Don’t Mess with God



Rule #97 of living on the mountain:  Don’t mess with God


It is Friday morning.  The sun has just risen.  The odor of wood smoke is strong outdoors.  It makes deep breathing a little difficult.  A single crow startles with a loud piercing call.  He caws seven times before he is done.  A deer across the creek answers, by baying three times.  Clouds are very close to the hollow today.  They keep a sort of lid on the sounds of the hollow, to the point that silence echoes off the mountains and ridges in an audible manner.  A small lone cypress tree stands in the wet meadow, and gives the blurry appearance of a human shape, hunched over, examining its hands.  The tree limbs above the path are gnarled and charcoal gray.  As the cabin door opens the aroma of olive oil and sweet potatoes and warmth meets the senses.


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 19, John’s epic vision proceeded to a war that the beast declared against the warrior rider of the white horse coming from heaven (Jesus).   While the beast is waiting to war against gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Jesus arrives as the warrior God and makes quick use of the beast and prophet and armies being in a nice tidy battle formation.


And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.  And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.


Notice the scripture does not say fire or water or anything else but the sword that comes from the mouth of Him who sat on the white horse.  The nature of the sword is left to our imaginations.  It could be a spoken word that causes them all to die.  (Recall Hebrews 4:10 “for the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword”).  It could be a supernatural sword that flies around and simply mows them all down.  


Whatever specific weapon this is, the details of the battle reveal, “Don’t mess with God, or God’s people”.

#struggles


I’ve read or listened to the book of Revelation about twenty times now.  I haven’t kept count, but that’s close.  Each time I read it, I become calmer about the last days.  


And I long for them.


Yes.  I long for the day that Jesus mows down the enemy.  I long for the day that a smart alec philosophy professor who promoted hatred of anything and anyone Christian, will look to the sky with fear and say, “uh-oh”.


Let the world acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of all.


My Lord and Savior –


You are holy and true

Heaven and earth declare your glory

Hosanna in the highest

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord

Hosanna in the highest


My Lord, My God, I love you

I long to see you lifted up in glory

Hosanna in the highest

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord

Hosanna in the highest


Dear reader, immerse yourself in His word, for it is a two-edged sword, and a part of our weaponry on earth.


Don’t mess with God or God’s people.

Life is Interesting


Rule #22 of living on the mountain: Let God keep life interesting.


It is Thursday morning.  The cabin is warm.  The tea is aromatic.  Outside, the air is cold.  Thousands of tall trees are illumined by the red-streaked sky.  Large birds seem to be squawking from every direction.  There is a mild odor of wood smoke, but deep breathing is still easy.  Small stones around the cabin make a crunching noise underfoot.  A fat brown cat is peering into the cold air above the wet meadow.  One bird releases a long call that begins loudly and repeats and echoes until it is soft, thereby mimicking drawn out laughter.


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 19, John witnessed heavenly beings coming down to earth to perform a task.  Most recently, the final seven bowls of God’s wrath were poured out on the earth, then Jesus, the warrior, appeared with a multitude.


Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free and slaves, and small and great.”


And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.


Only fools would line up to charge against God or God’s people or God’s army.  


This cracks me up about God.  He made sure the clean up crew was ready before the enemy attacked.  


Who among us would look at a fierce army with nukes and tanks and guns and say, “Uh, put the sanitation department on alert.  This is going to make a mess when we win”.


God does do surprising things.  Count on Him.  Trust in Him.  Jesus reigns.



#struggles


The holidays are here and with them my anxiety is rising.  I used to love holidays before the world seemed to change.  


Dear reader, I’m going to give my reasons and just blurt it out.  I’ve seen a drastic difference between believers and non-believers – also called the wheat and the tares.  I’ve seen many Christians more interested in their own righteous anger over interpretation of scripture than they are interested in Jesus – just look at a Christian Twitter feed.  I’ve seen a U.S. President, an influential leader, with the boastful attitude of a conqueror.  


