Hibernate

Chapter 37

Good Monday Morning to this new week 36 of 2020

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:5-6

There are many winter survival strategies in the animal world, and one of the most fascinating is hibernation. Some animals enter a state of “suspended animation.” Their breathing and heart rates slow and they allow their body temperature to drop, in some cases even below freezing. They stop eating and in many cases stop excreting. All of these things happen so the animal can use less energy.

Hibernation is more varied than you might think. Many animals hibernate in a den all winter, but some animals hibernate in the summer. Some fish can hibernate in a waterproof mucus envelope if their lake dries up. Certain birds and bats enter a sort of daily hibernation called torpor.

God meets us in the secret place. It’s there we hibernate⏤where we are not seen, just as God is not seen. The King James Version refers to this place as a closet.

The word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 to describe the room or closet is derived from the word tamion,  it describes the inner rooms of ancient Hebrew homes that were used as a storehouse or a place of protection, a chamber, especially ‘an inner chamber’; a secret room. When we hibernate in prayer, we come to a place of abundance, not scarcity.

God is our storehouse. We step foot into a inner chamber and find He is already there. 

Estivation is like hibernation in hot weather. Animals that live in deserts or tropical climates practice estivation. It may not occur solely because of food supply issues, as with hibernation, but because the conditions become too hot and dry for the animal to survive. The process typically involves burrowing into the ground, where the temperature stays cool, and reducing metabolic activity in a similar manner to hibernation.

King David once tended sheep. As he was surrounded by them, did he know he was going to be king? Did he know what awaited him? Not at first. At first the fields were all he knew. The sheep were his lone responsibility. Yet as he was amongst them, he was listening; He was yielding; He was learning.

David knew and trusted God despite anything, and it was natural for him to run to God because of the time he spent in hibernation with Him, some of this concept is shown very well in the following verse

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You.” Psalm 63:1-5 

Wishing you a blessed week
Philemon

If Jesus had an obituary

Chapter 36

Good Monday Morning to this new week 35 of 2020

This week I read the obituary of Rick Love, impressed and remember him after especially one of his talks at a Vineyard Missions meetings:   He loved Muslims because he loved Jesus. The Bible showed him how. Remembering the pilgrimage and legacy of Rick Love, who founded Peace Catalyst after years as international director of Frontiers.

“I want to be part of creating a new heaven and a new earth with God,” said Rick, quoted in his obituary. “A peaceable kingdom.”

What if Jesus had an obituary?

Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth, died Friday on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the place of the skull. Betrayed by the Apostle Judas, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, by order of the Ruler Pontius Pilate. The causes of death were crucifixion, extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood.

Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham, was a member of the house of David. He was the Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, His devoted Mother. Jesus was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. He is survived by His mother Mary, His faithful Apostles, numerous disciples, and many other followers.

Jesus was self-educated and spent most of his adult life working as a Carpenter and a Teacher. Jesus also occasionally worked as a Medical Doctor and it is reported that he healed many patients. Up until the time of His death, Jesus was teaching and sharing the Good News, healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry, and helping the poor.

Jesus was most noted for telling parables about His Father`s Kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and healing a man who was born blind. On the day before His death, He held a Last Supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which He foretold His death.

The body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family.
By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did. Donations may be sent to anyone in need.

The Author is Unknown

Following in Acts 1 we read:

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And to this day many still follow this amazing man Jesus the Son of God.

Wishing you a great week!
Philemon

Antithesis to: “never have to be afraid”

Chapter 35

Good Monday Morning to this week 34 of 2020

Have you also been reading about the movement that goes out to the street, because evidently in some countries people are not allowed to sing in church. Well yes, there are very many questions to this whole issue, if for example the government is giving preference to other groups to meet and demonstrate and at the same time putting heavy restrictions on the church and it’s liturgy.

Coming to the singing well, true our modern singing and worship is often wonderful, well , to be honest – mostly I hope! On the other hand we have started singing some very strange lyrics with questionable content with strange theology. I quote one example from the song:
One thing remains (Your Love never fails)

“It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid”

Really? We never have to be afraid? What world does this author live in?

How about:
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94.19

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. 1. Peter 5: 6-7

Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands. Psalm 112.1

Fear is a vital response for human beings. If we didn’t feel fear, we couldn’t protect ourselves from threats. Our bodies and brains are wired to treat threats as life-threatening. This triggers an extreme fight-flight-or-freeze response.

Our fears are not solely dependent on instinctive responses. They are also shaped by our societies and cultures, which teach people when to fear and how much to fear.

Sometimes, our fear is unnecessary and we avoid doing things that could be beneficial to us. Sometimes, facing danger can result in lingering  responses that trigger us to act in a certain way, even when the risk is gone.

Yes, fear does or can cause heavy and strong reactions in our bodies, something we all know and are very well acquainted with. An accelerated breathing rate or increased heart rate, increased muscle tension, sweating … and so on. Actually, fear is rational it is a reasonable response to danger. On the contrary, the phobias are irrational. 

I don’t like walking alone, at night without light, in a dark forest or jungle. The fear of dangerous animals attacking me is very strong. I have a few options if I do get put into that situation.
Fight is often my worst option, maybe not with a snake or spider – but everything else!
Flight is usually my best option; get out as quickly as possible!
Freeze – yes this my approach when it comes to big dogs staring at me while in the forest.

The Bible also knows and encourages all these responses in many different ways.

