be fish

June 16, 2021 2 comments

So often we are too full of what we think should be happening to us in our spiritual formation to notice what God is actually teaching us. We must be still enough, simple enough, humble enough, to let him plan the course, and use whatever opportunities there may be for our instruction.

We must not think as we progress in prayer everything will necessarily become much more overtly holy. What it will become is more simple, more humble, more actual.

St. Ambrose gave his congregation some very good advice. Using the old Christian symbol, he compared them in this stormy world to fish swimming in the sea. And to them too he said: “Be a fish.” We must learn how not to be swamped by the situations that we find ourselves in. We must learn how to get through them with a minimum of damage, and a maximum of profit.

One aspect of this is simply learning to get through situations, and not always to want to take them with us. There is a story told of two monks in Japan, “traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. ‘Come on, girl,’ said Tanza at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Okito did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. ‘We monks don’t go near females,’ he told Tanzan, ‘especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?’ ‘I left the girl there,’ said Tanzan. ‘Are you still carrying her?’ “

We must learn to pass through situations like a fish, rather than carrying them all with us like a snail. We should certainly emerge with a little bit more experience of life, there is no need to carry more with us than we have to—each situation carries quite enough trouble with it by itself!

—From Prayer by Simon Tugwell

Tugwell presents a beautiful concept that is not always popular with us modern-day Christians. It’s this whole idea of our being “fish” that doesn’t always sit well.  We want to believe we were designed and built to thrive and fulfill our own destinies—in our own strength—all while still conveniently living under the protection and “influence” of Christ.  But we “fish” are also suffocating under the pressures of life’s sometimes muddy or turbulent waters.

I wonder if fish panic and fret over muddy or turbulent waters?

I wonder if fish think, “something is wrong!” when they encounter any kind of threat?

I wonder if fish would rather live their existence in a sterile environment of privileged perfection (i.e. the aquarium) without stretching, challenges, or even mystery. Or would they rather brave the vast and wild uncertainty of rivers, lakes, and seas?

St. Ambrose was definitely onto something worth pondering.

“Be fish!” —MDP

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tendeth to peace?

June 9, 2021 2 comments

All desire peace, but they do not care for the things that pertain to true peace.

A peaceable man doth more good than he that is well learned.

Peace consisteth rather in true humility, than in self-exaltation.

A good and peaceable man turneth all things to good. He that is in peace is not suspicious of any. But he that is discontented and troubled is tossed with divers (various & questionable) suspicions: he is neither quiet himself, nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often speaketh that which he ought not to speak; and leaveth undone that which is more expedient for him to do. He considereth what others are bound to do, and neglecteth that which he is bound to do himself.

O how good is it, and how it tendeth to peace, to be silent about other men, and not to believe at random all that is said, nor eagerly to report what we have heard. How good it is to lay one’s self open to few, and always to be seeking after thee who are the searcher of the heart. Nor should we be carried about with every wind of words, but we should desire that all things both within and without, be accomplished according to the pleasure of thy will.

—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

This last paragraph, written by Kempis, is killer! The rest of it is pretty dang good also, but those last few sentences peel back the religious facades of modern-day church people. Kempis reminds us that we preach peace, but we don’t live in peace. We don’t live in peace because of the messages we absorb, the things we do, and the ways we think. Kempis wrote these prophetic truths long ago… but, wowzah! Does it ever hit the mark now!

Are we “silent” about other people we may or may not agree with?

It’s doubtful.

Do we automatically and randomly agree with every ill-willed word towards one another, especially when that person is on the “other side” of what we think and believe?

It’s probable.

What about eagerly reporting that ill-will?

Hmmmm. Yeah… more than likely.

How far are we carried from peace by every “wind of words?”

Our favorite news (entertainment) sources, media, online personalitiesthey all keep us reeling in absolute terror and seething frustration (mostly anger and anxiety). We see the boogieman everywhere! Have you ever read of Jesus’ screaming about his freedom or rights or the loss of his own personal liberty?

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). It appears that we’ve never heard this before.

Who has your ear and your heart? The latest report from the “authoritative crowd?” Or the Spirit of peace and joy?

