Frustration: Eternally Old

I am always wondering what God is doing. Daily, headlines in the news inform us of events that threaten or dismay. Whether on computer or TV screen, or on the printed pages of magazines, books & newspapers, we are constantly confronted with disturbing, often perplexing realities.

I also wonder about more normal, work-a-day happenings – like, why does it start raining the moment I step out the door? Why do I keep getting ‘set back’ in certain endeavors? I wonder about decisions that must be made that are not of life-or-death significance but will have an impact. I wonder why, when I take every precaution against a specific outcome, it happens anyway. These kinds of events, that happen to us all, constantly give me pause. Because I do not believe in coincidence and I do believe in a sovereign Lord.

Yes, there is plenty to wonder about, if you have that kind of mindset & disposition.

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Pain – any kind of pain – will motivate most of us to do more than wonder. We will look for a solution. We want relief. If an answer can be found, we will most likely give it a try.

The pain of frustration presents a sore dilemma. Frustration exists in & because of a multitude of circumstances, and if any of them can be changed, we may find relief. But is there a root problem that needs to be addressed? Many years ago, British preacher Derek Prince was speaking on his radio broadcast about being under a curse. I hadn’t planned on listening, but ‘unaccountably’ woke up early one morning, turned on the radio, and heard him stating that a key symptom of being under a curse was frustration. Intrigued, I listened. Prince listed constant frustration in money matters, relationships and career progress as results of a possible curse at work in one’s life. It was a short broadcast, and to this day, I remember it.

You may or may not believe that a person can come under a curse. I know that the New Testament Scripture tells believers in Jesus Christ that they have been redeemed from the curse (of the law), because He became a curse for them, when He hung on the cross (Galatians 3:13). It would seem to me that any kind of curse must be rooted, somehow, in this, and should now be neutralized – yet, according to Derek Prince, Christians still can be affected by them. Plus, I’ve been baffled & exasperated by happenings in my own life that…well, if it looks like a duck… Combine these two, and I have to question my own understanding of frustration and its possible causes.

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…here are some thoughts…

Before Satan, we read of Lucifer, purportedly the most beautiful & magnificent of all of God’s created beings. (I say ‘purportedly’ because the actual name Lucifer only appears one time throughout the whole of Scripture, in Isaiah 14:11. Other conclusions about this being are drawn from statements & judgements made about another, the king of Tyre, who seems to be a representation of Lucifer at a later date in time). Scripture tells us that when Lucifer walked, music emanated from him (Ezekiel 28:13). He is described as “…full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (v.11) Though his name means “morning star”, he is identified as having been “the anointed cherub that covereth” (v.14). (Think about that, if you’re looking for deep…)

We know that at some point, he turned against his Creator. Seems like his own excellence ensnared him, because he decided that he would be like the Most High (Isaiah 14: 12-14). Lucifer actually believed he could usurp the Mighty God, which must be the original ‘being full of one’s self’! In addition, he recruited others. The coup was complete.

God had to act.

(Bible scholars believe that His actions at this point took place in a time interval between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis. This second verse tells us that the earth was without form, and void. But God did not create the earth without form (Isaiah 45:18). Something seems to have happened to make it become so.)

I can not imagine, though I try, the scene of this judgment. Scripture alludes to it, but barely and in places you might not suspect. But, there is a Biblical record of cataclysmic judgment on the once glorious Lucifer. In Isaiah 14, we read: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cast down to the ground…thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit…” Ezekiel tells us, once iniquity was found in Lucifer, that the Lord GOD said, “I will cast you…out of the mountain of God…”(v.16)

And what has never occurred to me, though I knew about the judgment, was one eternally significant result of it. It should’ve been obvious, but it wasn’t. I knew that Lucifer – now Satan (it is presumed) – hated Christ and all who believe in Him, with a malevolent hatred. But exactly why? Well, I assumed, because Satan is just…evil…and Christ is not.  Because he is evil, he wants to destroy.  But I never connected some of the dots… 

…but try to put yourself in Lucifer’s place, once high & exalted in a glorious splendor of existence, in perhaps moments or less finding himself roaming helplessly, stunned…through dark, violent chaos & void…and unable to do anything about it. Not one single thing. Ever. No matter what he tried or how hard he tried it, he had no power to RESTORE ANYTHING. Ever.

He had lost it all.

