On Making



By David Morsey

I.     On Looking At Life

II.    On Finding Functional Faith

III.   On Putting Problems in Perspective

IV.   On Problems of Personality

V.    On Looking at the Law of Love

VI.   Of Faith and the Family

Being a series of helpful observations on

wholeness—Body, soul and spirit.

To the wilderness wanderers,

This book is warmly dedicated.

To those for whom

The way has been hard and rugged;

Who have walked the earth

In sorrow and pain;

Who have known the heartbreak

Of frustration and failure;

For whom the fragments of life

Have not fit neatly together;

Who care not to make it through, grandly,

But merely to make it through.

Who need very much to know

That they, too, have favor with God.


Getting through life

Is a problem.

Getting through life

With a sense of success,

Is a greater problem.

Getting through life,

With a sense that

God is satisfied with us,

Is an almost insurmountable problem.

There are thousands of formulas.

There are myriads of self-styled prophets,

Anxious to be luminaries for their fellow man.


How do we know which formula?

How do we select a guide?

And why do we need a guide?


We need a guide

Because life is too complex

To handle it without help.


Far too much knowledge is needed,

And learning by experience, alone,

Is far too costly.


But how to select a guide?

Where are the answers?

Whom can we trust?


In the end, we have to choose what works;

What makes sense to us;

What ties things together, and brings us peace.


For centuries, the Bible

Has been a reliable guide.

But many have had trouble

Understanding it and applying it to life.


In part, the problem has been

Confusing church dogmas with Biblical


In part, with misunderstanding the Bible itself;

In part, with the gap between ancient and

modern cultures.

Without apology,

And for want of better,

We have selected the Bible

As our most reliable guide.


We have carefully shunned

Religious traditions and dogmas,

And private revelational claims,

As narrow and without certainty.


The Bible is broad and of many authors.

Properly presented, its precepts

Should flow harmoniously

With minds created by the God that it



If the observations on the pages that follow,

Make sense to the reader, and tend to comfort

and peace,


Then possibly they will be of value

In making it through.

I.  On Looking At Life

Trying to live successfully,

Without knowing what life is,

Is like trying to drive successfully,

Without knowing what an automobile is.


What we understand

About the nature of life,

Will largely determine

How we approach the living of it.


God made us in His image,

And breathed into us His life,

And we became expressions of His glory,

Clothed in human flesh.


As spirit beings, very like God,

We moved in harmony with God;

And flowed with nature,

In the world made by God.


Then came the Tempter,

Evoking rebel deeds from untamed desire.

The divine flame died,

And flesh became a mortal prison.


The Creator responded

With a stream of redemption

Equal to the sweep of devastation.

The spirit was born anew—free of the

mortal prison.


Restored by the sacrifice of Christ,

The human spirit can be occupied again by

the Spirit of God.

But nature, now distorted,

Does not flow in harmony with it.


The rebel deeds had brought to earthly power,

Satan and the force of evil.

The enemy of God, cast from heaven,

Rules, now, the kingdom of this world.


Occupied by the Enemy,

The kingdom of this world is a perilous


And does not provide comfort

For the children of God.


The “Prince of this world” targets the

people of God

And seeks to destroy them.

But, his power is limited by the sovereignty

of God,

And the inner spirit is invincible to him.


The invincible spirit grows in stature,

Strengthened by the winds of adversity,

As the trees at timberline

Are made stalwart by the storms.


But the flesh—the realm of the mind—

Is not invincible;

And there the enemy

Mounts his attack.


The mind is the storehouse

Of all our knowledge—

The instrument of our humanity,

And the well-spring of our personality.


The mind gathers the threads of experience,

And weaves them

Into patterns of perception;

Into tapestries of earthly vision.


The enemy attacks this realm,

And turns it into a wasteland

Of warpage and willfulness,

Of prejudice and pride.

We lose our way in the wilderness

Of conception and misconception,

Chasing the butterflies

Of transient, temporal dreams.


While the fortress of faith stands secure,

The flesh becomes a battlefield,

Where the enemy oft prevails

And lays the warrior low.


God did not spare His own people

From the ravages of this battle—

Not the partiarchs, or the prophets, or

the apostles,

Or even His own Son, Jesus.


God did not spare Joseph,

Deliverer of Egypt,

Falsely imprisoned

By the fury of a scorned adulteress.


God did not spare John the Baptist,

Peerless prophet and forerunner of Jesus,

Beheaded at the caprice

Of a sensuous dancing girl.


God did not spare the Apostle Paul,

Ageless architect of His church,

From shipwreck and beatings,

From imprisonings and beheading.


The endless parade of suffering and afflicted,

Yields an inevitable conclusion—

God did not send His Son, Jesus,

To eradicate earthly ills.


To measure faithfulness or faith

By deliverance from earthly ills

Is contrary to the constant course of the


And trivializes the sacrifice of Jesus.


It is not wrong to pray for

Deliverance from earthly ills;

It is wrong to insist upon deliverance,

As the inalienable right of the redeemed.


Adversity is more important than prosperity,

In the shaping of our spirits.

“Our light affliction. . .

Works an eternal weight of glory.”

Only when we understand,

That God is more concerned with

Our spiritual vitality; than our earthly


Can we live successfully in this world.


Human life, as created by God,

Consists of spirit, mind, and body—

A threefold being, complete only

When God indwells the spirit.


In the metaphor of the automobile,

The body is the vehicle;

The mind is the engine;

The spirit is the driver.


The body without the mind

Has no control;

The mind without the spirit

Has no direction.

The purpose of the automobile is the

transport of persons.

The body may be battered; the engine faulty,

But when it transports persons,

Its purpose is fulfilled.


The purpose of humans is to glorify God.

The body may be infirm; the mind imperfect,

But when the spirit is possessed by God,

The purpose is fulfilled.


Though catastrophe follow catastrophe

And this earthly frame be devastated,

If the purpose of God be fulfilled,

The success of life is assured.


II. On Finding

 Functional Faith

If God be the Giver of life,

And His Spirit within, the essence of our being,

How do we get in touch with God?

How do we get Him to dwell within us?


If you want to get in touch with persons

You simply talk to them.

If you want to get in touch with God,

You simply talk to Him.


So talk to God, and ask for His help.

He responds to you by touching your spirit;

By awakening the desire

To know He is there.


But how will I really know?

What will He do for me?

Seek not what He will do for you;

What He does in you shows He is there.


But persons, I can see and hear.

I know that they are there.

God is more real than they,

As spirit is more real than flesh or matter.


What do you mean? I don’t understand.

The flesh, you see, is your natural self—

It pertains to the body and mind.

It’s what you think and feel and see.


The spirit is more than that.

It functions beyond the mind.

It sees what the eyes can never see,

And hears what the ears cannot hear.


It senses what the mind cannot possibly know

And believes what reason cannot confirm.

It gives the substance to human relationships,

That stays beyond actions and words.


It loves when the feelings are void of affection,

And trusts when the reasons for faith are not


It blankets the mind with an aura of peace,

When human emotions run wild with despair.


But what must I do?

What are the rules?

What does He expect of me

Before He will hear?


Do nothing but talk to Him.

The rational mind can only cry out to God.

It cannot find Him, or define Him

Unless the inner spirit is renewed.

But He will not hear me, so I’ve heard,

Until I first confess my sins,

And change my ways,

And promise ever to live for Him.


But none of that is possible,

Until your spirit is renewed.

And your spirit will only be renewed

When God has heard your cry and comes

to you.


If the spirit be not touched by God,

The depth of sin can have no meaning.

But when His spirit comes to yours,

He stirs the strings of failure and remorse.


But what of Christ?

Unless I know Christ, so I am told,

And own Him as my Savior and Lord,

I cannot even speak to God.

Christ is but the face of God to man.

When you talk to Christ you are talking

with God,

When you are filled with Christ,

You are filled with the Spirit of God.


And yet, when you talk to God,

You are talking, in fact, to Christ.

There is no touch between man and God,

Except through Christ, the face of God

to man.


Christ as Jesus, came to earth—

God in human form.

On earth He died, sharing full,

The accursed depths of sin.


As God, He rose again, and thus expressed

His power over death and sin.

He joined in death, His creatures,

That they, in life, could join with Him.


But I really do not understand

How Christ can be Jesus, and God and man.

How much must I know,

Before I can walk in peace with Him?


Do you think God hears you for what

you know?

Must you be a theologian in order to

come to Him?

The prophets and sages through ages of time

Have not comprehended the nature of God.


Jesus said, “Come unto me,

Your soul will find rest;

For I am lowly and meek

And easy to know.”


And John, His apostle said,

“As many as received Him

He gave them the power

To become the children of God.”

Jesus and all the apostles agree.

Eternal life is a free gift of God.

There is nothing required before God can

give it—

Nothing except the desire to come.


But I have been told

That faith is the ultimate key.

Without it my prayers will never be heard,

And God will not come to dwell with me.


Yet how in the world can I ever achieve it.

It stands like the Matterhorn between me

and God.

Before its awesome, invincible height,

I languish in lowlands of vain human longing.


And even should confidence carefully


Arise in a noble moment of hope,

It vanishes quickly in a fleet glimpse of guilt

Or the slightest zephyr of withering doubt.


If faith be so fickle, what chance have I,

Chained in the dark of the human “Bastille?”

