Sunday, September 09, 2007

Defining Faith and Fine Tuning The Conscience


If you never read any other post read this one!!!

"Just acting like a normal Christian is an extremely radical thing to do"
- Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

I have been reading another new book of late. I know it must seem like every book I read is dynamite in my view... but I give this one my highest recommendation. The Book is called
"The Warrior's Heart: Rules of Engagement For The Spiritual War Zone"
by Harry R. Jackson Jr.

So far this is the finest book on the topic implied in the title that I have read. It has some very practical and pragmatic advice about faith, conscience and the power or lack thereof in religion and/or a believers perception of such.

Here I will paraphrase what I deem to be the most important paragraph I personally have ever read concerning the concept of faith:

One of the problems with the concept of faith, as it is conceived of by many, is there is no clear distinction between attitude management techniques and what is purely Biblical faith or supernatural thinking if you will. Managing our attitudes is in fact very important- even essential to be an effective Christian, spiritual warrior or even just a good person. "Be positive" motivational techniques , however, are not in themselves keys to releasing the supernatural power of God. The supernatural peace of God which comes from his tangible presence is able to do FAR more than a peace that comes from attitude management.

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 3, a prayer:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Jackson goes on to write about the ways we can detect God's unction in our lives. Here he cites what is called "twofold assurance":

1. Our hearts assure us (conscience)

2. The Holy Spirit within us

James Madison once stated;

" Conscience is the most sacred of all property"

Jackson explains;

The word conscience is not found in the Old Testament. The closest reference is found in Proverbs 20:27

"27 The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man ; it searches out his inmost being."

Conversely, in the New Testament there are 30 references to conscience. The Greek word for conscience is suneidesis which is defined as an abiding consciousness whose nature it is to bear inner witness to one's own conduct in a moral sense. It is self awareness.

Speaking for myself I can state unequivocally that when I have not listened to that small still voice that has said to me "don't do this" or "you ought to do that" trouble has ensued more times than not... sometimes BIG trouble. Judging by this acknowledgement alone I think it is safe to say that being out of touch with one's conscience can carry a heavy cost... perhaps even a lethal cost.

Jackson explains that you do not have to be a Christian or even a believer to have a conscience. It is something that is installed in every person because every person, whether they believe or acknowledge it or not, is made in the image of God. Conscience is the RULE of God imparted to every man and woman. In fact, those who have never heard the Gospel of Christ will in the end be judged by how they have responded to their own consciences.

On this Romans 2:14-16 says (Amplified Bible):

14 When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law.

15 They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them]

16 On that day when, as my Gospel proclaims, God by Jesus Christ will judge men in regard to the things which they conceal (their hidden thoughts).


Often people think of conscience as an afterthought, a twinge of guilt or remorse after the fact. However, conscience is a moral compass that is designed primarily for PREVENTION. As stated, in this sense, being out of touch with conscience and/or God can be disastrous for people, people groups or entire societies or civilizations.

The goal then is to harmonize, inasmuch as we are able, our consciences according to what God ordains as right and/or wrong. Jackson goes on to explain three ways in which this is accomplished:

1. reproof and correction- we have to learn to receive correction from trusted, spiritual, strategic relationships.

2. sincere repentance- we must embrace a re calibrated, redefined consciousness and lifestyle of repentance.

3. Faith and comprehension- in the saving power of Christ and the raw power and genius of modeling our lives on his example. This includes understanding the aforementioned distinction between attitude management and or psychological crutches and the supernatural peace and tangible presence of God in one's life and/or mind.

Jackson then goes into six ways for a spiritual warrior to find or tap into supernatural inner strength and wisdom by FINE TUNING THE CONSCIENCE:

1. Fight your way out of a siege- don't lose heart.

2. Find the joy of camaraderie- cultivate strategic relationships.

3. Maintain ranks in the face of battle- in the midst of trials and triumphs alike, continue to keep the commandments of God.

4. Remember the BIG picture- focus on the glory of God even during hardships and always remember that the real enemy is not flesh but the forces of darkness in the spiritual realm.

5. Use the power of consistent focus- always remember the goal... to maintain righteousness and make it to the Heavenly Kingdom of God.

6. Stay connected to the source of joy- maintain an intense prayer life and communion with God... without this the vision and all the rest begins to fade.

The rest of "The Warrior's Heart: Rules of Engagement For The Spiritual War Zone"
only gets deeper and better from there.

I personally count this as extremely valuable insight and information. I hope you do too.

Lastly mark this:

2 Timothy 3
Godlessness in the Last Days
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

3 comments:

S. Starr said...

... and yet they claim this is a Christian nation... tsk tsk.

