Good Monday Morning 01/2017
“There is nothing unpremeditated, nothing neglected by God. His unsleeping eye beholds all things. Saint Basil”. Yes! … as i just hear from my 3 teenagers having returned from a youth event called “Praisecamp” with the key topic; “The Book”! … inspiring!
The Bible was written over 1500 years, 40 generations, 40 authors (kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars), in different places (wilderness, dungeon, palaces), at different times (war, peace), in different moods (heights of joy, depths of despair), on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek)! Then I read: “Fear not!” is the most repeated command in the Bible. In fact, it’s been said that there are 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible. I would say; a great start to this week and new year! Listen in; Fear not, 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. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. But now, this is what the Lord says, fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you. Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption as child of God. I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song. Jesus said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. Have an awesome week! Philemon
Good Monday Morning 02/2017
“Things are sometimes not as they seem”! In the first few days of 2017 I had few interesting happenings. First, I landed at a wrong airport on a flight to meetings up north. We were told it was due to bad weather leading us to have to divert, while the sun was shining all the way, there weren’t even clouds descending and landing.(must have been another reason). In the evening we went to a theatre to attend the show of a comedian who’s show was to make us depressed and not laugh – the contrary happened of course, we rolled in laughter at his jokes about being depressed. After the meetings another funny thing occurred, someone I know, checked out of my hotel room, claimed my breakfast and was farewelled as Mr Moser. In many little funny incidents like these, we or others are sure life is one way around and it turns out to be quite different. Yes, things that are often “not as they seem” and yet they do not always harm us neither, nor are to our disadvantage, actually they can cause the opposite and truly help us or others. Some things are for our protection or safety, other things are to the benefit of friends of family, while some things are not the way they seem because of the way they are called: A lead pencil does not contain lead, it contains graphite. A peanut is not a nut; it is a legume. Shortbread is not a bread; it is a thick cookie. A banana tree is not a tree – it is a herb. A cucumber is not a vegetable – it is a fruit. A silkworm is not a worm – it is a caterpillar. Albert Einstein failed his first exam to enter university and had great speech difficulties as child. As we then know, Einstein become a professor at the university then professor of theoretical physics at Prague then went on to prove to all of the doubting, ridiculing scientists throughout the world that he did have a brilliant mind by winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921. As in our faith there many verses in the bible showing the culture of the Kingdom also highlighting this point quite clearly. The first will be last, the last will be first. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. Wishing you a wonderful week of discovery! Things are not always as they seem!
Good Monday Morning 03/2017
So Joab blew the trumpet; and all the people halted and pursued Israel no longer, nor did they continue to fight anymore. 2 Samuel 2:28. How do I wish that sometimes we could take that trumpet out and blow into it for situations to change! Yes, as so very often with God as with moments in music – yes it can be done. Sometimes the situations are only moments that get longer and longer. From King Tutankhamun to Louis Armstrong the trumpet is an instrument that has aligned itself historically with almost every major event and culture since the dawn of time. Its historical relevance transcends time and cultures, making it one of the most important instruments ever invented. It preceded the entrance of kings, called people to ceremony, helped direct armies during war, and even heralded the most divine of religious figures. To play a trumpet is aligning yourself with the history of people and cultures from the beginning of time to the present. “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” is a traditional gospel song that has been covered by many artists. Performed as either an instrumental, often with trumpets, or vocal, perhaps the most frequently played number in the hymn and dirge traditional New Orleans jazz funerals. The title and lyrics of the song allude to the Biblical passage from 2 Corinthians 5:7 which states, “We walk by faith, not by sight” and James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” This morning I let the tune and words of this wonderful song ring in your ears and minds as you go about all the daily in’s and out’s! Just a closer walk with thee. I am weak, but Thou art strong, Jesus, keep me from all wrong, I’ll be satisfied as long as I walk, let me walk close to Thee. Just a closer walk with Thee, grant it, Jesus, is my plea, daily walking close to Thee, let it be, dear Lord, let it be. Through this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares? Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. When my feeble life is o’er, time for me will be no more, guide me gently, safely o’er to thy kingdom’s shore, to thy shore. Philemon https://youtu.be/dq6E_D20538
Good Monday Morning 04/2017
Good morning friends,
A man must dream a long time in order to act with grandeur, and dreaming is nursed in darkness. J. Genet. I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. O. Mandino. This week we lay to rest our dear friend and brother Enver. In speech and sharing we spoke of the hope of his transition, even as he descended to the grave. In all the sorrow there was the hope and knowing that he was transitioning to a wonderful place. Despite the negative reputation of darkness there is another and powerful aspect. Darkness is also fertility. Everything that has not yet come into being is held in darkness; the seed that will become a flower, the child who is not yet born. The deepest and most unexplored parts of your soul are held in a loving darkness until it is time for you to manifest them or bring them into the light. Even in grieving the darkness can reach you, because the sharp edges of light are too painful. Darkness can come to you to comfort you and keep you safe, it comes to you as a loving presence to protect you while you are vulnerable. Darkness is also essential to our biological welfare, our internal clockwork, as light regulates our waking and sleep rhythms. So fundamental are these rhythms to our being that altering them is like altering gravity. God is divine, God is Light, but God is also so vast and incomprehensible. He came to this world in Jesus, but the world rejected Him, yet He became King. “God’s future came forward to meet us in the present” Nt. Wright. There is yet uncreated light and there is the absence of light that is perceived as darkness. Yet in the divine dance of God there has been created the two, to birth the new and the renewal to replace the present. “Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing. Psalm 98 7-8. I wish you His presence as you nurse or endure within you an absence of light or a “good” darkness, may that become fertile and bring forth the new, that which God has planned for this coming week! Philemon
Good Monday Morning 05/2017
an Iranian proverb says:
“Doubt makes the mountain which faith can move.”
Doubt, a not knowing, just like other cases of being uncomfortable, can be a great incentive for personal growth. Mountains, a large pile or amount of something, higher than the usual. Faith, something believed with strong conviction. Hebrews 11.1; Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Yes, knowing is much more comfortable and easier than not knowing. Quick and easy answers are a convenient and easy way out of our discomfort. It is the fast food equivalent in our hunger for grand answers and spiritual fulfillment. Some people convince themselves to be absolutely certain they know the answers. Sometimes it is even absurd to take things on faith, without doubting or testing them in any way and go on preaching that you really do have the answers. This proverb makes us walk around issues, test the waters, build conviction, not seek the easy way out, but challenge the mountain and move it in faith! Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get on the path, take steps again, be uncomfortable, have doubt, ask questions, not know it all or have all the answers. Then as we have faith in Him we might just be on the way to discovering something absolutely new and incredible again this week!
Good Monday Morning 06/2017
Good morning friends,
“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin, nor desire, nor self-knowledge, can reach the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only we could all see each other that way!” T. Merton.
Many years ago I moved to Switzerland but felt much indifference to the country I was a passport holder of. I often realized through a form of dispassion or detachment building up in me, especially in getting to know new people. A few years later, I sat and chatted in a circle of unknown people in a youth hostel of Edinburgh. It was there I realized my apathy had vanished and had nothing to do with the country, but had to do with my primary emotional language being English. This lead to a “metanoia” and changing of mind to many things I had groaned or had been bickering about! Metanoia may refer to a rebuilding, a healing, a correction or repenting. Spiritually it is far more. “Something incomparable happens to an individual confirming that God now controls the heart and soul.” The word is often used in the NT in the basic idea of repentance. Yet it’s far more: “a changing of mind, thinking differently, an afterthought expressed with an emotion of regret or sorrow”. It can also mean a return to God in a very practical sense”. Overall a change of direction is implied, ultimately beginning with how we think and what we regard as truth. When Jesus asks us to “repent”, to do metanoia, what he is asking is that we cease identifying ourselves with the “small, narrow, confined soul” but instead begin to live out of our other the “the large, big, wide, expansive, embracing soul”. Metanoia (meta – beyond and nous – mind) means to move beyond our present mindset, beyond our present way of seeing things. I wish you that glimpse and renewed mindset this week, the one that Thomas Merton had in his revelation; seeing with God’s eyes into the depths of your heart and that of those around you!
Good Monday Morning 07/2017
I read from Hebrews 10.36;
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
I heard a story shared with urgency last week. After many years of great service to a company, a single parenting mum with two children lost her job. It was implemented immediately and without any plausible explanation. Looking to the near future it’s very rough situation to be in, especially in a country with high unemployment, no social insurances and a few generations of her family to feed at her home.
I read, the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29.
My thoughts swerve to the “Will of God”.
I reflect, there is the secret will of God and the revealed will of God, or in other terminology: Decreed and desired, sovereign and moral permitted and commanded and decretive and perceptive will of God.
Others say, there is but one will of God; however, there is a distinction in the objects to which His will relates.
W. Brakel writes “God commanded Abraham to sacrifice and kill His son Isaac; nevertheless, it was not God’s will that Isaac would die. This became evident from the outcome. There is a distinction here between the command and the result. God’s command was His revealed or preceptive will, which was the basis for Abraham’s behavior. He had to do everything which would contribute to the death of his son, which he also did. The result—that the death of Isaac would not take place by Abraham’s activity—was another matter and belonged to the secret will of God’s decree which Abraham perceived afterward when the voice of God prevented him. Or as Paul writes in Romans 8:28, In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God decrees that all things will be used for the good of His children and for the glory of Himself. Back to the very beginning of our walk with Him; We chose to follow Him because He chose us first!
I wonder how then, do all of these thoughts help the mum in desperate need for God’s intervention. For sure, a reminder to keep tapping into the God’s ways, that His ways are higher then ours, and all accompanied with a call to prayer and communication with Him: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven Matt. 6:10″, adding with the appeal for the revealed will of God to be followed on earth.
In many of the stories of the Bible it seems like the secret will of God is not to be revealed or solved but are there, so that we can witness God’s sovereignty at its most brilliant when he magnifies his wisdom in human weakness. May his sovereign will, secret will, or the will of God’s good pleasure and purposes and Godly intentions come to past.
I conclude and close the spiritual circle I opened with a short story to imply the other side of the circle with a favorite emphasis you’ve heard quite a lot of in my messages:
A pastor passes and greets a farmer, looking at the first green plants growing on his field. The pastor says to the farmer; wow – incredible, you and God have come a long way with this field! The farmer answers; oh yes you should have seen the field before I started farming – when it was just His field!
I wish you all a wonderful week!
Good Monday Morning 08/2017
These storm-winds blow in many of our lives, they come in extreme intensity, then they pass or we find shelter. I was busy this week with finding shelter in midst of the tempest.
This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
We will not walk therein, notes their great willfulness, that though the prophets had directed them in the right way, and though they knew others had experimented it to be so, yet they would not be persuaded to walk in it, but deliberately refused those favors offered. What if this verse is now showing us a different or new direction, no longer an ancient one, but one leading to a shelter in midst of the tempest, one where we find rest, peace, where the heart is established as refuge, the mind is tranquil and serene which before was fluctuating and wavering, no longer tossed to and fro by the storm winds.
Could their thoughts and willfulness be a reversion, seeking the intention of the maker, to fill their living soul with His vital breath again and again, mysteriously tying back spirit and soul?
Psalm 139 says; “You formed my inward parts, You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it”.
Could it be when the soul and spirit are tied together again and are in sync, that it is referring to when living in us, is a renewed emotional force and effectiveness again, a heart able to find access to God, the way of conveyance of all of His blessings of grace; the way to the Father, the living way which always continues, the same, a plain and safe way. Therefor with foresight or prudence we are called to watch over our hearts with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23).
My contention for this week:
In the weaving of soul and spirit I receive His breath to my heart, I choose to watch over my heart, letting it become a shelter and defense against the tempest and the soaring storm winds.
I wish you His breath and shelter this week!
Good Monday Morning 09/2017
Good Monday morning to you all,
May my words drop as the rain, my speech distil as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. Deuteronomy 32:2
This verse brings me to of the orchids in Papua New Guinea, growing high upon huge trees of the tropical rainforest. Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants, with more than 25’000 species. Although generally thought of as a tropical plant, orchids grow on every continent. Orchids have the tiniest seeds in the world. There can be up to 3 million seeds in a single orchid seedpod. It takes patience to grow an orchid, the plant’s first flowers won’t appear until at least 5 to 7 years after germination. Some orchid flowers bloom for mere hours, while others last up to half a year. Orchid flowers always grow upside down when mature. The orchid can have enough blooms to be heavy enough for the orchid to hang down. Gravity always wins! Orchid plants can live to be up to 100 years old.
In aeroponic culture, some orchids grow attached to the branches of trees high above the soil. These orchids are called epiphyte, a plant that grows harmlessly upon another plant (such as a tree) and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and sometimes from debris accumulating around it. Epiphytes differ from parasites they grow on other plants for physical support and do not negatively affect the host. As the tree provides support, frequent rain or precipitation provide the nutrients by materials that run down the trunk and branches of the tree. For most of the day the roots hang in the air, which provide the necessary oxygen. Yes, plants can be grown without soil, being provided with all the necessities, even those of the soil.
This reminds me of God’s creative power, to come up with such an amazing plant, but also far more than that it reminds me of His mercy that comes upon up as as showers of rain! There where we feel like we’re planted out in the air, or even like we feel like we were left hanging, or have not been planted in soil.
