Order & Obedience

by Jeff Pohlman

20 January, 2006

 

Deuteronomy 6 : 4  (Shema) Hear O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  5-  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your (spirit) heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible)

 

God's order.  Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Types of order utilized by God in His universe.  God's designed order followed by volition-obedience.  God's order followed by begrudging-obedience as if coerced sacrifice.  Finding God's order and willfully maintaining a joyful life of obedience, that effervesces with spiritual fruit-bearing which shows for the whole world to see.

Now there's an opening paragraph for you.  Besides having all sorts of grammatical incorrectness, the flow of the thoughts that end in the final sentence is a logical (maybe illogical to you) sequence (ORDER) that He put in my head, and at the same time, the type of a statement that makes many people run and hide.  Why?  Because they aren't gleefully following God's order.

How we investigate God's order and then what we do with the evidence we find, is written all over the pages of our personal history book, called OUR LIVES.

Make it more personal - how YOU do that, IS evidenced most certainly in - YOUR LIFE.

Unfortunately for some, fortunately for others, that display can't be escaped from, or hidden from view.

 

METAPHOR ONE

Think about one particular parable that is used in scripture - a fruit bearing tree, and then how we exhibit some alike-ness.  Order for a tree is quite simple.  A seedling makes it to fertile ground, and possibly gets covered with some early dirt (protection and nourishment).  An initial tap root goes down.  Hopefully, there is immediate nourishment and water to be absorbed by the capillaries of that root to encourage life.  A trial shoot goes up, and a leaf protrudes.  If all goes well, up the tree grows.  The trunk heightens and thickens, limbs become branches that multiply outward from the trunk, multiple twigs form on branches, leaves grow on the ends of the tiniest twigs, flowers become fruit also at the ends of twigs, and on the process repeats, all the while, the root system continues to extend - i.e. trunk to limbs to branches to twigs to osmosing capillaries, keeping pace lock-step and evenly in size with what's growing above ground.

[As an aside - maybe a spiritual metaphor in itself...]  It's a known fact that if you want to grow an oriental bonsai bush (looking like a tiny replica of a full grown tree of the same variety), all you do is plant it in a tiny pot - LIMITING ITS ROOTS, and never let it out of the pot.

Back to the subject at hand - God's order and our willful gleeful obedience to it.

At any step in the process just described, if order isn't maintained...

  • mutations aren't tolerated in nature very often,

  • death ensues,

  • fruit isn't born, and

  • propagation doesn't continue of the species.

Just contemplate that for a moment.  What does rebellion from God's generally designed order produce?  How silly is it to lop off a segment of branch, lay IT on the ground instead of a seed, and expect it to grow?  Roots don't pop UP out of the ground - first, do they?  Leaves don't sprout at the end of root tips?  A full blown fruit doesn't just appear on the tip of the first leaf immediately dragging the whole plant to the ground?  We could go on and on about the silliness.  No, the order is very orderly J .  Analog.  Chronological.  Linear.  First one thing, then another, each building on the strength of the previous step, and so on.  To try and mix up the order is folly.  The time piece of a clock is a good example of analog.  A yard stick is also a good example of sequential and linear order.  Think about how silly some of us appear when we stubbornly want our way, outside of an order which Father God lovingly designed.

 

NEXT METAPHOR

That's all well and good, but there are "thinkers" in our midst who might find an objection, claiming that the whole universe is not ordered by way of analog, sequential, or linear chronology, and not everything can be measured with a linear measuring stick or ruler.  Maybe it's not clear to you, but here is the example, some things exist in a random, digital, collective assemblage.  I'll not get into the stuff that makes up quantum mechanics over and against the science of physics - suffice it to say that quantum mechanics embraces to some degree that there is "chance" in the ordering of the universe, where physics does not (that's a hasty generalization, but fairly close).

Okay, before I lose you all together, here are two samples of this different sort of order, that are not linear analog.  A jigsaw puzzle and the human body.

A jigsaw puzzle can be started with any one piece and assembled in multiples of different ways to the exponential of how many pieces are in the puzzle.

The human body isn't born with just the head alone popping out of the birth canal, and then a collection of linear pieces adding on after its appearance in the world.  No, we certainly know that all of the pieces are formed in the womb, all attached, much the same as an already-assembled jigsaw puzzle, when a human does come into this side of the world.

