The Palace

‘We live in a house made of thoughts’, I wrote down, thinking it profound.

Then I had an experience that made me discard all that nonsense.

I used to think that my thoughts were me. No more!

Thoughts of worry, fear, doubt, all of that nonsense, it’s just noise. Like the buzzing of bees or a dinner party I can’t wait to leave.

I retreat into a quiet room inside myself and shut the door.

I look around. Papa, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are there. Nothing else that I could see at that moment.

What else is there?

As I look, I discover a palace inside. The noisy room that I thought was inside me, is instead outside.

I begin to explore the palace. The chandeliers especially fascinate me—I’ve always liked chandeliers.

It reminds me of a dream I had once: a hidden warehouse I found behind a garbage dumpster. Racks and shelves full of ‘hidden treasure’ to be discovered.

Now I know that the garbage has been dealt with, and that this palace has been made from those materials.

No one else can go here. This is my mansion, my retreat, my paradise within.

How did I find this palace?

Presence.

I learned to abide in Christ.

I learned about the mind of Christ, how he thinks.

The mind of Christ is a calm, sound, well-balanced mind full of peace and joy.

When thoughts buzz around my head, when bad dreams bother me, I remember: those thoughts, those memories, those are not me.

The real me rejoices inside. The Trinity rejoices in me. The peace is inside. I forget about the noise and abide in Christ.

I wish I could lead you to your own internal palace. Maybe I will spend the rest of my life helping lead others to theirs.

Pioneers

Photo by Edward Virvel on Unsplash
Photo by Edward Virvel on Unsplash

One of the things I’ve been lately is lonely. Really lonely. I have plenty of friends on Facebook. In real life? Not so much. It’s been difficult!

Someone pointed out to me tonight that I am a pioneer, which is often a lonely place. Trailblazers, path-cutters, go ahead alone, with a few others at time, to make the path straight. My friend Dusty said, “Just imagine all the shit our kids won’t have to deal with religiously, because we walked this lonely path before them…even though we’re not alone…[our] Father is with [us]. Even though the work’s been done from the foundation of the Cosmos… it hasn’t been lived out… never been seen… never been watched… never been full experienced or realized… and so… we cut the path…”

I’m into mystic Christianity, meaning, among other things, that I embrace and abide in the tangible presence of God…not that I’m always consistent or good at it, mind you, but line Brother Lawrence and others before me, I work with the Holy Spirit to live in the midst of that joy that is a fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace…I want to live in all of that, all of the time. I want to be glowing with the presence of God, for others to experience God because He is inside and around me to the point where it’s obvious to everybody that something is going on. People healed in my shadow, people touched by the presence of God just because I walked in the room…that’s what I want. And that’s where we’re going, He and I, together.

Even though I’ve been lonely lately, the pioneer idea ‘clicked’ with me. I’m sure God will send others to run with, but if not, I have Him, and sometimes that’s all we need.

Music that Matters: Barnabas (Introduction)

For the first band in my series, I’ve chosen Barnabas, a Christian heavy metal band from the 1980’s.

But first, the music.

No Freedom, off of Approaching Light Speed, circa 1983.

I first heard about Barnabas through my friend Jerry Wilson, who interviewed Nancyjo Mann, Kris Klingensmith, and Gary Mann in his book, God’s Not Dead And Neither Are We: The story of Christian alternative rock’s pioneers. But I didn’t really listen to Barnabas until after I friended Kris K. on Facebook. His writing style appealed to me, along with his stories of life in a rock band, so I decided to take a listen.

Initially, I didn’t like them.

I heard a few snippets on YouTube and it was OK, but heavy metal is not my go-to genre; my CD collection is filled with progressive rock, electronic music, and Americana.

But after reading more about Barnabas over a year or so, I decided to take the plunge: I bought their five albums and the rarities CD from Boone’s.

I listened through each album twice, per Kris K’s recommendation. And I liked what I heard.

Barnabas is not just heavy metal. Nancyjo Mann delivered some great vocals, and the band was fantastic. Loosely speaking, Barnabas is a heavy metal band, but here and there you’ll hear blues and a ballad or two.

Barnabas was never boring.

Alas, history, and certain preachers, were unkind to Barnabas, and the fame they deserved eluded them. Rather than telling their story again, I’ll point you to the three best sources for Barnabas history: Wikipedia, Jerry’s book, and the official fan page.

