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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

The Medicine of Souls

October 08, 2010
...a physician who will not prescribe life-giving medicine to sick patients ought to find other work.

Outside-In

October 18, 2010
Spiritual growth, for the most part, in an inside-out affair.

Sola Scriptura

October 19, 2010
Celtic Christians sustained an esteem of Scripture unsurpassed by Luther, Calvin, Knox, or any of the Reformers.

Cast Out

September 27, 2009

Satan, Bound (3)

{enclose Everythoughtsatan3.mp3}

I thought that we with ease
our bold objective would attain, for I
had never seen God’s power in wrath, and by
my calculations He could, by surprise
and show of force, be led to quit the prize
I sought and settle for some lesser role.
We came against His temple, all the whole,
vast throng, a third of heaven’s most glorious knights,
and I their captain.1 Each was primed to fight
unto the death to seize the throne and right
this great injustice with a show of might
and fury heaven had never seen before.
But as we marched up to the temple door
it soon became apparent our design
had been discovered, for a lustrous line
of heavenly hosts had been arrayed against
us.2 Our contingent faltered, and I sensed
they knew defeat was imminent. And so
I stood before the ranks and roared out, “Know,
my comrades, you have come too far to balk
and tremble now. Where is your towering talk
of triumph? What’s become of all your boasts
of victory? Look around, my cringing hosts:
You see the best of all creation in
your ranks. Press on! Advance! For we can win
the day if our resolve is firm!” Thus I
harangued the cowardly horde and fixed my eye
with threatening gaze on every one. But when
I turned to lead them into battle, then
I saw Him standing in their midst, aflame
with glory, radiant, fearsome, and His Name
upon His breast: The Word of God. I felt
my being drain away, and would have knelt
before Him, as our custom was, but then
my trembling turned to fury, and again
I urged my minions onward. Not a word
escaped His mouth, but with His fiery sword
He motioned calmly, whereupon there came
forth from His solid side the one whose name
is Michael. He advanced with swiftest speed
in my direction, unaccompanied
by any other. I prepared to meet
him in a dual of champions and defeat
him soundly; then I would assault the Lord
Himself and kill Him with His own broad sword,
and then the throne of heaven would be mine.
The prospect thrilled me, filled me with a kind
of giddiness and glee. I howled and shrieked,
and terror gripped my hosts, who now were weak
with fear and dread. My passion grew into
a frenzy as I drew my sword to do
the great archangel in. But with one blow
he fiercely fell on me and laid me low
upon the court of heaven. Never would
I have imagined that an angel could
such strength accumulate. He stood above
me with his sword raised high. The features of
his face were terrifying, as he drew
his awesome might together. And I knew
that I was finished, so I cursed my foe
with bitter ranting, and implored him, “Go
on, go on! Get it over with!” But he
stood strong and statue-like, and looked at me,
awaiting further orders. Then I heard
a voice that shook all heaven, and the word
He spoke secured my fate: “Expel him! Send
them all from off these lofty heights! 3 Their end
in time shall come. For now consign them to
the place for which they lusted. Cast them through
the veil that separates our worlds, and let
them prowl and skulk upon the earth. For yet
I will my counsel all fulfill, and I
will demonstrate before his lusting eye
the glory that he coveted. And he
will have no power to stop or hinder Me,
until I crush his hate-filled head at last.”

Immediately I and all my host were cast
beyond the veil and tumbled downward through
the heavens, hurtling helplessly onto
the earth. The plummet stunned us all, and for
the longest time we lay in silence, more
from fear than pain. And then I spoke: “He will
regret that He did not let Michael kill
me. Get up, get up now! There’s work to do!
You cringing cowards, your liberty is through;
now you belong to me, and I will rule
your lives from this day on. And let no fool
among you think to try my strength, for though
the great archangel overcame me, know
for certain that no one of you, nor all
together, is a match for me. I call
on earth and heaven to heed my solemn threat:
I will prevail against the Almighty yet!
Now get away from me! Be gone, and let
me think! When I am ready I will set
my plan before you and will show each one
what part he is to play once we’ve begun.”

