“Back to the Garden” is a small book of 19,595 words. It is a culmination; a journey. A bit of invitation, exhortation and personal processing, outlining the freedom and limits in constructing a solid spiritual house while living in a deconstructionist age. May you find it to be a guide or an encouragement on your personal journey into enlightenment as you set your own course “Back to the Garden.”
Back to the Garden
Learning to live on the fruit of the tree of life.
Presenting a structure for peace of mind in a deconstructionist age.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing
the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you
to do, and you will know how good and
pleasing and perfect His will really is.”
(Romans 12:2 NIV)
When a building is built, it freezes in time the social, economic, political and philosophical ideals of those who constructed it. Architecture is a mirror of the times.
Since World War ll, many architects have abandoned the time-honored principles that created beauty and grace in our built environment. This was done by the inspiration of a few European architects who fled the war and came to America with a bright, new idea. Formerly of the National Socialist State of Germany, Walter Gropius, Mies Van Der Roe and Hannes Meyer fled the Nazi regime, running into the schools of Architecture in America and abroad. They had founded a school called “The Bauhaus” and brought its communist, intellectual principals and ideals to lead the the architects of America to go “Back to Zero.”
“The school existed in three German cities: Weimar from 1919 to 1925; Dessau from 1925 to 1932; and Berlin from 1932 to 1933, under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928; Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930; and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime, having been painted as a centre of communist intellectualism. Although the school was closed, the staff continued to spread its idealistic precepts as they left Germany and emigrated all over the world.” (wikkie-pedia)
Believing, as most young people do, that they knew more than all the generations that had come before, they imported the modernist architecture now called the International Style. That generation’s ideals has built many of the college, government and corporate buildings; they transformed the institutions they house.
Our buildings seem now to express a worship of technologies, economy and speed. Our buildings are generally highly technical, low in craft, light and unsubstantial structures with false finishes yet luxurious, interior appointments. Our buildings have become less human, more for show and pretense than those constructed by previous generations.
This reflects our shared philosophy. Architecture is a mirror of our hearts and the way we live our lives.
“Man shapes his architecture and from then on his architecture shapes man.”
Another current architectural style is known as Deconstructionism, promoted by magazines and architects –particularly Frank Gehry. This style reflects an aspiration prevalent in much of our society.
Its aesthetic is reminiscent of buildings that look as if they are falling apart, breaking down, deconstructing. For that priority to guide the decisions of architects is reflective of the shear insanity of our times. We are now constructing precarious buildings that look like they are falling down. Perhaps some artists in architecture like Gehry are simply reflecting our culture. If so, we are in a deconstructionist age.
In our age, much of the social, political, economic, and social structures are being deconstructed all around us. Yet we also see rising up before us new buildings, new institutions, and expressions of a new culture. A revival of classical architecture has also begun. Mankind is always in flux, and we are advancing, building and tearing down at the same time. We remodel or re-arrange things all the time.
One day the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright reflected upon his life, building his vision for America, while working and reworking his homes. That day there was a fire at one end of his estate, Taliesin East, and a building project at the other. He spent his day going back and forth between two very different forms of work, stopping to say to an apprentice in passing, “Is this not like my life?” He was building at one end and fighting a fire at the other. It was in reality his life. Is this not reflective of mankind’s life on this planet as well?
The question is, are we focusing on the fire or on the new construction?
Strauss and Howe, in their book “The Fourth Turning,” offer an explanation for the chaos of our times. They believe we are in a social, political, and economic sea-change; a re-calibration due to a generational shift. Our societies are changing their institutions to reflect the emerging values, ideals, and goals of the new consensus of engaged people.
Institutions are created by men to serve them. They, like any living thing, have a life cycle. The older generations hands the baton of power and leadership ever so reluctantly to the next. Living things change with the seasons.
Other spiritual or religious people believe we are in “the end times,” that Christ/Messiah is coming or coming back to judge the world and destroy the false gods and judge their servants. I believe His kingdom is at hand. I hope He comes quickly, since we need all the help we can get. But until He does arrive, I will build for His coming kingdom.
Still, others look at the ancient calendars and see the end of the world coming. Some believe extraterrestrial beings will be our salvation or destruction. Others hope for a new age based on their particular expectations and desires to remake the world into a singular vision they believe is true. Whatever your philosophy or theology we are clearly in an age of upheaval and change.
With man’s limited understanding of history and prophesy, who can really know what is to come? It is God alone who can be certain exactly where we are in this great dance, the drama of life on planet earth.
What I do know for certain is that what is built now is only done by the hands of mankind. We must work together to accomplish anything. If we do not, even what has been built will continue to crumble about us. In these periods of upheaval people are still walking, talking and sharing and working.
As an architect I understand the need for structure, order, organization, and planning. Spirituality, creativity and walking clearly, in reality, are not mutually exclusive. Making a living, accomplishing things among the institutions and authorities of our age, are important skills for spiritual and creative people. It’s not always what we do but how we do it that has the greatest impact on the world around us.
Every building project requires hundreds of different individuals, each in separate trades, professions, government entities or departments. Bankers and developers, builders and inspectors, engineers and designer and crafts people, remedial workers, all do their part.
The architect’s job requires statesmanship, artistry, psychology, science, and practical communication skills. We bridge the interests, agendas and passions of many divergent people. We must bring them to together to work effectively on a singular shared vision.
This work of words is a focuses these abilities on spiritual thinking and dialogue regarding God in a deconstructionist age.
You may find this book to be challenging. It might pound on a few of your personal walls. If you love God and desire to follow him truly, you may have your ideas about God challenged. My desire is not to challenge or offend but rather to present ideas to help better understand presuppositions about God and how they relate to other people and their walk with God.
I suggest we build bridges between the myriad of paths to knowing God, and fences along the roads we each walk to get there. On our mutual paths in life we each have intersections and places where our paths cross. We are all at different points in our growth and journey. Without bridges, fences, gates or crossing guards at these intersections, we can have real trouble getting safely through. These fences and intersections are part of my considerations. It is healthy and necessary to have these structures or fences in our minds and between ourselves. They define who we are and keep us safe.
What we do not have, in my mind, is a right to assault or attempt to dismantle other people’s fences without an invitation. Others must invite us to share in their own work of delineating their spiritual, physical or intellectual landscapes. This is respectful.
Our age has become very aggressive in the promotion of views. The courtesies and considerations of past generations are falling away in the heat of the dramas and difficulties of our changing times.
Courtesy, kindness, and consideration are some of the crossing guards at our intersections, mandating, coding and often legislating into our culture behaviors that challenge or assault others beliefs is now the norm. The loss of these fences and walls is not healthy and will cause trouble ahead if we do not address it as a culture. People of faith in a supreme being, a deity who calls us to rise above selfishness or self will, should be leaders in this effort.
We are called, I think, to lead our society into peace, not war.
People who have been abused, and most of us have in one way or another, can view the world as a threatening place. “The best defense is a good offense” many feel. Occasionally the abused become abusers themselves and blame their victims just as their perpetrators did. This happens in spiritual, physical, or emotional arenas. Our walls define us; some of them are in the way of our knowing others and others knowing us.
This defensive posture can develop into a philosophy about how life works and the required ways to relate to people. A philosophy can be defined as what one believes about how things actually work. Ones theology can be defined as what one believes is absolutely true or real; who or how God really is.
Let’s not hold God responsible for other people’s bad behavior. Let’s not attribute to God everything that goes wrong in the world, as most of these are the result of peoples’ bad behavior. Let’s also remember that people can grow and change. We often relate to people in the same manner we did in a previous encounter, never noting that their behavior has changed as they have grown. Perhaps they actually learned from their mistakes in our last encounter. The growth required to advance again relationally may be our own.
We also have a right to define our own belief systems and have confidence that we can share them peacefully. We each develop a personal philosophy about life and a theology about god as we live and learn. I view this as a spiritual or psychological house for our mental and spiritual life. The question to ask ourselves is not whether others agree with our beliefs but whether they are actually true.
The ancient Hebrew Scriptures are some of mankind’s oldest records of spiritual, political, and social structures. Whether or not you choose to believe that God spoke to the Hebrew scribes of the Bible, these scriptures have formed much of Western and portions of Eastern cultures, it’s laws and cultural patterns. They are worthy of consideration.
“Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.” (Deuteronomy 19:14 NIV.)
Much of the modern age has been about questioning knowledge and tearing down fences between arenas of knowledge. It has evolved into tearing down people themselves and questioning everything and even attacking those who do not agree. It is a fact that as knowledge increases, boundaries are moved or at least expanded.
Removing altogether the ancient boundaries is extremely dangerous. While this appears to create personal freedom it has in reality allowed chaos to rule. Families, tribes, and nations have been divided because of differing opinions. This is not good or necessary.
This is my contribution as an architect to rebuilding some of those lost ancient fences. The Judaeo/Christian religious communities believe that God spoke through the Hebrew Scriptures. The Jews call these teachings the Tanakh. The Christians call it the Bible. I call it truth,very helpful in walking effectively and living peaceably on the earth.
“I, I’m the one comforting you. What are you afraid of—or who? Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead? Some poor wretch destined for dust? You’ve forgotten me, God, who made you, who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth. And here you are, quaking like an aspen before the tantrums of a tyrant who thinks he can kick down the world. But what will come of the tantrums?
The victims will be released before you know it. They’re not going to die. They’re not even going to go hungry. For I am God, your very own God, who stirs up the sea and whips up the waves, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies. I teach you how to talk, word by word, and personally watch over you. Even while I’m unfurling the skies, setting earth on solid foundations, and greeting Zion: ‘Welcome my people!”(Isaiah 51;12-16′ The Message’).
I personally choose to trust God himself to maintain and reconstruct the ancient boundaries we have torn down. Let’s trust that for the increasing knowledge he has allowed to pour forth he will be the strong tower of our defense and our place of rest and unity in these challenging times. May he guide us into all peace, and may his love be the spirit that unites us.
