Evangelist Gives Up Effort To
Bring Mother Back To Life
United Press International
HARRISON, Ark. - Daniel Aaron Rogers, the evangelist who tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the frozen body of his mother, abandoned his effort Thursday. Rogers' wife Elizabeth said that the body of Gladys Rogers, 80, was buried in Missouri.
The evangelist had kept the body in a freezer at a funeral home in Reeds Spring, Mo., where he had conducted three prayer sessions in hopes of bringing his mother back to life. The first attempt was March 12, the second on Easter Sunday, and the final one on Tuesday night.
Gladys Rogers died Feb. 2 of the flu. Rogers and his wife had kept the body in dry ice at their home for a week before taking it to the funeral home. Rogers repeatedly said that only his lack of faith would prevent the resurrection.
And blessed is He who keeps from stumbling over me. Matthew 11:6
And happy is the one who does not trip over his limited, preconceived notions of how God works.
What was your personal reaction when you read the above recent newspaper account of an evangelist's attempt and failure to resurrect his mother from the dead? Was your reaction:
"Oh, if only he had had more faith!", or
"Those dumb healers will never learn!", or
"Wouldn't God have been glorified if the attempted resurrection had been successful!", or "That's what happens when you tempt the Almighty!", or "Death is only an illusion; God answered his prayer by giving her an eternal resurrection!"?
What would your reaction have been if the newspaper account had had a totally different ending? What if the evangelist and his family and friends had announced that the eighty year old woman had been resurrected? Then would you have responded:
"Praise God!", or
"I'd want the AMA to authenticate
something like that before I'd believe it!", or
"That proves that signs and wonders do follow them that believe!", or
"They might have lucked out this time, but it's an adulterous generation that seeks after signs!"?
The area of miracles is a source of confusion and frustration for most people. Our theology, which includes our personal concept of God's involvement in the affairs of men, is clearly reflected in our response and analysis of "successful" and "unsuccessful" miracles. Perhaps we should all look again at our perspective on miracles.
G od's ways are not our ways. In the area of miracles, particularly healings, this is uniquely apparent. Who can fathom why a miraculous, instantaneous healing comes in one instance; a miraculous, progressive healing in another; a miraculous remission of disease in another; but devastating deterioration and/or death in a fourth
case? Could it be that the latter intervention (or apparent lack of positive intervention) is also a miracle-in disguise?
If you understand Jesus' message to the imprisoned John the Baptist, just before he was beheaded, you will be among the few who know that miracles are not sporadic, but unlimited. When John sent some of his disciples to Jesus to confirm if He was the Christ, Jesus sent back the following strange report:
blind receive sight and the
lame walk, the lepers are clean
sed and the deaf hear, and the
dead are raised up, and the
poor have the gospel preached
to them. And blessed is he who
keeps from stumbling over Me."
In other words, Jesus answered John's questions about the validity of His Messiahship by saying, "The visible miracles confirm who I am, and the poor in heart see God in these demonstrations. But happy and content is the one who does not trip over his
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There is a miracle that is far greater than any outward miracle of the body or circumstance. It is the miracle of faith-a willingness to believe that God is all and in all. »
limited, preconceived notions of how God works."
What would your reaction be to the foregoing message if you were in John's place? Remember, as the one who announced the coming of the Messiah and then baptized the only begotten Son of God, John had the inside track with Jesus if anyone did. Jesus acknowledged John's high standing when He said, "Among those born of women, there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist." Shouldn't this qualify John for at least one major miracle-deliverance from the prison of cruel King Herod?
Yet Jesus' personal message to John was to remind him that though Jesus sometimes performed demonstrations to enlighten men, John should not misinterpret apparent nonintervention as actual nonintervention. Prayer is always answered. A "No" in a specific situation is as much an answer as a "Yes"
Though there was no miracle by the standards of many, John saw a miracle. There is a miracle that is far greater than any outward miracle of the body or circumstance. It is the miracle of faith-a willingness to believe that God is all and in all, even in what we label as evil. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." The fact is that God's glory (and ours) is sometimes better served by an inner change, or inner strength in the midst of an outward problem, than by some preconceived outer positive manifestation of healing or change in circumstance.
Perhaps John clung to Job's statement of faith, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15). Or perhaps John clung to the classic statement by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when Nebuchadnezzar told the three young men to worship the golden image, "or else".
In any event, my guess is that John knew exactly what Jesus meant when He said, "And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me." He knew it meant, "I could miraculously deliver you from your jail and impending death circumstances; but I have other mir
aculous plans for you. Don't let my apparent inaction on your behalf cause you to misunderstand My love for you."
True spiritual maturity does not demand specific demonstrations or visible miracles from God. Awareness of the Indwelling Christ, recognition of Omnipresence, is enough. Inner illumination, revelation, enlightenment, and ecstasy is its own reward. Inner awareness negates the necessity of changes in outer appearances. Though manifestations inevitably follow illumination, we do not concern ourselves with the mode of manifestation.
0ne of the national personalities on Christian television is known for his constant use of the expression, "Expect a miracle." Though I appreciate his emphasis of expecting great things of God, we must learn to recognize a God who frequently comes in disguise. Our focus must not be on preconceived manifestations, signs and miracles. Though supernatural events frequently follow belief, our single-eye focus must be on inner One-power Union life, not on outer appearances.
What we generally call miracles are visible supernatural events which are meant to bear witness to man of God's omnipresence and omnipotence. They have as their purpose to enlighten men, to move them from doubt and unbelief to inner faith. Therefore, the ultimate miracle is the miracle of faith-that inner awareness of union, irrespective of outer circumstances. Once you experience this miracle you never demand an outer miracle again. The inner miracle swallows up the need for any future outer manifestation or signs. Those events which most people label as miracles are then seen by you as God's every-day intervention in the affairs of men; and the events that appear to be evil, adverse and disastrous are seen as being equally wonderful.
When by faith Jesus called into being the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand, He did it so that the onlookers might never hunger again. His primary purpose was to give them permanent spiritual understanding, not just to temporarily feed their bodies.
That they had not been adequately enlightened was amply evidenced by the fact that they returned the next day wanting another miracle. Only the unenlightened and the immature demand more miracles after their exposure to a specific miraculous demonstration.
In many "healing" circles the participants never experience the ultimate miracle of faith. Therefore they constantly hanker after another miracle, supposedly "that God might be glorified." In many cases God gives them their request, but sends leanness into their souls (Ps. 106:15 marg). In other cases, He can do no miracles because of their unbelief. (Obviously there is no physical limitation on Omnipotence; it is merely a refusal to give an outer demonstration because of the unbelief.) At that point the individuals involved would not believe though someone rose from the dead.
W e will leave to another article the question of the inevitable manifestation that results from the spoken word of faith. When Jesus spoke the word of faith, substantive "miracles" always resulted. When we speak words of faith, as distinguished from surface hopes, desires, and wishes, there will always be an embodiment of our Spirit. Whatever we bind or loose on earth will always be bound or loosed in heaven. But we are not ready for this truth until we first experience the miracle of faith-until we are prepared to believe that God is actively involved in every situation irrespective of the temporal outcome.
Though John the Baptist did not fully understand the "mystery" of inner-life, because he preceded Pentecost, he nevertheless experienced the miracle of faith. John died happy because he did not stumble over the appearances of evil, knowing that they too were demonstrations of God-in-action.
When we finally begin to see with the single eye of faith we will see God in all things, and miracles will be the rule rather than the exception. Living by the miracle of faith we will see miracles unlimited.
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The local morning newspaper, which I habitually digest along with my breakfast, is owned, so they tell me, by a "P.K.," a preacher's kid. One finds little gestures in the direction of piety here and there, among them a two-sentence prayer that appears regularly near the bottom of the front page. Who composes the prayers I have no idea; local clergymen probably take turns. Here is a sampling from the past week or so.
"Father, lead me to seek Thy will for my life. Help me to accept Thy answer to prayer and to trust that Thy will for my life is better than anything I can ask or even think. In Jesus' name. Amen."
• " O Lord, help us to take each day as it comes and do, the best we can to live a life patterned after Your teachings. Amen."
" O God, help me to do well in the little things of life. For if I do well in the little things, then I shall do my part in helping to shape the big things. Amen."
"There are times when many of us are too critical of others. Please help us, dear Lord, to be more tolerant of the things other people do and say. Amen."
A person does not need theological training to observe the rather wide dif
ferences in basic doctrine that these prayers reflect. The tone of several of them is pretty "liberal." At least one of them, on the other hand, could make it in most of our traditional churches.
These four prayers have two important features in common. One is the word "Amen," which we realize immediately has a good deal of backing in both the Old Testament and New Testament. The other is the word "help," which by contrast has only qualified support in the Old Testament and little if any in the New.
It has probably never occurred to many of us that there could be anything out of the way with a harmless little word like "help." For instance, "For I shall again praise him, my help and my God" (Ps. 42:11), or "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1), or "For thou hast been my help" (Ps. 63:7), or "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Ps. 121:2), to mention some of the better-known passages from the Psalms. And what about " O God, our help in ages past"? Well, that was Dr. Isaac Watts' version of Psalm 90; like many of our bestknown hymns it has some doctrinal
Some years ago I was conducting a course in writing and one of the students turned in a paper that began something like this: "As we are told in the Bible, 'God helps those who help themselves.' " Naturally, here was far too tempting an opportunity to let slip, so I made a notation to inform the writer that this quotation was not from the Bible but from Poor Richard's Almanac, and that while Ben Franklin may at times have seemed inspired, his inspiration was of neither the kind nor degree to suggest admission to Sacred Scripture. I am sure my quip went a mile over the lad's head. But he is far from alone; I am convinced that millions of Americans consider the idea a vital element in the national religious thinking.
The notion that God stands ready to lend a hand when we call on Him simply does not appear in the New Testament. In fact, even the word "help" is surprisingly rare. The man from Macedonia appealed to Paul, "Come over to Macedonia and help us," and the father of the demon-possessed boy asked Jesus, "Help my unbelief." There is no evidence that Jesus answered that
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request at all.
What we have here is a principle familiar to psychologists and sociologists and other students of human behavior, although I do not remember encountering a specific name for it. I suppose you could call it "suppression of the negative," another way of saying that we ignore things that aren't there, not because they aren't, but because we have taken it for granted that they are.
Let me give you a few examples: Why do elementary school pupils take up smoking cigarettes? They just think it shows that they are grown up. They see adults smoking. What they don't observe is a far greater number who not only don't smoke but regard smoking as a mark of immaturity. Or another example. How often does the word "Hallelujah" appear in the Bible? I asked that of one of the women in my Sunday school class and she started trying to count. Actually, it doesn't appear at all, at least not in the King James Bible, which she regards as the only translation. But for that matter, there are a number of familiar words that aren't there: educate, history, chorus, loyalty, trinity, bridge, harbor, ocean and, oddly enough, the pronoun its.
Having taken it for granted that God helps those who help themselves, we assume that the next step is to remind God of this arrangement, in other words to pray for whatever help we need. We are of course the ones who will do the job at hand, but since we are finite creatures we do have limitations. At this point we invite God to
The thought that we cannot achieve obedience to the will of God-or to use the Bible word, "righteousness"-is not at all flattering. It makes me think of two magazines that I encounter from time to time: The New Yorker and Reader's Digest. The first probably strikes the general reader as a rather worldly publication. Certainly the Digest is commonly regarded as far more moral and much more suitable for family reading. Its articles have leavened countless sermons and inspirational addresses. Among its contributors are such luminaries as Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale. Yet I find the philosophy of The New Yorker far closer to the biblical message than that of Reader's Digest. For The New Yorker has a profound sense of right and wrong, of indignation about injustice in high places, even though it does not name a remedy. Reader's Digest, on the other hand, qualifies matters with an assumed "if only." Heaven on earth is just a short reach away "if only" we balance the national budget, do something about Castro, clear the relief rolls of chiselers, control the drug traffic, find a cure for cancer, and so on. Such a philosophy is a pleasant one. We do like to imagine-all of-that man is perfectible, and that with a little outside help-not so much that we get overwhelmed-we can make it. The appeal of such thinking is reflected in Reader's Digest's circulation figures.
