One practice that Christians sometimes engage in is retreating with God or, as it is also called, “wilderness time”. The Biblical precedent for this comes from examples such as Elijah who were called into the wilderness by God in order to be close to and formed by Him. Often, discussion of these retreats involves a literal journey into a pristine wilderness setting. While it may sometimes be the case that we go into a literal wilderness, it is by no means necessary that we do so in order to seek God. At its core, wilderness time is intentionally being alone with God. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to unpack this definition which I have offered in the hope that it encourages you to venture out and seek God the wilderness, be it a remote cabin or a cozy corner of an apartment.
Monthly Archives: February 2013
This is a simple technique that is essentially a war of attrition between you and the flesh creature. When a human has become part of the Enemy’s camp, it requires continuing exposure to Him in order to stay there and remain effective for His cause. Think of it as serving a function analogous to the flesh creature’s breathing. Your goal is to slowly suffocate the little beast’s spirit so that it will eventually fall away from the Enemy and become useless to Him. The natural laws of the spiritual world favor us in this strategy, namely, the law of spiritual gravity. The humans behave much like an airplane. An airplane must keep moving forward in order to generate the lift that allows it to stay airborne. If a plane stops in the air, it will fall out of the sky and crash. Likewise, the humans must keep moving towards the Enemy or else they will inevitably fall away, pulled down by spiritual gravity.
There is no such thing as a spiritual plateau. For even during the times when they don’t sense the Enemy’s movements He is still drawing them closer to Him. It may appear that a human is stopped mid-air, but if you look closely, you will find that they are still climbing, if even by a miniscule amount. However, you don’t need to force them into a nose dive in order to get them to move away from the Enemy. You need only to bring their spiritual growth to a halt and they will drop naturally.
The most effective method of making them stall out is to divert their attention away from their need for spiritual sustenance. This is usually accomplished by the pacification or tacking to the dirt techniques elaborated in Tempting 101 and 201 respectively. Amazing as it may be, simple material objects can be used to overshadow spiritual things in the human perspective. With concern for objects or sensations overwhelming them, humans tend to let spiritual things tend to fall by the wayside. This means less time to spend with the Enemy which translates into spiritual decay.
Another tact that you may choose is to cultivate in them a sense of complacence. Let them become apathetic. Feed them the idea that they are “saved” and that is all there is too it. There is nothing that the Enemy is calling them to do or change about themselves now that He is dwelling within them. That tugging at their heart is nothing but mere sentiment. Those are the sort of thoughts that we want passing through their minds. If you are able to sell them on complacence, then you will see them become less concerned with their relationship with the Enemy, spend less time with Him, and once again fall away due to spiritual gravity.
If neither of these indirect approaches is a feasible option, then there is a direct approach that can be just as effective, but it is much more dangerous and taxing. In the direct assault strategy, you attempt to blockade the flesh creature and prevent the Enemy from getting to them. The best analogy is a castle siege with the castle’s relief on its way. So far, no tempter has ever been able to keep the Enemy away from the human for long. (Some demoralized tempters have returned from such a campaign making the foolish claim that the Enemy was actually waiting to make His move until it most benefited the flesh creature. This is obviously the result of that tempter’s hysteria and has no actual roots in fact.) The success of your blockade depends on the human giving in to you before it turns to the Enemy. If the human calls out to the Enemy and turns the battle over to Him, the blockade is as good as broken. This is why it is vital to keep yourself hidden throughout the operation.
(c) Noah Wilson. All Rights Reserved.
When we think of our spiritual lives, our thoughts often converge on weekly worship services and Bible studies. This is fitting, as these are often the highlights when we gather as the people of God to hear His word and worship Him. However, can we take two days out of the week and call them a life? What about the time in-between those days? Let’s suppose that we have some time set aside each day for reading Scripture and praying and we add that time to the two days we’ve already carved out, is that enough time for us to say that we have a spiritual life?
If we examine how we live our lives, we see that minutes and seconds actually have very little to do with the act of living. Life is something that we do every minute of every day as long as our heart is beating. It is an all-encompassing phenomenon and nothing we do lies beyond its scope. Our spiritual life, the life involving our soul and relationship with God, is no different. As a matter of fact, when take into account Scripture such as Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” and Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” we find that our lives and our spiritual lives are one and the same. There is no distinction between the two except the fake one we make with terms like “spiritual life”. Our relationship with God does not start when we open up the Bible and stop when we close it. What we do while driving home from work has just as much impact on our soul as what we do Sunday morning.
