Independence or Dependence

Good Monday Morning to this week 25 of 2019

Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’:  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”

Looking at this prayer in verses 9-12. It may be imagination, but I think Jacob is trying to manipulate God in his prayer. In verse 9 he is claiming God’s promise that He would bless Jacob. In verse 10 he gives God the credit for his prosperity and then he again claims God’s promise to bless him in verses 11-12. It seems to me that Jacob was almost saying to God, “Come through for me God. You promised me. You owe me!”

I find his story of Jacob particularly intriguing because we get to see his whole family and how they interact. In modern language, Jacob came from a really dysfunctional family, and we will see the influence bad parents can have on their children.

Jacob’s messed up family life helped shape him into being a manipulative person. Jacob’s style of relating was one of manipulating others. He tried to control life and depended on himself, not God. God had to break Jacob of this bad pattern of relating. How it is that God finally got through to him?

All this weakness in Isaac let Rebekah take over. It was her natural tendency. Isaac’s natural tendency was to be passive, so she took over the family and Jacob’s life. Rebekkah had problems. When her twins are born, she shows partiality to Jacob, the non-hairy weaker looking one. Gen 25:27 says Jacob spent most of his time at home. So Rebekah takes over his life and arranges everything for him. She teaches him how to cook. She arranges for him to get the blessing, she arranges for his deliverance from Esau by sending him to her brother Laban, telling him everything will work out fine.

So I think we can see that Jacob came from a fairly typical family. His mother had a tendency to want to take control. The father let her. His brother was just a natural man concerned with the things of this world.

I do think we can assume that Jacob knew that he was supposed to end up with the birthright eventually. I’m sure his mother told him what the Lord had told her. (The older will serve the younger). What this event shows us is that Jacob was not willing to wait on the Lord.

It is ironic but that Jacob left the promised land which was part of his blessing. It ought to be obvious to Jacob that there is something wrong with this picture. It ought to indicate that the way Jacob got the blessing was not what God would have planned.

However, we see that in spite of Jacob’s deceitful way of obtaining the blessing, God is going to honor it.

But that night God, who is still trying to get through to Jacob, meets with Jacob in a wrestling match!  Verse 24 says, “Jacob was left alone.” It is such a little phrase, but I think it is very, very important. He had run out of resources. Jacob has finally been broken. Jacob is at the end of his rope. His life is a mess. He is all alone, he has exhausted his own resources and has to face Esau alone. I think Jacob is finally broken to the point where he will now trust in God.

As soon as we see that Jacob is alone, it says that “a man wrestled with him.” That man is God. We know that because Jacob is given a new name, “Israel” which means “he fights with God.”

What did God do to Jacob when He wanted to get hold of Jacob’s life?

He revealed Himself to him.

God says “let me go”!  But Jacob wouldn’t let go. He says, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob has finally come to the point where he would rather die than live without God’s blessing.

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel when he finally began to trust in God. Israel was God’s covenant name for the new nation. The name “Jacob” represents independence from God and “Israel” represents dependence on God. It is not a hard and fast rule, but it seems to me that there are certain places in the OT where God calls the nation, “Jacob,” instead of, “Israel,” and it is because they are acting independently.

Incidentally, after he meets with God, we see that although he left the people divided into two groups, instead of hiding behind them, he now goes out in front of them to face Esau alone. He now is depending on God and not his own resources. Esau receives him openly and it seems that there are no hard feelings, forgiveness and reconciliation happens. God has paved the way for Jacob to return to the promised land.

Jacob’s problem? He wanted to control his life, so he manipulated people. Jacob thought he could make it on his own without God, yet only with his “new name” did reconciliation happen and he was able to return to the “terrain” of blessing.

Reflecting on our lives – yes this is a problem, a challenge, a promise and blessing as we go from independence to dependency on God.

Wishing a blessed week!

Philemon

 

 

 

 

 

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Unboss or WWJD


For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus

Good Monday Morning to this week 24 of 2019

This week I was reading and quite impressed by the trend in large companies to apply methods of “Unboss”.

UNBOSS is a new mindset that turns conventional understanding of management and works on its head and transforms limited companies into unlimited movements.

