Blog 2018

Good Monday morning to this New Year 01/2018

I wish you a wonderful and blessed start to this New Years Day!
There is a great promise at the end of the N.T.
“I will give to him that is thirsty, of the fountain of the water of life, freely.”
but first it says many chapters earlier:“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”! 

Another quote says:

“After digging a thousand wells of my own and stumbling upon a thousand others dug by the hands of thirsty men, I have yet to realise that the only well that can saturate every thirst is the one that men will never dig.”
C. D. Lounsbrough

May God bless you and keep you this year. May His face shine on you and be gracious to you, wherever you go and wherever you stay! May His face turn towards you, again and again,  and may He give you His fountain of water of life for 2018 as His peace abides with you!

I look forward to seeing you many Mondays of this year ahead!

Philemon

Listening is the practice that marks the church, the hallmark of Christian hospitality. Matt Croasmun

Good Monday Morning to this week 02/2018

Faith comes from hearing. The message of faith can be learnt through hearing.
Hearing is an activity of faith. So, then faith comes from a message/report that which is received by the hearer of the Gospel. Romans 10:17

Quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger …as written in James 1.19

“Yes, we are too often in a culture that knows how to speak but often does not know how to listen. Too often we hear warring monologues are that are mistaken for genuine dialogue “ Paradoxically in western thought, we have lost the capacity for attentive listening. In fact, the more rigorous the knowledge claims are, the more ‘greedily’ they demand to be listened to. And the need becomes so impelling that even double-edged means are adopted by the adherents in order to ensure that central claims be heard and accepted. As we are not sufficiently conversant with the attitude of openness, acceptance is once again confused with indoctrination and standards of success and popularity are taken to be the conditions best suited to guarantee knowledge claims.” Gemma C. Fiumara

Researchers estimate that we spend 45% of our waking hours listening.  And while it may sound easy – to just listen – it is actually a hard task and valued skill. For many of us, the opposite of talking isn’t listening.  It’s waiting.  When others speak, we typically divide our attention between what they’re saying now and what we’re going to say next – and end up doing a mediocre job at both.

Others observe that, listening is not the same as hearing.  Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that:  it requires focus.  Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told…”

We know many of the things that prevent us from truly listening:  worry, anger, bias, prejudice, fear.

Listening without some degree of intimacy isn’t really listening.  It’s passive and transactional rather than active and engaged.  Genuine listening is a bit like driving on a rain-slicked highway. If you want to get to your destination, you’re better off decelerating and occasionally hitting the brake.”

Bonhoeffer gives us something to avoid: “a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say.” This, he says, “is an impatient, inattentive listening, that . . . is only waiting for a chance to speak.”

Positively, then, good listening requires concentration and means we’re in with both ears, and that we hear the other person out till they’re done speaking. Rarely will the speaker begin with what’s most important, and deepest. We need to hear the whole train of thought, all the way to the caboose, before starting across the tracks.

Good listening goes hand in hand with the mindset of a follower of Jesus. It flows out of a humble heart hat counts others more significant then ourselves, looks not only to its own interest but that of others, and furthermore is patient and kind. Good listening asks perceptive, open-ended questions. Good listening is a service, Bonhoeffer says many times “listening can be a greater service than speaking. Good listening prepares us to speak well. If we listen with the ears of the creator, we may then speak with the words of the creator. Good listening reflects our relationship with God. As we seek the radical balance, why not in listening?
Sharon Todd writes, “to listen to the voices of the marginalised and the wounded is giving space and time to those groups to articulate their own experiences, struggles, dilemmas and needs.”    As we to truly seek to build communities of trust and inclusion – listening is one of the most meaningful ways we can start.

A spiritual and practical promise waiting for us as we listen and will also be heard:
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Jeremiah 33.3

Wishing you a blessed week of listening,  and newly finding yourself being heard as you call, because He and others are listening!

Philemon

The Ass, the Fool and The Stubborn Mule!

Good Monday Morning to this week 03/2018

This week I heard someone calling me stubborn. I held my breath, about to answer with an exclamation; oh no! – I am not stubborn, I am so very flexible, compliant, obedient, yielding, tractable, agreeable, soft, willing, non-resistant, responsive, easy-going, dutiful, bending, compassionate, compromising, accessible, apologetic, conforming, conciliatory, relenting, tolerating and giving! But no, my answer was the opposite, you’re right – I am stubborn, maybe even ….  as stubborn as a donkey. 

