O Cross, Our Only Hope

Lo, the blood of Christ, too pure, too strong,
A bludgeon to the works and wiles of hell,
A serum for the sickness in our souls,
A mirror that reflects the devil’s spell.


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Throw your demons on the holy fire,
Watch them kindle brightly in the flames,
See the spinning spectres scorched and scared,
Perishing with all their sordid games,

Lo, the blood of Christ, too pure, too strong,
A bludgeon to the works and wiles of hell,
A serum for the sickness in our souls,
A mirror that reflects the devil’s spell,

There! Amid the booming drums of war,
Amid the smoke plumes dancing to the sky,
The ever-gleaming diamond of the truth,
Brightening creation gone awry,

Animate the faith within your breast,
To carve the holy path towards this light,
Fall into the soul-reshaping mould,
And catch the rays of God within your sight,

Here, the heavens bend to greet your way,
The blackness standing mute in silent streams,
Kneel and pray to God with earnest words;
“Usher up the peace that fills our dreams…”


Renfield H. Bizarre, 05.10.16

The Thread Upon the Loom

Dread blackness thrust into the dust,
Forced thither by the hand of God,
Waiting, lurking, in the earth,
Below the grass where Adam trod.


Angel_of_the_Revelation_by_William_Blake


Dread blackness thrust into the dust,
Forced thither by the hand of God,
Waiting, lurking, in the earth,
Below the grass where Adam trod,

Sickly peering eyes look out,
Admiring those bright pastures fair,
With every low, impious thing,
Conjoined in one unholy glare,

Privation is the price of sin,
The loss that grinds upon the soul,
The hand that holds us muted, dumb,
The dank malaise of death’s control,

Wherein our hope? What future waits?
What ladder from the chasms bleak?
What monumental feat of man,
Describes the rapture that we seek?

The softly beaming star on high,
Aloft, beyond the cherubim,
The Christ! Undaunted in his work,
Commanding all the Nephilim,

A fellowship of powers pure,
A flock about the holy loom,
With Satan’s works, pulled on a thread,
To glory, from the nether gloom,

This cancer is a fleeting thing,
The wry mistrust that cripples men,
Hark, Gabriel! His cry is thus,
“Stand firm; the Christ will come again.”


Renfield H. Bizarre, 06.09.16

Christus Regnat

And pray, what do I see writ large anon,
While sifting through the codex of the skies?
A signature, made by the Prince of Air,
Set down by the deceitful Prince of Lies…


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A silken spell, knit strong by highest hands,
Holding tight the seething ball of black,
Woven to perfection, sealed by God,
Equipped to brook the deadliest attack,

Within the flowing sackcloth’s golden thread,
A travesty of demons waxing wild,
Loosing scorn and magic on that place,
Reserved for one; the steadfast holy child,

And is there aught of doubt or flinching there,
Upon that clear visage of Christ on high?
Nay, not one iota, mark ye well,
No soul shall His pre-eminence decry,

And pray, what do I see writ large anon,
While sifting through the codex of the skies?
A signature, made by the Prince of Air,
Set down by the deceitful Prince of Lies,

And where is this consent laid down you ask?
What pledge has Satan made before us all?
Confession, on the body of Our Lord,
Aye, even he, to Christ must duly crawl.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 08.08.16

Steps to Christ

Christ is the keystone that holds the arch of the universe in place. Christ represents our true self, reality at its most elementary. If we refuse to know Christ, we eschew the reality in which we dwell, we reject our very self, and this is true madness.


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This book is a simple and powerful affirmation of God’s mercy and beneficence. It offers a reassuring voice, reminding us that, as we humble ourselves at Christ’s door, our trespasses and offenses against God are forgiven and enveloped by divine grace. Written by Ellen G. White, the co-founder and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, this is an earnest, compelling and poetic offering, particularly for those who feel themselves to be beyond repair, or too extensively corrupted and defiled to be worthy of an advocate such as Christ. This book is for those who ask; how could one such as I ever be deserving of gentleness or forgiveness?

The book resonates with the very same humility and awe that inform the psalms. The words of psalm 51:17 sprang to mind after reading this: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (KJV). We are reminded by Mrs. White that even as we take responsibility for all wrong action and lament this with a penitent spirit, we make ourselves known to God, and demonstrate thereby that we take an interest in Him. The distance we put between ourselves and our sin is the distance we gain in finding God’s sacred and harbouring embrace. As we grimace at the enormity and grotesqueness of our selfishness, and savour with despondency the bitter return that comes from willfully rejecting Christ, we know that we are utterly and ineluctably in need of rectification through divine grace, through knowledge of Christ, which brings relief and mercy, for, in essence, Christ is mercy. Christ is the mercy we crave.

