Enter The Holiest

"Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." 

We have finally departed from the preface of the book The Holiest of All, and now find ourselves in the introduction. Andrew Murray provides the perfect setup. He begins by discussing the author of the Epistle of Hebrews, which is unknown. You can find the entire writing here.

Once Mr. Murray outlines the object of the book, he continues by implying how the book could be relevant to the present time. This is where I find my particular calling. (Remember this book was written in 1894). With anticipation of things to come I present an excerpt of the introduction to The Holiest of All by Andrew Murray:

In the Christian Church of our day the number of members is very large, whose experience corresponds exactly with that which the Epistle pictures and seeks to meet.

How many Christians are there yet who, after the profession of faith in Christ, come to a standstill? “Taking more abundant heed to what they hear;” “giving diligence to enter into the rest of God;” “pressing on to perfection;” “running with patience the race”—just these are the things which are so little found.

So many rest contented with the thought that their sins are pardoned, and that they are in the path of life, but know nothing of a personal attachment to Christ as their Leader, or of a faith that lives in the invisible and walks with God.

With many this is the consequence of the hopelessness that came from the failure of their utmost efforts to live as they desired. They struggled in their own strength; they knew not Christ as the secret of strength; they lost heart, and went back.

The profession of faith is not cast away; religious habits are kept up; but there is nothing to show that they have entered or are seeking to enter the Holiest to dwell there.

The power of the world, the spirit of its literature, the temptations of business, and pleasure, all unite to make up a religion in which it is sought to combine a comfortable hope for the future with the least possible amount of sacrifice in the present.

The Epistle, with its warnings, is indeed a glass in which the Church of the present day may see itself.


The Higher Truth

The contemplation of the words of Andrew Murray in his preface to the book The Holiest of All have begun to echo through my soul. Clearly, it meant a great deal to him.

The Book of Hebrews has been referred to as the “fifth Gospel.” The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describe what Jesus did while He was on earth. This fifth Gospel shows what Jesus Christ is doing now, in Heaven (source unknown).

Personally, I have never been able to read the Epistle of Hebrews without weeping. While I hope that never changes, I am excited to break through to the deeper truths that make this Epistle so special.

At first, it seemed ridiculous that I was encountering so many obstacles to getting this study started; now I realize that the wisdom in Mr. Murray’s preface is a beautiful foundation to build upon.

Therefore, I present to you part III in the preface to our study of The Holiest of All, by Andrew Murray:

The cure the Epistle has for all our failures and feebleness, the one preservative from all danger and disease, is—the knowledge of the higher truth concerning Jesus, the knowledge of Him in His heavenly priesthood.

In connection with this truth, the writer has three great mysteries he seeks to unfold. The one is that the heavenly sanctuary has been opened to us, so that we may now come and take our place there, with Jesus in the very presence of God.

The second, that the new and living way by which Jesus has entered, the way of self-sacrifice and perfect obedience to God, is the way in which we now may and must draw nigh.

The third, that Jesus, as our heavenly High Priest, is the minister of the heavenly sanctuary, and dispenses to us its blessings, the spirit and the power of the heavenly life, in such a way that we can live in the world as those who are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, and in whom the spirit of heaven is the spirit of all their life and conduct; the heavenly priesthood of Jesus, heaven opened to us day by day, our entering it by the new and living way, and heaven entering us by the Holy Spirit.

Such is the gospel to the Hebrews the Epistle brings, such is the life to which it reveals the way and the strength. The knowledge of the heavenly character of Christ's person and work is what alone can make heavenly Christians, who, amid all the difficulties and temptations of life on earth, can live as those whom the superior power of the upper world has possessed, and in whom it can always give the victory.


The New Covenant Blessings

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and
in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.”

We continue with a review of the preface to the book The Holiest of All. Andrew Murray wrote this in the year 1894. If Christians were struggling with their maturity even then, without all of the distractions we have now of instant communication, instant news, and instant everything, I can imagine he would be deeply troubled at what is taking place today.

As a reminder, he is introducing a study of the Epistle of Hebrews in this preface. He continues with a very moving admonition that I hope many of you will prayerfully consider:

The knowledge of Christ Jesus that we need for conversion does not suffice for growth, for progress, for sanctification, for maturity.

Just as there are two dispensations, the Old Testament and the New, and the saints of the Old, with all their faith and fear of God, could not obtain the more perfect life of the New, so with the two stages in the Christian life of which the Epistle speaks.

Those who, through sloth, remain babes in Christ, and do not press on to maturity, are ever in danger of hardening their heart, of coming short and falling away.

Only those who hold fast the beginning firm to the end, who give diligence to enter the rest, who press on unto perfection, do in very deed inherit and enjoy the wonderful new covenant blessings secured to us in Christ.