To live with God does not consist in a set number of hours doing certain actions as if we were trying to obtain a driver’s license. God does not work on the clock; He works around the clock, shaping us into a unique likeness of Christ. Likewise, our attending to and cooperating with His work cannot be on the clock. Instead of being brackets to our relationship with God, things like prayer and worship are focused times with God that help us to be more attentive to God’s work in our lives the rest of the time.
The following section is targeted at two classes of tempters. The first is an elite group specially trained to operate under the harshest of conditions. They are specialized in dealing with Christians that are very close to the Enemy and are drawing from His strength and Spirit. These Christians are among the most despicable of our adversaries because they not only are aware of us and our work but also have the audacity to challenge our efforts. Spiritually, they are well aware that they are on the front lines of the battle and refuse to back down even in the face of our fiercest demonstrations. These situations come about only because a tempter has utterly failed. Sometimes it is necessary to send in a specialist to handle the situation and see to it that the Christian is unable to cause too much damage.
The other class of tempter this section applies to is the complete failure that must deal with the mess they have created. In some cases, we can use the failed tempter’s spite and hate as a means to enable them to withstand contact with the Enemy that, normally, only specialized tempters are able to handle. Of course, this procedure has a price that must be paid out of the tempter’s own being. Once the assignment is concluded, the tempter is not usually fit for any duty other than haunting assignments where their continual sputtering and mindless cries can be put to a constructive use.
(c) Noah Wilson. All Rights Reserved.
Richard Lovelace once wrote an intriguing poem titled “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars”:
Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.
True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.
In this particular work, Lovelace speaks of the idea that our love for one-another is fueled and supported by love of something greater. With that idea in mind we turn to Christ’s teaching on being His disciple. Christ says in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Christ is making the point that if we are to follow His example, there can be no thing and no one who competes with God for the top spot in our lives. He makes the same point using much stronger language in His teaching on discipleship in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” It bears pointing out that Christ is not saying we should literally hate these people. He is using the word “hate” figuratively to emphasize His point that our love for God can have no equal or rival.
This teaching is an outcome of the commandment from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This is the Scripture brought up when Jesus is questioned about which is greatest commandment. Right behind, as the second greatest commandment, Leviticus 19:18 is quoted, “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” We are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength. Not part. This does not mean that we neglect others, however, because we are to love our neighbors as ourselves as demonstrated by the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).
What is it that prompts us to obey the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves (or father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters for that matter)? The answer can be found in Christ’s prophetic statement in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments”. Our love of God is what initiates and sustains our obedience to Him in all things including loving others. When our love of others has its source in our love of God, it enables us to love them with a greater love. It is interesting to note that in Luke’s account of the question of the greatest commandment the lawyer/scribe’s question is framed as “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus concludes the exchange by saying of the commands to love God and to love our neighbor, “do this and you will live”. If we return to Deuteronomy 6, we find the commandment to love God preceded by the admonition, “…be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you , and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you…” (Deuteronomy 6:3). God’s commandments are not just arbitrary rules; they serve the purpose of showing us a better way to live and, in this particular case, a better way to love.
When we love God above all else, we are able to love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength allows us to love our father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters better. In loving God first, submitting to Him and being formed by Him, we allow God to love others through us as the love that He pours into our hearts overflows to others. Just as Lovelace notes that he is able to love Lucasta with a greater love only because he loves honor more, so we are able to love others, be they strangers, friends, family, or sweetheart, with a greater love only because we love God most.
Not all Christians are best dealt with using religion. Sometimes the best course of action is to lead them to the opposite extreme called spirituality. As a matter of fact, it is one of our primary means of neutralizing would-be Christians these days. While a religious extreme mimics the rigidity of dogma while substituting human truths in place of the Enemy’s, a spiritual extreme mimics the emotional sensation of spiritual experiences while substituting human perceptions in place of actual spiritual events.
The first step in creating a spiritual Christian is to cultivate in them a disdain for organized religion. One way to accomplish this is to focus their attention on the various wars and other acts of violence that have been perpetrated “in the name of the Enemy”. Another approach is to use the existence of various denominations within Christianity as a fulcrum to move the human away from the Church. The fact that various denominations exist says more about humanity and our work than it does about the Enemy’s precious Church, but, fortunately, it is quite easy for humans to overlook the big picture. Whatever the means, your goal is to isolate the flesh creature from the rest of the Church.