The message is simple; present yourself to Christ with the willingness to be convicted of all wrongdoing. Agree in your heart to be held accountable for any and all misdeeds and wickedness, as is the invariable demand of God, the searcher of hearts, as you make your presence patent to the Most High. Be prepared to stomach the knowledge of one’s effrontery to God and His creation, and make amends by withdrawing from sin and clinging with all earnestness and determination to the proper and respectful management of one’s behaviour, which unfolds, as always, before the all-seeing vision of the Most High God, the Creator. A broken and contrite heart that endures from day to day, now flooded with sorrow and repentance, now buoyant with joy in Christ; this is the way that pleases God, says E.G. White.


Favourite Quotes:

“The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator’s love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures.” (p.9)

“God made man perfectly holy and happy; and the fair earth, as it came from the Creator’s hand, bore no blight of decay or shadow of the curse. It is transgression of God’s law -the law of love- that has brought woe and death. Yet even amid the suffering that results from sin, God’s love is revealed.” (p.9)

“In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses. “God is love” is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green – all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.”(p.10)

“But when the heart yields to the influence of the Spirit of God, the conscience will be quickened, and the sinner will discern something of the depth and sacredness of God’s holy law, the foundation of His government in heaven and on earth. The “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,”illumines the secret chambers of the soul, and the hidden things of darkness are made manifest. John 1:9. Conviction takes hold upon the mind and heart. The sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to communion with Heaven.”(p.24)

“They think that they cannot come to Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance does precede the forgiveness of sins; for it is only the broken and contrite heart that will feel the need of a Saviour. But must the sinner wait till he has repented before he can come to Jesus? Is repentance to be made an obstacle between the sinner and the Saviour? The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance.” (p.26)

“Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts.” (p.26)

“Through influences seen and unseen, our Saviour is constantly at work to attract the minds of men from the unsatisfying pleasures of sin to the infinite blessings that may be theirs in Him. To all these souls, who are vainly seeking to drink from the broken cisterns of this world, the divine message is addressed, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. (p.28)

“…pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give. The poor publican who prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), regarded himself as a very wicked man, and others looked upon him in the same light; but he felt his need, and with his burden of guilt and shame he came before God, asking for His mercy. His heart was open for the Spirit of God to do its gracious work and set him free from the power of sin.” (p.30)

“Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire, persistently cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel. Every sinful indulgence strengthens the soul’s aversion to God. The man who manifests an infidel hardihood, or a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown. In all the Bible there is not a more fearful warning against trifling with evil than the words of the wise man that the sinner “shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Proverbs 5:22. (p.34)

“Christ is ready to set us free from sin, but He does not force the will; and if by persistent transgression the will itself is wholly bent on evil, and we do not desire to be set free, if we will not accept His grace, what more can He do? We have destroyed ourselves by our determined rejection of His love. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 8. (p.34)

“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says, “Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Acts 26: 10, 11. He does not hesitate to declare that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15. (p.41)

“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.” (p.64)

EGWhite


Remember:

Holding aloof from Christ is a damaging act, as the self is in conflict and without anchor; it is thus the universe is kept in conflict. Christ is the keystone that holds the arch of the universe in place. Christ represents our true self, reality at its most elementary. If we refuse to know Christ, we eschew the reality in which we dwell, we reject our very self, and this is true madness. According to the guiding spirit of E.G. White, we do well to: reside in humility and repent of sin, accept Christ and love God (as commandment number one instructs), be honest in facing the ugliness of our sin, and find assurance in the knowledge that, every day, divine hands are knitting together the kingdom of God in us all. Indeed, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 24.06.16

Abide With Us

Find the shining spark that calls so clear,
The pulchritude that lights the astral plane,
The Holy Ghost, untrammeled and untouched,
The sacred sword that rings as sin is slain.