When it was that I became aware of these "if only" prayers I am not altogether sure, but it gradually dawned on
me that they involved a contradiction of what the New Testament writers are trying to say. The idea is in plain sight in John 15:4, "Abide in me, and I in you"-especially the second part of that command. We commonly stop with the first. Then in verse 5 Jesus says, "Apart from me you can do nothing." He meant that very literally, otherwise He would never have bothered to make the comparison of the vine and the branches.
In Paul's writings it comes out again and again: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20), or much the same thing: "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). This is a strong statement. The believer has left the choice to God, and as a result God takes charge of both the intention and the execution. The believer is simply the instrument through whom God works, not someone who does all the planning (after checking the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount) and most of the work, but with a helpful boost from the Almighty. "I worked harder than any of them," Paul declares (I Cor. 15:10), "though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me." Or (Col. 1:27 [Phillips] ): "And the secret is simply this: Christ in you!'
"Lord, make me an instrument..." cried St. Francis of Assisi. He was a strange one. But he understood.
We are grateful to THE BANNER, the official publication of the Christian Reformed Church, for giving us permission to reprint the foregoing article.
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My dearest friends, we come here today to celebrate Christ's eternal life as it has touched us in Benji's resurrection. The Christ that was Benji has slipped the bonds of flesh and soars with the winds of endless peace. It is in the knowledge of the oneness of Christ and His children that we rejoice in Benji's freedom.
In the world he had tribulation and trials and distress, but he was of good cheer, for the Christ in him overcame the world and smiled that his suffering could bring hope to his many brothers and sisters. Christ through Benji taught us that we are His hands, His breast, His tender word, His love in this world. Benji never walked or spoke, but his bright eyes and incomparable smile laughed at what the world sees as hell, thus affirming the divine yes. Benji, as Jesus always does, layed down his life gladly for his friends. For it was not Benji who died, but Christ again giving Himself for us.
We, Benji's friends, are persuaded beyond doubt that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
Benji knew: it was a good day to die.
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"How do you handle temptation and failure?" I was recently asked this question by a pastor anxious to have the right answer for himself and for his people, and I myself found it both profitable and confirming to discuss it with him.
Obviously it is the big question of the vast majority of born-again Christians. We want to be Christlike, but we are caught in the same syndrome of which Paul wrote in Romans 7: "I delight in the law of God after the inward man ... to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not."
What is the answer? First and essentially, I must know who I am in Christ, and be consciously, freely, and happily that person. And who I am is most perfectly expressed and defined in Paul's great Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
First Paul says, and I must say with him, "I am crucified with Christ." That means in actual fact-not just doctrinally and positionally. My previous fallen I, independent of Christ and in the dominion of Satan and sin, is now cut off from sin as the reigning principle of my life. I am in fact dead to sin and to the indwelling satanic spirit of error.
Regardless of how I feel, I have to say it and confess it with my mouth: "I am crucified with Christ." I must say, "I am dead to sin" as boldly as when I got
saved. Then I said I was no longer a lost sinner, but was now justified in Christ as though I had never sinned. All we born-again people have said just that in our own terms, haven't we? And we had to say it by looking away from our lost sin condition and the bondages of which we had become so vividly conscious, and transferring our believing and inner seeing to God's written word, which tells us God sees us as though we had never sinned. We have been justified by faith and so have peace with God. God sees us in Christ as perfect and sinless as Christ Himself.
So now we have to go a step further. In the face of our flesh weaknesses, our temptations, and our lapses into sins, we now boldly say: "I am dead to sin in Christ. I am crucified with Christ." And then further still. Just as I once said, "not only am I no longer a lost sinner, but now righteous in Christ as He is righteous," so now I say, "not only am I no longer a separated self in an old marriage under sin control, but I am now a newly married self (Rom.7:4) joined to Christ." I carry Paul's Galatians statement through to its completion-that now I live, yet it is not I living, but Christ living in me.
Christ is the Real Person expressed through my human I, totally replacing the spirit of error who previously expressed his sin-self through me. I am not saying Christ lives in me as though side by side with me; rather, He replaces me as my real inner self. I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. That is
replacement, and not just a partnership or relationship between two. It is two having become one, for "he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." It is He and I as Vine and branch. We operate together as one vine. The vine expresses and reproduces itself in its branch forms, the sap always flowing through the branch and producing the fruit. So now I am Christ being Himself through my human self. I am not just I, Norman Grubb, but Christ expressed in His Norman Grubb form.
In the same way, a body is the head expressing itself in its body form. A body is a head in outer action. When we enter a dark room, we should say, "Turn on the lamp," not "Turn on the light," for it is a light manifested through its lamp form. But we don't even remember that it's a lamp; we just call it a light! So are we in our redeemed form, being called by Jesus the light of the world. For He is not only the One who died for me and is now my Savior; He is also my Indweller-not as a separate one in me, but as my replacement. "I live, yet not I, but He." Christ is my Permanent Identity, and I am His means of manifesting Himself.
Now these are two radical statements: 1) that I am crucified with Christ and thus actually dead to sin and the spirit of error, and 2) that I am no longer just my Norman Grubb I, but Christ is in such an eternal inner union with me that it is He expressed in my human form. It is difficult to make that confessed word of faith which says straight out, "I am not I, but Christ in
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me," because for so many years as a born-again Christian I have been such a flesh-conscious, oppressed, failing, guilty, and self-condemning I. How then can I honestly say that this I-so tempted, so often stressed and strained, hurt and angry, resentful and lustful-is not only dead to sin, but is Christ Himself?
First let's get it clear: the human self is always a tempted self, and temptation is not sin. We know that because Adam & Eve were tempted before they sinned, and Jesus, the one sinless man, was tempted so totally that He is the only one ever named in the Bible as tempted in every way in which we are tempted, and that is saying a big thing. So I can be as perfect as Christ is perfect, yet constantly tempted in every channel of temptation through my bodily desires or soul emotions or feelings or reactions, or through mental doubts or questionings.
What then is temptation? It is the drawing and pulling of a world which in its fallen condition is totally geared to self-interest and self-gratification (John's "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life"), continually pulling at me to respond to some independent self-reaction or self-desire. James describes it as being "drawn away by our own lusts and enticed" (James 1:18).
T emptation is a subtle attempt to make my human me forget who I really am (Christ in my human form), and act as if I am back off the cross as an independent human being responding to some drawing of my human desires or appetites. In other words, it is the presence of sin (selfloving desires) enticing me back to the illusion of, being my old independent self (not joined to Christ), enticing me to commit spiritual adultery (James 4:4). It is the pull back to that illusory, independent, struggling self that Paul so completely describes in Romans 7:14-24, and from which he says in verses 1-4 we have been delivered by Christ's death cutting us off from the old control of the law. For the law held
us in its tight grip while we were independent of God, presented us with impossible demands, and thus exposed us to the realization of our captivity to sin. But now we have died in Christ to being those independent selves in the power of sin, and instead have become united selves to Christ, so that there remains no independent self. "Dead to the law" must mean that there is no separate self on which law can make its demands.
self is always
a tempted self,
is not sin. !9
To put it another way, my old marriage to sin and the law of "ought to", which gave sin its control over my independent self, is dissolved eternally in Christ's death, and is replaced in His resurrection by the new marriage in which my Husband has taken over my redeemed human self. This human self is God's beautiful creation in His own likeness, which for a time had been stolen and made captive in a false independence by sin and Satan. But God graciously gave the law to expose our blinded selves to the fact that we were captives in our false independence, so that now we are released to be our true selves.
Therefore, temptation is the agency by which sin would deceive me (Romans 7:11) and pull me back to the illusion of responding as my old independent self, which was subject to the laws of "you ought" and "you ought not". Then sin, "taking occasion by the commandment," makes me react as an independent self. I temporarily forget that I am Christ in my human self, and thus in my illusory independence once again I become a slave to sin, doing what I ought not, for the independent I can never fulfill the law.
So there lies the snare. If by temptation I can be tricked and deceived into responding as if separate from who I truly am, I am caught, enslaved, and defeated, and guilt and condemnation then follow. The full implication of Paul's insistence that I am dead to the law is that this apparently independent I is an illusion, because that "I" comes under the law. Being dead to the law means there remains no independent I for the law to give commands to! The new I-Christ in me and as me-is the law; and thus in my union relationship "the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in me."
So what do I do when temptation pulls at me as though I am an independent self? I act as quickly as I can. I can always be who I am. To be competent in a profession means that I have a settled know-how in the use of my tools. It is perfectly easy and spontaneous for a carpenter to use his tools and make his measurements, because he operates by his inner know-how of how to do his job, and not by the outer tools. His years of apprenticeship and training transferred his outer learning into inner know-how. He now enjoys practicing his profession. Recently when I was admiring the panelling of a friend's new house, he happened to say, "Yes, I have a good carpenter. But he would be insulted if you were to tell him how to do his job. You only tell him what to do, not how to do it."
We operate happily, freely, and spontaneously when we know our profession by an inner know-how. That knowing is being (just as the Bible word for knowing always means being mixed with a thing or person), and so we are the carpenter, cook, or doctor.
And that is precisely how I know I am
not I, but Christ, the real me in my human form. The faith that changed the apprentice with his outer learning into the professional with his inner knowhow is the same faith by which I possess my possessions (as crucified with Christ, and now Christ replacing me in my resurrected I). Faith, being substance (Heb.1 1:1), has become my fixed inner consciousness that this
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union and replacement is the eternal fact, so that I now live freely, spontaneously, and happily by my permanent know-how.
S o when temptation draws me and would grab me, it is now easy for me to transfer my initial tendency to respond as if I'm an independent self back to who I really am. I don't have to seek and pray and try to find a Christ who will deliver me. I simply recognize myself as crucified with Him. Now He is the real me, and I recognize Him as me. He, the love or purity or power or peace or whatever virtue, swallows up the pull of the attraction. We can't see two ways at once. When I am drawn to see and respond to some negative temptation, I take the place of faith by denying the existence of this false self with its negative seeing and affirm it as now crucified with Christ. I replace it by the positive seeing of Him as my
true self. Then where is the temptation or pull? The positive swallows the negative!
In other words, I don't fight against darkness in a room, or stop to condemn it, or struggle against it. I just turn on the light, and where is the darkness? And when we inwardly know we are that light (He in us), it is quite easy to recognize Him in us, and that is how we inwardly turn on the light. Life swallows up death, Paul says, and likewise light swallows up darkness.
Temptation is really a means of temporarily diverting my believing into some flesh attraction, for what the Bible calls unbelief is really negative believing. I am temporarily grabbed by that thing-some fear, depression, tension, lust, resentment, sense of inability, or weakness-and sometimes the hold may last for a long time. As soon as I awake to the hold that a thing has on me through my negative
believing in it, then I can always exercise my freedom of will (which is not soul-emotion but spirit-action) and affirm who I am, Christ in me. I do this by the word of faith, quite apart from feeling or reasoning, and I am restored and free.