Are you sure about that? —MDP

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i’m going to wait

June 2, 2021 8 comments

Nicole (my eldest and mother of William the Warrior) sent me a link to this worship video, and said… “This has been my “go to” for the last six weeks.” Are you feeling anxious… panicky… stressed beyond measure? Try this. These kids rock these truths. Unbelievable talent. Incredible message. Let this roll over you. If it’s not your cup o’ tea, that’s okay too. It beyond refreshing to see this kind of energy from young people. Evidently not all millennials are bored with God. It’s wonderful! —MDP

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God in my pocket

To make way for a new birth of authentic being, we are not only willing, but even eager to give up present habits and imperfections and prejudices. No matter how far we have moved in the Christian life, we can still know that every opinion we hold and every act we perform is something less than the best. We never have the Holy Spirit in our pockets, completely domesticated and supporting everything we are doing. Any such sanctifying of personal imperfections is an obstacle to further growth. Instead of clutching fiercely to my foibles and fallacies, I had better cultivate the ability to change my mind, my political opinions, and my lifestyle when it becomes clear that this is the will of God.

—From Liberation of Life by Harvey and Lois Seifert

One of my top 10 favorite movies is, “Kingdom of Heaven,” (2005). Yet, there are moments in the film that can set you on edge. The setting is ancient Jerusalem during the Crusades. One scene is particularly chilling: outnumbered (and a long way from home), a Euro-Christian army is rousing itself to pick a fight with superior Muslim forces for control of Jerusalem. The cry from “church” authority to validate this unnecessary war is painfully telling: GOD WILLS IT! In response, the army shouted, “GOD WILLS IT!” In truth, it was man who willed it, though God was given both credit and blame, and the “Christian” army was completely annihilated. The assuming arrogance of shouting the words, “GOD WILLS IT,” evoked an unforeseen justice. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. She doesn’t make biased choices (nor should she). Shouting, “GOD WILLS IT,” isn’t a magical potion ensuring your “win.”

If only this movie were just a grand fictional tale.

This cry to battle happens all of the time: “GOD WILLS IT!”

Are we certain about that?

The Seiferts remind us that we have a duty to follow the lead of our Source of life. We can get sucked into the muck if man’s systems provide our only beacons of direction. I realize we’re easily persuaded by the passions and emotions of societal addictions to power and nationalism, but I don’t ever remember reading in scripture that God belongs to a certain faith affiliation, a particular political party, or any specific nationality, race, color, or creed. Yet, we consistently think, “Our side” is owed favor, protection, and unwavering fealty, while everything NOT on our side can go straight to hell! What is this? Do we think, “We have the Holy Spirit in our pockets?” Are we certain that our certainties are certain? 

I like this offering from the Seiferts because they suggest that the maturation process of following Christ should be, “cultivating and developing” our willingness to change. I realize we hate change.  But we stop growing the moment we no longer allow ourselves to be vulnerable to change. Judgment and polarizing opinion do not change anything. 

The thing is — with time, patience, and unbiased eyes — it might actually be possible to discern the will of God. But we should not just assume the “crowd” (apply your favorite power label here) has cornered the market on truth, righteousness, and what’s right for the good of everyone else. Yes, you have a strong opinion.  But what is Jesus saying? What is the Spirit doing? Are you too certain that you understand the will of God? —MDP

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bitter coffee

May 19, 2021 2 comments

By way of encouragement, God tells us in scripture: “I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart…” (Ezek. 11:19). But I’m still waiting, asking myself when and how will this happen.

In our community the other day there wasn’t much coffee.

Coffee does me good down here in the desert… it helps me… I am old.

I was worried about not having any, about spending a few hours feeling dull and weak, and so—without perceiving the evil I was doing—I went into the kitchen before the others and drank up all that was left.

Afterwards, having suffered all day and made my confession, I thought in shame of my selfishness, of the ease with which I had excluded my two brothers from those black, bitter remains.

It seems a tiny thing, yet in that cup of coffee, taken and not shared with my brothers, is the root of all the evil which disturbs us, the poison of all the arrogance which selfishness, riches, and power create.

The difference between me and Jesus is right here, in an affair that seems simple but isn’t at all; after a whole lifetime it is still there to make you think. Jesus would have left the coffee for his brothers; I excluded my brothers.