In both cases, there is still order, and it is understood that the pieces have their function and place, based upon some predetermined design or description by it's maker.  However, borrowing a closing phrase from the linear analog discussion above, the same can be said here with random collective digital order, where - to try and mix up the order can be folly.

Many people don't truly understand what the word digital means in today's vernacular (and we are stepping well beyond the simplest meaning of digital as meaning singular numbers), but for those who are in the computer industry in general and are reading along here, I throw it in, because the metaphor will gain understanding for them.

For the non-initiated or non-computer-literate folks in our midst, you can think of a computer storage medium like a spinning, absolutely-flat dinner plate that has information recorded on it magnetically.  It just so happens that all of the information is reduced to numbers (I am not even going to attempt to describe the binary numbering system that is the basis of all computer programming).  So, if you are wanting to store something in the whole-plate recording, the computer will collect all of the final numbers and decide where it wants to put them on the plate.  For the sake of discussion, let's just utilize two numbers, five and nine.  Where the computer puts the 9 and the 5 is a random decision, based upon space availability, size of the number and so forth.  They might get moved around in the future, and on the story goes.  I used the metaphor of a dinner plate because you could also think of it as food on a dinner plate, indeed.  When the food gets placed, how much, and where, is all up to the person putting the food on the plate.  It could get moved around, change size and shape, and get totally wiped clean and started over again.  Again and again.  This boggles the mind of some people, I hope I didn't lose you in my attempt to clarify the concept of random digital order.

Let's move on to several examples of order which have spiritual significance for us as Christians, the purpose of this writing.

 

VARIOUS EXAMPLES OF ORDER

Spirit - Soul - Body

This gives a most interesting perspective to Christians.  It is a point which some grapple over (especially if parents have to explain eternity in relationship to having lost a family pet - a most vexing circumstance).  There are flesh-only beings in God's Kingdom.  There are spirit-only beings in God's Kingdom.  But, we are unique, and the order is most definitely there, no matter where you look in scripture, where we are made in His image, relational beings, and we are spirit, soul and body.  That order.  Never mixed around.

 

1 Thessalonians 5 : 23  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible)

 

If you look up top at the opening scripture of Deuteronomy 6:4, out of Judaism's Talmud -Pentateuch, which our Hebrew friends call The Shema (Hebrew for - hear - as in Listen Up), you see that we are called to love the Lord our God with all of our spirit, soul and body.  There is a slight blurring of words used, but the order stays the same.  The same is true of the New testament accounts of it, where Jesus is challenged by religious leaders of the day (so what else is new?) and rather than seeing His big picture, they want to quibble over doing only one right-thing correctly, so they ask Him which, out of the huge burgeoning mound of commandments they had amassed up to that point (a goodly amount of them were man-made ceremonial laws) was the number-one of all time.  You can see in the New Testament gospels that He quoted this Deuteronomy passage, with a little embellishment at the end to include loving neighbors also.  But, He didn't mess up the ORDER.  The fact is, we are spirit, soul and body beings.  Some moderns have been quoted as saying that we are spirits with flesh suits on.  That might seem like a small point to you, but it is important because Father is a creator who maintains order with reason.  To understand that you are a spirit being, with soul and flesh capacity is important - even if you don't think so.

 

Luke 24 : 38  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts (spirits)39-  See My hands and My feet, that it is I myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible)

 

You may want to go read that whole account, because it will bolster your faith.  There is no religion on earth that measures closely to the relationship (as opposed to a religion) of Christendom.  What Jesus did and showed us, was-and-is phenomenal.  Not only did the Creator of the universe come and live in a fleshly incarnation, He had it for all eternity in the first place, He maintains that for all eternity, AND He has the capacity to live in and through us in spirit, as us - something that truly boggles our current finite thinking processes.  You must understand that He IS orderly about it, not disorderly.

 

Daily Provision

One of the problems of having a human brain contained in a sinful body is that we develop fallacies in our thinking.  Irregularities.  We might not know it, we might twist or skew something, even unwittingly, and find ourselves walking down a path that becomes totally contradictory to God's design, when we think we are on the right path.  As an example, there are people today who claim that the Creator of the universe has had portions of His power and abilities die off, become atrophied, or non existent.  They claim that certain evidence of His power has stopped to exist.  Why?  Because they haven't seen it in their lives.  Amazing.  Finite humans can level a charge like that, and not receive a lightening bolt and thunder clap of a spanking for the errantcy of the thinking.  The fact is, His power has not diminished.  When and where He wants, He still is in the business of creation, healing, raising of dead, pouring out His spiritual gifts through humans, redemption and so forth.  Again, His power is not diminished in the least.

