Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pattern Recognition

A word that has been on my mind lately is the word 'intelligible'. It is a great word really. It rates understandability. If something is intelligible it means that it has a high understandability rating. Patterns are recognized and meaning is ascribed by the mind.

Many find the opposite sex unintelligible. There is an attraction and a level of appreciation but the patterns are not recognized fully.

A scientist can only be a scientist if the subject of study is intelligible to the mind. Ignorance misses the patterns and meaning. Insanity finds patterns and meaning in things that lack that order in reality. People can even suffer from a group delusion if they all agree to on a pattern or meaning that is false.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age," - Titus 2:11-12a ESV

Grace teaches us. It makes our humanity intelligible in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." - Romans 7:14-20 ESV

Grace taught the Apostle something amazing. He sees a pattern of contradiction and instead of condemning himself for what he sees he comes to a great conclusion. His flesh is disqualified from being his identity. His flesh can't please God and it can't ultimately please him either.

"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." - Romans 7:24-8:2 ESV

When we keep receiving grace we also keep seeing certain patterns. We learn to let God love us. We accept that He will never leave or forsake us. Our contradiction doesn't drive us away from people or cause us to condemn ourselves. We are like every other person on the planet, lost without God, but found in Jesus Christ.

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." - Romans 8:5-8 ESV

This is why believers seem insane to non-believers. A believer sees patterns that are hidden to an unbelieving mind.

Believers also wrongly interpret meaning. Everyone does at one time or another. We build logic on a false foundation and come to wrong conclusions. The miracle is that we are right about anything.

There are patterns to be seen in our day today but we will only see them if we receive grace. Then we can walk by faith in what the Spirit reveals and our faith will be pleasing to God because it is the evidence that we agree about what is important to Him.

By faith we can refuse to condemn ourselves and it will please God. By faith we can have compassion. By faith we can walk in a vision to find and preserve that which is lost and God will be right there with us because that is what He doing also.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Breath Of Heaven

I have many thoughts this morning. The primary one is this.

God hasn't given you that spirit. He has given you this one. He has given the Holy Spirit.

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." - 2 Timothy 1:6-12 ESV

"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." - Isaiah 11:1-2 ESV

Spirit is the same word for breath and wind. We live as breathing beings in a world where the wind shifts and moves.

There are ways to move and live but God gives His Holy Spirit and tells us how His Spirit is different.

I want to have the right Spirit. Jesus had the Spirit of counsel and might resting on His life and we have the Spirit of power, love and self-control to function in if we receive His counsel and wisdom.

There are other spirits that could influence us. Like a wind that howls outside our window or a scent that sparks our imagination.

We brush our teeth and that helps us to have clean breath but what are we inhaling?

Prayer is a thought that comes to mind. Perhaps we see it as talking only but it is an inhale and exhale exercise. In it we look to one Spirit. We commune with God with His Spirit.

Maybe you have been with people and they pray but the air is stale and strange but then at other times the prayers are simple but there is a freshness there. Grace is manifested there because Jesus is known and His gift has been received once and then over and over again. Vision causes circulation and purposed movement

The gift purifies. The Holy Spirit rests on Jesus Christ and we can move and breathe in that atmosphere of love and acceptance.

God help us to discern the spirits today. Give us the power to say, 'Not that spirit. I won't inhale that.' and, 'Yes, Lord I sense You by faith and receive the gift of life into my lungs today. Thank You. You are so kind to give me what I could never deserve.'

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Visualizing Wonders

This morning I am thinking of the portion of the mind where we visualize objects in memory or in dreams. That room that seems to sit next to the warehouse of memory where we store the content of our thought life. It is where ideas take form. It is where we 'see' what we are thinking.

Myth has made it a place but is it a place? Is the chamber of imagination.an actual chamber. Is it a stage with scenery? If it is then some of those props have gotten a lot of use over the years because we have themes in our dreams that reoccur again and again. Perhaps for some, the dreamscape is used less than others or the use is remembered less at least.

Is it a library or a theater stage? Is it a movie theater or an island in a sea of other islands where other people dream or think. Maybe it is just a construct of our organic mind that only has reality inside of each individual brain.

I know some folks say that we are just animals and nothing more or less but the Bible makes another claim. After all animals dream of running and playing. They think and make decisions. They remember.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:27 ESV

"In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." - 2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV

Those two passages speak volumes to me.

Unlike animals we are made in the image of deity but accusation blinds the mind to that fact. The blindness removes who Jesus is from the mind also. There is an empty slot where that book should be.

God spoke to the prophets at times by showing them things.

"This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand." - Amos 7:7 ESV

"Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen." - Zechariah 1:20 ESV

"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him." - Zechariah 3:1 ESV

These were visions God gave men and these men could see them because they were made in the image of God.

There are volumes to say on this subject but let's end with one thought...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Does the landscape of our mind include the Savior? Are we blind to who He Is? If so then we are blind to who we are also. But if we see Him we can also properly see ourselves.

