Homo Deus?

Good Monday Morning to this week 14 of 2019

Colossians 1:16 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

While waiting on my train ride home this evening I walked thru a bookstore and looked at the latest books on the english shelf. The following title caught my attention:
“Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari. The review reads:

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? Is the next stage of evolution?

Big questions to raise and ask, I for sure will look into the book for food for thought because I like the questions aked? Where are we going from here? The approach the assumptions he makes don’t find too much room in my mindset, but the questions are rightly put!

This one a favorite: How will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? The images of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe still very real and ongoing, with immense suffering and destruction leading us to ask this same question!

Let’s listen in to some of the authors and great mentors of ancient times written in the Bible. How much did they trust in God and how much in “Homo Deus”?

Jeremiah
Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

David
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Isaiah
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Daniel
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Paul
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love!

Joel
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

John
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Moses
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Joshua
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

David
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.

All these mentors of old put their hope in God and not in man, somehow they must have seen enough to let that perspective not get to them, so they fixed their eyes, hearts and minds on God, far beyond Homo Deus!

This gives, hope, vision, perspective and comfort in troubled times!

Wishing you a very good week!

Philemon

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Suffer you thus far!

Good Monday Morning to this week 13 of 2019

On this day the 25th of March 1807 the Slave Trade Act 1807, officially An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was implemented, prohibiting the slave trade in the British Empire.

The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed by a group of Evangelical English Protestants allied with Quakers, to unite in their shared opposition to slavery and the slave trade. The Quakers had long viewed slavery as immoral, a blight upon humanity. By 1807 the abolitionist groups had a very sizable fraction of like-minded members in the British Parliament. At their height, they controlled 35–40 seats. Known as the “Saints”, the alliance was led by the best known of the anti-slave trade campaigners, William Wilberforce, who had taken on the cause of abolition after having read of more and more the evidence . These dedicated Parliamentarians often saw their personal battle against slavery as a divinely ordained crusade. On Sunday, 28 October 1787, Wilberforce wrote in his diary: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners. After a debate lasting ten hours, the House agreed to the second reading of the bill to abolish the Atlantic slave trade by an overwhelming 283 votes for to 16. The Bill received Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.

New Testament writers lived in the Roman Empire and likewise adopted widespread attitudes about slaves. Some New Testament passages rely on negative stereotypes, such as slaves being lazy. Other passages use slavery as a metaphor for faithfulness. Paul calls himself a “slave of Jesus Christ” as a sign of devotion. Jesus compares the impossible task of a slave serving two masters to followers who must choose between wealth and God. Several passages address slaves directly, which is evidence that they were attracted to the early Jesus movement. Christian slaves navigated the complex world of enslavement with their new faith.
The most famous slave in the New Testament epistles is Onesimus, the slave of Philemon. In a short letter, Paul implores Philemon to receive Onesimus as “a beloved brother”
Another very striking story is when Jesus heals an ill slave of a Roman centurion. At Jesus’ arrest, one of his followers cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest. Though Jesus censures this act of violence in all four Gospels, only one records Jesus healing the slave!. The incident underscores how easily slaves could become victims of free people’s anger.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains Luke 22.51 as follows:
Jesus answered and said to Peter or the other listeners: Suffer ye thus far;
to Peter to stop his hand, to proceed no further, but put up his sword; and so the Arabic version reads, “refrain thyself”; and to the multitude to be easy, and not revenge the affront that was given them: and in order to pacify them, “he went to the wounded man”, as the Persic version inserts and he touched his ear and healed him; which shows, that though the human nature of Christ was in a very low condition, yet he still retained the power of doing miracles; and also his great humanity, by which example be confirmed his precept of doing good to enemies; and likewise hereby gave full proof of his willingness to be apprehended by them; for otherwise, he that wrought such a miracle as this, could easily have delivered himself out of their hands; and one would have thought this would have put a stop to them, and have convinced them of the truth of his being a divine person, and the Messiah.
J. Vaughan, M. A Jesus wrought a miracle to repair the mischief which Peter had done. Thus, by one act, in one moment, Christ made Himself the repairer of the breach. The evil, which His follower had done, was canceled; and, through the kind interposition of a special act, the injured man was none the worse — but rather the better — and the harm, of which a Christian had been the occasion, was neutralized by his Master. Now, may we take it as one of the wonderful provisions of our transformation — as one of the blessings into which we have been admitted — that the Christ, whom we now call ours, will prevent the consequences of what we too have done in days of blindness — that He will restore what we destroyed. He will rectify the ill — that He will “touch” with His own virtue the afflicted part, and that He will “heal” all that “wound.”