Abide with Us


Abide with us, oh precious child of God,
Within our vast, triumphant hall of glass,
Hung from heaven, draped, like blackest night,
The sacred veil that nothing can surpass,

Tarry not within the devil’s view,
But turn to us and know the touch of peace,
The melting of the struggle to prevail,
The succour that ensures all sorrows cease,

Find the shining spark that calls so clear,
The pulchritude that lights the astral plane,
The Holy Ghost, untrammeled and untouched,
The sacred sword that rings as sin is slain,

With this weapon livening your hand,
Hack away perdition’s foul embrace,
The sick, ignoble galleries of hell,
The vilely forming vistas of disgrace,

Aye, reach up and up and don’t look back,
Spy aloft the cherubim on high,
Heralding your place within their fold,
“Abide with us”, they whisper, as we die.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 05.06.16

For Christ’s Sake

This is an outstanding book, with a veritable raft of highly thought-provoking ideas. It is sensitively and passionately written and, although crafted by a Professor of the New Testament, offers some candid insights into the pitfalls of modern Christianity. This is the perfect book for an independent thinker who feels drawn to Christian philosophy.


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Introduction:

This is an outstanding book, with a veritable raft of highly thought-provoking ideas. It is sensitively and passionately written and, although crafted by a Professor of the New Testament, offers some candid insights into the pitfalls of modern Christianity. This is the perfect book for an independent thinker who feels drawn to Christian philosophy.


The Big Ideas:

1. Exclusivity is Destructive:

The prologue opens with this poem:

The Jesus who
Keeps saying “I am Jesus,
Look at me,
There is no substitute”
Is an impostor. Do not trust
The Christian cult of
Personality. I came
To turn you on and not
To turn you off,
To make you free and not
To tie you up.
My yoke was easy and
My burden light
Until they made
Salvation copyright, and
All in the name of Jesus.
So forget
My name was ever Jesus.
From now on
I am anonymous.

-Sydeny Carter

The idea that salvation is dependent on a name, Jesus Christ, is a fallacy based on the fear of acknowledging all people as the highest and most elevated expression of the divine. In truth, every person incorporates the divine within their being. The idea of salvation being hinged squarely on the singularity of Jesus Christ’s person, as controlled and monitored by the Church, is a falsehood, intended to maintain and extend Church power and control. The idea of copyright is contradictory to the free-flowing nature of creation. People who are ignored and overlooked as “the highest” are easier to control than people who know themselves to be free and dependent on nothing. Salvation, really, is predicated on nothing else but the experience of interior freedom, which is available freely to all people. The Church’s disinterest in acknowledging this, that is, all people’s individual interface with the divine as a sacred thing, is testament to a love that shrinks, rather than one that expands joyfully. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for instance, disavows the religious or mystical experiences of individuals claiming to have touched the divine within themselves. This is expressly overridden and superseded by Christ’s way as being the only way. This is destructive as it makes people feel small and inadequate, rather than loved and acknowledged.

2. Jesus was not a Christian:

Jesus was a Jew who visited synagogues and was versed in the Old Testament. He did not do the things that modern Christians do. He did not go to church and was an anti-establishment character in many ways. He challenged and rebuked authority. He did not need to refer to or acknowledge the “word of God” in a book. Rather, he spoke from the heart. His emphasis was the ability to empathise with others and relate directly to their problems and concerns. The point that he reiterated was that people should have faith with respect to the Father building the kingdom of God within them. This process, this faith, does not depend on religious practices or institutions, and really, people need to look to their own honest voice within in precedence to looking to a book, namely the Bible. If you want to be like Jesus, connect with people directly, thoughtfully and honestly, have faith in the process of life, know that the kingdom of God –freedom- will inevitably arise within you, and exercise a healthy mistrust for institutions that seek to control or distance themselves from humane and sensitive heart-to-heart dealings with human beings.

3. Everything that is, is Holy:

Excerpt:

“The problem with religion is that in its all too human efforts to make peace with God it cleaves human reality right down the middle. It tears apart more than it heals. Above all, it divides life into the sacred and non-sacred: these things, actions, vestments, places, words, times, and people are sacred or holy; the rest are secular or profane. Thus we have the disastrous body-soul dichotomy in religious history, a dichotomy that even today shows its results in the negative ecclesiastical understanding of sex and the body. The obsession of the Church, especially the Roman Catholic Church, with sexuality; the rules about celibacy, divorce, birth control; even the issue of women’s ordination all these are results of the split.”

The urge to make divisions of any kind between certain things being more holy than others is like trying to say that your kidney is more valuable than your liver, like trying to say that the sun is worth more than the moon, or that grass is inherently better than moss. The idea that all places, things, people and materials are all equally sacred and that all represent the divine property of the Creator, needs to be fostered in precedence of any notions that cast some things as acceptable and other people or things as unacceptable. The challenge of love and reconciliation is to be able to see all things as included, without needing to invoke the barbarism of prejudice and judgement.

