A poor swimmer

Chapter 3

Good Monday Morning to this week 3 of 2022

All my bones say, ‘Jehovah, who is like Thee, delivering the poor from the stronger than he, and the poor and needy from his plunderer.’ Psalm 35.10

When the rabbi of Lentshno’s son was a boy he once saw Rabbi Yitzhak of Vorki praying. Full of amazement he came running to his father and asked how it was possible for such a zaddik to pray quietly and simply, without giving any sign of ecstasy. “A poor swimmer,” answered his father, “has to thrash around in order to stay up in the water. The perfect swimmer rests on the tide and it carries him.”

Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber (1878–1965)

Hasidism is a particular form of Judaism that developed in Eastern Europe in the eighteenth century. Among its fundamental ideas is that God’s glory is present throughout the world and can be experienced everywhere and in all things. For example, prayer can be ecstatic joy that envelops the whole body. That was not entirely new in Judaism, of course. People had long applied Psalm 35:10 “All my bones shall say, ‘O LORD , who is like you?’ ” to prayer, which is why many Jews move their upper bodies back and forth while praying, but in Eastern European Hasidism the sense was much stronger, so that leaping, dancing, and ecstatic joy were added. This tale should be understood against that background.

This tale makes a statement that is at first perplexing and yet for that very reason is a persuasive insight into an important aspect of faith.

Prayer that allows itself to be borne altogether by God and rests in God.

Wishing you a good start to this week!

Philemon

A bucket full of hope

Chapter 2

Good Monday Morning to this week 2 of 2022

Many drops make a bucket, many buckets make a pond, many ponds make a lake, and many lakes make an ocean. Percy Ross

When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you should help with a bucket of water. Yahya Jammeh

But your many foes will be like a drop in a bucket. Isaiah

Sir,” said the woman, “You don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this ‘living water’? St. John

I was looking through old pictures of our family and found one of myself, I must have been about a year old, holding a bucket in one hand and a spade in another.

Isn’t it funny how some things constantly change and others remain the same. I was born in Asia – lot’s of buckets there. At home I have buckets for washing things, fixing bikes, carrying apples. The basins we use to plant tomatoes now …. When I travel to Africa, there are lots of basins and buckets there. One of the first bathes a child gets, is in a bassin. Somehow, probably all of us would say, yes we’ve had a bucket or two in our lives!

Many drops in a bucket … comes from the filling of a bucket. We could turn it around, remember the bucket showers? Punch a few holes into the bottom of aluminum bucket, hang it up, put it on a stand, or even better, get a pully and make a decent shower with it.
if done well, the water would trickel out slowly ..

Let’s get our buckets filled to the brim again, gather many more good things and share them drop by drop with all we’ve gathered.

Wishing a great start to this week!

Philemon



A brave new world


Chapter 1

Good Monday Morning to this week 01 of 2022

From one month to the next, on sabbath after sabbath, everyone, every living thing, will come to this holy place to honor Me as God of all. This is My word to you.
Isaiah 66.23, The Voice

From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another. This phrase, used by the prophet is intended to express absolute continuance without an interval. The prophet still uses modes of expression, though speaking of a time and circumstances to which they are no longer appropriate. The literal meaning, all flesh, in all regions of the new earth, or to this holy place, could not worship in one spot, and so it was plain that Isaiah spoke of a worship other than that at any given place” – of a worship such as that whereof Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Following are a few thoughts of Macknight;

… a glimpse of perpetual sabbatism (occurring repeatedly; so frequent as to seem endless and uninterrupted), breathing into it an air of liberty and love necessarily unknown before, and thus making it the nearest resemblance to the eternal sabbatism

The prophet wraps up his writing and speaks of the nature of that rest which is as a glimpse of perpetual sabbatism for those that worship God. It will resemble the rest of the sabbath, both in its employments and enjoyments resting from work and trial, from evils we are subject to in the present life; and we shall recollect the labors we have undergone, the dangers we have escaped, and the temptations we have overcome. And by reflecting on these things, we shall be filled with unspeakable joy. Being admitted into the immediate presence of God to worship, we shall pass a perpetual sabbath in those elevations of pure devotion. The Hebrews considered the sabbath as an emblem for the heavenly rest, or as another writer puts it: Shadows of the good sabbath to come!

As we start back into a hectic, busy and not less uncertain new year. The brave new world we are looking for, might not be a world free of trouble, illnesses or viruses. The brave new world might be the world in which we learn the secret of the sabbath, in finding the holy place of God in the very situation we are in.

