Do Not Immerse

I enjoy getting kitchen gadgets. I love trying out new things and seeing what they can do. Of course, I try to be good and discipline myself to read the user manual first. You know, operation may seem obvious, but no so much with all safety issues. I want to get the most out of my small appliance after all, and have it last for years of solid use.

The things they warn you not to do in the manual can be a little humorous, don’t you agree? I picture the developers sitting around a table talking through all the crazy things that could happen to pose hazards. “Do not use while sleeping” is my personal favorite.

Then again, the warnings may be the product of a table full of lawyers talking about the unbelievable claims they have defended against.

And then again, maybe it’s the government thinking of ways to protect us from ourselves–scary in its own right.

Small kitchen appliances, made to be around liquid and reasonably built to be proof against it (as opposed to, like, box fans or something), should be ready for some splashing and a good soapy rag being applied as needed. The recommendation may be more of the “wipe clean with a damp cloth” variety, but it takes a lot of elbow grease to get that spatter-you-overlooked-until-it-turned-to stone to let go.

You would really love to scrub that thing with some good hot dishwater sometimes, wouldn’t you?

That being said, one thing the designers probably never debate among themselves is slapping a “Do not immerse” stamp on the outside of your shiny new appliance. For good measure they plaster that directive right at the top of the WARNING list in the manual.

I suppose the engineers can only do so much. They make sure the appliance is sealed in a way that keeps the user safe from the splashes, the wiping, and even the elbow grease applied with an extra damp rag. The outer case is designed to withstand these limited exposures to moisture,so that the liquids drain right off, are wiped up, and no harm is done. What is different about immersion?

Physics class (or was it chemistry?) taught me the powerful effect of pressure applied under the surface of a body (or sink-full) of water. The concentration of water molecules exerts pressure that grows stronger with the water’s depth (think about those heavy metal diving bells needed for deep sea exploration). The pressure exerted all around an appliance means water will find a way inside if you immerse it.

Trust me on that one, but please don’t ask how I know.

Are we made that way? As an Apostolic Pentecostal I have long known the value of following holiness principles in my life. Being pulled out of the filth of the world when I repented, getting cleaned up when I was baptized in Jesus’ name, and having God Himself come to live in me when I was filled with the Holy Ghost was the defining moment of my life and brought a treasure I want to always guard. So, living by holiness principles for me simply means I recognize that what goes into my heart matters because it affects the Holy Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, living inside me.

I know it is unavoidable that splashes of things the world thinks are awesome but God detests will come in contact with my mind and spirit. I do not live in a cocoon: I work, I read, I drive, I shop. I cannot insulate myself from every word or image that would be offensive.

I have recently learned more clearly, however, that it matters whether or not I immerse. Splashes are one thing; immersion is another. One is unavoidable for anyone living a full life. The other is a choice I make consciously.

Where am I most in danger of choosing immersion? Most often with the type device you may be using to read this post. The hand-held super-computer we blithely call a mobile device: a cellphone, tablet, or laptop.

The device itself is not so much the issue. (I will insert here, though, that I made a choice years ago not to utilize a television, because, as I see it, the only function of that appliance is immersion, bringing a constant barrage of seeing and hearing.)

With a cellular device (euphemism for phone), I can opt to use the thing for talking to friends, family, or businesses. I can send messages, check my email, consult my weather app, peek into my bank account, or dive off into whatever social media platform my friends and family utilize.

While the list of what that little device can do is pretty encompassing in itself, the “diving in” part is where I see the immersion coming to bear. When I subject myself to scrolling through a feed, such as on social media, I,

a) don’t know what is coming next,

b) have little control over what someone might throw in to spice things up a bit,

c) tend to lose track of time.

Worse still, that behavior–much like eating sweets–tends to create an appetite for itself. I have seen occasions where I laid the phone down for about 15 seconds only to pick it up again because my brain felt the momentary lack of input as a problem to be corrected.

What is the real problem? I became aware a few years ago that I was being affected by something that was keeping my response to the things of God from being as fresh and immediate as it had once been. I asked God about that, and the response I felt in my spirit was that the root cause had to do with the things I was seeing and hearing.

Does that sound familiar?

“For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds,” 2 Peter 2:8.

Peter was referring to Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who made some very bad choices and lost his family because of it–some in the fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah, one who looked back on the way out, and two who fell apart after getting out just before the city was utterly destroyed.

According to Peter, though, Lot was not that person until he pitched his tent toward Sodom and immersed himself in that sinful culture. What he, that “righteous man,” saw and heard in Sodom worked on him and worked on him until he became part of it. We have no record that Lot was committing the sins of Sodom, but he became tied to that culture to the point that he could not cleanly remove himself or his family when the time came to do so.

How hard is it? I can remember how it seemed simpler to me to keep my heart pure from the world in the old days when a television was the main thing I had to stay away from, in order to avoid unwanted influences. It was even easier to avoid walking into the library and picking up a book I knew was not healthy or driving off to a theater to watch something conjured up by a heart that was not after God, because it took effort to get myself into contact with those things.

