Shakepeare's famous assertion, that "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet", does not logically apply to all of life - especially the spiritual life. That assertion begins with the question, "What's in a name?" Implying, of course, that "names" or "titles" bear no real "weight" or importance. This is a western philosophy, but it was not original with the Eternal Deity, whom I know as God! The God of Abraham (whose name was changed to reflect the vision God had for him), Isaac (whose name was chosen to remind his parents of God's sense of humor, and of the Joy of The Messiah, who was to come through his promised line), and Jacob (whose name fit his character, but whose character and name were both changed from "deceiver" to "Ruled of God"/"Israel")! That God, THE only true God, The Living God, who was and is, and is to come, who created the universe with Living Words and wove them into all of existence, is very "Name" specific! For example, why should we believe that our Messiah is One whose Name is Yeshua? Because, Yeshua means Salvation, perhaps?! The extended meaning is "wholeness, completeness, inexhaustible peace, nothing missing, or broken, etc."! Because, perhaps, He is the One who came declaring, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because I Am Anointed (Mashiach)....."! Then set about operating in that anointing!? What's in a Name? What's the big deal?! Really?
God chose names for things and people according to their intended purpose. There is a scriptural assertion that it is "what proceeds from the mouth" rather than what goes into the mouth, which defiles a man's spiritual life! Because, it further asserts, whatever comes out our mouth is also what is emanating from the heart! In other words, it is indicative of what has been stored there! It reflects the inner belief structures upon which our outward lives have been built! What we call or name things is an indication of what we believe about them, and trust me when I say that it DOES matter! On an eternal level.
Recently, I had a mini-debate, an ideological struggle, if you will, with someone over whether it is appropriate for God's people to carelessly throw around today's insidious, seemingly meaningless, clueless catch phrases. Like, for example, whether it is better to say, "you reap what you sow" as opposed to saying, "karma is such a bitch"! After all, they sort of "mean the same thing" don't they? Well. Yes and no! If the point we are trying to make is that we need to take responsibility for our thoughts, words and especially our deeds, then yes, both do roughly communicate that idea. However, one way of speaking indicates adherence to, obedience to, and belief in the inerrant Word of God, and the other is quoting an eastern religious ideology = false god/idol. So you tell me, which is more acceptable for God's people to have in their heart and mouth?!
Of course, getting into being fearful or overly obsessed with phraseology, or just plain knit-picky out of an annoying stubborn habit or tradition, or a religious or superstitious fear, can be a snare! But so can utter neglect and irresponsibility of our mental and moral character! If it is true that what comes from one's heart and out of one's mouth can defile us, then shouldn't we pay a bit more attention to what that is?! Shouldn't we be cultivating Scriptural Truth as the rock of what we believe, speak and do?! Shouldn't we know what kind of foundation we lay?
As Brother Oswald's daily encouragement also suggests today....
The high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days —2 Chronicles 15:17
Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.
Are there some things regarding your physical or intellectual life to which you have been paying no attention at all? If so, you may think you are all correct in the important areas, but you are careless— you are failing to concentrate or to focus properly. You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.}
Of course, when he refers to the "high places" in our lives, he means those areas that we have exalted above God, diligently protecting them from His correction, refusing to give them over to Him, refusing to tolerate their destruction! Tolerating instead their insidious destruction in our lives and relationships! When God, as our Loving Heavenly Father, would only seek to remove them because they are harmful to us!
In today's devotional writing - King Asa's heart was in the right place! But that was clearly not enough! It was enough for himself! His attitude toward God earned him God's grace and peace for himself, in his life-time! And yet, his outward neglect, and apparent slovenliness toward the the things that he should have been diligent to obey, outward things that needed dealing with in his life and nation, his continued irresponsibility and lack of attention to detail in his realm of influence, wreaked havoc in Israel for centuries to come! Those places of idolatry offend God, and prevent His favor! In the light of eternity, and even the history of the nations which it affects - that is no small thing!
In the Song of Songs, which is attributed to the wisest man who ever lived (who still managed to do some pretty stupid things), King Solomon - he asserts that it is "the little foxes that spoil the vines". Meaning those things which are hidden beneath the surface in our lives, things or issues that are not easily noted, nor seen outwardly by others, but which gnaw away at our relationship to God, or which quietly, pervasively undermine our trust in Him. "Little things", such as referring to the consequences which our decisions have brought about for us as "karma", instead of simply acknowledging what God's Word says, that they are simply the "produce" or "crop" that came from that "seed" - (of a willful decision or even a subconscious statement or belief)! Exalting Karma as the source of the consequence - even in jest - is, in reality, giving our outward allegiance to the wrong god! Because, whether we want to face this or not, it is an indication, however subtle, to whom it is that we allow to govern our lives! We will serve something! There is no neutral zone in this world! We will serve the real God or some demigod, or god-wannabe, even it if is ourself!
Rabbi Shaul (Apostle Paul) told the people at Mars Hill, at the shrine of the "Unknown god" - "you do not even know the god you serve..."! He went further to express to them in a convincing manner, that it was the God of the Hebrews whom they were really searching for, and that He could be known! Yet in this nation there is a whole society of people, an ever growing "public conscience" who does not know which god they serve! And - though many love to refer to themselves as "pro-choice" - they will do anything but choose - because they want all their imagined options open! Most have no idea that this is even a deception - that there are only, ever TWO options - nor do they want to know - they do NOT want their deceptive bubble to be burst!