No, it isn’t easy to live with hearts like ours: let us confess it.

—From The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

I love Carlo Carretto’s writing. His confession is painful to read, only because I’ve done it a million times myself. Few people would ever want the coffee I willingly drink.  But it’s never really about the coffee, is it? Of all the “tiny” things we hoard unto ourselves, it shows our own willingness to make life about “me.”  That’s a big issue these days.  I’m not talking about self-care, healthy self-consciousness, or reverencing the temple of God. I’m talking about a mental and heart callousness that only sees life through a lens that considers “me” first… in everything.

It seems we’re not convinced there’s any good (or God) in us at all. How many selfies do we have to post in order to convince ourselves (and everyone else) that we’re okay… that we’re beautiful… or smart… or in the flow of positive light and love? We gorge and hoard “ourselves” because we’re not convinced.  We don’t trust what we know in our hearts or see with our own eyes. And maybe that is the problem. We just don’t know.

Carretto pretty much nails it in this little story, and he’s right: “[…] it isn’t easy to live with hearts like ours.” He’s also right about what Jesus would have done. Not just about the coffee, but the whole idea of getting-life-by-giving-life mantra. Our biases have us so selective, and so exclusively focused, that we rarely consider anything outside of our own intellectual or emotional packages as being legit, relevant, or important (INCLUDING: RELIGION, POLITICS, JUSTICE OR SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS). This addiction to making my life about “me” has massive drawbacks that we can’t even imagine. It’s harmful to the entire human flow.

The thing is, God will allow you to make your life about “you,” because we have free will.  And God will still love you regardless. But it is shrinking your world.  You might think that making everything about “you” makes life bigger, better, more exciting, sexier, smarter, or more interesting, but it’s a nasty little lie. Hang around people who have made life about themselves long enough, and you’ll be bored within 10 minutes. Spend time with people who choose to give their lives away daily, and you’ll feel the vastness of their spirit. Rohr calls these people, “larger-than-life people.” These are the people who live out of the mystic fragrance of Christ.

What are we to do? How do we reverse this ugly obsession of ours? Being aware that life isn’t about “me” is probably the right first-step. —MDP

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are you prayer?

May 12, 2021 2 comments

Most of us grew up saying prayers, reading prayers, or listening to others praying. Few of us were challenged to “be” prayer. There is a difference between a person who says prayers and a prayerful person. It is the difference between something we do and something we are.

Do you know someone who “is” a prayer? He or she is probably someone who views life in a different way than most—someone who seems to have found a way to be aware of God’s presence in an ongoing way.

We are called as Christian people to be present in each moment in order to experience that God’s time and our time have intersected. We are called to practice the presence of God. It is this for which our hearts yearn.

Most of us grew up saying prayers, reading prayers, or listening to others praying. Few of us were challenged to “be” prayer. There is a difference between a person who says prayers and a prayerful person. It is the difference between something we do and something we are.

Do you know someone who “is” a prayer? He or she is probably someone who views life in a different way than most—someone who seems to have found a way to be aware of God’s presence in an ongoing way.

We are called as Christian people to be present in each moment in order to experience that God’s time and our time have intersected. We are called to practice the presence of God. It is this for which our hearts yearn.

—Ron DelBene, “A Simple Way to Pray,” Weavings

DelBene is offering something here that few seldom consider. I would never discount anyone’s prayers.  In fact, how you pray is a personal privilege. Yet, I often wonder, how far do our prayers reach? Rhythms of systematic prayer can be very helpful in giving us a guideline on how to loosen the confines of restrictive time. But what Delbene is saying here is that our words in prayer are not more important than hearing His words in prayer. God has something to say to us despite our deepest and most dramatic longing to “inform” God with our prayers. There is another perspective, another way, another track that we might need to ponder in laying out our joys, concerns, and grievances. If we listen closely, we might find out that the splinters in our neighbors’ or our enemy’s eyes (the ones we want to make sure that God truly sees and understands) only look that way because of the planks and rods in our own eyes. Are we certain that we really understand all the intricacies of complex politics and human nature? Prayer that “hears” more than it “says” should often be challenging and changing our worldviews, our compassion levels, and building our thirst for relational unity and peace. Getting still in the presence of God should be sanding us down and rounding our edges. Yes, tell God your problems. But, wait around long enough to hear if you are part of those problems. —MDP