While we are on the topic of order then, as a wonderful allegory of  His almighty and endless provision, consider manna (the Hebrew word means whatness - or better yet, it is a one-word question, meaning what is it?).  You know the story, I don't need to repeat it for you out of Exodus 16.  He maintained it for a very finite period of forty years for about a million Hebrews wandering in a dessert from Egypt to Canaan.  Can you imagine providing food for a million grumbly people for forty years?  We have no recorded history of it happening again.  Your grandmother didn't hand down to you her venerated Manna Recipe Book.  BUT, His provision has not been diminished one iota since then.  If He desired to do it, He would provide manna again, literally.  It's His choice whether He does or not.  That does not diminish the fact that He does still provide something in the here-and-now, and that "something" has more tangible definitions than "what is it," where we call it our current food, shelter, clothing, transportation, vocations, and so forth.

The order of the day for those million-or-so Hebrews was very finite.  Each family was to collect just so much, in certain ways, and process it in certain ways, or it would spoil and waste.  He even made provision for a day of rest, so they didn't have to do processing on a seventh day each week (consistent with earlier order He had directed to forefathers).

Here's a little jolt for your finite brain, rewording what I said a moment ago.  Just because He stopped providing manna doesn't mean He has stopped His provision.  He is still The Provider of all that we need.  Now who is the grumbling complainer?  Maybe we will have a little more compassion for the Israelite Hebrews, when we see our own complaining over the "provision" He makes for us in the here-and-now.

In the context of this message, what He provides has order, yet how do we try to circumvent His order, becoming disobedient in the long run?  The manna-order was this; day became night, they went to sleep, dew settled from the air to the ground where they were staying, they awoke, collected the prescribed amount for each family member, the sun evaporated the dew fog and the manna on the ground, they processed it from their storage containers inside their tents/ houses throughout the day, and any that was left over spoiled by day's end.

Our order may not be the "sunset (get ready), sunrise (get set), and pick up from the ground (go)" order, but it is still order.  He most certainly has given us charge to be responsible with the resources He gives us, and to not be greedy or gluttonous.  Do we try to "get" or "get too much" and do it outside of the sequence-order that He has designed for us to follow?  And the most difficult item for people in the 21st century is, do we really rely and trust in Him for all of our provision?  Better asked, do we only trust our own abilities for our provision?  Nonetheless, it is still He who provides, whatever our belief system is.

There is a way of measuring whether you are processing His provision according to His order and being thankful for His provision.  In the New testament, it is called "bearing fruit."  The end result of your endeavors GIVES off fruit bearing that glorifies Him (not you).  Your actions will show that you are openly thankful for His provision.  You will go out of your way to exude an openness and acknowledgment that it was Him who provided, and NOT your selfish fleshly self.

In the Old Testament, there was also a measuring device that gives us a picture and example of how we should be behaving.  The deal was (and still is) that the provision all belongs to Him.  He kindly provides FIRST (wonderful and great God that He is).  And in return (in the Old Testament model), He expected that a measured amount of ten percent (the Hebrew word for 10% is tithe) be given to support the priests who labored in service in the temple building.

Although He has fulfilled the law of the Old Testament, it still remains as a type, shadow and figure of an example for us to continue to follow, even though we are not bound by law, with penalty for lack of adherence.  What I mean is that we are responsible to find out what, and how much, He wants us to give back (or give toward the further propagation of His Kingdom).

The "deal" hasn't changed, whether Old or New Testament, in that it is all His, and we owe it all back to Him.

He knows we can't possibly take what he gives us, multiply it and give it all back, all the while surviving.  We are dependent on Him.  What He IS looking for is the willingness of your spirit-heart.  When you are willing to give it all back, without grudge, then you are in a position to hear Him tell you what amount He really wants back, and whom or where to give it to.  He might say 10%, He might say 78%, and be prepared, He might say 100%.  You just need to be willing.  Again, fruit is telling.  Order is not alterable, and the end result is not hidden.  Your evidence will be seen by Him - albeit, fruit.

