No, not "Thus sayeth..." but more of [i]'might you all bear with me a little foolishness'[/i].
Dear saints, new members, old stalwarts alike, may the Lords heart for His people, which ye are, be somehow expressed in what follows.
[b]A Plea to be still[/b]
At the end here there is a summary or perhaps a better expression of what is being attempted from T. Austin Sparks. It coincides quite perfectly in that it is not a short read. There is a bit of sorrow in that we are becoming, quite possibly unaware, caught up with the worlds ways of living out our lives. One aspect of that being 'pace'.
It is seen here with great frequency the clip rate of response, but more so in what is being responded to and of more primary concern, what is not. Lest this be mistaken, perhaps an analogy. Television. Without opening this can of worms too far... Have lost the compulsion towards this medium in one sense by purposeful neglect but not in totality, the news, sports, history, not hiding anything here. But by and large it's avoided. What is noticeable from being away and coming back to it less frequently is the rate of speed that technology has been able to accomplish. What I mean is 'frame rate'. Commercials, while in and of themselves are of a great matter just as distractions, which is where I am heading with all of this, but for the moment... Ever notice how rapid fire the frame rates are? Split second shifting of images. Even and maybe more so, the 'upcoming programs' for whatever show is being advertised, so much 'information' and images spliced together in 15 seconds than we could ever retain. Take a commercial for whatever current drug now available, even the audio for the clever disassociating of the "May cause..." is clipped to save air space between words and cram in as much information as possible, like an auctioneer after a pot of coffee. The analogy? One more, the commercials themselves are a intrusion, always cutting in and drawing away from whatever program we may be watching. That is what is analogous.
It's compulsion and skimming across the surface to get to the next thing. Distraction. It's seen here by the responses to a lot of what is being discussed. It is redundant, but I fear that a lot of real, essential, soul changing and edifying thought is being bowled over in the process. Of course there is room here for what is current and a whole host of questions and expression, this is not a mandated or carefully guarded fortress, there is much liberty and freedom within certain bounds.
It is but a plea to slow down in our lives and here, to discipline ourselves a bit and absorb some deeper things, some more searching, character resolving and edifying possibilities.
Why? Because there is so much richness and incredible resources available. Things that take time and patience to ponder on, to chew on for awhile, to pray over, to think on. I am very much guilty of this, I see it as if from afar, this compulsion to quickly skim over and miss so much. Even in our times of being in Gods word, which I do pray we are always in, are we reading for information or for revelation?
[i]Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.[/i]
The problem with "all" is that it seems to indicate ... "all" It seems we can give 99% to one part and 20% to the other at any given time and the the difference falls out into oblivion. We seem to be far too occupied at the topical, surface level, easily distracted and far too easily caught up in a whole host of problematic compulsions. The results are evident enough in the ease of being offended, the shooting from the hip and from the lip to put it quite plainly. Reactionary, misconstruing, presumptuous, words that carry unto other manifestations of anxiety, bitterness, anger, divisiveness and selfishness. It's just a plea to please saints, for your own and the Lords sake, slow down.
[b]Newer Members and refresher for the old cronies[/b]
There is such a well here that I don't think the bottom will ever be found and Praise God for that. There is a history built into what you see and hear and the vast majority is drawn from historical sources. As the newsletter that Greg has made available so succinctly titled states "The Old Paths", that is what you have entered into here. The paradox being that it really isn't old at all, just lost to the compulsions of modern day Christianity for the most part. Would go even further than that and state that it is a recovery operation in the truest sense and the article linked from T. Austin Sparks again exemplifying far better than I ever could. But again, it's long, and I fear that our attention spans have become shortened and seeing something like this causes us to run after the same things of the world, instant gratification, we must have it now and have it short and summarized or else we are apt to dismiss it all together.
For many of our newer members I do fear that dismissal even for those who are just peering in on these things. Are we giving a testimony to the Lord or just our own thoughts and opinions? It might be wrong to cleave to 'the former days' as it were, am very much glad to see new life coming into this setting. But there is also a loss from the first beginnings here. There used to be more of the opposite, a concentration on really digging into the depths of the fullness and riches of the Lord. From the messages given by all these past saints both audibly and in written form. Can you hear their voices even now, crying out to us, to turn away and to turn back, back to the 'Old Paths' well trodden, covered with much labor of soul, blood, sweat and tears?