1 Revelation 12.3, 4

2 Revelation 12.7-9, 13

3 Ezekiel 28,17, 18

Covenant Subversion

March 14, 2010

706123_fishing_hookSatan, Bound (13)

{enclose Everythoughtsatan13.mp3}

Yes, yes…or can you not the beauty of
it see? Look, here is God, who by His love
has His eternal will inscribed in plain
words, so His people might the blessings gain
of His enduring covenant.1 What more
could they desire of Him? What more implore
Him to perform, than what He plainly tells
them in His Word?2 If only I could sell
them on the notion that they ought to try
and push Him further, lead Him to comply
with their extrapolations of His Word,
then this would be to test the sovereign Lord,
which is the same as making Him observe
the notions of their foolish hearts, and swerve
from His revealed intent. And if this I
could manage, I would make His Word a lie,
well, unreliable, at least, and all
would put the Lord at their own beck and call,
to serve their vain imaginations and
interpretations of His clear command.

I don’t expect you to appreciate
my cunning – just to take my dangled bait.

Off to the wilderness I sped, and there
observed His people feasting on a fare
of strangest pastry, which had drifted down
from heav’n, and they collected off the ground.3
Oh, His annoying care for all their need!
I thought, I’ll use this feast to foster greed,
and promptly led some to suggest that He
who had provided this might also be
enticed, let’s say, to add a little meat
to the cuisine. Now wouldn’t that be sweet?
Again, observe my genius working: Let
God’s Word be clear: He promised He would set
before them every day this heav’nly bread.
I showed them how to use these words instead
to push the Lord beyond what He had meant
to say, exploring if He might be bent
to do their will than, rather, they do His!
A simple formula – “if that, then this” –
was all I needed to suggest, and they
were off and running, seeking every way
they might get God to fit within their schemes
by starting with His written Word, as seems
most reasonable, and then expanding out
from there by sinful logic, casting doubt
on what is clearly written for the sake
of getting other foolish folk to take
their side and to endorse their point of view.

Permit me to attach a footnote to
the wilderness fiasco – my first thrust
and parry to subvert His people’s trust
in His revealed and spoken Word. He threw
their gambit in their faces, sending to
their lusting gullets quail to make them puke.
I had to chuckle at this stern rebuke.

This avenue of covenant subversion
was most adaptable. Whate’er perversion
suggested by my subtlety seemed to
advance whatever they desired to do,
they seized upon with evident delight.
See him who struck the rock protest his rights
as though he were the Lord Himself.4 Observe
this one, whose lusting heart began to swerve
from God’s declared intentions when he spied
unguarded plunder, whereupon I lied
to him, implying that this little bit
of stuff would not send God into a fit
of rage, in spite of what He’d clearly said.
Now he and all his family are dead.5
And see this judge, who piously declined
to be appointed king, a change of mind
experience, and test the Lord beyond
what He had promised, and bestow the fond
name of “My Father King Is” on his son
(the little bastard).6 Here’s another one,
whose foolish vow – permissible within
the scope of revelation – led to sin
and slaughter.7 See this king ignore the Word
of God, and by his power as the lord
and savior of his nation (so he thought),
convince himself and everyone they ought
to keep a little booty for themselves.8
His fate is shared by everyone who delves
in this experiment of trying to
make God’s Word sponsor whate’er he wants to do.
See all those foolish prophets bend the Word
of God to suit the fancies of their lord
and king? Or those whose messages assure
the people that God’s favor will endure
in spite of all their sin? They’re in my pay,
and all my neat ideas promptly obey.

So everywhere I looked, in time, I saw
those clever, foolish people, more in awe
of their interpretations or the views
of some misguided prophet whom they’d choose
to follow – even though his failing word
was shown by others to be false, absurd,
and not a word from God – put Yahweh to
the test, to see if they could make Him do
their bidding. All the while I let them think
their footing firm, though they were at the brink
of devastation.

And I noted my
demonic host cast an approving eye
on this successful ploy. Although the Lord
did not forsake or change His holy Word,
it didn’t matter. In the hands of these
upstart interpreters, who sought to please
themselves at God’s expense, His Word had none
of that transforming, blessing pow’r that one
would reasonably expect. Which is to say
His holy covenant could not allay
my gathering strength, as I continued to
His people’s confidence in Him undo
and all my wicked pleasure satisfy
by substituting for His truth my lie.

