Posted on 06/15/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
My sister was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease; a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract. Last week she was hospitalized with mononucleosis. She's unable to eat, drink or sleep. Please pray for a swift recovery!
- Neko Cioc
Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.
WHAT A MIGHTY GOD
What a mighty God we serve
What a mighty God we serve
Angels bow before him
Heaven and earth adore him
What a mighty God we serve
HE IS THE KING
He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is
Oh, he is the King
His name is Jesus, Jesus
Sad hears we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
Open wide the prison door
And he's able to deliver evermore
TAKE ME IN TO THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Take me into the Holy of Holies
take me in by the Blood of the Lamb
Take me into the Holy of Holies
take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
Take me past the outer courts
into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord, I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
and the priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
and it's only found one place
*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***
Well, you might remember that, before Mariposa threw me off the roof and broke my leg (no, that wasn't really what happened, just our ongoing joke), before I broke my leg, we had started a series on the Commandments. The next one in line will be loving our neighbor as ourselves. Before we continue with that, I had wanted to share with you some of the things I've learned while having to spend most of my days in bed. And the word "surrender" will probably be in the title of that message.
But the only things I can share with you are either what I come up with on my own, or what God lays on my heart. Well, obviously someone else could give me ideas, including satan or his demons, but we could go off on a long rabbit trail on that one, and my point is that either something is layed on my heart to share, or it isn't.
But one thing is for sure: Today, right now, you're sitting or standing or lying where you are, and you're hearing my voice or reading a transcript of what I'm saying. Your surroundings might be fairly quiet, or there might be a little bit of extra noise, or it might be incredibly noisy.
You might be really comfortable, or your might be consumed by pain. And even if your body is filled with pain, there are parts of you that are NOT in pain. When my wife has been in a lot of pain, we've jokingly mentioned that at least her hair didn't hurt.
Generally we expect that, when we finish singing during a Sunday service, we are going to sit down and listen to a message about a particular topic. And that will probably happen. I DID title today's message with the title: "Today." But we think that when God speaks to us, He's going to use words. And those words are going to follow a certain expected format.
We like to put God in a box. We have logically defined Him as having a certain form, most likely a very large older man with a long white beard.
Some of us see that image as looking down at us while shaking a stick as He waits for us to mess up so He can strike us down.
Others add to that initial image a picture of a mushy, feel-good grandfather who would never hurt a fly, much less allow someone to end up in hell.
Whatever our image of God, it's pretty certain that most if not all of us have one. And that's fine. The Bible paints pictures of God in ways that will give our minds something on which they can chew for awhile; ideally long enough for them to stop grasping long enough for us to actually taste and see that the Lord is good.
We do that with food, some of us more than others. We either have a preconceived notion that we won't like something we haven't tried, or something that we HAVE tried in the past and didn't find pleasant, or even significantly disliked for whatever reason. But until we actually put something in our mouth and taste it, not in the past but right now, we can't know its taste.
And even if you taste something today, if you're experiencing it through memories of the past, through various expectations, through comparing it with other things, then you won't be able to really experience it for what it is.
The Bible doesn't tell us to remember a past experience of God, or something we THOUGHT was an experience of God. It doesn't tell us to analize God and consider that to be an experience of Him. And really, before we even touch Him and really experience Him, we usually are convinced of what that experience will be.
That's the nature of the fallen human mind. It likes to take over EVERYTHING. We walk past a rose, and our mind starts its commentary. "Look, it's a rose. It's pretty. It smells nice. I'm surprised it's still here. I mean, people are really thoughtless and should have picked it by now, not even thinking about whether OTHER people might have like to walk by and see it there. People are so selfish and thoughtless that way. I'm glad I'm not like that. I would let other people see and smell the rose. Picking it would be stealing anyway. It's not THEIR rose."
And while we have a memory of the 3/4ths of a second in which we actually experience the rose, the rest of the time was our mind's rehearsal of that brief experience and its commentary about all the problems of life.
And that's fine. As long as we acknowledge that's what's happening. We didn't REALLY experience that rose right here and now. Just like we often don't REALLY taste the Lord right here and now, but rather we taste our minds as they analyze Him and remember what they've thought He did and how they thought He's been in the past.
But God isn't a mind. And God isn't a physical form. God also isn't a concept. And God isn't trapped in the memory called "past" or the mental concept called "future." So if we're relying on our minds to reveal to us the "taste" of God, we will seldom if ever REALLY taste Him, at least during this physical life.
It can be a challenge for us to not be controlled by our minds so that we can experience God as He is right now. As I was preparing for today's service, the bass notes from the neighbor's music were vibrating the walls in my office. Or at least that was my mind's perception. And I could easily say that, at that moment, I wasn't experiencing God. All because of that inconsiderate neighbor who is probably as inconsiderate of his wife and kids as he is of his neighbors.
The fallen human mind. It's a very poor lense through which to experience life. It sees so many things as problems to resist, when in reality, either they're not genuine problems, or if they are, resisting them does absolutely no good and only succeeds in producing inner pain. AND, it succeeds in cutting us off from experiencing the peace and beauty of God in this present moment.
But challenges like this are good. If we didn't have them, we'd never grow. We'd never mature. We'd be weak and childish. And so I took a few moments to stop struggling with preparing what I was going to say. And I acknowledged that my mind was resisting God's priceless gift to me of the present moment, His love gift of Right Now. And that's okay. That's what the mind does. And I am not my mind.