Who but the angels could dare contemplate

A constant, unchangeable concourse

with God?


There is no chance at all

For human minds to fashion faith.

It comes to you—a gift from God—

When you, in search of truth, reach out

to Him.


But I have sought for faith so long,

And have not found it, I confess.

Why have I ever sought in vain?

What is there that I have failed to do?


Nothing and everything,

Is the puzzling paradox.

All your human effort,

Is destined but to fail.


You have failed to do everything.

For there is nothing in your human mind

From which to fabricate the sense of God—

The sense of that which is beyond the mind.


And yet, in nothing have you failed.

The faith you seek, you have already.

If you did not have it,

You would not now be reaching out for God.

Something in you seeks for God.

You know not what, or where.

And yet you know to seek beyond

The realm of all material things.


Do you look at a stone and call it God?

Do you plead with a pumpkin or a post?

Something in you says God is more,

And persistently you press the search.


Faith is a sensing within the spirit—

More than the feelings of the flesh.

Feelings are made of deceptive threads

Woven by thought patterns in the mind.


Faith comes to our spirits—

With the coming of Christ

And stays there in spite of

The fickle feelings of the mind.


But how does God come if I don’t have faith?

He comes because you ask

And you would not ask,

Had He not first implanted the faith.


But why has He not responded

To my prayers?

He has, but you have not known

That it was He.


But I asked for health and He did not heal;

For wealth and He left me in rags.

I sought for friends and I walk alone;

For happiness, and found only tears.

The problem is not with the faith you possess,

But what you perceive faith to be.

It is not so much how God responded,

But what you expected Him to be.


The faith that comes with the coming of


Is not human confidence, or feelings of trust.

It is the energy of God empowering our spirits

To be one with Him for eternity.


Human confidence feeds on evidence,

And fluctuates with changing feelings.

The faith of the spirit feeds on God,

And remains in us, as changeless as He.


So Divine faith is a product of the Spirit—

The result of coming to God.

Human confidence is a product of the mind—

The result of convincing evidence.


If we think that faith is a matter of feeling—

That certainty and confidence

Are proof that it’s there;

And that its fragile existence has vanished

When countered with feelings of doubt and



Or, if we think faith lies in achieving—

In getting from God whatever we seek;

To grant us prosperity or freedom from pain,

Or health or companions, or anything we ask.


Then we have not understood

The meaning of faith,

Or the difference between

The spirit and mind.


Feelings are made of the stuff of the mind.

Ignorance and illusion; knowledge and error,

Are the dubious sources

From which they all come.


The spirit and mind are often in conflict.

So says even, the Apostle Paul.

Much goes on within our minds

That never will touch the spirit at all.


As the body may be weak,

And yet the mind be quite strong;

So, the mind may be weak,

While the spirit is strong.

Remember—the spirit is the fortress,

Where faith rests secure;

The mind is a battlefield

Where nothing is sure.


“Be vigilant and wise,” said the redoubtable


Satan, as a lion is ever near,

To snatch from the mind its peace and trust—

To falsely contend that God is not there.


But, God has not left, though the mind,


Is certain that He has gone.

Think you that He is so weak, He must run

Before the roaring of the Lion?


God will never leave you, nor forsake you.

To think that He has, is Satan’s lie.

But you cannot test His presence with you

By what you see with human eyes.


No, it is not a lack of faith that is your problem.

It is misconceptions of what faith ought to be.

It is measuring faith by human standards

of trust,

And putting weight on what you think or feel.


III. On Putting Problems

in Perspective

It is painful to live in this world.

It is not a sin to worry or “hurt;”

It is not a sin to have problems;

It is not a sin to be in conflict.


These are all part of

The process of living,

Of growing;

Of growing up.


Becoming a Christian

Does not give one

A passport to prosperity.


It is not an automatic solution

To personality problems;

Or marriage problems;

Or money problems.


The main issue of faith

Is not ridding life of pain and problems;

It is acquiring a proper perspective;

It is seeing life as God sees it.


There are many Christians with problems.

Some of these problems

Could have been avoided;

Some could not.


Some problems come with birth—

Personality problems;

Physical problems.


Some problems come with living in the world—

People problems;

Environment problems.


Some problems come from our own mistakes—

Wrong decisions;

Wrong choices.


Some problems come from the mistakes of


Problems with the people we live with;

Problems with the society we live in.


Some problems can be changed by our

own actions—

Correcting mistakes;

Correcting habits.


Some problems can be changed by God


Change of circumstances;

Change of attitude.

Some problems can be changed by God, but won’t be

For the sake of our growth;

For the sake of His glory.


Some problems cannot be changed by us or

by God—

Irreversible choices;

Unwilling persons.


Problems are germane

To the process of life—

For Christians,

And for non-Christians.


The coming of Christ

Was not for the purpose

Of solving earthly problems

But to recover spiritual vitality.

A Tranquil life can hinder

The growth of the spirit;

A life of conflict is more in keeping

with growth

Than a life of bliss.


Coping with conflicts and chaos,

Is a greater expression of faith

Than pressing God

To resolve them.


If God must eliminate our problems

To keep us content,

We become perennial prisoners

Of the fleshly playpen.


Problems pertain to the realm of the flesh.

They should not be used as a gauge of the


Either of its vitality,

Or of its favor with God.


The circumstances of the apostles

and prophets

Were constantly chaotic.

Satan seemed bent on badgering them;

God seemed unconcerned with their

earthly comfort.


Growth in the spirit cannot be fostered

By guarantees in the flesh—

Of physical vitality,

Or of material prosperity.


If God does not choose

To change our circumstances,

Perhaps He is perfecting us

In the capacity to cope with them.


The ultimate purpose of life on the earth,

Is not grooming the self for earthly success,

But grooming the spirit through earthly



“Getting one’s life together,”

May not be as important

As getting from each day’s events

That which cultivates our spirits.

We live out our days in the process of life—

Oft doing well, and more often, not;

Plagued with the thoughts of things

poorly done;

Pressed with projections of things yet to do.


We say to the heart, “Be still;” to the

mind, “Be wise;”

To the body, “Behave, when I speak.”

But they are so very slow to respond,

“For the spirit, indeed, is willing, but the

flesh is weak.


And always, the promise that things will

be better,

Midst moments, disheartening, when all

seems awry.

Yet, who ever come to earth’s final curtain,

With all problems solved, and all goals



We seek out Christ, and He comes to our spirit,

Bringing His peace and power to live.

He takes what we have of human resources,

And gives the desire to use them for Him.


He does not remake us to be someone else—

To fit some religious pattern, or mold.

He takes personalities just as they are,

And helps us to make them all they can be.


Nor does He change our circumstances

To be what the “proper” Christian’s should be.

Sometimes He leaves us to languish at length

In conditions that frustrate and cause misery.


The heart then cries out, in anguish, to God,

“The burdens are beyond our enduring.

Why won’t you do something—fix things up.”

But He seems completely unhearing.

Does He really care?

Am I just too unholy?

Have I not enough faith?

Or, done something amiss?

Think you that God withholds His assistance

Because you are not very holy or good?

What kind of father would such a God be?

You see Him as only His enemy would.


“You are hungry because you are


Whispers the enemy of God in your ear.

“You’ll just have to stay sick;” your mind

harbors doubt;

The wavering weakling, He will not hear.


But was it not James, the Apostle, who said it,

“If you doubt, you’ll never receive?”

Alas, that is one of those gross misconceptions,

That comes from not thoroughly knowing

God’s Word.


James wrote in Greek; but was misquoted

in English.

He spoke, not of doubt, but debate.

Paul used the same word addressing

the Romans—

“Receive one another in faith, not dispute.”


Faith is of God, when He dwells in our spirits;

Debate is the chaos of human expression.

Faith is the energy of God revealed in us;

Debate is the product of human confusion.


“If you lack wisdom,” said James, “you

may ask it of God,

But not for disputing and strife.

Ask in the nurturing context of faith.

He’ll give to you freely for growth and for life.”


So, think not that God has attached a


Without which He never will hear the

heart’s cry,

Demanding control of all rebel feelings,

Before one can hope for response from on high.


Would parents turn coldly, in anger away

From an unruly child in distress?

Would they ever refuse medicine, or food,

Or leave it alone in the wilderness?


What gross misconceptions we tend to believe,

If we would treat others as we think God

treats us,

His whole revelation of grace we would mock,

And fail at the love we are urged to express.

Whence, then, have come the host of


And why does not God give relief?

Adversity comes not from God, but from Satan,

Who rules this world since the coming of sin.


But does not God have ultimate power?

Can He not stay the enemy’s hand?

He can, but He doesn’t for His own reasons.

All goes according to His sovereign plan.


In truth, the victory is already won.

Satan can have no power, you see,

Over those who dwell in the realm of the real—

In the spirit realm, where God reigns supreme.


By the sacrifice of Jesus,

The human spirit was forever free.

For all who will, the chains of sin are broken,

“If the Son of God shall make you free,

you shall be free indeed.”

But why, if Satan has no power

Over those who belong to God,

Do I have so much trouble?

He does what he wants—his power seems

very broad.

But his power is limited to earthly things—

To the terrestrial sandbox, as it were.

He buffets the flesh, but the spirit grows


Whatever he does makes his defeat the

more sure.