1 2 Timothy 3.15-17

2 1 Corinthians 4.6

3 Exodus 16.1-26

4 Numbers 20.10-13

5 Joshua 7.10-26

6 Judges 8.22-32

7 Judges 11.29-40

8 1 Samuel 15.1-23

Something More

April 05, 2010

FoolSatan, Bound (14)

But let’s give credit, shall we, where it’s due,
for stupid people are agreeable to
whatever will advance their foolish pride,
exalt their station, reinforce their side
in any controversy, or impress
whoever needs impressing. So I guess
I have to say, “Congratulations, fools,
whoever of you chooses your own rules
to follow, rather than what God has clearly
revealed. You’ll pay for this behavior dearly.”

From which I’m sure you can deduce that I
was less than satisfied with this last lie,
since, truth be told (for once), I had to share
my kudos in promoting everywhere
the views of men above the Word of God
with foolish, clever people. Give the nod
to every reckless reader of God’s Word;
they all shall be impaled on their own sword.

I needed something more, some way to trash
God’s covenant that was completely brash
and brazen, altogether unforeseen,
outrageous, unexpected. I was keen
to hit on something that would leave no doubt
that I could orchestrate whatever clout
was needed to assault the heav’nly throne
and make the rule of earth and heav’n my own.
The vision of me being worshiped by
the whole creation thrilled me, filling my
imagination with scenarios
of darkness, death, destruction, endless woes
on every creature – except me, of course.
And then I saw it: nothing could be worse
than that the race of chosen people, set
apart by God for His own benefit
and glory, somehow should be led to – oh,
the very thought of it engaged me so! –
should be persuaded they’d be better off –
you should have heard my demon colleagues scoff
at the suggestion – if, they gave to me –
what heights of brazenness could ever be
above this ploy! – the solemn worship due
to God alone! If I could get them to
embrace this lie, and all the gory rites
it might include, I’d have within my sights
the final victory. But how to get
them to abandon Him who daily met
them with fresh revelation, and met all
their needs, so they would on my favor call?


Photo: Ulrik De Wachter

Corrupting Worship

April 12, 2010

Satan, Bound (15)

anchorMankind was made for worship as the plants
were made for growth. His very being pants
for something far beyond himself, above
him and around him, something he can love
and dedicate himself unto with all
his strength and soul, a trusted friend to call
upon in prayer.1 He needs a deity
to lavish thanks and praise upon, one he
can trust, and turn to in his times of fear,
uncertainty, and doubt; one who will hear
his prayers and show him kindness, steadfast love,
and constant goodness, lifting him above
his trials and fears to heights of joy and peace
where blessedness and boundless hope increase
and he experiences a glimpse of heaven.2
To every human being it is given
to seek such a transcendent anchor for
the soul, a light of truth, a trusted source
of faithfulness and never-failing grace
and peace.

Hence my dilemma: who would place
his hope and trust in me for all of this?
How could I get them to believe the bliss
they seek in life is lodged with me more than
the Deity Himself? I’d need a plan
much more sophisticated, subtle, and
discreet to get the Lord’s redeemed to stand
with me instead of Him. So I began
experimenting, trying out my plan
by stages, until I was certain I
had hit upon the perfect lethal lie
which, custom-fit to every person, could
ensure that they would turn their backs for good
on God, and follow me instead.

The key,
of course, would be to keep sincerity
in place while fostering disobedience in
small increments. No one will count it sin
if he sincerely thinks that he can do
whatever he believes will help him to
exalt the Lord in worship; and if he
can justify his actions by some plea
to reason, changing times, the need to be
more like the folks in his community,
or other explanation, others, though
they may object at first, will simply go
along with him, unable to refute
his reasons, and unwilling to dispute
with him about the worship of the Lord.

Thus I would woo and wean them from the Word
of God, and, having severed that connection,
I would suggest for them a new direction,
that “meets my needs” or “has more meaning for
me”; that “appeals to younger people” or
is simply “new” or “sensitive.” By just
such schemes I would dislodge their feeble trust
in God and in His Word, and set them free
to worship self – which is to worship me!