Above all else, I must rely on Romans 8:1 -no condemnation! James says we are to count temptations all joy (count in spirit, not feel in soul!), because they provide practice in becoming established in faith-in the faith of Christ as the real me. So when I am tempted and snap back from illusory self to Him, my true self, then 1 give thanks and enjoy that little bit of good practice, but I never take condemnation. When His own disciples remained in negative believingfearing a storm, not having food for the multitude, or no fish, or not believing the resurrection-Christ did not condemn them as sinners, but He did call them "fools and slow of heart to believe," and He did chide them for their lack of faith. So I don't mind being often a fool and a slow believer, but I don't mistake foolishness for sinning. No condemnation!
And if I go beyond temptation and indulge in the thing tempting me, then I have sinned and will undoubtedly feel guilty. But I must not remain in that guilt, for God does not see the sin, but only the blood which cleanses from all sin. So I see the same. I confess (a word in 1 John 1:9 which means "say with", so I am inwardly saying with God, "Yes, I did sin"), then` immediately the sin is no longer there. Since He remembers it no more, neither do I. 1 immediately change from guilt to praise. That is why it says in Hebrews 9:14 that the blood cleanses the conscience from the dead works. It is adding sin to sin, if I choose to remain guilty instead of replacing it by the positive believing that I am righteous
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"I no longer regard my human self as a wretched liability, always bugging and tormenting me. I now see and accept myself as Christ's precious asset. "
as He is righteous.
And I refuse to step into the added false bondage of that illusory self which says, "I'm sure I'll do it again. How can I be delivered from this wrong habit?" I am not there to be delivered! I am now Christ in one of His human forms, and all I am told again and again is to walk, walk, walk. And "walk" means that I take one step at a time. So I don't say, "What about that habit grabbing me tomorrow?" Take no thought for the morrow, Jesus said. I only say, "I am my freed self now. As for tomorrow, He is my keeper. He has taken on the keeping of me. I'll surely do it again unless You keep me, but You are my keeper." So I only live in the present.
' n order to live the "Not I, but He" life, I must have that inner consciousness. That is the faith being substance. When I was saved as a sinner, I had to transfer my negative believing in my sinful condition to my positive believing that Christ is my substitute who bore my sins in His own body on the tree. As I said that word of faith, the Spirit witnessed with my spirit that I am a redeemed child of God, and I live in that consciousness.
In the same way, I now turn my attention (my negative believing) away from my flesh-consciousness as "the
wretched man; who shall deliver me from this body of death," and I say the word of faith (positive believing) that I have been crucified with Christ and now I do not live, but He lives in me and as me. Then what happens? Into my inner consciousness (my know-how) comes the inner witness, "Yes, you are no longer your old lonely you. You are Christ in you, the real you." And now, with Paul, in place of saying "I'm a wretched man," I am saying, "I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord that I am a delivered man, and that He who is the Spirit of life is my real inner self" (Romans 8:2).
And the outcome is significant, for it changes my attitude-not just toward Christ, but toward myself. I no longer regard my human self as a wretched liability, always bugging and tormenting me. I now see and accept myself as Christ's precious asset. My human ego is His holy temple, His branch form of Himself the Vine for reproducing fruit, His body agency by which He the Head operates in every phase of saving love activity. So I accept myself and love myself as He accepts and loves me! This is precisely what Paul said when he knew he was Christ in His Paul form. He came out boldly to be himself in all freedom; "the life / now live in the flesh I live (not Christ lives) by faith, the inner substantial consciousness of the fact that He loves me; and He gave Himself for me, so I can now give myself for others."
I live spontaneously, for I say with St. Augustine, "Love God and do as you like!" I think, I will, I choose, I plan. I? It looks like it, but it is really He. I live with a kind of wink. I, yes I, yet actually He!
In that freedom and spontaneity, temptation is less bothersome, for I am no longer living in suspicious fears and anxious watchfulness lest some temptation grab me again. Job said what we greatly fear comes on us, so that a lot
of our temptations come because we are temptation and sin-minded, and fearful of our illusory selves. As we become self-accepting in place of selffearing, temptations will be all the fewer.
F finally, there is a sense in which we forget God and live. For when I have an inner know-how of my profession, I forget about the knowhow and just do my job. I don't keep reminding myself, "I'm a cook, I'm a teacher, I'm an engineer." I just cook, teach, design. I don't keep saying or remembering, "I am Christ in me, I am His human form." I just immerse my human self in my thinking, speaking, and acting-and that is Christ.
Actually all this is only the background for living. It helps me find out who I really am in God's eternal predestination of us as sons. It helps me to be who I am, and when I am that person, what am I? I am in my Godunion. I am a co-lover, co-savior, and co-worker with Christ in God's eternal outgoing love-purposes and loveaction. I move with Paul from knowing Christ in me for my liberation to knowing this same Christ as "mighty in me towards the Gentiles" (Gal.2:8). That is, I know Christ not for my own benefits, but for the sake of others. The inner fountain is now an outflowing river. But that is altogether another aspect of things. It is the third stagefrom infancy, through adolescence, to adulthood; from co-crucifixion in Galatians, through co-resurrection in Colossians, to co-ascension in Ephesians; from Christ as our Moses, to Christ as our Joshua, to Christ as our Melchisedek. Daniel puts it simply: "The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits." That is the final reality of our Christ-union.
The foregoing article was reprinted with permission of CHRISTIAN LIFE, where it was originally published.
UNION LIFE Page 11
Did you ever watch an old tube television set warm up? You turn it on and the sound comes first, then the tiniest dot of a picture gradually spreads to fill the screen, and then it focuses to reveal lifelike forms that are easily recognized. Do you remember what it was like waiting for all this to happen, particularly if you were anxious to see something that was on and worried that you might be missing it? You sit on the edge of your chair, muttering to yourself, fidgeting uselessly with the knobs, for the picture will come only when it is ready to come. Meddling with mechanics you know so little about can only hinder the arrival of that awaited picture. So finally you resign yourself to the fact that you've done all you can to bring the picture by simply turning the set on. Knowing that it is connected to the power, you may now stretch out in your recliner and watch the image appear before your eyes.
You are reading this because, like myself, you have to some degree an inner desire, an expectant yearning, to see the picture of completion-the answer to all questions-the appeasement of your insatiable inquisitiveness. So do I have to explain my parable? Have you learned, as I have, to stop trying to bring the picture yourself, much less attempt to aid the supplying power?
I recently shared with a friend that both the greatest asset and the largest obstacle to my discovery of union life truths in the last year has been my mind. First, I was spurred on by a mysterious knowledge that there was indeed more than the up and down life I experienced as a successful Christian. Then, when confronted with
Truth, the same mind wanted to dissect it, figure out how it worked, and control it by mastering its secret of power. Which brings me around to my theme-God meant it all for good.
For it was the Mind of Christ in me the entire time, providing me with precisely what was needed, molding me to the point where I could recognize the promised conformity to the image of His Son! You ask me if I really believe that every question asked, every dead-end faced, every door opened was His perfect way to guide me to my present awareness, rather than me thwarting His divine efforts of grace. My answer is that I know it was all as He planned. It was necessary for me to spend time (not waste time) spinning dials in vain, for only then could I be convinced of the
Bruce Smith is a student of music at Westminster College. In addition, he is intimately involved with the Pine Valley Bible Conference in Pennsylvania, having served as Music Director for their summer Youth Camp. Bruce sharply illustrates how God's hand operates in all circumstances.
futility in doing such, and be cornered into giving up all self-effort. The illusory will had to be broken, and mine was just as strong as anyone else's. So I'm not one to complain about "wasted years". There are no such things. Even the vilest offender, acknowledging forgiveness on his deathbed,. cannot justifiably suggest that God "should have come sooner," nor reason that his life drenched in sin prevented an Omnipotent God from gaining a previous entrance. How absurd! The released, manifest Power of God through the Holy Spirit is unresistable. When we see God in total control, we not only are seeing the focused picture, but also gaining incredible insight for those around us.
K nowing (not just believing) that "God means it for good" releases us from the habitual manipulation of circumstances that we perform "for God". There is no more need to manage the affairs of a prodigal brother or sister, for we can release the power of God into instant manifestation by simply acknowledging that God is accomplishing whatever He
desires. What release! And I find that it is true. Over and over again. How does it work? I refuse to offer suggestions. It is clearly much more pleasant in my recliner viewing the finished picture than it was on the floor, struggling to produce it myself. A dear friend shared with me just last night that she "has no more questions." When you realize, in faith, that you contain The Answer, then all questions become irrelevant. Even understanding the mechanics involved is a mere technicality.
Let me offer this, however, if it can help you to gain some insight into the matter. Before we even turned the television set on, we took it for granted that the sound and picture waves were already in the air. Does anyone test the electricity or call up the station to inquire if they're transmitting before turning on the set? By similar reasoning, does anyone turn on a television if he knows that there is no electricity or if there are no transmissions being made? So you see that there is an act of faith involved in turning the set on. That allows the power to flow uninterruptedly and produce the manifestation for you to see.
But, you say, it requires little faith to turn on a television set and expect a picture to appear. We don't even give thought to the waves in the air-we know they're there. And so it can be with God. Each begging prayer we make, asking Him to awaken to our needs, is like calling the station to see if it is still transmitting. That's their job, so leave it to them. God's "job" is to supply-so why question if He's still in operation? You don't like the picture that you see? Believe (or better yet-know) that He means it for good, and even though you can't discern the mechanics of His plot, don't try to install your own plan. I tell you this not because I'm afraid you may interfere with God's working-that's impossible! I only want to prevent you from further frustration and emptiness, which is exactly what you'll experience. I can heartily attest to that. (But guess what?-God meant even that for good.)
Do you begin to see? Are you ready to sit down in faith and be used? Do you finally recognize the awesome God that encompasses all? It is all so elementary. A child's mind can comprehend and accept it, but for some reason we must make it complicated. But even that is God's proven way of breaking through to most of us. God means it for good. In all details of life. And best of all, it works.
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editors: Jacob Boehme, the slight shoe cobbler from Golitz (now part of East Germany), is among the greatest of the Christian mystic writers expounding Union Life themes, and yet probably the least read here in the United States. Most of his writings are long ago out of print or not available in English, and even in English Boehme is extremely difficult to follow. However, in his visionary sight Boehme saw just as far as St. Paul or St. John, and his writings include unique descriptions of the being of God about which Paul and John gave us the fundamental revelation. When one is able to glean understanding from even a portion of Boehme's confusing style, so filled with symbols, the truth usually gushes forth as gleaming glorious light. Boehme
wrote about Oneness and Unity from 1612 to 1624, but what he wrote is as modern and revolutionary as the space age. William Law is recognized as Boehme's prime interpreter for the english-speaking world, but Boehme's influence was even more widespread. Copious notes on Boehme's writings were found in Sir Isaac Newton's effects at the time of Newton's death. In addition, many recognize Boehme as the father of German dialectic Christian philosophy, and as a great influence on Hegel, although Hegel gives him only passing credit. What Boehme says is especially relevant to the Union Life perspective, and what follows are a few excerpts from Boehme's writings which Alan Parker has compiled and edited. Alan has paraphrased and am
plified some of Boehme's language in order to achieve a more readable introduction to Boehme.
M en have always been of the opinion that heaven is many hundred, no, many thousands of miles distant above the face of the earth, and that God dwells only in that upward heaven. Some have undertaken to measure this height and distance, and have produced many strange and ghastly devices to do so. Indeed, before my knowledge and revelation of God, I believed that the only true heaven was a round circumference, very azure of a light blue color, which extended above the stars; and I supposed that God had deposited therein his peculiar Being, and that He ruled in this world only in the power of his Holy Spirit.