And, here it comes:


The first and second seals, of the document in Revelation 6,  MAY  have been broken open already. 


– OR –


At the least, we are seeing a sort of divine preview of the last days.


Whether this is a preview of the real thing, or the real thing, the Bible predicts that the next big event we witness will be a substantial increase in the price of grain.  Bread, oatmeal, breakfast cereal and eventually the meat of any animal that eats grain, will increase.  


Doesn’t God keep life interesting?


I know whose side I’ll be on.  I chose Jesus years ago, and if He is merciful (which He is), I will not change sides.


How about you?

Wait on the Lord

Rule #96 of living on the mountain:  Wait for the Lord


It is mid morning Wednesday.  The cabin is warm indoors.  The air is cold outdoors,  There is a light white dust resting on the upturned corners of all the brown leaves atop the sandy soil.  They create a crunching noise underfoot.  A fine white frost coats all surfaces in the forest.  A few large birds are busy squawking and fluttering near the creek.  The sky is solid blue.  Vision and color in the cold seems to be clearer than on most days.  Deep breathing in the cold is exhilarating, as if the frigid air has frozen off every foul odor, and every harmful thing.  It is not bitter cold, but just cold enough to be healing.  


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 19, there is a sharp contrast to Jesus of the old hymn “Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild”.  Jesus appeared, after the seven bowls of the wrath of God were poured out, as a warrior to be feared.  His garments were splattered with the blood of His enemies.  In Revelation, we learn that the Lion of Judah can sit quietly, calculate His opportunities, and strike deadly blows.  


And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”.  


Amen to that day when Jesus shows up as a warrior king!  He is surrounded by symbols of power: a white horse, an army of white horses with white-clothed riders, a rod of iron, a sharp two-edged sword.    


Dear reader, we don’t have to strive.  God cares for His people.  If your life is filled with strife (as mine also can be) cry out to God.  He is able to rescue.


The Lion calculates His strikes.  Ask Him to remove your fear far from you, while you wait for the Lord.  I will pray that for all of us as well.


In our lives, we will have tribulation, but hold fast to Jesus.  He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  Once we know the power and the plan, there is no fear.


#struggles


I did not sleep overnight, but finally rose, fed the cat, cleaned after her, had a bit of coffee and prayed at 3:00 a.m.  I stepped outside to look at the temperature and saw that the moon was full in the pitch black sky over the creek.  The temperature was 19F.  Frost had crisply formed on everything and created a glittering wonderland.  Sparkles danced about in the porch light.  Then I went back in and fell asleep.


I failed to pray over my blog and, dear reader, I cannot write unless the Holy Spirit guides me.  Even though I write my words, He inspires me.  


So, when I finally awoke, mid morning, my creative inspiration was simply not there and I was about to decide against writing today.


But the key to inspiration is this:  It’s in inviting the Holy Spirit to stir in the heart.  His sparkles dance in our consciousness.  Even when we cannot discern His guidance, His pure beauty draws us closer with fascination.


I went back into prayer and asked for His guidance and waited on the Lord.  


He removes our obstacles or He removes our fear of them. The world cannot do that for us.  We cannot simply “will it” and watch things happen.


Know that the Lion is calculating His strike, ask to participate, and wait.

The Key to a Deeper Relationship with Jesus

Rule #95 of living on the mountain:  The key to a deeper relationship with Jesus is to welcome God’s discipline


It is Tuesday morning.  The air indoors is warm and holds the aroma of turkey stew.  The air outdoors is cold and fresh.  A few large birds call from their homes along the creek.  The ground is moist and soft, making footsteps sound as a dull thud.  Brown leaves are now matted against the sandy soil.  The landscape is washed in muted tones of gray, brown and green.  Even the sky is mostly gray.  The forest is now busy shielding itself against cold.