  • Is there a relaxation and walk of faith, where you truly walk in trusting Him?

  • Do you really have a deep seated faith that knows that what is provided for you each day is just as miraculous, loving and kind, while deeply sustaining, as manna was for the Hebrews in the wilderness for forty years?

  • Do you walk around every day and think about the figurative, saying to yourself, "Wow, look at the manna He has provided for me today?"

  • Is that evidenced in a cause and effect relationship where the outcome from your life is bountiful and joyous fruit (or do people look at your life and think that God must be a stingy type of Ebenezer Scrooge?).

Remember this - just because scripture has a little friendly reminder that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the broader truth is that He owns the hills and beyond too.  Don't mess with His order; He provides first, show your genuine appreciation by giving in return.  Don't try to steal or supplant, outside of His order - that won't work, and it will turn to the figurative "rotten worms in the manna" if you try it.

 

5-Fold Ministry

Ephesians 4 : 11-  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,  12-  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  13-  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  14-  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;  15-  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,  16-  from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible)

 

The purpose in the order is obvious, He wants us to become mature saints, starting now, useful for all eternity.

The order has reason.  To circumvent the reason, as we have already stated several times, is folly.

Apostles are a type of master builder.  They are, in what we call it in today's construction trades, general contractors, or GC.  A person who sees the whole blueprint, the whole enchilada as they say.  Not only that, but he knows how it all goes together, beginning to end.  Every step has an importance and order to it.  I'll not bore you at this point.  You can imagine what pre-foundation preparation is like, all the way through to having the final Certificate Of Occupancy signed, and moving in, to make it a livable functioning structure.

Prophets are a type of on-site foreman overseeing all of the crews, working right alongside the other workers, but they see the truth (they read the blue print - if you will) and make statements as to whether the building is being constructed according to plan (order) or not - and adjustments are made accordingly.

Evangelists are a type of (fruit) inspector, seeing the benefit of the (spiritual) building and growth going on in a positive manner and they proclaim the good news of such, in open statements.  Sometimes they even proclaim the benefit (if it can be called that), if you try to adhere to the death pattern of the enemy's camp, as a comparative technique.  Inspectors are inspectors, they report the good (and sometimes the bad), to get your attention, and hopefully steer you to stay with the good-only.  In the construction trade, contractors feel like they live and die by the whim of the inspectors nailing green, red and yellow inspection tags to the proclamation-door-posts of buildings for all the community to see clearly.  Evangelists might not see themselves in this same vein, but their proclamation of the good, bad and ugly of the spiritual eternal universe makes mankind truly "think" about their destiny.

Pastors are a type of the crew leader of the independent contractors, of the laborers or the "hands" who get the job done.  As crew leaders they truly lead by example, knowing how to build properly, and exercising the integrity of having the skills in the first place.  They are encouragers and problem solvers in all phases of the construction process and tasks.  They fully understand that motivation comes from within an individual, is not an external force that coerces an individual to accomplish tasks, and they know how to interact with humans, helping all, along the path of constructiveness.

Teachers are teachers, no allegorical type is needed.  They exist in the building trade as well as in the Body of Jesus' Called Out believers.  Their job is as crucial as any.  They are a form of front line recruiters into the trade and they then teach everyone from the freshest newby to the most senior of the managers.  The job never stops because humans have a big capacity of needing reminders - even though some of us resent that fact.  Good teachers know how to interact, upgrade and remind in such a way that it is not boring repetitiveness, but enjoyable.  That usually means they also have to be good listeners and students of human nature.

God wrote that passage in Ephesians 4, through Paul, for a reason, and as I said before, the purpose in the order is obvious, to build a strong Body of believers to be as Christ-like as possible, while we wait our departure to the other side of eternity.

We don't expect someone to start building a house at the ceiling joists and rafters, and we shouldn't think that the Lord is going to circumvent His order in building His Called Out Ones either.  Using the opening analogies, the structure and nature of Jesus' Called Out Ones begins to look more like the puzzle than it does a linear twelve-inches of rope, however.

So it could be said that there is a mixture of linear AND random order when it comes to assembling His Body.  Linear - in the aspect of assuring age, trust-ability, accountability and integrity;  random - as far as difference of function and placement within the Body.