This could be a prayer for all those in suffering this week. Going from Mozambique to Malawi or Zimbabwe having lost all and wondering how much more they are to suffer.

I am also reminded to pray those in modern slavery. The estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world. The children, people in forced labor, forced marriages and all those in forced sexual exploitation.

Let us pray that Jesus would answer them: Suffer you this far. That he then touch their ears (situations, injustices and souls) and heal them!

Wishing a week of healing!

Philemon

God of the perplexed.

Good Monday Morning to this week 12 of 2019

Perplexed – completely baffled; very puzzled, baffled, confounded, hard put, hard-pressed, nonplussed …. “at a loss for a way.” A condition where we are IN a situation, but cannot see any way OUT. We have no frame of reference, no answers, and no explanation, for what is happening. But the situation cannot be ignored. It is upon us; we are in it. We have to deal with it. But the point is, we don’t know how to deal with it. Maybe we CANNOT deal with it – we have no ability or resources. That is perplexity.

With the news of Ethiopian Et 302, the floods in Malawi, the cyclone passing the city and region Beira Mozambique then the New Zealand Shootings of Friday leave us speechless and perplexed. There were other stories as well, a survey of salaries at Google revealed a surprising result: “Men were being paid less money than women for doing similar work!

The simple mistake in the kitchen turns into sweet success for a homeless veteran. Instead of adding buttermilk to a batch of cornbread, he accidentally used heavy cream. DeArno was afraid it would get him fired, but Feldman waved off the mistake and told him to pop the batter into the oven anyway. When it was finished baking, the cornbread was more moist, fluffy, and golden than usual. The other staff discovered that his altered version of a classic recipe was incredibly delicious. Feldman was so impressed by DeArno’s creation, he offered to go into business him. Today, they are the co-owners of Reverend Cornbread Co. As a result of the small-venture food startup, DeArno now has a steady flow of income and a place of his own, but he has not forgot the place that gave him hope.

Apostle Paul puts his perplexity as follows: We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Cor. 4:7-10)

some more verses on perplexity:

Isaiah 22:5
For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.

Micah 7:4
The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.

Luke 21:25
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

This week I came across “The Guide for the Perplexed” was originally written 1190 by Moses Maimonides. The work is divided into three books. According to Maimonides, he wrote the Guide “to enlighten a religious man who has been trained to believe in the truth of our holy Law, who conscientiously fulfils his moral and religious duties. This work has also a second object in view: It seeks to explain certain obscure figures which occur in the Prophets, and are not distinctly characterised as being figurative.

Ignorant and superficial readers take them in a literal, not in a figurative sense.

Even well informed persons are bewildered if they understand these passages in their literal signification, but they are entirely relieved of their perplexity when we explain the figure, or merely suggest that the terms are figurative. Maimonides deals with the problem of evil (for which people are considered to be responsible because of free will), trials and tests (especially those of Job and the story of the Binding of Isaac) as well as other aspects traditionally attached to God in theology, such as providence and omniscience:

Maimonides endeavours to show that evil has no positive existence, but is a privation of a certain capacity and does not proceed from God; when, therefore, evils are mentioned in Scripture as sent by God, the Scriptural expressions must be explained allegorically. Indeed, says Maimonides, all existing evils, with the exception of some which have their origin in the laws of production and destruction and which are rather an expression of God’s mercy, since by them the species are perpetuated, are created by men themselves.

Perplexity can certainly be the result of what happens in the outward. But really, since it is an INWARD condition, it is always the result of how we respond to either the outward or inward. Perhaps you are in a situation you cannot handle and you have sought God over and over about it – but have received only silence. Or maybe the problem you are dealing with is an inward one. But it hasn’t matter how much you have sought the Lord, the problem remains. You are absolutely at your wits end. Not only have you NO answers, but you may not even know the right question.

David A. DePra further writes: Do you think it is impossible for someone who is IN the will of God to be perplexed? Is it possible to pray and ask and seek God – only to receive perplexity? The Bible reveals that it is quite possible for even the most mature saint. It happened to Paul the apostle. He said, “We are perplexed.” And yet he added, “but not in despair.”

You will note how Paul speaks of this condition of perplexity – he makes it, not the result of being OUT of God’s will, but the result of being IN God’s will. Indeed, he speaks of perplexity as normal and expected in our walk with Christ. According to Paul, perplexity is the result of coming into contact with something or someone for whom you have no frame of reference. You are at a complete loss as to THE WAY. But as Paul says, this is all “structured” by God so that we can learn, find, walk THE WAY.