Wishing a great start to this new week and new year.

Philemon



Who walks when you walk in darkness?

Chapter 52

Good Monday Morning to this week 52 of 2021

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2

Let’s look at this passage of Isaiah 9.

I love the idea of prophecies referring to a future event in the past tense; not because the event has necessarily happened, but because its occurrence is concrete. There is a finality and certainty to it. It is as if it’s already taken place.

And I love the idea that the future tense of what Jesus will be called isn’t so much an event of the future, but a continuing event of past, present and future. 

Who walks when you walk in darkness?

Who walks when you walk in darkness?
Who stands straight?
Who treads firm?
Who lives in the 
true meaning of the word?

All fade away.
There is no trust
No solid ground.
No resting place,
No journey’s end.

There is no quiet,
No sense of peace,
No sight to guide,
No knowledge to lead.

I ask, who walks when you walk in darkness?

But now, a light has come,
The day has dawned,
The brilliance of the Holy One
Has shone upon the earth.

An heir is born,
A kinsman lives,
A child of ancient promise
Has arrived.

He holds the crown of David
And wears the robe of Solomon,
But as lord of both
He sits.

No dominion endures before him,
No war prevails against him.
No darkness can diminish him
And no depth can consume him.

For the LORD has given him all things,
That he may free the nations.
He loves the ways of justice
And his kingdom of light is eternal.

Wishing you a great start to this last week of 2021 , a transition and expectation
of the new year to come.

Philemon


Remember and Return

Good Monday Morning to this week 51 of 2021

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Psalm 22.27

Have you ever been to Palau? Or do you have Palau on your bucket list? It would be a good idea, the island is subjected to sea level rise that threatens low-lying coastal infrastructure, including schools and transportation, as well as ecosystems and cultural sites.

Palau is a country in the western Pacific Ocean somewhat at the end of the world!
It consists of some 340 coral and volcanic islands perched on the Kyushu-Palau Ridge. The Palau archipelago lies in the southwest corner of Micronesia, with Guam 1,300 to the northeast, Papua New Guinea 650 km to the south, and the Philippines 890 km to the west.

Reading in the magazine of PMA (Pacific Mission Aviation) that both my Mum and Dad were involved in over many years, I see and read some of the urgency that is mentioned in Psalm 22 mentioned above. The Psalm begins abruptly; My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me: a disturbing scene: someone who knows and trusts God is forsaken and cries out to God in agony.

The Cambridge Bible put it this way:
There was a knowledge of God, to which the nations might attain through the witness of His works without and the witness of conscience within. But they ‘forgot Him’ and turned away from Him to idols of their own imagination. But one day they will ‘remember’ and ‘return.’

Martin Luther wrote to this Psalm:
This is a kind of gem among the Psalms and is peculiarly excellent and remarkable. It contains those deep, sublime, and heavy sufferings when agonizing in the midst of the terrors and pangs of divine wrath and death which surpass all human thought and comprehension.

Then after vers 21 something changes, it’s the last: Hasten to help me…

After pouring out his soul in agony, now the Forsaken One has a glorious sense that God has answered Him. The crisis became bearable in the knowledge that God is not removed from His suffering nor silent in it. The deliverance from the crisis itself may be yet to come, but the deliverance from the sense of being forsaken by God in the midst of the crisis was his.

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to him, he heard.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied: If God shows such faithfulness to the afflicted, there is hope for the poor. The good God will take care of the poor who trust Him and seek Him. The faithfulness of God to the Forsaken One becomes a foundation for His faithfulness to others in need, such as the poor.

This Psalm 22 shows us much of God in Jesus coming to this world, with a special highlight on the group of those that would “remember and return to the Lord”.

Let’s take this thought into these Christmas days.

Remember and return!

Wishing you a blessed start to this week!

Philemon



I thirst

Chapter 50

Good Monday Morning to this week 50 of 2021

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Exodus 23.20

Let’s give this interpretation an attempt, today using an old joke.

A man is walking alone in the desert, his camel has run away with water and food.
After a while, he sees a merchant. He approaches him and says:
Water, please, do you have me some water?
Sorry, Sir, I don’t have water, I only sell ties!

Then the man resumes his road, he is more and more tired and the sun shines high in the sky. A few hours later the man sees a second merchant. Dying of thirst he walks towards him on his knees. And he says to him: Please Sir, I need water… please!
Again this man answers, sorry I only sell ties.

