Light and Luster: Avoiding and Treating Spiritual Cataracts

“While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.”
Jesus (John 12:36)

Deliberate decisions, conscious choices. Faith is Purposeful. Intentional.


Every day we are confronted with light and darkness easily lost or diminished in normative shades of gray. A slight deviation to the one side results in a shift in sensitivity to light, and we soon rationalize that the Light is not what it once was. Luster and clarity seem a few grades lower. The Treasure once found in that obscure field has inflationary considerations we failed to notice at the first… the Pearl of great price looks less radiant. How can that be?

Apostasy is incrementalism disguised as a dusk subtly attractive in its waning hues of gray as the days advance. This is sadly, normal Christian experience for so many that could easily be avoided if we treasure and live the principle of “in Thy light we see light.” A son of light perceives the value and power of the armor of light, and deliberately chooses life by its adornment. The old comfortable garments that the Light originally exposed as inadequate can strangely find their way back into our wardrobe. Repentance in daily practice is required preventative maintainence to treat the loss of visual acuity by our spiritual cataracts that grow ever so slowly in the spiritual aging process. “Was Light ever really much brighter, or first love really much deeper and stronger?” Care and discipline in the wee hours of the light of dawn is the rising path of nearness to The Source of sustaining righteousness. Do we persist in seeking God in secret? Do we avail ourselves to Light that exposes nuances of persistent areas of life shadows?

Deliberate and conscious must be my life purpose, my resolve to agree with the Psalmist and say, “Earnestly (early) will I seek Thee; my soul thirsts for Thee.”

“Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119

“You have been bought with a price. Glorify God in your body.”

Sleep & Eats… And other Required Desires & Duties that We Easily Fowl Up…

Do not love sleep, or you will become poor;  Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food.” (Proverbs 20:13)

Excess of some sort in its subterfuge is always in pursuit of us; even in the Required Instructions given us to sustain life itself. “Don’t handle! Don’t touch!” Geez…so so many rules! Coloring within the lines can become befuddling but that is not really the problem today… staying on the right page in the right book now seems the issue. But we begin with the compliance of dignified self-control in all things. Regardless.

So what is required for life can be easily become an indulgent practice as it creeps into our heart and soul space with tentacles that snare and choke other activity. Eventually even life itself can be entrapped with the fatal ease and misdirection of excess. (Sleep and eats are part of the package instructions printed in bold type and we do well not to neglect them as we guard our heart against dominance of them.) We all love sleep. We all need sleep. But we can train ourselves to not become as those sleep sluggards who choose to sadly, depressively, and excessively sleep their life away. Some things in life we must avoid regardless of the strength of their pull and the allure of our heart. 

On to the example of food now…

What is required and also desired can be neglected in the obvious provision at hand, as we are consumed in discontent rather than satisfied by our needs meet. It’s “the grass is always greener” principle. Ah yes, though there is always hell to pay for tearing out of one’s own fence (the boundary set by God) and into another man’s property line and sampling his wares…

Perhaps we do well to open our eyes to the abundance of blessings we have known in/by God’s wise and faithful provision so that we may escape the Romans 1 “Domino-Effect” of a progressive Fall to perdition because of ingratitude and lack of giving thanks, that results in a failure of worshiping the known God, and an consequential exchange of incorruptible glory for things tarnished and broken.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God…”

Romans 1:21-22a


Maybe it’s time to wake up and worship God in the beauty of His holiness and faithfulness of His provision?

I think as always, if we but listen, our friend Jack can help with commentary from Mere Christianity?
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
C.S. Lewis,

Mere Christianity


Think of the Cross.

Think of the city whose walls are broken down and it’s defenses are now weakened… so we too, if we lack self control, we are as that city and subject to being tossed to and fro.

Lord Jesus. Please send Your Holy Spirit that I might crucify the deeds and works of the flesh in my inner man by new desires recreated in righteousness, holiness and truth. 

In pursuit of gold…To the ends of the Earth! Or is in this rubble at my feet?

“Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding,But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”

Proverbs 17:24

One with understanding discovers wisdom, God’s grace gift, and opportunity in present circumstances. Circumstances become indifferent to the eye of faith as the wise man’s God looms large; larger than life, larger than even risk of death as inactivity becomes a non-player. No change is required for peace and joy, even if the sign reads, “Batteries Not Included,” and life remains broken. Sure, as a man he may know tears, fears, heart-aches… and joy inexpressible! But a wise man acts in faith even when there is no apparent way. He understands that life is about trust in God, and God is about orchestrating a life narrative that hones such trust. He is writing a biography of grace. And grace leads us to worship “whether in this mountain or Jerusalem… in spirit and truth.”