In 2019, it’s a great time to become a Barnabas fan.

Whereas their catalog before was spread across multiple labels and reissues were of varying quality (usually poor), their albums are all now available in well-made remastered editions, complete with the original cover art, short essays, and lyrics. (They aren’t true remasters, as the original master tapes are long lost–but they still sound great!) You can purchase these from Boone’s Overstock.

Sadly, their music is not available via Bandcamp or streaming platforms yet. (Drop by their Facebook page and give them some gentle encouragement in that area, won’t you?) But you can listen to the non-remastered releases on YouTube:

Find Your Heart A Home

Hear The Light

Approaching Light Speed

Feel The Fire

Little Foxes

Next up: A full exploration of their first album, Hear The Light.

Trust The Process, Enjoy The Walk

Trust the process.

I know most ‘grace people’ don’t like the word ‘process’, but what else do you call it, when you are learning things daily, and you have to walk through it over time?

Every day, you get to learn more about:

how God is good…

how God has the best intentions for you, and his best intentions are better than you can imagine…

how God is absolutely trustworthy, and…

how God is absolute love. Always.

The Christian ‘walk’ is just like…a walk. Walks take time. You have your own personal ‘road to Emmaus’ to walk with the Holy Spirit.

Enjoy the walk. Trust the process.

Living From My Deepest Desires

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

I am learning to live from my deepest desires. Holy Spirit has been asking me, and showing me, what I REALLY want down inside.

I want to be healthy in both mind and body. This body is a temple. I’m finding that deep down inside, I want to take care of it. And Holy Spirit is showing me little changes I can make on a daily basis, to do just that.

I want healthy relationships with family, friends, and those who will become my friends in the future. This has involved rooting out certain unhealthy beliefs and prejudices that were hindering me from growing closer to others.

Deep down inside, I want to be financially healthy. I want to be able to give abundantly and save money in a healthy way, not just be a consumer and CONSUME EVERYTHING. I might even find myself selling things. That would be a miracle. 🙂

Rooting out the Law, the legalism that has plagued my mind for years, along with Gnosticism, has been key here. I’m not making new laws. I’m finding my true desires and going along with them. That’s a HUGE difference. I am not disciplining myself. I am becoming more disciplined by tuning in to what it is I REALLY want. I believe that these things will work out this time, because I am proceeding from love (for myself and others) instead of being problem-focused. Sure, this takes some walking out and working out. But I believe I’m on the right path.

I bless you in your journey to discover your deepest desires, and to walk in them. Let God show you what it is you truly want. It will involve love. It will involve peace. It will involve generosity. It will involve joy.

Take Some Time To Rest

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash
Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

I was so exhausted from religious works. The youth pastor told me, ‘Take some time and just sit in the Father’s lap.’ I asked him what he meant. He repeated himself. He didn’t seem to understand why I didn’t understand him.

At that point I had no grid for enjoying God. ‘Time in God’s presence’ was, for me, an unpleasant ‘quiet time’ in the morning, meant to equip me for whatever work he would have me do that day (usually half-hearted, misguided attempts at ‘ministry’).

I had no understanding of how to enjoy God. And it took a long time before I could do that.

It took some time getting knocked out on the floor, repeatedly, under the power of God, in revival.

It took hearing good (yet challenging) theology from people like John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn and others.

And it’s been a journey since then.

Now I can just relax in His presence. Sure, I would love to get better at not thinking about my next agenda, but I am free for him to enjoy me and for me to enjoy him without strings, without expectations, just me and the Trinity, a love fest without end.

The Gospel

Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash
Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash

So it finally ‘clicked’ for me what ‘the Gospel’ is. I wasn’t entirely convinced that it was ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand’, as one of my friends preaches, because that phrase isn’t in the book of Acts (as far as I know).

But…the early Christians were martyred for declaring ‘Jesus is Lord’ (and by extension, ‘Caesar is not’), which is the same message told from our human perspective. The King says his kingdom is here. We declare Jesus to be king. Same thing.

Paul goes further, declaring ‘Christ and him crucified’, which explains who that king is and what he has done for us.

So there is agreement among the New Testament saints: Jesus is Lord, the Kingdom of Heaven is already here, and Christ has done all the work!

Welcome to the Table

Photo by Leif Inge Fosen on Unsplash
Photo by Leif Inge Fosen on Unsplash

The pastor spoke of ‘radical inclusion’ this morning in the message. It was amazing.