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 3, John records Jesus’ letter to the last of seven churches in an area now known as Turkey.  For some Christians, this church represents most churches of our day.  


“To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write:


“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:


“‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  


“‘Because you say, “I am rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes  so that you may see.  


“‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.  He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne.


“‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”


A small rabbit trail:  Scientist Sir Isaac Newton, in the early 1700’s, wrote extensively on the book of Revelation and end times prophecy.  He instructed that his writings not be read until well after his death.  It was him whom I remember to have first believed that the “Laodicean church age” began around 1774.  He seemed to believe that our current Laodicean church age would last from around 1774 to 2060.  Based upon his Bible studies, he also predicted that the return of Israel to Jerusalem would occur in 1940.  He was only seven years off.  


Laodicea for all its wealth, had poor local water quality, coming from sulfur springs.  Try to imagine drinking cloudy water while smelling rotten eggs – that would be Laodicean water.  They had determined that if the local water was used cold or hot, it was tolerable.  Otherwise, it was awful.  I know I would spit out sulfur water without a second thought.  


Jesus seemed to say that local churchgoers were similar to local water.  They could not be used unless they were made cold or hot.  They needed discipline.  And so, today, when we describe a person who has a passion for some life goal, we say the person is “on fire” or “hot on the trail”.  


Surely, our modern era is indeed marked by apathy.  Our worst problem is the state of our own hearts.  We need discipline.  And be assured, I am speaking to myself first.


Without discipline, we are our own worst enemies.  But how does one self-disciple?  That’s like flippantly saying, “You can save yourself, just try harder”, which we cannot!


What was Jesus’ antidote?  It was to repent and allow God to reprove and discipline us.


Let God discipline me?!?  That’s not an easy pill to swallow.  


Because Matthew recorded the words of Jesus, so we can allow God’s discipline without fear:


“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


He will discipline us.  If we allow it, we will learn from Him, and be richly rewarded by the presence of Jesus.



#struggles


During prayer this morning, I had a vision.  A man, whom I immediately knew to be Jesus, placed in my right hand a set of two keys.  He said, “I am giving you the keys of heaven”.


Right away I was suspicious and unsure and really did not know what He meant.  He further said, “Which door do you want to be yours?”  I don’t know.  What does that mean?


First, I went to the Bible.  I get too many opinions when I see what different churches say about the keys to heaven.  Anyway, St. Peter is supposed to have them already, not me.


Matthew 16:19 (Jesus talked to Peter after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ)

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”


The keys to heaven have to do with binding and loosing!


So, I spent a good deal of prayer time speaking to that vision.  I was binding illnesses and demons, and then loosing the Holy Spirit and salvation over most everyone on my prayer list.  I covered all my blog readers, too.


God has disciplined me, and He continues to discipline me, (and I don’t like it), but the one thing He seems to want to prove is that His discipline leads to a deeper relationship with Him.


And that deeper peace makes all the discipline worthwhile.

God Keeps His Promises

Rule #94 of living on the mountain:  God keeps His promises


It is Monday morning.  The air outside the cabin door is warmer than this time yesterday.  The fat brown cat rushes outdoors and disappears past the gate into darkness.  A reddish hue illumines the sky above the western mountain.  Naked branches of thousands of trees stand in front of the red-gray sky.  The air is fresh and clean and deep breathing is comfortable.  A wind rushes through the treetops with a great noise.  Only a mild breeze can be felt on the ground.  A few large raindrops hit the ground.


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 3, John faithfully writes, as Jesus dictates, letters to seven churches in Asia, now known as Turkey.  The order of the churches on a map makes a loop, remindful of the Hebrew letter sav, or the English cursive letter r.  Here is the sixth message:


“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:


“He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:


“‘I know your deeds.  Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.  Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  


“‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.’


