Archive | July, 2012

Storm Rider

29 Jul

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 9 After Pentecost 2012

Storm Rider

Last week the Lectionary Barons omitted from the Gospel passage on Mark 6 the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus later walking on water to reach the disciples in their boat.  They were exhausted.  They had been fighting against the wind.  Mark 6:48 said that as He was walking on the water He was about to pass them by.  The disciples thought He was a ghost. (v 49)  They all saw Him and were terrified. (v 50)  He told them to take courage, it was He; and not to be afraid. (v 50)  The wind died down.  And they were amazed (v 51) for they had not understood about the loaves, because their hearts were hardened. (v 52)  Fatigue does harden our hearts.

This week the Lectionary Barons included the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus walking on water to reach the disciples, but the Lectionary Barons chose the passage from John 6 rather than continuing in Mark 6 to share the story.  John’s is the same story but slightly different from Mark’s version, because John writes from a spiritual perspective, where Mark writes from an emphasis on Jesus’ miracles and actions.[1]  Ok, fine.  I applied both perspectives.  We really do know that regions get spiritually cleaned up first to make room for miracles to come in.  Mark says that Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida while He dismissed the crowd. (Mk 6:45)  Luke 9:10 specifies that Jesus and the disciples withdrew to a town called Bethsaida.  The crowds gathered and the five thousand were fed.  John 6:17 says the disciples got into the boat and started to cross the sea to Capernaum (no mention of Bethsaida now.)  The map in my Bible shows the locations of Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Gennesaret at the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Since I’ve heard Bible scholars get into some pretty ugly debates over the seeming discrepancies that occur in the Bible (and they use those supposed discrepancies to disavow the authenticity of the Bible itself,) I choose not to get into those stormy winds.  Instead I looked at the word ‘Capernaum.’  In last week’s Reflection entitled “Golden Fleeced” I’d looked at ‘Gennesaret’ and what had happened there to make it significant.  Jesus had cast out “Legion,” the demon infestation, into a herd of two thousand pigs. (Mk 5:13)  Spiritual clean-up was happening there in the Decapolis (v 20) where the healed crazy man bore testimony to his health and well-being in Christ.  Since spiritual work precedes the temporal, it made sense to me that Gennesaret, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were all in the same geographic region.  (And also notice that the spirits comprising the conglomerate named “Legion” had begged Jesus again and again not to be sent out of the area! (v 10)  Jesus complied. (v 13)  Everyone got what they wanted.)

So?  And Capernaum?  What had happened there?  According to Mt 4:12-17 Capernaum was where Jesus lived after He left His hometown of Nazareth.  He went to live in Capernaum to fulfill what the Prophet Isaiah had said:

Isa 9:1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

Mt 4: 12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
    Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

We people, here, now, in this place and space on the timeline are also a people living in darkness.  My spiritual eye went back to today’s Gospel lesson:

Jn 6:17 [The disciples] got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

We, too, are still waiting for Jesus to return.  The people living in spiritual darkness really have seen a great light.  Has a light dawned on those living in the land of the shadow of death?  One wonders.  The Churches tend to keep it to themselves.

Jn 6:18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

We definitely know all about our Babylonian-like culture’s “wind”!  It sure does blow strong!!

Jn 6:19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, …

Hold on…!  The breath caught in my chest as I made a sudden connection with the numbers three and four, which in turn linked in a wispy swirl to barley.  The phrase “three quarts of barley for a day’s wage” from Rev 6:6 came to mind and overlapped with the barley loaves Jesus broke after giving thanks in John 6:11. Both the exhausted disciples in John 6 and the bone-weary saints in Rev 6 are in an identical position.  We’re all in survival mode:

Revelation 6:5-6

 5When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

Take a look with me: The Lamb opens the third seal.  Dignity seemingly doesn’t have much to do with survival mode.  John hears the third living creature [Dignity], say, “Come!”  John looks and before him is a black horse [spiritual darkness.]  Its rider is holding a pair of scales (v 5).  Justice must balance the extremes between faithfulness and darkness.  The Middle Ages lasted about a thousand years.  [Note a cross reference with the “thousand years” in Rev 20:3]  It was a spiritually black time.  It was also called the Dark Ages, where people were ruled by superstition rather than living faith.  Then John hears what sounds like a voice among the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (v 6) The people of the Middle Ages had their basic needs met (as represented by the wheat and barley.)  The abundance of life (as represented by the oil and wine) was not much experienced in this time, and they lost many of the skills, trades, and knowledge humanity had acquired over many centuries.  We have been experiencing the same.  In the gospel lesson for today in the lectionary readings, John 6:9 and 13 specify that the five loaves Jesus broke after giving thanks and shared were barley loaves.  I wondered what God was spiritually “breaking” right now to His people. 

When the Lamb opened the Fourth Seal in Rev 6:7-8, there before John was a pale horse whose rider’s name was Death, and Hades was following close behind him.  Thanks to television our culture has a good imagination, so we can picture this, down to these details: “They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”  This describes the era of the Black Plague from a thousand years ago, but we, too, are witnesses of these same things today.  Their experiences just foreshadowed what we are going through and gave us language to describe it.  The experiences are just called by different names, because language is a living entity.  These passages from Rev 6 are also a “dual reference” (as scholars term it)[2] or a double fulfillment of prophecy, fulfilled by God lifting us out of the Dark Ages back then and God lifting us out of our dark age now.  And just as the saints of old in the Fifth Seal (Rev 6:9-11) cried out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (v 10) so, too, the saints today are crying out the same thing.  And what are we supposed to do?  There is a clue in the passage:

Revelation 6:11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and “brothers [ie the “Brotherhood” of the shepherds of the Seven Churches] who were to be “killed” [in spirit, meaning humbled] as they had been was completed.

In this part of the revelation there is no separate horse and rider being beckoned to come when the Lamb opens the Fifth Seal.  The souls of the faithful cry out to the Lord.  He comes to them and each is given a white robe [purity.]  We are all “Riders on the Storm”[3] following the Rider on the White Horse in Rev 19:14.  The experiences of the generation who encountered the “Black Horse” in the Dark Ages foreshadowed the experiences of this generation encountering the “Rider on the White Horse” in contrast.  And in every generation God has sent anchorites to power pray down the Goons who try “to eat our lunch.”  Just as the area around Galilee needed spiritual clean-up before physical healing could take place, so in our day spiritual cleaning is commencing before justice rides forth.  And the Holy Spirit will gather up all “the fragments:”

Jn 6:12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”

So, as a believing Church, what do we do?  Jesus told us not to be afraid. (Jn 6:20)  On one hand, those of us who are waiting with hardened hearts will cross over, land at our version of “Gennesaret,” anchor there and wrestle with “Legion.” (ref Mk 6:52)  On the other hand, the saints who are still spiritually waiting under the altar in a holding pattern as the Church-as-Institution seemingly does Nothing are waiting because the spell of spiritual “Babylon” has not yet been broken (Rev 18:23) and the curse has not yet been lifted (Rev 22:3).  Oh, pardon me; did I just use the words “spell” and “curse”?  Shock!  The nerve of me!  How dare I use spiritually-related words in Church of all places!  I’ll just dust off these fragments a moment like all good and feisty anchorites do.  Ok, dear.  You feel better now?

Those of us with soft and open hearts will be receptive, will WANT to take Jesus into the Church-as-Boat, and the “boat” will immediately reach the land toward which we are going. (Jn 6:21)  Q: What does the Church WANT?  So far the Seven Churches are like separate rocks in a Zen garden: pretty to visit but one can’t camp there.  The principle of WANT is a universal kingdom principle and not just a spiritual one.  If we don’t know what we want, how can we express what we value?  The Churches seem to have different values than I have.  No amount of my explaining, defending, confronting in kindness, teaching, exposing, crying, or laughing through the roller coaster of absurdities will change their value set.  And theirs cannot change mine, because the Churches lean on doctrine for what they value.  Not that the Churches don’t lean on Christ, too.  Of course they do!!  It’s just that doctrine puts words to what one values through the corporate body experience.  Doctrine is what they value, and since the Holy Spirit gave every denomination a slightly different part of God’s character to live into deeper understanding, well then each denomination understands God a little differently, because their emphasis is different.  It doesn’t make it wrong, just different, as each child is different from their parent.  And the Churches value what they’ve learned corporately.  After all, those were hard-earned lessons.  No one can take that away, nor should it be attempted.  Those are identity rocks in the rock garden.  The rocks must be used to build our identity in Christ, not monuments to ourselves.  Lessons learned serve as tools to help us remember and internalize what we already know and to explore what we don’t yet know.  Q: What tool serves the Church to help her remember and internalize what she already knows and to explore what she does not yet know?  (Assuming she doesn’t know everything.)  The easy answer is the Bible.  The Bible does help her to remember, but without the Holy Spirit breathing on the Word and helping us to internalize what we know, we also miss out on exploring what we don’t yet know.  And as long as Satan can still make plenty of noise in the souls of all the Churches, there will be fear blocking the spirit of exploration and expansion.  As long as there is fear, the Word will be ‘gluttonized’ rather than savored.

In a recent sermon a pastor[4] said that babies are born with only two fears: 1) the fear of loud noises, and 2) the fear of falling.  All the rest of our fears are learned.  I draw this understanding out of my portfolio of knowledge and place it as an overlay on the Church.  The Church is like “Babylon.”  (The spiritual virus is the same regardless of what century.)  The spirit of Babylon makes a LOT of noise and “Babylon” knows she is going to fall.  (Rev 18)  She is afraid.  She intrinsically knows this.  She makes more noise because she knows she is going to fall.  The good news is that the authentic Church, which is rooted in her identity in Christ, does trust Him.  The bad news is that Babylon’s fear is so loud and noisy that the voice of the authentic Church is drowned out.  The rocks that make up the foundation of the authentic Church are still separated and isolated.  (Again, the Zen garden is a nice place to visit but one can’t camp there.)

1 Corinthians 3:10-15:

“By the grace God gave me, I succeed as an architect and laid the foundations, on which someone else is doing the building.  Everyone doing the building must work carefully.  For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ.  On this foundation you can build in gold, silver and jewels, or in wood, grass and straw, but whatever material, the work of each builder is going to be clearly revealed when the Day comes.  That day will begin with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If his structure stands up to it, he will get his wages; if it is burned down, he will be the loser, and though he is saved himself, it will be as one who has gone through fire.”

