Further Thoughts on Temptation: Mike and John exhange further thoughts


In reply to the post Thoughts on Temptation, Mike wrote the following beautiful comment:

Michael Pokocky’s said:

My heart beats differently each breath I take.
And in each breath there is either thought or creation.
When aligned with the love of God our breath becomes the source of our creative power to over come all temptation.
For in that breath is God’s voice the only voice that we should be listening to.
Satan comes into our breath through thought because he is incapable of being the breath of God itself.
Through thought, the sub human illusion that our thoughts are ours, Satan speaks and we listen unfortunately.
And it is in thought that we become dysfunctional on every level.
Better to leave thought well enough alone and hug a tree for the tree will say nothing to confuse you and it is part of the universal essence of God in everything.

Nice discourse on temptation John, and I thoroughly am enjoying participating along with you on your journey of discovery.

Update

Part of this email response was transformed into a beautiful blog post at Michael’s Redroom blog on 25 January 2010. Check out the post including picture here http://www.redroom.com/blog/michaelwpokocky/journal-entry-250110-michael-pokocky

My reply

Hi Mike,

I am so happy that you are there journeying along with me, discovering every day. You sure have a way with words my friend.

I think that both God and Satan are able to give us great creative powers, great inspiration. In the end it is what we think when and after we created. It is all in all pretty simple: we create because He created.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2: 8-10)

I guess we can both safely admit that while we have been using our gifts, have been responding to our inspirations, have been creating, it has been all too easy to let our thoughts and emotions wander off towards pride instead of gratitude. And the more I see of the world around me the more it seems that that is the norm. I guess when you were speaking of a vertigo coming up many years ago that is exactly where you end up seeing how our giving in to temptations has led to the shit the world is in. Look at all the serious problems the world is facing and most of them can be brought back to our own involvement therein as flawed humans: pride, greed, lust for power, to name just a few have lead to nothing but trouble, depleted natural resources, economic collapses, water shortages, pollution, crime, corruption and well the list goes on. All the progress in the world did not lead to a substantial improvement in the basic human condition: on an individual level as well a a collective level. We know because we have been there and I think it is fair to say because we still end up there every now and then, but we get better and better at not falling for that trap.

Through thought, the sub human illusion that our thoughts are ours, Satan speaks and we listen unfortunately.

And it is in thought that we become dysfunctional on every level.

Satan appeals to our human weaknesses, our “desires of the flesh” and that is where we start making mistakes if we are not alert to that. What makes things even more complicated is that from a human perspective it may not appear at all that we are in fact “dysfunctional on every level.” In secular terms we may well be highly successful, fitting right in or be highly functional. It is when you are completely honest with yourself and God that you will need to admit that you may well have fallen for those temptations and sinned in biblical terms. And like so many you find yourself to be all filled with yourself, a self-promoter, self-centered as if anything incredible you did was actually you. Place that in a world where this is the norm and it may easily take you years and years to find this out. No matter how you look at it, you are faced with a world and will inevitably relate to a world around us in which we take part. No matter what your calling is you will end up in an environment in which you have to deal with ideas and ideals that are steeped with selfishness and greed, where you will inevitably work alongside and relate to people with lifestyles and thought patterns that are not biblical, a primarily fallen world. Humbleness and gratitude does not seem to be part of the normal human condition any longer. Self-centered and self-serving  thinking and acting appears to be the norm.

I think it is impossible “to leave thought well enough alone.” In fact I don’t think there is a biblical command that we should, for our own good stop thinking. However, and I can only speak for myself here, with rebirth, a transformation in thinking takes place. One in which love becomes the central element providing us new insights and wisdom under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We were not created with a mind for nothing. In my opinion God wants us to use it as fully as we are able to but IN THE RIGHT KIND OF WAY, in a biblical sense. Would it not make a lot of difference if at all times we try to view things from His perspective as well? That would infer allowing yourself to have the mind of Christ instead of conforming to the prevalent worldview because that is easier.

13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
(Romans 8: 13-16)

To be secular, or better yet ‘of the flesh’-minded as  I understand this quote actually means being death, but to be spiritually minded means life and peace. Rick Warren refers to this by speaking of a difference between existing and living.  A rock exists but is not living.