I blundered early, though I got a laugh
out of that thing about the golden calf.3
For I was just too bold, too in-their-face;
they would be wary about giving place
to idols after that. Prudence required
that I proceed more cautiously. Inspired
by the establishment of priests to bring
to God the people’s daily offerings,
I managed to enthrall the minds of two
of them with something clever they could do,
as they would come to see it, to advance
God’s worship (and which, if it helped enhance
their status in the people’s hearts and eyes,
so much the better).4 I let them devise
some “new” approach to burning incense to
the Lord, which He had told them they should do,
but in a certain manner only. Yes,
but would not this “new style” help them to bless
the Lord as well? Well, no, as it turned out:
Two dead, a grieving father left to pout
in silence, and a flustered leader not
quite certain what to do or how he ought
to fix this mess. And put yourself inside
the mind of every other priest beside
those two: would you not be a little wary
of crossing some forbidden line, chary
of leading people in the worship of
a God who, though He protests of His love
for them, would cavalierly (some no doubt
would see it thus) snuff you right out
if you don’t absolutely toe the line
in worship? And would you not set your mind
to make sure that you rigidly enforce
the jots and tittles written in the Source
concerning worship, making worship oh
so formal, oh so fraught with fear, and so
completely lacking in the very thing
God wants His people most of all to bring
to Him in worship: heartfelt thanks and trust?5

Thus from the start I made true worship just
a little bit more difficult for all
those dimwits, dolts, and dunces who would call
upon the name of God instead of me:
I set in place a plea for purity
in worship, a determination on
the part of some to make sure all is done
“according to the Book,” a preference for
just the right elements and forms, no more,
no less – and let such things as joy and heart-
felt thanks be secondary to the art
of liturgy, tradition, and “the way
we’ve always done it!” Do I have to say
it outright? Such perverse rigidity
will not please God;6 but, oh, it pleases me
to see so many worship leaders vaunt
their legal loyalty to God’s covenant,
exalting thus their faithfulness and wills,
and leading worship that so often kills
communion with the Deity. Let such
their worship be, and it will never touch
the heart of God, nor ever train them in
His love, but only mire them deep in sin.

 

1 Psalm 42.1, 2

2 Psalm 28

3 Exodus 32

4 Leviticus 10

5 Cf. Psalm 50.1-15

6 Cf. Isaiah 1.10-17

Self-Worship

April 26, 2010

Satan, Bound (16)

As some could be persuaded to insist
that worship of the Deity consist
in strict conformity to every form
and element, still others hoped a norm
for worship to define by turning to
consider what the pagan peoples do
in worship.1 Now I know this seems extreme,
but once you fully understand my scheme,
the genius of it will be plain.

I sowed
the thought in some that, since the Lord bestowed
on them the obligation to shine forth
the knowledge of His name in all the earth,
that it was reasonable, in reaching out
to other peoples, that they learn about
the kinds of things such people tend to do
in worship, then conform their worship to
what pagan peoples can embrace with ease.
Such a gesture would be sure to please
their neighbors, though it may seem strange to some
to have their worship filled with emblems from
surrounding cultures. “What about the clear
Word of the Lord, that says we must adhere
to His instructions in our worship, and
not dare embrace the practice of the land
and peoples all around?” they would protest.
“But does not God, who has so richly blessed
us, want us to reach out in blessing to
the pagans?” the reply would come. “How do
you plan to do this without coming down
to where they live?” Such reasoning would drown
out every protest and divide the host –
an unexpected boon, if I may boast
a bit. And so, in time, their worship would
include whatever pagan practice could
be justified as helping to proclaim
among the nations the eternal name
of God. And fighting factions would appear,
each claiming that it faithfully adhered
to God’s priorities, and casting doubt
on those who in their worship went about
it in some other manner.2

It would take
their kings to bridge these factions and to make
the people dwell in peace. Their role would be
to make religion public policy,
that is, to make sure every sacrifice
and feast was dutifully observed – all nice
and proper – but to court surrounding kings
by tolerating pagan offerings
and practices within their courts,3 and to
make sure that there were priests and prophets who
would pipe the tunes for which king would pay
them handsomely. Meanwhile, he would allay
concerns about such pragmatism by
some show of favor to whichever side
was feeling slighted or concerned, all in
the name of public weal. Such blatant sin
was overlooked in time, as people learned
to get in step and let their hearts be turned
more by contemporary practice and
political expediency than
the revelation of the Lord. Thus I
confused and compromised their worship by
such subtle means, and helped them give the nod
to me in worship, rather than to God.

