Much ado about Something

Good Monday Morning to this week 31 of 2019

Much ado about nothing. Shakespeare (1598 play)

Taken in once sense, the title implies that a great fuss “much ado” is made of something which is insignificant “nothing

Taken literally  “much ado” is made of something this is significant!

In the past two weeks I’ve been reading slowly through: Doing Spirituality of Alexadner Venter.

Here a few of my favorite quotes so far:

Grace does not automatically change us; It requires response for us to benefit from it. It motivates participation. A. Venter

Just as the thought of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not actualize the light of spiritual knowledge in the soul. Maximus the Confessor

In all our actions, God considers the intention: whether we act for Him or for some other motive. Maximus the Confessor

You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.  Martin Luther

Just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in our minds and wills. Most of thee unnumbered seeds are lost because we are not prepared to receive them. Thomas Merton

We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real…and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists. Thomas Merton

Suppose our failures occur, not in spite of what we are doing, but precisely because of it. Dallas Willard

The truly powerful ideas are precisely the ones that never have to justify themselves.”
Dallas Willard

The offspring of virtue is perseverance. The fruit and offspring of perseverance is habit and child of habit is character. St. John Climacus

We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder. Kallistos Ware

What drew the attention of Moses to the bush was not the bush but that it did not burn up. Only when God saw Moses stop to consider and approach, did he reveal himself.
A. Venter

With these few quotes, I wish you a thoughtful and successful week!

Philemon

 

 

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Good Monday Morning to this week 30 of 2019

This week I “stumbled” over the Greek word and masculine noun arrabón (ar-hrab-ohn).

Interlinear Hebrew for 1. Cor. 1:22 :
The (One) also having sealed us and having given the pledge (arrabón) of the Spirit(Pneumatos) in the hearts of us.

An earnest, earnest-money, a pledge,  a large part of the payment, given in advance as a security that the whole will be paid afterwards.

An installment; a deposit, down-payment,  which guarantees the balance the full purchase-price.

This phrase is twice used by Paul in another Epistle (2 Cor 1:22, 5:5). The metaphor is taken from bargains, in which, when a pledge has been given and accepted, the whole is confirmed, and no room is left for a change of mind. Calvin

The Spirit living in us governing us to the extent that we yield control. Paul uses the arrabón, the deposit, down-payment of what is to come. God’s seal of ownership over us, the already depostit that guarantees the full reality in the not yet of what is still to come.
A. Venter

The ‘earnest,’ is a small portion of purchase-money, or wages, or contract-money, which is given at the making of a bargain, as an assurance that the whole amount will be paid in due time. And, says the Apostle, this seal is also an earnest. It not only makes certain God’s ownership and guarantees the security of those on whom it is impressed, but it also points onwards to the future, and at once guarantees that, and to a large extent reveals the nature of it. MacLaren

This divine seal is the earnest (a token of what is to come – a pledge), inasmuch as itself is part of the whole. You have but to take the faith, the love, the obedience, the communion of the highest moments of the Christian life on earth, and free them from all their limitations, subtract from them all their imperfections, multiply them to their superlative possibility, and endow them with a continual power of growth, and stretch them out to absolute eternity, and you get heaven. The earnest is of a piece with the inheritance. M. Poole

Here is a gift offered for us all, a gift which our feebleness sorely needs, a gift for every timid nature, for every weak will, for every man, woman, and child. An offer of a reinforcement as real, so you and I may have in our hearts the Spirit of God, the spirit of strength, the spirit of love and of a sound mind, the spirit of adoption, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, to enlighten our darkness, to bind our hearts to Him, to quicken and energise our souls, to make the weakest among us strong. Matthew Henry

If God having once given this earnest, should not also give the rest of the inheritance! Leigh

A seal was used for different purposes: to mark a person’s property, to secure his treasures, or to authenticate a deed. In the first sense, the Spirit distinguishes believers as the peculiar people of God; in the second, he guards them as his precious jewels; in the third, he confirms or ratifies their title to salvation.  An earnest is a part given as a security for the future possession of the whole. The Holy Spirit is the earnest of the heavenly inheritance, because he begins that holiness in the soul which will be perfected in heaven, and imparts those joys which are foretastes of its blessedness.  Calvin

All the results of the sealing of the soul are manifestly incomplete and tend towards completeness. Is this imperfect Christianity of ours, our little faith so soon shattered, our little love so quickly disproved, our faltering resolutions, our lame performances, our earthward connectedness, these things all that Jesus agony was for. Manifestly, here is but a segment of the circle, in heaven is the perfect round; and the imperfections, so far as life is concerned, cry aloud for a region where it’s possible for us to be made as He has wanted, complete again. MacLaren

He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. 1. Cor. 1:22

Wishing a blessed week as you live in the “now”, often the “not-yet” yet draw from His Spirit grounded in the assurance of this “arrabón”,  deposit, down-payment, earnest and guarantee already given as gift for us!

Blessings

Philemon

 

 

 

 

 

Found (not) wanting

In the popular film, A Knight’s Tale, Adhemar says to William:  “You have been weighed; you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.” This is a paraphrase from the Old Testament of the Bible (Daniel 5:27), which reads, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”

Good Monday Morning to this week 29 of 2019

The last two days I’ve been walking around with a 2-meter wooden folding ruler, not just thinking about measurements but also about sizes and perspectives and other matters.

To measure something is to determine a certain set of its properties in reference to a standard. At its simplest, it is a form of counting. Properties can include size, weight, duration, quality, or merely amount. Measurements are so important to our daily life that we often communicate in measurement terms without thinking about it.

Our God also measures. There are several well-known passages in the Bible that refer to measuring that give us some insight into God’s nature.

