Christmas and the God of All

Greetings and Holy Felicitations and Blessings,

I have long been remiss in sending out updates, and for that I give my sincere apologies. The links between me and you, my family of friends, are tenuous, and they should be guarded and tended with greater thanks and care than I have. The hardest part of this trial, by far, is the separation from those I love. The food and lack of liberty I can handle. You, my brothers and sisters in Christ — including those who have been part of conflicts, and for whom I pray continually that God would bring reconciliation between us — are my dearly loved and missed family.

Christmas is one of my favourite feast and celebration times. I love holidays and birthdays and traditions, like the rest of my family. I have so many beautiful memories of Christmases past (like when we got a set of huge dictionaries and screamed like a ‘normal’ family getting a gaming system), of times with my family having fun. And somehow with all the presents our parents were able to keep our focus on the giving, not the getting. We loved the gifts, but the joy of giving is what I remember most. People say that’s what Christmas is about — because it is when we celebrate God giving Himself to us. And they are right. But there is more to that picture…

God is infinite, awesome, and great. The Creator, the King of kings, Lord of lords. God and Father of glory itself. Eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, the beginning and the end. He cannot possibly be arrogant because however much He thinks of Himself, He’s right. He is the only person who is perfectly justified in being selfish and self-centered. We glorify Him and He glorifies Himself and He deserves it. He doesn’t owe anyone anything. He could have wiped out the universe and been perfectly right in doing so; we deserve it.

But Jehovah God is greater than that because He is more than Sovereign. He is humble. He is meek and He lowers Himself to care about us, His rebellious creation. “Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.” (Psalm 138:6a) He stoops. He brought Himself down to our level and walked in the dirt with us. He didn’t value His Godhead and glory more than His desire to love, to give.

There are other religions with powerful gods, gods who can do great things. But that’s what’s so special about YHWH. He is not only the greatest God, He is also Jesus. He is a person. He loves. He feels. He hurts. He isn’t any less because He gives.

That’s why, in all the honour and glory and praise we give Him as the God whom all things glorify, and for whose glory all things are done, the ultimate standard of worth, and joy, and righteousness, and truth, we must also remember the other side of His amazing greatness. Our God is more than Everything — He is also humble. He accepts us and our infantile, half-hearted, stumbling love, our weak and dust-made efforts, our offerings of service broken and poorly wrapped… He accepts us.

And that is the greatest gift of all. That when He gave us Himself, wrapping His infinite greatness in finite weakness, He was giving us the ability to give to Him. Not in greed, for what can we give or add to Him? But in generosity, opening Himself up to a relationship of love and humility.

And that is something we should celebrate every day. The Christmas season isn’t over, not for my family (we tend to go from the day after Christmas to January 6th), but the time for giving and loving is never over. So give as Christ gave: humbly. And accept His gift of love.

May the God of all comfort grant you the revelation of His nearness and love, opening your heart as a channel to receive and give His passion and affection,
In the name and love and hope and joy of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus the Christ,
Your brother, Jaymes Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

The Backspace

The button you learn the location of the fastest when you are touch typing is the backspace. It is perhaps the most important key on the keyboard, especially in those beginning practices.

In life, the ability to say, “I was wrong” is even more important. And it is not limited in its necessity to the early years of youth. One would think that we would learn from our mistakes and make fewer of them as we grow older, but in truth only half of that statement is correct. We do learn from our mistakes (faster or slower depending on our humility), but we don’t necessarily make fewer as we go on. The amount of knowledge and wisdom out there in this universe is so vast, that if we never repeated a single mistake and learned every single miniscule bit of prudence immediately upon its presentation, at the end of a thousand years of life we would be no closer to reaching even a significant fraction of the totality of knowledge and maturity. And so we have room to continuously grow. Compared to the fulness of the stature of God, every giant leap of our progression is merely another baby step. To be more accurate, it would be more like an infant’s first efforts to open his eyes and track his mother’s finger. We are blind infants, struggling to see and appreciate the handiwork of our infinite Creator.

How amusing it is to feel that jerk in my heart when I discover that I made a mistake or mistated a fact or misjudged a decision – that tug of remonstrance telling me I shouldn’t have done that, I could have done better, and that I need to somehow cover it up. That ever-present pride of us little manlings, which so easily grows into defensiveness and arrogance, stifling learning. How much better it is to simply confess and say, “I was wrong.” Why should it surprise you?