We each have a place that is designed by Him (like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle) and it is foolishness to try to function within someone else's place.  For instance, if you're not a God-ordained prophet, then stop trying to be one, etc.  In the movie Babe, there is a duck-character which keeps trying to be a rooster, with sometimes-humorous results.  How many of us are exhibiting the same sort of silly misplaced ambitions.

Likewise, and maybe even more importantly, you may not be any of the 5-Fold ministries.  Relax, this isn't a competition for finite eleven places on the only "A" string of a football team.  There is a whole passel of other gifted people who are needed to make up the bulwark of the Body of Christ, and there IS one place designed just for you.  There is room.  The space is not finite.  Your giftings ARE necessary and He has a place for you.

And while we're at it, let's cover a very touchy subject about radically changing the real "you" - - - don't go ending it all, or having a medical procedure, an amputation, or a sex change just because you think you were accidentally made or you don't seem to fit.  You were made perfectly the way He wants you.  You do fit according to His ordered plan.  And, He takes you just as you are.  If you've already had some alterations made, don't despair, He STILL takes you just as you are.  He does have a place for you.  Mankind won't always or necessarily tell you that.  He WILL.

 

Marriage - Sex

You've heard the old joke about the three things you never talk about in mixed company in public, right?  Religion, politics and sex.  Being just a little philosophical here, maybe if we talked about God's design for relationships instead of religion, and openly expressed the truth about politics and sex, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in as a result of being so hush-hush since Queen Victoria deemed silence on those three subjects as part of her order-of-the-day (in the late 1800's).

Within Christendom, we have such a catastrophic and epidemic blight on our collective personal relationships that open conversation about sex and marriage needs to be more aired, in light of scripture, not less.  George Barna, the statistician who has made it his life's work to numerically measure Christians, tells us that it's impossible to walk into any fellowship in the USA and find more than two-thirds of the married couples who have been married to ONLY one mate (and that means of the opposite gender) for their whole life.  In fact, he's more bleak than that and he portrays that you might be hard pressed to find half of the married couples in that state of marital-oneness.  We're no different than the non-believing world!  Barna blurs the distinction between "church" (as an institution's incorporated organizational codes and building) and "ekklesia" (or, God's true called out ones).  So, I am not even going to dignify the statistics about how many within God's called out ones maintain the Bible instructed practice of refraining from sex, until after you are married.

Why would I say that?  Because there IS order in the Bible, God's handbook and operations manual for us human-users (and it IS user friendly, despite what armchair critics might say).

And that order IS specific.  He gives us order, not as a demand that can tend toward coercive requirements, but order that is a place and form to fit into, a guideline and a protective boundary that keeps us safe from harm (the proverbial fence that keeps children safe within a schoolyard).

If you don't believe that a physical union of two humans is God-defined as to be two of the opposite gender, then I recommend your looking up the simple word homosexual in your favorite concordance, read the many passages, then you'd better rip them out of your newly-designed  Bible-For-Perverts  and throw them away (and I am not even going to go to the territory of those who have had sex-change operations).  From here on out in this discussion, the assumption is first, that God's order is that sexually-joined humans are to be of the opposite gender where the female has X-X chromosomes and the male has X-Y chromosomes.  And yes, there is specificity in His order, where there is also randomness in other parts of His order - it's HIS order, not ours to play with at our sinful whims.

In His order, and you don't have to challenge me on this, you can go straight to your Bible to see it for yourself, the process is...

  • to be born in the first place,

  • it would be lovely if all married couples experienced their individual salvation before being married, there is even scripture that strongly recommends such, but there is also grace allowed, in case someone marries another who is not "saved,"

  • at some point, a male and a female will find each other attractive enough to want to be married, and,

  •  here in the USA we have something that is loosely called "dating."  However my younger daughters tell me that the rules for such have changed drastically since my wife and I dated, and even more drastically since our parents dated, so let's just say that the couple is supposed to figure out what makes each other tick (what are the absolutes, what are the negotiables, what are the likes and dislikes, and I-don't-knows).  I am reminded that a lot of this can go on without some trumped up "dating" process, but simple conversational interaction over long periods of time,

  • make every effort to determine compatibility for life (not a 1-to-5-year negotiable renewable contract).  Scripturally, we have Old Testament type-shadow-and-figure verses that tell us good counsel, where the man is supposed to figure out the manner in which the woman was raised and cared for in her family, and then provide that same environment for her as a condition of being married (the lack of provision-after-marriage is not grounds for a divorce).  In today's society, many women are long gone from their parent's homes before they get married, so this can be a difficult task in light of that scripture, and would require much more probing meaningful conversation (i.e. listening) on the man's part (which men are supposedly notorious for NOT doing when it comes to women),