As the potter works the lump of clay,

To fashion the vessel as he, himself, pleases,

So God oversees the events of our lives,

Shaping our spirits in the way that He chooses.


And if He allows Satan to touch us adversely,

It is for purposes He has designed.

Something will come of it—we know

not what—

But in the end, our spirits will be refined.


Some things are hard—meant for our


As parents must discipline the growing child;

But always are tempered with wisdom

and love.

If in grace, we receive them, more grace in

us they will yield.


So, problems will always be with us.

They will stretch end to end

Through our life on the earth.


We’re like players on the football field,

Whose world is nothing but problems

From the moment they step on the turf,

’till they leave.


So do not expect God to help you

Sweep all your problems away,

And leave your life free of debris.


Let Him show you, instead,

How to cope with the problems,

And remain at peace within.


You surely may pray for His help,

But leave to Him to determine

What kind of help it will be.


Put everything in His hands

And be at peace.

He is with you forever.


And if your mind be troubled, remember,

God’s peace goes beyond the mind,

Remaining in the spirit, forever unchanged.


It is not a sin to worry—

It is a natural thing in the flesh.

But do not add to your problem, the burden

of needless guilt.

So if your problems have not been resolved,

And you think God does not hear, or care,

Let your spirit be lifted by the thought,

That He trusts you with the burden you bear.


And finally, remember, that you’ll make

it through,

Not by your faith in holding to God,

But by His faith, within, holding you.


IV. On Problems of


But, my biggest problem

Is really myself.

I’ll never be good enough for God.


So what does that mean—

To be good enough for God?

What does He want you to be?


I guess He wants me to be like Him—

Holy and kind and good,

And thinking always of

heavenly things.


I try, but I never can keep it up.

And I pray and pray,

But I never change.


First we must ask

What you’re trying to change—

Your spirit or your personality?


The spirit must change,

But it already has,

When God came to dwell within.


Without such a change

You’d never be able

To relate to God at all.


When God made man,

He breathed into him

His Spirit,

And made him a spirit-being

like Himself.

But, in the process of

human rebellion,

The Spirit of God withdrew,

And concourse with God

was cut off.


It is only restored

When His Holy Spirit

Comes to dwell within us.


But what of the mortal self—

That which remained of us

When the flame of God



“Ay, there’s the rub”—

The self; the natural man;

“The flesh,” as Paul

called it.


“In it,” said Paul—”In me,

There dwells no good thing.”

While Jesus said, “The flesh

is weak, but the spirit is strong.”


And, experience has taught us,

That whatever heights the

spirit achieves,

The flesh is a problem, continually.


So, while the spirit is fully


Filled, forever, with Christ—

The self is uncertain as

long as we live.


But, what is the self?

Are not self and spirit

the same?

Should they not change



The self is you, as a


What has evolved from the


All your character traits

and mannerisms.


It’s how you act and think

and feel—

Things you were born with, and

things you acquired.

It’s sometimes called “the ego”—

the personality.


And what is personality?

It is the sum total of our

behavior patterns,

Both from the environment

and from the genes.

The brain and nervous system

Are the physical instruments

Through which the self is

developed and expressed.


The brain stores up knowledge

and experience,

And uses the data for shaping

Our thoughts and feelings and



If the brain is the physical


The mind is the brain in action.

It is a filing system, storing

and using data.


The data forms a pattern,

or grid

On the surface of the brain—

the cortex.

From it arise all thoughts and

feelings and actions.

In the natural sense, we are

captives of the grid.

We cannot think outside it;

The mind must follow the



But the data is faulty

and incomplete—

Full of gaps and errors

and bias.

So we cannot fully depend

on the natural mind.


As the ideas we fashion with

the mind,

Are subject to much misconception,

So, human expressions of truth,

Alas, are full of confusion.


That is why absolute truth

Can never be fashioned

With finite, human minds.


Absolute truth exists in the


When Christ exists in the


For Christ has said, “I am

the Truth.”


So what is truth?

“Truth is reality”

As the Greek word

expresses it.

Christ is the

ultimate reality

Truth is only the

Human and faulty

Effort to define reality.


The problem comes when

the truth in the spirit,

Is faultily framed and


Through the limited instrument

of the mind.


And just so, the other qualities

of Christ in our spirits.

We have Christ’s love, when

we have Him—

But, our human expression of

love is faulty.

So, also, peace and joy and faith.

While we try to feel and

express them,

We often struggle with anxiety

and doubt.


But the peace of God is beyond


The joy of Christ, beyond pain.

All is well in the spirit—the

struggle is in the mind.


We are filled with the

“fruit of the Spirit,”

As soon as He comes to

dwell within,

But the flesh, you see, often

obscures the reality.


The tug-of-war is always


We fight so hard to

control the feelings,

But there is no need for

guilt or despair.


God understands the

fleshly conflict.

He regards not the

feelings in our minds,

But what is in our spirits—

That we care about Him.


So, what does God do in us?

In what way do we change,

If the self is still subject

to weakness and error?

We change, first of all, in our


In our attitudes toward God

and self and others.

We care what God thinks of us,

and we care about others.


And, caring, we have the motive

To control the natural mind—

How we behave toward God

and self and others.


And, having the motive,

We have also assistance—

God does help us to do what

is right.


The question is, how much

change could there be.

If the natural self were

actually changed,

We would have no further need

of God’s help.


But, Jesus said, “Without me,

you can do nothing.”

And Paul said, “We have no

confidence in the flesh—

Our righteousness is of God

in the spirit.”


But is there no place for

change in the self?

Shouldn’t our conduct improve

with our growth?

Ah yes, but the change is in

the conduct and not in the nature.


There is a difference between

change in behavior,

And change in the inner nature.

If the nature were changed,

it would need no control.


If behavior requires conscious control,

There has been no change of nature,

Though behavior be ever so much

in control.

If the Spirit of God

Had come into our flesh,

It would be changed and not

need controlling.


The spirit, possessed by God,

Tends always to see things

as God sees them;

While the mind only follows,

when consciously controlled.


The evidence of change in the spirit

Is that it wants to please


And constantly cares when the

self is failing.


Though the spirit changes, the

flesh does not.

It struggles with continual


A weakness Jesus shared, when

He came to dwell on the earth.


When the human in Jesus

cried out on the cross,—

“My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

It was a genuine feeling and not

just an act.


Jesus was never weak in the Spirit,

Though He was oft tested in the flesh,

And knew, Himself, our feelings

of weakness.

Throughout His lifetime, Jesus


To things that hurt Him, and

things, He did not know—

To hunger and sorrow and



But God is never unknowing,

or weary;

And Jesus, in Spirit, was God.

So, His Spirit was Divine, but His flesh

was human.


And, just so, ourselves, who possess

the Spirit of God.

We are oft tested, it seems, beyond


But steadfastly we hold on to God.


So agreed, then, the spirit is changed,

But the self must control its behavior;

How, in the world, do we handle



Take not lightly the truth,

That the spirit is changed,

The spirit gives motive and

direction for control.


If the spirit were not changed,

Whence would come the desire

To keep the self in control?


But keeping the self in control

Does not make us spiritual;

Having the Spirit, gives the desire

to keep the self in control.


We try to keep the self in control,

Because we want to please Christ.

We want to please Christ, because

His Spirit is in us.


The true motive of


Is not the law without;

It is the law within.


The beginning of control

is desire.

The will is no match

For an adequate motive.

The level of motive will


The level of control.

God is essential to the



Without God, there is

no reason for control.

If life ends at the grave,

Self-interest is all that

makes sense.


But the Spirit of God within

Frees us from the prison

of self-interest,

And shows us the horizons of

His purpose.


And God helps us with motive,

By showing us the futility

Of faulty human choices.


Sometimes He shows us by

His word—

Teaching us what life’s all about;

Sometimes by painful


For instance, bad choices are

often costly.

When it has cost us enough,

We make our choices more



While changes in spirit require

the power of God alone,

Control of the self requires

Discipline, energized by

the power of God.


Sometimes God lets us

“pay the piper.”

He is not sending adversity

as a penalty;

He is showing us the

cost of carelessness.


God deals with us as


With kindness and care;

With assistance and



But always God’s purpose,

Through prosperity or


Is the shaping of our


Paul said, “Affliction

produces patience.”

James said, “Let patience have

its perfect work.”

But remember, it is God who

controls the afflictions.


The greatest thing that God

can do for us,

Is to free us from dependence

on earthly good,

For inner peace and contentment.


Once we have peace with God

in our spirits

We pursue the handling of self,

With the quiet confidence

that God is with us.


We have latitude with God

To cope with the problems

of self—

To know He is with us, in spite

of our failures;


To regard ourselves as part of

His family;

To know we can talk to Him—

Though we feel weak and



Satan attempts to discourage us—

To drive a wedge with feelings

of guilt—

But Paul said, “Nothing can

separate us from God.”


We won’t make it through,

without Him there.

We know He’s still with us,

Because in our spirits, we care.


But then, how do we deal

With the problems of self?

What should our attitude be?


First, we regard it as normal—

A constant human problem—

Not something that drives us

from God.


And then, we see—though the

spirit is changed,

The flesh needs constant control;

And the desire to control shows

God is with us.