Corrupting worship came to me with ease.
I led these foolish people to displease
the Lord in many ways, and all the time
let them believe that everything was fine
in their relationship with Him. They thought
that they were doing just what He had taught
them to, when, all the while, it was their own
self-interest and convenience which alone
defined the norms for worship. Oh, of course
there were a few who managed all the worst
abuses to avoid, but their prophetic
harangues had slight effect on those pathetic
and silly people, who, except for brief
revival seasons, gave no end of grief
to God with their vain worship. Idols perched
on every mantle; Sabbath days besmirched
with commerce were the norm; few tithed; the feast
days were but spottily observed; the least
and greatest of them every corner cut
in worship, thinking all the while that what
they offered God was good enough; and though
He spurned them, oh, their worship pleased me so.

And that was quite enough for me, and here
is why: Assuming God was very clear
on how He would be worshiped, that His Word
reveals the way to come before the Lord
in worship, then to augment, modify,
or circumvent this is to buy the lie
that worship, after all, is really not
about the Lord at all! And so I taught
them: worship is for you, you stupid fools,
so go ahead and substitute your rules
and guidelines, practices and norms, your own
ideas for those sent to you from the throne
of heav’n. As long as you can justify
your actions they won’t seem to you a lie
at all, and you can go your merry way
and all your foolish, fleshly lusts obey,
exaggerating, mitigating, and
exchanging God’s revealed designs for man’s –
and in this way, by now I think you’ll see,
leave off adoring God, and worship me!

And so my stature rose among the legions
of my adoring hosts, here in the regions
above, and every act of man on earth
proclaimed the might and greatness of my worth!

1 Deuteronomy 13.1-11

2 1 Corinthians 1.10-17

3 1 Kings 11.1-8

The Lie

May 03, 2010

Satan, Bound (17)

There is a certain irony in my
reporting all these victories that I
achieved against the interests of my Foe.
I am the Father of All Lies,1 you know,
and thus you might expect it hard for me
to narrate so much truth so candidly
as what you to this point have heard. Need I
remind you that to publicize the lie
and spread its glory, one must sometimes use
the truth, at least as much as will one’s ruse
accommodate?2 One must endeavor to
make every lie seem just the thing to do,
and to this end, it must be shrouded in
some truth, or will be recognized as sin
too easily. Thus, even you, as you
my truthful, tragic narrative review,
may in your heart begin to feel a chord
of sympathetic resonance toward
my plight begin to vibrate – a delight
in my grandiloquence; perhaps a slight
regret for my benightedness; a sadness
at my recalcitrance; a hope my badness
will, in the end, be cured? And is this not
just like you – just like every man – who ought
to hate all forms of evil,3 to instead
find room within your foolish heart and head
to say, “Well, after all, it’s not so bad”?

I relish such a thought; it makes me glad
to know that avenues exist within
men’s souls by which temptation may bring sin
to full fruition.4 If all humans were
so easily entrapped, if I could blur
distinctions between lies and truth and lead
all men to turn away from God and heed
their fleshly lusts, by couching lies in truth,
then this would surely be compelling proof
that I sufficient strength possess to rise
up and assault the King of earth and skies
once more, and seize at last His throne for me.

But there are always some who prove to be
an obstacle to my ambitions. I
shall treat of one who stood against my lie,
for truth requires it, and I have no fear,
from what I’ve seen, that many, though they hear
the truth, will take it much to heart. So let
the truth be told! I’m certain lies shall yet
prevail!

This in due course; but first, to show
my prowess at employing truth to sow
the seeds of wickedness, a few examples
of my deceptive skills, so you may sample
the poisoned cuisine of pride, self, lust, and power.