I sin. I fall. I stumble. I fail. I am not defined by these things, though, praise God. For in His mercy He granted me this respite, this grace, this hope: I can get back up and try again. And as long as I keep trying, as long as I confess my errors and stand up to step forward yet again, I have hope. I have purpose.

The Bible says that just men fall seven times, and rise up again. Repeatedly, over and over, we fail, no matter how righteous we are. What makes us different from the unrighteous sinners is that we hit the backspace and try again. We don’t stop fighting. Even if you get knocked out in the fight and for days you are down, at the mercy of the flesh’s whim and perversion, you can get back up again and say, “no more!” You can confess to God your sin, acknowledge your need of Him and your desire for Him, and take another swing at it.

God’s mercy and faithfulness is likened to the clouds in the Bible. Recently I was looking up at the sky and meditating on this beautiful fact, and marveling at all the ways this is a perfect simile. Look at a cloud and try and grasp the utter vastness of their distance and size – mountains and towers piled on each other, unimaginably weighty, and yet they sit there perfectly placid thousands of feet above the earth. How? It defies reason and perception when you think about it. There is no visible support or engine that maintains their height, and yet they remain. God’s mercy is like that. Inexplicable yet full of wonder and vastness, and of a height we cannot comprehend.

Trust in that mercy. Get up. Try again. Use the backspace.

In love, your brother and fellowservant to Christ,
Jay

O Death, Where is Thy Sting?

Last night in Church service we were singing some of the old hymns – He Lives, Old Rugged Cross, and others having to do with Christ’s death and resurrection. The joy and the spiritual power of the wisdom and love for God in them just overwhelmed me, and I was singing along in the Spirit rejoicing and praising. Such times are the greatest times of joy for me in here, when I am closest to having true peace and rest. When the Holy Spirit fills me with intimate love and joy and worship for my Abba Father, and I am swept away in adoration and gratitude for Him simply being Himself.

While I was singing, I was meditating on death and what it means to a Christian who is intimate with the glory of God. The passage in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 was running in my mind, the phrase, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” consuming my thoughts. After the songs they asked for testimonies, and I of course stood up and said what was on my heart.

Again, the joy of the Lord filled me with wholesome and pure happiness when I was up there testifying to His goodness and His grace. It’s like nothing else to speak of Him, and I just have to share it with you.

I told them how a few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned how a plane had crashed into the ocean, killing all the passengers, and how horrible a death that would be, knowing that in a few minutes you were about to die. I pointed out that we will all die, and we all know it. He said he preferred a quick death. Suddenly, in a flash, I realized something awesome.

I would LOVE to die like that. To know that in a short time I am about to die – to be able to see the countdown of my life drawing nearer to the end… of the beginning. See, I’ve always loved progress bars (ask my family: I’m addicted to watching downloads), and I’m also a big fan of the anticipation part of receiving gifts. That’s half the fun! And what greater gift, what more amazing blessing, than to at last behold my Saviour’s face? What greater arrival is there than our arrival at the last Home? So why not enjoy the anticipation?

I’m not entirely sure I want a lingering death (though I’m sure God would give me the grace to glorify Him in the pain), but an anticipated one I dearly long for. I want to die in a way that I know I am about to do so. I want to look death in the face and laugh and praise God. I want to savour unwrapping that present. I am excited to be able to go Home to my God, and I want to linger over that moment of finally stepping into His arms.

I say I want these things, I say I desire and long for these things, and a lot of people might say that’s a beautiful testimony. Others might shake their heads, tsk tsk in a gently remonstrative manner, and kindly but firmly remind me that we can’t know until we’re faced with it. That I shouldn’t boast about what I haven’t met yet. I totally disagree.