4. The Obsession with Sex by Orthodox Churches is not Scriptural:

Excerpt:

“I find it very odd that the churches -particularly the Roman Catholic Church and the most orthodox Protestant groups- have always seemed almost obsessed with sex and sexual matters when Jesus himself had so little to say on the topic. He has left us no specific wisdom on such matters as abortion, contraception, artificial insemination, or even premarital sex. Yet some Church leaders give the impression he spoke of little else.”

The Catholic Church in the Catechism describes masturbation as a disorder. This again seems to be a doctrine that emerges from fear, an institutionalised hang-up, that disavows the ability to freely enjoy the sexual pleasures that form perhaps the most incredible and scintillating area of human experience. One can only conclude that unbridled sexual self-expression represents the freedom and inhibition to which the church is directly opposed. Sex must be wrapped up in the confines of marriage and restrained within certain ordinate norms, and be for the purpose of procreation alone, in order to be condoned. As Tom Harpur notes, these concepts are the outworkings of an establishment that values control above freedom of expression. Jesus had precious little to say about this area. We are led to believe that Jesus somehow existed in a sexual vacuum. The Virgin birth is another case in point. Sexual intercourse is distanced from that entity that would supply salvation, although it is obviously impossible, as Harpur notes:

“Modern knowledge of reproduction and genetics, of course, also rules out a virgin birth. We know it takes the genetic material-with all its history-from two parents to create a new person. The orthodox doctrine requires that Jesus have no normal genetic traits of any male forbears whatever. In fact, if parthenogenesis (virgin birth) were to occur, only a female baby could result, since there would be no Y chromosome from a male sperm.”

5. The Church does a Pretty Average Job of Communicating Who Jesus Was:

“Put in its bluntest form, the fact is that the Christian Church is doing a very bad job of communicating who Jesus was and is for humanity and what it was he came to do. Most of the traditional language and dogmas about Jesus are simply incomprehensible to a generation that has seen men walking on the moon.”

The Church often perpetuates an understanding of Jesus that services ideas of personal disempowerment and ineptitude, which helps to reinforce institutional control. Individuals are not encouraged to speak for themselves, from the heart, which actually exemplifies Jesus’ approach to others. If we want to follow Jesus, we should speak for ourselves, feel dependent on no institutions or books, interact with others thoughtfully and considerately and really try to fathom where they are coming from and be secure and safe in the knowledge that the kingdom of God, the clear visage of freedom and truth, will arise of its own accord. Trust your own voice. Speak your truth in the face of expectations from without. Do not let your own personal truth be suppressed by or squandered on the regimes of power-seeking institutions.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 06.03.16

The Josephite Heart

Prayers and soft devotions spoken low,
Rising to St. Joseph overhead,
Rosaries that trace the beaded string,
Worship blossoming along the thread.


Bronx Op Monastery


Turned to the immaculate within,
Refusing to admit the shadow soul,
Sisters banded strong in holy thought,
Relinquishing to Christ supreme control,

Days of pure devotion offered up,
Within the silence of the stony walls,
A gift of pooling stillness on the earth,
Emanating through the convent halls,

Prayers and soft devotions spoken low,
Rising to St. Joseph overhead,
Rosaries that trace the beaded string,
Worship blossoming along the thread,

Hanging there, like sunshine lost in time,
The beatitude of Mary set aglow,
Epitome of service and of grace,
Humility that only angels know,

Let your labours sing across the land,
And call us to the sacred heart of Christ,
Flood us with the love that knows no bounds,
The legacy of what He sacrificed,

Elevate us in your holy song,
Your attitude of praise a perfect art,
Build in us a heaven standing true,
Bless us with the strong Josephite Heart.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 28.02.16

 

The Dawn of Revelation

Can you feel a warm glow on your right?
The ever present light of Christ ascended,
The golden temple, keeping us in grace,
The place we come to humbled, one knee bended,


The Dawn of Revelation


Can you feel a warm glow on your right?
The ever present light of Christ ascended,
The golden temple, keeping us in grace,
The place we come to humbled, one knee bended,

Hold us in Your ever burning fire,
That heaven-tempered seat of intuition,
That place where love redoubles in its force;
The well spring that devours all inhibition,

Bravest love of all, command the skies!
Make the sign that spells the Son of Man!
The one to gather up the kings of earth,
From every tribe and tongue and every clan,

From on high reveal the face of God,
To triumph with an all-pervading view,
That casts the sly accuser into chains,
And sees the earth and heaven built anew,