  • declare a lifetime commitment to each other alone (including no others sexually), where this declaration could happen in any number of ways (including a huge formal ceremony presided over by licensed officials of government or organized institutional church).  Here in Texas, the law is still in our books where the couple simply makes the declaration.  That's it.  It comes from the days when there were too few people to go around, including any "official" people like licensed ministers or justices of the peace.  It so happens that I was in our county court house in the middle of my writing this piece, handling some updates on business name registrations with the country clerk, the same office where marriage licenses are handled.  As I was standing on line, one couple in front of me at one of the clerk's stations was asked, "You know what you're doing here?"  They did.  Then they were asked whether they wanted a formal or informal marriage (before a justice of the peace, i.e. $$$, or not).  The eventual reply from the clerk was, "Okay, when you're done with me and walk out of here, you're married."  In actuality, you don't even have to have a formal license in the state of Texas, just make the agreed declaration and you're legally married.  Always remembering that divorce is a court-handled ugly legal matter.

  • have sex.  Get the order?  Married FIRST, have sex next.  Not the other way around.  Ask God if you don't believe me.  [Many folks contend that the moment you have sex, you ARE married, whether you declare it or not - I've seen some very ugly discussions erupt over this, but I wanted to throw that out for your thinking.]  Spend some time reading His handbook and talking with Him in prayer, you'll find out.

  • have children, if at all possible.  Again, God's design is not to have baby first, then get married if you feel like it.

  • live happily ever after, with no trials, troubles, or tribulations (hey, I'm the author, I can goof around once in a while).

So now we know that in a God-ordained marriage we have both sequential order and random pieces of a puzzle fitting in proper places.  Within Christendom we have been making a mess of this order, and a real sham (shameful disgrace) of what it is supposed to be.  Where in the Bible does it say we can change God's rules of order and get away with it?  I don't have to ask you why we do it, you already know.  What we have to individually ask ourselves is why we keep trying to mutate His order, and to use a metaphor, grow a tree in a different pattern order than what He has designed.

The net result of God's order being disrupted and rearranged is the chaos and disaster we see in so many relationships within Christ's people today.  This is not a counseling session and I am not going to go into the embarrassment and misfortune that many Christians have suffered because they disrupted His order.  Just know that there is His order, and you will make your life much more joyful if you fit within the order you are designed to fit within.

If you are hearing voices telling you that you are lonely, alone, afraid, and so forth, and you find yourself being drawn to something outside of God's known-order, then be alert, the voices aren't coming from Him.  He will not knowingly violate Himself (or you).  The hopeful word is also that He can and will change your life, even if you have screwed up His order in the past.  That is not to say that you can purposely mess up the order like some spoiled brat and expect that you can make it all right later on, so you'll screw up on purpose now, for the seeming fun of it (I'll warn you - His spanking stick for perpetrators like that sort is huge and it hurts a lot in spirit).

Spend some serious time in meditation with Him and find out what His order really is.  It will require some serious time in studying His handbook, the Bible.  He is a gentleman, and He will lead you by His Holy Spirit, showing you what His gentle way really is.  Once it is clear, please don't deviate from His order and design.  To use another order-analogy, I've never seen where a train jumped the tracks and its end-result came out beautiful, it's always an ugly mess.

 

Financing - Business

I decided to pick business as a metaphor as opposed to sports analogies.  I know that the gals in our midst get sick of guys using sports metaphors, so I try to pay attention.  Business has its rules, very finite rules as a matter of fact, no different than sports games.

In the most simplistic terms, there are always customers needing to be served, there are always problems to be overcome, and the service is performed in such a manner as to make it worthwhile, which usually means that some form of profit IS exacted, to make the service worthwhile to the one doing the serving.  Otherwise, the server will go on to something else that is not so worthless, or un-profitable.  If you are not a capitalist, you probably hate my non-communistic description and will dismiss it as too simplistic.  That's okay, the points are still true, whether you like them or not.

All along the way, you will find order.  The company needs to be incorporated, funded, cash flowed and managed a certain way.  If it is not, it still comes under the tax authorities, like it or not - it's called implicit law.  Try evading tax authorities and you'll find out what judgment without grace and mercy really is like.

