At least from my good intentions to stay or become politically correct earlier this year, as I unfortunately will have to prove with this post.
A few years back we still had "once-a-week Christians:" Even if you didn't see or hear any sign of your fellow brethren throughout the week, you could be sure to meet them somewhere among the pews on Sundays.
That Christianity may be in somewhat of a decline again may be assumed by the fact that the surge of "once-a-year Christians" is becoming alarmingly evident.
Folks you never heard of for 364 days straight, now will at least send you their Christmas emails as a reminder that there was something you had in common, namely the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.
The notorious party pooper I am perhaps, I was never all too fond of that sort of relationship, religion, tradition, or whatever you'd like to call it (since it couldn't possibly be called anything like genuine friendship)...
While it is probably better to hear from (some) folks once a year than never at all, what takes a bit of the magic out of the whole thing is that it does come across as somewhat stereotype.
Blame it on my distaste for any type, shape or form of ritualism ever since I got an overdose of Catholicism as a boy that quickly drove me to atheism (if God was like that: no thanks!), but I just can't get warm with people using the same words over and over and over again to express something which seems to represent the very role you played in their lives over the previous dozen of months, the equivalent of which, in numerical terms would be zero.
So, here's to all the zeroes of the world who are only remembered by their friends and relatives on that special day on which we celebrate the event that marks the year Zero...
And if you feel like a zero, cheer up! The Guy born that day didn't amount to much more in terms of bank accounts, Facebook friends and followers on Twitter, either, latest by the time He hung on that cross 33 years later, when He was able to count the friends He still had left that day on the fingers of one hand with room to spare...
So, nevermind if I'm not sending any of you any Christmas greetings this year: I only mean to do you a favor.
If I didn't write you all year long, then shame on me. But I certainly wouldn't want to make matters worse by sending you a mass mail equal to the ones from previous years, not to mention those of the dears who had exactly the same idea... or lack thereof...
I might send you a note on Holy Friday, though, to remind you that even when you don't have a friend in the world left, there's always Someone Who knows exactly what you're going through, and that that was the purpose for which He had been born: to be there for you when no one else will be.
The time may come. You may not see it now, but at the rate not only (true) Christianity, but things like lasting friendship and interhuman relationship are on the decline, don't be too shocked if it might even happen to you one of these days...
The main part I’ve done for a living over the past 30 years, ever since I left my mother’s home in 1980, was even more outrageous and less believable that “play music.” What I’ve mostly done over the past 3 decades to sustain myself and my families, was to trust the Lord.
Often I’ve been trying to get away from that, and been looking for ways to be able to do just like everybody else: be comfortably relying on my own strengths and wit and fend for myself, as opposed to depending on some obscure, invisible Supreme Being we really know rather little about to be trusting Him with all our bills, our meals and a roof over our house.
Oddly enough, obscure and invisible or not, He has chosen to do so anyway, and has just been doing it (seeing to it that our bills were paid, moths fed, etc.), despite my own often less than appropriate skills and abilities to provide, and even the shocking fact that most of what I do in order to make it happen when I do, is play music.
It was outrageous enough, but infinitely less difficult back 30 years ago, in 1980, when I was young, optimistic and the world had not yet been drowned in the type of plastic entertainment that has managed to make them practically allergic to actual handcrafted music in the 21st century.
The doors were open wide, and it was easy to be optimistic that things were going to just keep getting better.
There were situations that looked desperate, yes; like the time our car broke down right on the main transit street through Barcelona, and we had to unhook the trailer, park in a tiny little side niche on the side of the road which became our home for the next few days. Me and my American partner Phillip took our guitars to the streets and did what we could to little avail, except for the pity of some merciful old lady that would occasionally toss a tiny coin in our guitar case. But at one point, some guy came up to us, interrupted us in the middle of a song, and after a few minutes we found ourselves booked for a whole week in an exclusive club called “Incontro.” A week later, our car was fixed and we rolled on southward.
A year later I found myself having to fend for myself in Vina del Mar, Chile, a place where the familiar luxuries of Europe were frighteningly absent, but even there God did what I couldn’t and supplied abundantly for all the needs I ever had.
Years later I found myself with a family, kids to feed and bills to pay, and God kept doing it.
Lately I’ve found myself having to fend for myself again, and it’s 3 decades later and the world has changed into a state that sometimes makes me wonder, “Alas, is the Almighty still going to manage and keep doing IT?”
Well, as of the news I got from Him this morning, He obviously intends to do so. Good news for me, since I’m just about as clueless about the business world and the art of making money as I’ve ever been – and that in the middle of the world in which just about everyone else does that and absolutely nothing – or at least not much – else.
The good part about it being that God, over the years, has become a little less obscure and unknown to me, even though I admit, it’s still sometimes a little hard to see Him in all the hubbub and confusion all around me, and every now and then it does cost me a little effort to trust that He’s really serious or in His right mind about it all – or whether I am, until He assures me, as usual, that everything’s going to be alright.
In fact, He’s not crazy at all, nor does He want me to believe that I am, but actually encourages me to let others know that He wants to take care of them and their needs, too, as unbelievable as that may sound.