And the great object of the Epistle is to show us that if we will but follow the Lord fully, and yield ourselves wholly to what God in Christ is ready to do, we shall find in the gospel and in Christ everything that we need for a life of joy and strength and final victory.


A Complete Christian Life

I finally feel free to begin a review of what we have already covered of Andrew Murray's book The Holiest of All. This updated post is titled A Complete Christian Life and was originally published September 30, 2013.

As much as I love the book of Hebrews, I have never had the mental stamina for an in-depth study. God has chosen this time for me to pursue it. I anticipate great things from this book.

After much searching through my usual resources for commentary or illustration, I keep coming back to the same place repeatedly. Nothing can come close to the treasure I found in Andrew Murray’s classic book The Holiest of All. The following is a brief summary of the book:

It is only the full and perfect knowledge of what Christ is and does for us that can bring us to a complete Christian life. In this study of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Murray explains: how to have a life of joy, strength, and final victory; the cure for all our failures and weaknesses; how to destroy the Devil's power; God's holy place; the power of the blood; the witness of the Holy Spirit; and false and true riches.

It is interesting that Andrew Murray opens with a statement that could not ring more truly for this day and age. Therefore, I begin this journey at his preface to the book:

When first I undertook the preparation of this exposition in Dutch for the Christian people among whom I labor, it was under a deep conviction that the Epistle just contained the instruction they needed.

In reproducing it in English, this impression has been confirmed, and it is as if nothing could be written more exactly suited to the state of the whole Church of Christ in the present day.

The great complaint of all who have the care of souls is the lack of whole-heartedness, of steadfastness, of perseverance and progress in the Christian life.

Many, of whom one cannot but hope that they are true Christians, come to a standstill, and do not advance beyond the rudiments of Christian life and practice.

And many more do not even remain stationary, but turn back to a life of worldliness, of formality, of indifference.

And the question is continually being asked, what is the want in our religion that, in so many cases, it gives no power to stand, to advance, to press on unto perfection?

And what is the teaching that is needed to give that health and vigor to the Christian life that, through all adverse circumstances, it may be able to hold fast the beginning firm to the end.


The Truth Shall Make You Free

“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” John 1:1 Amplified Bible

The first time I read this, I was stunned. Does this really mean the Word is Christ?

I found this decent explanation in Wikipedia:

In Christology, the concept that the Christ is the Logos (Greek: Λόγος for "word", "discourse" or "reason") has been important in establishing the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ and his position as God the Son in the Trinity as set forth in the Chalcedonian Creed.

The concept derives from the opening of the Gospel of John, which is often simply translated into English as: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In the translations, "Word" is used for Logos (λόγος), but in theological discourse, this is often left untranslated.

I was on a quest for freedom. I owned nearly every Bible study written on freedom in Christ. However, I was too weak to absorb most of what was taught. Thankfully, I have owned an Amplified Bible for 25 years. There is somewhat of a commentary built into the text of the Amplified. Each day I could sit down with my Bible, and I was convinced that Christ would lead me to freedom.

This is one of my favorite scripture verses on freedom in Christ, “So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 Amplified Bible

At this point in my journey, I put aside all my books and I began to adopt more study Bibles and commentaries. While I am not a Charismatic, Jack Hayford was one of the first teachers that I was exposed to, mostly through Stormie Omartian (author of the series of Power of Praying books). He was her first pastor and was a great influence on her life and ministry.

I found this commentary on John 8:32 in the Spirit Filled Life Student Bible (Executive Editor Jack Hayford)::

When people discover the truth in Jesus Christ, they are always set free emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. While religion may confuse and oppress, God’s truth always produces freedom, wholeness, and positive growth.

The difference between authentic biblical Christianity (and a living relationship with Jesus Christ) and cults is that real Christianity creates free people. Sin, or a violation of God’s Word, enslaves people; but truth sets them free.

It goes on to say:

The word know (Greek: ginosko) means ‘to perceive’, to understand’, ‘to realize’, that knowing biblical truth is different from just intellectual or mystical knowledge. It is a knowing in the heart that transforms the human personality and causes a change in a person’s behavior. This is because people can only know truth by practicing it.

In the same article from Wikipedia as above, the following idea came from an article in Christianity today:

Theologian, N.T. Wright, characterizes ‘Word’ (logos) as being incomprehensible in human language. He claims that through belief the Logos will transform people with its judgment and mercy.

And this my friends is precisely how it is done.


Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2014

Human trafficking Awareness Day is dedicated to raising awareness of sexual slavery and human trafficking worldwide. It started in 2007, when the U.S. Senate designated January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Although it is a U.S. initiative, the United Nations has begun to highlight this topic and is working towards global awareness.