Here are some of their principles:

– Focus on purpose rather than profit.
– Dissolve the old hierarchy and encourage everyone to work together.
– Transform your business into an unlimited social network.
–  Become a great place to work and attract the best people.
– Step aside and let your co-workers take the lead.
– Turn customers into partners and advocates for your cause.
– Involve people outside your company – also in research and development.
– Tolerate mistakes and talk openly about them.
– Strengthen dialogue throughout the organization through the use of social media
– Forget short-term go back to passion the basis upon which you were founded.
– Think about who would really miss your organization if it ceased to exist today.

Good stuff – I like it!

Somehow I get the feeling Jesus knew a whole lot about this method and put it into practice a long time ago! He knew a lot about priorities, passion, future, purpose, changing society, bottom-up instead of top-down, recruiting, drawing in, encouraging, strengthening, dealing with mistakes, relationships, authority, power and much more.

Here are some of the statements that changed the world and that can keep changing the world if applied.

– Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

– Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

– Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

– Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

– As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Jesus

–  For where your treasure is, there your heart is! Jesus

– And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ The King

– Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. Hebrews

– God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. Peter

– We may ask, what does someone know, Jesus asks, how is he using what he knows.

– Jesus solved problems in people’s lives. The more He did this, the more His reputation spread and the more influence He had among the people and the culture. His core method was through extravagant servant leadership.

– Jesus’ life as a foot-washing servant would eventually lead to the adoption of humility as a widely admired virtue.

– The ancient world loved education but tended to reserve it for the elite; the notion of Jesus, that every child bore God’s image helped fuel the move for universal literacy.

– Jesus had a universal concern for those who suffered that transcended the rules of the ancient world. His compassion for the poor and the sick led to institutions for lepers, the beginning of modern-day hospitals.

– Jesus had a way of championing the excluded that was often downright irritating to those in power. His inclusion of women led to a community to which women flocked in disproportionate numbers. Slaves—up to a third of ancient populations—might wander into a church fellowship and have a slave-owner wash their feet rather than beat them.

– The apostle Paul said: “Now there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” Thomas Cahill wrote that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature.

Jesus established culture, a flourishing culture. A few principles by Shelly Trebesch

1. Authentic Engagement
2. Invitation to Participate
3. Empowerment
4. Correction

With these behaviors, he established a flourishing culture, a framework, a reproducing, life-oriented environment where anyone could experience God’s, true heart.

Wishing you a wonderful empowered and engaged week in participation with what Jesus wants to do with you.

Philemon

Interruptions

The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life. C.S. Lewis

Good Monday Morning to this week 23 of 2019

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together,

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks. . . .

Interruption, a period of time between two events

a temporary or permanent stop in a process

a situation in which something happens later or more slowly than you expected

a short period of time between two longer periods

a time at which one thing ends completely and a new thing begins

a time during which something interrupts a process or activity

a short time between periods of work in an official organization, especially a court or parliament

a short break in the middle of a play, film, concert etc

a period of time in which you are allowed to change your mind about a contract or agreement that you have signed

Bonhoeffer petitions to stop and allow for interruption — to cultivate a disruption theology, as it were. This benefits both the one doing the interrupting, as well as the person being interrupted because it is in those instances God reveals himself in ways we may never have seen or experienced otherwise. God is erecting visible signs of the cross in our path.

Interruption is God’s invitation. God is inviting us to see him all around us, in the lives of others, in our conversations, in our serving those in need.

When Jesus was interrupted, He started where He was and helped those in need who were nearest to Him. There is always another mission “out there”—the next cause, the next city, or the next country that seems to be the most important mission we could pursue. Jesus illustrates that our greatest mission is often the person in front of us.  Dillon Burroughs

I wish you many good interruptions this week!

Philemon

 

Hybrid power; Divine power

Good Monday Morning to this week 22 of 2019

A hybrid vehicle uses two or more distinct types of power, such as internal combustion engine to drive an electric generator that powers an electric motor. The basic principle with hybrid vehicles is that the different motors work better at different speeds; the electric motor is more efficient at producing torque, or turning power, the combustion engine is better for maintaining high speed. Switching from one to the other at the proper time while speeding up yields a win-win in terms of energy efficiency. Mopeds, electric bicycles, and even electric kick scooters are a simple form of a hybrid.