When it all comes down to it, He already provides all we need in the first place: every breath of oxygen we breathe, every swig of water we drink, along with all the raw material for our food, nourishment and fuel to keep our vehicles moving and out houses warm and lit.
It’s just that instead of granting Him the credit for it, we prefer to ascribe all that benevolence to an even more obscure and questionable deity, namely coincidence or chance, that brought about all that opulence simply by itself. Man, are we one lucky species to be alive!
So, what do I do for a living? Well, mainly, I trust the Lord. I’ve done it yesterday and 30 years ago, am doing it today, and will keep on doing it tomorrow and for as long as I live. I can do no other. I simply haven’t learned anything else.
I can't get over the loyalty thing. Compare it to someone who has never wasted a second thought about trucks until one fine day he gets run over by one, or about terrorists, until he is being abducted or something...
Something you never devoted attention to, all of a sudden becomes paramount.
If you look at it from a spiritually historical point of view, all the evil in the world falls back down onto a loyalty issue, namely Lucifer's. If he had remained loyal, there would be no sin, and accordingly, most likely, no evil.
But I guess that wasn't the plan. After all, those lessons on loyalty must be learned eventually...
Another issue I never wasted a second thought on for decades, or that I had simply put in a mental drawer of "does not exists" or "there is no such thing," is that of soul mates.
A year ago or two I met a Christian couple who told me they believed they were each other's soul mates. "Interesting," I thought, but as far as I was concerned, there couldn't really have been such a thing. (In my particular situation, it was always, “Maybe you’re not; maybe you are…")
Relationships were just bound to be messy, that's all, I figured, and the "Soul Mates" thing was a nice thought, and I was happy for them, but my personal reality was a different one.
Strangely enough, God often uses the darkest nights in our lives only to bring about a sunrise as bright and golden as you had never before thought possible in this earthly life in an, after all, often questionable world, obviously temporarily run by His adversary.
I know now there is such a thing as Soul Mates, because lo and behold, I've found mine. Not exactly where I would have been looking for her, but then, life is always full of surprises. Maybe you'll hear more about this in the future.
Yet another topic my mind is currently dealing with is the sin of avarice.
Imagine you were the Creator and Father of every living soul and would have to watch how over ten thousand of them were starving to death daily because their richer brothers and sisters were simply too stingy to share even a fraction of their overly proportionate wealth with them, making it their philosophy that the world would actually be better off with a significantly smaller population. I bet it would certainly become an issue to you.
Living in a country where big corporations even advertise their relatively low-priced goods with slogans like “Stinginess is cool!” (“Geiz ist geil!”), as usual I’m probably a lone voice (of widely considered insanity) in the wilderness even wasting a thought on such issues, let alone web space, but I simply cannot leave any potential serious seekers of truth dwelling in the illusion that everything is just fine with us and our world.
People always blame God for the suffering of the world, when it becomes clear, after taking off our spectacles of self-righteousness, that it's really largely the evil in our own hearts that's responsible for it. Maybe some day we'll find out that even natural disasters are being caused by our own bad vibes that we're spewing off into the ether. I wouldn't be a bit surprised.
Anyway, these are, as always, just a few thoughts from a mole who's just breaking through the end of a long dark tunnel into the light, in an attempt to cheer up any of those out there still digging: Folks, there's light at the other end, and it's worth it!
I've always believed in the power of two. Well, nearly always. Sometimes you're actually better off alone than with the wrong company. But basically, when you've got 2 souls with more or less the same vision and goals, according to the Old Testament, it quintuples a person's strength in battle.
The problem is that when you've gotten used to this modus operandi of two-by-two, when one of your "motors" flunks out, and you're stuck again on your own, it reduces your power back to one fifth of what by then you might have gotten used to. So, you feel pretty much reduced to a sausage. Folks who've undergone separation will know what I'm talking about. The others won't have a clue, just as I didn't until it happened to me.
The power of two is great, but don't necessarily rely on it as infallible, because as long as there's another human involved, you simply need to take into consideration that this is only a temporary arrangement, even if you happen to be as lucky to have found someone who meant what they said when they swore, "Till death do us part." - There is still that uncontrollable death factor. But even that is probably not as painful as when someone you've fought life's battles with for many a season deliberately makes the choice to turn their back on you.
Christ was supposed to have been tempted in all things as we are. Unfortunately we don't know enough about His 30 years of life prior to His public ministry to tell whether there was ever physically anybody in His life whom He loved so much that they broke His heart when they decided to live their life without Him. All we know is that throughout history He's had a wife (also referred to as His Bride) that probably put Him through the same thing time and again, which is vividly illustrated in the act of God commanding His prophet Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife as a metaphor of the unfaithfulness of His own Old Testament wife.
Later in the Book of Revelation we find similar metaphors of whores and churches who "sit like a queen," apparently lacking nothing, and yet not knowing that in God's eyes they're naked and destitute of the things that apparently really count to Him.