By segregating the human from the Church, you are able to severely limit or even eliminate the means of communal discernment. As a result, the flesh creature’s spiritual life begins to rest more and more on their subjective experience rather than on verified, spiritual fact. One of the functions that the Church and Tradition serve is to provide a baseline against which individual wisdom and discernment can be tested. This authority is not unlike the latticework in a garden: it provides guidance to the free growth of individual vines and allows them to climb ever higher. When we take away this lattice, we can turn the vines into a tangled pile on the ground.
In terms of creating that tangled mess, there are a variety of options available. One of the most effective ways is to play off of the human aversion to guilt. Given that humans are imperfect, it is inevitable that they will come across some decree within the Enemy’s propaganda that pricks their conscience. Rather than accepting the guilt, they would much rather reinterpret and rationalize what they have read. Since they do not have the Church Tradition or fellow Christians to challenge their rationalizations, it is very easy to sell them a manufactured truth.
When a human rejects something, they typically begin to look down on it (if they didn’t already). They come to the conclusion that “if I didn’t choose it, then it must be bad because I choose good things and don’t choose bad things.” It is very easy to follow up this conclusion by smuggling in some arrogance that will aid you later on. If you can make the flesh creature proud of being more “enlightened” than its fellows, you needn’t use guilt to prod them away from the Enemy. As a matter of fact, the human may proactively depart from the Enemy’s propaganda so that they may feed their ego with the notion of being groundbreaking and knowing deeper truths than others.
This pride is also useful when exploiting the emotional sensations we pass off as spiritual experiences. It is a simple formula: 1) the rush they feel is what it means to have a relationship with the Enemy. 2) If anyone questions (1), they are either jealous or a stereotypically dry Christian. As you can see, it is a self-perpetuating apparatus that accomplishes multiple ends: It creates the illusion of spiritual growth without actually providing it, it further alienates the flesh creature from the Church, and it makes their beliefs more malleable for us. Emotions are a powerful force for humans, which is why they are of great strategic importance. If the flesh creature feels like they have a close relationship with the Enemy, there is very little that can convince them otherwise.
The primary strength of guiding a Christian to a “spiritual” extreme is that you are able to remove the influence of the larger Church. The pride component is merely a boost to this end. Without the Church to test their own conclusions, it is much easier to manipulate the human’s beliefs. It becomes a simple matter of getting them to feel a certain way about a proposition. We are essentially able to use subjective experience to shape their perceived reality. Combined with pride, this makes a wonderful filtering mechanism by which we shut off any influence but our own.
(c) Noah Wilson. All Rights Reserved.
Rabbi Daniel Polish once said, “I do not believe in a God whose will or motives are crystal clear to me. And as a person of faith, I find myself deeply suspicious of those who claim such insight.” One of the things that often frustrates us to no end is the fact that we cannot know everything there is to know about God. God, being God, exists and operates at a level above our ability to understand. This is why our relationship with God is such a big deal. It is God, Who is normally completely beyond our understanding, revealing Himself to us. To claim complete knowledge of God is to attempt to make Him less God by trying to squeeze Him into a box that we have thought up.
In many ways, our getting to know God is like the philosopher Zeno’s story about Achilles and the tortoise. Zeno asks us to imagine the warrior Achilles chasing a tortoise.
He then points out that in order to catch the tortoise Achilles must first reach the halfway point between himself and the tortoise.
However, in order to reach that halfway point, Achilles must reach the halfway point between himself and the first halfway point.
This process of reaching halfway points is carried on forever, leaving Achilles chasing an infinite number of points.
Thus, Zeno concludes, Achilles will never catch the tortoise.
As we grow in our relationship with God and get to know Him better, we begin to notice more and more halfway points that we must reach in order to come to complete knowledge of God. These points may be things like seeing the beauty and ingenuity in creation or the way that He answers our prayers with the exact thing we need. These points leave us in awe of God’s great power, wisdom, love, etc.
The ever-expanding horizon of God is not just some trick to tease us. Instead, it is very simply the outcome of coming to know God. To know God better is not only to know more about Him, but also to know how much more we don’t know about Him. However, as we continue to seek and follow God, we find ourselves enveloped by Him just as Achilles was enveloped by halfway points. The Christian faith is not a check list to be marked off item by item. Instead, it is a personal relationship with God that is initiated by God. We do not progress in this relationship by going farther. Instead, we progress by going deeper; deeper into God and being shaped by Him. Knowing God does not consist in catching the elusive tortoise of divine knowledge as much as in allowing ourselves to be immersed in God.