He has learned the secret of being content: of being filled with little or nothing yet rejoicing in plenty. He understands and applies “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” His soul is satisfied upon the bosom of his God. God supplies his needs in the glory of the Son, Christ Jesus. As promised, His Lord is near. 

Contrarily, a fool is one who neglects present circumstance and sees only limitations and obstacles. Discontent characterizes his heart. Complaint characterizes his demeanor. (How convicting as I know I easily mirror such an image at the drop of a pin.) He is hindered with his delusions of grandeur that sees not with the eye of faith but with a covetous eye of malcontent that must always move in to new adventures: whether wife or life or job or high or religious experience that soothes the flesh BUT strangely and only for a season. (The law of diminishing returns. The eyes of a man are never satisfied.) He looks upon the ends of the earth to be found just over the next horizon and his god is strangely absent yet deceitfully near. Within. Hidden somewhere in a deceived heart. 

“The silver and gold are but a bit further, according to these instructions left by our ‘friend’ Demas. Let us wander but a bit further in that direction…” The fool has a hope that perishes. His god is absent as the prophets of Baal horribly discovered to their great peril and final destruction. 


#YadaYada again again…

Father, wisdom and understanding… I need these to shore up my Faith. I don’t want to be a fool whose eyes are on the ends of the earth to the neglect of the treasure hidden within the rubble and mess at my feet, that I have made of life thus far. Show me Thy glory today, and where I stand now, without qualification. May I see that it too is Holy Ground, set apart unto Thee, and that You are worthy of worship as my Redeemer God!
Praise to the Lord! Thy consolations delight my soul.

A Political “If-Then” of Jesus that Helps Me Today

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting…”

We do well to remember the “if-then” of our Lord before Pilate only moments prior to full implementation of the Father’s eternal plan of Redemption at Calvary. The darkest hour for man was in fact destined to become the most glorious of all. Heaven and earth kissed when righteousness and peace joined hands: His kingdom came in power and in particular at the declaration of Sonship via the Resurrection. If we do not heed the “if-then” Kingdom clause of Jesus, we may well find ourselves in the least case distracted from the King’s true business, and in the worst case… we may find ourselves inadvertently positioned alongside Pilate as judge of the King and His business in a moment of clarity consumed by mob-rule insanity. It happens. I think we have recently lived, (are living?), through it?

Never underestimate the subtlety of the serpent to distract gospel-focus from the Light and souls of men, and make it all about the earthy.

We live in rapid-fire, culturally-charged, ever-changing circumstances that lend themselves to no one’s security and to ever man’s danger. But into this crazy world, amazingly Light entered, and the Father has said, “This is My Son, hear ye Him.” (This is what the Father pronounced in response to Peter’s plan to stay on the Mount of Transfiguration and construct three earthly tabernacles, one for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.) God “Deep-6ed” that plan before the words had scarcely stopped ringing. NO EARTHLY KINGDOMS! And we still are trying to construct both religious and political tabernacles and shrines and legacies…

Now today we have the Trumpers, we see the crestfallen Hillary disciples, we hear the disillusioned Berney followers, and there are multitudes of others who feel neglected or disaffected by earthly rulers and political parties and intrigues. Did we really think a political party or one person could offer a lasting change or a viable solution to an age-old heart problem? Well, unfortunately I suppose most do neglect the King of kings. The gospel of God and the Kingdom of God preached in power, lived in purity, and coming in glory is the hope of the Nations. We would be wise to heed the old song,

“Kings and Kingdoms may all pass away;

But there’s something about that Name.”

O Lord God, You have spoken to us in Your Son in these last days. Grant grace and principled obedience to treasure His words and build our lives upon the Rock of abiding obedience in Him that we may know joy in this dark world which we see to be filled with sorrow, yet with True Light shining… enough to see the King’s Highway. Grant that we recall and practice “Thy word as a lamp and light to our feet and path,” and as that abiding Rock that shall never pass away “though grass withers and flower fades.” Our endurance and preservation as the Sons of Adam can only be saved and reconciled to Thee in the One who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” O Father! May we seek that King and kingdom!

If His kingdom is not of this world, then where is my heart and where is my heart’s treasure?