The Churches have been going through a spiritual fire.  And admittedly I have been stoking it.  In the process I managed to offend many (or all? and pushed them over the edge?) but I also tried to make amends wherever God sent me.  In a metaphorical and spiritual sense the Churches truly are like family, like a bunch of brothers.  (Oi vey! and I thought one biological brother was enough!!  ~ Love you, Bro!)  I followed the steps as outlined in the Bible to confront, to bring along elders of the Church, to progressively follow the chains of command.  I did follow the food chain, but I got crushed and rejected in the hierarchy of the steps, as the Church-as-Institution did the Great Nothing in the Grand Silence.  Understandably, it is part of the human condition that we will end up offending each other.  I even went outside the formalized structure, and still nothing could break through the walls.  (And Joshua circled the walls of Jericho how many times? (~ Please see Joshua 6.)  The symbolism overlay is striking!  And what about forgiving seventy times Seven? (Mt 18:22) Add that to the overlay and the picture deepens even more.)  I’d say to the Churches, “Please stop.  This hurts.”  Isolated individuals in the Churches would occasionally say, “I’ll pray for you,” but as a whole she was indifferent, or apathetic, or shy, or self-conscious, or self-depreciating, or self-absorbed, or grumbling and hyper-critical, or judgmental, or self-inflated, or downright conceited, or too busy to read what I wrote, …  She was/is just reflecting the Babylonian culture she has assimilated.  Across denominational lines, those who did read my Reflections consumed them like they were Super-Sized Big Mac meals.  But the Value Meal just creates more consumption, more gluttony.  Even gluttony of God’s Word.  Personally, I truly can’t tell what the Church Values.  The Happy Meal®?  Since the Kingdom of God is within us (Lk 17:21) and the Church did Nothing, does that mean the Church has Nothing in her and she says nothing in the Grand Silence because she has Nothing within her?  That’s appalling.  The Samaritan leper came back to Jesus praising God in a loud voice! (Lk 17:15)  What’s up with the ‘brothers’?  Jesus Himself had said that the Kingdom of God does not come with our careful observation.  (Lk 17:20)  Since we tend to treat others the way we have been treated, is this consumer spirit, by which we all have been infected, the reason why the “brothers” have been doing the Great Nothing in the Grand Silence?  Have the brothers been so “consumed” that they couldn’t report anything?  So I ask kindly, “What do they want?”  In John 6:20 when the disciples were terrified, Jesus told them not to be afraid.  Then when they WANTED to, and were WILLING to take Him into the boat, then immediately the boat reached land toward which they were going. (v 21)  What does the brotherhood of the Churches want?  Once they express that, then we all will immediately reach “land.”  How will we know what we value if we don’t even know what we want?

In this bundle of Want, is the brotherhood lumping together the “Kingdom of God” in with the rapture as if they were one in the same?  I don’t “see” them as the same.  I see the rapture as an event and the “Kingdom of God” as God’s character qualities.  These qualities have already infiltrated earth.  God’s character is not an event but an awakening for us.  The rapture is like a champagne cork being released from its bottle.  Besides, if the rapture is supposed to happen before, or mid-way through the seven years of tribulation, or at the very end of it, (in whichever way your understanding has made sense of the prophetic timeline,) then wouldn’t it be rather important for the brotherhood to make amends and practice what they preach now BEFORE the Lord arrives?  If we are in the middle of the tribulation Seven, would the Seven Churches really want to take the Great Oops into eternity?  If He comes back now, before the Church has ‘fessed up, then what have we learned?  Isn’t that putting old whine into old wine skins instead of New Wine into new wine skins?  And what are we teaching future generations?  (Or is the Old Guard assuming there will be no future generations because of God’s stir fry?)  We know that the Son of Man suffered and was rejected by His generation. (Lk 17:25)  Does the brotherhood want the same for His bride (Rev 22:17) in this generation?  And aren’t the spiritual “brides” of every generation called to ride the storms and blow the trumpets announcing God’s great mercy and grace regardless of whatever name the current “brotherhood” goes by?

Prayer: Lord, please grant us harmony in unity of Spirit through our storms.  The unity itself is not that hard to see, as we are all in this boat together.  We are all “Riders of the Storm.”  It’s the harmony in this unity that we need and are praying for as we learn to lean on the spiritual gifts that You have given us to share.  Give us courage to persevere and keep our focus on You while we are on mission with You (and not just for You.)  Save us from just producing “Consumer Reports”[5] and lead us into divine fellowship with You as we trust You.  Please put on our ‘white robes’ of purity of heart and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Bring in Your justice.  Please restore and expand Your kingdom through us.  Amen.



9 After Pentecost                                29 July 2012                           Gospel: John 6:1-21

2 Samuel 11:1-15
11:1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

11:2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.

11:3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

11:4 So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house.

11:5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

11:6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David.

11:7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going.

11:8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.

11:9 But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.

11:10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?”

11:11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.”

11:12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day,

11:13 David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

11:14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

11:15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”

Psalm 14
14:1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.

14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.

14:3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.

14:4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD?

14:5 There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.

14:6 You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.

14:7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

2 Kings 4:42-44
4:42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.”

4:43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.'”

4:44 He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD.

Psalm 145:10-18
145:10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your faithful shall bless you.

145:11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power,

145:12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

145:13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.

145:14 The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

145:15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

145:16 You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

145:17 The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.

145:18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Ephesians 3:14-21
3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.

3:16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,

3:17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

3:18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

3:20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,

3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

John 6:1-21
6:1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.

6:2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.

6:3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.

6:4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.

6:5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”

6:6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

6:7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,

6:9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

6:10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.

6:11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

6:12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”

6:13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.

6:14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

6:15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,

6:17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

6:18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

6:19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.

6:20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

6:21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

[1] (NIV Study Bible notes, p 1489)

[2] Beth Moore Beth Moore, Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy.  (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2006), p 160

[3] “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors 

[4] From an excellent sermon by Pastor Bruce Zachary on 22 July 2012

[5] Play on words by Pastor Bruce Zachary

Golden Fleeced

22 Jul

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 8 After Pentecost 22 July 2012

Golden Fleeced

Have you ever been so tired, so exhausted, that your heart is closed off or hard?  You just don’t have strength to carry on and care, and nothing you do can will yourself into an attitude shift or a different perspective?  Fatigue will do this.  It is part of the human condition.  In the Gospel lesson for today, the disciples had reached this state.  Jesus had earlier sent them out in pairs and commissioned them with authority over the unclean spirits (Mk 6:7) and to preach repentance and to anoint the sick. (v 13)  In the meantime, while the disciples were out cleaning up the outer spiritual neighborhood, Jesus was working on His local spiritual turf.  Herod had beheaded John the Baptist and some were saying that Jesus was John B reincarnated (ie “raised from the dead,” v 14.)  Jesus was doing His own spiritual clean-up work on the home turf while the boys were out doing spiritual triage in the villages. (v 6)  He would have also been doing a lot of prayers in His own sandals as He prayed down misperceptions generated by Satan’s lies about Himself.  Plus He would have been dealing with His own grief over the loss of His cousin.  Spiritual warfare is not easy or clean.  And it can be exhausting!

It is at this point where today’s lectionary Gospel lesson picks up.  The boys are back in town, and they are filling in Jesus on how the mission work went. (v 30)  I would imagine that they were probably feeling like kids after a full day at Disneyland: over-the-top excited, every neuron receptor filled to the brim, bouncing to the point where one’s skin feels like it cannot contain the human experience, and at the same time so over-tired to the bone that there’s no arm-twisting and arguing about taking a nap because the body will eventually overrule no matter what opinion you have.  So, before the collective body of bouncing boys has a chance to form an opinion, Jesus does the kind-Dad thing and tells them to go to a quiet place for some down-time. (v 31)  They were in a boat. (v 32)  I picture a quiet cove where they could park and rest their oars. (ref to v 48)  The problem was that the crowds knew them, too, and ran ahead of them (v 33) giving truth to the adage: “no rest for the weary” (or rest for the “wicked” for that matter, for regardless of which side of the fence one is on, wicked or weary, the spiritual battle rages on!)

[This would be a really good point for a comedian to break the tension with his gift of humor!  I suspect that maybe it is exactly for these tension-points that God gave us comedians!] 

Carry on! 

Jesus gets out of the boat and sees the great crowd. (v 34)  Did He “see” a great amoeba-like mass drifting and flowing like in a cartoon before Him?  Did He have a Zen moment of detachment while He transitioned from being with His friends in the boat to going ashore to the crowds?  How did He go from being in the boat in the same energy field with the exhausted disciples to stepping onto shore where a different energy met Him?  Was He picturing all these people using their gifts to glorify God in the New Jerusalem?  How did He adjust?  The text does give us a clue as to how Jesus made the energetic transition from intimate friends to impersonal crowd.  It says he had compassion for them.

“Stop!  Hey, what’s that sound?  Everybody look what’s goin’ down!”

Jesus had Compassion.

He had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He began to teach them many things. (v 34)

Dear reader, please pause for a moment and notice what the Lectionary Barons left out of the Revised Common Lectionary readings for today right at this juncture of Compassion.  Every time the Lectionary Barons omit a section, the omission speaks more volumes than the inclusions.  The Lectionary Barons leading the Church leaders simply reveal the state of affairs of the spirit of the whole Church, which is illuminated through the scripture passages from Mark 6:35-52 which were omitted.  O illustrious ‘Golden Fleece’ of the shepherds, o Lectionary Barons, o your royal highnesses!  Your own fatigue has exposed you.