The engine of our soul and spiritual life also need power, not just the right amount but also the right kind of power for the right situation for maintaining speed, health and drive.

God wraps, covers, creates, trembles, whispers and thunders his power: 

God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. He created the horizon when he separated the waters: he set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?”
Job 26:7-14

God fills us with His power,  even with an overfow! 

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

A spirit of power. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self – discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

His divine power, hybrid in a way,
more then a win-win approach:
Glory and excellence! 

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one how called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  2 Peter 1:3

More power, less talk! 
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 4:20

Power in affliction. 

He who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

He can do far more abundantly! 

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us! Ephesians 3:20

Yes! This I seek this morning!

Have a blessed week filled with His power in abundance!
Philemon

 

 

About kings ….

Good Monday Morning to this Week 21 of 2019

Just on my journey back from Ghana I was reminded of the 09.12.2016. On the day of the general elections I traveled from Togo to Ghana, then on the 9th the New Patriotic Party as opposition won and President Nana Akufo-Addo was elected as president. As the announcement was being made I was sitting with  the King Akyems at his home in Accra.  It was a moment of incredible joy and enthusiasm and an immense breakthrough for Ghana.

So I mentioned it to Thomas yesterday evening and he smiled and said:  no no, no visiting the King now, since he won he is very, very busy with the ruling party, there is no way we would get to see him now, but nevertheless he is doing many good things for his people.

So let’s look at a short good story of a King:

Once upon a time, there was a Kingdom. The king there only had one leg and one eye, but he was very intelligent and kind. Everyone in his kingdom lived a happy and a healthy life because of their king. One day the king was walking through the palace hallway and saw the portraits of his ancestors. He thought that one day his children will walk in the same hallway and remember all the ancestors through these portraits.

But, the king did not have his portrait painted. Due to his physical disabilities, he wasn’t sure how his painting would turn out. So he invited many famous painters from his and other kingdoms to the court. The king then announced that he wants a beautiful portrait made of himself to be placed in the palace. Any painter who can carry out this should come forward. He will be rewarded based on how the painting turns up.

All of the painters began to think that the king only has one leg and one eye. How can his picture be made very beautiful? It is not possible and if the picture does not turn out to look beautiful then the king will get angry and punish them. So one by one, all started to make excuses and politely declined to make a painting of the king.

But suddenly one painter raised his hand and said that I will make a very beautiful portrait of you which you will surely like. The king became happy hearing that and other painters got curious. The king gave him the permission and the painter started drawing the portrait. He then filled the drawing with paints. Finally, after taking a long time, he said that the portrait was ready!

All of the courtiers, other painters were curious and nervous thinking, How can the painter make the king’s portrait beautiful because the king is physically disabled? What if the king didn’t like the painting and gets angry? But when the painter presented the portrait, everyone in the court, including the king, left stunned.

The painter made a portrait in which the king was sitting on the horse, on the one-leg side, holding his bow and aiming the arrow with his one eye closed. The king was very pleased to see that the painter has made a beautiful portrait by cleverly hiding the king’s disabilities. The King gave him a great reward.

How much more does our King Jesus oversee our disabilities, doesn’t just paint cleverly but erases them completely with his Grace!

Wishing you a great week!

Philemon

 

God, not giving us more then we can handle?

Good Monday Morning to this week 20 of 2019

Though “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is a favorite quote of many Christians, it’s like quite a few verses that are mentioned but don’t actually appear in the Bible.

Some verses suggest the opposite approach:

Rather than never putting His followers in situations, they can’t handle, God occasionally does overwhelm them so they can grow into people capable of handling anything.

1 Corinthians 1:8  He will also keep you firm to the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 38:4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.

1 Kings 19:7  The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”

Does it mean God takes into account our independent possibilities based on our track record of handling trouble and, thus, measures out that trouble to us so that it doesn’t go beyond what “we” independently by our own resources can handle?

Or, does “we” mean that we can handle it if we receive it by faith in divine assistance and that God knows what he himself will give us by grace in enabling us to handle what he gives us — so he is not thinking of “we” as independent, but “we” as dependent on the grace that comes with the difficulty? Which of those two does this statement ask about?

