Don't Eat the Stew

Movies about the end of the world.
Media manslaughter of the sick and famous.
When opinion is considered more precious than conscience.
Imaginations that protect mankind's illusion from the reality of the true God's existence.
The attempt to scrub off God's fingerprint by equating our value to that of mere animals.
Super Models and Super Heroes. The worship of genetic anomalies.
Sweetly putrid longing for physical gratification.
Obeying the basest instincts on the basis that we're merely instinctual.
Trading our eternal inheritance for earthly satisfaction.

The world is selling mankind a bowl of stew in exchange for their life. People are so dissatisfied with every day that they feel starved. We cry out in hunger, wishing to be filled with all that's dangled in front of us. The smell of instant gratification comes wafting out. Humanity says, "I am about to die, what good is a spiritual inheritance to me now?" Don't eat the stew. But we do anyway.

Soundtracks swell and people's faces sell the emotions we should be feeling.
It's not discomfort at the devaluing of humanity you feel, it's comedy! Laugh it up!
It's only entertainment... until it takes up residence in your mind and you can't evict it.
In silence it multiplies like gremlins, especially when we attempt to sleep.
Alone, knowing we're not alone, but deceiving ourselves further into believing we're alone.
Until we can't escape the isolation. So we bow in surrender to it.
The fear becomes the god. Anything that distracts from that fear becomes love.
Distraction upon distraction, we don't know how we got here.
At some point we can't help ourselves. Somebody needs to pull us out... Help?
But nobody cares because they are too busy distracting themselves from the evil demigod of fear.
Too bad.

But a whimper, a muffled cry, even the tiniest croak of desperation is heard.
We can't help ourselves, we don't know the way.
The Way finds us.
He lifts our eyes to look into His and what we see...
is too much to bear.
We run.
He follows. His pace is steady and patient. Knowing.
As we run we think, what was that we saw or felt or heard?
It smelled like satisfaction but it tasted like the death of something. Of everything I've known.
We can't get the taste off our tongue.
It's like a hope that hurts.

He meets us over and over again. It's as if we never left.
He teaches us to breathe His breath.
He feeds us Himself and gives us the living water until we have the strength to stand.
His gentle ways are so unlike this pushy, manipulative con of a world.
We find out that we've taken all these humans way too seriously.
As if they had the answer to my hunger in their deceptive bowl of stew.
All I need now is His Bread and Water.


Works Without Faith are Dead

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

I've heard the "faith without works is dead" speech so many times that I forgot completely about the first half of the verse. The part that says, "For as the body without the spirit is dead..." A body is a conduit of a person's spirit. Our spirits would have no expression in this world if it weren't for our bodies. Once our bodies die, our spirit has it's only manifestation in eternity. We are no longer represented here in the timeline of earth. How is workless faith like a dead body? It is inconsequential to this world. Like the person that once inhabited the dead body, workless faith may exist in some eternal realm like some heavenly inside joke between you and Jesus, but it isn't doing any earthly good. Even the tiniest bit of trust in the Lord as God represented in you can cause a monumental display like a mountain moving, if only that faith worked here in this realm.

Not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he who does the will of My Father who is in the heavens.    Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, was it not in Your name that we prophesied, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name did many works of power?    And then I will declare to them: I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness. Matthew 7:21-23

How can Jesus say that they were lawless when they were doing powerful things in His name? Well, because to themselves they were working for Jesus but they'd never actually been "hired" by Him. They professed to represent Him but they never got His approval to do what they were doing. It's the same as a person putting on a t-shirt that says "Whole Foods" who is passing out Mcdonalds hamburgers to hungry people and expects to be awarded by the Whole Foods CEO. Maybe what they did wasn't as harmful as what Mcdonalds could do to a vegan's G.I. tract and so God made good come of it. When these imposters saw the good that God did in spite of their infiltration of His name, they pridefully credited it to themselves. Hence their surprise at not being tight with Jesus when they see Him in person. 

Did Jesus command those people to do those works? Were their works done as a result of faith? 

What of faithless works? Those are the Mcdonalds peddlers with their fancy shirts feeding hungry mouths with junk food and telling them it's organic veggies. I did so many stupid things in the name of Jesus back in the day. By His grace it mostly effected my own life and those very close to me. Big, life-altering decisions though, nonetheless. I even got married a couple of times in the name of Jesus! I spent way too much money in the name of Jesus. All that stuff I did for a King and Country that had never asked me to. If I'd been listening to the Lord back then I would have calmed down and stayed put! Instead I crusaded after my own desires and scrawled Jesus' name on them with my own handwriting. Those things I did were dead works. The wood, hay and stubble that God will mercifully burn off my record when I enter His presence. 