So, to which degree we as God's wife and bride have broken His heart is hard to tell. One thing is for sure: when you've gone through such pain yourself, you wouldn't ever want to inflict it on anybody else again. Loyalty all of a sudden becomes paramount, when previously it may have been quite irrelevant. Not only the loyalty of others toward ourselves, but also our own toward others and especially God.
How loyal have we really been?
The only explanation for God putting us through the wringer at times like that, where it seems as though He deliberately devastates us by simply withdrawing the person that meant most to us in the world is that we don't really have a clue about loyalty, especially not our own, as far as He's concerned. It's simply not enough of an issue until we learn to appreciate it by the excrutiating pain that can be caused by the absence of it. Only once we realize what pain can be caused by broken loyalty are we able to begin to relate to what it means to God, and do we even begin to realize how often we haphazardly switched loyalties for the sake of some advantage, some shiny fruit on a tree, some compromise for the sake of our personal welare or benefit, some temptation we couldn't resist...
Perhaps that's why it often takes quite long for the pain of betrayal and desertion to linger on: It's only the beginning of our personal lesson on loyalty. We're only just starting to see how guilty we have been of the same crime that now we feel we feel we can't forgive someone else for, and not just once, but probably innumerable times.
Loyalty, like so many other values that used to mean something before our society was taken over by the universally accepted as politically correct Western do-your-own- thing dogma, has gone down the drain in this strange new world order, where the only loyalty that counts is to make sure that you don't move an inch from the place you're assigned in the Machine. The System needs to continue to function, and that is your foremost responsibility. Human relations, by comparison, are irrelevant.
"Rubbish!" you say - (Or, if you're American, you might be prone to use another word that starts with "bull....!")? Well, good for you, if that's your reality, and if human relationships still mean enough to you to value them above your personal rank, position or economic advantage. But realistically, you're part of a shrinking minority. And if you've got loyalty and you know what it means, for the sake of God and all that is dear to your own soul, hold on to it with all your might and never underestimate it for a moment. In the end, it may be all that determines whether you lost or won your personal battle in this war.
Or, as the Eagles put it in their song "In A New York Minute" which so aptly portrays what can be the fate of all of us at any time:
"If you find somebody to love in this world, you better hang on tooth and nail!"
There is that first, perhaps more energetic, but somewhat less mature half during which we're prone to act a lot on our impulses and make a bunch of mistakes accordingly, and there's the latter half, during which we mature into a ripened personality and hopefully have learned some lessons from the former and tend to do things differently than we used to.
Oddly enough, the same principle seems to apply to God's church, body, or, as it has also been referred to, His bride. There's an Old Testament way during which God's people tended to call down fire and brimstone upon their opponents, sometimes drowning them in a universal flood and at others devouring them with fire, and then there's the New Testament approach of love.
Sometimes you can tell that a movement really is anointed by God when it shows those same signs of maturation.
While folks are often criticized for their opinions, it is usually so, that those opinions are really only the result of the input those folks have been fed. Once the opinions of the folks at grassroots level become too embarrassing for their leaders to want to be associated with them, some serious brainstorming takes place (in movements that are alive and flexible enough to do so, that is), about how best to avoid unwanted politically incorrect attitudes spread from among the followers.
Thus it can happen, that a once "radical," "white-hot," "revolutionary" and somewhat militant movement can mature into a wiser, more diplomatic one, just as it can happen that a once young and perhaps slightly overly zealous hot-head can finally come to his senses and calm down a wee bit and realize that it might be better to just live and let live instead of being a constant prick in everyone's side.
Of course, it helps if the leadership makes the first step and adjusts its own approach first and makes it clear that, "That is the way we used to do things, and this is the way we do them now."
Well, after one half-hearted attempt earlier this year to roll a new, more politically correct leaf over that sort of petered out, I'm happy to announce that I hereby officially will bury all my differences of opinion I may have had with my fellow believers around the world, and I shall carefully try not to utter any more criticisms of any of them any longer.
There's a thin line between being not of this world, as Jesus told His disciples they were, and the fact that God so loved that world that He gave His own Son for it, not to condemn the world, but to save it. Perhaps even God Himself has gone through a process that made Him change methods and approaches somewhere along the line...
In any case, you won't hear anymore rants about "lukewarmness," "half-heartedness" or proneness to materialism or any other sicknesses of society on this blog, nor any other judgmental statements that might only create further barriers between parties, instead of eradicating them.
Sometimes God gives us more relevant things to worry about than trying to figure out how we can take on and challenge the whole world at once.
It's not as if the entire experience would have been useless. After all, we still do read the Old Testament. But the New One is a whole lot more relevant, and when it's time for a change and a new direction, it's just simply that. Sometimes it takes half a life-time to get there. Sometimes more.
In the science fiction TV series Deep Space 9, one of the offshoots of the Star Trek saga, one of the most significant parties in the plot is a mysterious master race of shapeshifters called the Dominion, also referred to as the Founders, who all live together in a great sea called the Great Link in their liquid state, making up one collective conscience, except when they happen to be on some mission to suppress and dominate their quadrant and its inhabitants, for which purpose they can take on whichever form and shape they like.
