On the Loneliness of The Remnant (Comfort and Encouragement)

Phyllis Nissila

pulic domain flower in cementA fellow blogger over at closingstages.net has posted two recent, eloquently written commentaries [1] on his feelings over leaving the institutional church, at least the institutional church that has shifted from, these are my words, the Rock of Ages to Whatever Rocks Your World and/or that increasingly promotes the “words” of some Church CEO over the Word of God.

     I align with the blogger’s feelings and his concerns and those of others’ of like mind and heart, and I have begun to think of our day in Church history as another “Remnant Time.”

     Remnant Time?

     Historically, believers reduce to a remnant when due to outside pressures or “inside” convictions they, few at first, find it necessary to separate themselves from what has become or what is becoming of the man-made institution known as “the church” because of the encroachment of false teaching.

     I say “man-made” as opposed to what a close read of Scripture reveals about the “real church” which is not brick and mortar, rather, flesh and blood. Spirit, more accurately.

     All who are “the church” by the occasion of our spiritual re-birth do not “attend” church, we “bring” the church “in us” so to speak, to buildings where we gather with others for worship, teaching, and other ministry. Likewise, then, we bring the church everywhere else we go.

     But being human, people sometimes forget all this, I think, what with the allure of external trappings and our proclivity to regard what is seen as the definition of what is not seen and to confuse who is elevated in status in the world with Who is the true Head, Jesus Christ.

     And, of course, there are those who intentionally exploit both our proclivities and our eye for shine (not to mention ignorance of Scripture) for personal gain.

     But back to the remnant. Perhaps the most well-known of such eras was the period of time known as The Reformation when Martin Luther began the return to God’s Word, back to sola scriptura, as opposed to sola Roman Catholic Church with all of its extra-biblical ideas and dogmas. For a period of time only few followed him in part because of the danger of it, in part because it took time for the word to spread.

     Many who follow prophecy believe these days are the end of another era, the so-called “Church Age” just before the Great Tribulation, in which a key element is apostasy, that is, a falling away by many from core tenets of the Christian faith.

     But just like true believers in Luther’s era found it hard to depart from the Catholic church, it is hard for us to walk away from some churches now, too. Heartbreaking, at times. We don’t think of the depth of the emotional fallout until after we express our sincere concerns to the powers-that-be about all the changes taking place and we come to understand we are being ignored, mocked, or rejected in one way or another.

     Others—church and family members, friends—who are either yet unaware or are aware but don’t care—look at us askance.

     “Really?” They say. “And you think you know better than (fill in the blank, here: those with “the authority,” “the annointing,” the fancy educations, the charisma, and/or the vast wealth which must surely indicate “God’s blessing,” etc.)?”

     Well, no, we respond , it’s not about me at all. Or even you, or them. Can’t you see, we plead, that whereas the Scriptures teach such-and-such, the pastor, institution, teacher, or famous Christian author now claims such-and-such? Can you see this just doesn’t mix with classic Judeo-Christian thought and teaching?

     More importantly, we emphasize, do you understand the danger there?

     We want them, as the lyrics of the song “Say Something” embedded in one of the Closing Stages blog posts referenced below suggests, to, well, SAY SOMETHING, something of explanation or comprehension, even if we have to “agree to disagree”. Indeed, we long for them to say anything, because we realize we are, though sorely reluctantly, “giving up on (them) now.” For the sake of truth, we must “give up” on “them” as in those who choose the gospel du jour over the Gospel.

     Or maybe, stepping completing away from the suggestion in the song video, it is the other way around in the relationship. We are the ones “saying no more” because we cannot say what they want as it does not align with truth or, worse, hostility has emerged.

     They won’t, can’t, or don’t want to respond as we long for them to.

     We come to understand that it’s us who must now leave.

     And when the emotional dust clears, we realize here we are with the rest of us lately from the fray, sad, spent, and…

     …alone.

     Or at least, so it feels.

     We take a last long look at the pretty stained glass windows and the group of people among whom are loved friends and family members. We gaze for a few final moments at the treasured artifacts of our spiritual youth and/or adulthood, the pot-lucks and Bible studies and summer camps and we then enter the next phase of, in this context, “following Jesus”: grieving over what was and what we know can no longer be. We trade incense for frankincense and myrrh…

     The words of an old worship chorus, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” come to mind just now:

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back…

(Join “Elevation Worship” for their arrangement, below [2]).

      The loneliness of this realization rests heavy because just as we were “re-born” singly through our solo repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our “departure” is solitary, too, even if accompanied by one or two of like awareness. It is also hard because human beings are designed for fellowship.

     And it is difficult at first because when the doubts and fears crop up in our minds and hearts in the remembered voices of those who think we are crazy, deluded, or apostate ourselves, it is just us, there, in the room, in the stillness.

     With only God’s Word for friend.

     But, ah, and here is the comfort I promised in this commentary: God’s Word, His sayings in the text and through the Word Made Flesh, Jesus, are the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” And they are still powerful.

     While emotions are settling and heart, healing, I encourage each of us—each of you –of the “remnant” to savor the “words” God has already spoken to you on your spiritual journey, words that have guided, delivered, and saved you in days past. Words that have restored you and nurtured you out of other lonely times. For these same words have not lost their potency.

     Review them once again and remember that indeed, you are not alone. He–and we also of the remnant, in increasing numbers–are “here,” too. But most importantly, He Who is both the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:12) ) has promised to “never leave nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

     Be comforted with these words also:

     “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV).

     “God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing…” (Psalm 68:).