Joni Mitchell first sang to the nation on the Johnny Carson show in 1969 a song written about Woodstock. It came from a youthful heart, an aware and searching mind reasonably considering the questions of the day. It still applies.
“I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road
and I asked him ‘Tell me where are you going?’
this he told me….
He Said, “I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm
Gonna join in a rock n roll band.
Gotta get back to the land to set my soul free
We are star dust
We are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden…”.
“Well then can I walk beside you? I have come to lose the smog.
And I feel as I’m a cog in something turning.
And maybe it’s the time of year, Yes and maybe it’s the time of Man.
And I don’t know who I am, But life is for learning…”
– Joni Mitchell
This little book is a walk down that road. It is my hope that you will find who you are or perhaps find confidence in what you believe and who you are becoming. I pray you find peace of mind. I hope you find the confidence to accept with peace what others think and believe about God. I feel as if I am a cog in something turning.
Some of us grow up in a perfect childhood garden. For some of us the perfect garden exists only in our imagination, sealed away from the harsh realities of our true life experience. For others it was a real place in precious, protected, cherished memories of youth. It is a secure place of pure love, joy, hope, faith, and peace.
Far too many others have lived in a prison, or in the wilderness, and only have the hope of a luxuriant garden of peace and abundant love. Somewhere in their heart and thoughts is the hidden desire and hope for more; there must be more than this.
Whatever your story; friend, I am here to assure you that there is a glorious garden. It is a supernatural place that awaits you. But you can only see it with your heart, not your eyes. If this sounds like gibberish to you, return this book for a full refund. Or pray now that the eyes of your heart be opened to the possibility that there is a truth about this life that you cannot see with your intellect or natural understanding.
There indeed exists a spiritual realm that can only be discerned by your heart, not your reason. It can be understood eventually in your head but its reality starts in your heart. You must believe in the possibility before you can see the way back to the garden.
We tend to spend the second quarter of our life redefining, clarifying or relearning what we were taught in the first quarter of our journey. Life is both a journey of discovery and the process of structuring what we believe is true into our own individual spiritual and intellectual house. A place for our soul to comfortably live and find shelter from the storms of life. Our decisions about what is real become the building blocks of our philosophy of life and theology about God. We each have one whether we admit it or not. It is what guides us and defines for us our path through this life. It is built by our presuppositions, our judgments about what is true or real.
Whatever our personal story all of us tend to grow out of the hopeful and youthful faith in life, love, or God far too quickly. Getting back to the simple place of love, faith, hope, and joy seems to be much of the learning and challenge of our walk on this planet.
One of the things I have learned as I have walked this journey is that leaving the garden happens far too quickly and with many small steps. Getting back to that garden is nothing less than WAR. At age 18, two weeks before my mother’s death as a passenger in a single car accident, I wrote:
My life is a war,
My mind the battlefield,
My thoughts the weapons,
My decisions the outcome.
Life or Death.
I learned early on about the warfare for my mind and heart. My hope is to foresee the end of my personal skirmishes or to at least navigate victoriously. I desire to walk in peace of mind and heart. That same week I wrote:
God is the center of my being,
all that I am is because of him.
I need him, he needs me, He is my strength.
There are no doubts fears or frustrations I cannot handle through him.
If I totally open myself to him he will totally fill me.
If I totally give of myself to him He will totally give of himself to me.
The more I give the more I receive.
God is love, God is a lover, God is direction. All that I am is through Him;
Through Him I can be all that is in me.
There is no better time to start down that path to return to the garden than NOW! For the world is actually getting to be a far scarier place, a far riskier and demanding place than it was in my youth, in the 60’s and 70’s, when Joni first sang her song. There was a naivete, a youthful wonder that has fled the eyes of many of the youth of today. There is far less hope in the hearts of young adults. Life seems more desperate and more serious. Finding peace of mind and hope in times like these is a challenge.
For me this peace of mind has come as I’ve learned that the war is indeed between my own ears. It is not so much an external war but an internal psychological and spiritual war.
Much of our reality is actually formed by how we react to events, not by the events themselves. We build walls in our hearts and minds by our decisions during the most tumultuous times, we build a spiritual house to live in.
We each must learn the nature of this battle because our hearts are caught in the crossfire between our reason and our spirit/soul. We need a structure, walls for our psychological and spiritual house that are true and balanced to keep us safe. We must guard our thoughts to guard our peace of mind and our heart. A friend told me once…
“ The mind is a dangerous place. I never go in there without an Uzzi.”
Returning to the Garden
Let’s return to the Garden, the archetypal story of the beginning when mankind was walking in unity with God.
Following is an interpretive reflection, a meditation perhaps, on the Holy Scriptures of Israel. I have joined direct quotes from contemporary Jewish versions of these scriptures with my considerations. The ancient Hebrew Scriptures are the stepping stones along my spiritual path. Yours may be different. That’s fine. Let’s walk together for a while. You can stop to rest at any time. I’ll wait.
I’ll share some interjections, interpretations and conjecture based on the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Tanakh. I also share from writings of the first century followers of Jesus, whose Hebrew name was actually Yeshua. Much of the Jewishness of the early followers of Jesus has been removed by the later “interpretations” of those early Hebrew and Greek texts.
Many of the Christian Scriptures changed Hebrew names for places and people to Greek names. This has led to misunderstandings and conflicting opinions about the person of Yeshua/Jesus. Context is everything to proper interpretations. You can not understand the implications of Hebrew thought from a Greek mind without effort and care. His first followers where mostly Jewish and followed a path they called “The Way”. It was a Hebraic path they walked as Yeshua did in a Hebrew culture thinking with minds trained through Hebrew thought.
Over time a Greek mind set based on Greek education reason and thinking (presuppositions) lead to different way’s of interpreting of scriptures through the wrong cultural understanding. This obscured scriptural reality. Rather than seeking an understanding of Hebrew thought the traditional understanding of the Greek mind replaced the Hebrew mind. The paths walked based on this conflicting scriptural understanding diverged and got very muddy and slippery. The term is Cognitive Dissonance. It defines the results of following a God who revealed himself through Hebrew minds while operating within a world defined by Greek Philosophy.
There remains for many a chasm between practicing Jews, and Christians. Much of Christendom has taken the God revealed in Hebrew Scriptures and made him look very much like a Greek god. No wonder the Jewish world resists this path. My hope is encouraging mutual respect in each other’s right to have different insights into the one true God based on cultural expression but not the expressed truth of the Holy Scriptures.
Following is my own rendering of the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden. This is the earliest recorded walk of Mankind and God at the point where their paths diverged. There are other valid, scholarly interpretations and far deeper meanings to be found. But this story forms the basic ideas the rest of our discussion.
We will consider how to live on the fruit of the tree of life, and how to reject the fruit from that other tree, the one that, the story warns us brings death. You can trust God with what you do not understand about him. He will walk you into the light.
I am reflecting here from my heart and understanding and will make no presumptions of its validity for you. That is for you alone to determine. The choices of what you believe and accept as true are yours to make as a free person.
In the beginning was Life and Light, and the Life was the Light of mankind. This was the True Light which gives light to everyone entering the world. (1) The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not suppressed it.(2) The Light of Life is Love and the Word of God. Love desired a lover and created mankind to fulfill a desire to love. Love placed mankind in the perfect creation, the Garden of Eden.
The Lord God who is Love and Life(3 )planted a garden and from the ground Life caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, all the animals and every living thing. Love placed the tree of Life in the middle of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil . (4) Mankind lived briefly as lovers do with God in the Garden of Eden. Mankind lived in perfect Love with God alone.
In Love, and for the sake of His lovers, God commanded them saying “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and evil , you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it you shall die”.(5) The Spirit of Truth knew eating of the tree of natural human reason would bring dysfunction.
Then the liar and thief came to mankind, the ancient foe of Life and Love. He deceived mankind, convincing them that eating the forbidden fruit was good! He assured them it would make them “like” a divine being knowing good from evil. Desiring knowledge, and lusting for it, they gave into the self-righteous pride of knowing; outside of God; they chose the lie over life and truth.
They chose to rely on human speculations and natural reasoning. They loved human knowledge and forsook true knowing. Truth is revealed only in the love, light and through the spirit of truth; the light of God. This choice led to separation, isolation from truth and love. This is foolishness.(6) This is death.(7)
The choice to accept the darkness of human reasoning independent of God, the decision to choose what is good and bad for others, the pride of self, defending and protecting ones right to oneself is deception.(6) The act of choosing to judge others’ hearts or intentions usurped the rule of Love. Believing one can know what only God can know releases the virus of dysfunctional living and thinking. Death, separation, isolation, human ego, pride of knowing, self-serving, false judgment, vanity and hate reigned in the Garden of Love and all things changed.(6,7,8)
And the Lord God said “Now that man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!” And so for the sake of his lover; Love banished man from the Garden of Eden,. He set guards about the tree of life for a season.(9) God’s heart wanted to protect people from themselves and protect them from an eternity in isolation from himself. He had a plan for reconciliation, a plan to redeem this tragedy , a plan established at the very foundations of the World, before the planting of the garden.(15)
In the fullness of time, the Lover of mankind revealed to all who had ears to hear and eyes to see that if they humbled themselves to follow his guidance they could yet return to the garden.(10) Once again man could choose to eat of His fruit and the Tree of life ; returning to true life and live forever in heart and spirit.(11) Through the restored relationship with God mankind could love truly again. In this mutual love, honor, and respect, mankind could tend and restore the Garden in God’s wisdom, as Love returned again and in the fullness of time to remake it anew.(12)
This tree is the love God revealed in a human being who is perfect love, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Christ). As the light of the Father’s word, He became this light and lives in the midst of us in spirit, full of grace and truth. We who choose to eat of this tree of life have received of its fullness; grace upon grace, life upon life, truth upon truth. Written on that tree are the Creator’s, the Father’s own words. Love said… (13)
“I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the father but by me.” Yeshua
The dysfunctions- the viruses of death, isolation, pride of self and pride of knowing; willful self-serving, yet remain in the garden of love. Mankind still chooses to eat of the tree of Independent Human Knowledge. Yet the All-Compassionate One, the lover supreme has provided a way: Reject the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life; love in grace and truth alone, rely upon God and not your own understanding, and you shall have life to the full.
