Who Invented the Pleasure of Peanut Brittle & Stuff Like Sex?

I recall a humorous conversation we had at work a couple days back about peanut brittle, and all sorts of Christmas and holiday candies, cookies and seasonal delights, and of course spirits of sorts… all possibly being of Satanic origin, and likely concocted and manufactured by Lucifer himself in the bowels of hell itself. “No doubt he and his henchmen are working overtime turning out vats of elixirs and potions and notions, and boxcar loads of the sweet savory stuff in preparation for fattening up hordes of unsuspecting and nonresistant victims during this rapidly approaching holiday season…”

It is so blasted hard to “Just Say No!” to these simple tasty pleasures, and to be good and to do good when faced with such delectable delights, especially for me at this early time of the year… Great Horny Toads! I love the holidays! I am thankful! I love my childhood memories! My mother claimed she could not make candy but for some reason I remember her many valiant and successful attempts during my childhood. And here we are today, not even close to Thanksgiving, and SAMs, et al, are packed with shortbread cookies, and imported chocolates, and dainty morsels from places I cannot even pronounce. 

But then in great comfort to salve my guilty aching conscience (and swollen gut) over a weekend failure with my personal nemesis, peanut brittle, I recalled my friend CS Lewis, and the insightful wit and wisdom he gives us, as he draws back the curtain upon how the tempters of our flesh may really work in their diabolical ways of twisting and distorting that which is created “very good”. Below I quote Screwtape as he counsels his underling demon, Wormwood, of the dangers that lurk inherent when a fledging Christian begins to be “tempted” yet to know, to experience, to enjoy and to understand pleasure as a gift to be moderated, and not an affliction to be avoided. For true pleasure in its pure form and proper use can only originate from a good Creator God, and this Screwtape must acknowledge. Pleasure is a good gift which comes down from above, from the Father of lights.

As as sidebar illustration, one has well said, Adam and Eve are the only two individuals who have ever lived who knew unhindered, untainted marital bliss for they lived in union prior to the entry of sin’s blight of self-seeking misery after one’s own sinful pleasure. Go with that where you might, but it sounds reasonable to me. Sex “post-Fall” has always been tainted by sin, (I reference our natures and not the specific act in marriage), and could never be fully enjoyed to the complete God-given capacity as the gift was intended when first given. ( I know… this is deep water of a speculative sort, but it seems well founded to me.)

A believer armed with this knowledge of the enemy tactics is a threat to the tempter’s diabolical purposes of distortion, which has been the plan of the “father below” from time immortal. “Hath God said…” His perversion of true pleasures contrary to divine design is what is at stake. That is his game plan. It always has been. When believers begin to see and understand that joy is their right, and their Heavenly Father’s desire for His children, a new confidence and expectation of good from God becomes normative. We fear God, but we fear Him in love and hope with gladness of heart. All is lost to the tempters once true believers comprehend that in their Father’s “right hand are pleasures forever more.” 

Follow Lewis… and stand in the brilliance of his argument or the point he makes from the other side! Some folk we are reminded to continually thank God for, and I suppose almost daily. In some way I rejoice daily in what this Irishman did to change my world in the gospel as he enlarges my understanding of God in the world. 

Uncle Screwtape:

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s (God’s) ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His (God’s) invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which he has forbidden…. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula…. To get a man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that’s what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.”

Uncle Screwtape to Wormwood in “The Screwtape Letters”

CS Lewis

For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside…” Psalm 84

Prayer: The GOD-Required Original Persistent Irksomeness

“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

Luke 11:8-10

#PersistenceInPrayer is a primary point. God is there. God is faithful. God gives access. Men ought always to pray. Prayer is a chief evidence of saving faith. When Jesus returns He will search specifically for the Intercessors. “When the Son of Man comes shall He find faith in the earth?” On any given ordinary day could you produce enough evidence to convince the Court of Heaven?