As the thought passed my mind, I wondered, isn’t it actually good to be stubborn at times? Or what good could come out being stubborn? Stubborn as adjective; obstinately unmoving, unreasonably obstinate, fixed or set in purpose or opinion; resolute, obstinately maintained, as a course of action, difficult to manage or suppress: hard, tough, or stiff, as stone or wood; difficult to shape or work.

So what is all this talk of the English Idiom of being stubborn as a mule?
I quote Adetola Phillips commenting to Chapters 22 and 23 of Numbers and a very interesting story of the Bible.

This ‘story’ about Balaam is one of the most fascinating ones in the bible. A ‘diviner’ hired by a pagan king to curse God’s people because he was afraid of them! The king had heard of all the exploits and battles won by the Israelites as they journeyed towards his ‘kingdom’. Was he next in line? Did he have a chance? These must have been thoughts reverberating in his head. He must also have heard that there was a mighty ‘God’ with the Israelites. The chap and his people were ‘sick with fear`. He felt he had to do something but he knew he couldn’t just go out and fight these people. Surely he and his army would be destroyed. However, the problem, it seemed was really that the Moabites didn’t want the Israelites settling near them, they may even have been aware that the Israelites were not supposed to war against them.

Anyhow, Balak the king thought he had a fantastic plan to stop the Israelites from settling next to them and eating them out of house and home! He would attack them, defeat them and drive them out. But could he just go and attack knowing the power behind them? He needed to reverse the blessing i.e. put a curse on them. Once cursed, victory would surely be his. Or so he thought!
Enter Balaam, a man said to be a diviner. A man who seemed to be a top specialist…well known in his profession! Important  men from Balak brought  the important message to come quickly and curse the people of God with enough cash offered to ensure he wouldn’t refuse. And Balaam was tempted.  But he had to make things look right. Knowing what these princes were after, he invited them in telling them that he was going to ask God. Did he actually? We don’t know for sure, but we know God came to Balaam Himself, and was very specific in His instructions. Balaam could not go, and he could certainly not curse the Israelites, because they were blessed. The sneaky man went back to the princes and simply said that God had refused to let him go (and conveniently left out the important fact that he was not allowed to curse them). He was probably protecting his reputation.
One of the things that struck me here was the incredible nature of God – unfathomable. God knew Balaam’s intentions. Was he really trying to obey God, or was he trying to negotiate with God (or to manipulate Him). Yet in spite of his thoughts (that God would somehow change his mind and tell him what he wanted to hear – which other way could God have said ‘don’t go, you cannot curse’?) and actions, God was very patient with him. In the end, God said, okay go, but only do as you are told. This shows that sometimes, God allows His permissive will even though He had expressly said no. God had something else up His sleeve. Balaam needed to learn a thing or two.

It always makes me laugh reading about how a man argues with his donkey – and loses! And in spite of his probably successful career as a prophet (or seer), the donkey was a better prophet. He saw the angel, when the ‘prophet’ couldn’t. The donkey was also wiser – in response to the beatings he received from his master, he had to say, ‘Man, I have served you for a very long time, and never behaved like this. Can you not tell/see that there must be a good reason for my strange behaviour today? ` God then opens Balaam’s eyes and he saw and understood that the donkey had actually been saving his life while he in fact was the ass.

The entire story points to the sovereignty of God. He is indeed in control! His purposes and promises cannot be thwarted! And knowing that is totally assuring. His purposes, plans, and promises regarding us will come to pass. God has not lost control!

Wishing you a great week, and as you choose your role! Maybe as …  the ass, the fool or the stubborn mule, no worries, God is sovereign and is in control!

Philemon

God a rational, responsive, dependable being, the earth his personal creation, having a rational, lawful, stable structure, awaiting human comprehension. R. Stark

Good Monday Morning to this week 03/2018

Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World, is the title to the upcoming World Economic Forum Annual Meeting this 23rd to 26th January in Davos, Switzerland.

As introduction to the Forum they write: “The global context has changed dramatically: geostrategic fissures have re-emerged on multiple fronts with wide-ranging political, economic and social consequences. Realpolitik is no longer just a relic of the Cold War. Economic prosperity and social cohesion are not one and the same. The global commons cannot protect or heal itself. Politically, new and divisive narratives are transforming governance. Economically, policies are being formulated to preserve the benefits of global integration while limiting shared obligations such as sustainable development, inclusive growth and managing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Socially, citizens yearn for responsive leadership; yet, a collective purpose remains elusive despite ever-expanding social networks. All the while, the social contract between states and their citizens continues to erode.”