Ya know... its pretty scary when our "religious" folk are just as confused as the Hollywood set but in a different way. I was listening to James Dobson today on the radio while I was out on my job. His guest was a fellow named Joel Rosenberg who has written a book called "Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future"

The two listed the long littany of ills, wrongs and crimes of radical Islam and explained it great detail why we should all fear them greatly.
They also mentioned several times the tremendous valor and honor of the U.S. and its military machine. I agree about the crimes of Islam and I agree about the bravery of our military servicemen. Their presentation had one quite serious... I day say fatal flaw, however. They went on to elaborate what a fine "Christian" nation the U.S. is and how " God wants to use the U.S. to bring about the downfall of radical Islam and the spread of democracy".
Upon hearing this my immediate question was, "Where are they getting the idea that God wants to use the U.S. for these purposes?"

Who told them this? Has their been a prophet dispensing this information that I am not aware of?

It sounds more like self adulating pride and nationalism to me. Ironically, it is this sort of ideology that has spawned many of these conflicts on both sides.

I am sure a critic of my thoughts here will quote from Old Testament scripture instances of God using one nation against another or aiding the ancient theocracy of Israel to defeat its enemies. There are at least two major problems with drawing comparisons from these ancient battles to the efforts of the U.S. and Israel today. The first is the absence of a prophet giving admonition or instruction concerning these things. Prophets from God are always 100% correct and make direct predictions by the way. One may argue that the book of Revelation prophesies these things... but let me just state for brevity's sake that this is quite a stretch in a lot of ways- I'll be glad to elaborate if someone wishes to challenge this. Next... in the Old Testament when God was on the side of an army the enemies were dispensed with rather quickly. Sure, there were long term conflicts in the Old Testament and all... but when Israel was in God's good graces and not being punished... these battles were fast paced slaughters against the enemies.

I'll say this. Until someone can explain how I am wrong and give me clear, Biblical evidence that "God needs the help of the U.S. and it's military to put down radical Islam and spread democracy- to enable His plan of manifest Destiny for the sacred U.S. and the esatablishment of His Kingdom" I will continue to call these sorts of assertions flat out heresy.

I do not mean to offend anyone, but as I see it the ball is not in my court. The burden of proof is not mine. I am prepared however, to be wrong. Somebody prove it to me. Here I stand.

Anyways, I believe that the reference in the verses you are referring to from here:

"1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

...are dead on. The one aspect of these verses that I was paying close attention to here was this:

"5 having a form of godliness but denying its power."

I was linking this to the concept of most people not having a clear distinction in their minds between attitude management and positive thinking and SUPERNATURAL thinking with the tangible presence of God in their hearts, minds and consciences- providing insight and discernment. My reference to Dobson and Rosenberg's thinking (paralelled by a great number of Americans) also ties in with this concept by embracing a "form" of godliness that is devoid of real power because it is as yet wedded to the carnal by way of sinful pride and speaking out of turn for God. They are making essentially the same mistake that radical Islam is making... self idolatry, false prophesying and failure to recognize that the power to give life is greater than the power to kill and destroy. They will acknowledge which is the greater power philosophically, theologically and/or in the abstract but not in real world, real time practical terms. Loving your enemies has become appeasement... eschewing killing and warfare has become weakness and cowardice... The raw power and spiritual genius of Jesus' way, of the beatitudes, of defying and denying the domination system and it's self sustaining cycle of violence and revenge has been set aside to make way for the glorious, heroic destiny of the United States. God have mercy on us all when our "Christian leaders" are no longer even Christian. Radical Islam and the American, Statist pseudo-christian heretics are fighting the same losing battle.

SELAH!!

S. Starr said...

Something else...

Above I started to pose the question why God would need the U.S. and its firepower to enforce his will upon the Earth. I mean he's God... he could simply wish it to be so and radical Islam would dissolve into dust or vanish like a vapor. He could cause an earthquake, plagues like giant, fire breathing locusts and toads...

Then I held back because I thought of how in the Old Testament God often used one nation to chastise and punish another. Then it dawned on me... that's probably what is happening right now. God is allowing/using the various players in the Mideast conflicts to punish one another for losing sight of Him. Right now the citizens of Iraq are paying with the most flesh and blood while the average fat and happy American has the luxury of watching the whole debacle on television and armchair- quarterbacking- myself included. I have no doubt that it will not remain so forever. When the next day of reckoning comes... many of my countrymen will still be wondering why.

Sleep tight.

S. Starr said...

Oh and one more thing... on point with what you have offered DSM, cipher this:

New Britney Spears track to feature very personal lyrics

09/12/2007 3:00 PM, Yahoo! Music
courtesy of NME.com

Britney Spears has referenced her turbulent recent history on one of new tracks.

"Piece Of Me" was produced by the Swedish team of Bloodshy & Avant, who worked on the singer's smash hit "Toxic" back in 2004.

In the track she sings: "I'm Mrs. American dream/Since I was 17.../I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous/ I'm Mrs. 'Oh my God, that Britney's shameless'/I'm Mrs. 'Extra, extra, this just in'/I'm Mrs. 'She's too fat, now she's too thin.'"

At other points in the track she refers to herself as "Bad media karma" and says: "Another day, another drama/I can't see the harm in working hard and being a mama."

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S.S. shakes his head.