There is an irritability component of prayer which cannot be ignored, if you have prayed, you know what I mean… That is, we become irritated by the required persistence demanded in all true prayer, for we know He has said, “He knows our needs before we ask.” Ok. Remind me again WHY we are asking, dear Lord? Well one reason: “To obey is better than to sacrifice.” Because He said so. It’s good to pray. Jesus modeled prayer for us. And who can recount the 10,000 or so other reasons we ought pray? It is the chief component of ANY day regardless of where the fire is or what needs are screaming or snapping at our heels. One too cannot help but ask, “Why so many times Lord?” Why so many tines must I repeat this same needed request? But our heart cries, “I come again Lord,” on this another day.

Below enjoy another #CSLewis quote on prayer in his masterful work, “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

“Well, let’s now at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome. An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a crossword puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us…. Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is it should be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?… The painful effort which prayer involves is not proof that we are doing something we were not created to do. If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Someday, please God, it will be.”

Lewis captures with beautiful poignant honesty that which many of us battle with: We struggle to discover Prayer as that which morphs into a delightful duty which grants us greater satisfaction in joy by seeing our Lord (our Friend) more than receiving the request for we asked.


Sweet Hour of Prayer by Casting Crowns


Dying to Give, Living by Giving

Luke 11:39-41 (NASB)But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. “You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? “But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.”

When we give that within we give that which we love and that which is nearest and dearest to our heart. The Pharisees were lovers of money thus described as being filled with robbery which was manifested in a wicked covetous behavior to hold these idols close. Christ commands them to give it all away, much as he counseled the rich young ruler. “Go sell all that you have, give to the poor, and then come follow Me, and you shall have treasure in heaven.” He departed grieved for his wealth gripped his inner heart with the strength of ten strong men. 


Right.

Cutting off hands and plucking out eyes never becomes easier but it can become more reasonable in the light of an encounter with the Lord of glory. His voice in the Gospel whispers with a powerful confident assurance and increasing clarity of purpose. Regardless, the death of even a small idol is neither quiet nor a clean process. There is always traumatic calamity of separation. There is also an ever-vigilant spirit of watchfulness required lest a caustic recurrent malignancy spring to life again in an attempt to reattach itself in vital heart union. This is more common than originally thought. An honest assessment of life and self must conclude: If we are unwilling to part from that which we hold dear, Christ is not Lord and the Cross is not that to which we cling. How can we bear the Cross with two hands stuffed full of this world’s trinkets? Consider Moses and the reproach of Christ, at the cost of the fame and pleasure of Egypt. 

I would now like to reference CSLewis in The Great Divorce in his beautiful illustration of killing sin (an idol). The “great divorce” is our becoming unwed from the things of this world that tend to hinder and hide from us the more glorious “other world” or eternity which unseen is in reality more tangible and durable. (This concept of eternal greater durability is brilliantly illustrated throughout Lewis’ masterful work.)

In the following illustration of Lewis the “ghost” is a man making a transition from the temporal to the eternal world but he has a lizard (sin) attached to his neck and it has become a part of him. The lizard must die to complete the translation. Though the “ghost” (man) knows it not good and even evil, he simply cannot lay the lizard aside by himself. A mighty angel offers assistance but only upon the threat of pain shall the lizard (sin or idol) die and never easily or quietly. 

A mighty angel approached the man and asked, “Would you like me to make the lizard quiet?”

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh—ah—look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel …. “Shall I kill it?”

“Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. Some other day, perhaps.”

“There is no other day ….” 

“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.”

“It is not so.”

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”

“I never said I wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”

[Suddenly] the Lizard began chattering loudly: “Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again ….” 

“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.

“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.”

“Then I may?”

“Blast you! Go on can’t you? Get it over,” bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed, on the turf.

Then I saw, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the Ghost materialize into a man, not much smaller than the Angel.
At the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Suddenly I stared back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold.
The man, now free from his torment, climbed upon the stallion that had been his sin and rode into the glowing sunrise towards the Savior.

This is why we need Lewis today. 

As We Wait for the Burning Bush

It is so very easy to perversely assume God’s indebtedness to us today. You know, that He is obligated today to do the enormous because of such and such, and because of all we do and have done for Him. (Pride and faulty logic really foul up a man’s theology, and ultimately trip one up and into the path of destruction.)