In order to protect themselves the Dominion created a genetically engineered race of warriors who live for nothing else but to fight and die to protect the Founders, their creators. In order to ensure their loyalty, the Founders equip their specially created species of bodyguards with an addiction to a drug which is provided by them and their henchmen, another race of diplomats who do most of their political dirty work for them.
It's interesting to what extent some of these stories represent our reality, many times without our even being faintly aware of it.
An increasing number of people are becoming aware of the fact that we are indeed, manipulated, dominated, exploited and enslaved by a diabolical group of people - who are themselves subject to the demonic powers which the apostle Paul said are governing our world (Eph.6:12) - and in order to ensure our "loyalty" to them, they have artificially equipped us with addictions that have been enhanced scientifically to get us to a point where we will only ever break free from their grip by nothing short of a miracle.
While we have all been equipped from birth with certain needs and appetites by our creator: we all need food, clothing, shelter, and are driven to some degree by our natural urges to procreate, our modern society has enhanced these needs to a degree where what once used to be natural desires, have morphed into downright full-fledged destructive addictions.
Our once natural appetite for food for many people has been transformed into addictions to artificially altered foods, "enriched" with chemical substances, refined sugars and flavours that cause them to crave them to the point of obesity, which is rapidly becoming a natioanl disease in some of our "developed" countries.
What was once a generally natural drive to ensure the procreation of the human race has over the past 6 decades turned into every kind of perversion thinkable under the sun by means of bombarding us from the cradle to the grave with imagery aiming at triggering and feeding our lust, brainwashing us from pre-school age into accepting sexual perversions as the norm and getting us all to think that sex is the most important thing in the world, right after money, of course, that is.
Probably most of us never even realize that we are addicts until we get to the point where the object of our affection is being taken from us, and only then do we begin to realize how subtly but thoroughly the "Dominion" has performed their work on us. The deadly, venomous and highly addictive substabce has been pumped into our veins practically from the cradle, so that none of us would dare to veer from the straight and narrow path of obedience, obeisance and slavery to their cause.
Every now and then, one of us is awakened to the graveness of their state, and when it happens, we're usually shocked and anything but ready to deal with it. It's certainly helpful then to have Somebody by your side to help you combat the demons that pull your strings, and - if possible - to cut them loose. The withdrawals will be hard and painful, but still better than a continued life on the planet of the race of addicts much of the developed world presently constitutes.
Think about the "Dominion" and their addict warrior race and ponder whether you'd want that to be your fate, or whether you shouldn't rather develop the strength of resistance and the ability to say "no" when temptation threatens to get you hooked.
Everybody else around you may be a junkie, too, and it may look normal that everyone's addicted to something. But, by God, it isn't.
As Christians, it has been drilled into us that it is expedient to do whatever we do in the name of Christ, and it is my belief that salvation from our sins and death is found in no other, as the Bible states.
Yet here is a program that seems to be accomplishing a world of good, yet without calling it "Christian" or associating it with Jesus, even accomplishing the salvation of tens of thousands from physical addictions, but also what one might call spiritual problems, even if this may be a slightly different matter than the spiritual Salvation the Bible refers to.
The honesty, openness and depth of conversation within these groups is something I don't think I've ever experienced in a church or even during Home gatherings, meetings or in Bible groups. After all, Christians are usually people who have their act somewhat together, at least more, on a general scale, than those that attend Anonymous groups. Having a common problem that provides a common basis for Anonymous group members to come together presents - from my point of view - an advantage that many churches and Christian movements don't: the humility, the readiness to open themselves concerning a weakness, thus ready to attack sin head on in a way one will hardly ever find in a church where people often play a masquerade for years, one hardly ever gets to know their brethren on a truly personal level, and all that connects one another is the fact that they just listened to the same sermon, sang a few of the same songs, etc.
The question I've had to ask myself as a Christian was, is it possible that God instigates movements on earth that may not be able to be defined clearly as Christian? Apparently, yes. Is it possible that these non-Christian movements can sometimes bring forth more and somewhat even perhaps better fruit than some obvious Christian movement or church? Apparently, yes.
It reminded me of the passage in which Jesus talks about those who prophesied in His name, cast out devils in His name, etc., (and mind you, one has to be a Spirit-filled and born again Christian, in order to cast out devils!), and yet telling them, "I never knew you." Yet in another passage welcoming those who all they ever did was visit the prisoners, care for the sick, feed the hungry, no matter in whose name.
Apparently Jesus does not mind whether what we do we do in His name as much as whether what we do is the right thing to do.
Obviously, a lot of wrongs have already been committed in His name, as it is. Apparently God is more concerned about genuinely helping people than He is about the advertisement, and whether it was done on His behalf or not.
Imagine you were God and had to watch how people slaughtered each other by the millions for millennia on His behalf... Wouldn't you be glad if someone eventually came around who gave you a break and just did something good, no matter in whose name, or in no one's name in particular?