I know and am absolutely assured in God that He always gives grace to meet the need. Every time, no exception. No matter what trial we face, no matter what the circumstances are, we can rest in total peace that He is there in sufficient measure to carry us through to His glory. He never leaves us in the lurch. Now, I know this, and you know this, but how do we know that we will take advantage of that grace? Because after all, we do tend to mess things up pretty bad with our free will in things. In fact, however much latitude God gives us in things, that’s about how much latitude is taken for errors and mistakes. :P We are pretty pitiful – so even if I can trust God… how can I trust me to trust Him when it matters most? Will I turn to Him or to myself in a pinch? * panic *

I’ve always wondered that, and had a great deal of anxiety over it. And the eradication of that fear has been one of the greatest gifts God has given me through this whole trial. I have learned that God comes through not only in providing the grace necessary, but in also helping me take advantage of that grace. How do I know that I will be able to face death calmly and unflinchingly? Because I knew that I would be able to face arrest, conviction, sentencing, taunts, threats of physical harm, violent mockery, and the loss of everything and everyone I hold most dear on this planet with equanimity and faith – and I did. I saw the potentials of each of these things before they happened (sometimes months in advance, sometimes days, sometimes minutes) and I trusted God to make sure that I would honor Him in my response, and I did. I have looked men in the eyes who would like nothing better than to beat me to a pulp, and who were seriously considering doing so, and I loved them. I wasn’t bitter towards them. I witnessed to them. That is nothing, absolutely nothing but God.

Never has He failed me. Never have I sought His face and He turned it from me. In the depths of despair He met me and held me. In the height of fleshly anger He touched me and cooled me. All because He has revealed His glory to me so powerfully that nothing else can touch my love and devotion to Him.

So turn to Him. Trust Him. Seek Him. You can be sure that He will be there for you when you need Him. Every. Time.

Love Him for it.

What Do You Want Me to Sacrifice?

Lately I have been going through some very difficult situations in prison. Interpersonal conflicts form a massive proportion of them, in addition to heretical doctrines trying to subvert the people I care for here (not little issues either – things like the deity of Christ). I am struggling desperately to understand how I ought to respond to them, especially since everything I know and am used to doing in situations like this only exacerbate the problems. I do right, and seek to do right, and I am attacked and slandered for it. In situations like this, my life becomes a burden. I cannot find rest or escape from the issues. I cannot simply go an easier path. There is no other path.

In turning to Christ to cast my burdens on Him and seek wisdom in how to handle these problems how He wants me to, I have come to several realizations.

One is that life is not easy. You would think I would know this by now, but it is incredible how hard the flesh struggles against accepting that fact. My flesh longs for an easy life – to cuddle in a cocoon of non-conflict and simply wait out my days here, happily blessing everyone I come in contact with, growing in the knowledge of God without sacrifice. It doesn’t work that way. Life is a war, and I am being savagely attacked on almost every front right now. I need to face that.

The next among many was incredibly eye-opening and challenging. I was reading an anthology of theological articles edited by John Piper, which included a piece by Francis Chan (the title of the book, if I recall aright, is ‘Thinking, Loving, Doing’ and it is very good). A certain thing he said struck me and I heard God point out my fallacy. I had been seeking Him and asking Him to help me survive and bear up under the pressure and frustration and persecution, for Him to give me peace and to solve my problems. Those aren’t always bad things to ask for. But I suddenly saw the mind of God in this situation, and realized the prayer I should be praying. “Father God, what do you want me to sacrifice of myself in order to gain more of you in this situation?”

As my father would say, this is an investment opportunity for me. This suffering is my share in the sufferings of Christ, and for that suffering I will receive recompense from His life. On earth and in heaven. But He is asking me in this to sacrifice myself. To humble myself and bow, not to my persecutors, but to Him. It is in effect a theological version of the old exercise maxim: “No pain; no gain.”

And so I ask for your passionate intercessory prayer on my behalf. Yes, for me to find peace and accord with those around me; yes, for me to be enabled to teach and reveal God’s glory to those who have ears to hear; yes, for me to bear up under the pain and insults and mockery and persecution and humiliation; yes, for me to have protection physically from attacks; yes, for me to have rest and respite from my trials. But also, for me to find the humility, contrition, and crazy love that God desires me to have; for me to have the courage and faith to sacrifice myself on the altar of service to my God; for me to have the Holy Spirit’s living insight into myself to recognize my own errors and sin that hinder me; for me to be able to eradicate those sins.

In Jesus name and in the power of the Holy Spirit, let us pray these.

Jay Update: Plans for a Secretary

Secretary Bird

Secretary Bird (Photo credit: siwild)

Greetings and salubriosities,

Now then, it’s time for me to explain a bit of one of my plans: I need a secretary.