We forget the prep time of Dungeon Joseph and of Desert Moses. Always too, bear in mind that John the Baptist apparently was reared in the desert “before the day of his public appearing,” and our Lord Himself hung out for 30 years in a carpenter shop before adorning the Gospel in public ministry. I naturally think as Eddie Rabbit, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”. (Well maybe Mr. Rabbit had other issues he sang about as I listened to him years ago in The KEG in Lafayette.)

Our duty in the meanwhile is to stay spiritually sensitive, mentally keen, and physically engaged in the kingdom calling before us today, regardless of the size or significance of our ministry. We don’t do this by moping or by sitting around telling old stories as we polish shield and sword, and as we care for the battle gear we were given some years back. To be faithful in that which is least means we are practicing grace where we are today. Now! (Athlete, Soldier, Farmer… remember? Marathon runner?) Get off the couch, Mr. Potato Head! Quit licking past wounds and mourning old offenses that you cannot make right. The Kingdom languishes and the King is at the door!

You know, it may be today we look and see and are called to turn aside to a burning bush that is not consumed. We might have an encounter with God as never before as He opens the sealed orders’ envelope marked by our name, and then He may commission us to regions beyond in glorious endeavors that we have prayed over for years. Likely though for most of us we will still walk a similar path as before… just as we did yesterday and last week and last year. There are glorious exceptions, and there is glory wherever and whatever path of obedience we walk.

And if those secret sealed orders are never unsealed and that burning bush is never revealed and if that still quiet voice never becomes a thunderous heavenly overture to “Go ye therefore,” any further than our resident prayer closet, His call to daily faithfulness is ever before us and we establish His glory and kingdom in like manner according to apportioned grace in our particular corner of the universe by simple, faithful, consistent obedience. And we learn how to walk and please Creator God unto His glory in the simplicity of the life He gives today.

May we ever be diligent to be doers of the Word wherever we are found today, bush or no bush. Excel still more. Never lose heart in well doing. Live in expectation that God is and that God rewards even seekers.

We please God! We please God when we become linked to the golden chain of Romans 8, and whatever His particular eternal calling and purpose may be for us as individuals, we know conformity to the holy perfect Son is a non-negotiable as glorification is off the table too.

Now you were saying, you have problems and concerns?

God has your back and solutions to your most difficult plight and tragedy as He wisely intervenes according to the counsel of His will.

O how I love the Lord! He is our light and our salvation! There is instruction somewhere about waiting for the early and late rains, for the coming harvest. Let’s do that in a manner that never imitates inactivity, but rather manifests diligence in duty.

It occurs to me that in all of the Bible there is only one Burning Bush experience and only one Moses. And it also occurs to me that we have “match point” on Moses: We have the Spirit of God who seals us for the Day of Redemption in the secret place behind the Veil of the Tabernacle which is the Body of our Risen Lord.

 

 

We don’t need no burning bush.”
(colloquial)

 

The Hooker’s Dance… the Death of Reason

“…for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.”
Mark 6

Three Things

  • 1) Sentimentality and faddish spiritual interests are NOT Saving Religion. Saving religion produces the fruit of righteousness.
  • 2) Pick your friends and spouse carefully for their influence will point you either to heaven or hell, and worst case scenario, may have you chopping off the head of a man who loves you enough to tell you the truth about your sin. At a minimum you will castigate him to absolve your rejection of his truth and silence the fools about you.
  • 3) A troubled conscience can become a seared callousness with serial resistance to the Holy Spirit. There is often an ill-defined point of despising revelation and privilege, and subsequently giving up rights afforded in the gospel. Reference Esau and the despised birthright for a bowl of stew. Remorseful repentance was greeted with tearful rejection.  

Remember, Herod (I believe) was the great grandson of Herod the Great who murdered the innocent children of Bethlehem as he made an attempt on the life of The Baby, so please note the undeserved, yet spurned opportunities to respond to grace and truth offered in John’s preaching. Some years later Jesus afforded no hope, and not even one word as He stood before Herod.

What are you bargaining for? A provocative dance by a hooker, a roll in the hay, or just trying to placate that one whispering in your ear. Don’t miss, don’t neglect that voice of reason and truth that nudges you to Calvary today. Today is what?