With the orchid, it doesn’t miss the soil because it has been made to live that way. The Word of God is reviving and refreshing like the gentle precipitation upon the tender grass, a savor of life unto life. It is like comfortable dew to those who are rightly prepared to receive it. His Word distills like dew, and deeply and sweetly insinuates itself into our hearts as we receive and welcome it.
Dear loving and compassionate God, may your words drop as the rain, your speech of grace distil as the dew with nutrients of life. Let your gentle rain come our tender hearts and let the great showers fall, as we commit to you this new week and season of growth. Amen
wishing you all a great week!
Good Monday Morning 10/2017
my thoughts go out to all living far from home, in the diaspora!
Daniel prayed in the diaspora; “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Diaspora – the movement of people from one place to another. An estimated 230 million people currently live outside their country of origin.
When Solomon prays to dedicate the temple, he prays for foreigners who come to Jerusalem to pray as well as for Jewish exiles who are scattered to other nations.
In 2nd Chronicles 6:33 he prays: “Hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.”
J. Rosen shares of the Jewish diaspora. The Talmud offered a virtual home and refuge for an uprooted culture, and grew out of the Jewish need to pack civilization into words and wander out into the world. The Talmud became essential for Jewish survival once the Temple – God’s pre-Talmud home – was destroyed. J. Rosen.
In the diaspora, far more was developed then words and prayer. In the music coming out the of the African diaspora, there is frequent use of the “Ostinato”, a short, determined, repeating melodic phrase often even at the same pitch. In 12 “Years a Slave” the song, Roll Jordan Roll was so beautifully done, as an example of a “spiritual” of the diaspora. The Jordan is a reference to the River Jordan, which in Biblical tradition the Israelites crossed to enter the Promised Land. As such, by crossing the Jordan River, the singers are expected to be able to set down their burdens and live life without trouble.
Mother Theresa in a God chosen diaspora had a wonderful prayer to deal with all possibly hard situations she faced in the diaspora:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Wishing you a great week, especially if you are far from home!
Hanging on a thread!
Isaac Newton “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Good Monday Morning 11/2017
This week I had a “close call” on my bike, due to car not doing what I thought it would do, due to the rain and the brakes of my bike not reacting as I thought. A little shaken I put the incident aside and kept driving my bike for the rest of the week. This Saturday it was time to finally give them brakes a closer look. To my big surprise the brake cable was rusted through and there were only one or two strands of the cable still connected. So, that little remaining thread, caused some brake action, to do a bit of its job and yet it wasn’t the thread that saved me from crashing into the car!
Cables used on bicycles are in two parts. The inner wire is made of twisted strands of steel. The outer housing is also made of flexible steel, usually wound in a helix. The inner wire runs down the middle of the housing. Both parts are equally important: neither can work without the other. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In the case of bicycle cables, this means that there cannot be a pull on an inner cable without an equal push on the housing. The housing gives the pull of the cable something to pull against.
Deuteronomy 20:8 “The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’
In mob psychology; If one man breaks and runs because he is fearful, he is likely to set off a whole scale retreat because everybody else will be frightened by the one who was fearful. So a situation is routed and defeated, because the action of one affects the attitude of all. The opposite works, too—the bravery of one can also inspire all.
My brakes were so disconnected, they were just hanging by a thread, yet those few rusty threads still did a little bit of work, enough to cause a counter reaction in me to find a solution without the brakes!
Each of us needs a thread of hope at time, with that thread being well fitted into the right “housing” as with bike cables it might not so much be the thread that is the hope but the right “housing” surrounding us!
This week the housing could be the verse from Philippians 4:8;
Therefore, “my friends”, those things that are true, those that are honorable, those that are righteous, those things that are pure, those things that are precious, those things that are praiseworthy, deeds of glory and of praise, meditate on these things.
Wishing you a great week!
Wino wa mungu haufutiki. Swahili
God’s ink is indelible.
Good Monday Morning 12/2017
Isaiah 49:16: Behold, I have indelibly imprinted you on the palm of each of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.
Indelible; not able to be erased, indestructible, enduring, lasting, memorable, stirring, unforgettable, ineffaceable, ineradicable, inerasable, inexpugnable, inextirpable, ingrained, permanent.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, also known as The Deer’s Cry is traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick during his Irish ministry in the 5th century. A document gives account of how Patrick used this prayer: Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against his coming by Loegaire, that he might not go to Tara to sow the faith. And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that they (Patrick and his monks) were wild deer with a fawn following them.
St Patrick applied Isaiah 49:16, he confirmed the Swahili proverb with the following words within the whole poem.
Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me
Christ to comfort me and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.
(St Patrick, 390-461 A.D.)
Wishing you all a great start this Monday!
Melencolia, Melancholia, Wistfulness
Good Monday morning to this week 13 of 2017
Why art thou downcast o my soul and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 43:5
Going through the Underlinden Museum at Colmar, a picture caught my attention. It was the picture: Melencolia I, an engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer. It is an allegorical composition which has been the subject of many interpretations. One interpretation suggests the image references the “depressive” or melancholy state and accordingly explains various elements of the picture. Melancholia also wistfulness, from unhappy, gloomy but also containing wist: intent. Melancholy was one of the four temperaments suggesting that there are four fundamental personality types, sanguine (enthusiastic, active, and social), choleric (short-tempered, fast, or irritable), melancholic (analytical, wise, and quiet), and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful). Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures of the types. In the 19th century, “melancholia” could be physical as well as mental, and melancholic conditions were classified as such by their common cause rather than by their properties. Melancholia was described as a distinct disease with particular mental and physical symptoms in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. It was characterized with “fears and despondencies, if they last a long time” as being symptomatic of melancholia. When a patient could not be cured of the disease it was thought that the melancholia was a result of demonic possession. During the later 16th and early 17th centuries, a curious cultural and literary cult of melancholia arose in England. In an influential 1964 essay in Apollo, art historian Roy Strong traced the origins of this fashionable melancholy to the thought of Ficiono, who replaced the medieval notion of melancholia with something new: He transformed what had been regarded as the most calamitous of all the humors into the mark of genius. Small wonder that eventually the attitudes of melancholy soon became an indispensable adjunct to all those with artistic or intellectual pretentions. I now take a huge jump back to the psalm and ask myself: Could the situation of having a down cast soul or of being disquieted, be related or leading us to the release of spiritual creativity called “Hope”. Hope as in; to wait, to expect, to anticipate, to welcome, to trust, that which one confides in, to relying on, to anticipate with pleasure? Maybe “health of our countenance” comes through God allowing the state of disquiet and melancholia to release again and again His Hope!
Wishing you a week of great reflection and many findings of His Hope! Philemon
Good Monday morning to this week 14 of 2017
A Wind in the House of Islam
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit John 3:8
Unlike the empty offerings of Communism or secular atheism,
Christ touched a deep place in their soul that nothing else had ever filled.” D. Garson
Thanks David, for telling me about this book! Garrison says; Something is happening in the Muslim world, something unprecedented in history. Over the past 14 centuries, Islam has forged a ‘spiritual empire’ that stretches from West Africa to Indonesia. Today, the Dar al-Islam or “House of Islam,” as Muslims call their religious community, counts more than one in five persons on earth. Over the centuries of Muslim-Christian interaction, tens of millions of Christians have been assimilated into the Muslim world, but what about the opposite? Have there been any reciprocal movements — more than individuals, but rather entire Muslim communities — who have come to faith in Christ? Can you hear it? A wind is blowing through the house of Islam. Muslims around the world are becoming followers of Jesus.
We read in John 3:8 of a principle; that flesh produces flesh, and spirit, spirit. And so, applying that principle, God says here, not as might be expected, he doesn’t say: So is the work of the Divine Spirit in birthing and giving new life in us,
rather; ……. So is he! that is born of the Spirit. There are three things brought into relation with one another: the physical fact; the operations of the Spirit of God, of which that physical fact in its various characteristics may be taken as a symbol; and the result of its operations in the new man who is made ‘after the image of Him that created him.’
Such is the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit in the renewed man.
As another commentary says: We being born again, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible,
through the word of God, which liveth and abideth.
I am blessed to see and hear, how again it’s being said and seen and confirmed,
God is on the move and it’s not about us, it’s all about Him.
He is slowly but surely but surely rebuilding His terrain with methods that reach far beyond easy reason or explanation.
Blessings to this new week!
Good Monday Morning to the week 15 of 2017
change, choice, principles
sowing , growth, renewal
paradox, humour, change
The other day we started sharing the easter story to some kids
coming from Syria. When we got to the point of death and crucifixion
the called halt! STOP! No more of that, we’ve seen too much.
Yes, so we got together and said – yes we can stop, there is so much more
to easter! We’ll just get to that other approach.
Back to the constants. Today I especially like the two constants;
Paradox and growth!
A “paradox” is defined as a seemingly self-contradictory
declaration but is in fact true.
There are several interesting paradoxes found in the Bible:
Exaltation through humility.
Strength through weakness.
Receiving through giving.
Freedom through servitude.
Gaining through losing.
Living through dying.
Finding through losing.
“I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds”.
The vital principle in the corn, the germ, forces itself out; thus the corn is no longer of use, and can decay. The life of the corn which has not fallen into the earth remains limited and bound to itself, without the possibility of unfolding of life outwards. The life of the corn which dies in the earth through the bursting forth of the living germ, and in this way, through the parting produces much fruit. During germination the cells resume metabolic activity and undergo division and expansion. During seed germination there are five steps of change occurring. Imbibition, respiration, effect of light on seed germination, mobilization of reserves and development. Really simply said; The wheat grain is really a fruit, containing one seed! Germinating wheat grains at two, three and four days after imbibition, is adapted then thrust its way through the soil to find the surface. The seedling roots quickly anchor the grain in the soil.
The more I look into this process the less paradox I see, actually, there is none at all. The whole process of Easter is an absolutely perfectly planned and orchestrated process of the seed of God being planted and put through “germination”, then bursting forth to the new life! This a unique process of multiplication not only Jesus the “Son of Man” could again, only be the “Son of God” but we all could become“Children of God”. Logos incarnate, newly created life in the hearts of man, the seedling thrust through the surface to grow with new roots anchored in the new fruit, the bread of life!
This is another approach to the amazing narrative of the Jesus our King and the breakthrough that happened at Easter.
Wishing you a blessed last week of Lent and a great start to the Easter weekend! Philemon
Upon the palm of His hands!
Good Monday Morning to the week 16 of 2017
Upon the palm of my hands I have written you name. Isaiah 49:16
Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”
Then he showed them his hands and side. John 20:20
We are engraved upon His heart, this is to show His love!
We are put upon His shoulders, this is to show His strength!
We are engraved upon His hands, to show He will work
and show Himself strong for His people!
The palm of the hand is the seat of strength, the instrument of work; and so, if Zion’s name is written there, that means not only remembrance, but a molding and directing all the work that is done by the hand that bears the name inscribed upon it. “God holds out the mighty Hand which works all things, and says to His children: ‘Look, you are graven there’-at the very fountain-head, as it were, of the divine activity. Which, being turned into plain English, is just this, that for His Church as a whole, He does move amidst the affairs of nations.
The same truth applies to us individually. ‘All things work together’; they would not do so, unless there was one dominant Will which turned the chaos into a cosmos. Thus, because my name is graven on the palms of the mighty Hand that does all things, therefore ‘all things work together for HIS good.’
If we could but carry that quiet conviction into all the mysteries, as they sometimes seem to be, of our daily lives, and interpret everything in the light of that great thought, how different all our days would be! How far above the petty anxieties and cares and troubles that gnaw away so much of our strength and joy; how different would our lives be, and how in the darkest darkness there would be His light, not only of hope for a distant future, but of confident assurance for the present.
For there is no distance that is far enough to chill the divine love, or to erase us from the divine remembrance.
We are therefore forever “captivated” by His hands for he has said:
I have graven thee on the palms of My hands.
Wow! Every, even the seemingly smallest details of the Easter story,
carry a deep and unchangeable promise of God!
Wishing you a blessed week; in His hands!
Kairos, a fitting season, windows of His opportunities
Good Monday Morning to the week 17 of 2017
Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time (Kairos) of the harvest. Matth. 13.30a
The Bible uses the word Kairos in several places in the New Testament. When the people of Israel were confronted with Jesus’ life-changing message, they had an opportunity (a Kairos) and a responsibility to respond appropriately. Similarly, when Jesus called James and John to follow Him, they had a window of opportunity—would they leave all and follow Christ, or would they stay with their fish nets?
Window of opportunity, as Isaiah says;
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on while He is near.
Rahab used her window to help the Jewish spies escape to safety; then from that same window was placed a scarlet cord which God honored to save her and her family she realized there was no future for her in Jericho. Paul, through a window he was let down in a basket; to continue on in God’s will. Elisha also prayed that it not rain (shut window), then 3 years later he prayed that God would open the windows of heaven, and it rained. Daniel prayed with his window open in spite of undesired consequences. Noah at the precise time, the window of the Ark was opened and specific birds were let out. In doing so, Noah came to understand that the time of a new beginning on a dry earth was at hand. Malachi, the prophet, informs us that we should try God. In this specific case, with our tithes, and God Himself will open to us the windows of heaven, sending you more than you can contain. The windows of heaven further opened 3 for Jesus, at his baptism, transfiguration, and shortly before Calvary. The window of heaven opened for Stephan, for Peter at the housetop and for John at Patmos.
There seems to be a pattern here, a pattern of renewed and repeated Grace of God, for specific Kairos moments and windows of His opportunities, in His time, for and with us.