“…hug a tree for the tree will say nothing to confuse you and it is part of the universal essence of God in everything.”

In could not have said it more beautiful. Perhaps in reply Philippians 4:8:

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Thanks again Mike, you are turning out to be a fantastic travel mate. I keep on thinking about all those times we talked about walking the road to Santiago the Compostella or another pilgrimage path together. In a symbolic sense it seems like we are actually doing that. I don’t know about you but I am thoroughly enjoying the company on this journey. I guess this is a fitting image to close off: Christ and two pilgrims on the road to Emmaus by Jan van Amstel (based on the story in Luke 24:13-35).

Source: Milwaukee Art Museum

For those who don’t have the pleasure to know Mike. Learn more about Mike at Redroom, where writers are.

Share

Testimony: Give yourself the best Christmas present you will ever get


Last Sunday upon repeated requests, I gave a testimony at Harmony Church. It was the day after  said yes I started to realise that I was actually not quite sure what I said yes to. I mean I am new to this. So I did what felt safe and put the text on paper. It was actually more than I bargained for but a promise is a promise. I am still coming to terms with everything that happened before during and after getting myself to do all this. It was not getting the words on paper, that was probably the easy (and safe) part. I had to find out that despite so many gigs, three seasons as a talent show presenter, presentations and training, I was actually grabbed by nerves. Why? Because this was really opening up, something  had learned to either not do or do it while hiding behind an instrument. Would He be listing in? As He is understood to be interested in what comes from the heart and not so much from the words (or the mind) I could not help but feeling well …nervous. I performed for many audiences but this was quite something else.It felt as being as naked as one can get understanding who’d be listening in.

During doing this, so much went through my mind, so much of what can easily be put on paper got an emotional lading that struggled getting through it. Yet at the same time, by now  understood that this was important to do not just for me but for my New Best Friend and well for others that may be helped by it.

I thank God and everyone present for their kind support in getting me through and the reactions were more than this simple guy could handle last Sunday. I guess me own reality check or impact came more than ever when reading out loud and in public what I had entrusted to paper. Sorry for being somewhat uncoordinated with the microphone.  Since I now understand how these testimonies may stimulate others to think about their options, I will publish my straight from the heart testimony here hoping that there may be someone out there that will benefit it. And again thanks everyone for getting me through.

“THE MOMENT A MAN SERIOUSLY ACCEPTS A DEITY, HIS INTEREST IN RELIGION IS AT AN END. HE’S GOT SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT.” (CS LEWIS)

Around three months ago by now, we walked through these doors behind you. I don’t think that anyone more sceptical and cynical could have entered those doors. If anything I have been leading a life away from God for as long as I remember. Some years ago, I went on a personal mission. I would prove the world that religion, Christianity included, with all its baseless creeds, behavioural rules, hypocrisy and abuse of interpretations and people was in dire need to be exposed as a fraud. Who better to do it than someone like me:
a legal graduate, intellectual, with a background in investigations and intelligence analysis? What started as a mission against religion ended up turning me towards Jesus and through Jesus to God, hence this testimony. Initially through the Gospel of Thomas, one of the Nag Hammadi documents and not long after that the Bible again, I found myself committed to living a life of love and compassion, which were as far as I could see what Jesus’ teachings all boiled down to. The mission itself seemed to become less important.

I knew there was a God for sure; just look around you and you will find all the evidence you need. And more and more scientific evidence was becoming available to me, that indicated that it made more sense to consider that there was a creator than not. It made sense to accept the existence of a God, and in fact the God of the Bible. Don’t get me wrong here: all still from a factual point of view with the Bible as a mix of history, myth, wisdom, poetry and incredible teachings, still far removed from that which I was trying to expose. I considered myself to be a Christian without a God with the teachings of Jesus as the “Ultimate Guide to Humanism.” What I failed to understand is that YOU NEED GOD TO FULLY COMPREHEND THE MEANING OF LOVE AND COMPASSION. I was committed, but preferred a non-religious approach.