See, I only have email access three times a day, 15 minutes per session, sessions need to be at least 30 minutes apart, and it takes a while for emails sent to and from JPay (the email service) to be approved and sent. Useful, but very limited. As such, letters will still play a big role in my communications with you all. Phone calls are expensive and difficult to set up, but not impossible (discussion about that will come later).

Thus, I need help on the outside, as I can’t handle everything I want to do from in here. It’s like I’m a digital quadraplegic… and I need a person to help out. * grins *

My plan is to write things as I can, and have my secretary receive them, edit them, post and distribute them, monitor replies, and ferry responses back to me that I need to see. My secretary would also help get people connected with me, look stuff up I need to find, coordinate my money on the outside, and all in all help keep things running. It will take time, but not all of the person’s time. But when something needs doing, the secretary will need to be reliably and consistently on top of it. I’ll also need to be able to trust whoever it is, of course, not only to have integrity, but to be able to handle things as I would (and not to edit my stuff to the point of non-recognizability, hehe). Most of the details would have to be worked out between me and the secretary, but that’s the gist of it.

A HWer would be optimum, I don’t necessarily require someone I knew back before the arrest and whatnot, and I don’t particularly care what time zone he or she is in.

The secretary will have to be over 18, of course, since I can’t communicate with minors. Familiarity with social networking is also important, since you’ll be running my streams. With that, a bit of web design and development savvy would be nice, but definitely not needed. :) I’ll want to be able to maintain phone contact with my secretary, so we’ll have to work that out too – willingness and ability to set up and pay for a forwarding number to save on long-distance calls is a plus.

If you are interested, or if you know of someone I might be able to coerce (heehee) into it, drop an email to my brother Patrick (patrick.lauser@gmail.com) to let him know – I’ll be in touch with him. Or drop me a line personally via JPay as well – either are great.

I know that most people who have the maturity and the energy to do this kind of thing are already up to their ears in time-consuming projects (* chuckles * a lot of which are of my own initiation I’m sure), and people with time on their hands are a rarity among those able to do this. Know this: being my secretary can be exhausting. * grins * It’s generally more of a handful than expected. But if you believe you have the time, and the commitment to try, go for it, and we’ll see how it goes. :)

Hope to hear from you soon!

God bless and be with you all in strength and wisdom,
In the name and love of Christ,
Jaymes aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

 

(Posted by Patrick.

Here is Jay’s mailing address:

Jaymes D Lauser 361053
Monroe Correctional Complex
Twin Rivers Unit
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272

To email him:

Make an account with https://www.jpay.com/PEMessages.aspx
Search for Jay. Buy stamps.
You need one stamp per “page” of email you are going to send, and it is at least 17 cents per stamp.

Thank you muchly!)

Kitchen Duty!!

Taken around the kitchen in Netherlands.

Image via Wikipedia

I like washing dishes. By hand. With lots and lots of hot soapy water. I don’t care if it’s just one plate, or a mountain of dishes with pans of slop.

I also like using the dishwasher, though. The organizational challenge is enjoyable. Sweeping is fun too, as is mopping. Dusting is loads of fun, as well as cobweb hunting. Polishing is fascinating, and toilet scrubbing is exciting.

Okay, I’ll stop there… though I could go on.

I didn’t use to like cleaning, or chores in general actually. I hated it, and did all I could to get out of it, even to the point of waging a three year war over dishes with my mother. That was the old life. I was lazy, sloppy, and lethargic when it came to work. :P

But the odd thing was… if you gave me a stick and a briar patch to clear, I’d labor with dedication and fervor for hours a day, even for weeks, until I was done. Just don’t call it a chore. Call it a fortress in construction. Hollowing out ‘houses’ in monstrous blackberry patches remained one of my favorite pastimes for the majority of my childhood. Building any kind of fortress, climbing trees, running my feet off, digging holes, lugging logs all over the place, making swings, all were dearly loved pastimes.

But they were all work. Hard, sweaty, grueling labor.

And I liked it.

Why not the others? It’s a mystery of human nature, I guess. It’s more complicated than I’m willing to ferret out. All I know is this: it wasn’t good, and I’ve changed.

I chose to be different, and through God’s Spirit working in me, I became a new person.

I am living proof that it is a choice. You can decide to enjoy practically anything, good or bad. It is a gift that God has given us, the ability to choose our desires.