And so I wonder, as we walk through time & history, if much of what we see happening in empires & governments, even in technological progress & global humanitarian ‘unity’, has its roots in endless Satanic attempts to regain his lost glory as Lucifer. In The Invisible War, Donald Barnhouse declares that Satan is still “thinking he can yet do something to restore order and peace within the borders of his chaotic realm.”  To somehow regain influence over his environment, to restore it (if even for purely prideful & selfish reasons.) Powerless to do so, Lucifer/Satan reaped only frustration. Unabated, without reprieve, frustration can escalate to fury & destruction. And finally, jealous hatred – ever increasing – towards the One who can restore, and does, and will. Towards the One through Whom all creation will ultimately be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

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…and again…“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither Slumber nor Sleep”

“Hamas claims victory after the end of Operation Protective Edge – even though it was soundly defeated by the IDF. Israel’s enemies and opponents – and much of the media – continue to fault the Jewish state for defending itself and its people. One would think Israel was on the ropes. Not so, writes Jonathan Tobin, who says that yesterday’s Israeli pact with Jordan is just one more piece of evidence that Israel is getting stronger” 

 (excerpt from Israel’s Getting Stronger, Not Weaker – Stand for Israel)

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“…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…”

Originally posted on Jesus, the Revolution & You:

These terms – ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God’ – made their first appearance in The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America – our Declaration of Independence – in its opening words.  “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”  Accordingly, it would follow that all else contained within this document, and any other document based on or springing from this Declaration, would be built upon & around these foundational realities.

So a problem arises if one doesn’t really believe that such a concept as ‘Laws of Nature’ is in fact a reality. Or if it is a reality, but not such…

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“Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither Slumber nor Sleep”

 

“What all of Israel is talking about but you won’t find it in the liberal media, is the fact that since the crisis began, our brave soldiers have found 31 terror tunnels with over 60 access points from Gaza that lead deep into Israel. What Israeli intelligence has not confirmed but what people in Israel are discussing is that our soldiers uncovered a decade-in-the-making plot to use a web of underground roads to launch a massive attack in 16 different cities in Israel — all to happen two months from now, during our High Holy Days — with the terror tunnels leading to community centers, kibbutzim, and kindergartens.” 

(The Heartbreaking Reality in Southern Israel – Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Founder and President, IFCJ )

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Yahweh Reigns

…More than just a Government ?

Last 4th. of July I began what I intend to make a tradition: I read the Declaration of Independence aloud. (So far, I’m the only person present at the reading.) This year, while reading those hallowed words that explained & proclaimed the American Revolutionary cause, I also began to get unexpected glimpses of parallels with things not necessarily ‘political’. These glimpses will, I know, become full visions, if I am not just imagining them. If I am not just imagining them, surely others have been graced with such…insight.

My conviction that the hand & works of the Lord run through all of American history, for a strong & definite purpose, grows every day. There is not much about which I have no doubt, but I have no doubt about that. I think I am coming late to the party! as the almost tangibleness of His invisible things become more manifest to me. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:17 about affliction “…working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” and are counseled to look at those things which are not seen. I suspect that the United States of America is a powerful representation of those things.

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“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

What impacted me especially, in this statement in the beginning sentences of the Declaration of Independence, was the idea of the consent of the governed. That some form of government among men is necessary cannot be disputed. The heavy-handed concept of government might be inherently assumed. Clearly, with tyrants & dictators, it is. There, the people fall prey. Perhaps they have never known any other way.

(But there is another Way.)

God is on the march, and He has plans for men.

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We begin our endeavors with high hopes & grandiose plans. Then, we usually start hitting roadblocks, right? Sometimes, roadblocks hit us! As the sparks fly upward, man is born for trouble, we read in the book of Job. (Job 5:7) I hate that this is written, but…it is. We can usually safely assume, at the very least, glitches along the way; but often serious difficulties, conflicts & divisions rise up.

So it is & has been in governments among men. The reason for that is that governments are composed of men. Our Founders knew this well, and did not expect perfection, or a problem-free republic. In the Federalist No.51, James Madison astutely wrote: “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

‘Glitches’ began rearing their hostile heads early on in the young United States. Prior to the framing of the Constitution, under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had failed so miserably to govern that a return to monarchy was being considered as the only defense against chaos. George Washington doubted that the young nation could exist much longer without “…having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union…” (Athearn, Robert G., American Heritage series, Vol.4, ‘A New Nation’)  Such crises led to four months of constant, intense & sometimes bitter debate during the Constitutional Convention, where the Articles of Confederation were scrapped, and agreement was finally reached on the new Constitution of the United States of America.