This little “appliance” is almost always with me, so convenient, that no one even has to know what I am seeing on it. I bear responsibility for what I could easily allow it to become to me: a television, an adult bookstore, or even a movie theater if I so desired. And you would never have to know.

My spirit would know. My responsiveness to the Spirit of God would be further diminished. As it is lately, I have received reminders through preaching and other input to back off my interaction with that device, limit my time on social media, and increase my time in the Word, the presence of God, and in service to others to fill up what should be on the inside. That type behavior has to provide some insulation against immersion.

How about you? Are you mindful of where your inner self receives its influences? Be careful how you conduct yourself around input that would short-circuit all that is good and meaningful in your life. Make up your mind to heed the warning: DO NOT IMMERSE.

Denying Jesus

What does denying Jesus look like? How does it sound?

We who are striving to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Ghost are aware there is a time coming upon the earth (that has already begun in many places) when believers will have to choose to deny the Lord or be killed. We know a man of sin is to be in power who will require a mark to be taken by all living upon the earth in order to buy or sell, but to take it will be to damn one’s soul to hell.

We are fully assured that we will stand for Jesus to the end, if we are doing our best to obey and serve Him now. I want to be ready for what is coming on the earth and be serving God with all my heart in this hour, to be ready for that hour.

The idea of denying Jesus is on my mind this week since reading the gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ arrest and Peter’s responses. Jesus had just told the disciples they needed swords (Luke 22:36). They told him they had two, and Jesus said, “It is enough.” Not surprisingly, one of them belonged to the bold and sometimes brash Apostle Peter.

Peter was no doubt sure of his course of action as he faced a multitude from the high priests and Pharisees carrying swords, torches, and lanterns. He drew his own sword and made a stand, though greatly outnumbered. Though Jesus rebuked Peter for this response and allowed himself to taken into custody, we see that Peter’s desire to fight for his Lord was strong.

No doubt confused and uncertain where this would lead, Peter followed the crowd from afar. John records another disciple being there, but all the rest had all fled. I cannot claim to understand what Peter was thinking; we only know what he said and what he did with what was going on around him.

Think on Peter a moment. Here is a man who has been told he would deny his Master. He had vehemently insisted that this would not happen, and then had demonstrated his readiness to fight when the first wave of danger hit. As he stood by the fire in the hall where Jesus was held, his thoughts had to be on what the Lord had told him: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat…” Luke 22:31. Jesus had warned them all that they would be offended, and when Peter protested Jesus said, “…this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice,” Mark 14:30.

Peter, I believe, would have been on guard about Jesus’ warning. Knowing a pit is ahead should, in theory, enable you to avoid falling in, right? What if Peter intended to watch for an opportunity to grab Jesus and get out of there when they let down their guard? We know he was watching what he could of the proceedings, and I imagine he was playing out in his mind the scenes that might occur. If Peter and I have anything in common, he would have been the hero in every one.

Would this be a possible reason for his brushing off questions from the crowd watching Jesus as he was? The ones questioning him were not officials, just servants or other members of the public as far as we are told. If Peter intended to make a stand for Jesus, even one where he could lose his own life, surely he pictured it being with the high priest or some other official demanding to know his allegiance, don’t you agree? These minions standing around the fire with him were not who he had come to stand against.

Could we pretend for the sake of creating a picture of his mental processes that he was trying to keep his cover intact so that he was not escorted out of the hall, or else arrested and kept from any role where could have helped?

Make no mistake, I make no excuses. I am only wondering whether Peter recognized too late that these small occurrences were what mattered so much to Jesus. Peter had in fact denied Jesus three times before he realized the real test of his allegiance had already come.

Perhaps in his bitter weeping, he remembered some of the words of Jesus:

“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much,” Luke 16:10.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heave,” Matthew 7:1.

“Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity,” Luke 13:27

The spirit of the words of the Apostle Paul would pen later could been in his spirit as well:

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him…,” Titus 1:16.

Peter knew in that moment that nothing of what he had said for Jesus could redeem his failure to act on His behalf in what may have seemed mundane at the moment.

Peter had intended to stand, and had even made a stand. Perhaps he failed because he was unable to recognize that this scenario mattered. He was ready, he felt, for the big moment when he would show his fierce devotion, but he tragically overlooked the little things that mattered to Jesus right at that moment.

Jesus turned and looked Peter in the face as the sound of a cock crowing rang out in his ears.

Are there things in the Word of God you are overlooking while holding on to the image of walking boldly to the executioner to take your stand for Jesus? Are you being faithful with what is put in your hands: time, money, or the intercessory Spirit Jesus longs for you to use?

Worse, yet, have you undersold the idea of whether obedience to the commandments of Jesus is even essential to see Him in peace at His return? I submit to you that unless you are committed to being diligent in obedience, you will never make it through the the things that are coming on the earth, not the least of which is the prominent spirits of lethargy and apathy.

Obedience matters.

Details matter.

Holiness matters.

Will you take a closer look at how you have viewed your obedience in the light of how Jesus views it? Have you stepped over the original message of salvation in favor of a more modernized version that doesn’t make as many waves? Are you sure your obedience qualifies you to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” when Jesus returns?

Check out these other ideas on standing for Jesus or denying Him:

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