Also, we accept adversity,

and prosperity,

Not as measures of faith

or piety,

But the handiwork of God,

shaping our spirits.

Further, we learn from the

cost of our carelessness,

The importance of self-control,

And the value of listening to God.


So God does help us to

control the self—

Oft through experiences He

allows us;

And oft through the force of

His Word.


We alter the patterns of

our minds—

Losing old habits; gaining

new ones.

Nothing is permanent, but

the need for control.


Some things God does; some

things we do—

But all is a life-long


Of working in union with God.


Some problems go with us

to the grave—

Like the “thorn in the flesh”

of Paul.

But therein is revealed God’s—

strength and grace.


All of us have things in our

lives to cope with.

We were born with them, or

acquired them,

But God has allowed them.


If we accept them and cope

with them,

Our spirits grow stronger.

If God would remove them

we would not grow.


So go day by day and live

in peace.

Let your faith be in God and

not in your feelings.

Judge not His actions, but

trust in His grace.


V. On Looking at

The Law of Love

But, even if I do control my actions,

Handling my feelings is something else.


I know I should love God and others—

even my enemies.

But I’m not sure I can love everyone.


Most of the time I don’t know how I feel.

I don’t think I really know what love is

all about.


You’re not alone—very few know what

love is all about.

In the Bible, however, it is quite clear.


As faith is the substance of our relationship

to God,

Love is the “caring-consciousness” of it.


Faith is the flow of God’s energy through

our spirits,

Which sustains our capacity to be vitally

related to Him.


Love is the flow of God’s caring through

our spirits,

Which infuses that relationship with

sensitivity towards Himself and others.


The “Law of Love” governs the interaction

between ourselves and God,

And the interactions between ourselves

and others.


But what do you mean by love?

It seems so elusive and uncertain.

The problem is with the inadequacy of the

English word, “love,”

As well as with human expectations and

illusions about it.


The English word is used for clothes, dogs, and

hamburgers and sex,

As well as for the love of God, and for the

tenderest personal affections.


It is used so indiscriminately as to lose any

significant meaning.

It is absurd to apply one word to so many

different kinds of emotion.


The Greek language, in which the New

Testament was originally written,

Has no such absurdity, as one word which

answers to the English word, “love.”


The Greeks used the word, agape, for

“respectful consideration,”

The Bible lifts the word, and uses it of

God’s “caring” for the world.


They had another word, phile, for the

warmer affection of family and friends.

And yet another—eros—for the more

simple physical attraction.


The Bible uses agape, both of God’s

“caring” for the world,

And the “caring-consciousness” that He

brings to our spirits.


Agape—a sense of caring for others—

is an expression of the spirit.

Phile—a feeling of affection for others—

is an expression of the emotion.


But isn’t caring also an emotion?

What’s the difference between “sense of

caring,” and “feeling of affection”?


There is a “sense of caring” that goes

beyond emotion.

It is “others-consciousness,” more than


Agape “caring” involves a consciousness

of need in others—

Not necessarily a feeling of attachment

to others.


Phile was used of human emotions,

produced in the mind,

And expressed in the warmer feelings of

family and friends.


To understand love then, we must

distinguish between

The “caring” of God, in the spirit, and

human affection in the flesh.


The spirit, where God dwells, possesses

His divine “caring.”

The flesh—the realm of the mind, or self—

produces human affection.


What do you mean by affection?

I’m not even sure of that.

Commonly, affection is what most people

mean by love.


It describes mild to intense reactions

of pleasure and appreciation.

It is used in this book to denote various

degrees of human love.


And what do you mean by “flesh?”

I always thought that was our “bad” side—

the “unholy” desires.


The word “flesh” is applied to all natural

functions of the mind.

These functions are not necessarily

unsound—but always undependable.


The flesh, or self, is the human instrument,

through which the spirit functions.

It only functions well, when submissive to

the Spirit of God.

The flesh, touched by sin and death in

the rebellion,

Does not, itself, possess the Spirit of God.

It remains subject to human frailty.


The human spirit, which is possessed by

the Spirit of God,

Must exercise constant control over the

functions of the flesh.


For the spirit may, indeed possess the love

of God,

But that love is expressed by a human



If the human instrument be not controlled,

The love of God cannot be properly



The control of the instrument is a

continual problem,

But the Spirit of God within, gives

strength in our weakness.


The nature of the love which the spirit


Is the “caring-consciousness” of God

dwelling in us.


Agape is God’s love dwelling in our

spirits, and

Expressing itself in infinite “caring” for

the world.


Phile is human feeling produced in the

mind, and

Expressing itself in infinite craving for


The agape of the Bible is not the

changeable “caring,” of human emotion;

It is a changeless sense of “God-consciousness”

and “others-consciousness.”


Agape does not preclude human feelings,

But human feelings are not a reliable

gauge of agape.


Phile is neither unimportant nor


It was the common word for family



It was much in evidence among the early


But was never pressed as central to salvation.


It seemed to describe the warmer friendship

Of those who had developed a

camaraderie in Christ.


The Bible makes a clear distinction between

agape and phile,

In a famous encounter between Jesus

and Peter.


It occurred on the shores of Galilee, after

the resurrection.

Peter had denied Jesus; Jesus was testing

his loyalty.


Remembering Peter’s boast of peerless


Jesus asked if now he could say that he

even cared.


For Peter, devastated by his shameful denial,

“Caring” was not enough; he must vow


Jesus had used agape—”Do you really

care so much?”

Peter responded with phile—”More than

that, I am your friend.”


Grieved that his love should be classed

as “caring,”

He wanted assurance that friendship was



Jesus finally accepted Peter’s expression—

“If you really are my friend, feed my sheep.”


God requires of His creatures, only the

will to care.

He does not demand the response of

human feelings.


While human emotions cannot always be

separated from agape “caring.”

Neither can they be relied upon as a stable

part of agape “caring.”


Peter’s pressing of the more personal


While quite acceptable—even admirable—

was apparently voluntary.


How can human emotions ever be


Since they involve too may diverse and

complex factors.


For some, the feelings flow freely—

As part of the nature they were born with.


Some, of a more conservative nature,

Hold their feelings in check.


While others, crushed by constant


Have long been dulled to pleasure or pain.


All have equal favor with God,

He measures not love, by human emotion.


Human emotions arise from patterns in

the mind—

Often a fixed part of the personality.


The love of God in our spirits,

like faith and joy and peace,

Functions beyond the mind, beyond

feelings, beyond personality.


The love of God in our spirits remains

pure and selfless;

But is often distorted, when channeled

through the faulty patterns of the mind.

Given the limitations of the human mind,

It cannot adequately express the love of

God within.


Thus, feelings about God are undependable,

As a measure of our true love for Him.


It is not a matter of feeling good about God,

But sensing our integral union with God

in the spirit.


“The Spirit, Himself, bears witness with

our spirits.”

We communicate our caring beyond

human capacity.


We have true love for God, when we have

Him within.

“For God is love, and he that loves is born

of God.”

Such love in the spirit is as stable as God,

In spite of the changeable feelings of

the mind.


The mind cannot judge the measure of

God’s love in the spirit,

Because such love is beyond the mind.


Thus, to say one loves God, or does not

love God enough,

Is only an evaluation of surface feelings.


It is not that feelings about God are


It is only that human feelings are



Satan attacks the mind and stirs it to doubt.

He confuses it with earthly feelings and

illusions about God.


It is better to trust in God’s own love in

our spirits,

Than fragile feelings about God in

our minds.


The proof of our love for God is not our

feelings for Him,

But the continual sense in the spirit of our

oneness with Him.


There is a deep, underlying sense that He

is there,

In spite of surface feelings, reflecting

doubt and conflict.


The reality of God’s love is independent

of all feelings.

And is continually sustained in our spirits,

whatever the state of the emotions.


Possessing God’s own love within our


There is a quality to it, that is forever


So, granted, my love for God is complete;

What about my love for others?


The “love” for others that is commanded

in the Bible, is agape.

What is required in “loving” others, is not

affection, but “caring.”


“Caring about others,” is God within us,

reaching out in love;

“Liking others” is the self reacting in

human emotion.


Human emotions are important,

But often based on shallow appraisals.


Human emotions are desirable, but


And not a valid gauge of God’s love in

our spirits.


When we try to express God’s love with

human emotions,

We distort it with the faulty human



The love of God flows naturally from

within our spirits.

When His Spirit is in us, it is natural

for us to care about others.


But, I am not sure at all that I care

about others.

Perhaps you are confusing “caring,”

with faulty human emotions.


Perhaps you care more than you realize,

But you do not always like the ones you

“care” for.


We can relate to others with God’s Spirit

of caring.

When human emotions may be negative,

or absent.


We are commanded by God, to “care”

about people.

We are not required to “like” them.

But, didn’t Jesus specifically teach us to

“love our enemies?”

Jesus used the word, agape—”Care about

your enemies.”


Jesus “cared” about the religious leaders

—the Pharisees,

And wept over them, as He wept over



But, He did not like them at all,

And called them “serpents and sepulchres.”


But, I am told that I must love God and

others more.

So, I try, but I cannot always control

my feelings.


First, we must ask what you mean by


What are people supposed to feel?


I don’t think I’ve ever tried to define


I’m not sure I can tell you what feelings

are all about.


And that is why there is so much

confusion about love.

People talk about love, but don’t

understand it at all.

So it becomes some undefined and mystic


Which they do not understand, and

therefore cannot handle.


Even love for God, for most people is a

vacillating feeling,

That seems always inconstant, or out

of reach.


The problem is the misunderstanding of

human feelings—

What they are, and what, the limits of

their reliability.


So, before we can talk about controlling


We must understand the nature of feelings.

What are Feelings?

Feelings or emotions, are a product of the


They’re the result of stimuli from the

external environment.


The external environment is whatever is

going on around us.

It includes everything our senses experience.


It is everything we see, hear, feel, taste,

and smell.

It is everything we pick up through billions

of nerve endings.


Stimuli are whatever affects us from the


Everything around us gives off signals, or



Stimuli are energy impulses that touch the

nerve endings,

And are transmitted through the nerves,

to the brain.


The brain is an instrument, collecting the

data from these signals.

The mind is the self, assessing and using

the data.

All these signals of experience are

recorded on the cortex of the brain,

Where they form a pattern which governs

our behavior.


As the brain receives the signals, it sorts

out the data,

Combines it with existing data, and reacts

according to the pattern.


One’s reaction, for example, to touching

a hot iron,

Will depend on one’s experience with

things like heat, pain, irons, and salves.


One’s reaction to an unkind remark, on

the other hand,

Will depend on one’s experience with life

and people and one’s own personality.


Sometimes the reactions are physical

As when we cut ourselves with a knife.


Sometimes the reactions are emotional,

As when someone cuts us with an unkind



Both experiences—physical and


Are reactions to impulses, transmitted

by nerve cells, to the brain.


The mind automatically reacts according

to the pattern on the cortex,

Unless conscious control is exercised.


Therefore, the way the mind responds to

the signals

Depends on a great many complex factors.


There are complex physical factors—

Chemical makeup; brain function; nerve



And, there are complex psychological


Character traits, behavior patterns;

stored-up data of experience.


These complex factors have come from

the genes—what we were born with;

Or from knowledge and experience—what

we have acquired.

They have not so much to do with


As with forces, within and without, that

work in our minds.


Given the millions of fragments of data

that affect our responses,

The possibilities of faulty feelings are



And given the complexities of the human


We cannot depend on these feelings, or

use them as a basis of judgment.

Feelings: Eros—Physical Love

But there is yet another facet of feelings

to consider—

Physical attraction, or fascination.


The Greeks called it eros, and applied

the word,

When neither caring, nor affection were

primary considerations.


Physical attraction is the granddaddy of

mischief in love.

It often produces transient ecstasies and

lasting miseries.


There is great peril in eros; it affects the

nervous system as much as drugs.

Persons give off energy impulses, as do all

other elements around us.


Eros often passes for genuine affection,

or even caring.

But it can trap the unwary in addictive

attachments, akin to habituating drugs.

Where attraction is present before the

knowledge of the personality,

It is likely to be based on surface

appraisals, or nerve impulses.


Where one cannot break from another

despite obviously questionable qualities,

There is likely to be an addiction as

tenacious as that of drugs.


Eros is not necessarily an illicit love,

Not does it always exclude affection

or caring.


But eros does have physical love in focus,

As phile focuses on affection, and agape

on caring.


So, you see, feelings are neither mystical,

nor mysterious.

They are responses of the brain to stimuli

of the nervous system.

But, your descriptions of love, sound very

mechanical to me.

It takes all the warmth and vitality out

of it.


On the contrary, it takes all the illusions

out of it.

So that warmth and vitality may be real.


There is more to love than impulses and

nerve cells,

As the whole is more than the sum of

the parts.


But, unless we understand the meaning of


We will abuse them, misuse them, and

remain captives of them.


Applied to our relationship to others, the

misunderstanding of love,

Will fester unsound relationships, and

spoil true ones.


The technical description of feelings may

be somewhat disenchanting,

To those who are comfortable with the

more traditional idealisms.


But to those who have had difficulty in the

area of feelings,

It may bring a measure of understanding

and hope.


The problem with idealistic views of love

and emotions, is that

Sooner, or later, they tend to bring

devastating disillusionment.


It may seem logical to assume that human

feelings of affection

Ought to be transferred to God, as part of

what we call “love.”


And, that problems with such feelings

would indicate problems with “love,”

Which should be corrected by prayer and

“spiritual” exercises.


This view may seem adequate, until one


Persistent, negative emotions—

Emptiness, depression, or even anger

and doubt.


The reasons may have to do with normal

physical, or psychological reactions,

But, if they be treated as spiritual problems,

they confuse our true relationship to God.

Further, when too much weight is placed

on human feelings,

The loss of them can bring bitter

disappointment, and needless guilt.


It is not always possible, or advisable, to

separate the various facets of love.

But, where there are difficulties, such

evaluation is a good place to start.


Human emotions are complex, and may

partake of many facets.

Friendships are usually enhanced and

stabilized by agape caring.


On the other hand, phile “affection” is a

normal and common part,

Of the close ties that exist in our

relationship with God and His family.


Still, we confront the persistent principle

regarding human feelings—

The complexities involved, preclude

Undue judgment about them, or

reliance on them.


But, given the sensitivity and sympathy of

Christ for human “brethren,”

We have liberty to wrestle with these

Troublesome feelings and still retain

His favor.

While forces affecting our feelings are

often beyond our control,

The way we cope with the feelings is

our own responsibility.


We cannot always help how we feel.

We can help how we deal with how we feel.


But doesn’t our human nature change,

with the coming of Christ?

Doesn’t Paul say that all of those in

Christ are new creatures?


Paul also said, “In my flesh there dwells

no good thing,”

It is the spirit that is new, and not the flesh.


Problems of the natural self do

not necessarily change.

Some things may change—some may not.


But how is it that some things change and

some do not?

Traits we are born with do not change as

readily as traits we acquire.


Some traits are inherited, like sensitivity

to pain.

We call it the “threshold of tolerance.”


Response to physical, or emotional pain,

Depends on the “threshold of tolerance.”


As some people feel physical pain more

keenly than others,

Some people are more easily hurt than


Hypersensitivity is but one example

Of traits, not necessarily changed by the

coming of Christ.


Other examples are shyness and

forwardness; emotionalism and reserve.

And many more, which have nothing to do

with spirituality.


Some traits are acquired, and may change

with the coming of Christ.

Selfishness is a good example; and

tendencies to loss of temper.


Some traits are complex mixture of

heredity and environment—

(Habits we develop, based on areas of

vulnerability)—and change with difficulty.


Encouragement in the matter, comes from

the reality,

That God is patient and gives us the

freedom to work with our feelings.


David said that God has pity on us as a

father, his children;

“For He knoweth our frame; He

remembereth that we are dust.”


No effort was made to whitewash the

weaknesses, even of His prophets.

But, as He said to Paul, “My strength

is made perfect in weakness.


So, if the natural self is not changed

How, then, can I control my feelings?


We have discussed the meaning of


Now we must ask what you mean by



Are you talking about deception, or


Are you thinking of discretion, or


I don’t think I understand—all I know is,

I try to feel the way I should about God

and others.


And how should you feel? Trying to feel


May be merely mental manipulation.


Forcing feelings, or denying them, are

only forms of deception.

Understanding feelings and coping with

them is insight, or perception.


Masking feelings with a false front, is


Exercising care in the expression of

feelings is wisdom, or discretion.


There is as much misunderstanding about

the word, “control,”

As there is about the meaning of “love,”

or “feelings.”

What Kind of Control

To control something means to be in

charge of it.

Neither denial, nor falsification can be

classed as control.


But, if I just let my feelings go,

They cause too much trouble for me, as

for others.


That is quite true, but, we are not talking

about “letting go,”

We are talking about understanding and

handling the feelings.


It is not controlling the feelings,

themselves, we are talking about;

It is controlling the actions and reactions

involved in the feelings.


Since feelings are natural reactions to


They can only be genuinely changed,

By changing the stimuli, or the patterns in

the brain, that cause the reactions.


Thus, whatever is affecting the feelings

must be dealt with.

And that is a matter of understanding and

handling the feelings.


But, isn’t “handling” just another word

for controlling?

By no means! Controlling means

restricting, or masking the feelings.


“Handling” the feelings means facing

them, and coping with them as they are.

Or, if possible, changing them by dealing

with the cause.


But my true feelings for God and others

are sometimes negative.

In fact, I often have doubts and conflicts

and uncertainties.


Pressing oneself to feel for God, or others,

what is expected, but not genuine,

Is not handling feelings, but engaging in



Realizing the faulty nature of feelings, and

not relying on them,

As a test for the love of God, is a way

of handling, or coping with them.


It is quite possible to have a lasting and

constant identity with God,

And still experience uncertain human

feelings and mood-swings.


It is both unnecessary and foolish, to feign

feelings for God, or others.

It is not a sound, spiritual effort, but


On the other hand, care in the expression

of feelings is discretion—

Quite another thing, than masking the

feelings by pretending.


There are many ways to exercise care in the

expression of feelings,

Without being false, or hypocritical.


One can be gracious, without being ardent.

One can imply concern, without implying



It is not wrong to spare another the full

disclosure of feelings.

It is wrong to deceive another with the

pretension of false feelings.