So, the man gets on his way. Half an hour later he came across a third merchant. The man moves forward with difficulty (he crawls) and says breathlessly:

Water…I…beg…you…water!

Oh, sorry my good man, I only sell ties. But a little further, in this direction, there is a bistro where you can get water to drink.

Thank you… Thank you very much!

So the man continues in the direction of the bistro, five minutes later he finally sees the bistro, he starts to run and finally arrives at the entrance of the bar, he practically collapses on the counter and asks:

Waiter, water, water please, I desperately need to drink.

And the waiter answers him:

Sorry sir but here we only serve those who have ties on!

Why did the camel run away, to begin with?
Why were there three merchants on the way, trying to sell ties?
Where exactly was the place that was prepared for him?
Which one of the three merchants was the angel?

We begin this week with a riddle, yet we are not clueless, nor are we lost!
There are provisions on the way, there are signposts, there are angles, the question is if we recognize them!

Wishing you a good morning.
Philemon


I had a dream

Chapter 49

Good Monday Morning to this week 49 of 2021

The king said to them,
“I had a dream, and I’m troubled by it. I want to know what the dream was.”

I had a dream. I had a dream of a GP, of a General Practitioner. This
man lived out in a subdivision of Lome. Around his cabinet were a few homes,
a football field, a few kiosks, a few clothes shops and many motorbikes
that would pass around his place on the red road in front of his entry.
Let’s call the GP Jean. Jean came to the entry, close to his customer stopper
with a big poster on it offering his services, looking out to the soccer field
while greeting Marie as she passed with a lot of cosmetic products on her head,
greeting him with a big smile. How are you children asks Jean, thanks they are
all well replies Marie.

Jean looks back at his poster, he thinks of the many services he has offered. All
three pregnancies, all the checkups and even two of the three children he delivered
with a midwife right in his little cabinet out in Agoé. Jean smiles as he thinks of these
kids, this family and looks over to the soccer field and then over to the school behind the field. Jean also remembers the last child and the rush to the hospital with both mother and
child being in great danger.

Jean smiles, and then he frowns, he is troubled. What will become of these children?
Of course, he has often blessed the families and the children with the verse from Isaiah

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jean is even reminded of the Message and how well he gets the meaning of the verse

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Or the Jewish approach;

For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai,

Or the Voice which ends with a very nice little command;

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.

These passages give him hope, fill his mind and heart with deep satisfaction, knowing that the God he knows is able to do this and will prepare a home for him somewhere yonder.

Back to Jean standing at the entry of his cabinet, his heart and mind are at peace, but his spirit is troubled. He is reminded of Jesus going through cities and villages and finally speaks to his disciples:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Jean is still deeply in thought of all these passages as a young man passes by on the road, while he’s knocking on a piece of wood. Hey, what’s it you’re selling today? The man on the road turns and shows him the empty bag. Oh, remarks Jean, why this – why is your bag empty? I’ve sold all my candies and many other things, my bag is empty but what I have now is worth so much more, because I had a dream last night. I had a dream that I would stop selling candies. Every time someone stops to buy something after them hearing the sound, I will stop, I will sit down with them and talk to them about their past and speak to them about their future. I will start to help them to build a vision for their life.

Jean went back to his desk, got out a big marker, quickly went out the poster on the road
and added one more service to his list, right after the “check-up” he wrote:

New Life Vision

The man on the street is touched, excited and walks straight to the next seamstress
and gets the same title sown onto his backpack. New life Vision!

Jean goes back to his cabinet, drinks some Vitale water and lets the next mother with her kids in. Again all three have a cough to which he has some medication, but the words on his lips are the ones he just took in from the encounter with the young man outside.

New Life Vision. For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai!

Wishing you a good start to this week.
Philemon



Belonging

Chapter 48

Good Monday Morning to this week 48 of 2021

It’s been a day full of many impressions, smiles, talks, blessings, prayers and much more.
What a priviledge to be back in Lomé with the La Vigne churches, Nouvelle Perspective and the many friends I have and know here.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
Out of Romans 12

I’m touched by deep spirituality and faithful comittment I see and experience here in Lomé. This morning I spoke about this passage. On a side note I mentioned that when someone is blind it’s amazing how the other senses are activated and “jump” in to compensate the loss of sight.

Back in the car, my friend mentions, there will be a musician in the afternoon program that is blind. He’s a great musician and greatly helped us transition through a period of loss.

