Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I’m not one to make “New Year’s resolutions,” which I realize is a kind of resolution in itself, but this year seems different. If ever there were a time to, ah, break my resolution to not make resolutions, it’s 2019.
On all fronts, political, social, religious, economic, etc., there seems a foreboding tinge to many pundits’ projections for this Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Nineteen.
My fellowship group and I have had several discussions among ourselves on how to proceed as believers as well as citizens, friends, family members (some of us are) and prophecy trackers.
What I have gleaned as a kind of three-part summary of conversations, personal reflections, and information from the secular and spiritual worlds at large is what I offer you in this, my first post of the new year, in hope there may be some useful perspective and/or reminder here.
In short, be encouraged, friends and readers, while remaining “awake, aware, and alert;” “keeping your ‘spiritual armor‘ on at all times;” and maintaining “a tight focus and mindful efforts,” three such perspectives shared in my fellowship recently.
For, spiritually speaking, we are not in Kansas anymore…
Spiritual Survival 2019 Part 1: “The Law of Holes”
According to a Wikipedia synopsis of the so-called “law of holes,” aka the “first law of holes,” it is “an adage which states that ‘if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging’.Digging a hole makes it deeper and therefore harder to get back out, which is used as a metaphor that when in an untenable position, it is best to stop carrying on and exacerbating the situation.”
What this brings to mind is the increasing difficulty many people express having, of late, when it comes to insisting on the reasoned debate required to resolve pressing sociopolitical issues. And the world, just now, abounds with pressing issues.
In this age of arguably managed social media, where the issues are “discussed,” it seems that much of the populace is driven to and fro by emotionally charged memes.
It also seems that social media minders have become in some cases stealth operatives in the war against free speech by limiting readers’ exposure to a broader range of ideas that might inform–and warn.
The new and controversial practice of “shadow banning” is just one example of this. Another one, gaining exposure, is the use of so-called “Facebook jail,” which applies to other social media as well, to punish those who commit some kind of speech crime deemed so by whomever determines what constitutes the crime.
Shades of thought police and totalitarianism?
Even merely compromising becomes increasingly difficult when many of the same populace succumb to “black and white thinking” and a “them and us” mentality.
As is well-known, such thinking often leads to “a divided house” that, as another adage goes “cannot stand.”
And if not resisted, dividing leads to conquering by those who well understand this control mechanism.
The process of trying to work things out more reasonably in such an atmosphere might be like trying to keep on digging that hole in hopes that by cleaning out the muck and mire of fallacious thinking, controlled and truncated communication, and an apparent disregard for reasoning in modern-day sociopolitical debate, there might be some clarity beneath.
On the other hand, it might just be time to stop digging there and re-focus.
Like dealing with a psychopath or sociopath who has no intention of getting along, only “getting his/hers” at whatever expense to the other, perhaps it’s time to consider that reason, compromise, and civil debate is not on the (real) agenda of the opposition.
Perhaps it’s time to stop that effort in lieu of other efforts.
For believers, and to my purpose in this post, such efforts mean tactics that comprise effective (spiritual) “warfare” (see link, above, re “spiritual armor”) against our real enemy and help keep us sane and focused in a world that seems more and more to succumb to that very enemy in his (and his minions’) quest for power and control.
Such spiritual efforts need to be initiated, of course, with an attitude of “clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”
Spiritual Survival 2019 Part 2: “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”
The inspirational quote for the second part of this spiritual survival guide comes from the world of sports. The line was originally spoken by Coach Eric Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler) in an episode of Friday Night Lights, written by Peter Berg (2006-2011). It refers to the full mind, or clear thinking, and heart, or passionate focus, required to succeed at football. (Source, Wikipedia)
As Christians, I believe it also applies to our spiritual, or “larger picture” perspective when dealing with the darkness encroaching on the world, indeed, already here. We are reminded and encouraged by the Word, itself with regard to remaining “clear thinking”:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy, 1:7)
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
Regarding the “heart,” the “passion,” the genesis of man’s best efforts to overcome evil from without–and within–by our faith in the transforming and overcoming work of Jesus Christ in our lives, and by extension, the world, as we are able–and for as long as we are able–these words to remind and encourage:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (Timothy 1:5)
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:8)
In short, although there is also “a time for war” in the literal sense, unless and until that times comes for Christians, keeping mind and heart on the things of God will also keep us from succumbing to the divide and conquer spirit of this age which serves only the real divider and conqueror who takes no prisoners and spares no destruction and works through whomever he may find–and, ultimately, devour
But how to keep mind clear and heart pure amid the formidable mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges of the year–and those to come?
Spiritual Survival 2019 Part 3: “Tight Focus and Mindful Efforts”
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, KJV)
In other words, having donned the spiritual armor, prayed for a clear mind and passionate heart for accomplishing God’s will, we are encouraged to remain awake, aware, and alert by “waiting on” the Lord until it is clear what to do–or not to do–keeping in mind the “wisdom of many counselors” (Proverbs 24:6) before waging what war presents itself .
In so doing and by resisting the urge to react in kind to hatred and division, we shall be renewed and strengthened for whatever comes.
And it will help greatly to remind each other of these things often as 2019–and beyond–reveals what wickedness may come.
But remember also: as a preacher once said, “after all, it’s God’s devil,” meaning Satan as a created being is limited–whereas the love of God to save, heal, and deliver all who call upon Him in the day of trouble, is not.
If you have not yet called on Him, today would be good.**
*For an interesting discussion on this view, as promoted by Socialists such as Alinsky, Cloward, and Piven, whom many believe to be at the root of the arguably constant social and political conflict we are experiencing today, read here.
**Here is how:
To know God and be ready for heaven,
follow these steps:
A. Admit you are a sinner.
“There is no one righteous, not even one … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:10,23. (See Romans 5:8; 6:23.)
Ask God’s forgiveness.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
B. Believe in Jesus
(put your trust in Him) as your only hope of salvation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (See John 14:6.)
Become a child of God by receiving Christ.
“To all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (See Revelation 3:20.)
C. Confess that Jesus is your Lord.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (See verse 10.)