John 4:35; Say ye not, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes (take a good, hard look out the window), and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
I wish you these Kairos moments, I pray for them, for exactly these windows of His opportunities to come to pass,
this coming week.
Be blessed with open windows!
Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you. Will Rose
Good Monday Morning to this new week 18 of 2017
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, and in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 2 Samuel 1:23
RIP Ueli Steck, known as the “Swiss Machine” died this Sunday while acclimatizing for an next climb. The 40-year-old has won multiple awards and was known for his rapid ascents. Steck was preparing to climb Mount Everest using its West Ridge, a route which has been the cause of more deaths than successful ascents, followed by Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. It is believed he was alone on Sunday due to his climbing partner contracting severe frostbite. BBC
… my thoughts wander to Tenzing Sherpa, his climbing partner and the youngest person to climb Everest without bottled oxygen. The Sherpa are nomadic people, since ancient times, Sherpas, like other indigenous Nepalese tribes, would move from one place to another place within the Himalayan region surviving as Alpine pastoralists and traders. Sherpas are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local area. Sherpas are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.
It might seem a bit farfetched to go from the Sherpas to the topic of friendship and companionship. I’ve read all the hardships and injustice they suffered, but there are also exceptions as I just learnt from reading of the life of this mountaineer and his friend T. Sherpa. Far more of course the example of Saul and Jonathan … not being parted, being swifter than eagles and stronger then lions together!
Wrapping up my thoughts, yes, not being parted but living in relationship and companionship, being swifter than eagles and stronger then lions together, absolutely! that is mantra for this week!
Stay very blessed this week! Philemon
Theology brewed in an African Pot
Good Monday Morning to this new week 19 of 2017
Many years ago I forgot a book on a flight from Bujumbura to Nairobi.
This weekend I was reminded of it and ordered it.
“Theology brewed in an African Pot” by the author, Agbonkhanmeghee Orbator,
a Jesuit priest from Nigeria, who teaches theology in Kenya.
At the end of each chapter, there are prayers that reflect the African way of relating to God. Here a great example.
(The flight was far too short to really meditate on it .. as I do now.)
African Invocation of Divine Names
Ancient deity, unbreakable stone,
Consoler and comforter providing salvation,
Grandfather who alone is the great one,
Watcher of everything who is not surprised by anything,
Piler of rocks into towering mountains
Divider of night and day,
Response; We praise You!
Sun too bright for our gaze,
Eye of the sun, artist-in-chief,
Drummer of life, owner of our head,
Large and deep pot, my feathered one,
Mother of people,
Response: Bless us!
Great nursing mother, great eye,
Great rainbow, great personal guardian spirit,
Unsurpassed great spirit, great source of being,
Great mantle which covers us,
Great leopard with it’s own forest,
Great healer of eternal life, great water-giver,
Great well, greatest of friends,
Great spider, the all wise one,
Response: Enlighten us!
Controller of destiny in the universe,
All powerful, never defeated, father of laughter,
King without blemish,
Caller forth of the branching trees
Unique great one to whom one can take petitions
and requests for counsel
Response: Hear us!
The first who always existed and will never die,
The only one bull in the world,
The one who sees both the inside and the outside,
The one we meet everywhere,
The one who is in all ages everywhere and at all times,
The once who turns things upside down,
The one who has the power to destroy completely,
The one who makes the sun set,
The one who gave everything on this earth
and can take it all away,
Response: Guide us!
Axe that fears no thistle,
Hoe that fears no soil,
Ram of majestic sinews and carriage,
Hero who never flees before the enemy,
Big boundless hut,
Victor over death,
Response: Protect us!
I invite each of you, to write your own list of names for God,
to allow those names to sink deep into your heart
and self-awareness, and to pass them onto your children’s children.
Wishing you a blessed day and start to this new week!
Dew or Flood
See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and
pour out a blessing for you without measure. Malachi 3:10
Good Monday Morning to this week 20/2017
This week I got a postcard from my son Ben. While visiting St Paul’s Cathedral in London he sent the picture of the painting by Pablo Genovés of the series of Tides with this particular picture called “Balcony 2016”. Genovés shows forces of water filling the St Paul’s Cathedral. His work dramatizes this uncertain world. Water means life and death, rebirth and harvest, floods and droughts, as it flows with its tides through our planet. It is a theme very appropriate for the Cathedral of St. Paul as a symbol of that life. Why that?
In the year 604, St Mellitus was consecrated bishop and sent by St Augustine to be a missionary to London. When Mellitus arrived, he found almost no evidence of the Christian presence, a terrible scene must have greeted him. Roman London had waxed and waned since Ad 410, terrifying Saxon raids had suppressed the city. Londoners issued a desperate appeal for help to the emperor, Honorius. London was forsaken, no longer deemed part of the empire. Nothing now stood in the way of the most powerful Germanic tribes, and over they came, the Romano-Londoners were put to the sword or driven to the Celtic fringes of the country. But Mellitus he had a plan. He gazed about himself there on the top of Ludgate hill, and his eye settled on a dilapidated Roman temple. That would do, he thought. Somewhere on the site of what is now our cathedral, Mellitus persuaded the king (whose wife, as luck would have it, had Christian leanings) to allow him to construct a church. In the ruins of what had been a temple of Diana, he built a simple wooden nave and dedicated it to St Paul. Christianity was back in the soil of London. That frail wooden Church of St Paul’s was to become the symbol of a whole national. Imagine if he had never founded St Paul’s, or replanted the tender bloom of faith in the blackened soil of post-Roman London?
I will look from My dwelling place quietly like dazzling heat in the sunshine,
like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest. Isaiah 18:4
I think we all want change in one or the other area of our lives and yes there are times we wish for the big flood and the wide open heaven. Yet so often it’s like with the morning dew that change comes. The process of water changing from a vapor to a liquid and becoming dew is a very carefully slowly orchestrated, but immensely powerful transformation.
I wish you the morning dew from an open heaven this week!
Stepping Stones and Faith
Good Monday Morning to this new week 21 of 2017
As you might have seen on my Facebook timeline, this week I’ve been wrestling deep and heavy theological issues. (smile) One question reflects in the next joke, something I often ask myself or wrestle with in my daily walk of life or walk of faith. How do faith and stepping stones fit on the same scale, or are they more like on a seesaw?
“a long board that children play on. The board is balanced on a central point so that when a children sit on each end they can make the board go up and down, or if they do it right they can even balance in the middle!
Here we go! ….. (three theologians of our time)
Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich are taking a break together, fishing on Lake Geneva. They are having a lovely time, enjoying the water and chatting idly. It’s hot and they are getting thirsty. So Barth stands up, steps out of the boat, and walks across the water to the shore, where he gets some drinks and then returns to the boat. But the drinks don’t last long. So Barth says to Tillich: “Your turn, Paul.”Tillich gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water, and fetches some more drinks. It is really hot now, and the drinks are soon finished. Bultmann is beginning to sweat profusely, so finally Barth tells him: “Come on, Rudolf, it’s your turn now.” With a slight tremor in his knees, Bultmann gets up, steps out of the boat—and sinks like a stone. Fortunately, he manages to swim to the surface; he drags himself back into the boat and sulks at the far end. Tillich turns to Barth and says: “Do you think we should have told him where the stepping stones are?” Barth looks at him in astonishment and replies: “What stones?”
Or …. as we say in the Vineyard, it’s a radical balance! Since we base our praxis on the King and His kingdom, committed to the demonstration of God’s kingdom we can agree to both … it needed the stones for him who only had litte faith, it needed the faith for him who only saw the first stepping stone! Or a step further, yes often there are many stepping stones ahead of us. We put them there to help others on their walk of faith, and while we put them there we put them there in faith, believing they will be used for many to walk on. Other times, far lesser in my experience, there are times there are no stones – and we do actually walk by faith (maybe more than we think) and yes, we don’t sink! Then in the social work and ministry we tend to be on the other end picking up people who have slipped off the stones there to help them to walk again and reach the shore.
Wishing you faith and a smooth walk of faith this week – with or without the stepping stones!
A cracked pot
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels to show this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand. II Corinthians 4:7 + Isaiah 64:8
Good Monday Morning to this week 22/2017
The vessel, to be defined as a holder, jar, or something that contains. Then we read the word earthen, a substance made of clay, brittle, and easily broken. Yet as with the clay, there is a procedure in place. Clay is rolled, cut, stretched, pressed flat to create slabs. These slabs can be cut into shapes, joined together, or altered to form. The process of making a pot is the searching, centering, opening, shaping, restoring, transforming, repairing, returning. In shaping a pot, the potter puts one hand on the inside of the pot and one hand on the outside, squeezing the clay in-between, moving from the bottom to the top. The clay is stretched, thinned, and directed between the potter’s hands. Yes, we are made perfect, yet as life goes on it seems as if we get cracks or need repair. Here a nice story about that.
A Water Bearer in the middle East had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and one half pots of water in his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the Water Bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The Water Bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
So if you feel like a cracked pot this week, don’t be afraid of your flaws, remember that in God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste, knowing that in our weakness we find His strength!
Have a blessed week!
The anchor of the soul
Good Monday Morning to this week 23/2017
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil! Hebrews 6.19
This whole weekend has been filled with great inputs and speeches and music at our annual conference here in Bern. Yesterday evening, we were reminded, encouraged, called in a beautiful way to cultivate our inner Garden and to meet and encounter our creator, our father, our Lord, our savior and King there.
Many of us attach the experience of joy to what is happening in our outer world rather than allowing joy to flow through us. When we attach our joy or any feelings, such as love, but also fulfillment to outer events we become dependent on what is happening outside of us in determining how we feel on a particular day. And the truth of the matter is, when we do this the good feelings of joy, fulfillment, wonder and harmony will be fleeting, as conditions of life change moment to moment. Safety and security also fall into this principle, for as our outer world changes one day you feel safe, and the next day you do not. One day you might feel secure in your job, and then the economy changes and your job security might now be at risk. You might start to feel as if you are riding a rollercoaster of emotions.
Back to the verse, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul. A beautiful image, and metaphor introduced for a moment only to set forth the security of the soul, though tossed by the waves of trouble. An anchor is outside the ship; and that which steadies us cannot be a part of ourselves, must be something external to us, on which our fluttering and mutable emotions can repose and be still. I like both images, the inner quiet place, the garden, and the imagery of the anchor. Suppose that hope here means, not the emotion but the object on which it is fixed. Or another way of looking at it, ‘a hope set before us,’ or ‘laying hold upon it.’ So that here, at all events, the hope is something external to ourselves which is proposed to us, and which we can grasp. The ship’s crew will trust to it. An anchor is steadfast is ‘firm,’ is one that will not break, but is strong in its own substance, made of good tough iron, so that there is no fear of the breaking, whatever strain may be put upon it. On the contrary, the anchor is of no use unless it be fastened. All the faithfulness of the divine nature, and all the grandeur of the promises which Christ gives and is, are nothing to us unless we attach ourselves to them, attach then on our ship, in our inner garden our soul, then as sailors do, send out the anchor ahead of us.
Spiritual life is a lot like gardening. We cultivate the garden of our heart, planting seeds and watering each plant so that they can grow beautifully and can blossom. I think this is where the anchoring comes in, this is where our soul and inner garden is attached to the creator, to his Hope, which results in the feeding the plants and letting them grow in abundance and letting them flourish.
If I were to hashtag this whole message, let me give it a try!
#Attach your anchor to His hope with your inner garden and meet your creator for sure, and remain steadfast this week!
Stay blessed! Philemon
Guardians at the gates of reformation
Good Monday Morning to this week 24/2017
Taking my two friends from Togo on a discovery ride to the Jura mountains in the Bernese Jura in Switzerland we went from lakes to mountains, through many forests and pastures and reached the remote Bellelay early Thursday afternoon. According to the legend, Siginand of Moutier-Grandval got lost while hunting wild boar at the beginning of the twelfth century in the year 1136. After spending three days in the woods, waiting at a creek he named the area “belle laie”, laie is a female wild boar. He then made a vow that if he be saved or find his way out he would found a monastery. Historical documents confirm the founding of the Abbey of Bellelay in the year 1142. The abbey was inhabited by choristers and the Premonstratensian Order (a roman catholic religious Order) that had come from the Lac de Joux. They set themselves the goal of transforming swampland to fertile land according to the rules of St. Norbert their founder. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the abbey played an important role, blessed with wealth, they made noble use of their fortune. The part of the building, which was called “hostelries”, had the dimensions of the largest hotel of that time. The numerous travelers, who were accommodated there, would never be charged for their stay. Further, daily bread was distributed to everyone at the door to the Abbey. One speaks of the distribution of a thousand talents in a single year. The Abbey also took in orphans and cared for the children. In order to “earn their living”, the different communities had to create and operate small industrial activities such as printing, farming, cheese-making, running schools, bookbinding, astronomical observatories and retreat centers. I think there is a lot we can learn here. But now back to 2017! Alan Scott held an excellent sermon at our conference about going to the other side. Jesus went outside of his mission zone and took his disciples on journey to new territory, the uncomfortable, unpredictable and the uncertain. Now the interesting thing about Jesus or the mentioned Order is, they believed that every side was His or their side! They knew fame, crowds yet they went to the other side to reform all parts of society. When God rewrites the story of cities He chooses the foolish things to shame the wise, the weak to things to shame the strong. Most reformers were first rejected before they brought restructuring and reformation to their community and people. It’s not just a story in our history no it can lead to the unfolding of our destiny. “Your story may be one of much rejection, but God has written mercy into your story and reformation always follows mercy.” A. Scott.