Lewis… illustrates the principle.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

CS Lewis

The Weight of Glory

I suggest you read or listen to this famous sermon or essay of Lewis. The Weight of Glory. 

My! Those nasty “Religious Tennis Shoes” sure stink and they fit so comfortably… On everyone?

Any doctrine of scripture can have an inherent nuance or trapping that can lead one to deviate from the purity and simplicity of the gospel of grace, and ultimately from the end of supreme devotion to only Christ. When one begins to exalt methodology or form, and even function over Christology, thus the Person of the actual risen Christ, intellectualism has successfully subverted the Faith. We may horribly find ourselves exposed to the legitimate charge of Jesus Himself as He once condemned the Pharisees, “You will not come to Me that you may have life.” This is not without sound and guilty precedent in the long haul of Church history.

The only sufficient cure I know is that we cultivate a lasting, consistent communion with the living Christ, who amazingly not only tolerates us, but goes with us in the way.

 
He is the only One who must actually garner our affections more than the formal trappings of high and mysterious doctrinal commentary that easily causes division, distraction, interest… and not unity. His sword is adequate to divide, and He has not called me to frack preexisting man-imposed fault lines we seem enamored with, especially as IQ seems blessed, and understanding increase in the ordinary, and more dangerously, in the proud ner-do-well know it all.

This is no appeal unto an ignorant bliss by neglect of studious preparation, (the goal of godliness ought be the end of Biblical instruction), so it is an entreaty unto experiential holiness by disciplining ourselves thereunto by means of faith working through love with an eye on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Perhaps, even more so, it is a call to recognize the danger of formalism and traditions that emphasize the works of man over the glory of Christ by their means of encroachment, (and our encouragement of this insidious danger), so that they subtly deny the complete sufficiency of “His purification from sin” as “He has sat down at the right hand of God.” I see this as a real problem in some sects and really otherwise great groups and… denominations… if you, ugh… will?

We know… “Knowledge puffs up, love edifies.”

“Ouch… what a universal fit that stinky old shoe has on all religious types!” It fits rather comfortably upon my foot too.

Lord, teach me the Christ of the Scriptures, that is the Christ who rules and reigns over my heart this day, expanding dominion and conquering prideful arrogance that disqualifies me from the race. Father, the more I learn the more broken I become, but the more glorious I see my Elder Brother who bids me come to Him for life, not trappings that snare though they fit comfortably as a well-worn, though rather malodorous tennis shoe. 

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

Sin’s Self-Imposed Blindness… Free of Charge?

Life experience, but much more authoritatively, the Word of God indicates that within the madness of any particular sin is a power by which that particular sin freely offers a self-imposed blindness to consequences beyond the immediate need to cover the deed from exposure. In the moment we think we can sin and survive the catastrophe of death by nondisclosure. (“The soul that sins must die…” yet we think we live as we hide our sin[s].) That is a lie that denies the Law of the Harvest… the principle of Sowing and Reaping. Life is only lived if we learn to confess and forsake. We all have need of confession. 

I was struck by this concept of sin’s madness by walking head long ONCE AGAIN into Proverbs 6 and 7 as I considered the folly of so many young and OLD men and women who tinker and toy with sins of their youth… sins of their flesh. Do these sins ever die? I think not.

Then I recalled my reading this morning in Psalm 44 of God seeing our secrets, our hearts when we forget, in particular, when we forget Him. I considered the madness of any attempt to hide sin from the eyes of the Almighty. Sin blinds. Sin lies. Sin eventually demands payment; it ever “crouches at the door.” Sin has a nonnegotiable small print contract that none of us would ever willingly sign if we could see the future havoc it promises to bring. But the flesh demands satisfaction. The flesh is weak. Do you chose life or death? It is the Spirit that gives life and makes us live. 

God’s gracious gospel call today is to confess and forsake. Get your eyes off of that one who is not yours! That is madness and you will pierce yourself with many a pang! That is a Road to Perdition… to Destruction. You will wander away from the Faith. Live for Jesus if you would know joy in this life! “Oh why will you die?”

All sin is a form of insanity and all sin has at its essence a terminal short-sightedness that “forgets God” in the moment as the glory of the Creator is exchanged for the pleasure of the fallen creature.


Psalms 44:20-21 (NASB)

If we had forgotten the name of our God

Or extended our hands to a strange god,

Would not God find this out?

For He knows the secrets of the heart.