It is not so much a matter of control, as it is

understanding, or perception.

It is not pretending, or deception, but care,

or discretion.


Perception involves facing the feelings,

and coming to terms with them—

Understanding them; changing them; or

living with them, and coping with them.


If they are justified, we must learn to live

with them, and cope with them.

If they are unjustified, we must seek to

understand them and deal with them.


Unjustified feelings may be from

irrational prejudice,

Or they may be from ignorance, or


Many times, knowledge and new

understanding, will bring changes.

But often, there are deeply rooted

patterns, not so easily changed.


But what if I know my feelings are wrong,

And yet, I cannot seem to overcome them?


Remember, you cannot always help how

you feel,

Given the complexities of the human



But, if you say I can’t help how I feel,

What keeps me from ignoring my feelings

and taking them seriously?


The love of God in your spirit is a “caring


That simply does not ignore such feelings,

or take them lightly.


So do not deny your feelings—that is


Do not falsify them—that is pretension.


And yet, if they are faulty, or unjustified,

Do see in them the human weakness, and

do seek for understanding.

Do pray, but not for easy solutions—some

magical change of feelings.

Do pray for understanding and

enlightenment, that you may mature.


In the grace of God, we have both the

liberty and the latitude.

To work out, in time, our troublesome and

stubborn feelings.


God is not pleased, of course, with


But neither does He judge, unduly

transient human emotions.


Human emotions are not really matters

for spiritual judgment.

It is not guilt, but good sense, that is

often needed.


But, are negative feelings about others

Ever justified in the context of Christian



Yes, indeed, if we take our example from


He had very negative feelings about the

Pharisees, though He cared about them.


Remember, feelings are natural responses

of the brain

To stimuli, or impulses from the

environment around us.


The mind reacts to these stimuli with

pleasure or pain,

Responding alike to physical and

emotional impulses.


Even if the mind may sometimes imagine

pain, without apparent reason,

It cannot deny the reaction, though there

may be need for evaluation.


If one is mistreating us, or someone we

love, we react with displeasure.

As surely as when we experience physical

pain, and react with displeasure.

Jesus reacted with displeasure to the


They were hurting the people, and He

called them “snakes.”


But I’ve been told that we must look for

good in people.

Didn’t the Pharisees do any good deeds?


Jesus did not deny that they had done

good deeds.

He condemned them for hypocrisy and

pretense, and misleading the people.


The offense must ultimately be dealt with,

Despite other qualities the offender may



We do not acquit a thief, for instance,

Just because he loved his mother, and gave

the spoils to her.


Some Pharisees, like Nicodemus, repented,

and came to Jesus.

These He freely forgave, and warmly



But, I have trouble forgiving some, and

yet, I know I should forgive everyone.

Only if they repent, and ask it. Even

Christ extends forgiveness, only to

those who seek it.


Negative feelings are a normal response to

negative situations.

When the situation is corrected, the

feelings usually change.


And, if they don’t change—if one still

harbors a grudge?

Then, it becomes an unjustified feeling,

and must be so handled.


But always, beyond the maze of human

emotions—justified, or not—

Is the inexhaustible love of God—the

ceaseless “sense of caring.”


So, we are back again to the distinction


The “caring” love of God within, and the

expression of human affection.

Yes, we have determined that human

feelings are products of

The brain and nervous system, as they

react to forces within and without.


That they are a function of the flesh,

and while normal and desirable,

Are changeable and undependable, as a

test of the love of God.


When we talk about love, we must take

into account, these distinctions.

Otherwise, we will always be confused

and insecure about it.


It is not within the power of the human mind,

To affect the love of God in the spirit.

The mind can only foster, or hinder the

effects of that love,

Either in the contemplation of it, or in the

expression of it.


Either one has God, Himself, and His

love, dwelling in the spirit,

Or one is expressing only a human

fabrication of God and of love.


The true love of God is shown, not by

human feelings about Him,

But by a prevailing sense of identity

with Him, despite human feelings.


If we think that love for God is shown

by feelings about Him,

Our peace and security will always

fluctuate with our feelings.


We will never think that we love Him


Or, we will think that our negative

feelings separate us from Him.


But, we have determined that the love of

God in our spirits.

Remains constant in spite of our fluctuating

human emotions.


We are therefore faced, not with spiritual

judgments about love,

But with the handling of human feelings.


We have separated “love,” as the

“caring-consciousness” of God,

From “love,” as human feelings, based on

natural responses of the mind.


While the love of God in our spirits is

stable and constant.

Love, as human feeling, requires

continual attention.


But, we have learned that feelings are not

controlled, but handled.

It is the actions surrounding the feelings

that must be controlled.


So then, the question of how to control

the feelings is unsound.

We should really be asking how to

handle the feelings and control

the actions.


That is true, and the handling of feelings

is manageable,

When we understand them, and put them

in the proper perspective.

And you say that I do not have to try

to feel something for God?

But is there nothing I can do to cultivate

God’s love?


If you mean changing the quality of God’s

love in the spirit—no.

But there is much you can do to change

the sense and impact of His love.


God’s love flows through our minds in the

measure of our focus.

If we fill the mind with earthly things,

we cloud the sense of His presence.


If we focus on self-interest, we lose His

perspective on things.

If we neglect fellowship with Him, we dull

our appreciation of Him.


All of these things have not to do with the

reality of His love in our spirits,

But with our appreciation and expression

of His love in the daily life.


The love of God would be absent from us,

only if He were absent from us.

To think of His love as coming and going

with our feelings is absurd.


But, it is equally absurd to think that we

can live as we please,

Without affecting the sense of His presence,

or our growth in the knowledge of Him.


When we cultivate the knowledge of God

and His love,

We have not so much trouble with our

feelings about Him.


Similarly, when we cultivate the

knowledge of His power,

We have not so much trouble with our

sense of faith and peace.

But how do we cultivate our knowledge

of God?

Must we become religious and

contemplate Him all day long?


No, it is not continuous contemplation,

but steady application;

It is not pursuit of spirituality, but living

with Christ in daily practicality.


We cultivate the knowledge of God

through His Word—

Not by being scholars, but by feeding on

it, as sheep, grazing under a shepherd.


We cultivate the knowledge of God

through prayer—

Not so much in formal intercession, as in

quiet daily interaction with Him.


And, we cultivate our knowledge of God

through the experiences of ourselves

and others—

Sharing our love with Him, day by day,

and sharing with one another.


While the presence and love of God

remain constant in our spirits,

Our daily sense of well-being depends

on our growth and knowledge of Him.

Cultivating the knowledge of God is a way

of handling feelings about Him.

It is changing the thought patterns in the

mind that produce the feelings.


Insecure, or faulty feelings about God,

change by correcting faulty images

of Him.

Feelings of appreciation—even affection—

follow from acquiring deeper

knowledge of Him.


Of course, such changes in the mind do

not change its basic nature,

And therefore must not be seen as

permanently resolving difficulties.


As long as we are on the earth, we will

have to wrestle with the human nature,

But we can foster stability in our daily

lives by cultivating our knowledge of God.


It is important to understand however,

that stability in our daily lives,

Is neither a certain result of salvation, nor

requisite to the favor of God.


Stability is important; it is advisable; it is


It keeps the feelings steadier; but it does

not make one more “spiritual.”


Sometimes people who are strongly

identified with Christ,

Seem wanting, nevertheless, in emotional

or functional stability.


A disorderly life may not reflect well on


But certainly will not have a bearing on

one’s salvation.

So, granted that the uncertainties and

instabilities of our natural selves,

Do not separate us from God, nor bring

us His disfavor.


And granted, that feelings are

undependable as a gauge of God’s love

in our spirits.

But what if one wants stability in one’s

life, and, wants friends and affection?


How does one go about developing right

relationships, and handling feelings?

And, what help can one expect from God

in dealing with the self?


Where do human affections fit in, in the

matter of love?

How do we view them, and why do we

care, if they are not part of God’s love?


As a matter of fact, what motivation does

one have,

For “getting one’s life together,” if it isn’t

a requirement of salvation?


Now, we’re dealing with an entirely

different matter—

Stability of feelings and actions in the

flesh, versus strength of inner spirit.

One may have to go through many

experiences of fleshly instability,

In order to understand the weakness of

the flesh, and learn not to depend on it.


But first, as to motivation—we do, in fact,

care about our feelings and actions,

Not because it is required, or rewarded,

but, because Christ is in us.


But, caring about how we feel, or act, is

quite a different thing

Than actually handling feelings, or



Caring about how we feel, or act, is

a natural result of God’s Spirit within us.

Actually handling feelings and actions is

a result of various motivations.


God is, of course, interested in our

developing wisdom and stability.

In fact, Jesus chided the Pharisees for

lack of it.


He is also interested in our developing

sound relationships with others,

Especially insofar as it involves kindness

and forgiveness.


But, whether or not our relationships are

accompanied by human affection,

Is a personal matter and depends on many

controllable and uncontrollable factors.


He is also interested in our developing

sound relationships with others,

Especially insofar as it involves kindness

and forgiveness.


As to how we view human affection—it

is natural, acceptable, and desirable,

But must always be distinguished from the

love of God in the spirit.


The cultivating of human affection is

still another matter.