(The ministry of intercession is a different animal altogether, and most true intercessors have been trained that hearing is paramount to speaking. Serious intercessors work hard to pray prayers that they sense are in alignment with the moving flow and will of the Spirit of God. Literally, it’s like praying the words of the Holy Spirit.) —MDP

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critical solidarity

Jesus in his solidarity with the marginal ones is moved to compassion. Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness. In the arrangement of “lawfulness” in Jesus’ time, as in the ancient empire of Pharoah, the one unpermitted quality of relation was compassion. The norms of law (social control) are never accommodated to persons, but persons are accommodated to the norms. Otherwise the norms will collapse and with them the whole power arrangement. Thus the compassion of Jesus is to be understood not simply as a personal emotional reaction but as a public criticism in which he dares to act upon his concern against the entire numbness of his social context. —From The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

I have never considered this aspect of Jesus’ compassion. Considering his constant attack upon the blindness of the religious establishment, I think it’s prudent to concur with Brueggemann’s understanding on this. Anything we do that mirrors the nature and character of the Christ pretty much confronts that social “numbness” and lethargy of institutional religion. —MDP

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humility

October 19, 2020 15 comments

I know I promised to be more frequent in my posting on this site… but, it’s just loony-tunes around here right now.  You probably get a lot of stuff to fill your inbox, but if you actually want the stuff I’m putting out weekly for the churches I pastor… send me your email or text your info to me.  I’m doing a thing called: Touching Home Plate.  It’s basically the best of my weekly devotional studies.  There’s some “church stuff” in it, but mostly great thoughts, stretches, and a lot of Jesus counter-energy to the religious crap you know I love. ; )

Here’s a little something I read earlier this morning on humility. I preached yesterday on the kind of humility that is necessary for real community—social and spiritual. I like these thoughts from today’s reading. Honestly, you’ve got to get past the first sentence, but don’t let it shut you down.  Pretty good stuff.

Much love!  Be good at loving everyone.

Mike    

254-744-0126 /mike@mikepaschall.com

Basically, humility is the attitude of one who stands constantly under the judgment of God. It is the attitude of one who is like the soil. Humility comes from the Latin word humus, fertile ground. The fertile ground is there, unnoticed, taken for granted, always there to be trodden upon. It is silent, inconspicuous, dark and yet it is always ready to receive any seed, ready to give it substance in life. The lowlier, the more fruitful, because it becomes really fertile when it accepts all the refuse of the earth. It is so low that nothing can soil it, abase it, humiliate it; it has accepted the last place and it cannot go any lower. In that position nothing can shatter the soul’s serenity, its peace and joy.

—From Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom

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GOD is in CONTROL

July 22, 2020 4 comments

How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him? —Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 7:11

Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God’s control behind everything, which means that the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Notion your mind with the idea that God is there. If once the mind is awakened along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember—Why, my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort; it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of the Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle—God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?

There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

—by Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 16.

I cut my teeth with devotional readings back in 1978. Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter filled my mind and heart with brilliant writing and spiritually deep teaching. I was a “brand new” follower of Jesus. I didn’t know enough to question his thoughts on anything, so I chewed fast and swallowed hard. But that is what immature believers are supposed to do. It’s part of the process to fill their spiritual containers, and I’m certainly grateful for everything thing I learned from Dr. Baxter, my beloved first spiritual mentor, Dr. H. D. McCarty and countless other men and women who sowed faithfully into my thirsty soul.

Years later, I was introduced to Oswald Chambers. That’s also been a sweet blessing—feeding my spiritual hunger for many hears. His writing, what you just read, was something I wanted to elaborate on today. Quite often I hear Jesus people say, “God is in control.” Oswald mentioned it in his opening remarks of the reading above. I can see where Oswald is going with his thought, but most of the time, I don’t really trust what I think people are saying when I hear “God is in control.” To be candid about it, I get the feeling that people are good with the notion that “God is in control” as long as they get what they want… or they can’t really explain why they didn’t get what they want. I always picture this as our way of trying to rationalize what we can’t possibly understand. The tone of how we say “God is in control” has a weirdness in it… like we’re the Lollipop kids, and God is behind the curtain pulling levers, blowing smoke, and micro-managing everything from the Emerald City headquarters. Honestly, it doesn’t sit right with me, but if it works for you… fine by me.