Dead works are works that mean nothing. They do not profit us and cannot be accredited any eternal value at all. When we stand before our Creator and answer for all the works we've done, we can't point to those things and get even the tiniest eyebrow lifted on the Father's face. Inconsequential and pointless; they are futile works. Vain and meaningless works. It's as though we are on a treadmill and expect to arrive somewhere a mile away when we are finished with our jog. Were we surprised when we got off the thing and we hadn't moved an inch? All that WORK for nothing? Dead works.

Will faith in Jesus Christ lead us to do good deeds? There's no doubt about it! But first thing's first. Let's check in with the Master and see what He has for us. Maybe He'll say your first assignment is to lay down and get well. Heal from the sin that had me bound? Lay here and get to know You? "But I'm not sick, Lord! I can work! Lemme at 'em!" Oh yes, and He'll let you do your thing for a while. If He chooses to show you mercy, He'll even let you fall on your face in front of everyone and get divorced a couple times maybe. He'll even give you a big hug and kiss when you come slogging home in your pig-mucked tatters having spent everything He gave you. After you see what a hopeless case you are without Him you may decide to receive some faith. 

Faith comes by hearing Jesus, by trusting Jesus, by resting in Jesus, and by doing it over and over again. We believe or we don't. If we do stuff for Him before we believe Him, it's not going to bring His Life to us. Those works will end in the death of our purpose, the death of our calling and the death of our relationship with our Lord. People go on working for a Person they've never even heard from and expect Him to just be happy with the amazing things they've done. But it's only God's good work if it comes from Him through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. If it has it's source, strength, and sustenance in Christ alone, then it is a faith-filled work.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalms 32:8


Not Nobody

Magazines always call out to me in the checkout line. The latest celebrity drama is blown out of proportion and photographs are tailored and taken out of context to add more intrigue. I look at the new headlines and snapshots of people I've never met. Then I look around at the store, full of sweaty summer people buying things for the Fourth of July weekend. You would never see us on those magazine covers. But our lives are just as interesting to the unseen realm. Forces of darkness even take an interest in us. But I've noticed lately that those who are invisible to the world's eyes can show up brightly on Heaven's radar.

Faith is the name of Heaven's magazine and there are images of people who are sold out and surrendered to Jesus. The faithful humans' reckless abandon to a God they can't see must cause a great commotion in a place where they have the answers to our existential questions. Like a kid holding the answer card while another kid tries so hard to win a point for the team. The heavenly host must be on the edge of their seats as we discover the mysterious truths of eternity that are so obvious to them. What will this simple creation do next?

What's making headlines in God's checkout line? Maybe we'd read stuff like this: "Little girl believes in Christ even after enduring years of abuse by the enemy" or "After eighty years of walking in Christ, man finally receives his miracle" or perhaps, "College kid resists temptation and seeks Jesus against crippling opposition"...

But we are tempted to buy the illusion that we are "nobodies". [Insert name of any famous guy], now he's the one people want to see, not me! If we aren't on a magazine cover or recognized by media in some way then we are nobodies. That is a huge lie. We are so deeply known. There is nothing hidden and nothing is private. From the atoms of our organs to the thoughts we entertain, we are known through and through. That's how God knows us. Also, we can hide very little from our unseen enemy.

We think behind our screens that we are in a place where no one is watching. Our curtains are shut and our lights are off. The night has shrouded the world in darkness. We are protected by our freedoms in this great country. No one can touch us without our permission. Monitoring technology and a tax-paid police force watch over us as we sleep. Somehow we think we are alone then. Alone with our thoughts, they say.

Celebrities know what it's like to be flashed in the pupils with a paparazzi invasion. They may know better than us that we are never alone. Somebody always has a camera, ready to capture a moment of their valuable face. Surely if they step out of line even a little their career could be muddied and their PR may be put to the test. So much at stake for those celebrities.

But what about for us? Heaven watches. Does that make you uncomfortable? In the shower, Heaven watches. Don't forget that we were naked in the Garden once and unashamed. Just because we wear clothes now doesn't mean our souls aren't laid bare before our Creator.

What headlines do we read in the bible? People whose lives were a picture of Christ and whose faith was a gift that echoes through eternity. Why do we mess around with this fascination that celebrities are the lucky ones? They get all the money and fame and recognition of this world. Shouldn't we be afraid for them? How devastating to think that they, themselves, believe this lie that they are more significant. My prayer is that they will feel the emptiness of riches and not let it destroy them, and that they will question themselves. I hope I never find myself jealous of people who are widely adored by this world, but that I'll always long to be someone who makes God smile. Nothing could be more famous than being seen by God.