The Lectionary Barons omitted the verses on the stories about Jesus feeding the Five Thousand AND how Jesus walked on water, almost cruisin’ right past the disciples in their boat. (v 48)  These are passages on spiritual feeding and encouragement.  Because the Lectionary Barons omitted these portions of scripture, the reader wouldn’t necessarily know that by the time Jesus started winding down His teaching to the crowds it was now very late. (v 35)  The disciples had been so worn out with exhaustion that they’d stayed in the boat all day.  [Really, I understand!  Remember all that spiritual triage they had been doing?]  They roused themselves and came to Jesus. [I can so-very-well picture this ‘hard labor’!] The disciples reminded Him that this was a remote place, that it was already very late, and that the people should go into the surrounding villages to buy themselves something to eat. (v 36)  [This all makes so much sense!  Maybe they were thinking that if the crowds left to buy food, then Jesus, Himself, would finally have time and peace to come and eat with them and hang out with them.  They were exhausted, after all.  They had been working on mission for Him. (v 7)] 

What is striking about the verses the Lectionary Barons chose to leave IN for today’s readings was the section where Jesus had compassion on the great crowds, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  Energetically Jesus would have sensed if the crowds were just more paparazzi, like the crowds who gathered after He raised Lazarus from the dead. (Jn 12:9-11) This crowd on the country hillside wasn’t infected with a spirit of deceit and officials conniving to kill Him.  This hillside crowd was like lost sheep, bleating, searching, and spiritually hungry.  The Lectionary Barons left out the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Jesus likely wouldn’t have been able to feed them if the Pharisees had been present.  But the people’s hearts were open and wanting to be fed.  They were receptive for a miracle.  They wanted to believe.  The crowd wouldn’t have sat down in the grass in groups of fifty and a hundred (v 40) when it was already very late and they were already tired and hungry, if they thought Jesus was just a traveling show.  Their spiritual hunger overrode their logic and physically growling tummies. 

I see a pattern: When the disciples were still in the boat, Jesus went ashore, saw the great crowd, and had compassion on them (v 34).  The timing, energetic flow, and the setting are all significant.  This parallels our situation today.  Jesus saw them as sheep without a shepherd and He taught them. (v 33)  THEN He fed them physically by miracle.  Only God can do the miracle.  Man, including earthly “shepherds” bring the belief to participate with God’s miracle. 

Really, there are times when I feel like one of the disciples in the boat when they were trying to cross the lake, and it was in the “fourth watch” (Mk 6:48) (my Bible notes say that is between 3-6 am,) and they were all exhausted.  Later, Jesus had stayed alone on land. (Mk 6:47)  This was after the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Jesus would have needed alone-time to recharge His spiritual batteries and decompress with God after all that!  The disciples are pooped.  They arrived pooped.  Now they were even more pooped.  And now their tummies were probably full on top of being tired, because they had twelve baskets of bread and fish to munch on, left over from the miraculous feeding. (v 43)  Poor guys didn’t have a chance!  They were straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. (v 48)  Then shortly before dawn Jesus strolls out to them, walking on the lake!  It was such ‘a piece of cake’ for Him that He was about to pass by them! (v 48)  (He wouldn’t, though, because the Lord said in Amos 7:8 that He would never again pass us by.)  Jesus speaks courage to them and tells them not to be afraid. (v 50)  He climbs into the boat with them and the wind dies down. (v 51) Gee, and the disciples were amazed. 

“They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” (NIV)

“And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” (NKJV)

52 For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding].” (AMP)

I cannot fault the disciples.  My own heart has grown somewhat weary and dull, maybe even calloused, from all these years of spiritual battle and warfare.  Through all these years of rejection there have been times when I have “lost the power of understanding.”  At least the enlightened type of understanding.  I know full well the human side of understanding.  This view is pretty clear and predictable.  And repetitive and exhausting!  I can personally vouch for this, for as I write this, the stats page on my blog site, which I use to share these Reflections, indicates that all of seven people viewed the Reflection last week (and “viewed” doesn’t necessarily mean read.)  The Internet reaches worldwide.  The people have been praying for revival.  I am called and must keep praying and writing.  Where are the ‘shepherds’?  It is a testimony to God Himself that He is my motivation to keep on going, for I could not continue if I was coming from my own efforts.  God is simply revealing the Truth and I bear witness.  Just because my Reflection’s blog site had seven views doesn’t mean the Seven Churches are reading them.  I remember that when Abraham pleaded with God for the sake of the lives of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, God said He would not destroy them if He found ten righteous people among them. (Gen 18:32)  God couldn’t find ten righteous people and we know what happened. (see Gen 19:23-26)  …Not a threat…Just saying…At times like this I’m glad I can say with Amos that I am not a prophet, nor a prophet’s daughter, but a library page taking care of books. (cf Amos 7:14)  And the coup de grâce is that the Church could not acknowledge my calling (as Anchoress/Prophet or otherwise,) so God is my Judge. 

The passage from Jeremiah 23:1-6 offered in today’s lectionary reading selections chosen by the “Golden Fleece-d” specifically addresses the “shepherds” who were leading God’s people:

Jer 23:2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.

The Hebrew Bible says, “You gave no thought to them, but I am going to give thought to you…”  A big part of compassion is thinking about and praying for those God lays on our hearts. 

Jim Goll outlines the issues concerning the shepherds in his book, The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Visions, Dreams, and Open Heavens, and clearly lists in common language the accountability standards presented by God in Jeremiah Chapter 23, which ties into today’s Old Testament lectionary lessons.  Jim Goll writes:


“No matter how prophetically gifted we may be, our ability to flow in the full power and revelation of the prophetic depends on the purity of our hearts and the closeness of our walk with the Lord.  The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.  This means that we may still operate at some level of prophetic revelation even if we are not walking close to the Lord, but we will never reach our full potential as long as we remain in that condition.

“Jeremiah the prophet provides us with a good list of the kinds of things we need to watch out for.  The entire 23rd chapter of the Book of Jeremiah is an indictment of the shepherds (spiritual leaders) and prophets in Israel for their failure to honestly and responsibly lead the people in the ways of the Lord.  According to Jeremiah, these were the sins of the prophets [and priests (both); Jer 23:11, 33, 34] of Israel:

  • Using their power unjustly—“As for the prophets: my heart is broken within me, all my bones tremble; I have become like a drunken man, even like a man overcome with wine, because of the Lord and because of His holy words.  For the land is full of adulterers; for the land mourns because of the curse.  The pastures of the wilderness have dried up.  Their course also is evil and their might is not right” (Jer 23:9-10).  This gets into the issue of manipulation: why do we want this revelation and what will we do with it once we have it?  God knows the condition of our heart.  A wrong motive hinders revelation.

[Thyatira and Laodicea struggle with this same issue.]


  • Mixing the sources of their message—“Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray” (Jer 23:13).  This involves mingling the things of the flesh and the world with the things of the Spirit.  The result is pollution of the message.  We may need some personal cleansing in our lives before we can be fully usable to the Lord.

[Thyatira, Laodicea, and Pergamum struggle with this issue.]


  • Engaging in immorality—“Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one has turned back from his wickedness.  All of them have become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah” (Jer 23:14).  An immoral lifestyle clogs up the channel through which God’s revelation and blessings can flow.

[Pergamum, Laodicea, and Thyatira struggle with this issue.]


  • Speaking from their own imagination—“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.  They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord’” (Jer 23:16).  We must constantly guard against speaking our own opinion and trying to hang on it the authority of the Lord.

[Laodicea, Sardis, Thyatira, and Pergamum struggle with this issue.]


  • Speaking peace when there is no peace—“They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace”’; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you’” (Jer 23:17).  This means they have no backbone; rather than speak the truth, they speak what they think people want to hear.

[Smyrna, Laodicea, Thyatira, and to some extent Philadelphia, struggle with this same issue.]


  • Giving false reports—“‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the Lord.  ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord.  ‘I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, “I had a dream, I had a dream!” (Jer 23:24).  We have an obligation and awesome responsibility to give true reports concerning the Lord.  We cannot just present this prophetic stuff as though we know so much more than someone else.

[Sardis, Laodicea, Thyatira, and Pergamum struggle with this issue.]


  • Stealing words from one another—“‘Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the Lord, ‘who steal My words from each other’” (Jer 23:30).  If our well is dry it is very easy to succumb to the temptation to take something we learned at a seminar or heard someone say at a meeting and present it as our own, not so much by claiming it as ours but by not giving credit where credit is due.  Saying “I don’t know,” or “I don’t have a word today” is always better than stealing someone else’s word just to save face.

[Ephesus, Laodicea, Thyatira, Pergamum, and Sardis struggle with this issue.]


  • Engaging in reckless boasting—“ ‘Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,’ declares the Lord, ‘and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,’ declares the Lord’” (Jer 23:32).  Let’s not pretend to be better than we are or to embellish our achievements in front of others.

[Laodicea struggles with this issue.]

“Another danger is making the mistake of following Balaam’s example and allowing ourselves to be bought off for a price (see Num 24:2-4, 15-16).  [Also Pergamum’s issue.]  This again touches on the area of motivation.  Why do we do what we do?  Hopefully, we do what we do to bring glory, honor, and magnification to Him who is worthy, the Lord Jesus Christ.” [1]

Our purpose is to magnify the Lord, not market Him like merchandise.

Hold on…what’s this?

The Lectionary Barons picked up the last four verses in Mark 6 after leaving out quite a chunk.

Mark 6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.

We know Gennesaret from Mark 5, where Jesus met a fiercely wild man living in caves who was possessed by “Legion,” (Mk 5:9) the spirit-conglomerate of some 6,000 spirits (ie a Roman legion); this is the spirit world version of gang-bangers.  The spirits repeatedly asked Jesus not to send them out of the area, so He cast out the legion of spirits into a herd of pigs, about two thousand of them, and they rushed down the steep bank and into the lake where they drowned. (v 13)  News of this shocked the town, especially after they saw the once-crazy-man sitting in his right mind with Jesus. (v 15)  The man begged Jesus to then go with Him, (v 18) but Jesus sent him home to his family to tell them how much the Lord had done for him. (v 19)  This had taken place in the last chapter (Chapter 5) and now the disciples and Jesus are back in Gennesaret. 

Mark 6:54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him,

It would appear that the once-crazy-man-now-sane did exactly as Jesus had told him to do and verifies what Mark 5:20 tells us: that the man went and told in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.  The man did as he promised (and more so, because Jesus had sent him to his family and he took the Good News beyond them and to the Decapolis!)  The man was so faithful that when Jesus and the disciples moored their boat this time around, everyone from the whole region rushed to Him, bringing to Him their sick on mats (Mk 6:55) and begging just to touch the fringe of His cloak. (v 56)  And all who touched Him were healed. (v 56)  What a turn-around from the last chapter where the “begging” was so energetically different!  “Legion” was begging not to be sent out of the area. (Mk 5:10) 

[My Bible footnote (NIV Study Bible) says, “The demons were fearful of being sent into eternal punishment, ie “into the Abyss.” (Luke 8:31) 

Well, that was then and this is now…and I didn’t get that memo not to send them out of the area.  I send them into the Abyss every chance I get.  Will anyone join me in these house-cleaning efforts?] 