This week can bring forth next steps with faith and grace to heal and reclaim!
A whisperer took me to an encounter of the heart.
Good Monday Morning to this week 25/2017
God allows understanding when we are ready, but you cannot rush readiness.
M. A. Renner
And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a gentle whisper a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out, and stood in the entering of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice to him, and said, what do you here, Elijah? A still small voice, a sound of gentle stillness, we’re not even sure if the sound was articulate or not, nor is it said that the Lord was now present, but the action of the prophet shows that he knew the time was come for him to present himself before Jehovah. Or as in Job 4:16; It stood still, though it passed by me, it did not immediately disappear and vanish, but made a stand, as having some business with me, and designing to address me. But I could not discern the form there exactly and distinctly, so as to know what or who it was. An image was before my eyes, my eyes could not be deceived. I am thoroughly satisfied there was an image which showed itself to me visibly. There was silence. In Hebrew it says; Silence, a voice, I The spirit stood motionless; all other persons and things about me were entirely silent; and I also kept in my voice and breath as much as I could, that I might distinctly hear what I perceived the spirit was about to speak to me. It stood still indeed, but I knew not its form; the appearance vanished from before my eyes, but I heard a voice.
When God whispers he seeks to communicate to speak with us. He personally and lovingly disciplines us and helps us learn from the past for the future. He displays the power of God’s love over all the storms. In whispering God free grace and encounters are transmitted in moments of silence and encounters. There is a sense of stillness and gentleness, a realization of our human condition or weakness needed for the interaction between God and us, or as Job put it; “It stood still indeed, but I knew not its form; the appearance vanished from before my eyes, but I heard a voice.”
Wishing you the right timing, the waiting, maybe a prayerful waiting as you anticipate His voice putting aside your time, as you become ready to hear.
Those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind! B.Baruch
Good Monday Morning to this week 26/2017
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Matthew 6:26 The quote and the Bible verse are actually quite a challenge and don’t fit well into my world view. I’m taught, if you don’t sow you don’t reap, nor do you eat. If you don’t plant, prepare and store, the winter will be long. Didn’t God make the seasons and give us the wisdom to live in and out of the seasons? We frequently hear of the famines in South Sudan or Burundi or Ethiopia and wonder … how did Jesus mean that? Did he know what was going on all over the earth? Wait? Could it be that he did mean the opposite? The ravens or the fowls of the air, void of reason, are incapable of sowing, reaping, and storing, yet the heavenly Father lets them not helplessly perish, but sustains them. Out of the Greek the text sounds a little different. Fix your eyes on, so as to take a good look at the birds whose element is the air; look, not to admire their free, careless movements on the wing, but note a very relevant fact, that without anxiety, yet with diligence they get their food and live. The careworn might reply to this: yes; they feed themselves at the farmer’s expense, an additional source of anxiety to him. And the cynic unbeliever in providence says, yes, in summer; but how many perish in winter? Jesus, the greatest of all optimists, though no shallow or ignorant one, quietly adds: do not ye differ considerably from them and asks, why do you fear, God’s children? I am hearing, actually we do need to toil, we do need to sow and reap, yet the way we do it is of importance. Not the trusting in our own providence, being anxious, worrying, following the orders of the earth, rather, following the advice our Maker. We were created to serve our Maker, trust in God and excel as children of God. It reminds me of the great project called Farming God’s way, a tool for equipping into the “agricultural domain” with three integrated spheres of influence, Biblical, Management and Technology. All three have a significant role in ushering in the promised abundant life of Jesus. My questions are not all answered many remain, yet I see a direction, I see where it could lead when we are drawn away from one perspective to the other perspective that reassures that trusting Him is our best choice and will lead to His providence and care.
I wish you a week of His providence and the freedom of the birds as you sow and reap and experience new freedom as the Maker and Creator leads you!
A sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life. Arabic
A cheerful heart is good medicine Proverbs 17:22
Good Monday Morning to this week 27/2017
here we go ….
Doctor Bloom who was known for miraculous cures for arthritis had a waiting room full of people when a little old lady, completely bent over in half, shuffled in slowly, leaning on her cane. When her turn came, she went into the doctor’s office, and, amazingly, emerged within half an hour walking completely erect with her head held high. A woman in the waiting room who had seen all this walked up to the little old lady and said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent in half and now you’re walking erect. What did that doctor do?” She answered, “a miracle, oh a miracle, he gave me a longer cane.!!”
“Who Do You Say I Am?” A Theological Joke
Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and James Cone find themselves all at the same time at Caesarea Philippi. Who should come along but Jesus, and he asks the four famous theologians the same Christological question, “Who do you say that I am?”
Karl Barth stands up and says: “You are the totaliter aliter, the vestigious trinitatum who speaks to us in the modality of Christo-monism.”
Not prepared for Barth’s brevity, Paul Tillich stumbles out: “You are he who heals our ambiguities and overcomes the split of angst and existential estrangement; you are he who speaks of the theonomous viewpoint of the analogia entis, the analogy of our being and the ground of all possibilities.”
Reinhold Niebuhr gives a cough for effect and says, in one breath: “You are the impossible possibility who brings to us, your children of light and children of darkness, the overwhelming oughtness in the midst of our fraught condition of estrangement and brokenness in the contiguity and existential anxieties of our ontological relationships.”
Finally James Cone gets up, and raises his voice: “You are my Oppressed One, my soul’s shalom, the One who was, who is, and who shall be, who has never left us alone in the struggle, the event of liberation in the lives of the oppressed struggling for freedom, and whose blackness is both literal and symbolic.”
And Jesus writes in the sand, “Huh?”!!!!
Why did the unemployed man get excited while looking through his Bible? He thought he saw a job.
Which Bible character had no parents? Joshua, son of Nun
Who was the greatest financier in the Bible? Noah!
He was floating his stock while everyone was in liquidation.!!!!!
Wishing you a great week, filled with laughter and blessings!
God’s footsteps even with the arrival of the dark night of the soul
Good Monday morning to this week 28/2017
Today I share some thoughts of this past week.
Looking for an English bookshop near the Kollwitzplatz in Berlin, I passed the Synagoge Rykestrasse, Germany’s largest synagogue at the Prenzlauer Berg. Rabbi Leo Trepp preached in the Rykestrasse synagogue in 2007, compared the reopening to the fate of Germany’s Jewish community. “This synagogue has returned, just as we have returned” he said. This lead me to reading about Joseph B. Soloveitchik who wrote the book “The Lonely Man of Faith.” He writes about the first two chapters of Genesis as a contrast in the nature of the human being and identifies two human types: Adam I, or “majestic man”, who employs his creative faculties in order to master his environment; and Adam II, or “covenantal man”, who surrenders himself in submission to his Master. Soloveitchik describes how the man of faith integrates both of these aspects. These men of faith knew a lot about God’s footsteps with the integration of these various aspects of faith, having walked through many dark nights of the soul.
Last Monday the unbelievable and shocking news of the passing of Theresa, a young vibrant 14-year-old, reached us. Her mother Glorious, a woman of much faith, courage and boldness had to walk through these darkest of nights of the soul this week. She then had to lay to rest her very dear, beautiful and very precious child in Nigeria. I dedicate the passage of Joseph B. Soloveitchik to her, her family and all in deep sadness and grieving after the passing of Theresa. I dedicate it also to all of the many seemingly large contradictions of life we face daily.
“As a rule, in times of joy and elation, one finds God’s footsteps in the majesty and grandeur of the cosmos, in its vastness and its stupendous dynamics. When man is drunk with life, when he feels that living is a dignified affair, then man beholds God in infinity. In moments of ecstasy God addresses Himself to man through the twinkling stars and the roar of the endlessly distant heavens: “O Lord my God Thou are very great, Thou are clothed with glory and majesty.” In such moments, Majestas Dei, which not even the vast universe is large enough to accommodate, addresses itself to happy man.
However, with the arrival of the dark night of the soul, in moments of agony and black despair, when living becomes ugly and absurd; plainly nauseating, when man loses his sense of beauty and majesty, God addresses him, not from infinity but from the infinitesimal, not from the vast stretches of the universe but from a single spot in the darkness which surrounds suffering man, from within the black despair itself… God, in those moments, appeared not as the exalted, majestic King, but rather as a humble, close friend, brother, father: in such moments of black despair, He was not far from me; He was right there in the dark room; I felt His warm hand, on my shoulder, I hugged His knees, He was with me in the narrow confines of a small room, taking up no space at all. God’s abiding in a fenced-in finite locus manifests His humility and love for man. In such moments Humilitas Dei, which resides in the humblest and tiniest of places, addresses itself to man.” Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Dear Glorious, dear readers, this is a covenantal promise of companionship, of relief of existential loneliness and a deep loving care: The participation of the Divine!
In His grip!
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
Good Monday morning to this week 29/2017
This week Eugene Peterson, 84-year-old writer of ‘The Message Bible’ and Pastor said some very good things in an interview and then was cornered by a hypothetical question leading to a great media outcry. But again, even in his response, his reaction was deep, wise and as always, a great inspiration!
I’ll quote a few of his quotes as inspiration for this week!
Prayer is the disciplined refusal to act before God acts.
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“When mess up, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us, he enters into our trouble and saves us.”
Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.
It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.
When it comes to doing something about what is wrong in the world, Jesus is best known for: his fondness for the minute, the invisible, the quiet, the slow – yeast, salt, seeds, light.
“Before Jeremiah knew God, God knew Jeremiah: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.” Long before we got interested in the subject of God, God subjected us to the most intensive and searching knowledge. Before it ever crossed our minds that God might be important, God singled us out as important!!
But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.
We are most ourselves when we love; we are most the People of God when we love.
Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
All quotes by Eugene H. Peterson
Wishing you a great and fulfilled week!
Weten waar Abraham den mosterd haalt.
To know where Abraham gets the mustard from. (Dutch Proverb)
Good morning morning to this week 30/2017
The saying basically means to be informed and up-to-date on a particular issue. The meaning originates from the Old Testament, namely when Abraham is preparing for the sacrifice of his son by gathering firewood, known as mustaards, a word which evolved over time into the similarly pronounced mosterd.
Let’s stay with the mustard ….
Another parable he put forth unto them, saying, the Kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. Matthew 13:31 Also; Which indeed is lesser among all the seeds; but when it is grown is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree. Also; Though it is the smallest of all your seeds yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree…
The mustard seeds are usually about 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter and may be colored from yellowish white to black. The black mustard, will grow to a large annual plant up to 9 feet (2.7 m) tall, growing from that tiny seed. “Small as a grain of mustard seed” was a proverbial expression among the Jews for something exceedingly minute.
By some accounts, mustard was the first condiment humans ever put on their food. Egyptian pharaohs stocked their tombs with mustard seeds to accompany them into the afterlife, but the Romans were the first to grind the spicy seeds into a spreadable paste and mix them with a flavorful liquid—usually, wine or vinegar. French monks, who mixed the ground seeds with “must,” or unfermented wine, inspired the word “mustard,” which stems from the Latin mustum ardens (roughly meaning “burning wine.”) Pythagoras endorsed a poultice of mustard seeds as a cure for scorpion stings. Hippocrates praised mustard paste as a miracle remedy capable of soothing pains and aches; and ancient Roman physicians used it to ease toothaches. They weren’t alone. Over the years, mustard has been used for appetite stimulation, sinus clearing, and frostbite prevention. It’s now touted as a weight loss supplement, asthma suppressant, hair growth stimulant, immunity booster, cholesterol regulator, dermatitis treatment, and even as an effective method of warding off gastrointestinal cancer, so ask your doctor if mustard is right for you.
We have the following words repeating themselves over all the explanations, cultures and times: Small, seed, great, plant, tree, spicy, fire, burning, all encapsulated into two words: Incredible potential! A seed of destiny, a seed of promise, a seed of Kingdom significance, the seed of the Kingdom of Heaven. Inherent in this one seed was the very nature and character of the King Himself and His authority to rule and reign in the lives of those who follow Him. God took the humble position humble of a slave and was born as a human being. A small seed of Kingdom of Heaven planted in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God. This seed therefore with all the authority of heaven, infused into its DNA, the very life of God Himself was planted as incredible potential. In this a small significant seed, all of Heaven’s authority and resources are made available for the circumstances of life, such incredible potential for those who seek and accept the gift of the mustard seed.
Yes, we know where Abraham got his mustard from!
Wishing you a week, that many of the small seeds, already planted into your hearts, though they required darkness to germinated, now can sprout and grow to their full potential!
God’s gonna trouble the water”
Good Monday morning to this week 31/2017
Along with biking I like to play the harmonica, experiment with the tunes as I ride with or against the wind. This trip I took my newly purchased A minor harmonica along. Wow, quite an experience! Of A minor, one says the key is tender, plaintive, pious, graceful in character and capable of soothing. The Natural Minor harps have a very bluesy, soulful sound that’s great for playing Blues, Country, Reggae, Pop & Jazz. Bob D. did the song “All along the Watchtower”, Eva Cassidy the song “Wade in the water”. In classical music it’s harder to find, for example F. Chopin has a Waltz in A minor, this is also remarkably soothing!