Yes, the name of Jesus is important and powerful, and it is our duty to spread the good news that He indeed saves. But apparently there is something even more important in God's eyes than what we say and preach, and that is what we do.
God seems to avail Himself of any program that works, and the 12-Steps programs have proven to work in millions of changed lives around the world, and God doesn't seem to care much whether this has been accomplished under the flag of Christianity.
If a program works, you'll use it. You install it, run it and enjoy the benefits. Totally regardless of whatever it says on the package, or what brand name it is.
One would have to ask themselves to what extent Christ Himself would consider Himself a Christian, if He were to walk among us today. Maybe in the light of all that's being said and done in His name, He might even prefer to remain anonymous.
"Salvation is of the Lord!" Those were the magic words that got Jonah out of the belly of the whale (Jonah 2.9).
Jesus prophetically compared Jonah's experience inside the whale to the three days he would spend in Hades between His crucifixion and resurrection.
He also invited His followers to take up their cross upon themselves and follow Him.
In other words, every true believer is going to go through their own experience in the "belly of the whale" at one time or another, experience their own "3 days in hell." And it's usually not until we realize that salvation is truly of the Lord, that we emerge from it.
What's so special about that revelation, that salvation is of the Lord? Because before we find out, we try to save ourselves by any thinkable and possible means. The Lord is always our last resort, after all else has failed. Usually, anyway.
We first expect our own wits, strengths and efforts to save us, and if they won't do, then at least some tangible, visible and audible person of flesh and blood to pull us out, and sometimes, God in His mercy will send such a person along. But if He's been trying to teach you to rely on Him and Him alone, and you have any sort of rank or validity as a prophet, even a disobedient prophet like Jonah, you can be pretty sure there'll be no other hand pulling you out of that whale except God's.
When God has become truly all that you have got left, then that's where you can probably safely say, "Welcome to Rock Bottom Club!"
When everyone else is gone, every other crutch kicked away, those people who have made you depend on them like a drug only stand by and watch you go through your withdrawals from afar while getting the next junkie in line hooked on them, then it's time to find out whether God is really enough or not.
It will prove whether your faith was merely a pretty bubble that popped at the introduction of the needle, reduced to a little splash in the face, or whether it was something solid, something your life can depend on.
If we're honest, the role to which we often restrict God in our lives is not much more than a slap in His face.
It's those belly-of-the-whale experiences that restore Him to His proper position in our life as our only hope, our only true Savior.
When the fakes are gone and have faded away, it's time for the true Savior to step in and show that it is in His power alone to save, and "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm" (Jer.17:5).
Down there, in the belly of the whale, you find out who your friends really are.
And once the fish has vomited you out, back on dry land, you may not feel like much more than just that: a pile of fish vomit, but at least you've got a much clearer perspective now of your world around you and who and what you can really rely on, without all the deceiving appearances and delusions that blurred your vision previously.
You may have tried to figure out every possible way, tactic and maneuver out of the dark, going through all the possible tricks, measures or merely lucky events that might save you out of your fix, but in the end, the sum of your wisdom boiled down to this: "Salvation is of the Lord." No one and nothing else will ever cut the cake or do the trick. No one.
Another passage from the Scriptures that never made quite sense to me was Matthew 6:22-23: "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" - Especially the last bit, "If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness..."
I know, all the humanists and believers in the good in mankind will howl at me, but I think I figured out what it means.
If you've ever been betrayed by someone you believed in, forsaken by someone you fully trusted in and relied on, someone who was like a light in your life, and they drop you so abruptly that you suddenly realize that the light you confided in for so long was only an illusion, then you'll know what this passage means.
Darkness is the absence of light. In other words, the light wasn't ever really there, you mistook it for the real thing, and the person in question may have believed in it as the real thing, but what determines whether it's real or not is whether it lasts.
Because one thing I have always believed is that love is forever. If it isn't forever, then it wasn't real love in the first place.
The level of emotion will not always remain the same, naturally, but there is one ingredient that will make all the difference in the world, between real love and the fake: faithfulness.
The Bible says that if you've been put in charge of anything by God, there is only one thing that is required of you: to be faithful.
You may not have a lot of strength, you may not have a lot of gifts, you may not be nothing much at all, but you are one thing, and that is faithful.
That is the one tiny spark that makes all the difference in the universe between the real light and the fake, between true love and that which many people may mistake for love. It may not seem like much at all, but apparently, that's what makes the difference.
After the love has gone, what is there left to believe in? Apparently far less people have that real, lasting kind of love in them in our world today than we may think, which is why there is so much heartache, disappointment and so many broken relationships and marriages. Too many shiny fake versions of love that promise happiness in exchange for that seemingly insignificant ingredient we despise, that has almost vanished from our vocabulary:
that tiny little factor of faithfulness.
Love is forever. Everything else is only a fake.
Jesus knew that there were people who believed themselves to be benefactors of mankind, oh, and they can be radiant, and that light in their eyes may sparkle deceivingly real. But when their light is gone, just as quickly as you turn off a light switch, then you know it was only an artificial fake after all, no real love, real light.