Speaking of more begging, there had been begging/ pleading by the people for Jesus to leave their region. (Mk 5:17)  There had been begging from Sane Man to go with Jesus. (v 18)  There had been lots of begging on all fronts (spiritual and physical.)  Now these same people had a change of heart.  The Holy Spirit had had time to work in them.  There had been time for belief to germinate and grow.  Belief came not in the messenger but through the Holy Spirit in Christ Himself.

So in closing, dear reader, instead of begging, probably the best example of encouragement I can offer you (and the “Golden Fleece-d”) are words from respected teacher-theologian, Oswald Chambers (d 1917), who addressed the shepherds when he wrote the following for July 17 in his daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest:


“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words.” 1 Corinthians 2:4

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of abject humility, but saying that he would veil the power of God if when he preached the gospel he impressed people with his “excellency of speech.” Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God.  The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.  The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite diction, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God—“as though God did beseech you by us.”  He is there to present the Gospel of God.  If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get anywhere near Jesus Christ.  Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work.

“I [Jesus], if I be lifted up…, will draw all men unto Me.” [2]

This is where the real healing comes, when we lift Him up and personally touch Him.  And He touches us!

Prayer:  Lord, please help us to forgive, to touch, to release, and to heal.  Please forgive all the shepherd leaders, all the Churches, and all the prophets, as we are all like sheep who have been led astray.  We all have been “Golden Fleece-d.”  Please forgive us for trying to market You like merchandise.  Please cast anything impure into the Abyss, so that we may stand upright with dignity in Your presence.  By Your mercy and grace, please bring us back to Your fold, drawing us together as we worship You.  We acknowledge Your authority and Your righteousness.  We are witnesses to Your fulfilling of Your own prophecies right before our own eyes.  Please forgive us for now we know You are right.  Please lift us up and stand us on our feet anchored in Your Spirit to walk in Your integrity.  Please restore our covenantal relationship with You, our King.  Please fulfill in us the words You spoke through Jeremiah:

Jer 23:5 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

23:6 In his days Judah [the Church] will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”


8 After Pentecost                  22 July 2012                           Gospel: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

2 Samuel 7:1-14a
7:1 Now when the king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him,

7:2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”

7:3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.”

7:4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan:

7:5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in?

7:6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.

7:7 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

7:8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel;

7:9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

7:10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly,

7:11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

7:12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

7:13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

7:14a I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.

Psalm 89:20-37
89:20 I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him;

89:21 my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.

89:22 The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him.

89:23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.

89:24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him; and in my name his horn shall be exalted.

89:25 I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers.

89:26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’

89:27 I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

89:28 Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him, and my covenant with him will stand firm.

89:29 I will establish his line forever, and his throne as long as the heavens endure.

89:30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my ordinances,

89:31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments,

89:32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with scourges;

89:33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love, or be false to my faithfulness.

89:34 I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips.

89:35 Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David.

89:36 His line shall continue forever, and his throne endure before me like the sun.

89:37 It shall be established forever like the moon, an enduring witness in the skies.” Selah

Jeremiah 23:1-6
23:1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD.

23:2 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.

23:3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.

23:4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.

23:5 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

23:6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”

Psalm 23
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

23:3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.

23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

Ephesians 2:11-22
2:11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” –a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands–

2:12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

2:14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

2:15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace,

2:16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.

2:17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near;

2:18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,

2:20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

2:21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;

2:22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
6:30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.

6:31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

6:32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

6:33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.

6:34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat.

6:54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him,

6:55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.

6:56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

[1] Jim Goll, The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Visions, Dreams, and Open Heavens; (Shippenburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2004),  p 155-157

[2] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing, Inc and Discovery House, Publ;) 1935.

It is Elijah

15 Jul

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 7 After Pentecost 15 July 2012

It is Elijah

There is a song which we sing in Church that brings me to my knees every time (even when I physically can’t kneel because of circumstances or stiffness, I still kneel in my heart.)  The chorus is:

Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down
And rid me of myself, I belong to You
Oh, lead me, lead me to the cross

I was at an evening worship service last Saturday (7 July 2012) and was powerfully moved to my knees as the words enveloped my heart.  The world faded away and it was just my God and me.  Then throughout the week I pondered this from today’s gospel lesson:

Mark 6:15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”

I was struck by the phrase, “It is Elijah.”  “It” was so impersonal. Like John the Baptist’s head.  I looked up the previous verses to get context.  It turns out that the “It” was in reference to the miraculous powers at work in Jesus (v 13), and the Spirit which was released through John at his beheading. (v 14)  Even knowing this, I found the wording odd: “It is Elijah.”  “It is a prophet.”  Sure other translations are more personal and say “He,” but the Lord was laying something heavily on my heart.  My heart-mind was full of questions.  Why the impersonal wording?  Elijah and the prophets of old were human beings.  Even if the translators were talking about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit is a Person, one of Three in the Trinity, not an “It.”  And why Elijah?  When Jesus started His ministry and had been in Nazareth at the synagogue, He’d read from the scroll of Isaiah (Isa 61:1-2) and how the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and He was anointed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk 4:18-19)

Luke 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus said this at the beginning of His ministry in Nazareth to His homies, (who rejected Him. “~Nothin’ personal!”)  John the B would have still been alive to get word of this Good News of the Lord’s favor.  Since Jesus had spoken the words from Isaiah, I wondered why the people didn’t think He was like Isaiah.  Why Elijah?  More questions tumbled.  I asked God.  He brought to mind stories of how Elijah prayed and his prayers brought food to a widow. The flour and oil she kept in her jars would not run out until the famine was over. (1 Ki 17:16)  Jesus, too, prayed and fed the multitudes (twice! ~ Did He do this as if to do one for Elijah representing the bringing of closure to the famine in our hearts, and one for Elisha representing the abundance of life in the Spirit since Christ paid our debt and we live on what’s left? (ref 2 Ki 4:7))  I remembered the story of how Elijah had raised the widow’s son from the dead. (1 Ki 17:17-24)  Jesus had also raised a widow’s son from the dead. (Lk 7:11-17)  Elijah had been taken up to heaven by the Lord’s chariots of fire in a whirlwind. (2 Ki 2:11)  In the process, God granted Elisha a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. (v 9)  Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit after He went away. (Jn 14:15-31)  After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples watched Him be taken up to heaven while He was still blessing them.  (Lk 24:51)  On Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (ie, not just a double portion like Elisha received!)  The Spirit came and filled the house with a violent wind from heaven (and not just a dust devil of a whirlwind!) and all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1-4)

I took all this into prayer and held it in sacred space.  Suddenly I made a connection that I hadn’t seen before.  A few weeks ago at Church we were singing and praying to the Holy Spirit and were getting stirred up in the music and the lyrics, “Stir it up in our hearts, Lord, a passion for Your name.”  The musicians had done a fine job of stirring us up as the line “Stir it up in our hearts” was repeated over and over putting all of us in a mantra-like, passionate frenzy.  It felt rather good actually.  I felt united with the group.  I felt alive.  Isn’t that what gifted musicians are supposed to do?  to stir up within us those feelings and passions of being alive and uniting us in oneness of spirit?  Between that passionate state and being coupled with other songs in the same set where the congregation asked for MORE, more of God, more of the Holy Spirit, more, more, more…at the time I remember my spirit saying, “Uh, oh,” as I “watched” a spirit of “More” enter the congregation, but it was so subtle that I didn’t recognize it or have a word for it.  It slid into the back of the room almost unnoticed.  Yet it was there; it was a spirit of Greed.  It had walked in WITH the Holy Spirit the night the Holy Spirit birthed a new spirit in the Church. (14 June 12) I remembered asking God during that spiritual birthing time if that birth was going to “take.”  I couldn’t go through another spiritual miscarriage like the last two.  God had said, “This “birth” would not be the same.”  I remembered thinking at the time that God’s wording on that was odd, and that He wasn’t telling me something.  The Holy Spirit really HAD been present that night, and the glory was palpable.  The Church was still talking about it two weeks later, so I know it wasn’t just me who “saw” the presence of the Spirit.  What I didn’t realize at the time, or rather I didn’t have words for at the time, was that Greed walked in behind the Holy Spirit.  Both ended up being present, even though Greed loitered in the back of the sanctuary while the Holy Spirit took center stage (as it must be, for God’s glory always outshines everything.)  So when God had said that this birth would not be the same, I now “saw” that twins were born, like Jacob and Esau.  And Esau sold his birthright for some dinner.  Genesis 25—

What a concept!  …Greed walked in behind the Holy Spirit…Is that not what Satan has been doing forever?  He takes what is holy and makes a counterfeit of it.  Could it be the Church of Pentecost was replaced with Seven Churches?  I have learned from experience that the Church herself is the Harlot who rides the beast. (Rev 17:3)  Who but a prophet, like a prophet of old, would really understand this?  But the Seven Churches said that God stopped using prophets after John the Baptist was beheaded. [See John’s story in today’s lectionary readings below.] The Churches said that God had sent us the Holy Spirit Paraclete/Helper on Pentecost so we could all “hear” God, so who needed prophets?  According to them the role of the prophet went extinct.

I was amazed as God laid out the progression from the Old Testament to the New Testament to the Church at Pentecost.  I asked God, “What do You want to say to the Seven Churches today?  The archetypes are still archetypes.  Each one has fulfilled prophecy, just as You said.  You taught us by example to honor, bless, and release.  You honored, blessed, and released Your love on to the whole world.  I simply asked the Seven Churches to do the same with my calling and asked them to read my Reflections.  The Church did the best she could in her humanness and still she asked for yet another “prophetic word.”  Lord, we humans can never be satiated in our present state!  I don’t mean to be a drama queen (of which I am quite capable,) but simply put: This bride’s voice has been beheaded!  From my knees, Lord, please rid me of myself.  I belong to You and I lay myself at Your cross where You have led me.”

The Lord: “Sweetheart, do you remember from the readings the story of when I came to Amos?  I was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, and I was holding the plumb line in my hand while I talked with him?” (ref Amos 7:7)

Me: “Yes. I remember.”