There is order in the way all customers should be served.  There are all sorts of philosophies about how this is done, from the most absolutely strict militaristic to the most loosey-goosey artistic.  Whatever style is chosen, if the customers aren't being served, as the customers perceive they should be, they simply leave and never come back.  So, it behooves the server to figure out what the proper order is, to serve the customers, in whatever arena of business they are in.  This serving order ties in all aspects of planning, inventory control, people management, equipment management, accounting, and on the list goes, in order to serve customers rightly.

When I was in business school, I read a book by a gent that had a title about teaching you things that they don't teach you in one of the nation's leading business schools.  Somewhat humorous in its rendition, but several items stuck out as street smart.  The author made it a practice to take prospective employee applicants to different venues, instead of sitting in a boring room utilizing a dry pre-written question-answer interviewing venue.  He had many life examples of visceral questions, but as example, he was able to make the application where if the "interviewee" were to cheat on a golf score card or a bowling score card, then what might the person be like within the walls of his business?  Order of an accountable fashion is not upheld, the person is not hired.

Many of my close business friends get together with regularity and play a board game, designed by a businessman.  He didn't like the board game Monopoly because it depicts a lopsided view of business, where there ends up being some "King Of The Hill" winner at the end of the game.  In order to get there, the winner needs to figuratively "kill" all of his friends in the game, as if they are enemy opponents, choking them all to death.

This designer of the game we play observed that in the real world, truly successful business people collaboratively work together to ensure each other's success, without (as gangster-people would say...) whacking (killing) each other.  So, our game is an adult's-version of the child's-type board game of Careers, only much more in depth about actual financial-statement and cash-flow control. 

The creator of the game made an observation where he could see people's business ethics and personality movements of the trade come out within the confines of the game play.  We have been playing the game together for almost four years now, and it turns out that he was right.  How someone is ordered in his real life business doings gets mimicked in how he or she plays the microcosmic board game.  Sometimes we don't like that we are that transparent.  I know that about people, so I don't go around pointing it out to everyone who plays, then they don't get self conscious and embarrassed.

I bring that up here, because in real life we have seen far too many people who exhibit "words" about good business practices, ethical standards, integrity of interactions, and honorable treatment of employees and customers alike, when at the center of the person's business are observed deceptive practices, where the words are simply a ruse while stealing from a bank & customers.  We have a joke amongst us where we have all had our hardest losses come at the hands of one or another who claimed they were a Christian, and now, when someone comes to us bandying about the words where we can supposedly trust them because they are a "Christian," we all grab our wallets and run for the door, before we get held up at gun point.

In each of the cases we have seen where the truly non-trustable business person has ultimately gone down in flames, it has been a result of someone trying to do something "out" of order, out of utter rebellion.  They don't trust because they themselves are un-trustable, which ends up turning the person into a thief, embezzler, gambler, pimp, hit man, war lord, and so forth.  Sometimes, as an example, the distinction between a broker and a pimp may seem fuzzy and gray, but the distinction becomes clear when the lines of integrity, honor, character, ethics, accountability, and alas - Godly order come in to play.  Watch for the temptation to cheat, skip order, circumvent authority, or rationalize away right behavior in your own life - have a group of people with whom you are accountable to, and you will find yourself maintaining Godly order in your business.

 

Men - Women

This is a wonderfully sticky issue in today's society.  As a holdover from the Victorian era at the turn of the 19th into the 20th centuries, children were to be seen and not heard, women were to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, and man was to be the breadwinner, the forager, the hunter gatherer - all the while, the perfect gentleman.  With two world wars fought in the 20th century, a large amount of the population's men went off to learn their methods of management for life, in the military, also leaving the women and children at home for a period of time.

Unfortunately, this was all a brewing pot for some of the worst parts of human character to be simmered in.  Far too many women and children became abused - that's the simplest way to state it.  The societal norm of that style of patriarchal society came under scrutiny and was overthrown.  By the time of the Vietnam conflict in the 60s, women and children had had enough, and were seemingly in rebellion to that Victorian standard of order, standing on their own, without fatherly, husbandly companionship.  One quietly unfortunate scenario is that the divorced wife is still the more unfortunate and financially destitute recipient, when the divorce is finalized.  The larger sadness is that the Godly designed order of companionship is ruined.  God's pattern order is shattered.  Trust is broken,  Emotions run high, and reconciliation becomes a near-impossibility for many, especially without the true Christ.