But when this notion had produced many problems in me and I, at last, found it repulsive, doubtless from the moving of the Spirit, which had a great longing yearning towards me, I at last fell into a very deep melancholy and heavy sadness. Then I beheld and contemplated within my spirit the immense depths and complexities within this world, and of the whole universe. And in this contemplation in myself, I found that evil and good, love and anger, are
in all things simultaneously; in the inanimate creatures, in wood, stones, earth and the elements, as well as in men and beasts. And in finding that evil and good were in all things, I became very sad and greatly perplexed and troubled. The bible could not comfort me, though I was very well acquainted
with it and versed in it, and the devil
was often beating me with heathenish thoughts which I will not mention here.
In this affliction, I earnestly raised my spirit up into God, wrapping my whole heart and mind and all of my thoughts and my whole will, and without ceasing I wrestled with the Love and Mercy of God, determined not to give up unless He blessed me, that is, unless He enlightened me by His Holy Spirit so that I might understand. So hard did I dig in, within the recesses of my being, towards the life of God and against the gates of Hell, that suddenly my spirit crashed through the gates of Hell and beyond even into the innermost moving of God himself, and there I was suddenly embraced in love as a bridegroom embraces his dearly beloved bride. The sublimity of the victory within my spirit cannot be expressed
either in speaking or writing, neither can it be compared to anything except the regeneration of life out of death. That's it-it is like the resurrection of the dead!
In this Light, my spirit suddenly saw through all, in all, and by all. I discovered God in all of creation, even in the plants and grass; and I realized that I also had discovered the very nature of God, and that I at last knew who God is, and how God is, and what God's will is. Then quite suddenly in that Light of illumination, my will was moved by an immense impulse to describe the Being of God.
From this Light I now have all the knowing, urging, and willing within me to write, and let God work his will in me, though in doing so I should enrage the whole world, the devil, and all the gates of Hell. Even so, I will write and look on and wait what the Lord intends with it.
N ow dear reader observe: If you want to know about heaven and what heaven is and where it is, you do not need to cast your thoughts many
UNION LIFE Page 13
thousands of miles off, for that place, that heaven thousands of miles away, is not your heaven. The true Heaven is not a created place but an uncreated place, and it is not found in a particular place but everywhere, even in the very place where you are standing and going. For when your spirit within yourself is able to penetrate inward through and beyond your own flesh and life, and is able to catch hold of the innermost moving of God, then you are clearly in Heaven. Moreover, if your eyes were but opened, you should see God everywhere in his Heaven, for Heaven is found everywhere. For instance, when St. Stephen saw Heaven open and the Lord Jesus at the right hand of God, his spirit did not suddenly transport itself into outer space, but rather Stephen's spirit had moved inward, within, into the innermost place where Heaven is found everywhere. So you must realize that this world with all of its physical properties is in union with the vast vistas of the heavenly spaces above the earth. There is only one Heart, one Being, one Will, one God, All in all.
Don't think that God is only in some far away heaven, and that the soul, when it departs the human body, must soar aloft many hundred thousands of miles off in order to reach heaven. No, it need not do that to reach heaven, because when the soul in Christ departs the body, it is already present in Heaven and there the soul is with God and in God, and also with all the holy angels, and the soul can suddenly be above and suddenly beneath; it is not hindered by anything. For in the unity of God there is no separation of seeming distance. Indeed, in what place should the departed soul of man rather be than with its King and Redeemer Jesus Christ? The fact is that near and far off in God are one thing, one comprehensibility; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, everywhere.
Moreover, this unity is found throughout the universe, for all that there is both here and throughout the universe is, in essence, one person manifesting himself. This seemingly outward universe is nothing more than the Godhead playing the joyous melody of his life through his creative instruments which are all of the varied physical forms found throughout the universe, especially the form known as man which He always intended to be his highest song of praise to his eternal and uncreated glory! So you see that wherever you are in this world, you are in Heaven. But you must surely be war
ned that not only Heaven, but Hell also is present within you, and only in Christ Jesus are you safe from the wrath of God, which is the source of the fires of Hell. For the Wrath of God is summed up in the cross, because it is through the cross that God eternally dies to his Wrath. The Heaven of Love is called patience, for the Father of spirits waits for all his children to choose His Life and Love, not wishing that any should be lost, and the Spirit of Truth reigns in the Heaven of Love and is called Faith and Hope, for He is the source of all faith and hope.
N ow finally, little children of flesh, I urge you to open the eyes of your spirits and your hearts, for I want earnestly to show to you the true and proper way to the gates of God's Heaven. Behold! God is the True, the One, the only Being out of whom you yourselves were created, and within whose Life you are living even now. Therefore, Oh child of man, when you behold in your flesh the depths of the universe, the stars and the complexity of the earth, and all that is in heaven and earth, you are in fact truly in the presence of God. For He is All, and in Him you live and have your being; and that same God reigns and rules over you as well, because He is your King and Creator. It is from this God that you receive even your senses and your ability to have consciousness and to know and think and express yourself. Don't you see? You are a part of Him, and your entire being is a derivative of Him. You are His offspring, you came from Him, and you truly exist in Him. If this were not true, you would never have been.
And so little children, if you now want and desire to draw near by faith to the Life of God, Listen! You must enter inward to the depths within yourselves wherein Christ dwells- not without. For within you there exists an eternity, even as there is an eternity within Him. So you must go in to the depths of the hidden secret place within you, to the very depths of the abyss of the Eternal Willing in the Father, which is God's Desire and the source of all things (although this Desire is in no place; it is in fact nothing and also it is nowhere, yet it is present everywhere and in all things because all things come out of it). For it is within this Will or Desire that Wrath and Love eternally struggle against each other, and in which Love is the eternal victor out of the fiery dark wheel of selfishness, through the eternal cross in God's Heart, into re
generation bursting forth as the eternal glorious light of God's nature. His nature is Light, Gentleness, Mercy, Wisdom and Love forever, and it is expressed to us by his Voice, the Word, the Son, our Lord, Saviour, and God. And out of this eternally immense depth of God's Desire, there forever streams forth the light and Love which is the uncreated glory. And this is the true Heaven.
F or in this depth within you, God eternally rules in Holiness in his uncreated Heaven. And his Willing within you expresses itself as the willing to all goodness, not wrath, and this willing ever reigns in everlasting dominion, the Sovereign God of Love in victory through the eternal cross on which was slain the Lamb of God before ever a single atom was created. And when you comprehend this, that is, the tragedy which forever occurs in the eternal depths of the Heart of God, and when you know that our God is safe forever, True forever, Merciful forever, and the Being of Love forever (because He forever dies to Himself on the cross in his own heart to all wrath and selfish desire), then my brothers and sisters, you will have crossed through and penetrated into the very and holy heart of God.
And when you comprehend this, you shall know that in this Heaven within you, you are in Christ Jesus, always in union with God. And since you are in oneness with Him, you also shall experience in your flesh, soul, and spirit the same eternal struggle in which you shall forever die to wrath and to self, and through the cross, always being crucified with Him, you shall eternally flash brilliantly with the fire of new life and Love, as you by faith, hope, and love replace wrath with love, evil with good, and the negative with the positive in all aspects of your life. You too shall, as He did, surely fill the gap and take up the office of High Priest with Him, ever living to make intercession for others; and then you shall walk on this earth bringing peace into the midst of the storms that shall always come in this life as long as the present world remains. And when this is done, then God, whose very being is for others and who has now forever made you to be His Sons for others, shall truly reign and control in oneness with you in your regenerated being. Then my friend, you shall be as God is, who Himself is Heaven, earth, stars, the molecules and atoms. All in all, and for all. Hallelujah! Amen.
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SELF-ACCEPTANCE: THE KEY TO A WEIGHT "PROBLEM"
The emphasis of UNION LIFE is not on outer healing but on inner healing. Of course, inner healing is bound to result in some outer change. What follows are two accounts of how inner seeing and healing brought physical changes in the lives of two overweight persons.
We do not believe that being fat is in itself a "problem", so we do not suggest that our overweight readers ought to worry about losing weight. We do suggest that you accept and love yourself as you are. Look to the inner healing, and let God deal with your weight as He chooses.
These two narratives are not presented as new weight-loss methods. They are simply two rather different examples of how God might work in the life of an overweight person.
UNION LIFE Page 15
Walter C. Lanyon
This excerpt is taken from The Joy Bringer, which has just been republished by Union Life Ministries. See the following page for details.
Though we have read that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, yet there are few who take the statement literally, and this is strange, too, for it is one of the few literal statements in the Bible. We are told expressly not to look in a locality for Heaven, but to realize that it is right here and now.
Let us take this premise then and see what a different outlook on life we have. Suddenly when you begin to ponder this thing you realize that right where you are at this precise moment, you stand in the Kingdom of Heaven. You stand, you live, you move, and breathe right now in a state, or Kingdom, of perfect and absolute harmony. You do not have to go somewhere to find happiness, to find health, to find prosperity; you only have to awaken to the fact that you are in the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things are right here for you.
As a further proof that you are in the Kingdom of Heaven, I refer you to such passages of scripture as "I and my Father are One," and "The Father, God, is perfect Mind enthroned in Heaven, in harmony, and where He is, where God is, there is Heaven." You see then the futility of even making the slightest concession to material laws or to the last enemy, for there is nothing gained by dying; a man cannot die into Heaven, but he can surely live into it.
Jesus realized that he was in the Kingdom of Heaven and when he left he did not die, he merely acknowledged the Absolute and was translated, as were others. Those who "walked with God", that is, came into the full realization of the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven, did not go through the experience called death. As matter is acknowledged even by material scientists to be but points of force, which can be translated back into its original mental condition, why should we not take advantage of this pleasant manner in ridding ourselves of the material concept of body, instead of thinking that it must be cast off like an old garment?
To the average man death offers one means of ridding himself of the thing called body, but to the spiritual man the new salvation makes it possible to ascend above it. Not in the sense of material measurement, but simply rising to a mental state where he sees everything perfect and harmonious, here and now, and recognizes that he is already in the kingdom of Heaven. When he has reached this state there is no need to dispose of matter, for the material concept has disappeared of its own self.
Starting then with the premise that we are NOW, this day, in the midst of the Kingdom of Heaven, we go out of the home in the morning looking for the manifestation of Heaven and the first person we meet is a cripple. No, he is not a cripple, he is an idea of God, as perfect as when he was created, but the mist which watered the whole ground has surrounded his material condition, bringing with it the ugly pictures of ignorance and misunderstanding. Now, that you are a dweller in the Kingdom of Heaven you can
quickly realize that beyond the shadow of mist is the real man, perfect and eternal, and so in place of the apparent deformity, you see the perfect man. In place of a beggar, you see the bountifully supplied son of God; in place of ugliness you see beauty.
It is a most wonderful experience, this taking possession of your new home, Heaven. Literally accept your home as the Kingdom of Heaven, and all fretting and worrying will cease; all anxiety will disappear. There is nothing for us to fight against, for we are told that the battle is not ours, but God's. There is nothing to carry, no weight of materiality, for we are told to lean on Him. There is nothing to be desired, for we are living close to the fountain of substance, which is pouring out more than we know how to accept.
Then we are lifted up in thought, and when we are lifted up we shall draw all men unto us. It is possible, yea, it is the duty of every truth seeker to practice this lifting up process on his fellow men, and it is done by leaving him alone, except for the wonderful impersonal help you must give him by lifting yourself up into the present state of Harmony, which is yours as a dweller in the Kingdom.