     “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

      “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

     And “to the future,” one more “word,” this one an encouragement: I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go: I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

     God has not left His post. He has not forgotten you, and He will continue to guide you, spiritually—and emotionally—to the day when multitudes from every era and tongue assemble together in eternal praise and thanksgiving.

(Easter Sunday 2014).

***

[1]

http://closingstages.net/2014/04/13/the-loneliness-of-the-christian/

http://closingstages.net/2014/04/20/say-something/

[2] http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus/

Elevation Worship” in their version, here:

Photo from the public domain.

 

Posted in Commentaries, Easter/Good Friday themes, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts, spiritual survival, survival tools | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Sustainability–Here and Hereafter

Phyllis Nissila

HERE

Sustainability,” as in environmental management, is The Cause of the day. We have mucked things up pretty good on our planetary home and it’s time to correct, if we can. On our campus, we’ve been “going green” for some time, now.

 

We have a recycling system that has greatly reduced the negative impact of garbage on the grounds.

 

Inside, recycle stations with repositories for trash, cans and bottles, and paper/cardboard discards help keep classrooms and hallways clear.

 

Departments count paper and paper clips carefully and employees are encouraged to keep information in the “virtual cloud” instead of stacking reams of hard copy in crowded storage units.

 

We even have a building with several “green offices” for employees who suffer from allergies to perfumes and other chemicals added to everything from carpets to shampoo.

 

Much effort has gone into the overall project for quite some time, but the rewards are evident and contribute to everyone’s well-being.

 

HEREAFTER

This leads me to thinking about another kind of sustainability. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Devotionals | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Prophecy Puzzle Pieces: Moving Forward

puzzle

For those with eyes to see, ears to hear, daily news to read, and a Bible to study (The books of Daniel and Revelation in particular), these are days of a remarkable confluence of events, patterns, cosmic phenomena, and geo-political machinations unparalleled in human history.

 

Many serious Bible students have shared teachings and understandings on several seemingly disparate yet interconnected prophetic markers that are “fitting” closer and closer together as we glean the bigger picture of an era numerous Bible scholars deem the “end of the Church age,  “end times,” and/or “the last days.”

 

gearsI often picture in my mind’s eye two well-oiled gears meshing together when I think of the “fit” of this and that “tooth,” to use a gear term, of discreet prophecy as it locks into its proper place with the other parts, thus moving the engine of events forward.

 

Offered here is yet another collection of several of the elements currently under discussion and study by the church at large. These topics, presented in notes and graphics, are, as researcher Claire Gumbs puts it, “Only a few of the ‘prophetic puzzle pieces’.”

 

In view of what many believe is the “shortness of time,” Claire shares her work when many Christians are earnestly seeking to comprehend what God may be telling us now. She shares them as an encouragement, as confirmation, and as a reminder to “be about God’s work” in the ways He has called each of us. She welcomes those with further insights to comment.

 

The reader may note the alignment her work has with other “watchers” of prophetic topics and events whose videos, books, sermons, and research reports comprise a growing list of teachings available on the Internet, in Bible believing churches, and in bookstores. I believe her work will enable readers to “view” certain prophetic elements in a unique, perhaps freshly relevant way, particularly those whose learning style is enhanced by visuals. The “slide presentation” includes notes and charts touching on:

  • The “moedim,” or God’s appointed times, i.e., Jewish feasts

  • Significant months (e.g. May, November)

  • Significant numbers (e.g. 19, 40)

  • The metonic cycle

I realize I don’t present all the pieces of this puzzle,” Claire says, “but by putting it out there, I believe others might be able to add to their own studies and to the whole picture of prophetic fulfillment in our time.”

 

See also Claire’s downloads on “Time, History and Messiah the Prince,” “Feasts of the Lord,” the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” Jesus as “Son of God and Son of Man,” along with “text tracts,” featured on my “free downloads” page.

THE SLIDES:

Prophecy Puzzle Pieces slides

***

 

Images from the public domain

Posted in free downloads, most recent posts, prophecy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Seventh Day… (Encouragement)

Phyllis Nissila

 

rest areaCome with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Jesus).

 

Sometimes Jesus sought solitude to escape His enemies, sometimes to commune with His Father, sometimes to pray for strength, and sometimes to rest. He encouraged His disciples to rest, too, as noted in the Mark 6:31 verse above.

 

However, I imagine this was as hard a message for disciples of His era as it is for us today. Continue reading

Posted in Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

“Eye in the Sky” (Comfort)

Phyllis Nissila

the eye of God

This photograph, often referred to as “The Eye of God” [1], brings to mind Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (KJV). It also reminds me of the old hymn, “His Eye is On The Sparrow” [2], a comforting song for him or her beset with sorrow, loneliness, or pain. Continue reading

Posted in Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts, spiritual survival | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On “Mental Hoarding” (Encouragement)

Phyllis Nissila

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

TOXIC STOCKPILES
Recently, I caught a few minutes of a “reality show” on hoarders. Hoarders are people who stockpile, save, and collect things, but to the point the stuff takes over their homes and their lives. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

On Shame and Redemption (Devotional)

Phyllis Nissila

SHAME

His job was to find out what caused the major production error in the company’s overseas affiliate placed under his management.

As he walked down the main factory corridor to meet with the local management team he noticed a wall filled with employee pictures captioned in the regional dialect. He wondered, in passing, if this gallery featured honored workers similar to employee recognition wall displays found in many companies in the United States.

But he soon found out it was not a wall of honor, rather, what the locals called “the wall of shame.” Continue reading

Posted in Devotionals | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment