, we will not bow down nor worship anything else…including fear, hate, or discouragement.

It is my opinion that the best position (in addition to protecting and preserving what we know) is to rise up to take a God-perspective of our situation. ‘Bad’ things are sometimes necessary to bring about world-sized changes. There is much ‘good’ coming from this looming dark time: many people who would ordinarily be going about their business are putting more attention to their relationship with God. There is more praying, contemplating, and discussing.

This is a time to keep vigil. This is a time to bury the silver. This is a time to clarify and strengthen one’s own connection to God…and to do that with others.  These are dark times but also times of opportunity to focus on what truly matters.

I agree with Pope Francis; this is a change of era.  This is an era when seekers of God in truth can pray in silent unison while darkness builds around them.  Travelers on the paths of Wisdom, mindfulness, consciousness,… will find themselves walking alongside one another, humming the same tune, speaking the same language.  We see the same light.  We hold the same light.

Keep watch. Pray. Hold hands. Hunch up close to Jesus. Do not let the light die.

The Purpose of ‘Bad’ Things

I have recently weathered another perfect storm:  exhaustion and self-doubt met with unjust accusations, betrayal, inquisition, and ambush.  Did I mention I have weathered that storm….I came through it in one piece.

When a dear friend asked me today why these things always happen to me, I did not elaborate on my beliefs, but Jackie, I will now.  My opinion of why such things always happen to me is 1) difficult for many people to accept and 2) my opinion and I am entitled to one.

When people think about ‘bad’ things happening to good people, their concept of ‘bad’ is not my concept of ‘bad.’  Other people’s list of ‘bad’ things include things like car accidents, cancer, abandonment, birth defects, premature death, etc.  To me, ‘bad’ is being so unconnected with God that you wonder if you need to introduce yourself when you start to pray.

I will clarify my definition of ‘bad’ by defining the opposite, namely ‘good.’  ‘Good’ is unconditionally loving God.   Walk with me closely here because I am not saying that we should respond to ‘bad’ things by loving God; it’s a little more involved (and possible) than that.  When ‘bad’ things happen to me, I can often see how the ‘bad’ thing is connected to (or pointing to) something that is distracting me from God.

I will add another very controversial concept:  God lets dark forces interfere in our lives for a purpose.  Ask Job.   When the dark forces are on me like flies, that is my opportunity to once again declare to Whom I belong.

The purpose of this life is not peace, joy, success, prosperity, abundance, health, blah, blah, blah,…  And conversely, hatred, misery, failure, etc. are not ‘bad’ things.  The purpose of this life is to give us an opportunity, in the midst of battle, to locate and adhere to God.  God wants one thing: our constant awareness of Him.  The bad things that happen are God-given opportunities to perfect that.

Remember, this is my opinion and I hold it very stongly…and I can because it plays out repeatedly in my life; each time I weather this kind of storm, and prove my loyalty and faith, my bond with God becomes stronger.

In Shadrach, Meschah, and Whatshisname, I give my battle cry, “I’m with them.”

I serve God, through Jesus, with strength and conviction from the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus, saved by His blood by the Grace of God.  I look to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the very Father God to protect and save me.  But if He does not, I will not turn from God nor will I stop drawing close to Jesus and neither will I stop turning to the Holy Spirit for guidance and protection.  I will not worship anything else.  Are there any questions?

I feel I must point out that holding this belief is easy for me because, unike the rich young ruler and most other people, I don’t have much left to lose.   I’ve done this a good bit; I know the drill.  That is not to say the battle is over.  I have not died yet.  I’m sure things can get worse.   But I pray for the strength to remain steadfast and that I continue to show up when called upon to do so.

When dark clouds are on the horizon…

Many many people are in a panic because of the outcome of the election.  I empathize and would be in a panic, too, except that over the past few years I have found my refuge.  I have needed to go there frequently because of a variety of disasters, catastrophes, and onslaughts.  If Viktor Frankl can survive Auschwitz concentration camps by going to his refuge, so can we.

I am ‘borrowing’ the following thoughts from a post I wrote several months ago…a post which probably now belongs to word press.  I am not implying that any elected official is evil.  I am addressing how I respond to situations that leave me feeling fearful and despairing.  I believe now, as then, it is a time to hunch up close to Jesus:

This morning, …I felt powerless, minuscule, and controlled.  But then I remembered, I have God…not that God is in my back pocket and that I can whip Him out at a moment’s notice and hack and slash at my enemy, but it is a similar situation as fighting evil.  I am called to do what I can to be vigilant and to protect myself and loved ones with prayer and condemnations of Satan and his minions in the name of Christ.

However, when I am feeling weak in the over-arching presence of users, manipulators, and terrifying possibilities, I am reminded of a sweet homily given at the funeral of an 18-month-old child.  The wise minister did not give the typical come-to-Jesus sermon to his captive audience; instead, he addressed our pain and confusion over why God allowed this to happen.  Try as he did to satisfy our non-understanding, the words I clearly remember were, “Now is a time to hunch up close to Jesus.”

There are forces and actions in this world that are just not understandable.  Taking on the forces of evil is less effective and more dangerous than tilting at windmills; one can get lost in the darkness and overwhelmed by it.  I’ve said it before, this is not heaven; this is the life before the afterlife.  The safest place for me to be is hunched up close to Jesus.  He has the power to control and defeat the users and manipulators; I do not.  When I try to, I weaken myself by becoming angry, fearful, anxious, and destructive.  Those attitudes open me up to being influenced by evil and I refuse to play into that.

Say what you will; I may be turning a blind eye to the users and manipulators but am I turning a blind eye to evil when I refuse to focus on it?  I don’t think so.  I am weak. I am vulnerable.  But, hunched up close to Jesus, I am as safe as I can be in this life.  When I can’t feel Him directly with His hand on my head or His arm about my shoulders, I hear His voice or see His sweet gentle smile.  If I am not aware of any of this, I read His words and focus on His promises, because I know that in His presence the evil one shrinks, cringes, and slithers away defeated.

There are, and always will be in this life, users and manipulators.  I can not defeat them.  But, God has His ways.  The Holy Spirit is not computer illiterate.  The more technology advances, the more vehicles the Holy Spirit has.  I am not afraid or in doubt as to Who will win this battle.  It is decided; it is done.  All that is left is for it to play out.  There will be casualties and there will be victories, but, again, this is not heaven.

Thanks be to Jesus…

And to God be the Glory…