Here are some statistics from the International Justice Mission:

Injustice Today

Today, millions of lives around the world are in the grip of injustice.

More children, women and men are held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade: Millions toil in bondage, their work and even their bodies the property of an owner.

Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 32 billion dollars a year for those who, by force and deception, sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage. Nearly 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry. The AIDS pandemic continues to rage, and the oppression of trafficking victims in the global sex trade contributes to the disease's spread.

In many countries around the world, pedophiles find that they can abuse children with impunity. And though police should be protectors, in many nations, their presence is a source of insecurity for the poor. Suspects can be held interminably before trials, imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.

The land rights of women are violated on a massive scale worldwide, but with particular ferocity in Africa, leaving widows and other women in vulnerable positions unable to care for themselves or their children. Around the world, women suffer the double trauma of rape - and seeing their perpetrators face no consequences.

Often lacking access to their own justice systems and unable to protect themselves or their families from those more powerful, it is overwhelmingly the poor who are the victims of these brutal forms of abuse.

Facts about Human Trafficking Awareness

Each year, nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. (UNICEF)

27 million men, women and children are held as slaves. (Kevin Bales, Disposable People)

1 in 5 women is a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. (U. N. Development Fund for Women)

According to UNICEF, 2 million children are estimated to be trafficking victims of sex trade each year.

The average age of a girl being forced into the US domestic sex slavery market is 13.

The average cost of a slave around the world is $90.

What can you do?

Talk to children about strangers and make sure they memorize important addresses and phone numbers.

Donate to an organization that fights human trafficking.
You can find such organizations on my End Slavery page.

Save 888-373-7888 to your phone. This is number to the National Human Trafficking Resources Hotline. This hotline will help you:

– Identify local community resources to help victims
– Give you contact information so that you can reach out to them
– Coordinate with local social service organizations to help protect
and serve victims so they begin process of restoring their lives

A Clean Heart Before God

I am continuing to update past blog posts to ready them for moving to the new site. I can hardly wait to get back to the peaceful rhythm of Andrew Murray's The Holiest of All. This post is titled A Clean Heart Before God and was originally published April 20, 2012.

“Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.” Psalm 51:1-3 HCSB

If we are following Christ’s teachings then we can be certain that God will highlight any sinful behaviors that need to be addressed in our lives. What if your sin is caused by an attitude that was created in you because of something you experienced? Maybe even as a child.

In the book Living the Extraordinary Life by Dr. Charles Stanley, he says in the chapter God Refines Us By Fire:

God deals not only with acts of transgression, but also with preprogrammed attitudes from youth. For many believers it isn't a matter of overt sin or not loving the Lord, but something from the past that may be stunting spiritual growth.

He went on to say, “the Lord sends adversity intense enough to cause deeper examination than usual.”

One of the things that God showed me over time was an underlying anger I had. It would rise up in me under pressure, and I hated the way it made me feel and act. The Biblical definition of repent is a change of mind that results in a change of action; I was ready for change.

At the time, there were circumstances in my life creating very intense pressure. During a period of fasting, I found my way to Psalm 51 and I began to see how to pray for a clean heart. Somehow God actually used the pressure in my life to get me to a point where I was able to begin to yield (give up) my anger to Him. I cannot really explain it, but I am certain that it was God somehow purging my heart under that intense pressure.

I wish there was an easier way. It was extremely painful to say the least. And this process continued for quite a long while. In fact, sometimes I still feel the pressure. It beckons me to surrender my broken will for his perfect will in my life. I know God does this to help us reach our spiritual potential.

Someone once told me that cancer could be caused by turning anger on self. I did that for a long time. I pushed it down inside of me because I knew it was sinful behavior. Ultimately, I believed that God wanted to set me free of it.

And He is.

The Spoon Theory

I had something special planned for the blog this week. However, my plan fell through. I just could not figure out how to make it work for the people who visit from other countries. I strive to make everything translatable as much as possible.

In addition, I ran out of spoons. Not literally, but metaphorically. While I am much stronger than I was last year at this time, the holidays always cause me to push myself too hard. Maybe next year I will remember to just take a break from the blog.

Let me explain: If you are one of the millions of people who have a physical condition that makes it difficult for you to function daily then I want to present you with a message that changed my life. If someone you love or even know is struggling then please share it with him or her as well. Many people have been blessed by this gift of communication. It has a way of setting you free from pressures beyond your control.

You can find it here: The Spoon Theory

I am also going to post the whole thing below so you can easily translate it if necessary (beware, it’s a bit long!):

The Spoon Theory
by Christine Miserandino

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; ... I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make yourself something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.”

I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her a spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

© Christine Miserandino