The Lord: “I asked Amos what he saw.  He answered, “A plumb line.”  This was good, because if he’d been looking at the wall he’d have felt blocked.  But Amos did see.  And I want you to know that I am still standing at that wall holding the plumb line.  I know the world has reached a spiritual wall.  I have fulfilled my promises to both Israel and the Church when I said,

“See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will never again pass them by.” (Amos 7:8)

“I fulfilled My promise to “make the high places of Isaac desolate.” (v 9)  Isaac and Rebekah gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau.  Esau gave away his birthright to Jacob because he was hungry.  He despised his birthright. (Gen 25:27-34)  He despised his birthright the same way Michal, the daughter of Saul, despised King David for his joy in faithfulness. (2 Sam 6:16)  Despising is a heart-issue.  Today the Church represents Jacob and instead of offering a meal (the Eucharist) to receive the birthright, she has prostituted the privilege and lumped it into the Babylonian culture of the entitlement mentality.  She has become the Harlot who sits on her throne and rides the Beast of more, and more, and MORE, ever-wanting in the insatiable more. (Rev 17:3-4)  Therefore, the sanctuaries have been laid waste (Amos 7:9) just as I said, for I had no sanctuary either.  Again, sanctuary is a heart-relationship issue.  The wasted houses of worship have been struck with the sword of My mouth, as Jeroboam was struck down by the LORD and never again regained his power. (2 Chr 13:20)  Justice strikes down with the spiritual sword of Truth.  Truth cuts to the very center of the house.  The result is the same as in Amos’ day when they said, “The land was not able to bear all your words.” (v 10)  I told Pergamum that I would fight against them with the sword of my mouth if they didn’t repent. (Rev 2:16)  And I have.  This is a heart issue.  Pergamum is listed third in the list of the Seven Churches for a reason.  The Protestant Reformation Churches completely and thoroughly understand that man’s relationship with God is restored by grace.  That’s the heart of the Gospel, the center, the plumb line message.  Man cannot earn his way to heaven.  Salvation is a gift.  But Pergamum prostituted the gift.  In her heart she said, “We are saved by grace; who could ask for anything more?” Then Thyatira got the message and she did ask for more.  And more…  And More! 

And just one more prophetic Word…

And more was never enough, because without the Holy Spirit completely filling the earth, a heart of Want and Despising will battle over ruling the heart no matter who is on the earthly throne.  The Seven Churches intimately and personally know this:

A spirit of Greed really did walk into Thyatira’s sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit as the Churches called on the “Higher Power” to deliver and she got stung by the very Compromise she preached. 

A spirit of Despising walked into Pergamum’s sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit and Contempt stood in the back of the room as she judged others for the way she felt judged.

A spirit of Harlotry walked into Laodicea’s sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit and Tolerance rivaled with a spirit of Criticism and both mocked God’s rebuke.  The Church judged others in pride and said of herself, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” (Rev 3:17)

A spirit of Cowardice walked into Ephesus’s sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit and she got stung by the very love she professed.

A spirit of Fear walked into Smyrna’s sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit and stood in the ranks in the back of the room with Worry.  The Church held on in blind faith without works, afraid she would be judged for doing the wrong thing.

A spirit of Lassitude walked into Sardis’ sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit.  The Church held her standards up so high that she could not live up to the very standards she so vehemently preached others to uphold.  She found their weight uncompromisingly heavy.

A spirit of Literalism walked into Philadelphia’s sanctuaries behind the Holy Spirit with Truth in tow, but she got stung by her own honesty by which she herself had judged.

The Lord continued:  The Babylonian culture you live in and that has infected the whole earth also intimately and personally knows all this.  She sees it all.  There is no distinction now between the Churches and “Babylon.”  She was “Assymilated” into the Babylonian-like culture by the spiritual infection of the “Beast.”  None are immune to that beastly spirit.  Take heart, though.  The Father allowed this and set things up this way deliberately. [See 2 Thes 2]  Arrogance is the man of lawlessness.  Arrogance has no need for the Truth, and indeed refuses to love the truth and so be saved.  (2 Thes 2:10)  God did send the Church a powerful delusion and she did believe the lie. (v 11)  In fact, she served the lie. (v 10)  The Holy Spirit restrained the Churches (2 Thes 2:7, ref Rev 12:5) who restrained themselves and did the Great Nothing in the Grand Silence, as you can attest to, Kathryn.  In a prism of fractured light, the light refracts everywhere, looks pretty, but fades.  So did the Lampstands.  Arrogance works in accordance with how Satan works. (2 Thes 2:9)  Again, take heart.  Now every Christian, Jew, and Gentile knows that the playing field is level.

And Zechariah 4 is now fulfilled.

The Lord continued: Kathryn, tell them: I AM the Plumb Line that laid the foundation of the Temple, not a doctrine or an image to uphold or appease.  I am in the Center, in the midst of My people. (Amos 7:8)  And I have been in every anchorite in history, no matter by what name they were called.  Each one had some of the Spirit of Elijah.  “IT” is the Holy Spirit, which consumed Elijah and consumed the blood of the prophets, and consumed the saints and all who have perished. (Rev 18:24)  The “magic spell” by which all the nations have been led astray (v 23) is the same prideful Arrogance that deluded the Churches.  Arrogance is the counterfeit god.  Tell them.

Me:  I will tell them, Lord.


Now, dear reader, this conversation with Christ took place on Tuesday (10 July 2012) and in all honesty I thought I was done with the Reflection.  I thought that all I had to do was pass along the words that Christ had asked me to share.  Silly me for assuming!  On Wednesday (11 July 2012), as is the inevitable energetic yin/yang to life, my world crashed.  Crashed, I say!  It’s bizarre!  I have a conversation with Christ one day and the world falls apart the next.  What’s a girl to do?  It’s an insane roller coaster ride!  I asked God what to do and He said “Share the journey.”  My soul groaned.  There’s literally “hell to pay” whenever He asks me to “share the journey,” and at the same time “Share the Journey” is part of my calling directives to “Worship God” and “Share the Journey.”  So I really don’t have much of a choice.  Therefore, out of obedience, I am sharing my journal entry with you (but cleaned up for present company, as my raw journals are, well, rather raw.)

From Journal: “Trembling Vision,” Wednesday, 11 July 2012           2:12 pm

…Good grief, Lord, there are so many “kings”!  I can’t keep going down this River Styx!  Lord, please remove the burden of the Seven Churches off my shoulders, and her yoke from my neck!  I’m not asking You to remove my love for the Churches, I’m asking You to remove the Beast from among the Churches.  Please destroy this yoke of oppression, bondage, and evil.  God, I ask for Your anointing!!  Jim Goll said that the power of the anointing breaks the yoke of bondage, evil, and oppression.[1]  He quoted from Isaiah:

Isa 10:27 It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his [the king of Assyria] yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. (NKJV)

Wash the wounds with Your living Waters.  Put Your soothing and anointing oils on the wounds and remove the blockage of evil, and remove the Beast with the seven heads [figureheads!] and ten horns [attitudes] (Rev 17)  I call on Heaven itself to help!  Please bring in Your kingdom, Lord!

3:14 pm           Dang, the rollercoaster ride continues…I kept reading from The Seer by Jim Goll:

“Usually, prophets make no [emphasis mine] special claim to be heard but are content to speak and act and leave the matter there, confident not in themselves but in the fact that they have heard from God and that every word from Him will find fulfillment.  Their primary concern is not with the distant future but to tell forth the will of God in the crisis of their own days.  Prophets, then, are essentially interpreters of God.”[2]

Reading the first sentence catapulted me back into the backseat of my car for more prayer.  I felt my spiritual director in my ear.  How many times in spiritual direction has she been miffed that I have wanted to be “heard” when God’s directives to me were “Worship God” and “Share the Journey”?  There’s no “hearing and receiving” by recipients in those directives.  It’s all energetically outbound.  And yet my soul has been absolutely tormented from the get-go by not feeling “heard.”  With the feeling of being heard comes the sense of being respected, honored, and (dare I say?) even cherished.  I keep praying for release from this yoke!  When I’m in God’s slipstream, I am content to speak and act and leave the matter in God’s hands.  But when I’m in the fray of battle and the Churches and the Babylonian energies are identical, then I don’t feel heard and I can’t tell what God’s doing let alone see how His word is finding fulfillment.  I feel alone on the battlefield.  God please open MY eyes so that Your servant can see that she’s not alone here! (ref Goll, p 29, and 2 Ki 6:15-17)  When I feel alone, I feel far from content.

The cited paragraph (above) shook me up terribly; the first sentence did, anyway.  I literally started my prophet shaking.  I was trembling.  I didn’t want to tremble but I couldn’t control it.  I crawled into the backseat and lay down.  Immediately in my mind’s eye I took my arms, which were shaking terribly and on fire with a holy burn and I threw them on a bronze altar.  “Take my arms, Lord!”  Then I further crawled up onto the altar.  “Take my heart, Lord!”  Now I was chest high, laying across the altar; now my torso to the hips on the altar.  Then I crawled all the way on top of this bronze altar with legs and feet and all of my body: “Take all of me, Lord!!”  I laid there a moment.

Suddenly I was off the altar and on the ground in front of Christ, Who was standing in front of me and the bronze altar was at His back.  I was on my knees as low to the earth as I could get.  My whole body was trembling uncontrollably.  Still on my knees and my chest near the floor, I shakily, with great trembling and fear, I lifted a golden chalice with holy wine to Christ standing erect over me.  I couldn’t look Him in the eye.  His Presence was so powerful!  I was just a mortal woman.  My arms, hands, and body shook so violently while I lifted the chalice with wine in it, that I feared some wine would spill out.  Amazingly none did.

From an emotional standpoint, I observed myself.  I had my core dignity, but I was groveling and shaking.  How could I be groveling and shaking but still be retaining my core dignity?  Logically it seemed like a contradiction to me, but there it was.  Was worthiness present?  Was that why I was shaking so badly, because I knew I was not worthy?  But what’s worthiness got to do with it?  One thing I absolutely do know was that there was no room for pride before my King! 