If the content of our warehouse of thoughts and memory is filled with truth then the visual aspects of our inner mind will visualize wonders.

As sons and daughters, we can think with God. Human beings can think like God but when we are born from above we can think 'with' Him.

"You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar." - Psalm 139:2 ESV

God already knows what we are thinking. Isn't is wonderful to consider that we could know His thoughts?

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Monday, August 22, 2016

A Glimpse Of A Page

What if you had one chance to look at a page of the Bible then it would be taken away. Maybe you would never see that page again in this life. Just a few hours and then never again... What would you do? No cell phone camera. Just eyes and a mind.

I want to read the Bible that way.

I choose to look at my wife that way. I have a picture in my mind of how she looked last night that I treasure today. My beautiful precious wife.

Truth is precious. Love is precious. Time is precious.

I imagine Christians imprisoned for their faith who long to have a Bible or see a loved one again.

What will we do with our freedom? It is precious.

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Destined To Disobey

Do you have a good auto mechanic? Are they honest and thorough? What about a good doctor or dentist?

"if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
'Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.'
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.'
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." - 1 Peter 2:3-8 NKJV

To the person who understand the value of mercy and forgiveness Jesus becomes precious. Here is the last part of verse eight in a different translation.

"...They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do." - 1 Peter 2:8 ESV

Yes. Just as a person who does not have a good auto mechanic has an automotive destiny of sorts. A person who does not have a good doctor or dentist when they need one is 'appointed' to suffering.

I spoke to a friend yesterday and he said, 'I have been meditating on forgiveness and the 'medicine' is finally starting to take effect. I see the need for forgiveness everywhere around me. Sometimes I realize that my problem is that I don't have a person in my life to forgive to stir me up in the application of forgiveness.'

Wow. To that man Jesus is precious.

Jesus has a vital role in each individual life and no one can take His place. No one has what they need unless they have Him. If that sounds radical it is because it is a radical statement but it is a clear biblical teaching.

God... If we did not have Your Son we would all be stumbling in ways we could not even imagine. He is precious to us. We can recover because of Him. We can cope because of Him. You have given us a physician for our soul. Thank You God. We are so glad that You take on new clients. There are many rooms in Your house and You desire to fill them. Thank You God. Please bless our week.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Grace Doesn't Evaluate Our Performance

It is amazing to be with someone who is not evaluating your performance. It becomes clear that you don't need to apologize for who you are or how you acted or performed. They care about more important issues.

That is one of the things I love about outreach with mature believers. People are at ease because the emphasis is fellowship and not behavior. The team is fellowshipping and they are inviting people into the fellowship. Grace is known and experienced in such a group.

Many are turned to righteousness in such group. The Hebrew concept of righteousness is 'uprightness' or standing upright with your face up because you have dignity as opposed to looking down in shame.

Grace gives us every reason to stand upright. Our behavior is no longer the issue because Jesus 'behaved' for us and His good behavior is put permanently on our account.

God's love transcends what we are doing or not doing. When we are bathed in that love it changes our actions but that is a side effect and not a requirement.

Grace relationships are 'safe' relationships. They are greenhouses for spiritual growth. Surgery is done in a sterile environment. Recovery happens in warmth and safety. Vision is born there. Creativity thrives there. Love abounds there.

So friends... what you are doing or not doing is not high on my list... really... I just want to fellowship with you.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Mercy Is Better Than Magic

It is interesting to me how people try to make sense of the world around them. Pagan cultures. Monotheistic ones. Post monotheistic ones. Atheistic ones. Each culture views the world differently and then there are fringe groups inside those cultures that have one of the other belief systems.

Historically science flourishes in monotheistic cultures. Discovery and innovation happen in all of them but systematic discovery needs a scientific community.

I have heard again and again that faith and science don't mix and that faith is an enemy of science but history says otherwise. Even in religious cultures that have suppressed science as heretical there have been amazing scientific minds that rose up and were published because the culture was based on a rational God who created nature in a rational way.

We live in a time where people hunt for creatures they can only see through their phones. It is it's own brand of paganism. Instead of hoping to catch a glimpse of a nymph of dryad by a waterfall in the woods people look for pokemon in the park. The magic is techno-magic.

One of the things I love about God is that He Is orderly and has made an ordered world that can be explored and understood on many different levels. Magic can't be studied but nature can be.

I am in no hurry to make God magical. I pray for healing and I have seen people healed. I have been healed in different ways. God heals and sends angels but these beings follow guidelines that He has set in motion.

People like the idea of magic because it opens possibilities but it lacks order. The God of the Bible is orderly in ways we just don't understand but would understand in we had all the facts. That is why science has developed in cultures that believed in Him.

I am going into my day believing that there is an order to the world and that my God is the King who rules over an orderly world. Parts of it are in seeming disarray but I know the creator and He knows me. Problems can be solved. Lost things can be found. Broken things can be remade.

Mercy is better than magic. Grace and love are more powerful than human invention. Thank You God. We aren't going to fall through the cracks. There are no accidents. You are in control and we have hope.

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