However, we are in this place and time in history, and we have come to this troublesome place socially, largely because those who hold the responsibility to influence society for God have instead allowed society to influence them! They have abdicated their place of authority and scorned and rejected the responsibility that comes with it! They have relegated and surrendered their authority to the "experts" (the educated idiots of our times) - and now are alarmed that their rights are missing! Um. Excuse me for pointing this out, but you sold them for a "mess of pottage" erroneously named "The American Dream"! A "dream" which in recent years has turned to a tragic "nightmare"! A dream - a way of self absorbed living - that Proverbs forewarned us would "promise much, but produce little"! A lie. A sham! We took the bait and are now trapped in existences that depress the life out of us, and wonder how we got here!
We "got here" by believing one of the devil's favorite lies - "its no big deal" - By believing that what we say and do really make no difference - By refusing to accept the responsibility that the Word of God urges us to take - over our own lives! It is a tragic reality that many so-called "believers"/ "Christians"- etc., those who consider themselves "deeply spiritual", still have not studied His Word in any significant way! They may be able to quote the standard passages - which have been driven into their skulls by some "spiritual authority" - but few have taken the Word into themselves and taken the time to know what it says, or what it means to them and their daily existence! Even fewer have made it a point to know the Author and gain His insight on it all!
Most, in fact, apparently prefer the "school of hard knocks" to the gentle conviction of The Spirit of God! Most, in fact, do not know when the Spirit is convicting them! And many fear the very idea! Most take absolutely no responsibility for the source or origin of their thoughts or words, nor even for their actions! They simply live as an open field from one day to the next, soaking in the garbage of the world allowing anything and anyone access to their innermost being! Mindlessly ignoring the instruction in the Word, while ingesting and regurgitating the empty twaddle that the world churns through its hell driven media machine! Most wander about in a spaced-out frame of mind - seriously believing that words mean nothing, that nothing has meaning! And we wonder why depression is rampant? When, for the bulk of society, we have allowed life to become entirely meaningless!? Yet - again - the real God laced everything with purpose! (Not preaching a "Purpose Driven Life" sermon here, but a Spirit driven - GOD driven - LIFE exhortation! If we know God's heart, we WILL accomplish His purpose for our lives! That may not be as easy as it sounds, but it is true!)
But this lack of attention to external detail, this refusal to manage and control what we allow to be dumped into our brains, this habit of being "so open minded our brains have fallen out", is why we now have this entitlement oriented - "socialist" - ideology rampant in our nation! We wonder aloud how this could have happened - when wise men have been telling us for centuries that - "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for the good men to do nothing"! And "nothing" is exactly what this nation excels at!
By and large this whole nation - individually and collectively - especially the "Bible-thumping" extra-religious element - have become overly indulgent, fat, lazy blobs of flesh, that cater to the flesh's every whim and seem to expect everyone else to cater to it as well! But most take very little time indeed knowing or caring what God thinks about anything! There is a catch phrase among the "churched" that "If Yeshua/Jesus is not LORD of all, then He is not LORD at all"! But that obviously has not gotten from the head to the heart of those chanting it, because it is these same "pat-answer-patsies" that you also hear constantly prating the catch phrases of the fallen, terminally stupid world! Let's face it, occasionally even the worldly-wise will pick up on a bit of God's wisdom here and there, and one can not expect them to acknowledge Him as the source! But I think it is a tragic shame when HIS own people refuse to accept the responsibility of knowing or caring where they are getting their beliefs from - or whose ideas they are projecting and propounding!
It is time to wake up! Time to "get off the fanny and on the feet", before we get our fanny beat! We need to exercise a lot of things - but taking ourselves by the scruff our own necks and exercising our will to obey God needs to be one of them! We can, of course refuse to do so, and just continue to be like frogs in a frying pan, cooking along contentedly because we are too stupid and tuned out to "feel that anything is wrong" (which is what we dangerously base everything on) - while hell keeps turning up the heat that will eventually consume us, spirit, soul and body! But if we choose to take that way of least resistance, that way of irresponsibility - then it is unreasonable to get all upset that our rights have been compromised! Yeah, ya think?! Hello!? We GAVE THEM AWAY to the enemy!
We should also be aware that the public "confession of faith" - that was made all those years ago, even if sincerely meant, will not suffice for the years of irresponsible disobedience! It theoretically could, perhaps, "get you into heaven by the skin of your teeth" (but there is also evidence to suggest that it may not) but it certainly will not get you a "Well Done" from the heavenly Father, who Is the ONLY qualified Judge of the universe! (Though "well done" may most accurately describe the condition of the soul that has been slowly boiled alive by the enemy while they weren't paying attention!).
When will we rouse from our slumber? Will we wait until we must get out of the proverbial frying pan and into the possibly literal fire - of a very real hell? That will be a bit late. NOW is the day of salvation. Karma may very well be the bitch which she is reported to be, but that is all the more reason that I do not want to surrender the control of my life to her, or give her the credit for running it! I want to diligently cultivate the righteousness that will win me the smile of the One and Only real God, if everyone doesn't mind too much! Or if they do for that matter! lol I have actually CHOSEN whom I will serve!
I fail Him occasionally, but I do not live my life in a way that is heedless to His direction! And, when I do fail, I have learned to expect firm but loving correction, and I respond to it immediately with the changes indicated - because that is what having a "LORD" looks like! Have you "settled the Lordship question"? That is, have you decided who runs your life? Or are you like the folks at Mars Hill, still serving an unknown entity called "Karma" or something else vague and lifeless? God is Love, Karma is a Bitch. Hmm, let's see..!? Can we be that stupid?
Again, I urge you to be "pro-choice", in that you finally exercise your will to choose! "Choose you, this day, whom you will serve!" As a mother to many, some to whom I literally gave birth, and a growing number of others who have sort of adopted me along the way, I choose to leave you with a popular motherly exhortation worth repeating -
"Bye honey, make good choices!"