Scriptural References from: Tanakh: the new JPS. Translation (from the traditional Hebrew text) (ISBN 0-8276-0252-9). And The Jewish New Testament-Translation by David Stern(ISBN965-359-003-0). 1. John 1:9 2. John 1:5 3. Psalm 33:6, 1John 4:1:8-5:39 , 4. Genesis: 1 & 2:8 5. Genesis 2:17 6. 1Cor.3:18–20 7. Romans 8:6-8, II Timothy 2:3-7 Isaiah 55:10,11 Proverbs 14:128. Isaiah 1:19.20, Ephesians 4:17-18, Romans 8:6-8, Galatians 6:8 1 John 2:15-17 9. Genesis 3:22-24 10. Isaiah 42:1-8,Galations 4:3-5, John 3:16, 4:42, 6:47, II Corinthians 5:17 11. Matthew 1:28-30 12. Titus 2:13, II Peter 3:3,4:8-13 13. 1John 5:6-13 14. John 14:6 15. Rev. 13:7-9 ~
Who doesn’t want life to the full? Who can actually define it for someone else?. We are led into life one step at a time. Finding life is a battle. Our lives are built upon our choices, what we believe; what we think is real; what we determine is true about ourselves, others and God.
These are very critical determinations that should not be made lightly or without consideration. Our life is a war. We live or we die based on what we decide in a world fraught with risk and dangers.
We build a structure for our thinking; a perspective, a philosophy for our life and a theology of our god with each decision we make.
If there are two trees in the garden of our hearts and minds we had better be very clear about which one we are choosing to eat from. If there is a liar and a thief of life, bent on stealing away the truth, our hope and our life; it would be wise to learn to discern between truth and lies. I can only share the choices I have made.
You alone are making the choices that mold your life. The merit of those choices is between you and your creator. This is the reality of adult minds and hearts. The reality of your choices will prove themselves over time as will mine. You are ultimately judged by God alone and he loves you intensely and desires only your growth into being what you were created by Him to be.
When traveling through Italy and Greece to study architecture years ago, I met another young man on a boat from Brindisi, Italy to Corfu. He was a traveler seeking to understand life; he was gathering a philosophy for life as I was. He told me his name was Michael Fortune and we had a supernatural encounter.
We walked for hours about the hills of Greece near the town of Logos. He told me he would walk for days just to hear a word from “the Man.” We were searching for a way to find true life. He told me he found it on his own hand. He held it up and said, closing one finger after another into his palm (starting with his pinkie) with each declaration:
“The secret to life is simple and it’s on your own hand
You must do as you think,
Listen as you hear,
See when you look, and
Speak when you talk”
Placing his thumb over his clenched fingers he finally declared:
“But above all
you must do it”!
I pondered this for a few months and realized that the Chinese martial artists have proven that with a solid fist and a very focused mind you can break through nearly anything. Again here our topic; how to attain breakthrough into peace of mind in your connection with God. We also might find with peace with God comes peace with others.
What we focus our hearts and minds on will determine our course in life. Studies show we can only think one thought at a time. “The Man” (Michael Fortune’s name for God) told me once, “your mind wanders but your footsteps are firm.” I am sharing with you through this little book what I have learned to keep my mind from wandering. I hope it helps you. Changing your mind changes your life. Biblically a change of mind is defined as “repentance”. That’s not so hard !
The Wrong Choices
In our story, Adam and Eve made the wrong choice and mankind has been suffering the consequences ever since. They chose rebellion to God’s clear command. You may not believe this to be true but the evidence is all around you.
They chose over God’s command to believe the lie. Why? God’s way was not in their best interest? I suppose they could have thought that God was not actually good and was keeping something from them that was? Perhaps it was simple deception.
They chose to listen to the adversary of God who promised them a vain and selfish thing. He promised they would be “like god.” they didn’t realize that their choice to reject God’s advice was actually a choice to replace God’s as a father, shepherd or spiritual guide with their own reason, their own judgments about reality.
God’s disappointment is understandable. The Hebrew word at the root of Knowledge is Yadda. To know is to Yadda something. Yadda is also translated in the scriptures in the context of a man “knowing his wife” To choose to know something outside of relationship with the pure and perfect being that is God is a form of adultery. This is a corrupting thing.
Prior to this corruption they had been created for a direct relationship with God and their hearts and minds were clearly in communion with the heart and mind of God. They knew things threw God’s prism; of knowing in God. With their disobedience came the consequence- a change of perspective, independence, self knowing, spiritual death and isolation from a profound and personal relationship with their creator. This disobedience released dysfunctional ways of thinking and behaving that were passed on through the generations.
Let me say here that God is not asking for us to do away with our reason. He gave us the capacity in the first place. He actually says “Come now, and let us reason together”(Isaiah :1;18) But our reasoning must be informed consistently with the mind, will and way of God. We must reason with God, not with ourselves alone. This is found in the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed in our spirits by His spirit. If we wish to make the right choices we must know the will, way, and intentions of our creator. We must let him inform our thoughts and reasoning with his truth and light.
“God does not expect us to do away with our reason, but simply to sweep it off our altars and use it in His service” Art Katz.(“Reality the Hope of Glory”isbn 1-878327-05-4)
After people chose to rely on their own reason outside of knowing through God inspired thoughts, they jumped on the treadmill of dysfunctional thought. If we believe we are god; choosing to sit on the judgment seat of what is good and evil; matters quickly get murky, confusing, and self-centered.
We can easily get caught in a circular thinking process about the potential ramifications of our decisions. We play chess with our potential actions in the dark hours. We revisit our words and conversations, looking intently for where we might have erred. Evaluating supposed outcomes, evaluating potential benefits and liabilities to supposed outcomes. We end up thinking ourselves silly. We can also create a fantasy world about ourselves and god in order to preserve a false understanding that we are or can make the world what we want it to be; that we can know what God does, we become god in our own understanding.
We do not realize that outside of the truth and Spirit of God , we are in deception, dysfunction in the Hebrew is: wickedness- we are deceived by our own way of thinking.
“An oracle of transgression speaks in the heart of the wicked” Psalm 36:1
St Paul was a most accomplished man. He was a Pharisee and a student of Gamaliel, one of the most revered early Rabbis of Judaism. He also was a follower of “The Way” and a disciple of Yeshua or Jesus. He believed that Yeshua was the Messiah the one prophesied and waited for by all faithful Hebrews.
The faithful Jews; Torah observant Jews (Rav Shoul himself was); the Messianic Jews, the followers of “The Way” also would have listened . It is something that all believers Jew or Gentile should consider for it will bring peace of mind.
So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.
(Letter to the Ephesians 4:16-18(Amplified Bible))
Our dysfunctional thinking, our selfish/wicked thought patterns lead us around, round and round and round. We speculate our lives away on the treadmill of conjecture. We waste our lives on plans that never come about or on the consequences of bad decisions we never expected. We become trapped in a mire of wasted efforts from deceptive thinking and planning. We spend much of our time reacting or rebuilding what falls down about us because it is based on false things that do not actually work; disillusion trip us up.
As an architect I make plans for a living, I know a thing or two about making plans and what gets in the way of their accomplishment and creation.
There is a structure to the universe that cannot be denied. There are physical realities, natural laws, rules and principles that mandate what is possible and what is not. Yet these in my mind are governed by the greater spiritual laws.
God created the universe and knows deeper things than we have yet to figure out with our limited understanding. We like Neo in the movie the Matrix must learn how to navigate life on and off the grid, the man made constructed reality about us, he called it “The Matrix”. We must learn to discern between the two realms of natural and supernatural existence.
But we must first believe that there is another way, another reality outside of what we see, touch and feel. We need to understand in a greater degree both the spiritual and natural reality of life on planet Earth in order to effectively navigate our walk through it. We tend to focus on our natural desires, planning our lives based on what we can see with our eyes or deduce with our minds and not our heart.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
John Lennon from Double Fantasy
At the very birth of the modern world, during our cultures creation of the structure of the modern mind, a great intellect emerged with eyes wide open, one with a keen clarity of thought G.K. Chesterton wrote in 1908 regarding what has confused our modern minds.
He called it “Scientific thought” and it has usurped the power of God in many rational thinking people; it swept God into the corner of irrelevancy. Science became a god and much of mankind became atheists in order to serve it.
“The new scientific society definitely discourages men from thinking (about spiritual matters*) ; it is a fact,…modern science cares far less for pure logic (truth*) than a dancing Dervish…Nothing can save him but a blind hunger for normality, like that of a beast. A man cannot think himself out of mental evil; for it is actually the organ of thought that has become diseased, ungovernable, and, as it were, independent. He can only be saved by will or faith. The moment his mere reason moves, it moves in the old circular rut; he will go round and round his logical circle, just as a man in a third-class carriage…will go round and round the Inner Circle unless he performs the voluntary, vigorous, and mystical act of getting out at Gower Street. Decision is the whole business here; a door must be shut forever.” (Orthodoxy page 26 isbn 0-89870-552-5)(* my addition)
Oswald Chambers’s wife recorded his daily messages to disciples and students of his Bible college. They have become one of the most popular daily spiritual devotionals in all Christendom . Oswald put it this way:
“Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool…If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ…The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Mathew 11:25) The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating….”
I wrote after my trip to Italy and Greece in 1985 and walks with Michael Fortune on the Isle of Paxos in the town of Logos.
In the past I spent my time in the past,
I spent my time in the future,
I did not spend my time in the time.
Now it’s time.