The sad thing is that it usually takes time to find this out. - Sometimes quite a long time, in fact. Time is the great tester, and it certainly is the factor that will prove our degree of faithfulness, and thus, the degree of authenticity of our love. Some actually have it, and some actually don't.
It's shocking when you realize that that light was never really there, and you find out in shock what Jesus meant... "If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
This type of people can wreak quite a bit of devastation in one’s life. For all they give, they subtly demand more in return, more dependence, more devotion, almost like an addiction, like a drug.
You may think you’re receiving their light, but since it isn’t really real, but only a fake, it doesn’t bear fruit, you’ve only invested in darkness, poured your life into a vessel with holes and are ultimately left empty, sucked dry and devastated…
They’re probably the closest thing to vampires in the real world. They may not suck your blood, but drain your life’s energy out of you, and the hollow shell they leave behind will be a sad reminder that it pays to put your trust in Someone Greater than frail flesh and blood, and blessed are they who do, indeed.
I used to wonder about this passage in Matthew 24: "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mt.24:37-39).
I used to wonder, "Why, Jesus, what's so bad about eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage? Why should that merit the end of the world?"
But if you take a closer look at people's eating, drinking and mating habits, you get the point.
While 40.000 starve daily in one part of the world, obesity is becoming a major disease in another.
While in one place people don't even have enough drinking water to survive, in another they drink themselves to death.
It's the imbalance, the selfishness that matters and makes it so ugly... the unwillingness of the rich to share, and their sickening, self-indulging indifference.
And then there's the mating game. A whole nuther story.
Have you ever frequented a dating site? Like - in a "civilized," Western country?
I once wrote an entry about the devaluation of human life in reference to what some nations are willing to pay for the corpse of a butcher as compared to what they're willing to eke out for the corpse of his victim...
Well, you'll see the devaluation of human life (along with the sheer absence of human intelligence) nowhere as blatantly as on a dating site.
Here they present themselves like merchandise in a supermarket, and mind you, the customers are picky. "Looking for Mr. Right" or "the perfect man" ... or woman, the "girl of my dreams, " etc.
Whereas members of less "developed" countries are a lot more modest. Perhaps one day the world will see the difference between so-called civilization and truly civilized people, among whom respect is still a given, and courtesy not a "Huh, what's that?"
Not to mention that in the entire process of feverishly trying to obtain the objects of their affection that might quench their burning needs (or lusts?), the most important Factor is - as usual - left out of the equation almost entirely: the Giver of all things in the first place.
Maybe that's why Jesus said not labour for the meat which perisheth... although everybody of course, keeps doing it, even the most devout of His followers.
Of course, it would be a sacriliege and the epitome of political incorrectness to preach anything different, for man's greatest religion and god has become the work of his own hands. After all, the work of his own hands is what will earn him those most desired shreds of paper in the universe, which Jesus said we couldn't serve, if we served God,;and those, in return, will by us foood, drrrink, and will help us to impress the other sex (either by means of taunting our apparel and plastic surgery, or our vehicles, houses and yachts). In short: materialism.
Since everything begins (evolution) and ends (lifeless corpse in coffin) with mere lifeless matter which is supposed to have brought forth itself, the space between the beginning and the end, that which we refer to as life, revolves around the same: lifeless matter. In other words, not really life at all, since the one thing that gives life, as Jesus said, is Spirit (John 6:63), coincidentally, the same stuff that God Himself is made of (John 4:24).
It's not that I don't like to eat, drink or am not totally amazed by the opposite sex. Nor do I try to pretend to come across as some sort of spiritual wonder child, since I'm subject to the same desires and needs as everybody else.
It's just that the way we go about it and still have the nerve to call "civilized," to me comes across as rather barbaric.
If that's what brought on the flood (along with many other evils that find their modern counterparts), then let it rain, Lord, let it rain!
I'm a firm believer in the fact that God can speak through just about anything and anyone, even people who are totally oblivious to their being used as a vessel for a higher, divine purpose.
The movie "Answer Man" points out the principle of how God can use even anything but perfect people to speak to the world through them, often very much in spite of themselves, rather than because of any specially pious qualities on their part.
In my free eBook project "The Deeper Meaning of Everything" that's precisely the point I'm trying to stress: God speaks to us through everything.
In my movie blog "Talking Pictures" I try to point the lessons I glean from the movies I watch, and I also firmly believe that God has sometimes inspired songwriters - often totally unbeknownst to them - to broadcast downright prophetic messages to the world through their songs.
A few classic examples: "Let It Be" is, I believe, a prophetic song about the time of the end. "When I find myself in times of trouble..." - The Great Tribulation?
"Mother Mary" in the song, in my opinion, represents the Holy Spirit, "speaking words of wisdom." Later it says, "Whisper words of wisdom," indicating that those words won't always be spoken out loudly from pulpits with microphones, but a cloudy night is coming, through which there will still be a light shining on those who believe, culminating in the great awakening to the sound of music (the "last trump") at Jesus' Return.
I doubt that Paul McCartney was aware of any such divinely prophetic ingredient, since his ideology certainly seems to be an entirely different one.