This is no mere idle theory, it is a present possibility. This is the Kingdom which you have been seeking, this is the door through which you have striven to enter, this is the Sheepfold which offers you sure solace from all the pangs of the so-called flesh. Jesus says: "Behold, a new doctrine I give unto you," the former things (thoughts) have passed away, all things become new, and the former things shall not come into mind nor be remembered any more. They are blotted out forever-all the trials, all the tears and sorrows, all the failures and struggles-when you come to dwell in the Kingdom. It is the sudden opening to you of a door which has long been closed, obscured by the mist of ignorant thinking Perhaps you have followed the line of reasoning that says you can think yourself out of your difficulties, but never have you come point blank to the reasoning that this very old universe of ours is the Kingdom of Heaven, and therefore we are already living in it, and when we are living in Heaven all things must be heavenly; all things must be harmonious.
And now we take the positive stand that we will henceforth and forever more see nothing but the beauty, holiness, and happiness of Heaven; we will look for it everywhere, because it is present and to be found everywhere.
Remember that the door to Heaven, harmony, stands open. It is the door of your consciousness. It is the door over which you have guard and you shall determine what shall enter there; but the main point to remember about the door is that it is open and needs a porter, or a guard. If you leave your post of duty and allow the band of thieving material thoughts to come trooping in you will find your kingdom an inharmonious place, full of misery and unhappiness. So "watch and pray" (think rightly), that your kingdom (consciousness) may be the Kingdom of Heaven, harmony.
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Walter Lanyon is my undoing. Every day for me is crowded with things to be done, with more and more work piling on my desk, but that darn man seduces me. His writings are vistas of reality unfolding on a landscape that has no boundaries and no ending. I get drunk with the wonder of it all. It is like coming into a country that I've always been at home in (and that is true), but so many details are being seen for the first time. This is truly my country.
Well, I'm beginning Lanyon's books for about the sixth time. I have lost track. There are simply no words in my vocabulary to tell you what my feelings are.
It is all so wonderful that it seems too good to be true. And yet it's too good not to be true. The reader who spoke of being "carried away into a beam of Eternal Light" put it best. There seems no getting to the bottom of all of it. Just one sentence can be a bombshell. I am simply overcome. The marvelous oneness with the whole universe which the mystics tell us about is so beautifully outlined. And in the space
age it seems more exciting. The other night when I came in from shopping I looked up. It was a perfect sky -clear ; as a crystal and thick with stars. I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I was "oned" with every atom in every j one of those sparkling stars. What a creator! I said nothing to my sister, of course - she took me for groceries -I but just had a little "hum" within myself as Winnie the Pooh would have done. Pooh would understand, of course.
E.U.- St. Albans, WV
A NEW COMPREHENSION
Since early childhood I have been a believer in Christ Jesus. But never have I had a satisfying comprehension of the Bible story. I have read, studied, and prayed, but I never had an understanding pleasant to my soul until I came to Walter C. Lanyon's books. They are so enjoyable, comprehensive, and satisfying; they explain the teachings so simply that a child can receive, follow, and put into effect the tremendous truths. When I read them, it is just as though I had done the writing myself and now am going over them, editing and checking the copy before they are sent to the printers. There is just nothing with which to compare them!
Editors: Here is an account from one of our Contacts of her pilgrimage to a union-life _focus, with all the frustrations en-route.
At nine years of age, my world was shattered with the death of my mother and grandfather (my mother was divorced and we lived with my grandparents). That experience proved to be my first conscious attempt at communicating with God. I guess that was when I began to ask myself (really God) why I was here. I wondered through my teen years why I hadn't been killed also, as I so easily could have been. I continued to question my own purpose in life.
When I was eighteen I began attending a small fundamentalist church, and there I heard man's relationship to God explained in a way quite different from what I had been taught as a child. I responded to an invitation to receive Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour.
The years went by with the ups and downs of life that everyone takes to be real living. Marriage and children were supposed to be fulfilling me, and I was supposed to be happy, especially since I was a Christian. But I wasn't, and I couldn't understand why. The more inadequacies I saw in myself, the more guilt I harbored.
My frustrations gradually came to a head, and I knew that God had to do something to change me. I still believed that I was in control of my life. I thought I had taken Jesus; I didn't realize that He had taken me. I thought I had to surrender the various areas of my life to God so that He could straighten me out. I didn't realize that He was in control of me, pressing me to the end of myself.
Life during this period became "super-spiritual". As long as I met certain qualifications (e.g. daily quiet time), everything was great. When I didn't, then I had to make myself "spiritual" again. So my inadequacies continued to surface. Only this time I knew others who were going through similar situations, and by now we had learned to be honest and could share our frustrations together. Mainly, we agonized over why the Christian life was not working.
I did discover a new dimension to my relationship with the Lord during this time. I began to hear teaching about dying to self. God told me that I was already dead (I was placed into Jesus' death when He died). He also told me I had the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). But it sounded too easy to accept. I was sure I still had to do something. So "dying to self" became another addition to my list of dos.
Over the next few years, frustrated at my inability to measure up to my standard of what I thought a Christian should be, I slipped into a severe depression. Life became a void, an empty existence. I vacillated from blaming myself for my actions to blaming God for all that was happening to me. I demanded to know why He didn't make me a good person. My conscious contact with Him was practically nil, and sometimes I doubted He existed at all.
With all of my previous practice of hiding my real feelings, on the outside I managed to make my life look fine. But inside I was hurting. I longed for someone with whom to talk and share my problems, but there was no one.
So I decided I must fulfill myself in outer ways in order to find the inner fulfillment I craved. I took a part-time job, went back to college, and became very socially involved-all of this while being a wife and mother to three small children. I was becoming physically exhausted.
B y the spring of 1977, I had had enough. I knew I was at the end of myself and that all of my selfefforts had failed. I remembered a friend in Cleveland, Jim Seward, whose studies I used to attend. I remembered his relaxed attitude towards life. He used to say that we do not have to do anything to live the Christian life; God does everything.
All I could think of was getting back to Cleveland for one of the studies, for I knew it could help me. In the meantime, I found a book in our closet that I didn't even know we had. It was The Liberating Secret.
As I read that book, I began to see light at the end of the long tunnel that I had been living in. In my mind my wilderness period had ended. I was free! Free from having to do anything. I was never meant to do anything. I was only meant to "be", to contain God-Father, Son, and Spirit.
I learned that everything is God; all life, the whole universe, is part of Him. I began to understand why I had to go through such hell in living. Everything in life which we consider bad or wrong is only the negative side of God. We can not have a positive until we have
had the full negative. There is no light without darkness, no yes without no. God had pushed me to try every possible way of fulfilling myself. I had to know the whole negative before I could understand the positive.
Life was falling into focus. I knew that I was crucified with Christ. I did not have to try to die to self, because I was already dead. I had died when He died; now it was Christ who was living in. me. That knowledge completely changed my self-image. I could finally accept myself.
But over the next few months, I realized there was still a problem. I was still looking at the outer, still seeing myself negatively. I would often lose my temper, especially when my children didn't behave the way in which I thought they should. With no control, I would fly into a rage over something of little importance. As a result I was plagued by guilt feelings. After much agonizing, God showed me Romans 8:1: "There is no condemnation" (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus. I realized that God didn't place any guilt on me; I projected it all on myself. That realization freed me from it.
But I still had the temper problem. Finally the Lord showed me that the new, crucified "I" was not supposed to live the life that only Christ could live. The new "I" had to learn its utter helplessness, just as the old self had.
What liberation! I was finally free to just be myself-what I had longed for all of my life. I know in my whole being that I am a vessel to contain God (that is what I was created for). He showed me in many ways that I was His container. When I remember that I am only a container, it takes all the pressure off me to perform.
I am now beginning to see the relationship a little differently. I am a container, but also joined to Him. Christ and I are one. I am in Him and He in me. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17). I am the means (soul and body) through which He expresses Himself (Spirit). He needs me and I need Him. We complete each other.
That brings me up to the present. I cannot go beyond that. I know there is much, much more to learn, but I'm not grasping after anything new or waiting for God to take me further. I am completely satisfied in Him!
Note: The book, The Liberating Secret, that
brought such great light to the author of the foregoing account, is now back in print. See the back cover.
Page 18 UNION LIFE
One night, six years ago, I answered our phone to hear a shrill voice saying, "Mom, Dad, I love you! I love Loma and Lloyd! I love everybody in the whole world!" This voice was from our son, Hap. I didn't even know where he was, because he had been going his own way. "Mom, we have composed a song."
"Jesus and I. Jesus is I now!"
Shortly after that, Harry and I also saw and knew that God is All in All. We began to operate as co-sons of God in every phase of our daily living. We thrilled to watch Christ do everything through us.
Then we joined a Christian group, and for two years we heard nothing but should-have's and ought-to's. Our shining light dimmed. Christ is love. He is a lover of others. But we were dissatisfied, critical, and frustrated in our circumstances. "There must be more than this," we thought. And so there was. Truth sealed by the Spirit can be dimmed, but it can never be turned off.
A visiting pastor was speaking at one of the local churches in Melbourne. As we eagerly listened each evening, we could see our bodies as shining lights once more. Jesus said, "The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light." We are alive unto God! Each member of the family grasped on to a key phrase. Harry's was "self can never change"; mine was "God determines, not permits"; and Hap's was "be yourself, read the Bible, and enjoy life." We began to see ourselves as God sees us-righteous and perfect because of His Son's atoning work. We are His perfect spirit persons, inheritors of the universe. We are the way, the truth, and the life! Now we live changing adversity to adventure.
In March of 1978 the Union Life travelling team -Norman Grubb and Dan and Barbara Stone- arrived at The Homestead for a two-day family fellowship. I then accompanied the team to Miami for another session at the home of Meda and Anne Chamrad. We arrived to a lovingly prepared dinner including turkey with all the trimmings. The eagerness of all the guests to hear Dan and Norman was like static electricity darting all over the room. Afterward, young and old bursting with
questions, starved for knowledge of their real selves, flocked around us. Saturday morning the group arrived at ten-thirty for more. Exciting and challenging questions followed as Anne served lunch for all.
The final meeting was held at Jim and Martha King's home. The majority of our guests had now been with us since Friday night, and I could see the joy of anticipation on each countenance. At this meeting Norman had promised to share God's third position for all of us -sons in creative action by the word of faith. Dan started and Norman finished in such a glorious way that many saw the mystery hidden for ages.
Easter morning the sun peeped through the clouds to herald this glorious day. After a scenic drive to The Homestead, we arrived at The House Of The Risen Son, a home for delinquent boys and girls. George Goins, the owner, after suffering six heart attacks, shook a fist at God, screaming, "What do you want of me?" And God answered that he was to be a container for Christ's life flowing out to these children.
Since returning to Melbourne, three friends have come to The Homestead, leaving later with a new awareness of Truth and Light. Any interested people are welcome to gather with us at The Homestead to sup, fellowship, and share the liberating truths of the Union Life message.
Christ is All and in All. He is Onederful!
continued from page 21
Now after many years God has put Meda back among some beautiful charismatic Catholics who are at one with Union Life. Many of them attended the March Union Life Conference. The first night of the Conference opened with over fifty of us from all denominations. This was followed by a well-attended Saturday morning meeting and yet another get-together on Saturday evening, beginning with a covered dish supper at the home of Jim and Martha King. Sunday we drove out to The House Of The Risen Son, the home of George and Barbara Goins. The Goins take in young people who are experiencing problems of drug or alcohol abuse or any other problem. Without any outside teaching the Lord
has been showing George the reality of his oneness with Christ.