God chose the meekest man, that he should tower
above all others, and a shepherd be
for them across the wilderness.5 For he
would speak with God, and lead the people by
his meekness to their promised home. But I
had other plans for him. Let pressures build,
and let God’s people show just how strong-willed
they could be, and his pride would get the best
of him.6 Could they not see how God had blessed
them through his leadership? Did they not know
that he was God’s anointed one, to show
their way into the promised land? Must he
bear with these grumblers for eternity!?
And so, the meekest man in all the earth
succumbed to pride and forfeited his worth
to lead God’s people home, by taking to
himself the glory that to God is due
alone, and striking what he should have merely
commanded to give water. Thus he dearly
paid, and let truth be a conduit for sin.

Or see this one who led the people in
their conquest of the land: Truth was, as he
no doubt assessed it, that their victory
at Jericho, so easily attained,
was meant to show how others would be gained
as well. So, off to Ai, without prayer
or seeking God, he sent a force to their
embarrassment and ruin. (The Lord, it seems,
prefers His plans to any stupid schemes
His people might concoct apart from Him.)7

And shall I narrate for you here the grim
details of how the people, when no king
ruled o’er them, did whatever stupid thing
they thought was right and true, and all the while
heaped wickedness and sin up, pile on pile,
and to my great delight?8 Or shall I tell
of him who brought upon his people hell
on earth, just so that he might know how great
a king he was?9 And I will not relate
how righteousness at length gave way to pride
in him whom God adored, when I had plied
my trade upon his soul (I squeal as I
recall how he his fist shook at the sky,
demanding God explain to him his plight!).10

All these and more I led from day to night,
from righteousness to sin, by lacing truth
with lies, resulting in rebuke, reproof,
remonstrance, or rejection at the hand
of God. What man before my wiles can stand?

1 John 8.44

2 2 Corinthians 11.14

3 Psalm 97.10

4 1 Corinthians 10.12

5 Exodus 3.1-12; Numbers 12.3

6 Numbers 20.1-12

7 Joshua 7.1-9

8 Judges 21.25

9 2 Samuel 24.1-9

10 Job 1, 2; 31.35-37

Portent

June 01, 2010

Well, there was one – well, many, actually –
but I found one of them especially
astute at fending off my lies.[1] I thought
him an anomaly, no more; I ought
to have seen in him instead a portent of
One who would soon enchain me from above.
Behold the workings of my genius mind:
I prowl the earth,[2] endeavoring to find
some unsuspecting and unguarded fool,
someone whom by deception I can rule
and ruin – someone like you. And if I can
entice, ensnare, and capture, by some plan
or lure or bit of poisoned truth, one who
is highly visible, then I would do
so much more damage to His cause, whose name
I will have brought to very public shame.
Which stratagem led me to take dead aim
at one charged to God’s holy Word proclaim,
and in His worship lead the people.[3] I
knew well that he a loving shepherd’s eye
kept on the flock of God. How well he knew
them, understood what they were going through,
and all their foolish thoughts and ways. It must
have pained him greatly to observe their trust
in God erode, as I strewed all along
their daily path temptations far too strong
for them to stand against. He watched as they
increasingly began to disobey
the Lord, preferring rather worldly ways
and self-indulgence to the love and praise
of God. Themselves they lavished with as much
of worldliness as they could see or touch
and make their own.[4] They fairly licked the earth,[5]
and boasted of their fast-increasing worth
and prominence; all their substantial wealth
I bundled up with ease and with good health –
to reinforce their self-assurance that
God’s blessings were upon what they were at.
They boasted of their leisure, scorned the weak,
oppressed the poor, and raised their tongues to speak
against the very God of heav’n: “He does
not know or care what we may do, because
it’s clear His blessings are upon us!”