Fuse our hearts and minds with Your pure will,
And help us to endure the raging Beast,
Spinning in a froth of manic rage,
As he confronts the army from the east,

Keep us from the scourge of blasphemy,
The vitriol against Your holy name,
Keep us from the plagues and snares of death,
That put our holy nature into shame,

Make the wine of Babylon run dry,
No longer to defile the lips of men,
“Babylon is fallen” shall we cry,
As we start o’er and begin again,

Let the whirlwind idols of our day,
Find redundancy against Your might,
Forgive us for exalting aught but You,
Pray relieve us in our sorry plight,

Make us see You now, just as You are,
Towering in splendour and command,
Lord of Lords, with Michael at your side,
Opening the seals that grip the land,

One by one, the riders gallop out,
Unseating death and Hades from their place,
Reigning in the demons of the pit,
Calling them to rise from their disgrace,

Fleeing millions scurry in their wake,
Searching out the shaded rocks and caves,
Hoping to avert the guilt of sin,
That cannot brook the searing light that saves,

But the star from heaven is now cast,
The trumpets sounding shrill across the air,
Seven thunders brawling on the plains,
With Adam’s sons and daughters in despair,

Sorcery of old engulfs the scene;
The ten horned dragon fleeing his disguise,
Murders and the crimes of yesteryear,
Dragged up with all the truths that we despise,

One woe is past, behold still two more come,
Scorpions that sting and bitter bread,
Men in rampant war and strife unbound,
Stricken in a panoply of dread,

But God on High, observing, flinches not,
For still the hope of mercy is alive,
The one that causes death to flee calls out,
“From the pain of loss you shall revive”,

The Alpha and Omega fuse as one,
The light of Stella Maris softly shining,
The Spirit and the bride call out in faith,
“Hark ye well, the Bridegroom, He is Coming”.


Many thanks to Ashley Hearod for encouraging me to write this, a post inspired by her recent offering “The Bridegroom is Coming“.

Renfield H. Bizarre, 22.02.16

Le Tête-à-Tête

You must leave behind the anti-matter of sin. This is consumed in the fire. It can’t withstand the light. It has to go. It has to be jettisoned. To stand in the eye of the cyclone, that holy place, is to stand in the presence of God. You have to go to Him. He won’t condescend to come and stand among your lies because they are not real.