"Bye Bye Miss American Pie" also had a greater prophetic significance than Don McLean ever realized, if you've watched the development of pop music over the past 4 decades since that song was written, and perhaps even he knows by now that "The day the music died" wasn't just the day Buddy Holly's plane crashed. I often joke that it was the day Madonna recorded that song.
Then there was the '71 album "Who's Next" by The Who, a musical milestone, with their song, "Won't Get Fooled Again," ending with the line that so perfectly describes the succession of the current administration to the previous: "Meet the new boss! - Same as the old boss!" - I've even seen people wearing t-shirts with that line on it in reference to Obama...
Maybe I’ll come up with a list of other examples of songs with a touch of the prophetic…
In the movie "Hurricane" the statement is made that people don't find the books they're looking for, but their books find them.
In my life, pretty much the same applied to every song I felt magically drawn to. Even if at the time I first heard and started liking the song the meaning of the lyrics didn't seem to bear any resemblance or parallel to what was going on in my life, later on, it did, and I realized why that song had "found me."
Maybe you're too rational, dogmatic or restrictive to consider that God could possibly work in such ways, and certainly the theory of Evolution wouldn't lead to such a seemingly bizarre conclusion that our Creator should be involved in even such small details in our lives.
Well, Jesus gave us a clue that He's more into details than many of us may think when He said that every hair on our heads was numbered, and no sparrow falls the Father doesn't keep track of.
So, next time you hear a song and you feel its tug on your heart strings, listen to what it's got to say. Chances are the Author of Life Himself has a message to you.
Being a politically correct Christian with a politically correct God and Christ these days means to refrain from separatist tirades indicating that there should be any sort of division between true believers - Christ's genuine disciples, and the rest of the world.
"The world," that mass of people Jesus told His disciples they were not a part of, if existent at all, are always the Hottentots in far-off countries who wouldn't be able to afford our bestsellers on Pop-Spirituality in the 21st century anyways.
So, let me be politically incorrect here once again and heat up the old forgotten and despised doctrine of John 15:19 and harp a little bit on that: Is there such a thing a "the world" in the sense of something we should not be part of, if we call ourselves followers of the Maker of that statement, or is it just a myth, and we're all so super goodie-good and moving toward the point of enlightenment in our evolution which will usher in universal peace without the Almighty having to resort to any of the drastic measures He announced in the portions of His Book that are carefully being avoided by popular Christian authors?
Of course, it's natural to want to erase any existing lines of division between yourself and your target audience when that audience is supposed to eke out 30 bucks for your latest compilation of divine wisdom. But are those potential readers really being helped and enlightened by the illusion that all is at peace, the Devil's on vacation and there is no actual spiritual warfare going on?
Personally, I think I'd rather watch "Matrix" one more time, for some inside scoop of what's really going on.
One of the reasons why I do believe in the existence of such a thing Jesus called "the world" (that I don't feel I belong to), is that I have found out that there is, in fact, also a distinction between lies and truth.
Now, for many folks in our success-oriented world, that distinction is nearly non-existent. They're so used to lying, they can't tell the difference anymore.
It wouldn't occur to them to call anything their political leader or anyone says on TV or anywhere, for that matter, an untruth or a lie, because it would mean that they would have to be more careful about their own truthfulness (or lack thereof), and who wants to pay that sort of a price?
So if mass murderers like Charles Manson or warmongering Nobel peace prize winning presidents (see why you can't be serious about being part of this world?) want to go on and on about how much they love Jesus, we're all cool with it, because that sort of hypocrisy is what we call "freedom" here, in the liberated West, and watch out, we're soon coming to a town near you to liberate you, too!
When Christians talk about "the world," it's usually in the context of John 3:16 to let everybody know how much God loved the world, no matter how haywire it had gone.
But we ignore the admonition of that same John a little later in the Bible for us not to love the world, nor the things in it.
That's a lot harder message to preach, brother, and if you do, just wait and see how many books you'll be selling then!
I like the way Bethany Dillon put it in one of her songs, "Aimless," (and I thoroughly hope that she still knows what she was singing about): "They've always known this wasn't home."
I've always known this wasn't home.
How about you?
While most interpretations of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse claim that the rider on the white horse is supposed to be the Antichrist, I personally contend that the proper interpretation of this passage should ascribe the identification of the white rider to Jesus, and the other three His fiercest competitors throughout time, perhaps in some sort of a race for our souls, and when time is up (literally!), there will only be one of them left.
Who are those mystery riders? War, materialism and death, also known by other ancient names by which they were known, revered and even worshiped for millennia: Ares (the Romans called him Mars), Mammon and Hades.
Luckily, the Bible already tells us who is going to be the winner of the race, since it foretells a time in which men will beat their swords into plowshares and will learn war no more, which eliminates Ares, the god of war from the equation.
We are also told the fate of Hades, the god of death and hell in the lake of fire.
So what about Mammon, the god of wealth? In our current terms, Mammon can easily be replaced by a word for the stuff that allegedly rules the world: money.