I was told when you’re young you have time but no money
When you’re old you have money but no time.
I heard you can spend your time making money or
or your money making time.
I think it’s time to spend your time in the time.
It’s not time for doubts,
It’s not time for regrets,
It’s not time for fear,
It’s time to be all you were meant to be,
It’s time to just be.
It’s finally time.
Some 30 years later I am actually walking clearly in reality. It’s been a long, slow road full of pitfalls and confusing sidetracks. I am getting off the treadmill of my rational thought process and finding the place of simple rest and trust. I have chosen to return to that place of childlike faith in an almighty God who simply is and I have my life in Him. I am eating from the tree of life and rejecting that other tree. I am trust in his plans and holding mine lightly.
It’s very easy to spend our time in our mind and not live; it’s very easy to have our experiences in our head and not in our hearts, it’s easy to chase illusions, dreams or fantasies.
It’s very easy to spend our time;
Thinking and not listening,
Talking and not speaking,
Looking and not seeing.
Not doing what we think…
It’s very easy to miss out and miss it all together. It’s easy and very tempting to eat from the wrong tree.
“It’s easy to die, it’s living that’s Hard.”
Annie Lenox from; Diva
What is functional thinking? Can you tell the difference? Let us see if we can answer this questions for one another.
Might I suggest we pay attention to our thoughts and pay careful attention to the words of others sent to help us grow. Listen particularly to those who are critical or challenging to your way of thinking. They just might be sent by the good Shepherd to lead you into greener pastures or straighter, smoother paths.
“The strength of a person’s spirit would then be measured by how much ‘truth’ he could tolerate, or more precisely, to what extent he needs to have it diluted, disguised, sweetened, muted, falsified.”―
There may be paths you do not know how to enter because you have never been there and do not know the way. If we want a fuller life we must make different decisions. You cannot walk a new path along the same way, thinking the same thoughts and making similar decisions to the ones that brought you here; now. You must change your mind; follow your heart, soul, and the spirit in a new way to find a new place to live, new paths to walk.
Watchman Nee (Nee To-sheng) was a Chinese Christian teacher and writer. He came to Christianity in China and thought with an Asian rather than a Greek mind. He had a non-western approach to Christianity. Much of western thought is actually governed by Greek logic and reason.
This can be a challenge if your worship a God expressed through scriptures that flowed through Hebrew minds and a Messiah who grew out of a Hebrew culture. There is a decided difference between the Greek and the Hebrew mind.
Nee’s writings are very refreshing. We western thinkers are full of so many prejudices and traditions of thought that getting our minds and hearts clear enough to see or hear the truth expressed in the scriptures can be a real challenge.
We western thinkers have a long history of Gnosticism and Greek reasoning influencing our very processes of thought.
“In Judeo-Christianity man is made in God’s image, but in Greek religion God is made in man’s image.” (pg 72 Sexual Personae- Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emil Dickinson Camille Paglia vintage Books isbn #0-679-73579-8)
In his book Spiritual Reality or Obsession, Nee clearly outlines what is functional thinking vs dysfunctional thinking. He concludes the book with this:
“If we do not want to be obsessed we must live in the light of God. Our greatest temptation is to kindle our own firebrand.
Who among you reveres the Lord and heeds the voice of His servant? Though he walk in darkness And have no light, Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God. But you are all kindlers’ of fire, Girding on firebrands. Walk by the blaze of your fire, by the brands that you have lit! This has come to you from My hand; you shall lie down in Pain” (sorrow)
(Isaiah 50;10-11 Tanakh: “sorrow” RSV.)
“Whenever we are confronted with a problem, immediately we try to search out the answer ourselves. We ourselves attempt to decide what is right and what is wrong. Brothers and sisters, this is not the way God wants us to go. We need to be humble, acknowledging how unreliable we are.
Our judgment is undependable, our thought is undependable, our action is undependable. We are subject to error. What we judge as right may not necessarily be right; what we judge as wrong may not be wrong at all. That which we consider to be sweet may actually be bitter, and vice versa. That which we take as light may not be light after all, and that which we take as darkness may turn out not to be darkness. We must not substitute for light of God the firebrands which we ourselves kindled. We should receive light from God.”
“The lamp of the body is the eye; therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness (Matt 6.22-23) A Christian who has not light in him tends to be obsessed. What a pity if one does not see what he ought to see and does not know what he ought to know. We must ask God to shine through us that we may touch Him. A Christian? life should not be filled with problems, doubts, and hesitations. We ought to be able to see whether it be right or wrong. If we can see, we will avoid being obsessed. (editor note: change translation)”
“If any man willeth to do his (God’s) will, he shall know the teaching whether it be of God, or whether I speak from myself” (Jesus in John 7:17)
“The condition of enlightenment is that we genuinely want the will of God. Let us not hastily and confidently decide any matter which comes before us. Rather let us ask God to give us a perfect heart to do the will of God. A hardened heart, a selfish heart, a self-reliant heart may shut out God’s light. If we wish to have the light of God we must be tender, unselfish, and not self- reliant. In short, we must be humble. May we ask God to deliver us, that daily we may live in His light and thus be able to know what is true and real. May God save us from falsehood and obsession.”
May we eat from the tree of life! May we be given the discernment to know its fruit. May we be given the ears to hear God’s voice, may we be given the inspiration to read his divine scriptures, His Word! May we become enlightened! May we serve the Prince of Peace and become and advance the peace that our age requires!
What’s in a Name?
Names are important, aren’t they? The first thing we are told Adam did was name the animals in the garden. In the Hebrew names carry with them identity, they often define personality the very nature of the named. A name can define and reveal the character and reality of an object. You sit on a chair. A stool is different from a chair but can be used for the same things. You can also sit on a throne.
How we define or name our gods declare their attributes and defines our relationship with them. There is an eastern god by the name of Shiva, “the destroyer.” What we fear is what we serve. For instance. If I fear I will not eat tomorrow I will serve my fear by overeating today or any number of dysfunctional activities. In our story the critical decision was a choice of who to believe, who’s idea to serve; YaHoVaH or the “Prince of the power of the air”.
“You are gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
Your gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But your gonna have to serve somebody.”
(Bob Dylan; From the album “Slow Train Coming”)
The one true God is more powerful, more present, and more available to us than the limitations of understanding or our languages about Him. Let’s not let our fears about God or his words, nor names or ideas others have about god get in our way of walking with him and advancing back into the garden he created specifically and I might add individually for us.
Although we all share the same planet our perceptions and experiences are entirely unique. We need a uniquely aware and present god, one who knows us and created us specifically to be who we are. We need the true God to lead us. One who is real and wants relationship with us. It it’s a true God, he will find a way to speak so we can hear. If we are interested in knowing Him for who He is and not who we want or think Him to be.
Rabbi David Forman is his book “The Exodus you almost Passed-over” discusses a revelation regarding the name of God. Specifically with the: Tet·ra·gram·ma·ton the Hebrew name of God transliterated in four letters as YHWH or JHVH and articulated as Yahweh or Jehovah.
In his chapter “What’s in a name” he relates the revelation of God’s character through the revelation of his power within the Exodus story and its correlation with the life story of Joseph regent of Egypt. This is a God working out history and purposes though generations of people he knows intimately and reveals himself too and through. Its an amazing story, read it some time. Forman shares;
“Power is an attribute of God, but it is not His identity. It is not His true name. “Back then, I never revealed Myself for who I relay was” as God goes on to tell Moses:
My name YHVH I never made known to them (Exodus 6:3)
“But YHVH seems to convey something else entirely. Comprised of an overly of the Hebrew words for was,is and will be, it seems to denote the simultaneous experience of all three of these states. It is was, is , and will be-experience all at once. That’s not just being eternal; that’s a whole new way of being altogether. What is is why after all, YHVH is not an actual Hebrew word. It’s not a word because what it would mean if it were a word, just doesn’t exist in our world. Who experiences time like that? Where would you have to be, to experience time like that? You’d have to be outside our world.”
God is off our Matrix- out side of our ability to even comprehend.
“My way’s are not your way’s …as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my way’s higher than your way’s and my thought’s higher than your thoughts”
YaHoVaH speaking through his Prophet Isiah
The God that desires we walk in love, truth, and grace with us is the only one that will lead each of us individually into all truth and grace and sincere and real love. Once we find ourselves in TRUTH we will find the Spirit of TRUTH is grace and it will be our love; not our beliefs, doctrines or theology about that Spirit that will unite us.
To find peace in our discussions of god we must choose peace. To find love between us we must choose to speak and act in loving way’s. We far to often consider our spiritual activates and services the purpose of our spirituality. Rather than the engagement, interactions and way’s we actually have conversations about it.
“The expression of human character is not good doing, but God likeness. If the spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expressed itself as God’s life, not as a human life trying to be Godley. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in practical details of life, not in times of communion with God” (Oswald chambers my utmost for his highest “the divine rule of life” isbn 0-88486-102-3)
Finding the attributes of God we admire and share together allows us to relate together about Him. When we focus on our areas of disagreement, we hinder growth and sharing. We miss the chance to understand more of this great God who is all about us, whose very creation declares His being.
I spoke today with a neighbor who had nearly died of a heart attack a few days ago. He had been antagonistic about sharing god talk with me before. We had walls between us not today! He was so very glad to be alive and I was so very glad he was alive that talking about life and love and even god was easy. We did not need to have a completely consistent understanding of god to talk today. He is not even sure he can understand God, that’s something we could agree on. We both agreed today our words limit our abilities to communicate about such a vast subject. He changed his mind and we built bridges of mutual trust and understanding. We walked together further into the garden.
“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3NIV)
I see God as the greatest, purest, most vital ocean of love, grace, and truth, power and majesty. All good, all glory, all might and truth, all knowledge is contained in that vast ocean. My ability to understand, contain, or comprehend this vast sea is about as big as a tea cup.