Much later in the day I got to hear his talent on the keyboard and even got to greet him.
As we talked a little a sentence followed that touched me deeply, and think I’ll never forget.

I remember you Philemon! You used to come visit us when were still at the other building.

This little sentence spoke to me deeply.

Yes we belong to each other!

You might be out there alone, thinking no one see’s you, cares about you. But in the spiritual
realm there is a belonging, there is a spiritual mystery in being one, belonging, being one part of a whole, of something complete.

Wishing you a blessed start to this week!
Philemon

A few thoughts to the future of the Church

Chapter 47

Good Monday Morning to this week 47 of 2021

Reading an article called, The Church of the future, I found a
a very helpful passage.

I did a quick and incomplete translation out of the German passage.
Einführung in die Evangelische Theologie U. Schnelle

The Church must be a spiritual Church,
one that is indebted to the Spirit and gives space to the
the creative Spirit of God, because the creative Spirit of God is the Spirit of life.

This, “Spirit” is by no means simply the uncontrollable, spectacular seizure by an incalculable power. Rather, the term “spirit” is to be differentiated and concretised in three different terms.

Pneuma, (breath of life)
Nous (reason, intellect or intelligence)
Logos (word, speech)

All three Greek terms are closely related to each other (cf. Romans 12:3-8) and yet
set their own accents and significance.

Pneuma; is the Spirit in the fullest sense”,
which is our being shaped and being gripped
holistically by the entire existence, the breath of God.
Pneuma makes it clear that there is a
deeper spiritual experience that moves and blows far beyond words.

Nous; as reason, intelligence
and insight by the Spirit. This
intellectual dimension of the
of spiritual activity is more and more relevant.
The general, accessible and rational
perception of self and the world, along
with critical consideration and judgement, lead
by Gods Spirit is greatly needed within the Church.

Logos; as “speech, power of thought and spirit”
represents the rhetorical and pedagogical
presentation of the word of the cross and the word of reconciliation.
and shows its priority and deliberate focus.

The Spirit is seen as a transforming
power, as knowledge and power of speech, the representation
a divine gift, which experiences its highest
form in the presence and inhabitancy of love.

In summary,
The level of experience, the level of thought and the level of representation of the Spirit,
build a holistic vocation and calling of our human existence as a Gods creation. Being open to all dimensions of the Spirit of God is a door, a path, a direction to the future of the Church.

Wishing us all a good and blessed start to this week as we wrestle with the implications of the questions of the cooperate future along with our personal calling within the Church.

Philemon


The heart asks

Chapter 46

Good Monday Morning to this week 46 of 2021

Moreover, I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Ruach within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My laws, so you will keep My rulings and do them. Then you will live in the land that I gave to your fathers. You will be My people and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36 26-28

Yesterday evening I was reminded by an old friend of my dad how greatly he was inspired by Martin Loyd Jones while doing training in London. Yes, I remember a lot later of all the books still on my Dads bookshelf. Maybe it influenced my theology as well!

In one of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons “A new Heart,” he elaborates : Man’s greatest need is not that he should become wealthy or emotionally fulfilled. Man’s greatest need is to be made right with God.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Calvinist wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

This is something that happens to you: it is God dealing with you, and God acting upon you by His Spirit; it is something you become aware of rather than what you do.  It is thrust upon you; it is presented to you and almost forced upon you constantly in this way.

It is a kingdom which is to come, yes.  But it is also a kingdom which has come. “The kingdom of God is among you” and “within you.”  The kingdom of God is in every true Christian.  He reigns in the Church when she acknowledges Him truly.  The kingdom has come, the kingdom is coming, the kingdom is yet to come.  Now we must always bear that in mind.  Whenever Christ is enthroned as King, the kingdom of God is come, so that, while we cannot say that He is ruling overall in the world at the present time, He is certainly ruling in that way in the hearts and lives of all His people

The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.

We must come back to the soul and to God who made it. We were made for Him, we are meant for Him, we have a correspondence with Him, and we will never come to rest until, like that needle on the compass, we strike that northern point, and there we come to rest – nowhere else.

Our supreme need, our only need, is to know God, the living God, and the power of His might. We need nothing else. It is just that, the power of the living God, to know that the living God is among us and that nothing else matters… I say, forget everything else. Forget everything else. We need to realize the presence of the living God amongst us. Let everything else be silent. This is no time for minor differences. We all need to know the touch of the power of the living God.

Wishing you an inspiring as you continue to know this God along with the mystery of Him living in us.

Philemon 

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