Art-Illustration-Card-Tete-a-tete

“You know you are like a spider in a jar don’t you?”, I said, holding the little devil in my gaze, stretching my legs out long, then folding them up again, my tight shoes cupping my feet comfortably. “Is this analogy some sort of a taunt?”, he returned sharply, a glint of venom flashing across his black face, his claws nestling anew into my waistcoat. “Oh certainly, very much so, I would suggest, but one I feel I should elucidate in the interests of contemplating the truth of your situation. It is brave of you, little friend, to have somehow summoned the gall to craft yourself into the entity I see here before me, a creature of deception, springing around from one falsehood to another, like a mountain goat lost for a footing, ever dancing, ever repositioning, devoid of any solid ground. Let me see, like a shadow in the breeze, tossed around and flicked hither and thither by the sun, with no landing place or repose allowed you. What a sorry state.” I conjectured, looking at him plainly. He ran his mind over my words, then regained focus and looked down his pointy nose, twinkling with wicked mirth and a flashing grin as he said, “Well I’m here with you, and that means we have something in common; perhaps my needles in your chest are a telling sign that you, sir, are not quite clean of shadows and deceptions of your own?” I gathered in this countering comment and found my reply, “Very good, dear fellow, very good. You posit an interesting suggestion with that, but I should say you overlook one fairly prominent thing. Please take a moment to think about what I represent. Consider me a token of something else. Take a second or two to consider me in silence and see where all the implications run. Take the input you receive and extrapolate on that; extend it to its logical conclusion and what do you see? Where does it take you? Pray be honest.”I perceived his beady intelligence searching me for tricks and subterfuge of some kind or another. “Do it”, I said, “Don’t be a sissy about it. Where does it take you? Where do you go?” I pressed. He leaned back, loosening the pressure of his talons and reposing, using my legs as a rest for his back. His gaze searched mine and he tumbled into a connection with my thoughts. I ushered him along, from one impression to the next, calibrating my frequency to keep him attentive to each successive modulation. He stared, and allowed himself to be led. I had a thing of triumph harboured within me, like a silent mountain, ready to crack apart the lithosphere, ready to split apart the earth and manifest like a cataclysm before my friend, but for now it lay in wait. The devil ran from one footing to the next, following my thoughts as though looking through a kaleidoscope, interested and at points amused, trying to decipher my game. For a while we parried thus, drawing along an odd path to the heavens. Then, as I perceived he had extended himself to the limit, I knew we were at the precipice, and I stood there with him, waiting. He peeked for a moment over the edge, then recoiled suddenly, quivvering and becoming tense with fear, his spiny feet jabbing furiously into my body, squirming to get away. The forces of chaos shot through his being like a maelstrom. But he knew he was hooked. That little spec of his soul he knew he could never cast away was harboured on the other side, calling him, requiring him to leap into the bosom of destruction, and give himself into the hands of God. I snapped my fingers in front of his face and composure sharply returned to him. His glance jumped across to me again and he snapped, “Curse you! What in blazes was that? You, you devil! You sadist!” he accused. “Hahahaha”, I laughed, looking gladly up at the sky, then back to his irate face, “Me the devil?! I’m sure it seems that way to you. What do you think that was? What did you see as the conclusion? Now be honest”. His swarthy face was beading with sweat and his system shivering still with impressions of a new terror. He said, “I don’t want to know. I curse you for your troubles. A thousand armageddons reigning from the skies is what I felt. A violence and a tumult I have never known”. I looked at him very steadily and said, “you know what that terror is? It is the mercy of God. This is what we call Christ, and his most triumphant offering is mercy. Now mercy, my friend, is the one thing that is missing in hell. You have never known it or seen it because you have never been out of hell, but I have. That thing that is the culmination of all your fears? That place where chaos fills you like a cyclone? There is an eye in the storm. A still place in the middle where the pelting, abusive motion cannot go, but you have to trade something in order to get there.” He looked at me scornfully, “Well what is that?”. “Your illusions”, I explained, “you must leave behind the anti-matter of sin. This is consumed in the fire. It can’t withstand the light. It has to go. It has to be jettisoned. To stand in the eye of the cyclone, that holy place, is to stand in the presence of God. You have to go to Him. He won’t condescend to come and stand among your lies because they are not real. The one thing He does do, though, is leave his stamp. This is imprinted on you like a tattoo that says who your owner is. Your owner is God. The tattoo is on me too. It is on all of us. You recall that little part of yourself you saw on the other side? That is the ONLY thing about you that is real, and that is the part that resides within Christ, the keeper of your truth and the arbiter of mercy. You may ask for mercy at any time and it will be given freely, because that is how heaven works. But to turn aside, as you are wont to do, to cover this up and entertain deceptions and the delusion that mercy does not exist; this leaves you slinking and scuffling in the shadows, like a wretch. But your actions and movements appear plainly to God, because he is the jar that has you trapped, little spider. No matter where you scurry or what web of lies you weave about yourself, still, there you stand, plain as day before God, whose eyes penetrate the fog of sin like lasers.” The devil had calmed down in accordance with the unexcited frankness of my speech. He searched me and said, “But it felt like destruction. It felt like…”. I motioned him to silence and added, “like the destruction of your lies. This means the end of what you thought you were. It is the beginning of a life elsewhere. You have seen it now. You know the way. There is no recovering from this knowledge. But, I assure you, this represents a much more agreeable and upright situation. And why fear the destruction of things that are not? This should be a welcome innovation, my good devil?” He looked dumbfounded, but calm enough. He patted my jacket down and removed a few shreds of grass that had blown onto me. He leaned back and looked up at the sun, glimmering in the clouds like a silent seraph. His face grew silent and he appeared as though captured by a dream. His breathing grew faint and finally ceased. And there he died, right there on my lap.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 19.02.16

Warfare Prayer

I have spent a few weeks looking into the colourful world of C. Peter Wagner, via two books, a number of videos online, a number of websites, and a brief look at his FB profile. His area of study is church growth and his home base is Fuller Theological Seminary in California.


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Introduction:

I have spent a few weeks looking into the colourful world of C. Peter Wagner, via two books, a number of videos online, a number of websites, and a brief look at his FB profile. His area of study is church growth and his home base is Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

The first book I read was “Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits”. Pretty fascinating read. It tracks the experience of various evangelical churches across the globe, but particularly in South America, and the various challenges, set-backs or triumphs they have achieved or suffered in their missionary efforts. Wagner looks at the reasons for these various wins or losses.