One of the nuns that helps take care of the young people commented that this was the best seminar she had ever attended, and that through it she had become free and no longer unduly bound to the Church. Another woman who works at a Catholic school said she had been experiencing a battle inside since she had heard the teaching about union with Christ, but at the Conference she finally saw. So many were touched, and some are still asking questions_
continued from page 20
During our time at school we realized that our calling was to teach "deeper life" truths to Christians. Our understanding of the deeper life, however, consisted mainly of "crucifying self" and holiness-type concepts which, we later discovered, did not work for us nor for anyone else.
After my graduation I served for a year as an intern at one church, then as the assistant pastor of another church. Those two situations combined to show Linda and myself our inadequacy. We were driven to frustration and the search for more satisfactory answers.
One day, out of desperation, we called a Christian whom we respected to see if he knew something that no one else had been able to tell us. He sent us a copy of Who Am I?. We read it, Linda wrote challenging letters to the author, and we thought on his answers. Finally the Light broke through and we were able to see -not ourselves, but Christ!
At last we had the answer for our own lives as well as the answer we could teach others. Our calling became clearer, but we still didn't know how we would go about presenting these truths. The idea of a Center seemed the method that would best suit the need. In conjunction with our calling, the Center would be primarily a place where Christians -frustrated, dissatisfied, and searching- might come and be confronted with Union Life concepts from the Scriptures.
For this purpose we have opened our home. We now wait to see worked out in time what has been reality from eternity. Anyone wanting further information may write or call us.
Page 22 UNION LIFE
"Man makes things, but only God creates." I will probably never forget that statement by my third-grade catechism instructor. He went on to say that any man who was presumptuous enough to say that he had created something would surely suffer a particularly creative torment in hell. I think this latter remark was the glue that so firmly fixed the first statement in my memory: "Man makes things; God creates." In order to be on the safe side of blasphemy, I decided to eliminate the word "create" from my vocabulary.
As the weeks passed I began to ponder the distinction between "making" and "creating". I finally confronted my teacher, and he explained to me that "to make" is to produce something new out of something old, whereas "to create" is to produce something out of nothing.
"Who can produce something out of nothing?" I asked.
"God can", he replied. "He created the world out of nothing."
"But we learned that the world is made of atoms."
"Yes, but God created the atoms."
"So He created the atoms and then all creating stopped. God just made everything else from the atoms. No one can create any more, right?"
"You ask too many questions, Richard. Just remember that man makes and God creates."
I knew that I had stumped my teacher, but I still was not sure of the answer to my question: What is the essence of "creating"? I decided to find out what the Bible would tell me and, much to my surprise, I found my answer on the very first page. "Let there be light, and there was light." "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and it was so." Let there be ... and there was! God created the world by calling life into being. He spoke words which set the course of the world.
The essence of God's creation was His exercise of free choice. His crowning work was the creation of man. This was the ultimate of the Creation, for in man God created someone who could in turn be creative. In
order to teach man his creative power, God immediately confronted him with a choice: the tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Man made the inevitable choice of the knowledge of good and evil, since he would need to learn all the misuses of his free choice before becoming confirmed and confident in the right uses of his creativity.
My catechism teacher was wrong. We do not only make things; we also create. If we did not create, we would cease being persons, for a person is a person only to the extent that he exercises his free, creative choice. Our free choice is what separates us from the animals. Beavers have been called the world's best engineers, but their dams are certainly not built by choice or design. Beavers have no say in the matter; they simply follow their natural instincts and build magnificent structures. Likewise, machines can produce things much more efficiently than men, but the most advanced computer is unable to make a free, personal decision.
The Apostle John tells us in his first
UNION LIFE Page 23
letter that God is love. God is love because He is a person-The Person of the universe. Love and personhood are inextricably linked, because both involve free choice. Love is nothing more than my decision to reach out to another. I may feel strongly attracted to someone, or I may even find myself romantically involved with someone, but I have not begun to love until I make a creative choice to reach out to that person. On the other hand, I may feel an absolute repugnance toward someone, and yet I may choose to love that person in spite of my human repulsion.
I think a proper understanding of what love is and what it is not would alleviate much of the confusion and guilt which arises in many marriages. For example, a married businessman suddenly finds himself emotionally and sexually attracted to his secretary. He immediately feels guilty and decides to ignore his feelings. But the feelings persist and soon the married man concludes that he is hopelessly "in love" with his secretary. An extra-marital affair ensues. Such an affair is doubly unfortunate since the husband is usually feeling too guilty to fully enjoy it! In
fact, guilt is the culprit from beginning to end of this adulterous affair. If the husband had not felt guilty when he was first aware of his feelings for his secretary, then he could have honestly expressed his feelings to his wife. To experience romantic feelings toward various people is perfectly normal and healthy, regardless of age or marital state, but such feelings have nothing to do with love. It often happens that a husband and wife who have been together for years may feel that some of the romantic thrill has worn off, but they have made a commitment to each other. They have chosen to put each other first, even when the feelings are not there. That is what love is about. The businessman wrongly concluded that he was "in love" with his secretary on account of some romantic feelings. Nonsense! The adultery would have been avoided if he had recognized his romantic feelings as nothing more than romantic feelings. Then he could have maintained control and stayed faithful to his wife, whom he knew he really loved.
Love is creative. Love is making a decision, a commitment to another. Love is not a matter of doing good
deeds. At one time I was constantly preoccupied with performing good works. I participated in church groups and charitable organizations, and I also did good deeds for individuals that came in contact with me. All my activity had its merits, but I realized in time that I was not looking at the people I was helping. I did not really know them. Long ago I had become an unthinking machine that did good deeds for others. My endless good deeds were an escape to avoid God's call to personhood. Ironically, my good deeds for other people were also an escape from actually loving those people.
I was behaving very much like an ant. An ant? I will explain. If beavers have been called the world's best engineers, ants have been called the world's most ideal social society. All its life every ant works tirelessly for the good of the whole nest. The nest is perfectly ordered and thrives because of the ants' hard labor. But we cannot say that the ants love. All their labor is impersonal, by instinct. They perform the same monotonous activities without thinking or choosing. Creative, personal love is unknown to them. Love is personal, or it is not love; that is why the God of love is a Person.
I was doing many good and noble deeds, but I was refusing to be the full person that God had made me. I had forgotten the last three words of St. John's injunction: "Let us love in deed and in truth." Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." I had accepted the truth that Jesus Christ freed me from everlasting condemnation by His death and resurrection, but I was not free from my own condemnation. God showed me that I could only love in truth when I accepted His true word about me-that I was a free son, one to whom He had given the right and the responsibility to share in His creative process of love.
T o be whole lovers we must be whole persons. A whole person? I mean that we must be willing to step out and make choices. For so long we have been taught that it is somehow virtuous to 'avoid making ourselves stand out. Just as I was made to feel
Page 24 UNION LIFE
guilty as a child for "creating" something, so many of us feel guilty about pursuing our desires and our goals. We are so suspicious of ourselves, always questioning ourselves: "What's my real motive? Isn't this a selfish desire?" And so forth. The net result is that in certain circles a person is actually considered "saintly" if he is patronizing, dull, and lifeless. To speak of man's creations and man's desires and man's importance does not take away from God's glory. On the contrary, however great man is (and he is great), God is all the greater, for He is our Creator.
Isaiah rightly spoke of men as grasshoppers in comparison to God, and Peter truly says that all flesh is as grass, here today and gone tomorrow. Nevertheless, man is of tremendous value as proved by God's unending love for us. Jesus Christ's suffering and sacrifice is God's statement to us of our infinite worth to Him.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet.
decisions. If I decide to become a doctor, I will undoubtedly experience difficult moments in my study. But I persevere, and as an outcome of my faith I indeed become a doctor. Of course, we also have the freedom to change our decisions, and we should feel confident in making such changes.
D o we have secret yearnings? Do we have certain longings which we have not expressed? Are we afraid to live out our desires? John
many of us lack the willingness. It is much easier to let someone else make the choices. By not making our own decisions we avoid the responsibility for their outcome. There are those who actually believe that God would have them make no decisions. Yet, as I have noted, God's very first words to man forced him to take the reins: "You have dominion over the earth. You choose the names for the creatures. You choose between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and
We have been created to be great, creative persons. God does not want us to be smiling dim-wits under the guise of some vague "humility". No, He has made us to rule His universe with Him. He wants us to have glory, for the glory all goes back to Him.
Let us no longer be afraid of ourselves and our desires. We are full persons, ready for any task, because we are all shades of The Person, Jesus Christ. That is why it is a great error to belittle or even hate ourselves. In doing so, we are actually belittling God, for He is the One who has made us, and He is the One who expresses Himself through us. We give God high praise as we boldly and confidently move forward in our particular vocations.
To be a person is to live the life of faith, for faith is nothing more than the exercise of our free choice. Every decision we make is a faith decision, because we have faith that we are making the right choice. We learn not only to make faith decisions but also to persevere in faith. To "persevere in faith" is to follow through on our
says, "There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear." Christ loves us perfectly, and His love dwells in us. God perfectly accepts us and approves of us. His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, lives His life through our individual forms. How can we still fear? Christ has done away with fear, and now we are ready to love and to live.
We can and we must create, in whatever way our heart leads us. Creativity is not limited to art and music. Creativity is making choices and acting on them. Plumber, housewife, teacher, lawyer, student, or any other role is creative, provided that we do it with gusto. We are full persons as long as we actively pursue our desires and move forward in our choices. "Resting in the Lord" is not the same as "sleeping through life". "Resting in the Lord" means that we live life with quiet confidence, for we know that the Lord is in us, ready to supply our every need.
The key is to understand that a person is a person because he has the ability and the willingness to make free choices. All of us have the ability, but
evil." If we refuse to make choices, we deny the essence of our personhood. We become passive, dull creatures that do not differ fundamentally from beavers or ants.
If we had no choice but to be kind to our neighbors, then we could not call such kindness love. True love must involve sacrifice, as witnessed to us by God's ultimate demonstration of love in Jesus Christ's sacrifice. True love is the choice to go out of our way for the sake of another. That is why love and creativity are forever entwined. As we step out of our towers and into the middle of life, dealing with all the pleasant and nasty situations that come our way-as we begin to live without fear-only thus do we begin to be full persons. And as full persons love flows out spontaneously.
All the games and gimmicks to make ourselves loving people are perfectly useless. God's love is not to be found by diligent searching. Rather, His love is all around us, in every particle of life. Actively love living, and you will find that you have nothing but love for others.
UNION LIFE Page 25
Christian science fiction came of age with C.S. Lewis' trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Most of his science fiction allegories are aimed at an indefinite age group, although C.S. Lewis' Tales of Narnia, George MacDonald's Back of the North Wind, and now Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door' have a younger audience in mind. But in viewing recent more thoughtfully-oriented science fiction films, such as Star Wars and Encounters of the Third Kind, or reading Christian science fiction books, the grain must be winnowed from the chaff.
The movie, Star Wars, for example, has a well developed purpose (the dark-light principle), an exciting plot, and some semblance of characterization. Encounters of the Third Kind, however, substitutes sentimentality for purpose and gadding about for fiction. Of plot there is none. Likewise, the two novels that are reviewed in this article make fake appeals to our emotions in asking the reader to sympathize with the plight of a snippy teenager called Margaret. (Why should the reader be concerned over a rude little girl's misadventures into which her tongue leads her?) But unlike the movie, Encounters, these books incorporate basic truths and in this sense have adult appeal as does Star Wars. In fact the emphases of Madeleine L'Engle's books seem first an exploitation of the current fads of sexism, UFO's, and child prodigies; secondly, a depiction of her belief in a supernatural world that impinges upon our own; and, finally, an expression of the underlying reason for that belief. It is true that these three areas overlap, but they also pin-point the united purpose of these two novels: that God works in our world through us.