Can
you see the interlacing in my plan
to bring them under my control? I set
their hearts and minds and consciences to let
them lust for fleshly things; I taught them to
God’s blessings see in what they sought to do,
so to accommodate His Word to all
their vanities; and thus I made them fall
down on their knees and worship all the vain
desires their sinful hearts could hope to gain,
and all they while I fed them the belief
such practices would not result in grief
or pain, for God, so far away, could see
them not. [6] Thus blinded, they succumbed to me.
Oh how that faithful priest and prophet burned
to see them mired in things and pride, and turned
away from God. And then, at what I took
to be the perfect time, I set my hook
before his own self-pitying soul: “Why should,”
I deftly whispered as he mused, “such good
things be denied to you?[7] Why must you day
by day submit to disciplines, obey
God’s Law, and keep yourself unstained before
Him, and before these people, who have more
of this world’s ease than you have ever known?
Should you not seek a little of your own
enjoyment, ease, and wealth? Should you not be
entitled to enjoy prosperity
and comfort right along with all the rest
of those whom God has evidently blessed?”
I watched as he approached the bait and thought
about my proposition, how he ought
to make response to what he felt within
his heart of hearts. Would lust give birth to sin,[8]
I wondered? Would he, like the others, set
his faith aside, give way to pride, and let
his passions overrule sound judgment? By
this means so many times before had I
led others to embrace the lie and yield
to me, that I saw nothing that could shield
him from my onslaught. But as I my ear
turned in anticipation of the cheer
that would arise from my demonic host
at one more victory for me to boast
about, this wretched priest turned from my bait
and, shaking from my clutches, turned to wait
upon the Lord in prayer![9] As he began
to speak I knew that I had lost this man,
and helplessly stood by as he appealed
to every gate of grace and truth, and sealed
himself against my pow’rs.[10] I gnash my teeth,
my spirit howls, and deep within I seethe
with anger every time one such as this
robs me of my anticipated bliss
by firm resistance to my wiles! Shall I
relate each step he followed to deny
me my entitlement? If only to
refresh my memory of what to do
in situations just like this, I shall:
I failed to sink the hook; my gambit all
began unraveling when he realized
that yielding to me meant he would despise
his brethren.[11] Just as those whose flaunted sin
had nearly dragged him down, trapped him within
my snares, so he was contemplating just
the same – a violation of the trust
of all those looking to him as a priest
of God. He came to see himself a beast
more than an image-bearer,[12] as he thought
of letting passion rule where reason ought
to – and a fair deduction, that, I must
admit. Himself he looked at with disgust
to reckon, when God is so very good
to all His people, that he ever could
discover any lasting benefit
in anything at all that made him quit
obedience to the Lord. I could not make
him love himself more than the rest, or break
the hold upon his soul of knowing he
was made in God’s own image. He could see
that following passion, self-indulgence, lust,
mere titillation, gain, and pride were just
the opposite of how the children of
the Lord should live.[13] Then, swept up in God’s love
for him, and of the utter goodness of
approaching Him and dwelling in His love,
he sought the counsel of God’s Word and poured
his heart out in submission to the Lord.[14]
Submission soon to praise gave way as he
his true perspective gained. Then he could see
that nothing better for God’s people is
than that they should keep focusing on His
agenda, His perspective, His revealed
and holy truth.[15] All those whom God has sealed
unto Himself within the promises
of His eternal covenant will bless
Him when temptation comes, and will be blessed
in turn. Thus did this priest endure my test.

And I, in quitting my assault against
him, realized that I have no defense
against those who the Word of God will cling
to when I sidle up and try to bring
them to my point of view – and to my chains.
Yet this my consolation still remains:
most humans are mere fools, who though they know
they must resist my wiles and quickly show
the door to me whenever I confront
them, can be led to break God’s covenant
and cast their lot with me; the law of sin
is easily excited deep within
their souls,[16] and they are willing to conspire
with it against sound judgment and all higher
obedience. They prefer not to rebuff
me; they would rather wear my clinking cuff.

Thus I consoled myself each time one of
these foolish mortals held fast to the love
of God, denying self. And in this case,
as in all others like it, my disgrace
at their recalcitrance just made me all
the more resolved to rectify my fall
and gain the throne of heav’n. I failed to see
that such defeats portended worse for me.

[1] Psalm 73
[2] 1 Peter 5.8
[3] 1 Chronicles 25.1, 2
[4] Psalm 73.4-8
[5] Psalm 73.9
[6] Psalm 73.11
[7] Psalm 73.13, 14
[8] James 1.13-15
[9] Psalm 73.15-17
[10] Psalm 73.18 ff
[11] Psalm 73.15
[12] Psalm 73.21, 22
[13] Psalm 73.16-18
[14] Psalm 73.23, 24
[15] Psalm 73.25-28
[16] Romans 7.21-23

Invaded

July 13, 2010

Invaded

I saw Him come from heaven on that dark
night of my soul, descending to embark
upon my ruin. But I would not sit by
and let this Messenger from God all my
achievements bring to naught. He must be taught
the even He can be deceived and bought
off with the right enticement, when I’ve wrought
my wiles against Him. So, at least, I thought.

