The Heart (edited)

The unredeemed mind left to its own devices - which are innumerable and diverse - is a battlefield of unending, brutal, neverending, and ruthless war.

Modern families are everywhere “broken” and dysfunctional, sure, but by what universal and unerring standard of measurement? I dare say that the preceding generations of parents – especially fathers in America – were scarcely aware of, much less sensitive to the implacable and numberless “needs” of children which have seemingly arisen in the present (not that our children have become any more “needy”, but that the so-called “medical” industry – among others – has, in the name of higher profits and societal indoctrination (to name a few), inculcated the minds of parents with the idea that our children now have all these novel childhood needs that in prior generations scarcely arose. That prior generations of children received a few hot meals a week, some clothes, and a roof over their heads, and perhaps someone to teach them to read was often good enough to raise young men and women who conquered continents, fought back limitless wilderness, sailed uncharted oceans, colonized foreign lands, laid the constitutions of nations, and steered the fates of millions with forever an untold danger, deprivation, or austerity lurking in every place that man’s foot traversed.

Do we ask what kind of father was Caesar? Or how well Napoleon met the needs of Josephine (which I’m sure were legion)? No, perhaps I am exaggerating my examples, but what could be said of them apply to each one of our ancestors who at least battled life in harsh, unsanitary, and inhospitable conditions long enough to pass on their seed which would eventually be manifest in us, the far end of a decadent, nihilistic civilization with nothing better to do than to incessantly focus “on ourselves” primarily because we have so much time on our hands and have all of our basic human needs met, without a great war to fight nor city to found, our fundamental needs which have not only met but abundantly provisioned for.

Indeed, if pastors would chase from their pulpits all of their incessant pop and uniformed “psychologizing”, I dare say there would be scant left for these so-called “teachers of the Word” to say every Sunday morning.

No, God does not tempt me to sin, nor has He dealt me so wretched a hand that I have no other recourse but to play it in order to simply endure; a hand that most likely will force me to “cheat” to “win”. In truth, He’s teaching me to fight and to war. Principally, against myself. And others like me. Period.

Forgive all men their debts against you as He forgives ours.

And thank Him that none of this is easy, straightforward, or simple. For their opposites are the wellsprings of life and all the more reason to embrace them and it in whatever form they come, for as long as one is able. Amen.

God is the cause and reason for one’s upbringing. No amount of “inner healing” can assuage that reality, and yet God needs nor demands any apology for who He is. And I, as a proclaimer of His Truth, will not seek to give one.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {Isa 55:8-9}

Indeed, in that place of not knowing how or why or what does the Lord most palpably and emphatically dwell.

God is found at the frontier of man’s thought, in the wilderness of “not-knowing”.

I know when I have written a word that the Lord Himself has given to me when I have no idea where it came from and when I, after finishing the thought, more or less immediately forget the reason and even content of what I had just written. When I’m at my best, it is as if none of this is mine or even originates from me.

That is not to say that I do not “sit on” certain insights for days, weeks, months, even years before I put them down on paper – for surely I do. But the moment the thought is complete, it recedes. Such is why the editing process is so difficult for my particular literary style of composition. To edit effectively while maintaining the spirit of the man I was when I wrote it, requires that I replicate, as best as I am able, the particular state of mind and body I was in when I penned the initial idea. And yet, my thinking and my life, keep continually evolving and progressing, even radically so from month to month, let alone year to year. Thus, to recreate the man I was last spring when I began this book will be tryingly difficult when, in a few months, I begin editing these epigrams. Such, however, is my style and fought have I for many years to achieve it and sorely will I ever give it up for more “prosaic”, systematic, or formulaic formatting.

In my ignorance, I know all my insights were not “mine” to begin with. “Freely have I received; so freely give.” {Matt 10:8} May it always be so, Lord. Amen.

If the Holy Spirit of God is the sometimes quiet, sometimes subtle, sometimes explicit and unambiguous and altogether overwhelming Author of the Holy Writ from cover to cover who spoke of the coming Good News of the incarnate Son of God in whom He alighted and, by the work of the cross, also alights us; yes, if this One, this Holy One who is God through and through and was the Author of that Word who is also Jesus Himself then we do not need a more so-called “prophetic word” beyond that which was written for all times and for us.

Truly, do you desire to hear from God? He speaks quite plainly and succinctly through His Word – which is the written testimony to creation enshrined, fought over and for, argued, protected, preserved unchanged, and upheld by the life of His Son – to men in a language and in a voice that every man can hear, understand, and commune with. If this man, indeed this writer could each day fully see it as such and rejoice in the privilege that God has made everywhere available to us, forever and ever, then I declare that every man can likewise see it as such. Thank You, Lord.

Death reigns through the sins committed by the mortal body insofar as such a body endures but life reigns through the righteousness imparted by the Spirit into our spirit as long as it first dies and is brought to life again by He who has the power to bring forth what was not into the fullness of what is.