Fight: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41.10

Fight: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31.6

Flight: I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41.13

Freeze: Or meditate! Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16.3

Take courage!

Wishing you a very good start to this new week!
Philemon


Still small voice

Chapter 34

Good Monday Morning to this week 33 of 2020

In the last weeks, I’ve been getting tired or even annoyed by hearing all the loud voices. So many people get online or elsewhere and act like they knew it all, had all the answers and set up all kinds of theories on all kinds of things.

1. Kings 19.12
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake, and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

There is only one place in Scripture where God is said to speak in a “still small voice,” and it was to Elijah after his dramatic victory over the prophets of Baal. Elijah ran into the wilderness and collapsed in exhaustion. God sent an angel with food and water to strengthen him, told him to rest, and then sent him to Horeb. In a cave there, Elijah voices his complaint that all of God’s prophets had been killed by Jezebel and he alone had survived. God instructed him to stand on the mountain in His presence. Then the Lord sent a mighty wind which broke the rocks in pieces; then He sent an earthquake and a fire, but His voice was in none of them. After all that, the Lord spoke to Elijah in the still small voice, or “gentle whisper.”

A few thoughts to the still voice of God.

a. God showed Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations.
b. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity.
c. God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.
d. God is not confined to a single manner of communicating with His people. Elsewhere in Scripture, He is said to communicate through a whirlwind to announce His presence by an earthquake, and to speak in a voice that sounds like thunder. In Psalm 77:18 His voice is compared to both thunder and a whirlwind. And in Revelation 4:5, we’re told that lightning and thunder proceed from the throne in heaven.

A possible interpretation:

The difference between God speaking through the thunder and the whirlwind, then through the still, small voice, can be also considered as showing the difference between the two dispensations of law and grace. The law is a voice of terrible words and was given amidst a tempest of wind, thunder, and lightning, attended by an earthquake, but the gospel is a gentle voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and the free gift of salvation through Christ. The law breaks the rocky hearts of men in pieces, shakes their consciences, and fills their minds with a sense of God’s fiery wrath and the punishment they deserve, and then the gospel speaks gently to them of the peace and pardon available in Christ.

Wishing that you hear His still small voice speaking to you this week!

Wishing you a great start today!

Philemon

 

Rightly Identified

Chapter 33

Good Monday Morning to this week 32 of 2020

On this day August 3rd, 1667 Jeremy Taylor came down with Fever.
Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667) was a cleric in the Church of England. He is sometimes known as the “Shakespeare of Divines” for his poetic style of expression. By 1655 he had written his enduring works. His devotional handbooks of spiritual insight were very popular with all denominations, however, and their influence extended to the 18th-century Methodist John Wesley.

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor.3.16

He looked at Jesus’s life, from narrative, to discursive, to affective.

Bishop Jeremy Taylor writes:
“Jesus would need be baptized by his servant John, and though he was of purity sufficient to do it, and did actually by his baptism purify the purifier, and sanctify that and all other streams to an holy ministery and effect, yet he went in, bowing his head like a sinner, unclothing himself like an imperfect person, and craving to be washed, as if he had been crusted with an impure leprousie, thereby teaching us to submit ourselves to all those rites which he would institute.”

Jesus’s baptism is not an obvious type for our baptisms, because he was sinless –  nor was it then a common analogy as it is now.  So Taylor marks Jesus’s perfection as a reason for our obedience, and allows us into the experience of baptism. A change happens, an act of recognition –  once we’ve made it we cannot stop there.

The interaction points to a theological truth at the heart of the Bible: that part of what it means to be human is to be made for relationship with God. We humans are those creatures whose fulfillment consists in being recognized by God. In the absence of this recognition, in the absence of the affirmation of our self-understanding in God’s address, we are destined to be incomplete.

At the heart Jesus lies the this promised concord between divine identification and human self-understanding. The Gospel narrative is framed by God’s identification of Jesus, and Jesus’s acceptance of this identity. At two prominent moments – Jesus’s baptism and on the mountain of transfiguration – we are told that God speaks, identifying Jesus: “You are my Son, whom I love”; “This is my Son, whom I love” (Mark 1:11; 9:7).

Just as God’s naming of Israel was also an invitation to accept this identity, so God’s naming of Jesus is an invitation to him to embrace His identity. This is why it is tested. When the devil tempts Jesus, we are told, he does so by casting doubt on his identity: “If you are the Son of God …” (Luke 4:3). Then, throughout the ministry of Jesus, and climactically at his trial, the question of his identity is front and centre. “If you are the Messiah, tell us!

This, however, is not a simple matter; because there remains, even for Christian believers, a deep disconnect between our sense of ourselves and the way we have been newly identified. Were this not so, then there would be no need for the urging of the apostles to see and to embrace the new name that has been given. In fact, however, we struggle to believe that this is really true.

Our lives are lived as a contest of identifications. We are named by others, and we struggle to name ourselves. Some names seem to fit; others do not, and others still we aspire and yearn to fit. It is therefore a great gift to name each other rightly because it is a way of giving one another a glimpse of this peace.

For the voice we truly need to hear is the voice of God, and the identification we long to hear is nothing less than the one given to Jesus: “You are my son, my daughter whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” That is an address we may one day hear just as we long to. For now, however, we may hear it only as a promise and must continue to live our lives amidst the contest of names, seeking to believe that we are, truly, who we have been told we are in Christ.

Wishing you a blessed week, called by the right name!

Philemon