And “handle.” What does “handle” mean? Does “handle” mean you never collapse under it? Does it mean you never fail in any task? Does it mean you never mess up? Does it mean you never fail to get a B+ on every one of life’s tests? Or does “handle” mean you never fail so that you never recover or repent or restore reconciliation and that you are finally lost because you failed? Which does “handle” mean?

Corinthians 10:13: “no temptation” — or “test” since it is the same word in Greek — “no test has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted [tested] beyond your ability” — or beyond what you are able — “but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

When Paul says he won’t give what is beyond what you are able, he means, not beyond what you are able with God’s help. We know that because of a couple of other things he says. For example, in 2 Corinthians 9:8 he says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” In other words, in every test or temptation, the question is, “Will I do what I ought to do?” And Paul says, “There will be grace,” not just, “I am depending on you to use your resources without depending on grace.” “I am giving you grace so there will be grace to do it. But you are not independent of my powers to help.”

“What could this mean, ‘we’  in this statement: ‘God will never give us more than “we” can handle’?” is that “we” means we who are helped by sovereign grace, not we independent of the power of God’s help.

With the prophet Daniel, for example, God led him off into captivity. But He never brought him “through” Babylon and back to Israel. Instead, He kept him there through king after king, battle after battle, danger after danger. Daniel grew old and died far from home, never seeing the land he longed for. But God used that time for some amazing displays of His power to make an impact there.

So, yes we get completely overwhelmed, overstretched, far beyond what we can handle, and in that we find His Grace, his power to help, to assist us and walk us through the deep trouble.

Some more promises:

He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.

Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” He is going to keep you.

But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” I prayed for you. Yes, you are going to deny me tonight, but I am bringing you back.

One conclusion:

We get completely overwhelmed, overstretched, far beyond what we can handle, and in that we find His Grace, his power to help, to assist us and walk us through the deep dark and hard valleys.

I wish you His grace this week!

Philemon

 

 

But night will be light as day

Psalm 139:12

Good Monday Morning to this week 19 of 2019

This weekend I was reading Psalm 23, then a friend reminded to also go to Psalm 139:12 where David says: Even the night shall be light around me!

In fact: darkness isn’t darkness to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

The whole Psalm is beautiful Hebrew poetry talking about the power and knowledge of God. Hebrew poetry takes an entirely different approach. Instead of rhyming words, it rhymes ideas.

Search me, 0 God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts:

By restating the concept in a slightly different way, by contrasting it with the opposite or by building on the thought with greater specificity parallelism forms the structural foundation of Hebrew poetry.

Whether within the line, the grouping or section, the skillful use of parallelism in Psalm 139, allows the reader to better understand the force of emotions motivating David in his plea before God.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yes, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Hebraic (rabbinical) teaching wants the students to challenge what they hear. It is through questioning everything that a student can learn. In addition, the teacher wants his/her students to excel to a point where the student becomes the teacher. Having
the same opinion about a passage of Scripture is nice but is far from absolute for the teacher using the Hebraic methodology. It is said if two rabbis come together to discuss a passage of Scripture the result is at least ten different opinions. It is permissible and encouraged for students to have multiple opinions. Since God is infinite and as humans we cannot fully comprehend the vastness of God, and God’s Word is the same, it is vast.

First David asks the rhetorical question “Where can I go to hide from God’s presence?” He then proceeds to answer that question in lines 8 – 12 by stating and restating, the belief that there is no place remote enough, dark enough, far enough or deep enough that God will not be there!

So in the Hebraic View Psalm 139: 12 is saying:

The LORD is a God who is so interested in our well being that He gets to know us even
before we are born, and is with us throughout our lives. Our God only wants the absolute
best for us. Unfortunately, the world is a broken place and we must muddle through it.

“For darkness will not be darkness with thee; but night will be light as day: as its darkness, so shall its light be to thee.”

“If I say, Yet the darkness shall cover me, when nothing else will, alas! I find myself deceived; the curtains of the evening will stand me in no more stead than the wings of the morning; even the night shall be light about me.

When God divided between the light and darkness it was with a reservation of this prerogative, that to himself the darkness and the light should still be both alike. “The darkness darkeneth not from thee, for there is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

The LORD is with us regardless of whether or not we want to be conscious of
God’s intentions and expectations. The LORD loves all of His creation and wants the best
for us. The LORD is with us no matter where we go, Earth or Sheol (a place of darkness). Since the LORD is with us always we call upon the LORD in all times of our life.