Whereas agape “caring” is commanded;

human affection must be earned.


Our oneness with the body of believers is

secured by the Spirit of God.

It is an eternal unity, and not

dependent on human effort.


But, cultivating friendships with members

of the Body,

Depends much on human factors—

personality, interest, and effort.


It would be simple, if we could say that the

presence of Christ within,

Assures one of compatibility with all

members of His Body.


But the truth is, that all believers, whatever

their claim to “spirituality,”

Have their difficulties with human


We must conclude that the maintaining

of friendships is an earthly matter.

Accordingly, losing friends, does not lose

for us the favor of God.


Sometimes the spirit is involved—friends

may forsake the follower of Christ.

But more often, it is human carelessness—

we are selfish, thoughtless, unkind.


The love of God in our spirits remains

steadfast in spite of human behavior.

But human feelings are fluctuating and



If we want friendship and affection, it will

require careful effort.

We must control our behavior and handle

our feelings, wisely.


If we do not care to make the effort

of self-control, we may walk alone.

The command to “care” about others,

does not include liking another’s



We are responsible for our own actions

and reactions to others.

We cannot put off on God, the task of

making people like us.


Nor can we depend on the patience and

longsuffering of others—

Admirable virtues, but hardly constant,

even in Christians.


We hope that people will be patient with

us, and understanding,

But who can know the moment when

affection is threatened?

Feelings are fickle; they ebb and flow

with changing actions.

Carelessness with another’s affections is

risky—the limits are uncertain.


It is the fragile nature of feelings, that

makes them so difficult to handle,

And not dependable as a part of our

essential relationship to God.


Still affection and friendship are

important elements in earthly life,

And worth cultivating, so long as we

recognize the limitations.


But, there is a price to pay—unselfish

and thoughtful treatment of others;

Walking among the people of earth in

kindness and grace.


But are not all believers supposed to be

that way?

Do not all possess the love and grace of

God in their spirits?


All believers do possess the love of God,

but all have difficulty expressing it.

That is why the Bible speaks often of the

way Christians ought to treat each other.


All who possess the Spirit of God, have

the “sense of caring” about others.

But, not all who have the “sense of

caring,” express it in appropriate behavior.

Just so, one may have friendship with


And be careless in behavior appropriate

to the maintaining of it.


Carelessness takes many forms—neglect,

harshness, thoughtlessness,

The result is the same—the risking of

the friendship.


The preserving of a friendship is a matter

of priorities—

The value we place upon that friendship,

versus the demands.


If the friendship is important enough,

We will modify our behavior to preserve it.


If, on the other hand, the demands are not

in keeping with our priorities,

We may choose to let the friendship go.


That does not mean we cease to care, in the

agape sense,

But, that we have faced realistically the

limits of phile—human affection.


Appraising relationships thus, is the sound

way of handling feelings.

Agape “caring” is universal—phile

“affection” is based on priorities and



When Christians come together in Christ,

they enjoy the unity of the Spirit.

When they gather on a social basis, they

confront human incompatibilities.


Unity in the Spirit—a vastly different thing

than compatibility in the flesh—

Is preserved, in spite of human differences,

when Christ is the focus of fellowship.

Are you saying that Christians should

never come together, socially?

No, indeed—but when they do, they are

more vulnerable to the frailties of the flesh.


If we keep these distinctions in mind, it

should stabilize our relationships—

Both in the security of our love in Christ,

and in the handling of earthly ties.


We will be more conscious of the

constancy of our “caring,”

And more careful in the cultivating of our



But granted, we have the love of God as

His gift in our spirits,

What help can we expect from Him in

handling our feelings and friendships?


In the first place, the desire for

handling our feelings and friendships,

Comes from the presence of God and His

love in our spirits.


The Holy Spirit within provides us with a

new attitude toward God and others,

And with God’s own view of life and the



In the second place, seeing things from

God’s perspective

Helps us to control self-interest—the

greatest of all threats to friendship.

But I know a good many Christians, who

are still selfish.

There is a difference between knowing

God’s view, and actually adopting it.


When we insist on our own view of things,

we obscure God’s view,

And become vulnerable to the distortions

of human thoughts and feelings.


In the third place, we can pray and seek

God’s help in these matters.

We can ask Him for wisdom and

understanding in our relationships.


We can ask Him to help us sort out our

priorities and purposes,

And to guard us from incompatible

situations and relationships.


We can ask Him to help us with our

feelings and attitudes—

To give us understanding and

enlightenment and grace.


And we can ask Him to help us to be a

blessing to others—

To be more of a help to others, than a

problem to them.


In the fourth place, God allows events and

circumstances in our lives, for growth.

We must be receptive to God’s dealings

with us, so we may grow in grace and


Maturity is essential in establishing sound


And in maintaining stability of feelings

and attitudes.


So then God does help us in many ways.

But are there things we must do to

cultivate friendships?


There is a certain amount of discipline

and control necessary.

It is the price we pay for the privilege

of having friends.


Remember, what we control is not the

feelings, but the actions and reactions.

Anger, for instance, is allowable—Jesus

was angry on a number of occasions.


But, the expression of the anger must be

controlled—words are hard to retrieve.

And, impulsive actions leave scars, and

destroy friendships.


The tendency to loss of temper may be

inherited, but overreaction loses friends.

Controlling reactions begins with

evaluating what is worth the loss of



In the cultivating of friendships,

consideration, thoughtfulness and

kindness is essential.

These are really habits of life that can

be developed into spontaneous reactions.


They are not, necessarily, qualities

produced only by the Spirit.

There are many non-Christians who are

kind, and many Christians who are not.


Sensitivity is another behavior pattern

that can be developed—

Being aware of the feelings of others,

and guarding tongue and action.


But, are not some people overly sensitive?

Shouldn’t they learn not to be so easily hurt?


It is not possible for us to judge what

should, or should not hurt another.

It is for us to be sensitive to what does,

in fact, hurt another.

Ignoring sensitivities is potentially

damaging both to personalities and


Even friendly “digs” and teasings, can hit

raw nerves and spoil friendships.


The practice of kindness and sensitivity

to everyone,

Is the best expression of the love of God,

and the safest rule.


The preserving of friendships requires

continual care.

Life is constantly changing—the garden

must be kept weeded.


It is necessary to be open and honest with

one another.

Hidden problems build resentment, and

erode relationships.


In learning to live with others,

It is important to help them learn to live

with us.

Reluctance to let another know the things

that are troubling one,

Can only bring more grief in the end,

when the disclosure is finally made.


It is, in the first place, unsound to let

resentment build up.

It is, in the second place, unsound to think

discussion will not help.


It is, in the third place, unfair to leave

another with delusions—

To let another assume things are all right

when they are not.


But, above all, human relationships

require patience and grace.

Allowances must be made—behavior

is a complex problem.


Misjudging motives is a common error,

too readily made.

And is too high an expectation—more

from the other person than oneself.


Human relationships are difficult, at best

—we often fail, however hard we try.

And Satan uses our frailties to sow

discord among the believers.


But, though these problems will plague us,

as long as we are on the earth,

In the end, God’s caring love prevails,

beyond all human failure.


So, we have three kinds of love—the

agape, “caring,” love of God within;

Phile affection of family and friends;

and the eros of physical desire.


The “caring” love of God comes when He

comes to dwell in our spirits.

Human affection must be earned;

physical desire is a common human



The love God requires for Himself and

others is His own eternal “caring


Friendships and affections are part of

transient human emotion.


Substantial love can possibly partake of

all three facets,

But confusing them causes great

difficulty in a stable relationship to God.

VI. Of Faith and

The Family

The distinctions in kinds of love,

apply also in family relations.

God commands “caring;” affection

must be earned.


But how does God view family


What is the place of the earthly

family in the kingdom of God?

What Is A Family?

We must first ask, “What is a family?”

Is it a physical, or spiritual unity?


I don’t understand. A family is a

family, is it not?

It’s mothers and fathers, and sisters

and brothers, isn’t it?


Is it, really? Jesus said, “He that

doeth the will of God,

The same is my mother, and my

sister, and my brother.”


On the other hand, He said that a

husband and wife are one flesh;

And, that children should honor

their parents.


He thus accepted a physical and

earthly reality.

But introduced, for the first time,

a spiritual alternative.


From Adam and Eve, to Mary and Joseph,

The family unit had been the linchpin

of Jewish life.

Many of the Mosaic laws had to do

with this special earthly unit.

And, interference with it brought

severe penalties.


But, Jesus introduced another element—

the family of God.

Ideally, the family should have remained

in unbroken perpetuity.


But the ugly realities of earthly

madness, shattered the ideal

And, from the murderous Cain, to the

brothers of Jesus, family fragmentation



And so, to the homeless and outcast; to

the widow and orphan,

Jesus offered a viable alternative—

membership in the family of God.


An earthly family—whole, and united

in Christ—is a great blessing;

But, a blessing enjoyed, alas, by the

few—the very few.


Many have never had the privilege, of

a normal family life, and never will.

Many have had “once-happy” homes,

devastated by death and disaster.


Many are single, and have no prospects

of marriage.

Many have made bad marriages, which

cannot, or will not be mended.


Many have longed for children, but

cannot have them.

Many have had children, who have

gone astray.


For all of these, talk of happy homes

and blissful marriage,

Can only stir remorse, and nourish

empty longings.