It is easy to get very focused on my little tea cup of understanding and miss the chance to drink from the cup of another and benefit from their understanding and hence increase mine. It also easy to believe what I understand is all there is to know. The value is in the sharing of the understanding of Himself that God has revealed to others. It is better than sharing only my understanding. To teach or preach to others things they may not wish to know or care about is unkind and ungracious, it is not peaceable. I need to remember this do you?
In today’s spiritual cultures, those seeking enlightenment, those seeking truth, those seeking God are caught in a quagmire of disagreements. These heated dialogues often turn into hard hearts or mean words. Most of it is in the name of religion, institutionalized doctrines or dogmas.
At the heart of the matter we are generally seeking the same thing, peace, joy, life, love, hope, truth, grace, mercy, and understanding. But we tend to be so sure and so intent on defending or promoting our understanding that we bulldoze over the hearts we wish to touch. That is not God’s way. It is alienation, isolation; it is eating from the wrong tree.
My journey and work has led me to participate in many different religious institutions. I have participated in the design and construction of churches and synagogues and the homes of many spiritual people of different faiths. People want their homes and churches to reflect who they are and what they believe. For me to do my work well, I must be willing to get myself out of the way and understand others. I must choose to respect others’ right to have choices and preferences and walls. This is a choice we each must make if we wish to share our journey with others.
Every person, building, community, or organization, every living organism has a structure. It is necessary. The issue is the size and use of the building blocks that go into the construction. We have major building blocks, minor ones, and connectors of the elements. We have openings, portals, and partitions. All these elements make up the architecture. Every person, community or organization has an architecture, it forms the heart or soul of the community. It structures it.
What I have learned is that every faith community has three key elements. One is the vital life of faith and the presence of the living Spirit of God. The second is the social culture or interpersonal style. The third is the institutional or organization structure. The institutional structure is the hardest most ridge of the elements. It holds up the heavy timbers and elements that protect from the atmospheric pressures of life on the earth. It is very important. But it is only one third of the elements needed to hold a spiritual community together.
My question to pastors and leaders is simple. Are our religious programs and process holding up the alters of our faith in God or are they on the alter? Are they being worshiped and defended sacrificed for-instead of God. Are these hindering his Spirit’s freedom to move about the building?
Are they dominating our community and our faith rather than supporting it and serving it? Are we teaching the traditions, institutions or interpretations of our founding fathers as if they are the words or view of God himself?
“Man shapes his architecture and from then on His architecture shapes him”
Every spiritual community, every tribe, every people need these three elements to bind them together. If we are personally confident in our own personal walk and knowing of the divine being we call God we should be able to come and go into these buildings confidently.
If we are not comfortable within ourselves we tend to need to deconstruct them. Or work to rebuild them into what makes us comfortable or safe. I do not believe that is God’s intention. He loves us and desires every tribe or people to love and worship him in the spirit of truth, grace, confidence and peace. His love flows from his heart into our own heart and than is shared between us if we are willing to trust in Him for the unity we need.
God is far bigger than our ability to understand and He is not about to change or mold himself into the image we choose. Let’s accept others as we would him, he might be revealing soothing of himself through them we are entirely unfamiliar with.
A former concierge for the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco wrote in her little red book titled “Thank You Very Much” the lessons she had learned serving all walks of life. She came up with this wonderful phrase I consider a definition of humility; I embrace it to be true:
“Don’t allow other people to make you feel bigger or smaller than you actually are. Always remain your own size.”
If I we make our god talk only names, definitions rules or expectations- about transferring of our understanding we are making others smaller than we are. By requiring others to agree with our prioritization of the elements that bind our theology or faith community together were not eating of the fruit of the tree of life, rather it’s bark. We cannot drink in the fresh water of the Spirit carried in the hearts of others. We have gained nothing and our relationship with the divine and others has not grown.
I have come to the conclusion that the churches and synagogues I have attended are much like different dining rooms. The meals are cooked from the same set of ingredients by different cooks who mix things up in different proportions and add some different spices.
The dining rooms use different plates. Tables and chairs have a different style. But the same nutrients are in the food . We general eat of the fruit of the same tree. We gather from the same garden if it is life, truth, grace, peace and mercy we seek. Those things come from only source I know of. It’s not so much about the name as it is really truly knowing the one named.
As I have walked my path of life, I have sensed a constant pressure of the adversary to crush the love, hope and joy in my heart toward others. Tempting me to side with judgement, isolation, superiority or self-righteousness, eating the fruit of determination of good or evil for others. That has been the most consistent form of warfare. It is fought between my ears, and worked out in my behaviors with others. Major Ian Thomas a decorated veteran of WWII and the war for the heart and soul of men told me a shortly before his death at 94 that the heart and the spirit of man are synonymous. If we want to know a true spiritual life we must know the movements of our heart.
That is to say that the battle for your heart is actually the battle for the rule of your soul. The heart is the throne of your life, who is going to sit there? The one who rules your heart rules your decisions and hence your life and all you have influence over.
The one who rules all our hearts, rules the earth, for we were made to “take dominion…” of the creation, as the descendants of Adam we were given stewardship of this planet.(gen. 1:16)
Another one of my favorite theologians of the heart; Bob Dylan in the song “Bye and Bye” on his album “Love and Theft”, sings
“I’ll baptize you with fire so you can sin no more
I’ll establish my rule through civil war“.
( fire=the holy Spirit),
Major Ian Thomas is his classic book “The Saving Life of Christ” defined Sin as dysfunction. Dysfunctional life we see in scripture is living according to our own understanding and self centered un-spiritual desires. Thus protecting and defending our right to ourselves. Determining our own way rather than serving the life and way of God as outlined in scriptures and by his spirit. This is eating from the wrong tree.
Functional life is submitting our understanding and all of life’s issues to our god. We determine whether we will follow our natural instincts and desires or walk a higher path, leading a spiritual life. We give ourselves either to our dysfunctions or our functional lives. Functional living comes from eating of the Tree of Life.
In other words, the rule of your life is established through your source of allegiance; the civil war between your natural human desires and your spiritual- redemptive tendencies. We must not loose hold of our source of life.
” Satan does not tempt us to do wrong things ; he tempts us in order to make us loose what God has put into us by regeneration.,… He does not come on the line of tempting us to sin, but on the line of shifting the point of view , and only the spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil. Temptation means the test by an alien power of the position held by a personality.”
(Oswald Chambers; My utmost for his highest isbn 0-88486-102-3)
Perhaps this is a little theological for everyday life. Yet it is to me a structural reality of the heart and mind. If we understand the battleground it is easier to win skirmishes, or at least keep the thoughts that our sent by our adversary in a prisoner of war camp.
Interestingly the Hebrew Scriptures declare that our thoughts grow from our heart.
“ for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt 12:34) “ For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:s” (Prov. 23:7)
So… “Guard your heart for from it flow the issues of life” (pvrbs 4:23), remember “take captive every thought and subject them to Christ” (2 corn.10:5), and above all stay hidden in Christ, for “the name of the Lord is a strong tower the righteous run into it and are safe” (prvbs18:10)
King David sings in a psalm “create in me a clean heart oh Lord” . As an important aside The rabbis never interpreted the scripture “the heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it” to suggest un regenerate man has a wicked heart, that is not a Hebraic thought. It’s more more Gnosticism . They defined the heart of man as weak. Although we may be given a new heart in Messiah we still need to strengthen ours by living in His. We are free from the arrows of judgment, condemnation, or hateful men when we have our being and our knowing in Messiah, for as Shaul (Paul)tells us,
“Focus you minds on the things above, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah who is our life, appears, then you too will appear with him in Glory. (Colossians 3:2-4 Jewish New Testament ISBN 965-359-003-0)
Resolving our conflicts
The great communities of faith who love God and walk in obedience to Him have many concerns and division. Unity will only be found in the true revelation of the peace, love and shared truth of God. Yet our walking together in peace is possible if we can find common ground on the purpose and nature of our lives together.
This will be an individual choice and a real challenge for some. Our theological and ideological differences must be resolved in our common scriptures, stories, and understandings. We must choose to agree on what we can and leave to God to sort out between us the differences. It is His Spirit that will walk us into all truth, not our paradigms or determinations. His is the Spirit of Truth and He will bring us home into the garden of life, love, perfect peace, perfect joy. But I believe it is not geographic, it is experiential, attitudinal and relational.
Back in the creation story if we could read in the space between the first two chapters of Genesis I believe we would discover in the unwritten words a solution for our conflicts. It is written in the heart of God and implied in the scriptures but takes real grace and maturity to find a place for it in your heart or theology.
Eventually with growth, insight and maturity it is written on the heart of people who desire peace and trust in the God of peace to reveal it. I suppose you could call that enlightenment. Agreeing to not disagree but rather share what light we can at the moment is a way to agree and walk together. We can share in our agreements about God.
If I were Moses I would call this missing text Genesis chapter one and a half and place it right between Genesis One and Genesis Two. That unwritten chapter would explain this idea: That the creation of the world was done in the heart and mind of God in Genesis One. The working out of the details in space and time was done in Genesis Two. How he did it is in chapter one and a half. The need for this book can be explained by my experience as an architect.
We have two distinct processes in any design and construction project. First is the creation and second the execution. We design and then construct or form.
As an architect, I find that problems arise in the communications between the two. So we may say that Adam broke the communication link between the rule of God and the will of man. The problem with execution always occurs once the plans are put into the hands of other people. People who do not have the exact same understanding as the creator. The text for Genesis one and a half might be worth considering when you’re in disagreement with other peoples of faith.
In my mind we can simply let all our theological differences camp out in Genesis one and a half ! Let’s wait to meet Moses, Augustine, or Luther and sit with them in the counsel of God and not worry about how to figure out all our questions about how this really is supposed to work out. Lets trust God has a plan for our unity even if we cannot see it at this time. If we believe in it we might just start to see it.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:* KJV)
As Adam and Eve made the wrong decision we will have trouble really understanding or discerning the un-corrupted perfect plan of God. We can however choose to trust Him to work it out in and through us. And if we do not have peace or see clearly we can wait for him to bring the light.