What leadership principles apply for this fractured World? They want to compare “Complicated systems” with “Complex Systems”. The first being composed of many different interacting parts whose behaviour follows a precise logic and repeats itself in a patterned way. In contrast, complex systems “are dominated by dynamics that are often beyond our control.” What is common to both is that every system has a rationale and a purpose. In a complex system, the variables involved never work in exactly the same way each and every time.

Some of the characteristics of a complex system require and include: 
Adaptability, Emergence, Non-linearity, Transitions and Self-organization.
A requirement for a complex, fractured world is to combine the knowledge of complex systems with the practice of system leadership.

To handle these complex systems, it is suggested that an Interactive System Leadership be used.

This leadership type mobilizes, supports, aligns and coordinates the efforts of individual and institutions across the system to accelerate the interactive progress.
In the book, The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark examines the rise of Christianity, from a small movement in Galilee and Judea at the time of Jesus to the majority religion of the Roman Empire a few centuries later.
“Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”  Rodney Stark

As I start to dig deeper into these thoughts I am surprised and comforted to find how many concepts we know out of the life of Jesus. I would suggest he was one who truly understood the complex interactive system leadership approach. Where others fled he stayed, ministering and caring for the sick. I am also reminded of Luther who stayed to care for the sick while most others fled to urban areas during the plague.

Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God for this earth. The Lord’s Prayer speaks of God’s Kingdom coming on earth, even as it already exists in heaven. It is about the transformation of this world—what life would be like on earth if God were ruler and the lords of the domination systems were not.

One principle to conclude with as written by Paul, 64 AD, in Philippians 2: 3-4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
This sounds complex, needing high adaptability, causes emergence, is for sure non-linearity, results in transition and transformation!

This approach is still out of the box, revolutionary and just as to the time of Jesus an approach worth following!

Wishing you a great week!

Philemon

Il faut avoir l’humilité d’écouter la voix des autres.

Good Monday Morning to this week 04/2018

We must have the humility to listen to the voices of others and rather than to compare the timbre and the melody with ours, we must hear it by what they say.

Il faut avoir l’humilité d’écouter la voix des autres et plutôt que d’en comparer le timbre et la mélodie avec la nôtre, il faut l’entendre par ce qu’elle dit.”

This week I looked into some of the findings of Arlie Hochschild, an American sociologist and academic. She has long focused on the human emotions which underlie moral beliefs, practices, and social life generally. She introduced the concept of an “Empathy Bridge” in a speech I heard.  It’s building a bridge to the pain of others when we practice mindfulness, one of the qualities that we are developing is empathy. As we open to the full range of experiences within ourselves, we become aware of what we perceive in each moment, no longer denying some feelings while clinging to others.

One example was made to the question of  tolerance.
Being tolerant of someone’s intolerance is to meet them on the empathy bridge.

Remember the story in Luke when one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and a woman with a sinful life came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of perfume, then wiping his feet and weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. With her hair, she wiped and kissed his feet and poured perfume on them.
Jesus response was so much like a – a spiritual, holistic, empathy bridge.

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”“Tell me, teacher,” he said: Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

There are so many more passages throughout scripture:

– Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
– Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
– So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.
– Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
– If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.

Arlie Hochschild then gave practical examples on how to do that. For example, how do you address other people’s grievances? It’s when we turn our internal alarms off, set ourselves aside and make use and address our ability and capacity to empathise.

This process will start from the inside, then we look for  “guides” into these fields of “the other side”. When we are no longer anxious, humiliated and fearful we are able to walk that journey onto that empathy bridge. Spiritually it’s a walk  we do as well. There is so much that we keep to,  are in our own “bubble” or as Paul would say, our old nature, then we leave our fear behind and walk out,  to already seeing a hand stretched far out, ready to meet us, our teacher Jesus has already crossed most the bridge to meet and guide us.

In my work with many cultures and people of many social classes I’ve learnt to move to the world of others and meet them there. But to meet people on a bridge, be it the empathy bridge of faith, has been an eye opener for me this week. It takes a rather difficult and long process to leave that place of being in one bubble or being intolerant, then to journey to the bridge. On the bridge the  encounter follows where we leave what is just “mine” to accepting the offer of the other, in  letting the encounter and the next part of the journey become ours, rather then just “mine”.  The “bridge of grace” leads us to a walk and journey of faith along with our teacher and along with those that meet us or that we reach out to to meet us on that bridge.

I wish you many encounters on the “bridges” you need to walk towards this week.

Philemon

HONEY!