Here we are lead to the foundation of Christianity – Christ IN US, the hope of glory. Christ, who IS our life. Christ, the power of God. Christ, in whom are ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Not the thousand religious ways by which we must walk with God, not the TO DO.’s, not just the given rules or laws or principles to follow not a checklist of God. Rather, Christianity is CHRIST IN YOU, a continual unfolding of Christ to us and in us. Christ dwells within us – and He alone is the way to walk with God in Spirit and in Truth. He the Vine and we the branches,”

Abiding in Him, for He is our life.

Could abiding in Him be the answer to perplexity?

Fitting the description of Macmillian dictionary stating to the opposite of perplexity: ease, freedom, facility, assurance, certitude, explicate, facility, peacefulness, consciousness, clearness, clarity engagement, Godsend …

Abiding in HIm through all perplexity, being the branch implanted, grafted into the stem of the tree, into Him our God and assurance, certitude where we direct our faith.

I am the vine, ye are the branches:. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15.5

Wishing you a blessed week as you abide in Him.
Philemon








Courage is created through action.  

Good Monday Morning to this week 11 of 2019

Life lessons, something most of us are interested in, yet when we read them we wonder why they don’t sound too cool after all. Kris Gage threw a few into a blender, actually a text analyzer and here are a few that made it through my filter!

with the filter of “the Bible”

Treat others the way you want to be treated and live peacefully with those around you.

Go personally to the person who has done wrong toward you. Try to resolve the conflict individually. If that does not work, then take two or three other people with you to try to work out the problem.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

What you sow, you reap, including the amazing thing called Grace!

with the filter “things”

Get the important things right. Marriage is really a beautiful thing. Being different is a good thing. Doing hard things gives you more pleasure. Don’t multi-task — focus on a few things and do them extremely well. Enjoy small things. Enjoy the little things. And again: smart people also do dumb things at times.

with the filter “time”

Take time to reflect. Give it a little bit more time before you quit. Invest in new experiences to “lengthen” time. Time is the most precious asset. Sometimes you get what you want by giving up the desire for it. Spend time with people you love. Stop wasting time. Value your time. You don’t have to be happy all the time.

with the filter “objective”

Numerous studies have proven our remarkable capacity for irrationality, and nobody is immune to our very human tendencies for bias. Everything you do and, by extension, everything you are, is filtered through everything you think, and everything you feel.  
We can’t assume other people who think differently are wrong. We all have blind spots (including what we pursue). We all have things we chase as “the answer,” even though it usually isn’t.

with the filter “people”

Ignore what people think of you. If you’re a people pleaser, get over it. You don’t need to work long hours to impress people. Don’t blame people. People are in love with their voice. People want a distraction from their thoughts. Everything helps people distract themselves from their thoughts. Most people say “Yes” if you offer them something they already want. People are in our lives for a reason. You’re the average of the people you spend the most time. Work with great people. Spend time with people you love. Don’t trust the wrong people. Avoid negative people. Say goodbye to people. If people want to go, let them. Never get back at bad people. Treat people well.

Stop focusing on what differentiates you from others and start focusing on what connects you to others.

And the more someone is sure they’re “100% logical and objective,” the more likely it is that they are oblivious to their blind spot!

with the filter “working hard”

Don’t complain, don’t judge, reputation is everything, It’s all about who you know.
Always prepare, no matter how small your next assignment is, come prepared. It’s the difference between an amateur and a pro. Know your “stuff”.

with the filter of “perspective”

Don’t hold your convictions so tightly. You could learn something tomorrow that disproves them all .  

with the filter of “growth”


Don’t let your life be ruled by the things you think you’re supposed to do or the expectations of others. All the opportunities for growth are beyond your comfort zone.
The moment you do something nice for someone expecting something in return is the moment you lost.

with the filter of “happiness”

Stop chasing after happiness. Come up with your own definition of happiness. (or listen to your mentor!) Never blame people for your unhappiness. Having a career you love is a privilege, not a right… it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen. Find your future; it won’t come looking for you. (God does at times come looking!)

with the filter of “life”

Life is messy but mostly okay as long as we work at it as far as we can. Don’t settle for a life that just feels ‘okay.’ Don’t get so used to feeling uncomfortable that you don’t believe in anything better. If you’re unhappy, change your life — don’t be complacent.
If you wake up every day angry, or depressed, or sad, and keep waiting for life to fix it for you, it’s never going to happen. There will always be lonely Sunday nights and exhausted Monday mornings. Enjoy the little things in life! Life is not easy.