As long as we are relying our human reasoning independent of acting in faith on the scriptures about unity, peace, and acceptance and love of others we are the problem. We must each walk in truth, absolute obedience to the revelation of God. But we should show grace and deference for the weakness and challenges others face.
Winston Churchill said in the midst of the great war. “be kind to everyone you meet they are fighting a battle you know nothing about” . If we are questioning Gods choice to allow us the right to interpret his word, and chose our paths by feeling we are the only correct judge of his word, we are eating from the wrong tree. If we are defending our particular understandings of the scriptures and defending our traditions as if they are God breathed we are the problem. None of us will get a chance to read that unwritten chapter, that call to acceptance, unity and pace between the new and the old testament believers in the Messiah. Genesis 1.5 is written in heaven lets just trust God with the things we do not understand about His plan. Let’s eat of the tree of life and share the fruit rather than dismissing the fruit another has picked from that precious tree. We all wish to share our love and insights regarding God and need to share if we are to live together in peace and true life.
Naturally conflicts and misunderstandings will arise. If our heart is for unity we will be willing to work through those difficulties to find clarity rather than cut others off. That is if we trust each other and our God. We might even be in peace following our God’s path clearly and create real issues in others who do not agree or understand as we do. Mercy, grace, love and forgiveness are foundational for spiritual people; let’s stand firmly on that foundation stone.
The greatest peace for me has come with the understanding that I am judged by God based on the motives of my heart and the truth of my actions. (1 Cor. 4:5) I am not judged by other people’s responses, reactions, or feelings about me. I am called to be in the truth and in peace. I let my God deal with the ramifications of my actions. I seek him first to be sure I am “in him” as I act or respond to others’ actions. (1 Cor. 4:3)
We must and can choose peace and mutual respect. We can trust in God who has given us free will to guide our free hearts. Trusting above all in His almighty power as sovereign Lord of all is the key. He promised us “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord and like water he turns it where he will” (find scripture)
Discernment vs Judgment
Since Adam and Eve made the wrong choice and ate the forbidden fruit it’s bitter juices flow through our thoughts and heart. Shame, isolation, self defense, independence, false judgment, delusional thinking: all the dysfunctions entered humanity’s heart and mind.
Relying on their own knowing independent of God, human understanding has corrupted our very view of God. We have become judges of God and others rather than lovers, friends, and servants of him and each other. And what is God’s judgment of us due to this rebellion? If God had man’s mind He would say “I warned them, gave it straight and clear, I told them, don’t eat that fruit or else…” That is all that human judgment has to rely on and that is how we anticipate God’s behavior; according to our own understanding.
But the Prophet of God, Isaiah, tells us:
“God’s ways are not our ways as the heavens are higher than the earth so our God’s ways higher than our ways. “
“ For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved for those who trust in him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the one who is God’s only and unique Son. Now this is the judgment; the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked. For everyone who does evil things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds won’t be exposed. But everyone who does what is true comes to the light that all may see that his actions are accomplished through God” Yochanan (John) 3:16-21 niv.
Christians believe that Rabbi Yeshua was the Messiah. Even if he was not the Messiah and the Messiah is to come His words and the words of his disciples are as worthy of consideration as any other Rabbi’s in the Mishna or other holy texts. All of faithful Israel’s hope is in the Messiah; all of Christianity’s hope is in the Messiah and as Rabbi David Rubin of Shilo Israel says:
“The only difference between us (Christians and Jews) is in the question is the Messiah coming or coming back.?”
The Hebrew Scriptures inform us even Avraham was saved not by obedience to the commandments, as none had yet been given. He was saved by faith in the Messiah that was to come. (find verse). So whether the Messiah is to come or to come back, the faith in Him is that which makes us righteous and therefore “Saved”. Of course the Torah (the teachings) are for our good, it is for our health and benefit. It is for our life, but it is not for our salvation. How we choose to adhere to Torah (teachings) is a personal decision between ourselves and our God.
If God himself as the Christians believe purposed the Messiah was to take away the offense, to take away God’s need to judge mankind why do we hang on to our right to judge so fiercely? Most “religious” people are some of the most judgmental people I have met.
They often are priding themselves on the correctness of their knowing what is good and evil, what is true of false what is right or wrong. My trust is in the Messiah not my knowledge about Him, or my knowledge about the Scriptures,the prophets the sages,Talmud or Midrash. It is in the very presences the Holy Spirit of the living God resident in my heart and illuminating my mind that I find the light, hope and truth revealed.
Admittedly we all must discern or decide what is a right or wrong action or behavior. To apply that assessment to the heart or intentions of another;that is something else altogether. Yet religious people go to such lengths to establish themselves as the judges of the theological correctness, intentions, hearts other religious people. Most any Christian you enter into a dialog about judgment will say:
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Corinthians 6:1-3
But it seems to me that this verse really needs balance by the heart of Christ and the heart of the Father. One must bear in mind just when the believers in the Messiah/Christians are to be judging the world. As I read the verse it is not until the Messiah/Christ has returned in the flesh that we are to go about this work of judging others. Can you actually claim that you are now a saint? Moses was the first “authorized” judge of others and God said to him…
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: Deuteronomy 1:16-18(kjv)
What did Yeshua/Jesus say about Judgment?
“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. John 12:46-48 “
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:12-13″)
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3 (NAS) “
“I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord–but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me. John 5:29-31 (Amplified Bible ) “
” Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand. Romans 14:3-5(amplified)”
The apostle Paul says,
“As for myself, I do not care if I am judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself….I am not by this acquitted but the one who judges me is the Lord 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 “
“Now, a crown is being held for me—a crown for being right with God. The Lord, the judge who judges rightly, will give the crown to me on that day —not only to me but to all those who have waited with love for him to come again. 2 Timothy 4:7-9 “
I am choosing to wait in love for him to come. I’m finding it very freeing to not even consider judging, evaluating, examining others, and in turn finding a real freedom from the opinions others seem to form of me as well. Yes, wisdom requires discernment and insight, but I’m working really hard these days to not be eating that very tempting fruit that kills my heart and poisons my relationships with others.
I understand as you surely do that we must learn to discern between truth and lies, right and wrong, good and evil. We must learn to avoid that which hinders us on our walk into the light. We must be guided by God to pick the right fruit and eat from the tree of life.
Our discernment needs to be submitted to the gracious, loving spirit of wisdom, that is love, grace, and truth. We cannot rely on our own understanding alone. That is the wrong tree. We must study intently the scriptures, the word of truth. We must discern carefully the movements of our heart and the thoughts of our mind to be sure that we are in truth and not in deception, judgment, hate, or unjust anger. We must be in the light.
We should not rely on our human understanding. Even our religious views can become darkness. Rather we should rely on God to help us discern. That is the fruit of the tree of life. Truth may be humbling to our ego, our vanity, and our pride. It may taste bitter at first but it is sweet to the stomach. The fruit of man’s judgment and understanding independent from God tastes sweet at first. But it rots in the gut and causes many sleepless nights. It will kill your heart and poison your mind.
I suggest that the Judgment of God is good; the judgment of man is self-centered, self-seeking, generally dysfunctional and very bad. Our mutual adversary wants us to let our judgment rule our lives. He pressures us to make judgments and decide outside of the peace, rest, truth, or commandments of God.
Our enemy can rule us if we decide according to the limited wisdom of our experience and this dysfunctional world. He uses our voices or our key strokes to be his accusations. For the traditions of men rather than the holy way and mind of God is his realm of authority. He would have us choose for ourselves rather than according to true wisdom, truth, grace, and mercy. He would have us hate each other for our differences rather than love each other in God based on our shared truth and revelations. We will grow in unity by our personal obedience to the scriptures, our humility and reverence for God, trusting Him to be informing the hearts and minds of others in His time and His way.
True love is only of our creator. True discernment and true judgment come only in the light and revelation of God. Anything that is not of truth and from wisdom comes in the darkness. It then is a rejection of Love, truth, grace, mercy, kindness. It is rebellion from God; it is a lie; it is unreality, dysfunction and death.
We are free from the accuser and judge if we know our position of having our being in Messiah (Christ). When we know our Messiah’s our friend and brother and our judge we welcome judgment from him wherever it may present itself. When judgment comes from him it is to purge us from the dysfunctions that brings about spiritual death, isolation from God and other people. True Judgment from God even when it comes through other people, is as a gift that has come to make us free from the poisoned fruit and the dysfunction of eating from that other tree.
The glory of the fire of Judgment!
It burns the fire of judgment, it burns.
It burns away the bonds and chains; it burns.
It burns the fire of judgment it burns away the dross and pain.
Refiners fire, glory come, burn away, burn away.
Oh glory, glory to the fire of Judgment sent out from the hearth of God
Glory for the fire of judgment sets us free to be people of God
Glorious burning come to me, release me from my misery.
Glorious fire thanks to thee my heart and mind are finely free.
Freedom comes with the Judgment, freedom from this body of death,
Burn me mold me make me able to withstand this happiness.
Happy are the ones who find you, molded in the fire so pure.
Happy are the ones who know you to be their only perfect cure.
Cure from anguish, cure from pain, cure from all sordid gain.
Cure from sorrow, cure from ease, the cure that will in God’s mind please.
Grateful are we who know this truth, the burning of our flesh from youth.
Grateful are we little ones, who doubt not God’s redeeming Son.
This time, latter, maybe now, this fire it comes upon your brow
Let the burning be your redemption and for your the final cure.
Futile is resistance, say the wisend ones. For in the burning comes the Son.
Son of God, Son of glory ,God’s holy anointed one.
Coming finely for his people made ready through judgments flame.
Bow before the refiners fire, stand not lest you be crushed,
Humbly bow, stand no longer, be before his alter slain.