The term ‘non-religious worship’ (I’ve never heard that one before) was also rattling around in my head after the message.

God is always welcoming non-believers, the non-religious, non-card-carrying-members into the fold.

Many of the legalistic, us-four-and-no-more, are going to be unhappy about it, but that’s OK. They are ‘the blind leading the blind’.

The fields are already ripe for the harvest. (John 4:35).

Can we put down our political differences, our racial differences, our sexual differences, our (whatever) differences, and learn to love?

Instead of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, why don’t we stop focusing on hating anything, and learn to love, period?

Paul said in Galatians 1:15-16, “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…”

Paul preached that God was already there inside, before he could make any sort of confession of belief. God showed Paul that Christ was already there in him, and revealed Christ to him as in him.

The seed of Christ is already hidden in every ‘unbeliever’. We who believe, are, through the Holy Spirit, watering that seed, nurturing and growing it, until is sprouts forth into belief.

Holy Spirit is already there in the life of those who don’t know God. “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

God is already there. Can we see others as Christ sees them?, ‘seeing no man according to the flesh?’

Can we welcome ‘others’ into the fold?

I believe we can.

It will take a radical shift of perspective. It may require breaking our religious lenses so we can see with fresh eyes.

But it’s worth it.

To those who believe, welcome to the table.

To those who do not believe, welcome to the table.

Whatever You Want To Do Is Right

In my job, I have often found myself caught up in endlessly revising emails, worrying about the smallest details. At times, it’s quite paralyzing.

One thing that has freed me in recent days is this phrase from the Holy Spirit:

“Whatever you want to do is right.”

That means that if I mess up a word or a punctuation mark in an email, God will make it right. Either people will not see the mistake, or they will understand despite the mistake, or something better will happen. But it doesn’t matter that I made the mistake, because God worked it out.

In the Holy Spirit, we have all of the direction that we need, all of the wisdom that we need, and all of the grace that we need to. So we can go about our lives in confidence instead of fear, because we know that there is grace for mistakes.

We also understand that God gives us holy desires as we walk and rest in him. So we only want to do the things that please God. That doesn’t mean that we don’t mess up, but it does mean that even if we make a mistake, God will make it right.

So if we walk in the Spirit (actively communing with the Holy Spirit at all times), we tend to make mistakes less often…

…but even if we do make mistakes, God makes it right anyway.

There is plenty of grace available at all times, in every situation.

One definition of grace is, ‘God’s supernatural empowerment for life, given to us out of his abundant love.’

Through the shed blood of Christ, we are given a new nature. Our new nature wants to do good. Therefore we have good and holy desires.

Perhaps there are other desires that war inside our minds at times (a subjective truth), but our true desires (an objective truth) are pure.

Therefore, if your true desires are holy, which they are, whatever you want to do is the right thing! So don’t be paralyzed; ask the Holy Spirit what to do and then take action, doing whatever seems right to you.

Then watch as God works both your good decisions and your bad decisions out for good.

You Can’t Escape

michael-jasmund-581395-unsplash
Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash

I was grieving inside. My life over the past few days had been dominated by distraction. I wasn’t reading the Bible as I should, I wasn’t listening to worship music, I wasn’t ‘doing the stuff’ necessary for spiritual growth.

I was afraid.

Afraid of backsliding. Afraid of falling away. Afraid of going back to distractions.

I had spent five years away from grace, forgetting who I was in Christ, time away from what I knew of His Presence, wasted time focused on video games and not much else.

I didn’t want to go back.

I pleaded with God, “Lord, I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to backslide. I’m not doing the things I need to do to grow. I’m scared.”

I saw a circle around me, the Trinity. I saw myself surrounded in a love embrace. I saw myself in a dark room. When I would back away in fear, God’s presence was there.

“Beloved, you can’t get away from me. When you back away from me, you will back right into me. When you run away, you will run right into my arms. When you go, I will follow. I am always here, and will always be with you.”

I put on some worship music and just cried and cried. I was still afraid, but a little less afraid. I knew He wasn’t lying, but I was still grieved. I wasn’t in sin, but I was still worried about distraction.

I went to sleep that night still bothered. Surely God was with me, but if so, why was I having a hard time concentrating on what mattered (the Bible) and an easier time concentrating on what didn’t matter (fiction novels)?

I don’t have an answer for this yet.