GOD IS IN CONTROL!

Yes, God is sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. BUT we have a will. We have been given choice, and freedom, and liberty to make our choices… to a point. We decide things socially and even restrict ourselves because we feel the greater good demands healthy boundaries. To be honest, I’ve been a little surprised about how we “Jesus followers” have been in our personal anti-mask campaigns during this pandemic in our country. Sure, it’s your right to say “no” to such a small and simple thing, but wearing a mask is such a small and simple thing, and could actually be helpful in curbing a really big problem out there. (Very few things in life are really about us… unless we make it about us. Why do we make it about us? Where is our grace for everyone else’s concern?) I don’t actually remember, but I’d have to guess that people lost their minds when seat-belt laws went into effect, but it was for the greater good. Statisticians, researchers, scientist, hordes of moms who had buried their children because of auto accidents, and the medical community all agreed that it might save lives. Not every time, but it does save lives. So, we comply, and buckle up, or suffer the consequences.  I’m not sure how wearing a mask in self-governance or in consideration of others is any different?

I’m sure some of you are about to tell me.

Back to my original thoughts: God is not micro-managing all our affairs, but as Oswald went on to say, “the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust, and an eagerness to ask and to seek,” which seems to align more with what I’m trying to say.

I was a fearful kid. There were a lot of good reasons for that, but another time… another tale. Fear got in the way of a lot of things for me. My dad was a super athlete and I wanted to be the same, but a lot of times I was defeated by fear before I ever got started. As a child, I played baseball. I had great eye-hand coordination, enough strength and agility, but fear is no friend while on the baseball diamond, or football field, or any other contact sport. Going to the plate with a bat in my hand was tormenting. I was afraid, and it’s almost impossible to stand at the plate and really dig-in and be ready to hit. To add pressure, my dad was my coach for a couple years. He was plenty patient with me, but when a kid is afraid it takes special tactics to help them overcome the internal terror. Eventually, I grew out of a lot of those fears, but not during Pee Wee and Little League baseball.

I specifically remember my dad trying to help me hit a curve ball. Holy-moly what a nightmare for an 11-year-old kid who is afraid of being hit by a baseball. My dad had been coaching youth baseball for a while, and he had a lot of older guys that were playing baseball as young adults. So, he brought in one of his much older guys to throw batting practice to the team. Nothing but curveballs! Help me Jesus! Dad knew I was afraid, but I still went to the plate… trembling. He got me in hitting position (without a bat) and then my dad stood right behind me… actually his belly up against my back. Billy threw curveballs right at me, but I couldn’t retreat, I couldn’t back up, I couldn’t bail out of the box… nothing. Dad didn’t move until he felt me stop flinching. “Watch it break Mike?  See the spin? Can you see it? Watch it. See it? You got it Son. That’s it.” Once he handed me a bat… I was able to respond to the challenges of trying to hit a curveball without diving for my life.

Here’s my point: My dad wasn’t in control (I still had the freedom to react, even in flinching fear)… he was PRESENT. It was his presence that helped me get over my fear and timidity in a fearful situation. I still had the full and absolute ability to jerk, move, dodge, or I could step toward the pitch and wait for the ball to break over the strike zone, but my father’s presence affirmed where the ultimate wall of security stood. I’m absolutely convinced that God is our powerful and awesome wall of ultimate security. “God is in control,” okay… that’s engrained in your vernacular, and I’ll give you that, but God isn’t controlling nor is God a micro-manager of all our little plans and schemes. Some messes you get yourself into. Some blessing come into your life because you were a blessing first and showed some love. Somethings are just the byproduct of natural and simple living in an unfathomable ocean of massive differences. Our battle is for trust. Can we believe, can we trust, can we rest in the ultimate goodness of God? That goodness is EVERYWHERE. You are free to find out for yourself.