Have you ever had a hateful or ugly or lustful thought go through your mind, and felt guilty because of it? As though you need to repent for even hearing such a bad thing in your head? I've experienced that too many times to count. But it's important for us to realize: you are not your mind. Your mind is fallen. In fact, "the flesh" the Bible says is death if we live by it, resides primarily in the mind. The nature of the mind that takes over our perceptions, that tries to keep us out of the present moment, that thinks about things that are ungodly, that creates evil fantasies about the horrible things that could happen in the future, that reminds us about all our failures, most of which IT created, in the past.
It's our carnal man. Our carnal mind. And the Bible says we're supposed to crucify it.
But what does that mean? Crucify means we're supposed to attack it, to hurt it, to make it suffer. Right? Unless we resist the present moment that God has given us because in it, our flesh needs to die and we can't allow ourselves to indulge in peace and joy until our carnal man can no longer take a single breath; unless we fight against THIS imperfect gift of life right now, we're not being spiritual and holy. Right?
Just maybe, sometimes we need to do what Psalm 46:10 says. Sometimes we need to be still, and know. That verse says,
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
He will be exalted... IF we are in constant inner turmoil because of all the evil in and around us, right? He will be exalted only... if... we... aren't... still........ right?
I think sometimes we put our faith in our flesh a little too much. If WE don't solve this problem, the whole world is going to go to hell.
And don't get me wrong. There are things we need to do, actions we need to take. But when the flesh mind comes up with the things we need to do, as a reaction to the "not good enough" present moment, those things are often not helpful at all. They are sometimes destructive, and they almost always bring us inner harm in one form or another.
Jesus said in John 14:27 (NKJV),
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Let not your heart be troubled. Let not your heart be afraid. "But... But my heart is SUPPOSED to be troubled! I won't do anything to change the evil around me if my heart isn't troubled!"
Our fallen human minds just can't grasp the things of the spirit. They are foreign to it. And they often seem quite foolish. And that's okay. That's the mind. We don't yet see Jesus face to face. We have a long way to go. But the place you are right now is the only place you can be right now. And THAT is where GOD is.
God isn't some place where you can't reach until some time in the future. He isn't trapped in the past, in a former time in which you felt closer to Him.
God is right here. Right now. He is here where the mind tends to disolve. The flesh simply cannot glory in His presence. It cannot stand.
When do you lash out in resentment and anger? When do you struggle with unforgiveness? When do you battle regret over things that God has forgiven? When do you worry about the future? When do you have anxiety and fear?
It is when the mind is in control. That same mind, that same flesh, that same carnal nature, that protects itself with fear.
"But... but if my mind isn't in control, I'll get demon possessed and go crazy!" The mind itself is a gift from God. The fallen, fleshly, carnal mind is our number one enemy. And IT possesses us. Some people are demon possessed. But MOST people are flesh possessed; mind possessed. So much so that even those of us who have been born again often have a hard time finding peace.
And this is where we begin to crucify the flesh, or to put it to death. Not by resisting the fact that it's doing what the flesh does. Not by having turmoil and anxiety about it. Rather, we put the flesh to death by ceasing to get caught up in it.
If you've been on the Internet for long, you probably know that people referred to as griefers or trolls are "fed" by people's reactions to them. The more you get caught up in what they're doing, the more they're encouraged to keep it up. Without that "getting caught up" in their antics, they would eventually leave.
The flesh mind is the same. If you silently realize that you were caught up in it, and you are not your mind, and you bring your attention back to the present moment, the only time God has given you, and you accept that all of this is, and that it's okay, then your flesh will start to disolve.
Don't worry though. It will come back. And before it backs off, it might start yelling and screaming at you.
"What in the world are you doing?!?! This stuff is New Age! You're going to hell if you don't let me control you! Without me, you'll become a mindless zombie!"
So your mind is raging. And that's okay. That's what is right here and right now. And God is still on the throne. Your body is still the temple of the Holy Spirit. And so you come back to the eternal present moment when God is, and back to your body where His Spirit dwells, and then and there, you fully surrender.
If there's something you need to do, God's Spirit will move on you from within that place of deep peace. And you will do it, even if it's with a sense of urgency and high energy, you will do it with great peace.
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) says this about God:
3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
And even then, the mind rushes in with concepts about God. And that's okay. We step back, let our mind present its boxed version of God, and we put our attention on where and when God is -- He is here, and He is here now. And here and now, we taste Him in inner stillness. And we see that He is good. Blessed is the one who trusts in Him. Not in Him AND our minds. Not in Him AND our efforts. Not in Him AND some imaginary time called the future in which things will be easier. Those are things in which the flesh mind trusts. And we put those trusts to death by acknowledging that it is our flesh mind, not the real us, doing those things.
And we come back to today. Where God is. Right where you are right this moment. Where God is with you, so close, so present, sharing the same body with you. So close that there is no division. Your sins of the past are no more. You are pure and clean. Right now, you and the Father are one.
So what about Scriptures? What about filling your mind with the word of God as recorded in the Scriptures? Yes, absolutely. Fill your mind and your soul with the recorded word of God. But don't put your trust even in your Bible-filled mind. It will let you down. Put your trust in God and God alone, far beyond what your human mind can understand. Taste is beyond what can be reasoned, and our perception of taste is often destroyed by the grasping of the mind.
So take time every day, all throughout the day, to come back to the temple, away from judging and struggling and having a troubled heart, and just be with God, who is intimately intertwined with your own presence, right here, and right now. Today.
*** listen to the audio to hear the closing ***