First we shall briefly consider the emphases on current fads. The same basic characters occur in both books. Both the father and mother of this family of four children are distinguished professional scientists. Whether or not this was the author's intention, Mrs. L'Engle is successful in showing the detrimental result of a career-oriented mother (one who pursues a career and at the same time tries to mother her children) on at least some of her offspring. Although Mrs. Murry does her scientific research at home, two of the children, the eldest and the youngest, are disoriented because of the father's frequent and prolonged absences and the mother's seclusion with her microscope. Ironically, the twins are normal, perhaps because they have been left to themselves and sort of "growed up" like Topsy and have not had read to them abstruse scientific articles (in lieu of ordinary bedtime stories) Mrs. Murry reads to Charles Wallace. But then the "exceptional" child is America's latest fad. The fact that Margaret, the heroine of both novels, is depicted as unattractive, even plain and homely, pin-points another recent syndrome, that the "ugly is beautiful." Finally, the current UFO mania (whose most recent exhibition is a melodramatic Sunday prime-time evening TV program) possibly sparked the "strange appearances" phenomenon which forms the plot motivations of both books.
'Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time and The Wind at the Door
(New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1975, 1977).
A second theme meaningfully exploits this mania of the impingement of the supernatural world upon our own. The novel has its setting in a future decade of this century where supernatural occurrences seem to be frequent, perhaps even commonplace. Part of the reason for the father's absence in A Wrinkle in Time is due to his preoccupation with the "tesseract" (an experimentation with time levels) and evil manifestations among the stars. But his intergalactic journeys have got him into trouble, so the Murry children, Margaret and Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin, go to the rescue with the aid of weird little old women who are really angels of formidable power.
In A Wind at the Door, the aid of these children is enlisted by similar supernatural beings, one being a cherub 2 who materializes as a kind of dragon thing. But although the impingement of the supernatural upon the natural is made obvious, the crucial action takes place within time (that is on our planet), within the body of Charles Wallace. In consequence, this novel is not as exciting as the earlier book, A Wrinkle in Time, because the reader is not exposed to the objective, imaginative events of the intergalactic warfare that form the action of the earlier novel. Instead he eavesdrops on verbal controversy between the good and evil characters who are voluntarily within the cellular structure of Charles Wallace's body, in a blacked out world only visible through an electron microscope.
The third emphasis of both novels is also the most successful, because the timeless conflict between good and evil (the light and dark principle) is one of which we are all too well aware. Unlike Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L Engle does not emphasize the emptiness of evil, but along with C.S. Lewis she does believe that ours is a "Silent Planet," overshadowed by the forces of evil. Her books emphasize that this impingement of evil is defeated - wherever it occurs - by manifesting love. Thus through declaring her love for her brother Charles Wallace in A Wrinkle in Time, even though he has been transformed into an automaton, Margaret overcomes the devil's possession of his body on the planet Camazotz. In A Wind at the Door it is her willingness to "X" herself, to be eclipsed for another (to give her life for her brother's continuing health and welfare), that finally is an essential element in his recovery. In this she is a Christ figure.
Different age groups read books for different reasons, but it is encouraging that at a time when disintegration seems to be rampant in every phase of our existence - divorce, employment, violence, war - books are still written with a Christian perspective for the young. With all of their flaws, Madeleine L'Engle's books, A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind at the Door, are statements of faith in the God of the impossible.
2 "The cherubim are symbolic of God's holy presence and unapproachability. They are celestial beings who guard and vindicate the righteousness of God, the mercy of God, and the government of God... [It is thought] that these beings have power to appear in different forms for the purpose of symbolic revelation" (Note from Scofield Reference Bible (Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), pp. 838-9.
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editors: Many of us have come to know our whole purpose in life as one o
love. We say that we are "for others." In this article, Bill Mortham challenges us to take a wider view of who "the others" are.
The history of the Union Life ministry among us has been most revealing. God's way is the "right way", regardless of the form it takes, and His workings in and through Union Life have been perfect. What follows is not meant as criticism, but as food for thought, and perhaps as a challenge to myself.
For the most part, outreach had been to middle-aged people from middle class society, perhaps sprinkled more heavily with upper middle class and even some wealthy people. We rejoice that God has seen fit to reach so many from this often neglected segment of our society. Up-andouters are as much in need of God as their All as downand-outers. Each of us has walked a lonely path for many moons to now enjoy His harvest of realized family togetherness and strength, the likes of which none of us want ever to lay down. I can only thank God for what He has given us.
But what about those who are not middle class, middleaged people? We have not focused a great deal on ghetto and lower class people, especially those of races once thought to be inferior. Neither have we focused on our youth. I have a vision of this liberating message -Christ in you- joining together rich and poor, young and old, alike. Here in St. Petersburg, God has given me a particular burden for our young people.
Teenagers, even those not yet reaching college age, have always been laid to my charge, and I personally speak the word of faith that a ministry to youth is part of our overall vision of what we gladly call "Union Life".
Can only adults know the freedom of Christ in us and as us? Must all go through the forty-year desert experience as I have? I don't think so. I know that if I had heard this message as a teen, I would have embraced Christ as I did later. I don't see measured time as a prerequisite to Spirit fullness. The Bible itself is our evidence that we don't have to wait to be adults to be founded and grounded in Christ. Even young persons can be prepared in Christ to minister out of a total overflow of Him.
Was not the "beloved disciple" perhaps the youngest of all the twelve? How old was Mary when she gave birth to Christ? We know that Old Testament Joseph was only seventeen when entrusted with tremendous responsibility. Our youth today have been so vigorously thrust into adult
responsibility by immeasurable pressures, that often thirteen year olds are going on twenty. Isn't this another reason to capture and captivate them for God?
I know that my "vision" has to be outworked and practiced right here where it has already. begun. I just feel that the time is ripe to proclaim this collectively, and I want to assure all that the Union Life emphasis and thrust is going out to youth. I have no fear of reaching out most specifically to our young people. I see them as ripened fruit. My age has never been a deterrent in claiming and proclaiming Christ among sincere teens.
St. Petersburg has the reputation of being a "wrinkled city", a home for retired senior citizens. And so it is. However, we have at least six high schools here with over 3000 students in each. That's a multitude, is it not? Yet it's only a speck of the greater multitude the world over. Perhaps as this vision is shared, others will also catch the vision. We begin with a few, always right where we are, but then we claim the universe as being in Him.
If I seem overly preoccupied with my ministry and concern for teens, I suppose I'll have to stay that way until and if God prevails as me to be otherwise. My present boredom with anything less challenging and interesting than youth ministry is the only assurance I need. Where my heart is, there am I. I can pretend to care for others in equal measure, but it is not true. My first love of youth is my lasting one.
I love all those who are taking Union Life to middle-aged and middle class folk, but my own ministry is as described and without reservation. I ask all of you to claim by faith with me the manifestation of my personal "vision". I want to specifically meet the needs of teens from all types of backgrounds.
Rejoice with me as I see Christ in their lives. Our youth are not "messed up". I have yet to meet less than a good teen and one beyond God's grasp. Their sins are like our own -forgivable and forgettable in Christ Jesus. I have no doubt that the same God who has set us free in Himself will do an equal work of grace in them. I waver and quiver not in the wake of their illusionary lack of interest. God has promised all a hunger for Himself.
Shout with me from the housetops. Let all catch this vision, and let this message go out to people of all ages, colors, and economic backgrounds. Let us all see through our particular ministries to the total picture of all men knowing the Christ within.
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For the past few months God has been showing me that you cannot teach spiritual truth. He alone is the Teacher, and each individual learns at his own pace in a perfect way for him. Really, all we can do is be confirming witnesses for each other.
The other thing He has hit me with is criticism and judgment. Before I came to know union life, during the dark night of the soul, He showed me that we always see ourselves in others. I was praying for God to come into a man's heart and heal him of resentment and bitterness. Of course you know what God said to me: "You couldn't see his bitterness if you didn't have your own."
About two months ago I was shown that the ability to judge has been given to us to judge the old creation, so that we can go through the process of "laying aside the old man and putting on Christ." You've got to see it to reckon it dead. The trouble is that many Christians throw the judgment on someone else instead of where it belongs. When He showed me this, I was very guilty of judging and condemning a fellow Christian for her judgmental and critical attitude towards others (I walked in this blindness for two weeks feeling smug and self-righteous). Finally, He showed me my sin and also showed me to look at Christ in her instead of her "failures". She is God's perfect expression of Himself right where she is.
All of this processing left me with no one to teach, set straight, pray for, guide or do anything with. Everyone was perfectly well in God's hands. He had cleansed me of all the attachments and had me right where He wanted me. I could almost hear Him laughing as I asked what He meant by that. The answer had been there all the time waiting for my question.
1. "What the world needs now is love. That's the only thing that there's just too little of. We don't need more Bibles, teachers, books, or rulers, just lovers. "
2. His words to Peter: "Feed my
sheep." (I was to be a vessel to
3. The Lord searches out the one
sheep that goes astray and lets the
ninety-nine be. I wasn't needed in
churches and Christian groups, but
out feeding the starving. He erased
the image of me teaching a group
and replaced it with the image of all
the hungry souls around who
needed unconditional love.
4. The Good Shepherd gives up His
life for the sheep. He can hold me
up to all those starving souls for
whom I'm personally responsible in
my life, and He can say, "This is My
body which is given up for you."
He's finished with the spirit-soul division within me, and my soul life has been given up. I am now experientially God's body. The last thing to leave in the old creation is the judgment. God in me never judges; He only forgives.
Two days ago I saw the beauty of His wisdom. The law has never changed from the day of creation, and justice is balanced. It is said, "an eye for an eye-and a tooth for a tooth." Adam would have the eye gouger's own eye removed, so God plucks out His own eye and hands it to the eye gouger.
A close friend started telling me of her premarital sexual experiences with her husband. I wondered why she was telling me this and I just listened with no reaction of criticism, just love. The next day she told me why-she needed forgiveness and only priests have the ability to assure forgiveness of sins. I had not said any words of forgiveness, but I had loved her instead of judging her. She was freed from her guilt and the feeling that she would be punished.
The scales of justice were balanced. By my stripes she was healed. The criticism uttered against her fell upon me who is He. Each action has a reaction, but my friend could not bear the results of her own actions. God in me will continue to forgive all those around me and bear the punishment himself to "fill up in His body what is lacking at the cross."
It is beautiful to know that when the scales of justice are to be balanced, He'll have me on the one side to
receive the blows which those who know Him not could not take.
Life always seems like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, but more and more they all form complete pictures. Even in those areas where I'm only beginning there is a joy in knowing that all the pieces are there waiting to be seen and put in place to form another
picture of LOVE
God hays given my husband and I a fantastic relationship. It tops any desires or dreams I ever had concerning marriage. The reality of our oneness in Christ, and the realization of who we are (non-threatening, nonjudgemental, and whole) yields total openness and lack of fear in each other's lives. After the mess I went through in my younger days, this certainly gives a stark picture of the negative-positive. What a school in reality. It's not the "reality" in which people think that bad is bad, and that there's a "way" to live life.