Love you all… masked or not!

Mike

LIVE IN THE MAGNIFICENT TRUTH THAT GOD LOVES US ALL!

BE GOOD AT LIFE!

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gain

July 11, 2020 4 comments

Howdy. I realize that I haven’t posted in a long time, but since this COVID thing hit, I’ve spent most of my words on my people in the two churches I pastor. I haven’t on purpose tried to ignore this blog. It’s just been crazy.  I don’t mind sharing the stuff with you that I share with my people… not at all.  If you want on that email list… just ask… you shall receive (mike@mikepaschall.com).  I’ll try to do better.

Here’s a thing… (yeah, just a thing) I was processing with a couple friends.  I wasn’t trying to take it anywhere, but it honestly burped out, and I’ve been told it was worth reading… so here.  Love you all—MDP

I’m writing in an effort to think through something I was reading earlier this morning in I CORINTHIANS 9.  (Sorry, I process sometimes with ink.) Fairly familiar verses for people who read the Bible:

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
 
Evidently, Paul felt it his duty, responsibility, privilege to be a witness.  He called himself a slave.  He uses the word “win” in my NASB translation.  An unfortunate translation of the word.  “Gain for another’s benefit” is a more accurate understanding.  “Winning” is power-over verbiage that is more about “me”.  I’m so over our culture’s love of “me” AND “winning.”
 
Paul basically says that he’ll pimp out to be whatever is necessary to “gain” followers of Christ.  In other words, if the Jewish boys want to play Flys and Skinners… I’ll play Flys and Skinners, etc.  I get it.  For a recovering Pharisee… this is good progress for Paul.
 
Then he says, “but those who are without the law” (pagan/Gentiles/dirtbags/losers) he points to the key in relating to them … “I have to come with a different influence… a different kind of juice.”  Again, good progress for Paul (recovering religionist himself). He mentions the influence has to come from the Law of Christ.  There is NO LAW of Christ…. not technically or doctrinally anyway.  What we have here is something that I think the church is grossly short of… the real influence of Jesus’ personality, character, and life skills.  The best explanation that I have is that Jesus did confront the religious i.e. power establishment, but he didn’t try to topple them… he only expose their shallow impotence….”smells and bells” or “nickles and noses” religious infatuation. It wasn’t real, because God wasn’t in it.  The system in Jesus day was a business that exploited and robbed the poor of what little it had.  Some days I’m not sure that we’ve progressed much further. (I need to be drinking in order to enter that conversation any deeper).
 
Here’s my bottom-line: We have to be ruthlessly forceful to examine ourselves by this so called “Law of Christ”.  Can we assume that religious activity is in compliance at some level?  I think not.  We have to look at the human Jesus, and tap into his kind of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, second chances, restorative justice and long-suffering. His humanness perfectly revealed the real heart of God.  So much of who Jesus was was in direct opposition to what we’d call God worshipers.  Jews at the time, were the planet’s best… and Jesus looked NOTHING like them.
 
Back to Paul… the key to pushing to ball forward in our lives has to be the true character of Christ transforming us.  Not law, not doctrine, not religion… none of that.  There is only one savior in this world.  One.  We have to put all our chips on HIM.  Everything else. Everyone else…. is sinking sand. Do we look like, act like, think like Jesus?  There was nothing in the Beatitudes that was normal thinking for them. It’s an indicator of how far off track God worshipers had gotten in their modes of operation.  Quite frankly, I think the Church has lost its way too.  I know what little bit I see… makes it me feel like a salmon swimming up stream sometimes.  Jesus actually fillets the Pharisees with:  “You polish the outside of the dish and bowl… but inside you’re full of robbery and deceit… you’ve totally ignored the weightier provisions of the Law: Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness” (Matt 23:23).  Yup… He took them to the woodshed.  Needed.  It’s still needed. How many times did Jesus say… “You’ve heard it said… [       ] BUT, I say to you… [        ].”  Quite often actually.  God with skin exposing the rampant blindness of religious activity.
 
For me my brother… I’ve got to measure things by Jesus.  That was/is the true divine voice. That’s our source.  He’s our head.  Period.
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