6:36 pm           Several times today I have found myself involuntarily praying for the Churches.  (God, can’t I get a break here?)  Each time these prayers came up I felt like I hit a type of brick wall.  Not a wall of meanness, but a wall nevertheless.  Then within the last hour or two I found my spirit in front of the glass doors of the Church.  There was a spirit there that was gruff and large, like a furry black gorilla.  I asked God to send this spirit away and to send in His purifying cleaning angels before the worship team showed up for the evening service.  I asked that God would cleanse anyone around there or in the building who had been around when the gorilla spirit had been there.  I asked for the Holy Spirit to bring in Her pure Spirit to sweep the place before church begins. 

Thankfully, I feel calmer now from my vision earlier this afternoon with Christ.  The fear and trembling was beyond description.  I wasn’t afraid of Christ, but the fear and trembling was overwhelming.  It was an awe-based fear, a respect-based fear, a majesty-based fear.  Between the vision and the gorilla spirit and calling in the heavenly clean-up crew, I’m wiped out!!

9:20 pm           The pastor continued preaching on his series on the Holy Spirit tonight.  At the end he prayed for boldness for us.  I got boldness and went up to him personally after the sermon and asked him to pray for an anointing for me.  He took my hands and prayed.  In his prayer he referred to the women with the expensive perfume. (Mt 26:6-7, Mk 14:3, Jn 12:1-3, Lk 7: 36-38)  He asked the Holy Spirit to break the perfume over me like the women did to Jesus.  His prayer with me was beautiful.  Later I asked God that He would take all the words the pastor spoke over me and to take those words and work them into my being so that I would believe them, be transformed by them, and healed by the Holy Spirit.  Before the pastor started to walk away I asked if he reads my Reflections.  He said he reads them sometimes, but he’s very busy.  I understood.  He acknowledged that what I write is very deep.  He made a point of saying that he would never want to interfere with the work the Holy Spirit is doing through me.

Lord, this week I am sure You are sealing the cap on the Seven Churches.  I can feel it in my being.  You really are telling me (like Amos) to go to Your people, “Israel,” whatever that means.

Amos 7:15 and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

I must believe this means no more separate Seven Churches.  Ok, Lord.  Then does this mean that You are sending me out into the Social Network?  No more little flock?  But only Your Holy Spirit can dynamite that field to get Your Word out!  The Social Network is not something I “do.”  All these “cold calls” I’ve done in sharing the journey/ and/ or my blog link, and where I’ve reached out to pastors, preachers, prophets, teachers, authors, bishops, yada, yada, Pharisees, yada… have been done by Your inspiration, leading, and by Your doing, Lord.  Contact has been direct and deliberate, even though it was often blocked and ignored.  I can’t take on the Social Network.  And it’s not my job or mission to take on the Social Network!  My job is to pray and write.  The Social Network is the tool for spreading the word.  The people themselves have to use it as a tool to spread the word and spread the blog/ ie share the journey.  Now it’s their turn!  Lord, please lead me to the right people so that the social network can spread with Your holy fire.  Please do Your Pentecost thing again.  Only You can do it.  Please help.  You ARE the Paraclete Helper!  Glorify Yourself, Lord!

7 After Pentecost                    15 July 2012                                       Gospel: Mark 6:14-29

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
6:1 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.

6:2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim.

6:3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart

6:4 with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark.

6:5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

6:12b So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing;

6:13 and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.

6:14 David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.

6:15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

6:16 As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

6:17 They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD.

6:18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts,

6:19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes.

Psalm 24
24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;

24:2 for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.

24:3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?

24:4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.

24:5 They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation.

24:6 Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

24:8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle.

24:9 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

24:10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah

Amos 7:7-15
7:7 This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand.

7:8 And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by;

7:9 the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

7:10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words.

7:11 For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.'”

7:12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there;

7:13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

7:14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees,

7:15 and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Psalm 85:8-13
85:8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

85:9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

85:10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

85:11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

85:12 The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

85:13 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Ephesians 1:3-14
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

1:4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

1:5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,

1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

1:8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight

1:9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,

1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

1:11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will,

1:12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

1:13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;

1:14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Mark 6:14-29
6:14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.”

6:15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”

6:16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

6:17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her.

6:18 For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

6:19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,

6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.

6:21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.

6:22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”

6:23 And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”

6:24 She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.”

6:25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

6:26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.

6:27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison,

6:28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.

6:29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

[1] Jim Goll’s, The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Visions, Dreams, and Open Heavens; (Shippenburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2004),  p 32

[2] Ibid, p 33

Lead On To Zion, O God

8 Jul

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 6 After Pentecost 08 July 2012

Lead On To Zion, O God

From the very beginning of my journey, God had translated the word “Zion” in my soul as “heart.”  He didn’t mean “heart” as just emotion or sentiment.  The Holy Spirit took the word “Zion” and swirled it up into a glittering bath inside my being that washed through my body, soaked into my eyes, whetted my mind and appetite to know God more, filled my heart with compassion, ignited my senses and stabilized my emotions, and drenched my spirit with His Holy Spirit from the inside out.  My core being didn’t change; my essence now understood “Zion.”  Then God said in the most tender voice, “Love Me.  Love Me with all your body, soul, mind, emotions, heart, and spirit.  This is Zion.  Zion is the Heart; the sacred heart.”

I read through the lectionary readings and was amazed at how all of the selections, when laid out in the order in which they are presented, actually depict the human journey to the heart.

The journey starts out with others coming to us and saying, “Look, we are your bone and flesh.” (2 Sam 5:1)  We’re in this boat together.

We occupy the stronghold of our bodies and identities.  We give it a name.  We build our own little worlds [“city”] around “from the Millo inward” (v 9), like the supporting terraces of our circles of support.  Then we mill around inside as we grow and gain confidence, for the Lord our God of hosts is with us. (v 10).

The Lord is great and greatly to be praised in this “city” of our beings.  Through this “holy mountain” of joy we express our creativity pulsing through our hearts. (Ps 48:1)  “Mount Zion” of the heart-mind is in the “far north, the city of the great King.”  The head is at the top of this body frame, far north in this “city.” (v 2)  When Christ is put first in every decision and action then commitment becomes a vow which holds a vision.  Vision comes from the “far north” in the place of our minds, but not just of our heads, for we are in partnership with God.  The heart leads and the mind picks up the banner.  Within the citadels of purpose for God’s kingdom and glory, He shows Himself a sure defense. (v 3)  Other “kings” of our lives do assemble and they come together.  Sometimes the assembling “kings” are internal and sometimes they are external.  In either case, when they “see” the commitment they are astounded.  They panic and take flight (v 5); trembling takes hold of them like pains as of a woman in labor (v 6).  Commitment does that.  We ponder some more on God’s steadfast love in the midst of this “temple,” this “Zion” of our hearts, and go all around it counting its towers. (v 12)  We consider well the ramparts of our experiences through which God has led us (v 13), so that we may tell the next generation that God is our God forever and ever.  He will be our guide forever. (v 14) 

The commitment to God with the Churches is no different than the Zion of our hearts.  Her “kings” have gotten the simple yet profound message and all Seven Churches have “heard what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”  Whether the Churches “hear” or refuse to “hear,” they know that there has been a Prophet among them.  They KNOW in the deep heart-mind knowing place where the Holy Spirit dwells; they KNOW.  And they know that they KNOW.  And they have reacted like girls in labor with astonishment, then panic, then paralysis, and then more prayer without action.  This is all playing out as God is proving Himself True: Human nature doesn’t change in any millennia without God’s intervention.  As Beth Moore says, “Rulers can change dramatically while the surrounding culture remains largely unaltered, at least for a while; …the Babylonian mentality didn’t make haste and move out.  Cultures are rarely reflections of a single leader.”[1]  No matter what happens, God’s words are still true:

Ezekiel 2:5 Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

They DO know.  And birth still happens.  It happens to girls in labor and boys to men.  We lift our eyes to God (Ps 123:1) as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy upon us. (v 2)  Our souls have had more than their fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud. (v 4)  Even when our spiritual eyes receive revelations of exceptional character, still every one of us is given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep us from being too elated. (2 Cor 12:7)  Others around us will not understand.  But God’s grace is sufficient, because God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

Still, our homies will be astounded. (Mk 6:2)  They will take offense. (v 3)  They knew us “back in the day,” before we made our vows to reside in “Zion” and love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, spirit, and strength; to love Him with all of our Life.  They knew us before the Great Commitment.  And even those who didn’t know us B.C. (Before Commitment) are influenced by the judgments cast by those around them onto us.  Judgments are insidious and spread like infection riding the coattails of a spirit of Deception.

Mark 6:4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”

This is Truth.  I know this from personal experience.

No deeds of power can commence forth in holy forward movement when the homies honor their suspicions, doubts, fears, and egos above God. (v 5)  It is rather amazing to watch the dynamic of unbelief unfold. (v 6)  The first thing we need as we step out is a friend or two and in authority over unclean spirits (and attitudes) and Christ has given us that authority. (v 7)  Authority isn’t boorish.  A boorish attitude would simply amplify the same type of attitude already present.  We don’t need extra baggage. (v 8)  We’ll pick up plenty as circumstances walk into our lives and trigger memories and emotions, which we’ll need to honor, bless, and release yet one more time. (v 9)  When we share our faith journeys, we’ll stay until we leave the place. (v 10)  Our hearts and senses will let us know when it’s time to leave.  The heart picks up signals.  Our bodies send us signals as well, if we’re listening.  God is present, so we “know” when we’re not overstaying our welcome.  We must keep our noses in Christ’s back as He leads us.

Some places are not welcoming.  They will refuse to “hear.”  They already have their minds made up.  All we can do is walk away.  Our exit is a testimony against them. (v 11)  Walking away does not have to mean severing the commitment to the relationship.  Sometimes “walking away” is necessary to give space to the other so the other can see the value in the relationship for themselves and what they threw away by refusing to “hear.”  It’s nothing we did.  Only God can change hearts.  As one pastor recently said, “Bow to Christ in front of you and let the Holy Spirit move over your back and hit them [the other behind you.]  You’ve done all you can do.  God’s grace is sufficient.”  From my experience, the Repent message is the hardest message to proclaim (v 12) because people, by nature, do not want to change.  They do not want to surrender their worldviews, their strongholds, citadels, and ramparts.  Humans will war just to make themselves feel alive, even when they live in “Paradise” and have everything provided for them.  All we can do is pray and bless; casting out the spirits, the attitudes, the demons that try to “eat our lunch;” praying for attitude changes, praying for our own attitude stillness as we defer and surrender to Christ, and praying for softened hearts; that our collective heart will break for what breaks God’s heart. 