And now we are back at where I started: walking through those doors. AGAINST ALL ODDS, and to my utter surprise, I found myself in an environment that not only felt good, but real. It felt like, well let’s say” COMING HOME! Here I found this amazing fellowship of people that was seemingly living a life of love that went so well beyond my own understanding that it shook me up completely. My eyes were opened to a completely new understanding of what love and compassion could really mean. I will not go into the details, you know who you are. And we, perfect strangers, were finding amazing and undeserved, love, kindness and support from people we hardly knew: PEOPLE WERE ACUALLY LIVING WHAT THEY SAID. I even considered the possibility that we were being “love bombed”; a tactic used by cults. That was how overwhelming it all was. As a fraud investigator I was still on my guard. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I just could not find the fraud.  And it did not stop there, this ‘love bomb’ seemed to be extending to others in our lives in most unexpected ways from the most unexpected corners.

Kaye provided me a very important key. It was her advising me, while casually taking care of the coffee, how I should perhaps consider opening up my heart a bit more instead of hiding in the books and intellectualities. Her advice kept haunting me and my gratitude will be forever.

(I wandered away from the text here to advise what it means for someone like me – a legal mind – to be let speechless and unable to come up with any smart response. It was like straight through the wall. Quite honestly to catch some breath and lighten up a bit for the next part.)

Together with what I was experiencing around me, it opened the door for considering the possibility of having a RELATIONSHIP instead of a RELIGION. Conversations with Charles, Gideon and his amazing services most definitely helped to further this. He’s quite persistent in that respect and for all the right reasons I might add.

I was invited to get involved in the music matters (my first career). Music started to make sense again. I found renewed enthusiasm, love and inspiration after my instruments had been gathering dust for years. The musical experiences were highly instrumental in pulling me over. Something was happening to me when playing here.

On 25 November 2009 I finally opened the door widely, to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, to be forgiven for leading a life away from God and to hand over the throne of my life: not just in words but with all of my intentions. As a whole the experiences here had prepared me for what a year ago would have been an impossibility. So, here I am today telling everyone that I have found THIS INCREDIBLE FRIEND AND FATHER, God, through Jesus-Christ. And you know HE’S HAPPY TOO, as this was how He always meant it to be. We are in the process now of getting to know each other. A bit better every day and what an amazing friend he turns out to be. What a journey He’s taking me on. It is through meeting God, having great conversations with Him that I came to understand how my own ignorance and arrogance had deceived me despite my best intentions. I finally understand how IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE AND COMPASSION WITHOUT KNOWING GOD. You simply can’t give what you don’t have. And all it took was accepting God in my life through Jesus-Christ. I never deserved Him, better yet if anyone did not deserve it, it would have been me. Yet, here He was with his arms wide open to pour out his grace over me and HE CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER; JUST LIKE THAT. It was the greatest discovery I will probably ever make: KNOWING THAT I WAS CREATED TO KNOW GOD, NOT ON AN INTELLECTUAL LEVEL, NO PERSONALLY AND BE HIS FRIEND FOREVER. It is one thing to learn about the grace of God, actually experiencing it is quite something else. I am still trying hard to get to grips with the magnitude of it all.

So, yes Gideon you were right last week; you can read all the books in the world but it is in the RELATIONSHIP I found the answers.
I CAN, AND DO RECOMMEND IT TO ANYONE. It does not take much. Just open the door completely; not with your mind but with your heart. No big miracles, no big flashes, but a new sense of love, faith, peace and purpose that does not compare to anything I knew before. Believe me, it is the best Christmas present I ever got: for this one and all the Christmases to come.

In love and gratitude,
Amen.

RENAISSANCE AND JOURNEY


On 25 November I committed to a a Christian life. It was not a sudden or hasty step and has been a process of many years. In those years, I started looking at Christianity, initially to expose it, but ove time I got grabbed by the words and teachings of Christ and as a result they became the guidelines for my life. An “ultimate guide to humanism” in which love and compassion for as good as I can became leading principles in my life. All the time without there being any urge to be connected with God or anything. Jesus as a teacher I guess is the best way to describe it.