One of the key concepts is the idea of territoriality in the supernatural realm. To Wagner, this is the unseen, silent dimension which sits behind and directly informs the occurences or ‘happenings’ in our world. The spiritual realm dictates the manifestation of physical phenomena and human experience. The contention is that certain malevolent or power-seeking entities observe dominion over spiritual territory -which can often have affiliated geographical territory- and this needs to be understood and combatted, through holy observances and prayer. Often these unholy regimes will work through national agencies or be harboured within human institutions. People or groups of people can influence the supernatural using concentrated and willfully directed thought energy.

This state of affairs, this sin-stricken landscape, is an ingrained consequence of fall of man; the idea that Adam, the inclusive archetype of human kind, relinquished his God ordained dominion to the unsavoury and deleterious clasp of Satan. We are in the grueling contortions of wrestling back that power. Wagner is all about reclaiming that divinity and authority by rejecting and overpowering the forces that would see humans defiled, mistreated or destroyed.

I want to present some of the main concepts that I find interesting or thought provoking, most of which come from the book Warfare Prayer. I should say that I do not subscribe fully to this wing of protestant Christianity, but I am very interested in what C. Peter Wagner has to say. I have read quite a number of objections and protests from online sources that would cast Wagner as a charlatan or as an extremist. I figure fleshing out some of his material is worth the effort.


Idea 1: Defining demons that operate in the Spirit Realm

Schongauer_Anthony

*St. Anthony plagued by demons, engraving by Martin Schongauer in the 1480s.

Wagner regularly return to Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.

Wagner’s theory is that our daily trails, stresses and vicissitudes are the product of conflict in the heavenlies. Demons represent that portion of the cosmic agency that is at odds with the authority of the Most High God. It is the incompatibility of ethereal or spiritual modes of manifestation -godly and ungodly modes- that causes disharmony and a confusing disarray of human agendas. Suffering is borne of this clash in the inherent manner in which something wants to manifest itself.

In general, the bent of a demonic force is one that treats the property of God with disrespect. The property of God refers to absolutely everything, everything that is, all creation -all beings and matter. The demonic refers to those intelligences or dispositions that would use God’s property as part of an agenda or expression that is: selfish, perverted, hurtful, aggressive, domineering, greedy, jealous, impious, egotistical, competitive, oppressive, lustful, angry, idolatrous or manipulative. These things do not speak of God’s holy character. Forces that perpetuate or encourage such behaviour, or a combination of these behaviours, may be thought of as demonic. They detract from the holy character of humankind. They compromise our divine nature. Satisfaction in God, wanting to give expression to and honour to the truth, is the reverse of this.

Wagner describes various cases where human individuals or groups are infused with one or more of the insalubrious characteristics mentioned above, for instance Pastor Lorenzo facing a demonised woman, or Carlos Annacondia mounting a prayer and conversion crusade in the city of La Plata, which harboured a real stubbornness against the message of the gospel.

Wagner’s belief is that “social structures, like demonised human beings, can be delivered from demonic oppression through warfare prayer” (p.95).


 Idea 2: Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare

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Wagner promotes “Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare” (SLSW) which involves the practice of learning the names and assignments of demonic spirits as the first step to effective spiritual warfare. How this is supposed to be ascertained is not especially clear, but the theory is that knowing names of entities assists in confronting them. Further, SLSW involves assembling large numbers of focused intercessors -prayer agents- to identify and then pray against some identifyable malaise that might be afflicting a geographical region.

For example, as a generalisation, a town might be all about appearances and material show, and dwell too much and too overtly on status and ego. The role of the intercessor group might be to find a place of silent humility within themselves and put that into the universe, in that region, with solid and unwavering intent. They find the inverse emotion or feeling and then stay with that, planting it in the atmosphere and hoping that it is felt and noticed by those in the grasp of a ego-centered existence.

Wagner describes the conscious and planned dispersal of intercessors across a city to make a geographical grid, so that when those thoughts and sentiments are energised, they meet the city with greatest geographical effect.

This is essentially a conscious and willful battle against the forces that draw us away from God. We are all mutually implicated, and indivisible as a group, so the practiced and premeditated directing of positive or God-fearing thought enegy is something that cannot really be reversed or disregarded. The thoughts go out and meet the universe, so the likelihood of that reality changing or shifting to something brighter and more harmonious is increased.