Prayer: Lord, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.  Please anoint us with Your holy oil so that we may anoint others who are sick at heart.  Please cure us and them. (v 13)  Lord, stop all deceptions.  Break through the spiritual strongholds that block and interfere with our relationships with You, Lord.  Please make us well and whole, integrated and aligned in You in body, mind, spirit, and action, so that we may walk into Your Gates of Zion of the heart and in Truth.  We praise You, God!  We love You!  We bow before You and Your majesty!  Come!  Please bring on Your holy Zion kingdom into our hearts and lives!  Amen.

6 After Pentecost                    8 July 2012                                         Gospel: Mark 6:1-13

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh.

5:2 For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.”

5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.

5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.

5:5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

5:9 David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward.

5:10 And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

Psalm 48
48:1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain,

48:2 beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.

48:3 Within its citadels God has shown himself a sure defense.

48:4 Then the kings assembled, they came on together.

48:5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic, they took to flight;

48:6 trembling took hold of them there, pains as of a woman in labor,

48:7 as when an east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish.

48:8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God establishes forever. Selah

48:9 We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.

48:10 Your name, O God, like your praise, reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with victory.

48:11 Let Mount Zion be glad, let the towns of Judah rejoice because of your judgments.

48:12 Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers,

48:13 consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation

48:14 that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.

Ezekiel 2:1-5
2:1 He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.

2:2 And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me.

2:3 He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day.

2:4 The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD.”

2:5 Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

Psalm 123
123:1 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

123:2 As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until he has mercy upon us.

123:3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.

123:4 Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

2 Corinthians 12:2-10
12:2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.

12:3 And I know that such a person–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows–

12:4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.

12:5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.

12:6 But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me,

12:7 even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.

12:8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me,

12:9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

12:10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Mark 6:1-13
6:1 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.

6:2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!

6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

6:4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”

6:5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.

6:6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.

6:7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

6:8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;

6:9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

6:10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.

6:11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

6:12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent.

6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

[1] Beth Moore, Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy.  (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2006), p 115

Sleeping Beauty

1 Jul

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 5 After Pentecost 01 July 2012

Sleeping Beauty

I was struck again by the EXCLUSION choice of the Lectionary Barons for the Old Testament readings for today.  The lessons begin with 2 Samuel 1:1, then they skip fifteen verses, and then launch into

2 Sam 1:17 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.

What were the Lectionary Barons, who were commissioned to present a balanced view of scripture readings for the mainline Churches, saying in the omission of those fifteen verses?  What were they saying by not saying?  The part that was omitted was the story of how King Saul died.  Saul died by a mercy killing inflicted by an Amalekite soldier who saw that Saul could not survive his wounds (v 10), (for Saul had deliberately fallen on his own sword so that he would not die from more wounds and abuses at the hands of the Amalekites.) (1 Sam 31:4)  Saul couldn’t get his own armor-bearer to finish him off (v 4), so he had tried to take his own life, but that failed, although Saul appeared dead for a time and lay slain with three of his sons and all of his men on the same battlefield. (v 6)  The aforementioned Amalekite soldier saw Saul.  Saul called out to him (v 7), verified an identity check (v 8), explained the situation (v 9), and the soldier proceeded to comply with Saul’s wishes and killed him.  The Amalekite then decided to take King Saul’s crown and arm-band to David, the soon-to-be-king of Israel.  David asked the young soldier where he was from.  He was the enemy who had now just strutted into the court of the soon-to-be-Israelite king!  What was he thinking?  He could have kept the crown and arm-band as booty trophies in his own camp, but he brought them to David.  That was the morally right thing to do.  But the man had no fear.  He was a walking advertising slogan of “No Fear!”  He had no fearful respect.  Mercy killing or not, and even though it was at Saul’s own request, still this soldier did not think twice about the Lord’s anointing that comes with the office of king.

2 Samuel 1:14 David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”

We can learn to be moral, but being fearfully respectful is a heart issue.  Isn’t it telling that the Lectionary Barons of the mainline Churches chose to leave out this part of the story, this part of the message dividing the meat from the marrow, which God Himself has had a “bone to pick” with the Churches for a very long time over the issue of morality versus being respectfully afraid of the Lord’s anointed?  And the last verse of the omission reads:

2 Samuel 1:16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

The crowds at Jesus’ crucifixion echoed similar words to Pilate:

Mt 27:25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

The Church-as-Institution has testified out of her own mouth by words of omission in the bass-relief portrait of things.  It is nonetheless exposed (cf Rev 16:15.)  The handwriting is on the wall. (ref Daniel 5)  There are consequences to idolizing morals over genuine reverence.  Revelation 22:19 (and 22:10) warns not to take words away from this book of prophecy.  Prophetic words carry God’s message in them.  Not all words are prophetic, but only those which God deems anointed to carry His message.

2 Peter 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.

His messengers carry the message, and they are the Lord’s anointed.  Prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. (1 Cor 14:22)  The Church “kills” the anointed every time they quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:18) or grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30).  The Church has neglected and ignored the anointed of the Lord; anointed of God, not of man. (2 Pt 1:21)  It is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus. (Rev 19:10)  It is the Holy Spirit Who consecrates the ordinary and makes it holy.  Beth Moore does a beautiful job of explaining this when she described how the Lord’s anointed are people, things, actions, or states which are set aside and reserved exclusively for God.[1]  She shares how we, too, are holy vessels in the house of the Lord.  I join Beth as I piggyback on top of St Paul’s explanation of “holy vessels:”

2 Tim 20: 20-21In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing. (The Message Bible)

We are all called “saints” and “holy” and “blameless.” (Eph 1:1, 4)  We are set with His seal of ownership upon us and God put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor 1::21-22)  Beth further explains:

“The lexical form of the word translated saints (Eph 1:1) and holy (Eph 1:4) is hagios meaning “holy, sacred, separated from ordinary or common usage and devoted to God.  Something that is holy is that which has been brought into relationship with God…and designed by Him as having a sacred purpose or special significance…marked as holy, classified as belonging to God…sacred, hallowed, consecrated.”[2]

We are common vessels with a holy purpose to serve our Holy God.  We don’t serve Him just by making moral choices but by fearing reverently our life-giving LIVING GOD through our attitudes, motives, hearts, thoughts, actions, and offices, which He has ordained and anointed.

Daniel 9:24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.

It is right that the Lectionary Barons would pick up the lamentation intoned over Saul and his son Jonathan. (1 Sam 1:17)  Jonathan and David were “soul mates.”  They loved each other at the soul level. (v 18)  David loved Saul because God had anointed him.  God grieves over the loss of one.  He rejoices over one who “wakes up.” (cf Lk 15:10) 

Rev 22:“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”

Can you imagine how happy God will be when the whole Church remembers we are His Bride and that worshiping Him is not just about moral choices but about fearfully reverencing Him like an adoring wife does of her Man?  So far the Church just keeps bleeding like the un-dead Saul dying on his sword.  She’s like the hemorrhaging woman in today’s Gospel lesson.  In the lesson Jesus crosses the lake.  A great crowd gathers around Him by the sea. (Mk 5:21)  One of the leaders of the synagogue (Jairus) falls at Jesus’ feet (v 22) and begs Him repeatedly to save his little girl who is dying and he implores Jesus to come and lay hands on her to make her well and to live. (v 23)  Jesus goes with the man.  The crowds follow and press in on Him. (v 24)  A woman who has spent her life-savings (v 26) trying to correct a hemorrhaging problem which she’s been afflicted with for twelve years (v 25) comes up behind Him in the crowd and touches His cloak. (v 27)

Mk 5:30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”

The generalized Church just crowds around Christ and even now she paws at Him.  But there are a few who sincerely and reverently follow behind Him so closely that they keep their noses in His back and touch His robes.  I, too, put my own nose in His back as I follow close behind Him.  I adhere to my commitment directives at the time of my calling to “Worship God” and “Share the Journey.”  I share it in writing.  At this stage of the collective journey with the Church, I, in turn, respectfully ask: Who’s touched my writings? I have no sanctuary so how would I know?  Where and with whom are they personal?  Sometimes I have moments of feeling “heard” but the Twelve Shepherds of the Seven Churches have not (or cannot?) personally connect with me by God’s design.  I mean, would you? when a little mystic waif shows up at your proverbial glass church doors crying “Repent! Christ is coming!”?  At best I was treated with fondness but nothing remotely akin to “hagios meaning “holy, sacred, separated from ordinary or common usage and devoted to God.”  So far “I just keep bleeding love” like the song by Leona Lewis.  From my perspective, etiquette says the girl is not supposed to go to the guys to beg for love, respect, and friendship.  In my feminine world, it must be offered like the hand of Prince Charming to Sleeping Beauty.  And yet God has sent me (cf Rev 22:16) to the Twelve “Brothers” in the Brotherhood of the Seven Churches.  It’s a sticky wicket.  Ah, gee, it’s nothin’ personal.  I have been viewed (and judged) as nuts, or a pest, or dismissed with the flick of a hand as a non-entity like a fly on a mule.  I am not saying this to give voice to a pity party of one.  My Husband was either nuts or the real deal, too.  I’m in good company!  It just is what it is.

I notice that the New Revised Standard Version translation which the Lectionary Barons use says that ‘the power goes forth from Him.’ (Mk 5:30)  It doesn’t say (like other translations) that the power ‘drained out of Him’ when the faith-filled hemorrhaging woman touched him.  The woman touched Him with her own powerful faith, meeting Him from behind. (v 27)  Submission comes behind Christ because He leads.  Christ has the power.  He’s the Source.  He’s the voltage.  He’s the Lamp.  The crowds just want to vamp Him for His power.  The faith-filled woman contributes and adds to Christ’s own faith, and therefore it becomes even more noticeable.  His faith and assurance met hers to reassure her.  Her faith made her well to go in peace, and to be healed (v 34) after she had told Him the whole truth on her knees in fear and trembling (v 33).  There’s a correlation here to the Old Testament portion omitted from today’s lesson about David, the Amalekite killing Saul, and this man not fearing the Lord’s anointed even though he acted morally right.  The Church, too, will be made well to go in peace and to be healed after she tells Christ the whole truth on her knees in fear and trembling and she acknowledges that she did not fear the Lord’s anointed even though the Church acted morally right.  