Good Monday Morning to this week 06/2018

Yesterday I received a wonderful gift of a jar of honey. The honey is from a homestead beehive of a friend producing wonderful honey right out of the home garden.

this leads me to the following reminds me of the story of Jonathan:
Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food. The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out, yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.” (1 Samuel 14:24-27)
Yes …  his eyes were enlightened, which before were dim and dull through want of food, which is a common case; but became brisk and lively on eating the honey, nourishment being presently communicated, and he refreshed with it, and his spirits revived; and which quickly appeared in the briskness and sparkling of his eyes. Honey being of a subtle nature, gives immediate refreshment and rigour; hence this phrase is frequently used by Jewish writers  for refreshment, after hunger, fatigue, and weariness; and which virtue is ascribed by them to fine bread, wine, oil, and particularly to honey.

In Old Testament times, as at present, honey was rare enough to be considered a luxury. Honey was used in baking sweets. It was forbidden to be offered with the meal offering perhaps because it was fermentable, but was presented with the fruit offering. Honey was offered to David’s army. It was sometimes stored in the fields. It was also exchanged as merchandise.

Figurative: “A land flowing with milk and honey” suggested a land filled with abundance of good things. “A land of olive trees and honey” had the same meaning, and similarly “streams of honey and butter”. Honey was a standard of sweetness. It typified sumptuous fare. The ordinances of Yahweh were “sweeter than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb. Thou didst eat. honey” expressed Yahweh’s goodness to Jerusalem.

In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year.

Of course, there is so much more to honey, be it in food, in traditions, in poems and in quotes:

1. Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.
Robert Green Ingersoll

2. If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.
Dale Carnegie

3. I’m proposing a change: love thy worker-bee. Celebrate the ones who toil without complaint, play on a team, construct the hive, produce the honey… executing the plan!

4. I dreamt, marvellous error! — that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.”  Antonio Machado

5. Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?”  Rupert Brooke

6. The fun part is finding which thoughts, in that crazy beehive of emotion, are the ones that mass produce the honey.
Curtis Tyrone Jones

7. I don’t feel very much like Pooh today, said Pooh. There, there, said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” Winnie-the-Pooh

So, yes – at times life is hard, there is so much going on around and in us, there is  much to handle and yet we have some very good advice here to appreciate, to donate or to receive some honey to revive us!

This week has much in store for you, so when the going gets rough, share or receive and taste a little bit of honey!

Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.! Proverbs 16:24

Be this week not only sunny nor funny, take just a little bit, be it to share or to receive a nice wonderful portion of honey!

Philemon

Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument. D. Tutu

Good Monday Morning to this week 07/2018

As you probably all have realised, I can’t get enough of good quotes, wise quotes, meaningful quotes and funny quotes!

Listed are a few, to start us out into this new week:

Set your mind and heart on seeking God. The Bible

More people fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent. B. Sunday

Hope is a walking dream! Augustine

Never rush the cooking of a great idea. J. Funt

Whatever you ask in prayer, believe it! The Bible

The addled mind cannot produce breakthrough ideas. J. Funt

Kila ndege huruka kwa bawa lake.  Swahili
Every bird flies with its own wings.

The difference between a pebble and a mountain
lies in whom you ask to move it. M. Buckingham

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.
E. Hubbard

A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”
T. Cahill

Replace how with wow! (encouraging ideas!) A. Stanley

Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.
L. Bunuel

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
D. Tutu

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!

Goals are only wishes, unless you have a plan. M Gates

Good things happen when you meet strangers. Yo-Yo Ma

If everyone is thinking alike, then … no one is thinking. B. Frankin

Là où le coeur est, les pieds n’hésitent pas à y aller. Togloese

We could not seek God, unless he were seeking us. T. Merton

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
S. Maraboli

Live by design not default! Be Intentional, keep dreaming,
don’t settle for average! warapunga

If you are on a road to nowhere, find another road. Ashanti

Just when you think you know how “doing life” works, the rules change!
warapunga

The boundaries of your talents are expanded by the level of passion and love you embrace them with! warapunga

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.
A. Russel

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out! Dr. Seuss

Fragile flames of faith, simply fanned into life; embrace the silence that engulfs us for a moment, invite that flame to burn bright in us. warapunga

There’s a very fine line between a groove and a rut,
some are neither groove or rut.