Some think it will last forever.
The Bible tells us differently.
In fact, from what the Bible tells us, it seems that of the four riders, Mammon will be the first one to yield up the ghost.
Granted, this is just one of my own personal theories, but it's based on some serious thought:
When the Antichrist imposes his mark of the beast in the new economic order everyone from Kissinger to the Pope is expecting with excitement (as foretold in Revelation 13), it seems that will be the end of money - or at least cash - as we know it.
Perhaps one reason why the Almighty won't be so fond of that new method of trade at all will be the fact that Satan will have managed to create the perfect imitation of His own system of currencies: faith. The object of man's desire will have been placed from the visible to the invisible realm, the perfect counterfeit of God's system.
And for those who fall for it, I guess it's going to be like having made their choice for the other side.
If my assumption is correct, and it's Mammon who bites the dust first when the AC implements the mark, it might also explain one of the most mysterious passages in the Bible about the Endtime:
only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
And then the lawless one (The Antichrist) will be revealed,
whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth
and destroy with the brightness of His coming."
Some scholars interpret this passage as to be referring to the Holy Ghost as "He who now restrains...until he is taken out of the way;" that the Antichrist cannot be revealed unless the Holy Ghost be taken away.
But how are the final two witnesses in Rev.11 going to give their testimony without the Holy Ghost?
And for the benefit of all those "left behind" during the Great Tribulation (which might be more than many people think, especially in the light that the Rapture is only going to occur after it, as Jesus said), let's all pray to God that the Holy Ghost isn't going to be taken away.
But it would have to be someone or something that was around in Paul's day, which certainly applies to money...
So, here's my little theory for you on the race of the four riders of the Apolcalypse...
Probably one of the greatest deceptions taking place in our times is the illusion of change, and I'm not just talking about the Obama administration, although it's definitely a perfect example of it.
In order to create the illusion of change, some actual change has to take place, but only on the surface.
And it's true, on the surface, things have changed a lot over the past 100 years: our ways of getting from point A to B, our methods of communicating, or keeping ourselves fed, clothed and entertained.
However, no substantial change has taken place in the deep motivations of mankind for our actions, no significant change of heart.
We're still ruled by the same fears and lusts as our ancestors of all times. We just think we are superior because we have changed on the surface.
You put a remote control into a man's hand instead of a plow or shovel, and he'll think he's "evolved."
- Or a machine gun instead of a sword, and he may think he's come a long way. But the end result is the same.
You put a black face on the President, and at first everyone is awed: We've certainly never seen THAT before, nor did we ever think we were going to live to see it, but when it's just the same stupid white men pressing the buttons on his remote control who controlled the last puppet, it's "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss..."
That's what stinks about organized Christianity, also increasingly referred to as "Churchianity:" It totally misses the drift of its supposed Founder. Christianity as it is has become a force for conservatism in this world, when its original Founder was and is the total and absolute opposite.
What Jesus was and is and will always represent in this world of phony changes, is total Revolution, and total break with the decaying, sinful ways and attitudes of man, which haven't changed a bit since Adam and Eve, except that they've gotten worse, similar to the condition of a carcass over time.
If He is the Life, we are the dead. If He is the Way, we've been certainly going in the opposite direction. If He's the Truth, then most of what you will hear from us, the pride and glory of civilization, is the opposite. Just turn on the TV and count the lies you will hear within 30 minutes. Providing you are still able to discern between truth and lies. You'll get the drift.
So, change has happened, alright: the lies have become more and bigger. The condition of the carcass humanity has worsened. However we're more delusional than ever in our perception of ourselves as the greatest thing to ever have happened on God's earth. Until perhaps we catch an accidental glimpse of the 40.000 people we allow to starve each and every day right in front of our noses, just to make sure there'll be enough left for us tomorrow...
So, you may buy into all the hype and rah-rah of progress, advance and the glories of mankind, I don't buy it. As Dylan once put it:
and of the doom machine
the naked truth is still taboo
whenever it can be seen."
What's worst about the illusion of change is that it makes us think we don't need any real change.
What's worst about the illusion of health is that it makes us think we don't need the Doctor.
What's worst about our oh so great perception of ourselves, is that we'll never realize just how badly we need Somebody to drag us out of our mess.
What's worst about Satan's puppets acting like all the saviors we ever needed is that we'll never realize how badly we need Jesus.
What's worst about our blindness is that we actually think we see.
Thus is the deadly venom of the illusion of change.
Saint John's visions of the coming leader of the New World Order, commonly referred to as the Antichrist (with reference to his intentions and philosophical inclinations, thus strongly leading to the conclusion that he could not be the Pope), strongly indicate that he will be the culmination of all previous world empires rolled into one, from ancient Egypt to Rome. In other words, even though he may be availing himself of every hi-tech facility thinkable in order to control, enslave and terrorize his global subjects, underneath, it's going to be the same barbaric and tyrannical spirit as always.
The only One actually ever effecting REAL change in the course of history will be Jesus.
He may have subtly done so during His first coming.
It will be significantly less subtly during the next.