Shane and Shane start out their song very beautifully with the following words:

You wrote the story of my life
You go before you fall behind, yeah
Before a breath beyond my death
you are with me all the way
to everlasting
Oh I can’t run, I can’t hide
Even darkness is a light
From the lowest place to the highest praise
You are worthy

Many spoken, deep and wonderful truths for the rise and debut of this new week!

Philemon

 

 

 

 

Giving God his breath back.

Worship is simply giving God his breath back. Louie Giglio

Good Monday Morning to this week 18 of 2019

Yes!

God breathes in many ways:

God’s Word
God’s Breath of Life
God’s Creative Power
God’s Spirit

God breathed life in us when He formed us “breathed” life into man  and our worship to Him is returning that life back with our Worship 

We acknowledge that what we bring to God, came from Him. It’s never ours. We were created by Him for Him.

The “breath of God” is often mentioned in the Bible in various contexts. Sometimes it’s referring to the human spirit, the breath of life, sometimes it’s a metaphor for the will and activity of God and sometimes it refers to the Holy Spirit.  

 

But like with many very good statements, there is also a problem.

God never lost His breath!

God is not dependent upon us. He is not out-of-breath. Our worship does not add to God’s worth. That would be as impossible as throwing a lit match onto the Sun, and seeing if it raised its temperature. God is completely and independently glorious.

Our adoration and worship of Him actually brings our hearts into alignment with Him rather than some romanticized idea of our giving God His breath back.

When Christians genuinely worship, God’s breath is able to be spread in more places, in more hearts.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:2

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6

By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.
Job 26:13

“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 33:4

” It is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.
Job 32:8

A hymn by A.B. Simpson describes the experience of breathing in God by prayer. The final verse says:

I am breathing every moment,
Drawing all my life from Thee;
Breath by breath I live upon Thee,
Lord, Thy Spirit breathe in me.

Or a personal prayer of M. Gretchen speaking of the breath of God:

“I am the breath that steadies the heartbeat of your life. I am the breath that sustains you. My breath lifts you above the littered terrain that causes you to stumble when you live in the lowly state of unbelief and fear.

God breathes His Holy Spirit into us.
We need the breath of life, the human spirit to live.
Our spirit needs the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit, to live.
With this His breath we are blessed and filled, to that filling we can only return with singing: Our God is an awesome God with all the “breath” we have we worship you!

Wishing you a good week, with your lungs filled with the breath of God!

Philemon

After Easter, before Pentecost!

Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2019

A relatively little known Swiss artist named Eugène Burnand. (1850-1921) painted a rather old-fashioned realist in 1998 while all the others were embracing modernism.

The Disciples Peter and John running to the sepulcher on the morning of the resurrection.

Those who take the time to find it in d’Orsay come away saying that viewing the canvas is similar to a spiritual experience. Some say it is the greatest Easter painting ever made.

Les Disciples Pierre et Jean by Eugene Bernard, Musee D’Orsay in Paris France Europe

Screenshot 2019-04-21 at 23.40.40

As the first blush of dawn is tinting the clouds, Peter and John are rushing to the tomb of Christ. They’ve just been told by Mary Magdalene that she and the other women found it empty, that Christ has risen. Her words are ringing in their ears. But their faces and their bodies reveal they aren’t sure they can believe her.

John, the younger of the two, wrings his hands together anxiously. He was with Jesus when he died on the cross, the only disciple to stay by his side to the end. He looks as if he can barely bring himself to believe that Christ might be alive again.

And then there’s Peter. While John was Jesus’ only faithful disciple, Peter was his most faithless. He was the only one to verbally deny even knowing Jesus in his darkest hour. In this picture, Peter looks terrified, hopeful, ashamed, desperate. He’s not sure whether he can believe the reports. But he wants to. Oh, how he wants to.

Peter’s hand grasps his chest as if feeling for courage, the courage that deserted him just nights earlier.

They both lean forward, walking briskly, readying themselves to break into a run.

Aren’t these all pictures of the moments before, at Easter and before Pentecost, moments described with enormous emotion drawn by Burnand.