Back to the song “Wade in the water”, wade in the water children, wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water! Stop, wait a minute, what’s this advice here offered by the spiritual, “Wade in the Water,” doesn’t sound too smart! Why else would you want to jump into waters that God stirred up, described in the Bible as troubled? The whole story of this spiritual song is laid out in John 5; Jesus went to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate, there is a pool called Bethesda, surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, those paralyzed. “For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and troubled the water; whoever, after the troubling of the water, was the first to step in the water was made whole from disease or affliction.” One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. This man was cured and Jesus got in trouble for helping him out! What a God! People were mad at him for working a miracle, for using his supernatural skills. In restoring the man’s health with only a spoken word, he broke the observed rites and all kinds of religious laws because his saving grace didn’t rest on the day proclaimed by religious authorities.
Much, much later this text, this song and the same reference caused many to be saved. Without, many slaves would have been caught on their way to reaching a safer place or to their destination of freedom. This song remains one of the most significant encoded slave songs in history. “Wade in the Water” was one of the many songs that held messages to fellow slaves to find a path to freedom. “To escaping slaves, the song told them to abandon the path and move into the water. By traveling along the water’s edge or across a body of water, the slaves would throw chasing dogs and their keepers off the scent” Often not taught to read or write, many of the slaves learned the word of God by hearing. They often memorized scripture and discerned its meaning upon first hearing. In their own traditional style, they added flesh to the word, made it into song, always strengthening the influence of divine power on the living because God was personal and to know his power you had to relate to him. From the old days, in the myths and folktales that observed the ways of people, the story telling in song, of the poetry of natural symbols, was right up their alley. The idea of a God who entered the world and stirred things up, the power of a God to conquer death, change form, and make round trips between heaven and earth while still being divine, and then leaving behind His Spirit, who was also a God whose light and mercy and love were present in the midst of trouble, was one to whom they could relate.
Warapunga, [31 Jul 2017 08:16]:
On close listening, this was a God who not only saved and protected, also one who returned faith and courage, provided strength for the journey, and made his own kind of trouble. We often are not often called to wade into troubled waters, thinking it be a temptation or a dare. The word, “troubled” or “stirred,” in the original Greek refers to “an uncertain affinity.” In other words, the angel brings forth a power whose source was unknown by observation or direct sensory means. But its results were consistent and clear. This affinity had the ability to heal afflictions and was transferred to the waters; its blessing received by the first one in.
Christ transfers this blessing, by word and deed, to all who believe in faith. But like the healing at the Bethesda pool, often the benefits of God’s grace only come in certain seasons.
So “Wade in the Water” in A minor is more than instructions for running away, which only a small number of border state slaves were able to do. It is a song text of a dramatic story of God’s ability to restore and redeem.
I wish you a blessed week and another perspective of stepping in “troubled waters”!
(much of the text is inspired by Water Rhett, 64, a New York Times verified commenter, from his blog “Decoding Wade in the Water” )
Ps: two links to the song:
“Uplift to reduce air friction, honk to encourage and imprint early on in life”!
Good Monday morning to this week 32/2017
As the sun was setting around 9.30 the other evening, I went on a “longish” bike ride, away from the ocean front, over to a hotspot for birders, a resting place and breeding place for many birds during the migration season as Terns, Gulls, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, and Graylag geese. I actually just caught a nice shot of many geese flying over in their famous V-shaped formation. Scientists have determined that the V-shaped formation that geese use when migrating serves two important purposes:
First, it conserves their energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest. The second benefit to the V formation is that it is easy to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group.
Then I was reminded of the wonderful comedy-drama “Fly Away Home” with Amy dramatizing the actual experiences of Bill Lishman who, in 1986, started training Canadian geese to follow his ultralight aircraft, and succeeded in leading their migration. Amy finds a nest of goose eggs. She takes the eggs and keeps them in a dresser in her father’s old barn to incubate. When the eggs have hatched, she is allowed to keep the goslings as pets. These geese then imprinted on Amy as their mother and learn everything from her including flying migratory routes.
Imprinting, a rapid learning process that takes place early in the life of a social animal (such as a goose) and establishes a behavior pattern (such as recognition of and attraction to its own kind or a substitute)
Migration of birds was also well known to Biblical times. An estimated 500 million birds migrate yearly through the Israel. Jeremiah used the metaphor of migration in speaking to his listeners.
“Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord (Jeremiah 8:7).”
All to say, there is a huge “bunch” of things we can learn; Here a few suggestions:
They share a goal; that has long ago been imprinted in them:
As each goose flaps its wings it creates “uplift”, it reduces air friction, for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock achieves a 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Also, flying in a V-formation increases the visibility as every goose can see what’s happening in front of them.
Seeking help is a good thing; when a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the friction of flying alone. It then quickly adjusts its mistake and moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Even the geese recognize good work; The geese honk to recognize each other and encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Staying committed to purpose; The geese migration routes never vary. They use the same route year after year. Even when the flock members change, the young learn the route from their parents. In the spring, they go back to the spot where they were born.
A flock of geese in flight is called a skein of geese. When they are not in flight, a flock of geese is called a gaggle and a A skein of geese in a “V” formation is called a wedge.
My twitter feed to summarize this text;
Geese teach us; Don’t gaggle, fly as a skein while you flock with your kin to a wedge!
Enjoy the friendly skies this week!
He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
Good Monday morning to this week 33/2107
“Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.” Goethe
To view our shadow we first need little bit of light, for a shadow cannot be seen unless we first have light.
This week I sort of stumbled over my own shadow as I started to read and research about how the shadow is an integral part of many belief systems. Along with us being body, soul, spirit there is also the shadow. We can trace the symbolism of the shadow back to ancient
Egypt, many parts of Asia or Africa. We find it appearing in ancient texts, mythology,
folklore, and psychology.
No, I am not going to go to the dark side of the shadow now, not to the esoteric or the subconscious chaos. What fascinates me is the aspect of where the shadow comes from and what imprint the shadow leaves including what we have chosen to become. Although it takes very little light to create a shadow, no amount of light can ever quench a shadow. The brighter the light, the denser the shadow becomes. Therefore, symbolically and metaphorically, those with most light possess the darkest and densest shadow.
Prophets, teachers and God our Creator seem to know a lot about it!
Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea
Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So, the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. Jonah
Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings. David
For You have been a defense for the helpless, A defense for the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall. Like heat in drought, you subdue the uproar of aliens; Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced. Isaiah
“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. Daniel
I will cause the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, to go back ten steps. So, the sun’s shadow went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down. Isaiah
Things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Paul
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. Lincoln
When walking through the ‘valley of shadows,’ remember, a shadow is cast by a Light. O’Malley
As a result, people kept carrying their sick into the streets and placing them on stretchers and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he went by. Peter
To light a candle is to cast a shadow. Le Guin
Drawing from these wonderful verses and texts I read that our shadow is caused by the light in us. The light comes from the ultimate source of light, the creator and sponsor of all of life and light. So, when we let the light shine, it shines through us and creates His shadow and our own shadow. The shadow then imprints and leaves a lasting consequence on all vessels receiving the light. Therefore, our responsibility is not to cast a shadow but keep receiving the light!
Wishing you a week of much light and wonderful imprints you leave behind through your daily acts of kindness, love and generosity.
Are Gods promises and covenants always conditional?
Good Monday morning to this week 34/2017
For we are made partakers/shareholders of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our solid confidence steadfast unto the end. Hebrews 3:14
If you do this, then I will do this, else this happens. If you are willing, then you will eat, otherwise you will not eat. If you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine. Exodus 19:5 So the key to the word “IF” is to satisfy the requirements?
Really? Are the blessings of God conditional? Sounds a bit scary to me! The continuation in the participation of the covenants of God also? For sure it would be easier if we could put the whole responsibility on God to whether or not a covenant is valid but that’s not what we are reading here. Yes, we can always depend on God to be faithful and He will never fail us, but does never relieve us of our responsibility and therefore keeps every verse conditional like in a deal?
Jesus also used the word “if” a lot and mostly in connection the relationship with Jesus and God the Father. The first eye opener is:
He always put the “if” on our side and not on His side!
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed
If you hold my teachings
If you keep my word
If you had believed
If you love one another
If you love me
If you remain in me
If you obey my commands
If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation
Strings attached? Now that we finally understood the gift of salvation as free and unconditional?
It must be more than just a condition! Rick Warren says that many of these passages are actions we need to take, very different from conditions which we must fulfill. The activity is the part of employing/using the very means of Grace. Warren goes so far to say that God is waiting on us to make the move. Many of these conditions are resultant or purpose clauses. Whenever you see “so that” it refers to purpose. Actually, that which we see as conditional is actually the premise on which the following action comes. For example, if I build a hammer, it’s intention and purpose is to drive nails. Now if this hammer is never used to drive nails, it does not cease to be a hammer.
The very nature of God’s promises are that they are unconditional, YES! God’s ways are not our ways. It seems to be a constant reminder that we are wired to function with conditions, yet the premise to function with God’s Grace has been established or put in us before we move or apply them. In conclusion, these are actually not “if-then” verses as in computer logic statements. Most often it’s the case where God is promising an indefinite relational clause where the element of contingency (dependence on the fulfillment of a condition) is the person not their actions or time.
A wonderful example of a premise of the promise integrated as condition, is the following:
And Moses said unto the people in Exodus 14; 13-14, Fear ye not, stand still and see the saving health of the LORD, which he will bestow on you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall never see them again for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall be still. Also in the New Testament in John 8:36: If therefore the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed!
Wishing you a great week as you move on the premises of His promises!
Motivation is short, but inspiration lasts a lifetime. Ganon Baker
Good Monday morning to this week 35/2017
One of the best inspirational speeches I found in the Bible:
We’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2. Corinthians 4:16-18 – The Message
I’m sure you’ve often gotten this feeling as you go to events, church services and many different gatherings. There is so much motivation going on, at first it feels a nice, then very soon it feels shallow, empty or a like a short-lasting hype.
A feeling of enthusiasm or interest that makes you determined to do something,
The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
They are inspired to live their purpose with passion! The word “inspiration” comes from the late Latin word “inspirare” which means “inspirit” or “divine guidance”. So, inspiration is something that you feel on the inside, while motivation is something from the outside that compels you to take action.
Culturally we are motivated but not inspired. We live our lives by motivation and wonder why we are so unhappy. Motivation forces us to keep up with others, compete against others, and measure ourselves to others. This kind of living is a testament of a collective who use will or motivation to achieve their ends in life. When they do, they realize they are not better off for it, misery is still sitting at the dinner table. Despite achieving their objectives, the soul is left unfulfilled and therefore the achievements are not imbued with the soul’s light. It all feels empty. Rather than investigating this state of being, they rush off to the next motivational adventure. Many of us have been guilty of using motivation when we should’ve been waiting upon the soul to inspire our course of action. But oh no, we had to keep the momentum going. We weren’t willing to just sit and wait for that moment; we have too much to do and no time to waste. This kind of urgency is not really being productive. In fact, its depleting. When motivation is running the show, the very thing that you are so desperate to accomplish becomes distorted in the process. You lose your passion and begin to question if you are doing the right thing or even if you’re on the right path. Self-doubt creeps in and infects your plans, your intentions, and eventually the outcome.
Unlike short-sided motivational speeches, inspiration focuses on personal growth, improvement, and optimism it’s literally “breathing life and vitality into” others.
Back to Paul’s wonderful speech with deep perspective for the future:
Inspiration is about renewal of the inner nature and what makes this truly remarkable is that these are simultaneous processes! At the same time Paul was physically weak and materially deprived and yet he experienced unparalleled spiritual success.
R. C. H. Lenski, put it this way:
“With perfect calmness Paul can watch the destruction of his outer man all along the inner man blossoms into new youth, beauty, and strength day by day. This inner renewal is not hindered but only helped by the tribulation that assails the outer man. Instead of causing Paul to grow discouraged, his elation is increased. His approach was; we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal! Inspiration focuses on the things that will last forever, meaning a very, very long time!
The best inspirational part of the verse is: On the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. In a tweet:
God is making new life inside of you through his endless and unfolding grace! #inspiration
Wishing you an inspiring week!
The Language of Heaven
And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language, Acts 2:8
Good Monday morning to this week 36/2017
The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. Isaiah 55:8-11
Recently my Dad was visiting and lately we have had many talks about what is now and what will be later. One discussion we currently had was, what language the language of heaven is or will be. Following that talk I read that one of South Africa’s languages has only 3 remaining speakers left. Language is the prime method for cultural transmission and maintenance, and with the disappearance of languages comes an indication of a collapse of that culture. All indigenous Khoisan languages in South Africa are under threat of extinction, in particular the Khoe language of Korana-Griqua, Khoemana was once a thriving language spoken all around the coastal regions of South Africa. As one of the well-known click languages, Khoemana has a particularly exotic sound; approximately half of all of its lexical words, in fact, begin with a click. There are four possible click types in Khoemana: !, ǁ, ǂ, and ǀ, with 8 possible releases, giving 32 total clicks. The clicks of Khoemana with their accompaniments are: dental, alveolar, lateral, velar with the release accompaniments plain (velar stop), nasal, glottal stop, glottal fricative, voiced, aspirated, velar affricate velar ejective, affricate, velar fricative.
Back to the language of heaven. To speak God’s language, we must know Him and His Word. It is sent from the heavens to transform, produce fruit, change our vision and cause us to see the unseen and speak forth what may yet be. It will transform our utterances into the dialect of faith, which is about more than positivity or emotional optimism. It is about firm belief in what has been promised. As in the text about, language is a prime method for cultural transmission, so much more for also the transmission of the culture of heaven.