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


Philadelphia was built by a king who was grateful for his brother and so he named the place “city of brotherly love” or Philadelphia.  The city was of strategic location along multiple trade routes.  Being well known in Philadelphia was the “key” that opened doors to trade routes for merchants of John’s time.  I find no specific information on this, but the letter seems to hint that doors to trade routes could be locked by the city of Philadelphia.  Cross roads, merchants, money, wine, earthquakes and volcanoes were the stuff of Philadelphia.


Philadelphians would have understood that Jesus had the key of David and could open God’s door for them or close it.  They would have understood the need for sturdy pillars in their earthquake prone area.  


What is fascinating for us in Jesus’ message is this:


“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”


Is that a promise?  If so, we need to hold fast to the promises of God, and do so well before the the first signs of the coming tribulation.  He does not say precisely how he will keep us from the hour of testing – He only says that He will.


He keeps His promises.


#struggles


I’m having stew for breakfast.  It’s a kind of a non-ending stew that I learned to make last winter.  Turkey was on sale the week before Thanksgiving Day, so there is plenty of turkey in the stew, along with beans and a great variety of vegetables.  To be satisfying, it needs a fermented food such as sauerkraut, and then spicy hot peppers.   It lasts about a week, and I boil it in a slow cooker day and night, adding vegetables each evening before I go to bed.  


This morning, I added capers for a yummy burst of flavor.  Yeah!


It’s a good thing the stuff is tasty because I may not be able to drive to a store for several days.  The storm that is coming, is blanketing the hollow.  It is warmer than normal outdoors and there is a breeze.  Those are sure signs of a storm.  The night animals were still foraging when the sun rose, as if they are getting ready for something.


I should be fearful, but I have a small source of confidence in that several weeks ago the Holy Spirit spoke to me in kind of an official tone.


“I have given you a new name”.  


And He spoke a word I did not know.  Research was done on any possible spelling of such a word.  Only one possibility could be found.  The name was an Aramaic word that means “Alive and Well”.  


I moved to the cabin 1.5 years ago, really, to breathe my last and let my body be found eventually.  


It looks like that is not going to happen.


He keeps His promises.

Pursue Jesus



Rule #93 of living on the mountain:  Pursue Jesus


It is mid morning Sunday.  The forest is gray and thousands of tree trunks disappear into a blanket of fog.  The air is cold, but no frost is apparent.  Only the sandy ground remains moist after an early morning rain.  A rooster is calling from the eastern ridge, but louder than he is the sound of wind moving past the western mountain.  A slight breeze enters the hollow today.  It chills the feet and brings the mind to awareness.  A fat brown cat sits very still and watches over the wet meadow to the north.  Deep breathing is easy, but the cold is chilling and warm tea waits in the cabin.  


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 3, Jesus dictated a letter to the angel of the church of Sardis and John faithfully wrote what he heard.


“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:


“He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this:


“‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.


“‘Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.


“‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”


It appears that the ancient city of Sardis was as a cat with nine lives.  There was gold in the sands of the river that ran through Sardis and the city produced great wealth.  The city was sacked, burned or destroyed by most competing rulers of the region.  Darius, Cyrus, Alexander the Great and the Romans all claimed Sardis.  Sardis stayed alive until 1402, and today only the tiny village of Sert remains near the site.


To Sardis went a warning of the five foolish and five wise virgins:  wake up and do the needed things ahead of time.  


Dear reader, I have prayed and thought over this message and over the story of the ten virgins.  Somehow, the Sardis church did not complete its faith.  They accepted Jesus and then what?  They fell asleep?  They just dropped their faith?  Didn’t Jesus die for our sins, once and for all?  


I can only say what I know for sure: Pursue Jesus and you will know what to do next.  He is well worth your efforts.


#struggles


I have combat between my love of Jesus and my autistic mind.  I do not know when I accepted the salvation of Jesus.  It may have been in a parking lot with a street evangelist?  Perhaps it was when I prayed before a suicide attempt?  Or later when I knelt with a country pastor who was convinced that I lacked salvation?  I really never thought that humans should follow one man (Jesus) so eagerly.  