Safeguards against the inclinations of man at his worst were implemented into our Constitution, to the best of our forefathers’ ability. In his closing speech at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, while acknowledging not entirely approving it, Benjamin Franklin also acknowledged astonishment that the finished Constitution of the United States of America approached so near to perfection as it does.” (Ravitch, Diane & Thernstrom, Abigail, eds., The Democracy Reader)

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So…men struggle to achieve the goal of a free nation. Such a nation requires government.  And perhaps we see in the heart, the form & the functioning of the government & citizens of the United States of America a parallel to the corporate body of Christ and the individuals within it. And thus, a glimpse into the heart & desire of God.

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Just as the American governing system is comprised of many persons who serve in a hierarchy of various offices & functions, so Christ operates His government on this earth through His people, who serve within a Divine structure, as many members of one Body. Yet “…all members have not the same office.” (Romans 12:4) The optimal functioning of the body of Christ on earth requires the willing participation of…His people. God want co-workers. (2 Cor.6:1, 5:19)  He wants us to agree with him, so that we can act in accord with His purposes. Although the Lord can do as He pleases, it is not in His heart to subvert us, or force us to work with Him. He wants our consent.

He wants the consent of those over whom He would be Lord.

Consent of the governed.

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Guard Your Heart…but not from Jesus

Is God real to you?  How about His love?

I have believed that Jesus is Lord, and Savior of the world, approaching 40 years now. In a heartbeat, I can look to Him, and He is there.  But yet…for me, a more conscious apprehension of His love, and especially His love for me, has remained elusive.  Sure, there are moments…but something has been missing.  I questioned if I really was one of those included in the Scripture “God causes all things to work together for good to them who love Him…”  I knew I needed God, but I wasn’t at all sure that I loved Him.  Because I wasn’t at all able to have a sense of God as love.  Though the Scriptures make that clear, for me it seemed a void.

I don’t see a final, permanent solution to anything outside of God’s love, which engenders His promises.  I have concluded that if you can’t trust in His love…for you…you won’t be able to consistently believe His promises.  This inability to believe leaves an open door for doubt & fear to enter, to gnaw away at your peace and make you sick.

Ours essential battles are not against flesh & blood, but powers & principalities which deal in fear.  At root, the issue isn’t that money is tight and costs prohibitive to even survival. The issue is fear.  The issue is, do you really trust in God?  If we really trust God, we will not fear.  And I have yet to guarantee an easy way to trust somehow you don’t know.  Perhaps some can, but with God. who is invisible, it might take some effort for others of us.

I have had to work at it. I have had to really think about certain Scriptures, and make decisions – repeatedly, over the past few years.  And I am telling you, though you may struggle a lifetime, when the love of God arises like the day-star in your heart and all around, every wall falls down, and every strong hold is broken.  You KNOW.  You know He is the Mighty God, King of the Universe, Who alone is good and will always do what He promises.  In Him, you stand in power and truth, and you KNOW it.

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When this Light ,which is God, causes there to be no place found for darkness, the alacrity of His faithfulness becomes astonishingly apparent.  It is mind-blowing.  It is real and true.  If you are not in that place yet, be absolutely assured that it is there.  It exists.  Keep fighting your particular good fight, and stay the course. As difficult as it may seem to do so, there comes a point when it is the only recourse left to you.  Like those final throes of a woman in labor, give it your one final push.  Make the decision to forge ahead, in Christ, for all you’re worth, not looking back.  At this point, for you, His kingdom is very close.

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thelordreigns

We keep Searching for Answers: Bowe Bergdahl

I had been blogging for about a year or so when I first heard of Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance.  My interest in the war in Afghanistan was constant, so I was very much impacted by his possible kidnapping by the Taliban.  At the time, my blog featured a ‘Prayer Request’ section in its sidebar, and Bowe was placed at the top of it…and remained there.

I remember an uncertainty in the details of his disappearance.  That seemed odd to me. What also seemed odd, and troubling, was that there seemed not to be too much attention being paid to it, after the initial reporting.  Maybe I’m remembering the events incorrectly…

 

Now, suddenly, plenty of attention is being paid to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  My sudden joy at seeing his name in the news again, paired with the word ‘release’, was quickly eclipsed by consternation and sadness over the emerging details of his story.  Daily, we are learning more, and perhaps understanding less. My sadness grows.

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Back then, it was suspected that Bowe may have just walked off.  Now, reading his fellow soldiers’ opinions  of him, there seems no doubt.  The fog surrounding the circumstances of his disappearance is lifting.

…and when I saw with my own eyes what is being presented as tweets by his own father, Robert Bergdahl, in apparent sympathy with the detainees at Guantanamo, everything began jumbling in my head.  What?  Couple that with one look at his father’s choice of beard, and it becomes even harder to ignore the picture that seems to be actually taking shape.  Emails reportedly sent by Bowe to his parents, right before he went missing, expressed Bowe’s disillusionment with the Afghan war. Sources familiar with intelligence report that, soon after his disappearance, Bergdahl stopped in a local village and asked how to find the Taliban, so…putting it all together….it just seems to gets worse. At this point, there are plenty of articles out there with damning information on the details, and they multiply before your eyes.