We build too many walls and not enough bridges. Isaac Newton

What we speak becomes the house we live in. Hāfez

Both the hunted and the hunter rely on God. Kurdish

The fewer the words, the better the prayer. Luther

A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside. Winnie the Pooh

Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.
H. Thompson

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us. S. Smiles

Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind. So – loosen up! B. Lee

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. Indian

Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.!
Beatitudes, paraphrased

Wishing you a great week!
Philemon

Justice is as much a necessity as breathing.

Good Monday Morning to this week 08/2018
(927 words – 5min reading today)

They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.

In preparation for Sunday in a week I’ve been reading through Isaiah. Two of the tribes of Israel, Judah and Israel wonder about their fate in the face of great political threat. The ten other tribes were conquered by the Assyrians. Now the kingdom of Babylon was gaining power and would replace Assyria as the dominant threat. In view of the fast-changing international scene, the people of Israel are concerned about their lot in life—what would become of the promises of God? (Doesn’t it seem familiar to times we are now) 

The book of Isaiah opens by setting out the themes of judgment and subsequent restoration for the righteous. God has a plan which will be realised.
Jerusalem has already been destroyed, and the Babylonian exile is already in effect and they speak from a present in which the Exile is about to end. Later on the people are already returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. During this time, much is written about Israel to keep the covenant. God’s eternal promise to David is now made to the people of Israel/Judah at large. The book ends by enjoining righteousness as the final stages of God’s plan come to pass. 

A central theme of all the authors is:  Yahweh is exalted in Justice. This is imbedded a the mosaic of pre-exilic to serve the post exilic purposes. To do justice and righteousness, maintaining social justice so that equity and freedom prevail.

Thomas Leclerc points out the centrality of social justice in this his book Yahweh Is Exalted in Justice! Here a a few highlights:
Justness of God goes in three approaches. Justice, the social, the moral (relational) and the legal aspects.

Acts of liberation and benevolence, kindness and mercy, correct unjust legal acts that result in exploitation.

The social understanding of justice is confirmed and described; seek justice, sett aright oppression, do justice for the orphan, argue the case of the widow.
Yahweh the compassionate saviour, the protector of his people demands justice to be expressed in the lives and structures of society. 

Justice is not exclusively a private or a public matter. 

True worship finds expression in justice and recognizes its source in worship of God. 

Justice is more than between humans, it is an act involving God, a divine need. It’s validity is not only universal, but also eternal, independent of will and experience. 

Justice is as much a necessity as breathing – a constant occupation. 

Failures of Justice of are not just bad, they are sins against Yahweh. 

Neglecting the needs of the poor is more than selfishness, it’s abandoning God and turning to idolatry. 

There is a path of justice that is entrusted to his servants.
Release of prisoners, care for the needy, restoration of refugees, release from prison and darkness is an extension of the metaphor that the servant, as an ambassador of Yahweh’s sovereignty, is a light to those confined in the darkness. 

There is a focus on covenant theology, repeating the command, keep justice and do righteousness, characteristics of Yahweh’s heavenly rule and mandate.
Doing justice is a concretisation of salvation, yet what is unexpected is the turn to activism, to keep the Sabbath, to minister to Yahweh, love his name and become his servants. 

Keeping the covenant, to observe justice and do righteousness, is then taken further by Jesus from a ritual to a matter of the heart. 

The religious observance of fasting, separated from social justice is not what God desires. 

When the “justice of God” is articulated in social acts of compassion, cultic acts become productive and the ways of God become manifest!

In Isaiah, the actions of righting injustice, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, less, and clothing the naked are evidence of conversion, which will move God to act on Israel’s behalf: “Then you will call and Yahweh will answer, you will call for help and he will say, `Here I am”‘! 

Isaiah also has a rare and exceptional instance in which Yahweh declares his love for something other than his people. Yahweh loves justice!
The justice that YHWH loves is one that is to be manifest both in ethical relationships in society and in structures that support the life of the community-hence his desire to restore the ruins, repair the cities, appoint foreigners as domestic help, and provide for the needs of his people.
Social justice in Isaiah is explicitly tied to the observance of the covenant with implications for more than merely political stability, social harmony, and economic parity: justice is the precondition for God’s coming deliverance and salvation.
First Isaiah deals with justice in social aspects, continuing with God’s divine sovereignty, finally in enjoining the doing of justice as obligation of the covenant, emphasising that it can only be fully realised with divine intervention.  

Acts of social justice have the same effects as hymns of sacrifices of praise. 

Yahweh waits to be gracious to you; and therefore, he is lifted up to be compassionate to you; for a God of justice is Yahweh. Blessed are all who wait for him.
Justice is not merely a divine quality but a divine manifestation. Divine justice is revealed when human justice actuates compassion and graciousness.