Can we stop long enough to consider these things? How easily we can take for granted these hearts that poured themselves out for the Lord and for us even if it was highly unlikely known to them that we could be recipients of all their efforts, so many years now past. We do not hold these saints in any particular measure above and beyond proper esteem. But honor unto who honor is due and with great gratitude towards the rich inheritance they have left us.
[b]What of it?[/b]
What about us? What is it at bottom that we are all after? I know my own tendencies, many that still need curbing, better, just to be put to death, the same compulsions and things expressed earlier, it is very much preaching to my own choir. There is a similar plea to forbearance with one another, to help each other go on in this great journey we are on together as pilgrims and peculiar people, bound in heart to the Lord Himself.
Are we yet after the Lords thought? Is it [i]to[/i] Him and [i]for[/i] Him or are we just playing nice and aping something that we have yet to enter into? Is the Holy Spirit active amongst ourselves? Is it [i]evident[/i]? This isn't to smite or reproach anyone, true questions asked to the heart of what we are all doing. Do we realize the examination we are under, in Gods eyes? Not as paranoia but in truth and honesty, in spirit and truth, do we [i]know[/i] what [i]manner[/i] of Spirit we are? Do we see in the words of Brother Len, '[i]It is a [u]noble[/u] thing to be a Christian'[/i]?
In how we deal with one another and those outside the great salvation of our souls? Are we allowing the Lord to ask us a different question, a more penetrating and truer one as He did when He walked this earth? And now by His Spirit that incredibly dwells within each and everyone of us who have been brought out of darkness, are the questions not more forceful and penetrating coming from the inside out if we would but slow down and stop kicking at the goads?
This is rather long as is the norm and hope it is taken for what it's worth. Hope it is only observation as it is felt and motivated by and meant. If it is dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic it is partly true, there is a certain wonderful lunacy codified in the words of Paul;
1Co 2:14 [i]But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned[/i].
Wouldn't take that too far, it also applies to the sheer wonder if we are apt to stop and think about the absurdity of it all. The Spirit of the living God taking up residence in [i][b]us[/b][/i]? It's beyond absurd, beyond definition and yet we know it to be true. So if this all gets sidelined and passed over, there is no offense taken nor given hopefully, it's in general and not in specific.
Finding it difficult to [i]just[/i] pray? I have, strangely as best as I can tell, this I have been called to even as we all have. Perhaps it's in something of a greater measure only in the sense of 'dedicated to' but have found a drifting even as it is recognizable. We kid ourselves a lot don't we? Getting caught up in a whole host of things and stumbling over just the simplest of matters. Apt to go off on tangents, preoccupied in speculations, prophecies, end time events, secondary issues, all well and good to discuss and observe and muse on. But the 'small' things, our tongues, our thought life, our 'devotionals', our times alone at the Masters feet. Prayer, real prayer, being quiet and still, practicing the Presence of [i]silence[/i]. Difficult! At times seemingly impossible, but we lose it right there. It [i]is[/i] possible, it just takes a concentrated effort and a willingness to discipline ourselves, we have the Holy Spirit right there to help us overcome all obstacles, if we could just recall it to mind, He has not left us to our own devices, we just choose to go about things often without Him. One more, might we pray before we post? Thanks, I needed to hear myself say that.
There is a great love in my heart for Gods people of which you all are or for those peering in, hope one day you will become. Give place to awe and wonder once again. Look around at Gods creation even in it's marred condition, that we ourselves have brought it to. Outward and away from ourselves, to the universe that surrounds us. If we lose our perception of the magnitude and sheer vastness and otherness of Who God [i]is[/i] we are apt to attempt to bring Him down to our low level which is far more insidious and a grievous thing.
If anything, my hope is that the following might be read ever so slowly, it speaks to our condition quite eloquently I believe, may it give pause and consideration and not be seen as something abstract but down to earth in the sense of reality that it is.
With appreciation and credit to our distant brother Lars for bringing it forth: *[i]Edit before the edit...[/i] And how appropriate to segue into the redundant plea of [i]searching[/i] the site in the discussions section for previously posted items. Our friend Manfred had already beaten me to the punch here. Had received it from Lars via his newsletter that you can get in on if you are given to intercession, (send me a PM and I will gladly forward the information on it, on to you.)
[i]by T. Austin-Sparks[/i]
(Edit: Link updated 9/9/07)