Proverbs 11:1 says “the Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. Two more times in Proverbs, the same sentiment is given, even mentioning not only weights but differing measures that are detestable. Proverbs 16:11 further states that “honest scales and balances belong to the Lord.” In the spirit of James 1:17 (every good and perfect gift is from the Father above), combined with the well-known Christian principle that “all truth is God’s truth,” it can be directly inferred that accurate measurements are godly measurements, regardless of the application.

It seems like God is pleased with those who make an attempt to measure accurately and devise systems for accurate measurements. God’s concern for accurate measurements is not isolated to proverbial statements; they are embedded in the Mosaic Law. In Leviticus, the Israelites are commanded to “…not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. The same sentiment is reiterated in Deuteronomy where Moses restates to the people: Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. He calls to have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

When Daniel is finally called on to interpret the mysterious writing on the wall, he finds three phrases directly related to God’s measuring of the King:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Upharsin: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

Or in creationGenesis lays out the creation story then another passage in Isaiah relates to God’s sovereignty over creation as one who does so using measurements: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Another interesting passage that speaks of measurements is in John 6 where Jesus feeds the crowd, about five thousand men were there,  with a boy’s grocery basket. Philip’s estimate of how much it will cost to “buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” or half a year’s wages, literally 200 denarii. The amount of food remaining: “they…filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves leftover…”. It is important to the storyteller that they measured the number of baskets.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of applying an understanding of measurements in the Bible is to make it personal for example with spiritual measurements.  When one reads with measuring in mind – not just physically, in terms of amounts of things or passage, but spiritually – a new perspective can be gained. Two areas include references to faith and love specifically, followed by spiritual growth in general.

Then Jesus said to her, Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
For I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
These trials have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Christ is revealed. Paul expressed a measure of love: The superlative when in the list of spiritual characteristics: “the greatest of these is love!

We see a pattern of measurements like a schedule, looks like God really expects spiritual growth. This is something one should be interested in measuring. Paul offers us an example of prayer that we should pray for others and seek the answer to the prayer to be filled full of Christ’s love. Paul tells us that God is using the circumstances of our lives to make us more into the image of Jesus.

The Bible is full of measurements as: A handbreadth, reed, day’s journey, talent, Drachma, sunrise, sunset, ninth hour or the third watch, all examples of precise measurements.

Insights can be gathered based on the emphasis that God seems to place on certain lengths of time or timing of events, numbers or amounts of things, and the value of certain items. Special notice should be taken when God gives someone a measuring assignment.  Even more interesting may be the intangible matters related to Christian living that give expectations of measurement. Jesus speaks often of faith as something that can be measured – He cites people as having little,  or much faith. Paul talks about faith growing as if one should be able to measure it – perhaps relative to our trials requiring a certain amount of faith. Peter offers his readers grace in abundance and expects them to “grow in the grace…of Jesus”, as if grace is something that can be measured. Jesus even states how one can measure the greatest love. Similarly, hope, joy, and knowledge are all referred to as something measurable in the life of the believer.

Tangible and intangible objects of measurements in the Bible offer us many associated implications as believers.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3: 17-19

Wishing you a great week and with the ever new perspective of God saying:

You have been weighed,
You have been measured,
And you had been found, not wanting!

Philemon

Follow your passion?

Have you also received this very questionable advice: “Follow Your Passion”?

Good Monday morning to this week 28 of 2019

A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is unwholesomeness to the bones.
Proverbs 14.30

Research suggests that telling people to “find their passion” isn’t just ineffective advice; it can actually be harmful. In a paper published last year in the journal Psychological Science, the authors compared the “fixed” theory of passion — the notion that passion lives within us, already fully formed and waiting to be discovered — to the idea of “destined” purpose.

Similarly, the authors found that believing in the idea of a singular and innate theory of passion led people to move on too quickly from paths they found interesting but challenging: “Urging people to find their passion may lead them to put all their eggs in one basket,” the researchers wrote, “but then to drop that basket when it becomes difficult to carry.”

On the other hand, those with a “growth” perspective on passion are more likely to see it as a malleable quality that can be cultivated, which makes them both more open and more resilient. This thinking, the authors wrote, “leads people to express greater interest in new areas, to anticipate that pursuing interests will sometimes be challenging, and to maintain greater interest when challenges arise.” A. Beau

Believing you’re only cut out to do one thing makes it easy to get stuck in a rut. But to grow, by definition, means getting unstuck. It means opening yourself up to new ideas and new interests and allowing yourself to be steered by them.

And the best part is? With the thoughts of Intelligent Design and Open Theism, we know there is not only one perfect plan but the perfect plan to all possibilities prepared out there for us.

The Hellenistic philosophers greatly shaped the thinking of the time and influenced much theology and theory of fixed passion living in us. Plato argued that we see not by light entering our eyes (as we now know is the case) but by light proceeding out of our eyes (Timaeus 45b). For Plato, seeing is an active, not a passive, process. Since knowledge was considered to be a kind of seeing, Plato also construed knowing as acting on something rather than being acted upon (Sophist 248-49). Much of this view of seeing and knowing is picked up and defended even to this day.

Once we abandon the ancient view of seeing and knowing as active processes, it becomes clear that God’s knowledge is perfect if, and only if, it perfectly conforms to the nature of what is known. So if possibilities are real, then God’s knowledge is perfect if, and only if, God knows them as possibilities. God always knows everything perfectly. Leading is us to this wonderful God of possibilities,  even as we believe that a partly open future is exactly fitting to the God of all knowledge, leading us to being  part of what God perfectly knows.

Acting and following on the Godly passions, these lead to compassion, and therefore to a much better place then,  acting on or following our own passion coming from within!

I wish you a wonderful week as God forms the ways before you in possibilities you couldn’t have imagined.

Philemon