That societal overlay explains why God's order is largely ignored or abandoned.  In fact, whether we like it or not, in general, God has Function and Role for males and females, adults and children, single and married (remember what I said about assumed genders in marriage above).

To pick up the allegory from above; our roles (order) as men, women, children, adults and so forth are all designed in what could look like a big living jigsaw puzzle.

While we are busy defending whether one or the other has the "right" to do something, even when we think it's Biblically founded, we drift from finding what our God-given "responsibilities" are.

Father does have a place for each of us.  He also has custom-made trials to toughen us up and grow us up.  He is not abusive, as earthly fathers and men might be.  But He does have a place for us.  You might not like the place He has designed, in fact you might absolutely hate it.  You might find yourself in the loneliest place of all when it comes to friendships and relationships.  I'll give something of an encouraging homework assignment at the end of the next section, and see if it helps you find God's order, along with His pleasant and loving ability for you to live out His order in your own personal life.

 

SO WHAT DO I DO?

There are so many examples of order in our lives, and the challenge is exactly what I stated at the start...

How we investigate God's order and then what we do with the evidence we find, is written all over the pages of our personal history book, called OUR LIVES.

If you think about two scenarios, "competition" and "war;" the object in both of them may be to win, but the tact taken many times is the attempted and successful disruption of the opposition's order.  Just think about that a moment.  What competition have you ever been part of?  What are the orderly rules?  How is order disrupted in order for someone to become the winner?  In war, what are the rules or engagement?  How do the soldiers disrupt the order of the enemy in order to be the conqueror?  You may not like this, since we are at war, especially if you think of yourself in a pacifist manner.

In the true Body of Christ, we are not in competition with each other. 

In the realm of spirit-life, we are at war and the enemy is satan and his hordes.  The enemy's tactic is the disruption of our orderly-patterned obedience to Father's designs for our lives.  The enemy, satan, knows full well what Jesus' order is, what Father's blueprint of multiple designs are, and to borrow a phrase from our British friends, satan is always trying to get us to "jump the queue" (which means to get out of line [queue], kick off the reigns of submission, and do something out of order).

 

I leave you with the challenge...

  • What is not going well in your life?

  • Where in your life is there a real problem, even deeply serious ones?

  • Is there a problem situation that has been dogging you, hounding you, for your entire life, to the point of utter exhaustion and distraction?

  • Spend some time on your figurative knees.  More appropriately, spend some time in real spirit-heart-felt prayer, which means you must listen, and carry on conversation of the long-and-meaningful variety, with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Ask.  Mull over.  Listen.  Ask some more.  Listen some more.  Write down.  Rewrite.  Contemplate.  Ask.  Listen.

  • With His help all along the way, you will find yourself laying out the inches on a ruler or the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, or some combination of the two (have you never seen a jigsaw puzzle with the inches laid out up and down the frame sides of the picture, like a carpenter's framing square?), and then putting them into their rightfully designed places.

  • This alone might give you an action-plan for doing things differently (now in God's order) in order to effective change to the positive in your life.  Just remember, a road map by itself doesn't make you take a journey - YOU are going to have to take the obedient steps to bring it to fruition.

  • Once you have the order established, you can then get down to the business of deciding whether you are submitting to His order, or are you actually listening to the author of rebellion, lies and confusion, and following the desires of your own flesh as opposed to Father's loving order.

If you find yourself fighting from the start, resisting the very thought of assembling a road map of discovery of His order and plan for you, guess what you've already discovered?  The root of rebellion (don't be surprised, it's in all of us as sinful beings).  Yup, you're like the quarter horse that's barely in the starting gate at a horse race which can't even be obedient enough to wait patiently for a few moments, and you've lost the race before the race gate even opens.

This all smacks of grabbing hold of Father's discipline (do not read "punishment," because discipline is different) of obedience for us, and this wonderful form of discipline from Father brings us into His never-ending love, each and every day we are here, leading to eternity in His order (yes, there's even order on the other side J ).

 

Matthew 11 : 29-  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in (spirit) heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  30-  For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.

(New American Standard Version [NASV]- AMG Publishers - Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. Greek Study Bible)

 


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