The New Man in Christ knows no distinction between Jew and Gentile who are in Christ. Indeed, to even speak, lo, to even see the world through such a reductive and binary lens of “I’m a Jewish-Christian” or “I’m a white Christian” or “I’m an Arabic Christian” is a sin. For in so doing, such a one fails to recognize the new creation of God and thus shames God by opting for old wineskins and outdated modes of thinking that are today passing away and will pass, God-willing, into the subterranean catacombs of history.

John, in his third epistle, speaking to Gaius (clearly not a Jew) refers to “the brothers accepting nothing from the gentiles” in verse 7. In saying this does John, a Jew according to the flesh, say to Gaius, a Gentile by birth, that it is good that the brothers (who are no longer Jews or gentiles) accepted nothing from others presumably of Gaius’ former race. In conversing in such a way is John demonstrating the transcendence of his own former identity as a Jew and also assuming Gaius’ transcendence of the same as a gentile while affirming the new creation in Christ. {3 John 1:7}

Men who entrust themselves to the salvific power of the mind are myopic to its incapabilities, intoxicated as such ones are by the will to power that it animates the intents of the mind, they who are deceived of the mind’s proper place within the hierarchy of his soul. Most seminarian graduates are of this sort. Yet, anyone who spends a disproportionate amount of time in the mind as well as thinking and scrutinizing (as I have and still persistently do) knows that its machinations are treacherous, deceitful, often self-defeating, dialectical, and altogether wicked. So irredeemable is the subtle and often not too subtle treachery of the mind that God, entrusting Himself not to man, gives us the mind of Christ, which is also the mind of the Spirit so that, in the battlefield of the mind which is in every way a field of war and strife, the victor will never be in question. The mind of Christ then, which is yet another grace of God, is the peace and cessation of all controversy and antagonism in the dialecticism of man; peace which, upon transcending warring antipodes will, in the final estimation, force a man to lay beside the still waters of His peace which is the rest of God – the “I don’t know”, and further, the “I don’t need to know” of man, which is also the trust of man.

The unredeemed mind left to its own devices – which are innumerable and diverse – is a battlefield of unending, brutal, never-ending, and ruthless dialectical war. Again, I say this not as a blithe bystander to thinking and its machinations but as one who willfully and even happily engages with and confronts these machinations daily, indeed multiple times a day.

And yet, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” {Jer 17:9} God makes stony, unmoving, uncaring, and implacable the heart {Ex 4:21, 7:3, 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 11:10, 14:4, 14:17, Deut 2:30, Jos 11:20, Lam 3:65, Isa 63:17, John 12:40, Rom 11:7, 11:25, Psalm 81:12, Ezek 3:8, 3:9, et al} so as to carry out His divine will through the calloused obstinacy of the heart of sons of perdition. Conversely, in equally numerous references does the Scripture speak of God replacing stony hearts with hearts of flesh. {Ez 36:26, 11:19, Matt 5:8, et al} For a heart of flesh is that which enables a man to be soft, tender, sensitive, and – in the final estimation – loving, the same as our Lord is loving and loves without condition or hesitation but freely and without abandon.

Nowhere does it say, “believe on the Lord Jesus with your mind in order to be saved”, rather, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And also, “for with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved. {Rom 10:9-10} The mind is conspicuously absent from these passages, and though it is indubitably indispensable to a “successful”, fulfilling, enduring, and safeguarded life in the spirit, the Holy Spirit of God has taken up residence in our hearts, of which I am convinced is His Holiest of Holies, not our minds.

For if God is love it makes sense to the paltry understanding of my reason that He, indwelling His own, would reside in the nexus of that which He unambiguously is, namely love and all its furious emotions, all of which are figuratively and actually, manifested in our hearts.

Once redeemed by Him and given the mind of His Son, the mind more or less ceases to be the battlefield it previously was, at least in a universal and transcendent sense. The battle then moves to that place in which the enemy had formerly encamped as its own prized possession and unassailable citadel: the heart. For what does it mean to “believe with one’s heart” anyway? Such is not easily answered and, in fact, must be discovered by every confessor of the gospel of Christ for himself.

For Christ, as I have stated elsewhere, as the model and type from which the cosmos, earth, and man were created to include all its entails, is the eternal material of the immaterial God. Better said, “He {Christ} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” {Col 1:15-17}. He then was that which (or who) materialized persistently as the immaterial God throughout scripture, whether in the form of rocks, clouds, fires, captains of angelic hosts, manna, et al. In fact, the epistle of Jude states that it is Jesus Himself who “saved a people out of the land of Egypt and afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” {Jude 1:5} The Incarnate Son, however, is not explicitly mentioned in the book of Exodus.

It goes on to further say, concerning Jesus, “and the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” {Jude 1:6-7}

By these two examples can we clearly see that Christ is Lord of the seen and the unseen, and it is this same Lord who has taken up residence, through His Spirit, in, presumably, our hearts which in every way need the continual washing of the word {Eph 5:26} to remain pure, holy, undefiled, and abounding in the hope of the unseen God in whom we have our redemption as sons.