While Jesus is blessing the now-healed, faith-filled woman, the people from the synagogue leader’s home arrive on the scene to tell them his daughter is dead and not to trouble the Teacher. (v 35)  Jesus tells the man, “Do not fear, only believe.” (v 36)  He allows no one to follow Him but Peter, James, and John. (v 37)  They arrive at Jairus’ house and Jesus still cannot get away from more crowds.  He meets a commotion of loudly weeping and wailing people. (v 38)  The world will continue to weep and wail loudly until they have their fears calmed.  Jesus “sees” through their commotion because He’s got His eyes on His Father’s glory.  He “knows” in His deep heart-knowing place that the girl is just sleeping; she’s not dead.  People who are “awake” can also sense life-force.  It’s not a mystery that takes voodoo to discern.  Jesus asks, “Why do you make a commotion and weep?  The child is not dead but sleeping.” (v 39)  Since the Church is the Bride and the Bride has been “sleeping” like Sleeping Beauty, then it is true when God said in Rev 12:5 that He snatched the child up to His throne!  Today’s present conglomerate of Church is not the authentic Church.  She’s not dead but sleeping.  This is not new information that I have shared.  The Churches have responded to me the way they did to Jesus:  They laugh at Him.  In the Gospel story He puts them all outside and takes the child’s father and mother and the three disciples to where the girl was. (v 40) 

Please pause for a moment, Dear Reader, before the announcement of the miracle.  God is on His throne.  The thrones ARE set in place and the Ancient of Days has taken His seat! (Dan 7:9)  There is an overlay in the story drama that applies to us today.  The cast of characters are representational, archetypes if you will.  We have:

  • The dead/sleeping daughter, ie Sleeping Beauty, aka the Church-as-Bride
  • Peter, aka the Church-as-Institution
  • James, aka the Church-as-Watchers-and-Followers
  • John, aka the Church-as-Soul-Friends-of-Jesus
  • Jairus, the girl’s father and leader of the synagogue, aka Israel
  • The mother of the girl, aka the Holy Spirit

The main players are in the room just as the main players are on the world stage today right here and now.  Jesus takes the girl [Church-as-Bride] by the hand and says, “Talitha cum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”  Granted, the Church is not a twelve-year-old girl. (v 42)  She’s had a good twelve centuries to mature from her rocky beginnings.  The Jews have had a thousand years leading up to Christ since King David’s reign.  Paul talks (twice) about “fair balance” in the Epistle Lesson for today. (2 Cor 8:13-14)  Paul used the phrase “fair balance” in regards to equal distribution.  He laid out the sides in two camps: those who had genuine love and those who had earnestness. (2 Cor 8:8)  Both sides go unfulfilled with their needs unmet if they don’t share.  The lovers want to be generous out of love and the earnest believers want to share out of their eagerness.  It is appropriate not only to do something, but even to DESIRE to do something!

2 Cor 8:10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year [!] not only to do something but even to desire to do something–

I sense that this has also been the case with the Churches for about the last year as she floundered and splashed about in her watery, unclear, ethereal, murky, silent, non-relationship with me.  So Paul says,

2 Cor 8:11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.

Paul further explains that if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable to what one has—not according to what one does not have. (v 12)  He is describing sharing.  Sharing is about “fair balance,” not just pressure and relief. (v 13)  In our Babylon-like culture many have excess and many are impoverished.  Sharing creates fair balance not entitlements (v 14) because in all honesty, no one (not even a country!) has all things to provide to everyone, even those entitlements which we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking that we assume we are entitled to!  We each have our gift, our piece of the puzzle, to contribute to the greater whole while we focus on God.  Others see Christ in us when we share.  We don’t have to share until it hurts and our skin is peeled off as we ‘suffer for Christ.’ (2 Cor 1:5) Just share as is reasonable.  Share respectfully.  Share in reverence.  The Church-as-Institution’s sin of omission will not be appeased by more silent hissing via the venting of pressure to create relief as she wails, weeps, and laments some more.  Rise Sleeping Beauty!  Believe!  Look at Christ’s beautiful Face!  Christ gave His life to atone for sin for the whole world.  This is reason to share the Good News with the whole world.  The News is Good!  It’s not more Ziklag (2 Sam 1:1) like the Stalag.

Now in the gospel story Mark does one of those annoying things he does so very often: he makes a point of telling us that Jesus strictly orders them that no one should know “this.” Does “this” refer to the amazing, life-touching experience of raising Sleeping Beauty?  Does “this” refer to Christ’s power which much be experienced for oneself to be real?  Does “this” refer to that which is hidden in plain sight, the sacred in the ordinary?  Does “this” refer to that which has such deep meaning that we couldn’t talk about it anyway even if we had words?  Or does “this” refer to the fact that the girl immediately got up like any normal twelve-year-old and that they should feed her, because she was a normal twelve-year-old so there was nothing to say?  Jesus had told the leader of the synagogue: “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mk 5:36)

Mk 5:43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Feed the girl and tell no one.  The theme of ‘Tell No One’ is absolutely hounded in the Gospel of Mark (cf Mark 1:34, 44; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36-37; 8:26, 30; 9:9.)  Personally speaking, I really do get “it” that we ALL need time to digest the Truth of God’s miracles and integrate the truth of them into ourselves.  This I understand.  I have had to go through it myself.  What I don’t understand is why the Church-as-Bride continues to REMAIN silent.  God really IS on His holy seat:

Daniel 7:“As I looked,

thrones were set in place, [as they ARE!]
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat. [Which He HAS!]
His clothing was as white as snow;
    the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
    and its wheels were all ablaze.
10 A river of [spiritual] fire was flowing,
    coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
    ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
    and the books were opened.

[cf Revelation 20:12]

In Daniel the books are opened BEFORE the coming of the Son of Man. (Dan 7:13-14)  (And they were.)  In Revelation, the books are opened BEFORE the New Jerusalem comes.  (And they have not yet been opened.)  The Church-as-Bride is, herself, part of God’s plan of redemption.  How is the rest of the Church and the world (both Church and world) to know and hear the Good News when the Church herself remains silent?  These Reflections are put on a blog that scrolls.  I also took the “scroll” and “ate” it just like Ezekiel (3:2) and John (Rev 10:10) both did.  This, too, was “fair balance” in the Kingdom on both sides of the timeline.

—Remember the Rock who hit Nebuchadnezzar’s statue? (Dan 2:44-45), the Rock uncut by human hands and fills the whole earth?

That Rock created “fair balance.”  I’m really trying to be soft and gentle about this as I come to you, Church, out of my convicted heart over the issue of my Tone.  I don’t want to do my typical Samson thing of proverbially swinging an ass’ jawbone (Jdg 15:16) in the Temple to wake up the “Club Church.”  But really to whom do I go?  I’ve gone to the Twelve Pastors of the Seven Churches and even put all my Reflections on a blog.  The Reflections themselves reflect the relationship journey between the Church and me when read from the bottom (Ash Wednesday 2009) to the top (today’s on 1 July 2012) like a scroll.  It’s all there.  We humans have the capacity to click and share the Good News with the whole earth via Internet.  One click to recommend the link and forward it to a friend; each one to reach one, is all it would take.  Just a small personal effort, but the problem has not been one of effort but of faith on the part of the Church.  And still this relationship has never acknowledged by the Church.  Unilaterally the Church literally and spiritually complied with “feed the girl and tell no one.”  The Great Nothing in the Grand Silence has “killed” the Lord’s anointed.  The Church-as-Sleeping-Beauty will rise and give the rest of the world something to “eat” when she shifts her position from being morally correct to being fearfully respectful of the Lord’s anointed, the messenger whom God sent to you; one “Sleeping Beauty” to another “Sleeping Beauty.“

Rev 22: 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Christ is Christ.  I’m just the messenger.

Prayer: Lord, please forgive us for idolizing morals over being fearfully respectful of the ones whom You have anointed.  Please take us by the hand from our sleeping states and by Your own kiss awaken us to Your Presence like Prince Charming with Sleeping Beauty.  Draw the Seven Churches together in the unity of Yourself; into a community of friendship which creates a Temple for You, Christ, as You connect us all by Your love, grace, and tools to a spiritually hungry and thirsty world.  Amen.

5 After Pentecost                    01 July 2012                                       Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
1:1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.

1:17 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.

1:18 (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:

1:19 Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places! How the mighty have fallen!

1:20 Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon; or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

1:21 You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor bounteous fields! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

1:22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, nor the sword of Saul return empty.

1:23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

1:24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with crimson, in luxury, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

1:25 How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.

1:26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

1:27 How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

Psalm 130
130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.

130:2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!

130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?

130:4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.

130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

130:6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

130:7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.

130:8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24
1:13 God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.

1:14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

1:15 For righteousness is immortal.

2:23 For God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity,

2:24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

Lamentations 3:22-33
3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

3:23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

3:24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

3:26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

3:27 It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,

3:28 to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it,

3:29 to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),

3:30 to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.

3:31 For the Lord will not reject forever.

3:32 Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

3:33 for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

Psalm 30
30:1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

30:2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

30:3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.

30:5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

30:6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”

30:7 By your favor, O LORD, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

30:8 To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication:

30:9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?

30:10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!”

30:11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

30:12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

2 Corinthians 8:7-15
8:7 Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

8:8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.

8:9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

8:10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–

8:11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.

8:12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have.

8:13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between

8:14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.

8:15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Mark 5:21-43
5:21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.

5:22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet

5:23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”

5:24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

5:25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.

5:26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.

5:27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,

5:28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”

5:29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

5:30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”

5:31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'”

5:32 He looked all around to see who had done it.

5:33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.

5:34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

5:35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?”

5:36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

5:37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

5:38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.

5:39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”

5:40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.

5:41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!”

5:42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement.

5:43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

[1] Beth Moore, Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy.  (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2006), p 90

[2] Citing Beth Moore’s reference on pg 91 of the Daniel study workbook: Spiros Zodhiates, Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible, New International Version, New Testament Lexical Aids, (Chattanooga: TN:AMG Publishers, 1996), #41, 1572.