21 December 2020

The sacrifice of the pagans, be it the blood of animals or the fasting, denial and medication, the emptying, the removal of meat from the diet will not deal with your guilt and your broken conscience. A broken and sorrowful conscience is a good thing, for a godly sorry leads to a change. You seek God.

Hannah was given peace as she vowed that any son she had would be dedicated to God as a Nazerite, from birth. We know that her pleading led to the birth of Samuel, but she did not know that. She was grieving, and nothing her husband — who loved here — would do assuaged this.

But in that time, before the Reformation that was Christ, the word of the high priest had power, and his blessing was sought. At Yom Kippur he pled for the sins of the nation, done unwittingly. And he alone would enter the gates of the most holy place.

1 Samuel 1:1-18

1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2 He had two wives. The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favour in your eyes.” Then the woman went on her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

Hebrews 9:1-14

9 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

I’m reformed, and the idea that we are all guilty by our own fault is woven into my theologial DHA. Roosh is Orthodox, God bless him, and they have a nuanced approach, but the end result is the same. Without the saving blood of Christ, we tend to evil.

The biggest mistake that secular people make is believing that thoughts from their minds are theirs, and are therefore worth listening to or following, but if you are not in communion with God, much of your thoughts will be evil. The Orthodox Church teaches that demons have the ability to put thoughts into your mind, and when combined with other thoughts that derive from your own flesh, it shouldn’t be hard to see that most of your thoughts should be ignored. Most of your judgments are wrong. For some people, all are wrong. Thankfully, God and the angels can seed beneficial thoughts, and our conscience can never be completely annihilated, but don’t assume you’re totally in the clear where anything you think of must certainly come from a place of good.

In the past, I assumed that the demons would want me to suffer and experience pain. In the next life, yes, but in this life they give you all the pleasures and worldly rewards you can handle.

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I think, most days, I’m a reasonable parent. But I don;t give the kids everything they need. I have a kind of gift game with son two where every present must have some assembly required. YOu don;t give a young child a puppy unless you are prepared to train it and interact with it. And you don’t give your kids toxins.

What you need to do is train them

Which is what God does for us. He confronts our faults. He gives us times of struggle — and this year that struggle has been pretty universal. At times, he allows illness. But in this he is training us to be more like him. to be mature in the faith, and to be able to stand for him.

Because this is a spiritual war, and both sides know attack is the best defense.

So rely on Christ and connect with Christ. He can break the bonds that this world puts on us. And he will, at the end of our time of witness, bring us home.

UPDATE.

Bruce Charlton on the futility of meditation.

The problem for ‘modern Man’ is that the thoughts from the real self are overwhelmed and lost by superficial thought, coming from ‘false selves’; outside, from memories, or instincts… and none of these are the real self.

And that-which-controls-attention starts-out from a situation of not knowing where to look-for the intuitions of the real self.

This situation is exacerbated when the aim is to control attention. Yes, we can learn to control attention, it can even become a habit – but we cannot learn to direct attention at the real self, because that is just another attempt to exert mastery over the real self. Which is exactly what we want to avoid.

The proper attitude with respect to attention is more like a sensitive listening, an opening of attention, than any attempt at ‘control’ of attention.