All in due course, all in due course, my curious
inquirer. Before His advent, sin a furious
and far-flung empire had become among
the peoples of the earth. The old, the young,
men, women, nations – every tribe and tongue –
including nearly everyone who clung
fast to the covenant of God – were bound
and owned by me. My lovely lies were found
in every culture, in a multitude
of guises, some sublime, while others crude,
but all effective to divert the minds
of men from seeing clearly all the signs
of God’s existence, leading them instead
to make up gods and systems in their heads,[1]
by which they justified their fleshly ways,
all true and saving thoughts of God debased,
and gave their worship and devotion to
the one who taught them such fine things to do –
that would be I. And while for some this great
achievement might have been enough, the hate
I bore within my soul for Him who all
the while ruled every detail, great and small,
of my vast empire, left me discontent
with all that I had thus far gained, and bent
with firm resolve to drag Him from that throne
and make all final sovereignty my own!

So, when He dared my earthly compound to
invade, I saw at once what I must do
my kingdom to defend and all my gains
preserve.

And yet, I also saw those chains,[2]
borne in His hand, and wondered what could be
their use to such a lowly babe as He.

Though I made efforts early on to thwart
His mission – I proposed a change of heart
to him who to His mother was engaged,[3]
and, somewhat later, stirred up an enraged
but inept ruler in a bloody scheme
to do Him in, and came within a dream
each time of full success[4] – I came to see
that if my victory complete would be,
I had to choose my timing carefully.
Let Him be grown and strong, and let Him be
presented to the world, endorsed by some
divine announcement of why He had come
here in the first place. The embarrassment
that I could bring upon His covenant
would be more luscious and convincing when
I humbled Him Who in the eyes of men
was set for my destruction by divine
approval. I would therefore bide my time
and, at the proper moment, strike the blow
that would my awesome, fearsome prowess show,
by making Him who came to vanquish me
my prize and slave for all eternity.
And then, His Son my captive once for all,
I would effect the Lord Almighty’s fall.

But there was much to do till then. I drilled
my demon hosts relentlessly. It thrilled
me to observe  their full obedience to
my every word, as to and fro, to do
my bidding, they fulfilled the bivouac
I exercised them in for the attack
I planned to launch against the gates of heav’n.
Mine were the orders daily to them giv’n;
I orchestrated all their movements; for
my pleasure they deceived, tormented, or,
if I preferred, destroyed both men and nations.
I stimulated vain imaginations
to yet more foolish schemes; I prodded kings
and emperors to feats of vanquishing
and bloodshed never seen before. I blotted
the glory of the Lord from minds besotted
with sensuality and lust. I stirred
up strife, spread fear and famine in the herd
of men, and sowed confusion everywhere. I strewed
the world with warfare, plagues, and storms. I skewed
sound reason when it sought to penetrate
the veil of lies and darkness to create
a space for truth. I reveled, I delighted,
I fairly gushed to watch as men, benighted
by their insatiable lust, distorted truth
to suit their selfish interests or to soothe
their guilty consciences, and gave to me,
in many guises, what should only be
to God ascribed – complete devotion! All
the world before my feet would one day crawl,
and then would be the time to mount the skies
and lay hold on my glorious heavenly prize!

Thus every day, from that bright morning when
He first appeared among the ranks of men,
I shored up all my gains, intensified
my presence among men, spread far and wide
my demon hosts, and made an atmosphere
on earth uncordial to His being here,
so that, when our great confrontation came
to pass, He would regret in deepest shame
that He had ever left His distant throne
to challenge and confront me in my own
domain. Yes, there would be a binding and
subduing then – but not quite as I’d planned.



[1] Romans 1.18ff.

[2] Revelation 20.1

[3] Matthew 1.19

[4] Matthew 2.13-18

Cha-Chingiss

August 16, 2010

Somebody needs to get a life.

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