There is a story of a woman in a village who maliciously gossiped about another lady and her family in the village. One day she found out that she was wrong about this lady and her family and had a change of heart. She went to the village’s wise man and asked how she could take back all the wrong she had done. The wise man told her to go home and kill her chickens and pluck their feathers and put them into a bag. After this she was to go back and see the wise man again, but on her way back she was to scatter all the feathers she had plucked from the chickens.
The lady did as she was told. When she got back to the man, he told her,” now go back and pick up all the feathers that you have scattered.” The woman was astonished at such a command and said,” By now the wind has carried the feathers throughout the village and beyond.” The wise man then told Her; and so, it is with words. They are like the feathers scattered in the wind. You cannot retrieve them.
Yes, the language is heaven, words spoken to us, sent like seeds we scatter with words in our language, our culture, our clicks our music, our art, our love inspired from the creator holding fast to the promise of Isaiah 55:1:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Wishing you a blessed week of scattering words of Hope and Love from Heaven!
What has God ever done for me?
Good Monday morning to this week 37/2017
For it was you who formed, fashioned my inmost being. You wove and covered me in mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
The fastest muscles in a human body are the ones that make the eyes blink. They can contract in less than one-hundredth of a second. In just one day, a person may blink their eyes over 11,500 times. In an adult human, blood circulates about 19,000 a day. This is like traveling from east to west across the widest part of the Pacific Ocean. A person takes about 23,040 breaths a day, or about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. The body can detect taste in .0015 seconds, which is faster than the blink of an eye. Messages from the human brain travel along nerves at up to 200 miles an hour (322 km/h) – yes, we know how fast this is after watching hurricane Irma for the past week! There are so many nerve cells in a human brain that it would take almost 3,000 years to count them!
I think the creator knew what he was doing when he made us!
Somehow the question does seem out of place when we ask, what has God done for me? Some Jewish doctors are of opinion that Psalm 139 is the most excellent of all the psalms of David; a very devout meditation upon the doctrine of God’s omniscience, which we should therefore have our hearts fixed upon.
Thou knowest me and all my motions, my down-sitting to rest, my uprising to work, with what temper of mind I compose myself when I sit down and stir up myself when I rise up, what my soul reposes itself in as its stay and support, what it aims at and reaches towards as its felicity and end.
Thou knowest me and all my designs and undertakings; thou compassest every particular path; thou siftest or winnowest my path, so as thoroughly to distinguish between the good and evil of what I do,’ as by sifting we separate between the corn and the chaff.
We are always under his eye. He is omnipresent; this supposes the infinite and immensity of his being, from which follows the ubiquity of his presence; heaven and earth include the whole creation, and the Creator fills both, he not only knows both, and governs both, but he fills both. Every part of the creation is under God’s intuition and influence. David acknowledges this wonderfully with application and sees himself thus open before God.
No flight can remove us out of God’s presence: “Where shall I go from thy Spirit, from thy presence, that is, from thy spiritual presence!
“Quocunque te flexeris, ibi Deum videbisoccurrentem tibi”.
Wherever you turn, you will see God meet you. Seneca
David specifies the most remote and distant places, and counts upon meeting God in them. In heaven … If I ascend, in the deepest depth of the earth, in the remotest corners of this world. “If I take the wings of the morning”, the rays of the morning-light called the wings of the sun. Even to the hidden heart of man. But it was God himself that thus covered us, and therefore He can, when He pleases, discover us; when He hid us from all the world he did not intend to hide us from himself, even there he can reach out to us.
David desires that as far as he was in the wrong God would discover it to him. He wishes honestly he had a window in his breast that God and man may look into his heart: “Lord, I hope I am not in a wicked way, but see if there be any wicked way in me, any corrupt inclination remaining; let me see it; and root it out of me, for I do not allow it. In conclusion, he desires to be led by this God: Lead me in the way everlasting, on a way of godliness an everlasting way; everlastingly true and good, pleasing to God and profitable to himself.
Yes, Lord this is my desire to be kept and led in this way, that I may not miss it, turn from it, nor tire in it. I give thanks to you Lord because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.
Suppose I should be so foolish as to think of getting out of thy sight, that I might shake off the awe of thee, suppose I should think of revolting from my obedience to thee, or of disowning a dependence on thee and of shifting for myself, alas (i regret) yet, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me!
Wishing you a very good week!
That God should have a dwelling place!
Good Monday morning and greetings from Joburg to this week 38/2017
This in fact is the whole [purpose] of man, and the purpose for which he, and all the worlds, both upper and lower, were created that God should have such a dwelling-place here below. Rabbi M.M. Schneerso
A wonderful example, Ezra out of Nehemiah of a dwelling place of God …. through reading out aloud! Facing the people in the square, next to the water gate, he began to read excerpts. The document was massive, and just reading parts took him six or seven hours, from daybreak until noon. Everyone who was there heard him: men, women—anyone with the ability to understand. As he read, they were focused and listened carefully to the book of the law. Here is Ezra reading; It was a picturesque scene. The sun, rising over the slopes to then fall on the gathered crowd, if the water-gate was, as is probable, on the east or south-east side of the city. Beneath the fresh fortifications probably, which would act as a sounding-board for the reader, was set up a scaffold high above the crowd, large enough to hold Ezra and thirteen supporters, no doubt-seven on one side of him and six on the other. There, in the morning light, with the new walls for a background, stood Ezra on his rostrum, and amid reverent silence, lifted high the sacred roll. A common impulse swayed the crowd, and brought them all to their feet at once of respect and obedient attention. Probably many of them had never seen a sacred roll. To them all it was rather unfamiliar. No wonder that, as Ezra’s voice rose in prayer, the whole assembly fell on their faces in adoration, and every lip responded ‘Amen! amen!’ This scene was in the truest sense a ‘revival.’ We learn, that through the reading the exposition and enforcement of the God’s word and will men and women were brought back to God. First, they gave sense, so that they understand the reading’; and that, not for merely intellectual purposes, but that, like the crowd outside the water-gate on that hot noonday, the listeners may be moved to penitence, and then lifted to the joy of the Lord. Actually, the public reading of the Scriptures was required by the law to be made every seventh year; but during the long period of the captivity this excellent practice, with many others, had fallen into neglect, till revived, on this occasion. It is remarkable that the people ask for instruction from Ezra. Though they do not keep the law, they have a yearning after it. They are not contented with their existing condition, but desire better things, and they have an instinctive feeling that to hear God’s word will help them. How much more, infinitely more, ought one rejoice in the nearness of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, and in His dwelling together with man in this physical world, man’s “home.” “‘For who is the man who dares to approach me?’ says God. In one’s awareness of God’s unity and through self-nullification before Him, one does come near to God. Furthermore, God thereby dwells with him and within him. Kitzur Tanya Through reading, he dwells with us! A spiritual encounter!
Wishing you a good week! Philemon
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; Ecclesiastes 3:11
Good Monday morning to this week 39/2017
Returning from a conference and meetings in South Africa, I’d like to the share some parts of the great things we heard to the topic of “Many tribes – one People”
Sue Marland spoke on transformation as being in the verse of Ecclesiastes as a metamorphosis. We’re all familiar with the most dramatic metamorphoses of the animal kingdom: Butterflies. They go from a tiny egg to an awkward wriggling caterpillar to mysterious pupa to a delicate, colorful winged creature. When the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, its wings are small and wet, and the butterfly cannot yet fly. The butterfly must pump fluids from its abdomen through the veins in its wings, which causes the wings to expand to their full size. Next, the wings must dry and the butterfly must exercise flight muscles before it can fly. Monarch butterflies are not able to survive the cold winters of most of the United States so they migrate south and west each autumn to escape the cold weather. The monarch migration usually starts in about October, but can start earlier if the weather turns cold sooner than that. Monarch butterflies are the only insects that migrate to a warmer climate with a distance of flying route of 4000 km each year.
Amazing 4000 km, what a distance for a butterfly coming from a tiny egg to wriggling caterpillar to a wonderful and colorful butterfly. Could this also be process we are in? A spiritual Metamorphosis? We start out with eternity in our hearts, then comes the becoming new creatures, crossing over the Jordan, being changed as in the twinkling of an eye! Transformation starts as an event, an ongoing process and continues as co-operation. God lays the foundation, then comes the building, that is our job, to be continued by our response to what God has done. Peter writes, for this very reason make every effort to add to your faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Being transformed by the renewing of our minds, for we have been reborn not of perishable seed, but of imperishable through the living and enduring word of God. She then ended with the statement: Reconciliation is to desire the complete the metamorphosis of God’s creational intent. What the Cross accomplished can’t be undone. All barriers destroyed, a new identity between fellow-aliens, becoming one new person! The following afternoon we then heard the story of Elba Dolan a Brazilian pastor confirming the metamorphoses with her story, her passion for the lost and for the poor. Showing a picture of herself growing up in poverty she spoke of herself: “When this poor girl heard the gospel, it changed me from hopeless to hope, dealt with my victimhood, gave me a sense of destiny!”
“How you treat the poor is a direct reflection of what you think of Jesus. It’s not the way you get saved, but is the way salvation shows.” Elba Dolan
“A man’s beliefs are not shown in what he thinks, but in how he lives.” George McDonald quoted by Sue Marland. Faith is behavior!
Justice = living love out loud! Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can! Instead of cursing darkness, BE a light! Dr. Charles Montgomery jr.
When salvation occurs, individualism ends there, and community begins! One God, faith, status, hope… W. Githaiga
Similar to a butterfly, I wish you that spiritual metamorphosis this week, been released from darkness, embraced by wings, being empowered to soar, understanding God’s wonderful interplay of transformation.
God is a verb!
Good Monday morning to this week 40/2017
Reading, surfing, driving, talking, walking cooking, visiting, oh … the many verbs that fill our daily lives are endless, and yes, we are on the move, always, a lot, again and again.
What about God? God is a verb! says Paul Young the writer of The Shack.
When we see God’s name mentioned in Bible, we often find a verb somewhere nearby. God is constantly on the move. Though we may not always see him or sense him, he is actively engaged! He is creating, making, guiding, watching, giving, listening, protecting, destroying, forgiving, saving, teaching, leading, helping, showing, and so much more.
Psalm 18, full of verbs! My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, I called ….
He – our God – He: ….. saved, confronted, heard, parted, mounted, soared, made, advanced, shot, rebuked, rescued, reached, drew, rewarded, turned, showed, saved, helped, armed, destroyed, answered, subdues, delivered, exalted, praised, asks and shows his love to his anointed
God is not stagnant. God is fully alive. He is ever-present. He is ever-active.No matter what circumstances may try to tell you, the truth is that God is not only present, he is on the move. God is not a spectator; he is actively engaged!
God often calls us also to move with him, as he did with Elijah:
During the famine, God looked after Elijah. He gave him specific instruction relative to how he would be sustained. “Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’ So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook” (1 Kings 17:2-6).
The Bible starts out beautifully with the narrative of God on the move:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
God is a verb, God is on the move!
He moves with you, move with Him!
Vince malum bono
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
Good Monday morning to this week 41/2017
I am not really sure why I write about this topic today, yes there are always subconscious reasons of things pressing through i suppose! I am, yes, again, overwhelmed by all the news of violence and turmoil around us, also troubled by the power of populism in Europe with the constant cry for justice through revenge and through egoistically serving oneself first. Absolutely amazing, how we learn the contrary from the Bible.
Thomas Aquinas properly said: “He is overcome of evil who sins against another, because he sins against him.” A moral enemy is more easily overcome by kindness than by hostility. Against the latter he arms himself; and all the evil passions of his heart concentrate themselves in opposition to him who is striving to retaliate, by violence, the injurious acts which he has received from him. But where the injured man is laboring to do him good for his evil – to repay his curses with blessings and prayers, his evil passions have no longer any motive, any incentive; his mind relaxes; the turbulence of his passions is calmed; reason and conscience are permitted to speak; he is disarmed, or, in other words, he finds that he has no use for his weapons; he beholds in the injured man a magnanimous friend whose mind is superior to all the insults and injuries which he has received, and who is determined never to permit the heavenly principle that influences his soul to bow itself before the miserable, mean, and wretched spirit of revenge. This amiable man views in his enemy a spirit which he beholds with horror, and he cannot consent to receive into his own bosom a disposition which he sees to be so destructive to another; and he knows that as soon as he begins to avenge himself, he places himself on a par with the unprincipled man whose conduct he has so much reason to blame, and whose spirit he has so much cause to abominate. He who avenges himself receives into his own heart all the evil and disgraceful passions by which his enemy is rendered both wretched and contemptible. There is the voice of eternal reason in “Avenge not yourselves: – overcome evil with good;” as well as the high authority and command of the living God.
Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible – Launching a counter-attack!
Here appears the real reason for extending kindness to enemies. If the child of God should retaliate in kind for all acts of enmity against himself, he would shortly find himself engaging in all kinds of shameful and wicked conduct. To prevent such an unwholesome development, the servant of the Lord must launch a counter-attack, returning good for evil, and deploying good actions against the evil actions of the enemy. The grand strategy of God with regard to human evil. The natural man finds himself living and operating in a world where one rotten apple can make a barrel of good apples rotten; but the spiritual man, having the mind of the Spirit, proceeds upon the premise that one good apple might make a barrel of rotten apples sound! The divine nature of this priceless precept has elicited the most extravagant praise, as well it should. This as last sentence of this chapter is considered “an admirable summary of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, about what is called non-resistance”; and it expresses, he thinks, “the most creative element in Christian ethics.