In September I returned from the Netherlands, with an urge to start gong to church. But which one? My discontent with anything that had to do with the traditional churches had grown considerably over time. More recently my sister in law recalled how I once said that I would go into a church one more time, however to throw in all the windows. That is probably how deep my negative sentiments against (traditional) insitutionalised Christianity had run up. At the same time I did not see any value in new age, self-centred approaches. Sure you wil find references in which I talk about “the Kingdom of God is inside you” (vgl Luke 17:21 or the Gospel of Thomas 113 which includes also “and all around you”). What I was talking about however is a search for a state of wholeness (similar to Buddhist philosphy) and not of us humans becoming little Gods ourselves (New Age). Christianity started to become more of an individual matter therefore, something in which I made up the rules (My understanding the importance of the rules thing will be subject of a post to follow).

In September I went to and returned from the Netherlands, to finally be at peace with the idea that New Zealand is my home. But something else had happened: I, of all people, came back with an urge to go attend a church!?

You can imagine my issue here probably: which one to go to?

Prior to my departure to the Netherlands we had run into Catherine and Gideon Hoekendijk, at a gas station, very briefly. They happened to have started a church and left us a card with the details. We ended up going there and so far never looked back. For the first time I did not feel like walking out. For the first time I felt it to be something real.For the first time I met people that actually were interested and not just checking you out: they were real and genuine.

From there on a lot of things have happened which I will post about in other posts. Ultimately it led to the committment of 25 November 2009. Thanks to the wise remark of Kaye at Harmony Church the dime dropped:

“You remind me of my former husband. He was also an intellectual, always studying always writing about religion and God but you know, that may end up standing in the way of actually enjoying a relationship with God.”

That was one “bulls eye” that kept haunting me for the weeks to follow. (See other, older, blog posts) and would turn out to be the trigger to open up my heart and all that was and is to follow.

Today I added this new category under which I will post reflections and thoughts and that relate to my journey as a young Christian, Bible passages, book reviews, music, videos, thoughts, insights or the way I understand things to do with Christianity.

You may wonder why? So it may help others depart on their journey. So as to share thoughts with others. To refer to what I have found to be valuable resources that may be of use to others along the way. To pose questions, as I do not pretend to have the answers, at best opinions.

I sincerely hope that you will share your thoughts, experiences and resources (links) here (as opposed by email) so all readers can enjoy.

Rest me to explain why this category goes as renaissance and journey. Renaissance refers to the transformation that came and is coming with this new direction. Journey refers to the process itself an the experiences that are part of that.I could have chosen for something like reborn but Renaissance Man, is how I have been posting for the past years (See about). The Shorter Collins describes it amongst others as:

“awakening, new birth, new dawn, reawakening”

So, while initially and still referring to the range of interests and skills it is now rapidly gaining an additional meaning: the Renaissance Man as the reborn man.

RENAISSANCE

Reading John 3: 3-6 in the Bible:

“I tell you the truth, no-one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again … I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

I guess this is one way of identifying a process of tranformation. It did not come with a loud bang or fireworks, a dramatic event, but the signs were already there: without even realizing it I stopped swearing, music finally started making sense to me (since playing in church), finding myself considering that what I saw during making pictures was good enough evidence for me to believe that there is a God and well finally opening up my heart completely to anyone other than myself is quite a step. Other references to the transformation, for those that have an urge to grab their Bible,  can be found at:

  • Peter 2:9 (from darkness into light)
  • Romans 8:21 (from bondage into freedom)
  • Romans 6:13 (from death into life)

JOURNEY

Even though a short one at this stage, I see this all as a journey, a spiritual journey, a journey I cannot oversee the length of, a journey on which I don’t know what I will encounter, only God does, but most of all a journey of reciprocal committment (see Hebrews 13:5):

“… Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ( Also see Deuteronomy 31:6)

For me this journey at the moment is focussed on one thing only, getting acquainted, and all I can say is that this quite a joyful matter in which lively ‘discussions’ (prayers/meditations so you wish, I prefer a chat with a friend) are leading me into new territories in a safe and “childfriendly” way. It’s very much a process of discovering you have a new friend for life but one that is not afraid to challenge you (in the most positive sense of the word). And isn’t that in fact what friends are for?

Enough for now, see you at the next “stop”.

Related posts:

And for those that me be interested in learning more about Harmony Church. Follow the link below.