Sometimes this concentration of holy energy can result in major power encounters and aggressive interplay between conflicting parties. Wagner depicts some hair-raising anecdotal scenarios where power encounters combine willful sorcery or the use of violent magic to undermine the position of church members. So it is worth remembering and appreciating that these encounters are generally downplayed in our society as unreal and undeserving of attention, because they don’t fit a rationalist world view, but actually seeing their ineluctable place in shaping our reality, and understanding the dynamics, is, absolutely, an important thing. These clashes and power encounters happen to us all. Understanding how to pray and direct thought energy effectively is an integral part of success in this respect, if one is to be of assistance to everyone else.

This supernaturalistic world view encourages us to see God as an intimate and ever-present force for good, as we go about our daily business, something infused in the very fabric of our daily affairs, which can be called upon for strength and hope, and as an ultimate arbitrator, the final authority which can, without hindrance, stamp down a final outcome. Warfare prayer helps to facilitate a godly or God-fearing outcome when power encounters occur. Prayer invites God to intervene for the good of others. “Good” being synonymous with finding inner peace and freedom from hurt.

The ability to name evil spirits is not so important as to perceive the brand of sin or immorality that might be afflicting an area, and then work concertedly to combat that.

I was pretty inspired about what might be achieved with this. The prospect of sizable, organised groups of people coming together to give expression to thoughts that might shape a better world I found utterly compelling. How else are we going to do it? We must think something better into reality. The better we get at coordinated thinking, the more adroit we become at defining the shapes and characteristics of our thoughts, particularly in group situations, the better positioned we will be to craft a world we are proud of and inspired by, rather that systematically and predictably sickened by.


Idea 3: How to Pray

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Wagner outlines a set of principles that will assist warfare prayer, or targeted prayer. This includes:

Submitting to God: That means be committed and obedient to God. This means being reluctant to stray from holy things. Understand that you are the property of God and your personal free will sometimes will be overridden by God’s will, since God created us and knows how to lead us and draw us to good (Himself), better than we do. Be okay with this happening. Ensure that you participate only in agendas that you are absolutely proud of. Do not enter into the spirit of ridicule or unkindness, ever. Fear God’s power. It is immense and will put us in our place in an instant. Be humble and penitent before God. Hope in God; sure He will provide, as always.

Draw Near to God: You MUST desire God’s holy presence. In prayer, desire is everything. Desire to know the truth within and remain in the silence that is with you and upon you always. This, according to Wagner, means striking up a close and trusting relationship with life. It means expecting that thoughts that are emitted in the form of questions will be answered, but generally in a completely unpredictable way. It means respecting God’s right to answer our prayers in a fashion decided by God, not in a fashion that we hope for or preempt. We need to regularly engage in a personal prayer life. This can be assisted by a prayer book or devotional literature that can promt and draw us to a holy place within. This requires time and practice and faith and belief. Not necessarily easy!

Cleanse Our Hands and Purify Our Hearts: This basically means keep yourself from evil to the greatest extent you are capable of. Give minimal attention to pursuits or behaviours that drag us away from a holy position. Do not indulge, engage or fuel sordid or harmful activities. Use quotes, prompts and images of people that represent the highest virtues and attitudes within human experience. Make this part of your reality. This will help to craft a version of yourself that approximates your highest capability.

Carefully Choose: The place (somewhere safe and quiet), the time (prefeably at the same time each day, Wagner suggests one hour, gradually bumped up from smaller timeframes), the attitude (one of quietness and sincerity and desire for God), the format (either something of your own creation, or something formal like the Lord’s prayer), the quality (aim for something genuine, enter into your thoughts and feelings with the conviction and aplomb of an actor. Mean it. Make sure it comes from you. Want and desire whatever outcome you are looking for. Sincerity is THE most important factor in prayer.)

Consider Fasting: Wager notes that fasting can help us to eneter into the spirit of not needing to slake desire. It is a statement to ourselves and God that we are strong enough and determined enough “not to want”, which connotes freedom. This is potentially a helpful exercise, rather than something essential.


Idea 4: The Reality

The purpose of the post above is to set out a few of the main concepts from Wagner’s work and consider the value or potential. Many of the objectives and theories embody a target only, and are obviously subjected to the reality that demonic or negative forces plague our existence and are difficult to extricate or abstain from altogether. If one person is participating in them, we all are, as our actions are shared.

The point is to identify some areas that could be of assistance or promise, like understanding what demonic or negative forces look like, the potential of choreographed and planned group thinking or prayer to propagate material outcomes of a positive nature (to counteract demonic influences), and to provide some of the basic tenets and practices Wagner puts forward for effective prayer. Solidarity of purpose is perhaps the most essential factor in making warfare prayer efficacious.


Renfield H. Bizarre, 07.02.16