A moving story about this comes from the era of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa. In a court stands Officer Van de Broek who tortured and killed both the husband and the son of a nameless South African woman during apartheid. We are in a sitting of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the officer has just admitted his crimes, including shooting the widow’s son, burning his body and holding a party nearby.
The judge asks the grieving woman “How should justice be done to this man who has so brutally destroyed your family?”. She asks to be taken to the site where she witnessed her husband’s murder so she can gather the dust for a burial. She tells the officer that she wants for him to visit her twice a month so she could be a mother to him and share her love. Finally, she asks to hug him so he can know that God has forgiven him through Jesus. Those assembled break into a rendition of Amazing Grace so rousing that officer Van de Broek faints.
but overcome evil with good — and then the victory is yours; you have subdued your enemy in the noblest sense.
Wishing you a good week of overcoming evil!
Heaven help us all!
Good Monday morning to this week 42/2017
Today on the 16th of October 1886, 131 years ago, David Ben Gurion was born in Plonsk Poland. On the 14th of May 1948 he formally proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, was the primary founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel.
In August of 1973 a few months before the passing of David Ben Gurion, Ray Charles got to visit Ben Gurion and writes the following: “I was meant to spend 40min on the interview, but ended up staying the whole day at the Kibbutz. “We talked like old friends and he told me of the problems he was having, the squabbles and disagreements with his religion and politicians. We then sat ourselves down at a piano, played and taught each other songs. One of the songs was “Heaven Help Us All” a 1970 soul single composed by Ron Miller and first performed by Motown singer Stevie Wonder.
Heaven help the child who never had a home,
Heaven help the girl who walks the streets alone
Heaven help the roses if the bombs begin to fall,
Heaven help us all.
Heaven help the black man if he struggles one more day,
Heaven help the white man if he turns his back away.
Heaven help the man who kicks the man who has to crawl,
Heaven help us all.
Heaven help us all, help us all.
Heaven help us, Lord, hear our call when we call Oh, yeah!
Heaven help the boy who won’t reach twenty one,
Heaven help the man who gave that boy a gun.
Heaven help the people with their backs against the wall,
Lord, Heaven help us all.
Heaven help us all.
Heaven help us all, help us all.
Heaven help us, Lord, hear our call when we call, help us all.
Now I lay me down before I go to sleep.
In a troubled world, I pray the Lord to keep, keep hatred from the mighty,
And the mighty, from the small,
Heaven help us all.
Oh, oh, oh, yeah!
Heaven help us all
Heaven help us, Lord, hear our call when we call, help us all.
Here again the situation as written in the book “Brother Ray”:
We sat ourselves down at a piano, David Ben Gurion, the children and me, and sang songs that I taught them and songs that they taught me. Then we all ate dinner together at a big long table. Ben Gurion was an open book, loose and free with himself.
Two great men of history sit down, play the piano, teach each other songs, sing a prayer for those in need, ask the Lord for his help then eat dinner together at a big long table.
Heaven help us all – a great prayer to start this new week.
Sit down to teach each other songs – yes an inspiration to keep the inspiration and music going.
Being an open book, open and free – a true word of wisdom of these men and great example to follow.
Eat dinner at a long table – every meal at a long table with family and friend, a an immense and constant blessing!
Wishing you an inspired week!
Implied unabated affection, with kindest tokens of ultra-endearment!
Good Monday morning to this week 43/2017
And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar (grey) hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46.4
Some of the language in sociology or theology is as if you needed to speak English like Shakespeare, be a religious prophet or a modern theologian to find the same expression. I just read a good little bit of advice to making sentences sound like one of these above mentioned. You either add a prefix as: inter, hyper, multi, socio, super, trans, ultra or a suffix as ological.
Anyway … sometimes it’s in simplicity and sometimes in elaborate, extended description of language to drive home the point.
If we take the beautiful verse of Isaiah 46:4, it might sound like this:
Even to your hyper-age with super-grey hair, I am your ultra-multi-glorious God, I am He that sustains your integral committed alternative socio-being as follower of Christ. I have made your hyper-being and will carry you inter-dependently, multi-sociologically, ultra-carefully, with my super continued tender presence, my implied unabated affection, with kindest tokens of ultra-endearment from the arms a super-father in heaven. Various and multiple be the burdens you the super-grey haired might have had to burden and bear, but with His endless patience, gracious assurance of deliverance, with his gentle hand God will strengthen your bending back and invigorate your fainting spirit. Even if your transgression be symptomatically, I the Lord delivereth you, through afflictions, through the descent to the dark side, to the foot of the valley of the shadow of death, through temptations, through the pruning of the aged tree, then to support you with the staff, the rod with which you will drive away your enemies from your pillow, and help you ascend back to the summit of the Comforter of your age to find Him in the bliss of eternity. I am sure that the prophet Isaiah, who wrote the verses somewhere around 700BC, had the best style to explain these dramatic prophetic declarations for the restoration of the nation of Israel from Babylonian captivity. Even to your old age! The care of a mother ceases, in the natural course of things, before we grow old, but the fatherly, we might almost say the mother-like, maternal care of Jehovah for His chosen ones endures even to the end of life. The everlasting arms never weary. God’s watchfulness, his providence, his protection, never fail. I have made, and I will bear. Our Maker has naturally regard to what he has made, loves it, desires its good, seeks to defend and save it.
MacLaren writes in his commentary:
And all this wonderful triple hope, rapturous and impossible as it seems when we think of man as he is, and of each of ourselves as we each feel ourselves to be, is for us a sober certainty and a fact sufficiently accomplished, to give firm ground for our largest expectations if we hold fast by Jesus who brings that all-sufficient gift of God within reach of each of us. The divine patience and love follow us in all our wild wanderings, praying us ‘with much entreaty that we should receive the gift.’ Jesus, who is God’s righteousness and love incarnate, beseeches us to take Him, and in Him righteousness, salvation, and glory.
Wishing you to be carried this week, no matter what age!
If a book about failures doesn’t sell, is it a success?
Good Monday morning to this week 44/2017
I was recently at the heart specialist. After the exam, in a rather surprised manner he said; “I see some good improvement here”! With a smile, he then added a rather strange sentence, you know, sometimes we ask questions and don’t know the answers to improvement. Yes, there is this urge to have answers, but so often the answers are assumptions, not accurate or do not correspond with the situation. It can be like that in modern medicine, in science, also with questions to our daily life and faith.
Yes, the Bible also has a lot of great questions!
Where are you? Where is your brother?
Is the Lord among us or not?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
Where can I flee from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?
What good deed must I do to have eternal life?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Could having questions actually be better than having answers?
Here a few fun questions out of our daily, modern, busy lives:
(thanks to http://allyourschat.com/games/ponder)
If you have an open mind is there a chance your brain might fall out?
Why does an alarm clock “go off” when it BEGINS ringing?
How is it possible to have a civil war?
Why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes?
If pro is the opposite of con, is progress the opposite of congress?
Why do scientists call it re-search when they are looking for something new? Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?
Why do people who know the least know it the loudest?
Why in a country with freedom of speech are there phone bills?
If vegetarians eat vegetables what do humanitarians eat?
Why do feet smell and noses run?
Do married people live longer than single or does it just seem longer?
If you try to fail and succeed which have you done?
If 75% of accidents occur 5 miles from home, why not move 10 miles away?
Is it possible to be totally partial?
Questions push us to more. Answers make us think we’re done. Could it be that in pushing for more that we grow and discover the most? Questions power humility, answers can end in pride. Don’t we all like people that tend to have all the answers? As long as there is a burning question in us, we don’t tend to think we’ve not discovered or reached it all. Questions force camaraderie with others, answers tend to isolate. Asking questions causes us to seek out other people that we think may have the answer. We build bonds and relationships with these people in order to find our answer.
Wishing you many questions this week!
Did we get it all wrong about our bodies?
Good Monday Morning to this week 45/2017
“Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason, man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honour since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.”
The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 364-365.
In this time and age of constant diets, of medical supplements, overweight, underweight, of physical limitations and records, reconstructive surgery, identity crisis due to no, or excessive selfies, I found this article holds a very good and helpful perspective. I share the text with you that J. Scott McElroy posted it on relevantmagazine.com.
Though we are primarily spiritual beings, persons who think and imagine and desire and choose, we can act in this spiritual and personal way only because our bodilines places us in time and space and allows us to communicate with one another.”
Yes, my body is a temple, a vessel, a mortal coil, but something about this particular statement gave me a flash of eternal perspective. Our bodies place us, primarily spiritual beings, in time and space. What if, instead of being a burden and something to be endured our current bodily manifestation is a special gift that enables our spirits to be anchored in time and space for a time, to do work that can only be done using our bodies, and will be viewed as a period of special opportunity in our eternal existence?
What if the way our specific bodies are designed is exactly what is needed in this time and space that we live in, to enable our spirits to collaborate physically with God in this world? What if the amount of time we’ve each been given in this bodily vessel (in its current state) is the perfect amount of time to accomplish what it is that God prepared for us before time began? What if we each have a mission and purpose that is unequivocally tied to and dependent upon the body we’ve been given?
Well, that means that my body, a temple of the Holy Spirit and container of my spirit, is to be maintained and “stewarded” in a way that will maximize its use as an instrument for God. Though it is dust, it’s a glorious feat of engineering and work of art (though imperfect), and offers me an opportunity to do things in this world that can only be done while inhabiting this body.
It also means I need to get busy finding and carrying out my mission. I best throw off distractions, boredom and fear, so that I can look back at this span of life in my body—this short 70 or 80 or 90 years—from eternity and recognize some points where I did the best I could with what I had.
This brings new meaning to the verse, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Default to this verse. Whether studying, eating, working, playing, resting or talking, whatever physical act you do in your body; do all to the glory of God. How? God is glorified when His love lives in and through us. So regularly get filled up with, and then give away His love in every way, all the time. Endeavour to approach everything you do with His spirit of love. Along the way, He’ll give you specific, even unique and specialized ways to make His love known that will most likely align with the desires and dreams He’s put in you.
Really, this is how Jesus lived. He was a timeless spirit, but chose to be anchored in time and space. He had limited years in an earthly body, but knew His body was necessary for accomplishing His mission. He didn’t obsess about His physical limitations. He rested and ate when His body required it. He didn’t rush around frantically trying to “get more done.” He got filled up daily through prayer, worship and Scripture study and He freely gave that love away. The effects of aligning ourselves with God’s love while inhabiting these incredible containers that anchor us in time and space will echo throughout eternity.
I wish you this timeless spirit, with your body anchored in this time and space, aligned with and in God’s love this week!
06/11/2017, 06:26 – Mäth Gerber’s security code changed. Tap for more info.
13/11/2017, 06:56 – warapunga: Not not needing the approval of others: Healthy Pride!
A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep. Vernon Howard
Good Monday Morning to this week 46/2017
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.
Sometimes I am a bit surprised by what people write on social media. This one called my attention this week. “Pride is the root of all evil and kills from within”, with many following the clip and commenting: Yes, pride the silent killer, true, sure, absolutely, humility is best and many more simply stating all pride was bad.
Yes, there is the form of pride being labelled by the Bible as one of the 7 deadly sins. So, might there be a “bad pride”, but a “good pride”, absent all the former’s negative connotations? Additionally, might pride exist along a continuum? as in, pride is positive up to a certain level, but beyond that it’s malignant? Or might bad pride—let’s call it “unhealthy pride not be an excess of “healthy pride” but a different facet of personality altogether? There is the self-centred and boastful, that makes us take credit for everything we are and everything we do. Instead of realising that we are dependent on God and the family, in our unhealthy pride we ignore God and the family and believe we can get along without them!
Yet, there is much reason for the “healthy pride”. For example, “A pride of Lions”, a family of lions. They learn to lead and to trust the pride, seeking guidance and wisdom from the family, friends, and teachers who surround them on the journey.
At about three years of age, young lions are no longer tolerated by their family, the pride. This driving out of young male lion is vital to the survival of the pride. First, they go to nomadic life, usually consisting of a period of scavenging and wandering over a large area until the young lion is ready to join another pride, it means conquering. After being kicked out, young male lions either roam alone or in small bands often with their brothers or cousins. At such age, their only option is to survive the unknown lands or perish. In fact, this is the time when most of them die; only about one in eight male lions make it to adulthood. Those who do survive and find a new territory have to take over another pride. So, when a male lion goes through all such troubles and finally makes it, he ends up by being a fit, strong, intelligent, and skilled leader. Only then is he ready and capable of having his own pride and protect it. Only then can he assume the role of the King of the Savannah. This is how lions grow through life and become the majestic creatures they are.
Healthy pride is about self-confidence, reflecting an intrinsically motivating “can do” attitude.
Healthy pride represents a positive notion of self-worth, and it’s based on a history where personal effort and expenditure of energy led to success.
Healthy pride is expressed in an assertive fashion, and it’s most often conveyed implicitly. It’s a quiet, self-assured affirmation of one’s capabilities.
Healthy pride has nothing to do with comparing oneself advantageously (and frequently unfairly) to others, whereas a person with unhealthy pride regularly brags about their (often exaggerated) accomplishments.