We can choose to love Him. We can choose to love ourselves. We can choose to love work. We can choose to love chocolate. We can choose to love beans and peas and brussels sprouts and liver and all that delicious stuff.

Is it hard? Oh yes.

But God made us to do hard things. Life is not worth anything without challenge, without difficulty, without pain. Hardness is where we meet the grace of God… where we meet Him.

Honestly though, choosing to enjoy washing dishes once is relatively easy. At least compared to other hard things you could be doing. You don’t meet God much that way.

The real hard thing, though, the bit which makes all these little hard things become one great thing, is to change who you are to become someone who likes things.

Be the person who is content in whatever situation he is in. No matter how filthy, no matter how hard, no matter how ‘undesirable.’

Be the person who is willing to do the job no one else wants to… who is really willing, even eager.

You see, changing who you are is the greatest and hardest thing of all. Choosing to identify yourself in something you aren’t, crafting yourself, molding yourself into an image of something you want to be. That is what great men do.

That is what God does in you.

I challenge you then, mold yourself into the image of Christ by choosing to enjoy glorifying Him in the little hard things.

Right now.

Ask, Seek, Knock [from the Archives]

Bible

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Sometimes the old things come back to teach us again. This is a message I really think I need to share again with you all. It is a repost from 2009, in my early blog days. Enjoy. :)

Greetings,

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Devotions are important: crucially important. I am ashamed of how often and how much I have neglected to realize just how important they are. Oh yes, I would do them, but they would be more ‘me-time’ than ‘devoted-to-God’ time. Doing devotions right and getting stuff out of them is just as important as doing them in the first place. Time and focus is a major part of our treasure: ask any businessman. But where are we investing our time, and how are we investing it? Are we truly setting aside time out of our schedules and our hearts for God? I was assuredly not very devoted in my devotions before, and it affected every area of my life.

But what good is it to spend two hours in prayer and two hours in Bible reading every day if you get no fresh, new insights, strength or hope from them? Some people would say that it does not matter: read it anyway. But how many of us have considered that it might be that we are reading the Scriptures the wrong way? Practice only makes perfect if you are practicing right: practicing playing baseball holding the bat from the wrong end will not help you much (it actually might for all I know, I know practically nothing about sports, but I needed an example). The Pharisees were experts in the Scriptures if reading it was all it took: they had all of it memorized, with the commentaries. We ought to do more.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them,] because they are spiritually discerned.

So how ought we to pray and read our Bibles? Well, it is evident from Scripture that the unsaved cannot understand the Scriptures, for their minds are corrupted and earthly, and cannot understand heavenly things. When we are saved, we are given the Holy Spirit, which opens up to us the mysteries of God. Without the Holy Spirit we are helpless. But that means that if we do not rely upon the Holy Spirit, then we are just as helpless as the lost in reading God’s Word, which is a very sad condition.

So we see that we must needs rely on God, and not on ourselves in our devotions. And this is where the title of my article and my text verse comes in. I have learned that we can have utter faith that after every devotion time, we can come away with a new, fresh, empowering truth for the day. But this can only happen by faith and prayer. But it can happen every time: it is a promise from God. To expect anything else is belittling and dishonoring to God. So how do we do this? We ask, seek, and then knock!

First, as we prepare for our devotions, before we approach God in prayer or in His Word, we ask Him in faith to guide us by His Holy Spirit, and to open our eyes, that we may behold the wondrous things that He has for us in His Word. Then, instead of just sitting there and waiting for a voice like a trumpet or a still small voice to speak out of the blue and say: “Pray about ***, then go to Philippians 1:7-9 and see the note that I put in there for you,” we go and seek. Go looking for God’s insights in His Word or start praying about your day or whatever is on your list that you need to pray about. But when something seems to stick out off the page, or if you do not understand something: stop, for you might very well have found it. Then knock, asking God to open it up to you. Sometimes He will use one thing to get you to somewhere completely different, but He always will show you something. And it will be what He knows you need.

This is a Biblical pattern, and the promises are true and faithful, but I will not be so prideful as to say that this is the only way to do your devotions. I am only stating that it has transformed my devotions in the past two days. If you have any other tips, mindsets, Scriptures, experiences, or insights, please feel free to comment (comments are better because others get to see what you say as well) to let me know. This is something that we can all grow in, and I am finding that I need to grow in it especially.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

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