 “Today is the Day of Salvation.”
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this applies to everyone…”
The Preacher


  

When Forgiveness Stinks

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”Matthew 18

Forgiveness sometime stinks. Upon forgiveness we lose our perceived position of power and right of retaliation upon the offending party. We must lay our club down. We become disarmed. Peace treaties are signed and enacted and if we violate these treaties, we exchange positions and are in need of forgiveness. Risk is inherent in these gnarly relational intrigues. Power over the offender by withholding forgiveness was illusionary anyway… what were we thinking? That we somehow were different or better?

Forgiveness of serial offenders is obligatory when the “forgivor” is faced with legitimate repentance of the “forgivee”. We commonly forgive that chap closest to us multiple times daily… we forgive ourselves and go on and forget our transgression, and life is restored until our next sin and repentance. (#CSLewis)

To not forgive is inexcusable and off the table. Am I in the place of God? This does not nullify a potential change, even a relational change. (“I’ve got my eye on you…”) Serial forgiveness of a serial repenter does not imply my assumption or obligation of a lowly victim status. It is not grace nor graceful to enable an abuser by my becoming a serially abused person. The victor or innocent one in these repetitious fracases can easily morph into the victim status; there is but an ill-defined, short distance and few steps from the doorway to doormat. Doesn’t God in Christ offer options of expectations? If you repent then you are saying “God did something in me and to me. It is no longer I, but now the new me!”

Consequential loss of privilege may be required. A pastor who betrays his congregants in a gross or public way, or by serial blunders, is not worthy of his calling even when forgiven. He needs go get a real job in a real secular world as Moses in Midian, show faithfulness, (practice humility and repentance with the sheep as another dumb sheep and not as a shepherd), then wait upon the Lord with an eye out for a burning bush. Then only with a reluctant dragging should one draw near the pulpit again. 

“Forgiveness is one of the easiest things we might do once we have finally done it. It is much like riding a bike, once accomplished we never forget how to ride and we wonder why it was ever so difficult.” Lewis paraphrase

“Forgive and you shall be forgiven.”
Jesus

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” (Someone) 

“Yada Yada” we all said…

Death… is it negotiable?

John 11:11-13 (NASB)

This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.


Thoughts…

It is quite easy for even a novice to discover consolation, comfort and hope in this account of the death, then subsequent resurrection of Lazarus. So much truth is revealed in John 11. The curtain of God’s eternal purpose to bestow man with life is drawn back but a wee bit and glory descends to Sheol.  So much understanding is granted the one who purposes time spent with our Lord herein these pages, to “ponder anew what the Almighty might do, if with His love He befriend us.” Truth will always stand unchanged, unchangable. Life and Truth Incarnate are before us. 

“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go to wake him.” 

Okay

Jesus apparently considers the death of his friends a relative equivalent of a power nap that transforms one by resurrection to a new vitality of purpose, energy and understanding. Our Lord manages this greatest of all physical dilemmas with ease, with grace, and might we say with disdain at the evil of Sin’s consequence. In my years as a healthcare professional I have seen perhaps hundreds die, and it is never a thing of beauty for we were crowned with life as living souls designed in His image to know Him forever in life and glory. Yet death comes, and with but a word the effectual call of the King issues forth with the inherently powerful command to grant Life to the Fallen ones. 

The allegory works in both the spiritual resurrection today and the coming final resurrection of glorification of all those in Christ. This is no small matter. It is at the heart of the King’s reparation of the Fall. It is a blow to the head that renders him powerless who had the power of death. 

Brethren, He gives us that which we need most desperately and can never obtain apart from His work and the hearing of His voice. Without exception death will defeat each of us. We might ignore it but He crept one step closer with the setting sun of yesterday. Jesus alone is Lord of life with power and authority to remedy our greatest affliction. “Except a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die it remains by itself alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit…” He died that we might rise in Him. Who else makes such a claim and then validates it by this historical event which we see today as an allegory unto life by His utterance to, “Come Forth!”?

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NASB)

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.