Healthy pride is authentic. It’s an accurate, realistic estimate of one’s abilities, that isn’t a “hubristic” pride that makes distorted claims about one’s capacities.
Healthy pride relates to a person’s acting pro-socially. Those with healthy pride motivate and inspire others to take their lead and join them.
Finally, healthy pride—unlike the unhealthy variety—isn’t egocentric. And that’s why those with such pride can take pride not just in their own accomplishments but in those of others as well. They can be proud of their children, their spouse, parents, friends, students—anyone whom they identify as showing the ability to advance themselves, or others, by putting forth their best effort.
Wishing you a “generous portion” of healthy pride this week!
Monday morning reflection to the difficult concept and word: Pride.
Thanks for all the feedback – yes the word “pride” really should be replaced. I hear and read following suggestions as: confidence, dignity, self-confidence, resoluteness, purposiveness, decisiveness, determination, single-mindedness, boldness, dedication, obstinacy, fulfillment, amour-propre, self-assurance, self esteem, poise, balance.
wishing a purposeful day!
Prodigy is, at its essence, adaptability and persistent, positive obsession!
Good Monday Morning to this week 47/2017
Recently I was looking through some texts and this quote popped up on my screensaver: “Obsessed is a word that the lazy use to describe the dedicated.” I quote two verses about positive obsession out of the “Book of the Living” by Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006)
Prodigy (an outstanding example of a particular quality)
is, at its essence, adaptability and persistent, positive obsession. Without persistence, what remains is an enthusiasm of the moment. Without adaptability, what remains may be channelled into destructive fanaticism. Without positive obsession, there is nothing at all.
Dedicating all your attention and energy to a discipline is the only way to achieve mastery over it, and this sort of single minded determination towards an object of interest isn’t bad at all and in fact is desirable. The real difference is whether you’re drawn forward by what you love or driven by what you fear. Yes, obsession can be an intruder, taking up residence in your mental or psychic space with or without your saying yes it.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether your obsession represents a road you know you need to travel to become who and what you are or if it represents a dead end that’s keeping you from becoming who and what you are. The first is joyful and the second is joyless. The sense of joy, being in alignment to your calling to what God has called you to do is your best barometer for determining if your obsession is moving you forward or holding you back.
In more biblical terms we could call it to diligently persevere rather than positive obsession.
“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless”. Peter was fond of this word “diligent.” He used the noun in 1:5 where he said, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith with moral excellence”. “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.” To be diligent implies giving our attention to something. It implies making every effort or exerting ourselves toward a goal. It doesn’t happen accidentally. It requires deliberate focus. The aim therefore of our diligent effort is, “to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, maintaining the holy or godly behaviour that is needed to have a clear conscience. John Calvin describes this peace after persistence in his commentary as “a quiet state of conscience, founded on hope and patient waiting, the quietness of a peaceable soul, which acquiesces in the word of God.” The second verse of Octavia E. Butler drives this point home:
God is change, and in the end, God prevails. But meanwhile… kindness eases change. love quiets fear. and a sweet and powerful positive obsession blunts pain, diverts rage, and engages each of us in the greatest, the most intense of our chosen struggles. Wishing you this positive obsession to tackle the challenges of this day and this week!
The little pot with the missing piece!
Good Monday Morning to this week 48/2017
Twice in the past two days I’ve been served coffee with a nice cup and out of a nice little pot. The presentation was wonderful, the cup, the saucer and the pot with the coffee, lasting for two cups and two sugars going along with the pot. I greatly enjoyed the coffee, but both times, one tiny little detail came to my attention. As I served the coffee, slowly and carefully, the coffee flowed out rather unevenly into the cup. With a short inspection of the both pots, I saw that there was a little chip cracked of on the end of the pots, exactly there where it was most needed. Yes, I have written about the cracked pot and its purpose, especially along with the nice traditional story of the Indian village. This time the pot only has a chip off, on first notice it wasn’t even visible. Only upon pouring, the missing part of porcelain became evident.
Romans 11:16 and 24: You will say then, branches were broken off that they might be grafted in. For if you were not cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches be grafted into their own Olive tree?
At the current place I am staying, all staff are under the age of 25. They are chosen, by not having cracks or any chips off, or having the assumption that they don’t have cracks or “chips off”!! I find it a very questionable practice and wonder what they will do when they reach the age of 35 or 47!! They probably chose their staff looking at the outside, with most cracks and chips being hidden or covered up. We all know that all to soon some of these cracks or chips will show or appear. Isn’t it exactly these characteristics that make the difference. In pouring the coffee, I was far more careful with the pot, I was made aware that though it first showed perfection it was very fragile. In the pouring I then made every attempt not to spill the coffee and went through the process far more slowly and carefully.
We all have our cracks and chips, even more, as Romans 11 points out, we have been broken off, that we might be grafted in to the “cultivated” olive tree. As the root is holy, the lump will be holy, the branches will be holy, leading to wonderful fruit that also will be holy. There is no longer a distinction between the natural branches and the branches grafted into the tree. Both will bear healthy fruit.
I am glad they treat these pots well and keep them in service, though they have a chip broken off. I hope that change will come to many managers and leaders that have started to treat people in the same way!
Wishing you this consciousness, that having been being broken off and grafted in to the cultivated Olive tree is of the best thinga that could have happened to you! The chip off could be seen as a scar, a wonderful and blessed reminder of His grace, having taken you from the wild tree and grafted you into the tree becoming a partner of the root of all life!
Don’t mind your “chip” it is and will be a blessing to many!
Thoughts brewed on the rooftops of Lomé
Good Monday Morning to this week 49/2017
The Psalm 139 has accompanied me daily this week, I pray it in the morning, I pray it in the evening on the rooftop as I would reflect the day and watch the busy life of Lomé settle to a few hours of pause. Hold on .. just need to go there as soon as I have some words settled down here!! African spirituality is as if they knew this Psalm long before it was written. It recognizes the presence of God even in the most basic events and experiences of everyday life. God is a God who sees all, is present in all, and acts in all circumstances of life. When we eat in Lomé, we believe that we eat with God; we offer part of what we eat as an offering to God. At this moment, eating becomes a religious experience. Whatever we do, be it work, success, human achievement, or even death, we always believe that God is part of it. God is not introduced into this ordinary or extraordinary experience as a stranger. God makes it possible; we encounter God in it. Thus, living is an experience of discovery; we discover God! I just hear again Psalm 139: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me, You are acquainted with all my ways. This implies that there is no aspect of the life that is unknown or alien to the divine. What can be challenging here is, not to allow what we believe about sacredness of life to be distorted by what the circumstances of life in Africa can be, such as war or danger or sickness or violence. You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me on the ancient everlasting way.
An African proverb says, a good pot of okra sauce cannot be confined to the cooking pot with a lid. It must bubble up and overflow. Yes, looks like David who knew the concept of Grace like no other, also knew how to express how dependant he was of God. Psalm 139 is an overflowing of heart to knowing that God is at the centre of all!
I wish you a great and blessed week, with your pot of okra sauce overflowing!
Quotes from Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator. Theology Brewed in an African Pot + NIV, Psalm 139
Overwhelmed at His almighty grace
Good Monday Morning to this week 50/2017
Enjoying the song of a choir at the La Vigne church of Adidogome Lomé Togo, or the series of Christmas concerts with my son, with many hymns and pieces included, I came across Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf (26 May 1700 – 9 May 1760) a German religious and social reformer, bishop of the Moravian Church, founder of the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine, Christian mission pioneer and a major figure of 18th century Protestantism.
There dwells he Lord our King, the Lord our Righteousness
Triumphant over the world and sin, the Prince of peace
On Sion’s sacred height, his Kingdom still maintains,
And glorious, with This saints’ light, for ever reigns. Zinzendorf 1700-60
Zinzendorf, realised music was far more effective than preaching for communicating the Gospel in a memorable way. Most of us have experienced an “ear-worm” – a catchy tune we can’t seem to get out of our heads. Moravians turned to music in an attempt to plant the teaching of Christ just as firmly in the minds and hearts of believers. In the 18th century, Moravian pastors, missionaries, and lay persons composed a flood of songs and new lyrics for existing melodies. Hymns such as “Jesus Still Lead On”. The hymnal is a kind of response to the Bible, wrote Zinzendorf, an echo and extension thereof. In the Bible, one perceives how the Lord communicates with people, and in the hymnal how people communicate with the Lord.” In Zinzendorf’s time, it meant expressing the faith experience of living Moravians in the then contemporary 18th century musical style. Moravians wrote hymns for every conceivable occasion.
Continued study and prayer in small groups known as “banden” resulted in a sense of reconciliation in the community, leading to a powerful spiritual renewal on August 13, 1727 during a special communion service at the Berthelsdorf Church. This experience, referred to as the “Moravian Pentecost,” marked the beginning of a new era of spiritual growth in Herrnhut. Exactly what happened that Wednesday fore-noon, August 13th, 1727 in the specially called Communion service, none of the participants could fully describe. They left the house of God that noon “hardly knowing whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to Heaven or more even “a sense of the nearness of Christ” bestowed, in a single moment, upon all the members that were present. Isn’t that exactly what can happen during our modern worship time or singing hymns in churches and concerts? We sense a nearness of God as if present with us!
So, we sing on this day, during this week of the second advent, as again we prepare for the coming and presence of the Messiah to bring Hope to this world.
We meet with one accord, in our appointed place,
And wait the promise of our Lord, the Spirit of all grace.
The young, the old inspire, with wisdom from above
And give us hearts and tongues of fire,
To pray, and praise, and love.
He will lead us with His strength, he will be highly honoured and He will be the source of our peace! (Michah 5:2 4-5)
Wishing you a wonderful week!
If God were only love?
“A god who is all love, all grace, all mercy, no sovereignty, no justice, no holiness, and no wrath is an idol.” R. C. Sproul (1939–2017)
Good Monday Morning to this week 51/2017
If we were to describe God, we would come up with quite a few words. God is love, eternal, mercy, justice, compassion, friend, goodness, wisdom, light and fire. If we were to look for one word that would describe God, that would sum it all up who God is, what would that word be? Most probably it would be God is love. So, if we worship a God that is all love, only love, then would all justice, all mercy, all sovereignty, all wisdom, all light and fire find it’s expression in this one word love? Quite quickly following that assumption the question does arise that if God is all and only love, then why the Christmas story?
In the dark of a run-down block of council flats. Mary, just 15 years old sits alone in her small damp room. On the night of the birth, in the same building, the same brilliant light fill another room in the same building. This time, an angel appears, not appearing to Mary, but appearing to the prostitute who lives there. In this place, they are the lowest, the most despised, their lives have fallen apart. Confronted with the glory of the Angels they fall face down, sure their time has come, that this is the end. The Angels, rather than destroying them, tell them, in this very building the hope of the world has just been born. Over the next few years, Mary and Joseph struggle to make ends meet, however they manage, if only just. Shortly after this, Mary and Joseph are forced to flee having no oher option. Their lives are in danger along with the life of Jesus. They have heard stories of what has happened to people in their position. They move far away. A day doesn’t go past when Mary doesn’t think about all that happened, and wonders if she really did see that Angel.
So, this Jesus, if his Father is only love, why would he chose such a narrative? Instead of reaching down into this dark world and saving Him and us all from it all, why did He chose the other way, to send his Son, to come down into the dark world to save Him and us for exactly this world, appointing us to be his workmanship to bring healing and hope. God in Jesus brings a new social order, unity, holiness, and rearranges the order of the time. If Jesus was a singer would he have come to turn our song into a new song, no, He chose the other way, to be a composer and teach us the music of the new order.
If God were only love it would be as if he were flying a plane on autopilot. When all is well the weather is clear, no storms around, no interaction need to lead the plane to a better course, no take offs, no landings, yes then this works. But God had so much more in mind, the narrative being huge, for Jesus to lay in a manger while remaining in heaven at the same time to became King. He comes to us remaining all He is, rearranging social order, family, establishing servant rulership and choosing the church to be His expression of unity and holiness.
In Isaiah 6:3 we read; Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.” Holy, is to be consecrated, belonging to God, being conformed to the narrative of God, being set apart. The word holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is holy love, his justice is holy justice, his mercy is holy mercy, his knowledge is holy knowledge, his spirit is Holy Spirit. In His holiness, God made a provision for our sins, through Jesus made it possible for us to partake of His holiness. When we acknowledge our separation, are re-born, see our sins forgiven, our unholiness cleansed , we become children of God. We are chosen, saved, hearts quickened, minds enlightened, made alive to the new order, born into the new family that God made possible through this most Holy interaction with us through the birth of Jesus at Christmas.
He is a Holy God, within whom is all love, all grace, all mercy, all sovereignty and all justice!
Beauty for brokenness
Happy Christmas or “Christ mass” this Monday Morning to this last week 52 of 2017
A common theme of Christmas is that of a King incarnating and making his dwelling amongst us! Jesus was no typical king. Jesus didn’t come to be served. His humility was on full display from the beginning to the end. His incarnation displays the greatness of God. Our God is the eternal God who was born in a stable, not a distant, withdrawn God; our God is a humble, giving God, not a selfish, grabbing God our God is a purposeful in all he does!
Graham Kendrick summed up many of the dearest values of Jesus
in the following song!
Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in your suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!
Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can’t speak
God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame
Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain
Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Make us content with
The things that we need
Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise
Graham Kendrick© 1993
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas day in a haven of rest, peace and light!
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!