For in mercy grace and kindness He receives his lovers lame.
My favorite definition of our purpose for living comes from an older version of the Episcopal book of prayer:
“The purpose of life is to know God and enjoy him forever”
Knowing God is true life, finding him and discerning the reality of God our greatest challenge. His reality is declared in the Holy Scriptures, revealed in the lives of those who walk intimately with him weather saint, sage, Rabbi, Master, Minster, teacher or student. His presence (Spirit) is discerned in our hearts and informs our minds, and can be observed in his very creation.
Our challenge in life is to discern that which is not of God and that which is. What is of us and what is of Him. I define religion as man’s interpretation of relationship with God. If you sincerely, honestly, humbly faithfully choose to walk the path from darkness into true life you will become enlightened and find it. It’s about who you are seeking and who you follow as well as what you are looking for that determines where you are heading and what you will find.
You will also find groups of sojourners along the way that you can travel with. Find those who share for a short or long season the same values, principles, understandings and truth that you do. There is great joy and encouragement in the shared journey. We are created as a social people we need each other.
Back in the garden the problem occurred. Adam and Eve chose badly, and received the consequences of that choice. Shame, fear, dysfunction; separation from God entered the world through them.
As Adam and Eve discovered to their dismay, sinful man beings instinctively to shrink from the presence of God. That impulse of evasion was the first (though not the last) of the new qualities that the couple showed after their fall.(from grace and truth) Before, they had enjoyed an intimate fellowship with God, and welcomed His presence. Now they feel threatened by Him, and experience the need to hide from His presence. (Brooks Alexander. “Oracle of Transgression. SCP Newsletter Fall 2009 Volume 34:1)
It is our natural fears, and judgments about who god is that isolates us from God and each other. It is when we find what God actually thinks and plans for us that we begin to draw close again losing our shame and our false judgments about, God, ourselves and others.. The truth and reality of God is far better than our beliefs about god. We need to be disillusioned with our understanding of god and expectations of others before we can see and live truly.
Thomas Merton warns, “There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with reality”. Most of us are quite willing to embrace reality when it fits with how we see ourselves and the world, and when it is not overly unpleasant. However when our life experiences confront us with things about ourselves that were unwilling to accept, we call on psychological defense mechanisms to help maintain a sense of safety and stability. While these unconscious strategies help with short-term coping they block long term growth. This is because they distort reality. Ultimately the functions is to protect us from unpleasant truth…(David G. Benner The gift of being yourself. Pg62)
Choosing to face the realities of who we are now allows us to advance beyond and become who we were destined to be. Real life flows in truth and grace alone. Acknowledging our dysfunctions, failings, allows the grace and mercy of an all loving, merciful God to draw the poisons out of us.
The vital truth of relating to our false self and the revelation of our true selves flow most clearly through intimate relationships with others. We see who we are in the mirrors of the eye’s of others. Our reality is reflected back to us as we look honesty in the eye’s and hearts of others who react too the way we are being at any given moment. It is generally our fears and false judgments, our own knowing of others outside of the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God that separates us from them. We are then isolated from the ones we love and from truly knowing God and ourselves.
Some of our greatest assets in finding God and ourselves in our journey is in time shared honestly with sojourners along the way. Find those who share for a short or long season the same values, principles, understandings and truth that you do. If you are able to accept the things you can’t understand there is great joy and encouragement in the shared journey. We are created as a social people we need each other. However sometimes we out grow those around us. We can in grace and mercy be grateful for the sharing and move on in peace and leave peace behind us. Discerning who to walk with and for how long is a critical decision to finding the paths of life.
Real life is found in truth and reality. If it’s true, it’s real. Eat from the tree of life, do not lean on your own understanding about God or man. Let God reveal himself to you and you will find the truth about him and the truth about yourself. Putting God in to your little god box will not make him more real to you; simply separate you from his reality. Putting people in little boxes isolates us from the reality of others as well. You sense that isolation and find it manifested with others.
Those who actually know God can challenge your knowing when it is even slightly off base. It is spiritual ; you sense the conflicts. This is part of what leads us into the truth. If God is real and present then we will see him clearly if we are looking honestly. You can’t miss the reality of a real God. It is your false conceptions of God that are the problem. God if perfectly content with himself, it’s you that are discontent with him. To find the true God we must be willing to let go of our own expectations of Him. In finding God we will find our own hearts kept still.
“ There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend;
To discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him” Thomas Merton.
There is a wonderful Christian song;
“I have made you too small in my eyes oh God forgive me,
and I have believed the lie that you were not able to help me.
But now oh Lord I see my wrong heal my heart and show yourself strong,
and in my eyes and in my song oh Lord be magnified.
I have leaned on the wisdom of men, oh Lord forgive me.
And I have responded to them, instead of your grace and Your mercy.
But now oh Lord I can see my wrong, Heal my heart and show yourself strong,
and in my eyes and with my song oh Lord be magnified, oh Lord be magnified.”
Dysfunctional life as I see it is living according to our own understanding and desires. Functional life then would be to submit our understanding and all of life’s issues to our God. Real life happens when we turn away from our dysfunctional limited life and choose to let God’s life flow through us.
How do we do this. Jesus/Yeshua said “I came that you might have life and that too the full”. A fully functioning life is a life of faith in Messiah Yeshua to lead and guide us into all life. Abraham was considered “the father of faith”. Most Christian bible say’s “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as Righteousness.” (Genesis 15.6) . Yet a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew might say “Abraham allowed no dis-trust, believing he who said it had the power to do it, and that was accounted to him as Righteousness”.
Abraham allowed no dis-trust. Changing your mind, choosing to trust will change your life. If what you chose to believe is the truth. Your life will be amplified, magnified, expanded, if your faith is placed in something greater than you. And you allow that faith to be made real in and through you.
Love is a verb. Love is a not just an emotion; it is a spirit as well. It is a reality which must be followed and allowed to flow through you. Love is a decision. God is Love. And He is the one to define what love is, not we ourselves. He has revealed it in the Scriptures, through those that know him intimately. The Hebrew word most translated in the Scriptures for love is Yadda the same intimate knowing a man has with a woman. That is the knowing we are to have of love and God, and even one another, in holy, perfect, un-defiled, un-corrupted, functional love.
The Apostle Paul writes of Love in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patent, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self –seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Faith is a noun in the Greek, a descriptive word of something possessed or not. Yet in the Hebrew it is a verb. The Hebrew language is driven by verbs, words of action not definition. I have a gift of believing in things I cannot see, and trusting that the evidence will present itself . It usually does over time. It is taking real faith to write this book, to act out my belief. I am trusting I have something others will care to read. It takes faith to believe that it will be published and put into your hand and that you will find it worthwhile. That is a belief in something I cannot see, I have now only hope and trust, this text in your reading is the evidence of my faith.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
We all have faith in lesser and greater measures. It takes faith to get out of bed and not believe meteors will hit you as soon as you walk out the door. It takes faith to go through a green light and trust that the other cars will remain stopped. The real question is what our faith is in. The greater the object of our faith the greater the possibilities it allows us to consider.
“Man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for” William Blake ()
To live takes faith. Someone without much faith said to me once. “My life has no more meaning than a blade of grass in a Kansas wheat field”. An AA practitioner told me not to chose as a higher power a doorknob. What we put our faith in should be big and powerful in order to keep us in faith. Let us not make the object of our faith too small.
We must have faith that our lives have a purpose beyond the square footage we take up. Humility requires that we accept the simple reality of our abilities and limitations. Faith requires that we believe there is and can be more than we can see. We live on each day because of our faith. The quality of our lives and our contributions to the lives of others is dependent on the objects we place our faith in.
We serve what we fear. If I fear I will not eat tomorrow, I will spend most of my energy figuring out how to acquire food. I will serve my hunger. If we can place our faith in aligning ourselves with a supreme being of grandeur, love, compassion, truth and glory we will I believe be better for it. We must fear God, show him reverence and be obedient to his promptings.
“The Greeks made gods in man’s image and the Hebrews made man in the image of God.”
(Camille Paglia Sex,Art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson ISBN0-679-73579-8)
I have a dear friend who does not believe God exists. We cannot both be right. One of us is wrong. I would rather live a life of faith in the glorious majesty of the living God of truth and find out at the end of my time that I was wrong, than live a life solely bent on serving my own selfish inclinations and desires. Selfishness usually costs you more than it returns. That’s the choice we all have to make. That is the nature of the civil war within.
“You are going to serve somebody,
it may be the Devil or it may be the Lord
but you are going to serve somebody”
The real crux to a walk of faith is obedience to the path you have chosen; to walk your talk. If you are serving a true God and walking on a true path this should not be a problem. The proof is in the results. If you find yourself spending a lot of time defending your choices and beliefs because others are not seeing the reality of them something is not right. We should be sure we put our faith in a real God, not a religion or philosophy about God. It will take faith to believe, faith to hear, faith to understand, and faith to act.
The good thing about the God I serve is He is full of promises and they are clearly written. He also has plenty of guidance and sound wisdom. Also clearly written in the Holy Scriptures.
“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character,
spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love,
each dimension fitting into and developing the others.
With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet,
no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus (Yeshua).
Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.”
2 Peter 1:4-6 (Amplified)
But it is the acting on the word, will and revelation that makes it real. It is the obedience in the walking with God that is the point after all. If not why bother? The choice is yours to make! Which tree will you eat from, now, while it is yet today? Whom will you serve?
Looking around you, reading the newspaper, watching the news, you can see that something has gone very, very, wrong in this world. You know it in your gut. Yet you also know there is more than this. You no doubt have had those supreme moments of love, joy, and hope; glimpses back to the garden.
You can remember those long summers of your childhood still. Whether you are near or far from those precious places you must also know in your heart that even then something was missing. There must be a perfect garden we will return too one day.