with the filter of “success”

Success equals perseverance. Momentum is the byproduct of doing things repeatedly. If it is important to you, you will find a way. Focus, ask yourself what you like to do, what you’re willing to suffer for, and what problems you want to solve. Then, go out and do those things, suffer for those things, and solve those problems.  You cannot be everywhere and have everything. Learn to make right choices and commit to things that matter most. Action trumps most everything else. People are split on “action vs. planning.

with the filter of ” life is a delicate balance between ‘ready, aim, fire”

There is no perfect moment to start. Do not wait for better moment. It will never come.
Later often means never. Life has already begun. There is no interlude. Nor is there trial version of life. Your every decision matters. You actually don’t have a lot of time. Don’t put things off. Momentum is a universal force… Every day you choose whether it will pull you further backwards or push you forward.  Make sure you maximize the opportunity you are given and utilize momentum when good things start to happen… Perfection is the enemy of good.

If you wait to have all the details you think you need to make a decision, you will never make one. Rafael Sarandeses

Stop waiting for a “Sign”.

Courage is created through action.  

Act now.

Wishing you all a very blessed Monday Morning and week ahead!

Philemon

4x3x2x1 = 24

Good Monday Morning to this week 10 of 2019

A mother wants to make a picture of her four children all standing in one row. She asks them to stand in line. They obey, choose the option, from the biggest to the smallest, then from the oldest to the youngest. The mother slowly gets impatient, when then one of the four kids, good at maths, gives her the answer to the many changes. You know Mum, for the first position on the far left there are 4 possibilities, then there are 3 options left for the position to the right. If these two positions are done, there are only 2 options left for the third position from the left. One child finally remains for the far right. In total there are 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 equals 24 different possibilities.

24 possibilities for one simple photo!!

These months in Switzerland are significant for many of us regarding consulting and finances. By the 15th of March, our tax forms have to be rendered to the fiscal authority so they can calculate our income tax. In this time there is much maths being applied, much “lining up of numbers” and many doing a review of their finances and wondering what to declare and what not!

This reminds me of the in Matthew 17: 24-27

And when they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the two drachma tax came to Peter, and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two drachma tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” And upon his saying, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Consequently the sons are exempt. But lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and me”.

Now, a stater is equivalent to four drachmas. Therefore, the passage is saying, that:

(2 drachmas/person) x (2 persons) = 4 drachmas, or more simply still,

2 x 2 = 4.

There are many interpretations to this story of Jesus and Peter the taxes.

Adult Jewish males throughout the Empire paid an annual two-drachma tax, based on Exodus 30:13-16, for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple. Even in Matthew’s day, after the temple was destroyed, this tax remained important: after 70, the Romans required all Jewish people to pay that tax to the Roman government. For the sake of maintaining public identification with their Jewish heritage, Jewish Christians should join non-Christian Jews in paying the tax.

One principle is that we are to upholding society’s requirements as citizens of the communities where God has placed us. Jesus cares about our social obligations.

or

Jesus did not regard the poll tax as binding on himself or Peter, but recognizes that the tax collectors do. Head or poll taxes normally listed specific exceptions who would not have to pay. Conquerors subjected conquered peoples, not their own subjects, to taxation. Priests were exempt from the two-drachma tax cited here so in later times were also rabbis. Are we therefore to surrendering “rights” for the sake of the gospel?

Jesus supplies these needs as well as other needs.

The four-drachma coin probably is a Tyrian stater, precisely enough to pay two persons’ temple amount. Following an old Greek story, some Jewish stories of uncertain date speak of God blessing pious people by leading them to find precious objects in fish. If Peter knew of such stories, the moral of Jesus’ causing him to find money in a fish would not be lost on him. This is irony of a sort: the King’s children can pay the tax because the King gives them the money to do so. Jesus can take care of his people who walk close to him.

Paying taxes, therefore, could be seen as a spiritual expression. Since the King gives us the money to manage, as his children we manage it well and pay the taxes to the earthy to the king knowing that the heavenly King is taking care of us!

A short disclaimer for those of you living under dictators or corrupt regimes: “I know that for many of you the “rulers” are far from just and exploit the land and those paying the taxes. Many questions of these situations are not considered here in this short text! For this we’d need to look deeper into the question of when Jesus calls us to go against the rulers of the time in a nonviolent way, as he also did so at various times.”

I wish you a good week and wish you His blessings in all the decisions you make, also the financial ones, for example how you pay your bills or what you write on your tax declarations!

Philemon