We must view the family realistically—

not as the ultimate in earthly good.

Nor as something to be shunned, in

favor of more celestial values.


But as something ordained of God, for

propagation and preservation;

And, when carefully cultivated, for

fulfillment and pleasure.


The initial injunction of God was to

multiply and replenish the earth.

Long since, fulfilled abundantly, propagation

alone, is of marginal value.

Nevertheless, children are a vital part of

the family unit,

And are regarded by God, as a symbol

of blessing.


Properly cultivated, the family unit is

a citadel—a fortress of faith.

When Christ is the center, it provides

a bulwark against the forces of evil.


It is also a witness—radiating the love

and grace of Christ.

And it is a training center for developing

strong members of the Body of Christ.


It is obvious why Satan attacks the

family concept.

It is essential for believers to unite in

the defense of the family.


So the family is a vital force in the

purposes of God in the world.

It is an instrument of blessing—both

for those within, and those without.


On the other hand, the spiritual family—

the family of God—takes precedence.

Wherever a conflict arose, Jesus urged

the cutting of family ties in favor of God.

Young men were often urged to leave

father and mother and follow Christ.

Anyone who put father and mother ahead

of Christ, failed the test of loyalty.


Even wife and children were not to be

put ahead of Christ.

Nor was heaven, itself, regarded as

preserving earthly family ties, as such.


Similarly, Paul said, “Let him that

is married be as though he were not,”

(Indicating priorities, however, and not

neglect of marital responsibilities).


But it would seem, then that

marriage on earth

Is a human choice, and not

important to God.


On the contrary, He regards it

of great importance.

He established it; regulated it

and enhanced it with pleasure.


But, importance must be perceived

in light of priority.

Fulfillment of spirit is the

ultimate good; not earthly bliss.


In the realities of the present world,

marriage is not always feasible, or


But in Christ, one may yet have a

satisfying life, without it.


In the original creation, God judged it

unsound for “man” to be alone.

Accordingly, He divided him, that he

would never be complete within himself.


Since the coming of Christ, this need

is met in our oneness with Him.

One need never be alone, even though one

be completely without an earthly family.

This oneness is of course

spiritual and not fleshly.

Christ should never be seen

as a substitute husband.


The attempt to extract from

the relationship to Him,

Emotional satisfaction, leads to

much disappointment


Since the self is never


Christ, Himself, could never

fulfill our fleshly demands.


What Christ does, in the interest

of our spiritual growth,

Is often unacceptable to us

in our childish ambitions.


The persistent benefits

that Christ provides,

Are in the spirit, which is

not subject to human whims.

While marriage is of great

importance to God,

It is secondary to ultimate

inner satisfaction.


Therefore, there is no mandate

to marry.

But, if one marries, there are

certain specific instructions


Paul says that husbands and

wives must love each other.

He uses agape “caring,” and

not phile—”affection.”


Phile was not a common part

of ancient marriages.

Even agape was absent in

marriages, usually arranged.


In the nature of the case, the addition

of affection is a personal choice.

One must decide whether or not the

cultivating of affection is worth the price.


The requirement of “caring” can be

satisfied with, or without affection.

If one wishes affection, one must pay

the price of learning to please.


In the constant concern for rights

and self-interest,

One often gains the rights and loses

the affection.


God is concerned, of course, with how

we treat one another,

But, the degree of affection is left

to our own discretion.


If affection requires pleasing, pleasing

requires compatible priorities—

Agreement on the purposes and goals

of life.


But what it takes to please another

and sustain affection,

May not be compatible with one’s

established priorities.


When one is therefore not able to

please another,

Affection may be dulled by the

resulting dissatisfaction.


But, if both are Christians, wouldn’t

they share the same priorities?

That would be a natural assumption,

but, unfortunately, not realistic.

Sorting out one’s priorities is not

a condition of salvation,

Nor is it an inevitable result of

identity with Christ.


But what if two people do not

have the same priorities?

Can they still have a happy



One may have difficulty

relating to the other,

And yet can live with the other

in grace and responsibility.


Much difficulty in unequal


Comes, not from commitment to


But from fleshly expressions

of unkindness and intolerance.


Such a marriage may not provide

what we call, “happiness,”

But, in the grace of Christ, can

still afford a kind of satisfaction.


On the other hand, “happiness,” may

not be a viable feeling

“Satisfaction” involves a sense of

purpose and meaning.

Realism recognizes the potential of

hard and changing circumstance.

A sense of meaning can be sustained

where bliss cannot.


One can seek to please Christ

in spite of conflicts.

Satisfaction comes, not from

what others do,

But what we do in spite

of others.


So, then marriages can be stable

apart from affection?

But what if one wants to

restore that affection?


Many marriages get mired down

in the pursuit of rights and self-interest.

Affection is foolishly destroyed

by carelessness, unkindness and neglect.


If preserving another’s affection

is important,

Proper behavior is a small enough

price to pay.


Acquiring a companion is like

acquiring an automobile—

We want the benefits, but we tire

of making the payments.


The key to preserving affection is

not, what must I do for you?

It is rather, what may I do for you?


Loss of affection is a downward


Reluctant giving of oneself, breeds

bridled affection.


On the other hand, generous giving

breeds generous affection.

Yet, if generous giving is taken advantage

of, it breeds reluctant giving.


Much marriage counseling could be avoided,

If couples would decide to treat one

another with grace and kindness.


If they would be less concerned with

rights and obligations,

And more concerned with giving of



If they would be less concerned with

“straightening out” each other,

And more concerned with enhancing the

other’s affection by grace and kindness.

In marriage, as in friendship, people

must learn to act—not react.

Action must be based on what is right—

not on what the other person does.


The strength of the family begins with

the actions and attitudes of the parents.

More is learned through example than

through discipline, or instruction.


If the parents are kind and thoughtful,

the children will be affected.

If the parents watch their priorities,

the children will observe.


If the parents are real in their relationship

to Christ,

It will be reflected in the home, and

in the children.


Difficult? Yes! But the stakes

are high.

If one is not ready for such

responsibility, one should not marry.


But, where does love of family

come in?

Are not parents to love their children;

and children, their parents?


Yes, indeed, but in the agape

sense of “caring.”

If parents act ugly, children will

not like them, and vice versa.


But I thought we had to honor

our parents.

We do indeed, but the Greek word for

“honor” means to “attach value to.”


We must appreciate their value, and

children must respect their authority.

But if they behave badly, we cannot

respect them, as persons.

Just so, when children behave badly,

the parents may not like them.

Parents may care for them; and

care about them, but still not like them.


There is nothing in the Bible that says

a mother must like an unruly child.

She must not forsake her child, but forsaking

and disliking are two different things.


There is much of sentimental nonsense

in the attitude toward “blood ties,”

That causes people to accept rude and

irresponsible behavior from relatives.


Family ties require agape “caring”

as in any other relationship.

But bad behavior should no more be

tolerated from family than from outsiders.

Similarly, compromise of principle,

for the sake of family, is unsound.

So Jesus implied, when He said that His

true family are they who do the will of



And what of other relatives? What

is our responsibility  to them?

What should our feelings toward

them be?


The same as to all people of earth. We

should treat them with “caring.”

But feelings are still based on reactions

to their behavior, and therefore



To ever offend God, or His family, just

for the sake of pleasing relatives,

Is a misapplication of the meaning and

obligation of family ties.


Much injustice has been done in the

world to conscientious people,

Through the unscrupulous use of

“family ties” as leverage.


Believers should know better. The Bible

helps us see the difference between

The bonds that unite God’s family, and

those that are the result of random



But after all, didn’t our parents

bring us into the world?

Doesn’t that sacrifice count for


And, why should it? Our birth was the

result of an act of physical love.

It was based on the desire of the parents

—not the child, who had no choice.


But haven’t the parents fed, and

clothed and housed the child?

Shouldn’t that be cause for gratitude

on the part of the child?


They brought the child into the world.

They ought to feed and clothe and

house it.


If the parents want gratitude and

affection from their children,

They must earn it—not by deeds of

obligation, but deeds of grace

and kindness.


So then, the same distinctions apply

in love of family, as in other relationships

“Caring” for one another is commanded—

“Affection and friendship” are earned.


It seems so simple—this

message of caring.

But Jesus considered it the

first commandment of all.


It is the essential ingredient

in every relationship—

God with His people; people with God;

people with people.


Thousands of books have

been written,

Attempting to solve the

human equation.


Psychologists, sociologists,

clerics and medics—

All have added their whims

and their wisdom.


(Whatever did they do before

the professionals

Rode to the rescue—those

errant knights with theories bright?)


If you care enough, you will

surely find a way

To handle your hang-ups

and treat people properly.


If you don’t learn to live

with others in kindness,

You may have to live with

yourself in loneliness.

But, whence comes this

kindness you speak of?

Isn’t that something the

Holy Spirit must give?


The Spirit of God gives us

the spirit of caring within.

And, with the caring, the

motivation for kindness.


The expression of caring, in

kindness toward others,

Requires effort—cultivating

our patterns of behavior.


The natural tendency of the

mind is toward self.

Putting others first involves

changing our habits of thought.


Developing our “others-consciousness”

is essential

To harmony in the natural and

spiritual family.

David Morsey