Bearing the burden of our brokenness, ashamed of our denials of Christ, and hoping against all hope that Jesus is alive? And that he loves us? And forgives us? Surely this is also the posture we have felt or we know or we long for, to lean in, wringing our hands, clutching our chests, desperate and hopeful for the truth of his coming, the return of the Messiah and the coming King, so closely after the greatest defeat of time.

Burnand depicts no women, no tomb, no gardener. Only the promise of what’s to come.

Is that your experience of Resurrection as well? We take it by faith and we’re desperate for it to be true. We rush headlong into the future, holding ourselves in order to believe, trusting that Christ is alive and that he will return to vindicate our feeble faith and forgive us our trespasses.

May this overlooked masterpiece be a comfort to you this season between Easter and before Pentecost. May your faith increase and your brokenness be healed.  May your eyes be filled with the same desperate hope that Peter’s and John’s were on that first Easter morning.

I wish you a wonderful week of expectation, faith and wonder.

Philemon

Screenshot of the masterwork of Eugene Bernard 1899,
Quotes and comments of Michael Frost
Special thanks also Todd Todd Rutkowski for posting  FB 21.04.19

 

When Jesus comes to town

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2019

Yesterday the Passion Week started with Palm Sunday. Jerusalem, which had a normal population of about 50,000 at the time of Jesus, had at least tripled in size because of the influx of pilgrims celebrating the Jewish holiday Passover. Early Sunday morning Jesus made his dramatic public entry into the city. This was the end of any privacy and safety his ministry had afforded previously. It marked the beginning of what would be an inevitable collision course with the religious and political authorities: both Jewish and Roman.

From the East Jesus entered near the Temple, crowds began to gather to see the rabbi from Galilee. The procession began accompanied by shouting and singing from the throngs as they threw down their garments on the pathway to cushion his ride — an Oriental custom still observed on occasions — as well as palm fronds, the symbol of triumph. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah had foretold the arrival of the Messianic king in Jerusalem via the humble conveyance of a donkey. Here the crowd hailed Jesus as “the son of David”, a loaded name used at a loaded time. The Bible had predicted that the Messiah would be the son of David.

The priestly establishment was understandably disturbed, as the palm was the national emblem of an independent Palestine. These were essentially Jewish flags. What if Jesus should claim to be the heir of King David? Religiously, Jesus was a dangerous item to the current establishment. The people were hailing the Teacher from Galilee as something more than a man, and Jesus was not denying or blunting this “blasphemous” adulation. The Pharisees had been reprimanded by Jesus in public debate, being called vipers, whitewashed tombs, and devourers of widow’s houses. Humiliated, they would be only too happy to conspire with the scribes, elders, and chief priests against him!

What is your, what is my reaction to Jesus’s entrance in two processions as being political demonstrations? The Sunday demonstration (Palm Sunday) occurs at the entrance to Jerusalem, the Monday one at the entrance to the temple.

The historical political Jesus was a spirit person, one of those figures in human history with an experiential awareness of the reality of God…Jesus was a teacher of wisdom who regularly used the classic form of wisdom speech to teach a subversive and alternative wisdom. Jesus was a social prophet, similar to the classical prophets of ancient Israel. As such, he criticised the elites of his time, was an advocate of an alternative social vision, and was often in conflict with authorities. Jesus was a movement founder who brought into being a Jewish renewal or revitalisation movement that challenged and shattered the social boundaries of his day, a movement that eventually became the early Christian church.” Marcus Borg

Jesus, a social prophet and movement initiation, a passionate advocate of God’s justice. He was also a healer, a mystic, a wisdom teacher but most certainly he wasn’t killed for his healings but because of his politics, because of his passion for God’s justice.

This “already” of the Kingdom of God was not an instantaneous flash of divine light, but an interactive process between divinity and humanity, a joint operation between God and ourselves. It is not us without God, or God without us. It is not that we wait for God, but that God waits for us. You won’t find Jesus in the land of the dead. He is still with us.

The powers killed him – but they couldn’t stop him. They crucified him and buried him in a rich man’s tomb. But imperial execution and a tomb couldn’t hold him.

He’s still loose in the world. He’s still out there, still here, still recruiting people to share his passion for the Kingdom of God – a transformed world here and now. It’s not over, he still “comes to town”!

I wish you a blessed week as you live a transformed life with God waiting for you!

Philemon