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A 2012 Rolling Stone article quotes other soldiers & associates of Bergdahl’s, who reported that Bergdahl said he might walk to Pakistan if his deployment was “lame”.

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Nonetheless, I cannot judge Bowe.

It occurred to me that he somehow became an unwitting pawn, easily deceived. Our adversary the devil prowls about, seeking whom he may devour. Brutal circumstances in a hostile environment, that many of us will never know or understand, may have made Bowe Bergdahl ripe for the kill.  It appears he made a disloyal decision, and walked away from his battalion, deserting his brothers in arms and breaking his oath. This, if true, is serious. But all are not as stalwart as others. Some are immature. He, perhaps, fell prey.

I understand he attempted escape twice. Whatever his reasons were for leaving his post, if it was voluntary, he came to regret that action at some point.

If Bowe had a plan, he did not think it fully through. Men were lost in rescue operations.  Families and lives have been painfully torn, and their sorrow and loss cannot be measured. May those brave and selfless soldiers know glory eternally for who they are and what they attempted to do. We need to pray for their families.

I know justice must prevail.  ‘Court martial’ is trumpeted across the land . Bowe will need to answer for his part in these events ; they had consequences. And I know it is easy for me, who lost no one because of these events, to make this point, but “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10) There must be room for mercy, as well.  For people to heal and move on, there needs to eventually be forgiveness.

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Further investigation into his father’s appearances of alignment with Taliban beliefs and/or practices have shown me a scenario perhaps not quite what it seemed. The man wanted his son back. “Bergdahl’s parents, {are} afraid of the Taliban, of the drone warfare in the tribal areas, and frustrated because they don’t feel the U.S. is doing enough to try to free their son…They feel the White House is afraid to make a deal with the kidnappers in an election year…” So Robert Bergdahl contacted the Taliban himself. Whether a wise or foolish move, his motive seems very understandable. (Bowe Bergdahl: Prisoner of war, politics and diplomacy)

What I don’t see a reassuring explanation for is why Robert Bergdahl uttered a Muslim invocation in Arabic when meeting with President Obama, which traditionally would ‘sanctify’ and claim the White House for Islam.  Why claim the leadership of America for the very ones who had held your son hostage for 5 years? Unless the senior Bergdahl believed that a continued show of support for Islam was somehow still necessary…or, similar to Stockholm Syndrome victims, he as well as his son, succumbed.

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The issue of the President’s alleged illegal actions in effecting this prisoner exchange outside of the knowledge of Congress is a whole other matter. “White House officials say Bergdahl’s deteriorating health necessitated the rapid action.” is the reason being given.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee, in a CNN interview, said that “…we had intelligence, from everything I understand…that this was our last, best opportunity, that he was potentially on death’s door …”

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The issue of releasing 5 Taliban-related Guantanamo detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl is also another matter. I understand that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists? But…we did. And this deal was not suggested at the last-minute, either, even though Congress may not have known about the final absolute decision until after the exchange was accomplished. “The U.S. government says that it ‘does not negotiate with terrorists,’ yet there have long been reports that the U.S. has tried to talk with Haqqani, and that in its talks with the Taliban they have discussed, in a confidence-building measure, a possible prisoner swap from Guantanamo for Bergdahl.”  “Bergdahl is the subject of a proposed prisoner swap in which he would be traded for five Taliban adherents imprisoned by the United States at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

These quotes are from CBS News articles published online in May and June, 2012.

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I have constructed in my mind other, more nefarious & convoluted scenarios.  Maybe the goal all long was the release of Gitmo prisoners.  Maybe Bergdahl’s disgust with the Afghan war made him an easy mark, luring him to the other side…at first.  Betrayal might have played a part.  I’ve seen the word ‘ransom’ floating by a few times.  Could this whole incident have been staged?

I have chosen to disregard these possibilities, for now.  But…Official: Bergdahl Details Don’t Add Up…..

It has been suggested that we may never know the full truth about Bowe Bergdahl’s ‘kidnapping’. At present, I see it as a kaleidoscope – when handled & shaken, the pieces shift & change shape. But perhaps a moment will come when it becomes instead a puzzle – a puzzle solved, indisputable pieces forming a definite, final shape.

Until then, I am guided & fortified by the Word of God that tells me to judge nothing before the time: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts…” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

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Bowe Bergdahl