The dysfunctions, the brokenness, and the insufficiency of this reality we share to meet our heart’s deepest needs yet remain. We can consider and question the validity our shared myths and spiritual understandings for years. We can question the nature of truth, reality and goodness till we are old and die in our questions. There comes a time to stop questioning and start finding and trusting in answers. This too is a choice and an act of faith. This is to choose to walk a path of faith, believe there are answers, and there is a true God who delights to reveal them to us. This is the path to life. That is the path back to the Garden.
Those who know of God, and those who walk in submission to and obedience to the commands of God understand that this life is a process of growth in understanding, faith and obedience. It is a journey of walking into the Light and the Truth.
It is a walk of faith and that faith requires trust that there is a supernatural guide who knows the way for each individual, family, tribe and people. The paths and the stepping stones will vary during our individual journey. And we cannot judge the validity of another’s journey flawlessly from our perspective, from our path. We are all so very unique and different. And that is the Glory of God.
“The Glory of God is man fully alive” St. Ireanius
But if it’s a true path we will find ourselves coming across each other. It is at these times that the reality of our faith and trust is tested. Our gracious kindness and respect one for another will show the unbelieving world the reality of our faith.
Peace will come between us when we individually and corporately choose to trust that God is one, no matter what the name another uses for Him. If we can trust our God to lead us into truth and life; can we make another to trust God? Can we trust God to guide others and mankind no matter how chaotic and separated we might appear to be? Can we trust that we can be united by the Holy Spirit?
Yes that spirit is the Spirit of truth and only to degree that we accept and walk in it can that spirit be revealed to or through us. That also is a fact. But can we actually trust God the creator and finisher of our faith to be the judge of the truth rather than we ourselves? Can we trust what we know to be true and follow it without demeaning others who see things differently . Can we choose not to disqualify another’s path because we do not understand it?
Can we trust that Spirit to do the same for others who might not be interested in our walk at all and are entirely contrary to us? Can we choose in faith to listen attentively for what our God is speaking to us through the words, writings and understandings of others who have a different kind of knowing of God than we? I think God can do all these things in and through us if we get our opinions out of the way and follow him. I think all things are possible for the one true God whose spirit it is that unites all believers in that one God!
Those who are still searching for their path into the light, hope, peace and faith in God have choices to make as well. What path? What family, what tribe will be the best fit for you now. Who are you called to share your journey with? It must be shared if it is real. We need each other to help us see and help us grow. We cannot see clearly ourselves and we need the insights, understandings and faith of others that have walked longer than we on this path of life. That I hope is clear.
My walk has led me through many families, and tribes of faith and each has imparted treasures in my heart mined for the depths of their human trouble and suffering. Diamonds are formed in the depths of the earth under great pressures. Gold is refined by fire, and so are our hearts, and our faith.
Finding the balance, walking in truth and grace is done one step at a time. Walking back to the garden of rest and peace is done one thought at a time. Our lives are built on action based on one decisions; one at a time. That’s just the way it is. It is a biological and spiritual fact.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
The bulk of this little book was written in the summer of 2010, during a six week period. It was the result in part of my architectural practice going through the sea change of the recession starting in July of 2008. All my hopes, dreams, and ambitions vanished. I spent a year or more recovering form the shock. Another year trying to figure things out, and then finely seeking the clear fresh waters of life and purpose again. This part of the result of that search. Indeed it was a trial by fire the hardest and most glorious time I can recall. For my God walked so intimately and presently with me as I let go of all I thought I needed. I have continue to refine and edit as I grow in grace truth and understanding, may you as well continue to refine and edit your life as you grow in grace, truth and understanding.
I entrust what I have shared to purposes and glory of our creator; the Source of all Life YeHoVaH.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-
if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise-dwell on these things.
What you have learned and revived and heard and seen in me-put these things to into practice,
and the God of shalom will be with you. “
(Philippians 4: 8-9. Tree of life Version)
The end or perhaps a new beginning.
Thanks Abba. Thanks to the love of my life, the Queen of my Heart, Kathryn Z.E. Parry. Thanks to Bianca of Certus Coaching whose suggestion this book was and whose effective and insightful prayers helped guide it. You share this fruit with me my dear sister. Thanks to the men of the King ’s Counsel on RansomedHeart.net 2008 who shared with me for a season my belief in the Kingdom that is at hand. Thanks also to my CBMC band of brothers, your witness and lives grew me up. I have learned from you that men only grow into men in the intimate company of other real men thanks for the strong and faithful company.
I need to acknowledge the influence made by many on my thinking and my heart life. First of course is the Lord for walking me back into the garden to rest under his branches. Also for His Shabatt and embracing the Torah as a way to life; it is not the law it is freedom from the way’s of this world. It became the last of my many paths toward that fruitful tree.
Also my precious wife, for her ongoing kindness, patience, and long suffering. She carried me on her back kicking and screaming for half of our emotional life together. She bore graciously my dysfunctional thinking, talking and doing. She is the love of God made real for me. Her eye is my very own obsessive/ compulsive meter (she knows me better than I know myself in many ways). We are in LOVE together over thirty two years now.
I also need to acknowledge all who were willing to bear my growth pains with kindness and patience. This mercy is born only of God in them. You know who you are, even if I do not.
For the record I want to list a few profound influences on my heart and mind. Not in any particular order authors poets, seers and mentors. I love them all, some I have known personally and others have risked exposing their hearts that I might touch them. Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan); Mj. Ian Thomas; Art Katz; C.S. Lewis; G.K. Chesterton; Watchman Nee; Oswald Chambers; Dr. Skip Moen; Mrs. Louise Kinter; Andrew Murray; Epictetus; John Eldredge; R.W. Emerson; Reece Howells; Rabbi Joseph Abrham Heshel; Charles Manning; Joni Michele; Phil Downer; Michael Fortune; Rob Bell; Mosishe Rosen; Dr. J. H. Hertz; Joseph Good; Rev. John Jackson; Dr. James Holfer; Harry Golden; Janver Holly; Martin Luther; Br. Lawrence; Edna St. Vincent Millay; Dylan Thomas; Cal Straub; and you my newest friend who’s desire for true life touched the Lo-rd of my life who moved my heart to share this…
For those who need to judge whither or not I am a heretic I will provide the following statement of my theology (faith). The heretic hunters most likely will find something wrong here and if so I would suggest heretic hunters pray for my soul. My sweet wife warns me that they might be burning heretics at the stake again someday. If so I trust I will have sufficient oil in my spirit to light a blaze that will fill the night sky for years to come. I expect however euthanasia will be more politically correct soon; I’m getting older and not of much use to the powers of this world.
Following is a summary of what I call the message of my Lord. This has been revealed in scripture, proven by my experience and is what I consider a workable truth. Something you can work with, stake your life, heart and mind on. Credit for this statement of faith must be given to others, Yeshua/Jesus my best friend and first consultant; The holy Scriptures of Israel my second consultant; the Tanakh ; and the new testament/covenant of Yeshua HaMashicah; Rabbi Shoul (Paul of Tarsis) and; Watchman Nee; Maj. Ian Thomas, Art Katz,Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, G.K. Chesterton, Rabbi Abraham Heschel; Dr. Skip Moen- to name but a few of my many mentors in faith.
My Statement of Faith
So this is the reality of our life as I see it now, today! The very son of God, comes down from heaven, and walks with man, as a man, while yet God. He comes to fix the broken connection, (the hard wire) between man and God; by His death, and resurrection. Adam broke this when he chose rebellion, his own selfish path at the very beginning of man’s time here. Adam chose to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and mankind has been suffering ever since. Death was the judgment/ consequence for that decision and the Messiah came to take upon himself that consequence and satisfy the requirement of truth/reality. He was the great intercessor for mankind, acceptable to God. He came to set things straight.
In His(Christ’s/Messiah’s) death on the cross he took upon himself the punishment for the rebellion of Adam. He ; Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) ( the Second Adam and first man) received at his resurrection an entirely new life, the life of man in the power of God. A life capable of being communicated to us, and entering and renewing and filling our life with His power. In His ascension, He received the Spirit of the Father, through whom He might do what He could not do while upon earth; making Himself one with those He loved. He now actually lives their life for them, so that they can now live His life before all mankind.
God/Yeshua/Holy Spirit/ Jesus does this for a reason. He does this so that we would be able to be all that God had purposed for us when we were created, prior to Adam’s rebellion.
Our purpose; is to represent Him; to reveal Him and His ways, to manage a particular part of His affairs down here; a realm, a sphere of influence, a territory for Him. We are his stewards and called to take dominion of his creation.
He then returns to heaven, leaving his Spirit as a guide behind; He sits on the seat of power and leaves up to us if we wish to consult him or not. Being a gentleman God can wait, he has all the time in the world to let us figure it out. It’s we that do not have time on our side. He let’s us have our way. Until he comes in power and great glory to judge the living and the dead, and rule personally his Kingdom. He will then restore all things; “Back to the Garden” for all dissension, untruth, lies or opposition; dysfunction will have been removed once and for all.
About the Author.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Do not speak about yourself who you are thunders so loudly behind you that you cannot be heard” I would prefer to let others tell you about me. It would in my mind be a less biased and more accurate picture of my reality. I am blind to who I really am. I only see my failings or get caught in the vanity or grandiosity of my thoughts and hopes. When I see myself in the eyes of my knowledge of God then I am the most real, and that requires humility and grace to bear.
A proverb say’s “let another praise you and not your own mouth” But since I am writing this alone and am really a complete unknown to the greater world outside of my personal sphere of influence I will simply provide my story; you can find it here (the password is jahh). It’s there if you wish to understand a bit about my journey so far. What formed me in my early days. It is as true as I know now but that may change as I grow further in truth and understanding of reality .
© 5.28.2016 Edited-re-posted: 9.14.2022;2.8.2023
2 thoughts on “Finding Your Way: “Back to the Garden””
It’s very generous of you to share this on WordPress for us. I look forward to reading it. Thank you.