This school that God has so graciously put us through says: "It's all God, it's all good. It's all perfect." I come more and more to the radical position of refusing to see anything as negative, yet I retain those lovely human feelings-learning and empathizing through them. Job was deemed sinless, and he says of himself (my version): "Surely God isn't blaming me for the sins of my youth!" How that spoke to me. Our youthful sins are His fruitful training ground for maturity. Without them we don't have much to work with. Job is deemed sinless. Lately, in the throes of a depression, I had written down a whole stream of consciousness about myself. So much that I've always thought bad about myself came out. I wrote and wrote, till finally it was through. At that point I declared, "Well, Job was sinless, so that proves it's possible. I take it too. I refuse anything less." A subtle but real change occurred. I reread what I'd written and found all these negative self-concepts to be absolute garbage. I have finally rid myself of those ghosts of the past. It was solid and real. Depressions Are terrific times to get down to gut level and be achingly open to God's pronouncements about what is really real. What a gift to know that. What a strange reality that is to most people with whom I share it. But I know that they see it's real in me, so it drives a wedge in their view of good and bad. What fun!
CONDEMNATION SEEN ARIGHT
SEEING GOOD IN "BAD"
Page 28 UNION LIFE
editors: This letter is from an American missionary to the Far East who is truly of apostolic standards. She is very much one with us in Union Life, and we are grateful that she shares her insights with us.
I've been asking some fellow missionaries why they feel they must go "home" on furlough. They look astonished and say, "Why, I have to see my mother," or "I have to go on deputation." "I have to have a change." One dear friend told me yesterday how tired she got of giving the same old speech and showing the same old slides during her deputation work. (My heart ached for her.) Oh, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. They don't really know the delight, the bubbling up within, the flowing love, the still waters.
I came here in 1975 on a Gospel Crusade. While here, God spoke to me to return to the U.S., sell all I owned and return here. Within three months I was back here, studying the language and getting used to the climate. No one sponsors me except my Father. He told me to come. What more does one need? The Almighty God (TAG) became my mission board and folks were a little puzzled when they saw TAG on my name card, and very nonplussed when I told them what it meant.
One 20-year homesteader told me she wished that she and her husband were not under anyone but God. These two are always being told what they can and cannot do, and sometimes the orders are not in agreement with the situation on the field. No one at headquarters can really know what it's like in a field situation until he has experienced the smells, sights, sounds, and circumstances.
I am just myself, linked with Jesus. This country is my home and these are my people. There is no difference between eastern and western brothers and sisters. We all love Jesus. I believe this attitude of mine toward the others here, the Christians, has endeared me to them more than anything else. So many missionaries speak of "we" and "they" and this cuts me to the quick. "They" have their customs and their traditions, and "we" have different ones. But we in Christ are a new nation and peculiar people. There is no wall of partition between us. Oh, that our dear missionaries would recognize this and
embrace the yellow face. Well, thank God many of them do.
My husband died in 1966 and my children are still living in the United States, but I am not alone. My lover is Jesus and I am married to Him and bear His fruit. I am my Beloved's. His love is more than sufficient for all I need. In His eyes I am beautiful and precious. I am the woman Jesus loves, and that makes me beautiful. For a woman who is loved is always beautiful Selah!
I just want to tell you how I appreciate your love in phoning me several months ago in response to my letter. The words you spoke were like nourishment and a warm caress to a lonely traveler. They fit together like pieces of a puzzle into the prepared places of my spirit and I said, "Wow!" Just Wow!
After our conversation had ended and I hung up the phone, I began to dance around the kitchen with our kids. And I laughed, oh, how I laughed and praised God! My laughter was His life in me and how it lifted me and sent me soaring above the weighted heavy thoughts that had moments earlier suppressed my joy. For that entire evening I walked in that delight-I was free to be me, playful and unfettered, to release the spontaneous child in me and experience the kingdom within.
The following morning as I drove in to school I experienced tiny flashes of the same thing. Soon however, I was plummeted into what seemed to be a condition of pure confusion. Questions, thoughts, and ideas flooded my mind, high and low feelings ran rampant, and I was tossing about like the little ship carrying Jesus and the disciples. How His words, "0, afflicted one, stormtossed and not comforted," with the promises that follow, resounded in my spirit. While those mighty waves crashed, I knew, I just knew there was a strength and power deep within that nothing could shake.
I knew it was Christ asleep in the hold of my vessel, but not asleep really, for He is awakening within me, and I am coming forth with healing in all of my parts. There is a gradual awareness dawning within me of who I am. If I try to think it through and analyze it, I lose it, but as I just let go and let it come as the elusive butterfly to rest upon me, having given up my pursuit of it, then the knowing rises up from within and I am at rest. What a whole new world inside of me-what a God!
My vision of Him is ever expanding. I feel like the disciples when they saw Him in a new way transfigured before them. They heard His voice and they were filled with fear, falling on their faces. Such has been my reaction to the mighty things He is manifesting before me on this high mountain to which He has brought me. The things I am seeing and hearing were meant to be, and it has brought awesome, unspeakable joy.
Thank Richard for his article in the last issue. I didn't even have to try it on, I knew it fit. I just read it and said, "Yes!" So on I go to be a consoler to the multitude of sick and dying as well as to the living loved ones. I used to fear graduation from nurses training and my passage into the profession of nursing. The security of the "schoolwomb" is difficult to leave. But my eyes are seeing things differently now, and I know the purposes for this birth were laid before the foundation of the earth. I've begun to capture a glimpse of what lies ahead as I go out to all of those He has prepared beforehand. I'm excited to get started-I've always wanted to run ahead-to create, to be Mary, to love, to heal, to console. I intend to let go and allow all Jesus' compassion to pour forth like a healing balm. What fun, what seriousness, what responsibility, what joy, what honor, what blessing. He says, "Touch Me for I shall bring healing light to many and My love shall pour forth from you to heal the wounds of broken spirits. People shall know of Me because of the Love I am pouring forth through you, my little vessel, shaped according to My good
pleasure M M -Meridian, KS
I received the bunks today that you mailed and I've already been tremendously blessed with enlightment, especially from the little book "The Key to Everything." I can say with all the sincerity I possess that this is truly a wonderful revelation to me.
I do thank you so much for these. They are indeed a treasure in this hellish and dreadful place. I am a staunch Christian, a true believer and lover of Jesus. Nevertheless, so often I found myself unable to cope with an overwhelmingly negative environment. I see from reading just a little from "The Key-" that I have been looking too much at the external world.
Believe me, I do appreciate these
teachings. O.P.- Raiford, FL
LIGHT TURNED ON
UNION LIFE Page 29
I thank God for what He has shown me through Dan and Barbara Stone, and others in Kentucky. I would like to share some of the changes which the Union Life message has brought in my life.
You become what you believe. All my life I dreaded and believed that I would experience mental illness-and I did. Sort of a reverse of the faith life in Christ.
When I sank deeper and deeper into the pit of despair, prayer became my one thin thread with reality. Each time I felt I'd reached absolute bottom, I'd slip a little deeper-and pray a lot more.
I had always believed in a "Supreme Being". I didn't know a personal God; I didn't know how to pray. And yet I sensed that you couldn't "bargain" with God.
At the lowest point I said, "Lord, I give up. I'm going to the hospital for treatment, and I ask You to please go with me. Lord, will You take over?"
Returning from the hospital I continued to feel as one walking a tightrope. But the Lord works in strange ways. One evening I met a woman coming out of the market and she, almost as an afterthought, invited me to the next "Day Apart". Thus the Lord began His answer to my prayers.
I went to the "Day Apart" with trembling hope mixed with dread at being around people. But how loving and kind they all were! They accepted me at this point-just where I was with the Lord.
Most of the first discussions went completely over my head, but the love and concern didn't. That's what was needed and the Lord supplied it through them. More and more as I listened, I realized that here was the missing piece to my puzzle.
I'd longed to be a Christian at various times, but felt it was impossible. How could one ever be good enough to consider oneself to be a true follower of Christ? What hypocrisy! And then this absolutely wonderful, exhilarating, and yet simple fact: God made us mortals. He knows our humanity and it doesn't in anyway diminish His love for us.
How could one help but blossom knowing each day that "what may happen today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything
in God's whole world has power to
separate us from the love of God in
Christ." The realization of all this,
among friends who showed me Love,
caused me to experience a new birth!
L.C. - Shelbyville, KY
Last summer I wrote to you for help. Your answer brought much encouragement and last month when I saw my letter in your magazine I was ashamed that I had not already expressed my genuine appreciation for your letter answering many of my questions and bringing a measure of peace and quiet confidence that God had not turned me over to Satan for not conforming myself to the image that our group had built of Christ. "Obedienceto-all-the-Godly-principles-brings-Hisblessing" has been so stressed in our group that it seems few of us anymore have much understanding of how His grace continues to work in our life.
Somewhere during the mental and spiritual valley of defeat the past few years, my whole concept of God had grown negative, and that negative concept seemed to paralyse me from any growth. Now I am learning to look to Christ and know that He is living my life. What I might see and tag as failure, He sees as victory. And healing is taking place within. I rest more and I sense an inner freedom I've never known. I see more and more clearly that I was trying to live up to my own ideas of righteousness in my own strength. When I could not shake myself loose from "old hang-ups," I condemned myself and allowed others to do so as well. Because I could not accept myself, I was sure God couldn't, and a feeling of unworthiness overwhelmed me.
Now the healing continues as I am able to see victory in the midst of struggle and seeming defeat. Also, I am just beginning to see God's ultimate good in adverse situations. How I praise Him for that exchanged point of view - I gave mine to Him and He is giving me His.
I suppose this must sound very childlike, but I feel God is saying deep within, "Elsa, you tried and you blew it, but it's O.K. I never intended for you to carry the load. Now you rest and let me live my life through you while you simply trust Me and My finished work, and
the victory I have scheduled for you will come in my timing."
For anyone who has ever had as much self-hatred as I have had, it is such a beautiful discovery to know that God has made me just the way He wants me. After years of always trying to be someone else, what joy it is to be simply me and know that I please God more by being me than by trying to live up to that image that I thought was more pleasing.
That genuine sense of Godly acceptance is being carried over into my relationship with my husband. He no longer has to live up to my ideas of godliness to win my love. I no longer allow my church group to influence my ideas on "the perfect husband worthy of his wife's love."
Now when I've been wrong, when I've blown it, I don't have to hang back like a shame-faced child. I know I've been wrong, yes, but I know God's love is greater than my sin. And He seems to be saying, "Just rest, Elsa, and bask in my love for you."
I enjoyed the March issue of Union Life very much. It is so wonderful how the body flows together and that so many are experiencing the same teachings concerning the Lordship of our Father! The confirming witness of the body, one to another, is so rich and enlarging; I see us as the little flock that Jesus spoke of.
The truth that has been so predominant in my life of late is that He is Lord of all. I always knew that he was Lord of the positive and good, but now I know that he is also Lord of the negative and bad (so-called). Good and so-called evil are all the Lord in action. Duality is now no more for me! Just Him in every man. Now I can just focus on love, because the guilt and condemnation which says I should or shouldn't is gone. He alone is in His temple-purifying, teaching, enlarging. Who is to say? Who is to judge or condemn? Who knows how to love? They whom the Father has led on paths strange and negative, all so they might see with a single eye. In choosing not to choose, my heart is finally at rest!
These are the truths He has spoken within. I bless all you folks, brethren, pilgrims, those of the now, of like truth. I love you all.
OUR TRUE TEACHER
FROM SELF-HATRED TO LOVE
NOT TO CHOOSE
Page 30 UNION LIFE