After all, mankind is fickle.


Faith happened like a trickle of the water of knowing.  That “knowing” collected and ran down the mountain.  One day, without conscious intent, my pursuit of Jesus could no more be contained than a flood.


If I ever come to understand the mechanics of salvation, I may become a loud evangelist.  


Then again, I may become a loud Aspie.


After all the internal struggle, this urge remains:


Abandon all and pursue Jesus.

Pray for Boldness

Rule #92 of living on the mountain:  Pray for boldness


It is Saturday morning.  In the summertime, the sky would have been bright at this hour.  But at the same hour today, the sky is blue gray with few stars.  The bare trees are deep charcoal gray.  They stand as a forest of silhouettes against the mildly illumined sky, above the dark mountains and ridges.  Some fluttering in the tree tops speak of birds about to awaken.  The creek did not stop its rushing movement overnight.  The constant sound of water hitting the stones is calming today.  The air is cold but still tolerable on bare ankles.  Opening the cabin door reveals a fat brown cat, who darts out into the darkness.  The aroma of tea flows outdoors with the cat.  


#scripture


In the book of Revelation, chapter 2, the church at Thyatira was the fourth stop on a mission of letter writing, with Jesus dictating the words to John.


“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:


“The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:


“‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 


“‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.  Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.  And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.  


“‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them – I place no other burden on you.  


“‘ Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.  He who overcomes, and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”


In this passage, the letter to the angel of the church of Thyatira, the one who rules with a rod of iron may or may not be Jesus. This snippet is a view into the future, using the models of the church’s past.  A possibility for this ruler is a person who consistently stood up against the Satanic beast throughout the tribulation, thereby strengthening himself in God and building muscle to endure all attacks.  


The woman Jezebel was a church member at Thyatira who was not the best Sunday School teacher for the congregation.  But she was tolerated by the church.  As the church tolerated her, she led many astray.  Jesus was saying that her time was up.  He had personally offered her a path to repentance, but she refused it.  


In this letter we have a picture of good and evil, which is not the Hollywood version of good or evil.  Good has eyes like flames of fire and feet that have already been purified.  Good can bless and condemn and is likely to do both.  Evil boasts that it gladly includes the pagan, the Christian and the wayward, without prejudice.


As such, the church at Thyatira is a picture of our modern world.  Evil practices inclusiveness of religions.  Good gives room for repentance, but does not hesitate to condemn.  There is a difference.


Dear reader, while it doesn’t appear correct, love good and hate evil anyway.  


I will pray for you to be bold in this, and I request your prayers for me as well.


#struggles


As a newly born again believer, I knew God had called me, but I really didn’t know much about Jesus or the Bible.  I joined a small church.  At the moment of my joining, the pastor made a fateful decision about his faith.  In a small class that the pastor led, he announced that after much study he knew for sure that the name “God” was simply the literal way of saying “all that is good” and he also revealed that the name “Satan” was simply the literal name for “all that is evil”.


I was not only new to the faith, but also autistic.  I had been listening to a radio preacher who awakened to the truth of Jesus after becoming a pastor.  So, mix awakened Lutheran teaching with autism, and you have my basis of faith at that time.


In that small class of lively discussions, I casually blurted out: 


“Why pastor, no God and no Satan?  That’s a doctrine of of the devil”.


I laughed, quite pleased at knowing something that would allow me to participate in the lively bantering of that class.  Some members nodded in agreement.  Others fell silent.  From that day forward, I was shunned by the pastor and really never understood why until many years passed and I figured it out.


Today, I long to be bold as I was at first, but this time bold, on purpose, for the cause of Jesus.  I want to remember Jesus working in my life.  I want encouragement that I can believe in God and that He is good.    


Dear reader, I will pray for you to be bold, and I request your prayers for my boldness as well.