Yahweh is exalted in justice!

His promise is: Then you will call and Yahweh will answer, you will call for help and he will say, `Here I am”‘!

Philemon

Ripped or destroyed?

Good Monday Morning to this week 09/2018

Walking down the street on a very cold winter morning recently I wondered; “Why do the ripped and distressed jeans cost so much more? Or even deeper, is this a flirt with poverty? One answer I got was; Well, it’s because once you enter the realm of ripped designer denim, each pair is individually stressed!

Individually stressed?

The next thing I read was a guide on wikihow:

How to distress your jeans at home!

Think of ripped holes and shredded seams as battle scars of a pair well-worn—the more the better approach.  Really, are you kidding me?  And what’s even better than that? When they’re unique to you. If patience isn’t your thing, nor is the idea of mass-manufactured, machine-made holes, we put together an easy step-by-step guide on how to distress your jeans at home. Great!
So, this is what you will be needing. A pair of jeans to distress, chalk, tweezers, box cutter and a safety pin. From my mum I remember that iff you add some thread,  you would use the same tools to repair the jeans as you would need to destroy them! Interesting!
Well, this whole thing of tearing clothing is also very common biblical and cultural concept of old times:

In Genesis: Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city. Cool, they rode donkey’s in torn clothes!

In Ezra: When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled.

In Samuel: As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore.

There was also a lot of the opposite:

Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.

God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. (Quite a radical this John! )

Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple. Wow, quite a show!

Back to the clothes, ripped and distressed:

Matthew: And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin!

Nehemiah: Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.

So, what am I now getting from this “carefully contextualized” analyses of ripped and distressed clothes?

It’s all about the groove and not the clothes!

With big holes, street style, distressed, ripped, knee ripped, oversized, offbeat, big hole ripped … that’s all a matter of style.

But in what groove (mood) do you wear these Jeans?
You can choose the apathetic, callous, choleric, earnest or critical.

How about the joyous, beaming, content, pleased, cheerful, devoted, loved, inspiring, encouraging, motivational, calm, relaxed, trustful, eager, energetic.

The more distressed the clothing, you can say – at least I have a great pair of Jeans and am therefore, thankful, relieved, festive, blessed and greatly delighted!

Wishing you a great week!

Philemon

Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.

Good Monday Morning to this week 10/2018

John 9.6-7
Jesus spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam. He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” If love is blind, then maybe a blind person that loves has a greater understanding of it.

Discovery consists in seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

The fascination with letting images repeat and repeat manifests that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing or observing without seeing.

Worship is a way of seeing the world in the light of God.

Seeing is not always believing. M.L.King

Isn’t it surprising with we unveil that which was covered through habit and now things are revealed to us and we can truly see them as they are.

Seeing is so much more then not being blind.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. H. Keller

This is an interesting quote from Helen Keller a deaf and blind person about the difference between having sight, and having vision. Sight is a function of the eyes, and allows us to see. This is something a blind person doesn’t have, but the rest of us have. Vision, on the other hand, is in the mind or the mind’s eye. It is a proactive portion of our imagination, and helps us plan and think about our ideas.

Back to the story of the man in John 9. There is a widespread scholarly view that John’s gospel can be broken into four parts. The second part is the book of signs. Chapters 1:19 to 12.

The seven signs:

1. Water to wine
2. Healing at Capernaum
3. Healing of the paralytic at Bethesda
4. Feeding the 5000
5. Jesus walking on water
6. Healing of the blind man from birth
7. The raising of Lazarus

The seven signs are seen by some scholars as evidence of new creation theology in the Gospel of John, the resurrection of Jesus being the implied eighth sign. This indicates the 7th sign was the end of the first creation so the 8th now leads to the  New creation, the 8th day!

Take a walk to your usual surrounding of no more than 100 meters in any direction. Take a familiar route, a route you might travel every day. The task; collect a story, any story. Collecting a story will necessitate, you seeing the familiar differently. It will mean noticing what you tend not to notice. Seeing what you tend not to notice. You will be amazed at what you can see, collect and share.

Seeing is the 6th sign,  the gift of seeing as one of immense importance leading to the 8th day, on the road to this new day.

Wishing you a this walk on the road of the 8th day of the new creation coming with the “open eye now,  now seeing”.

Philemon

Friend of God

Good Monday Morning to this week 11/2018

This weekend I was privileged to meet Martin Smith, the author of the song “What a friend I’ve found”. I can’t remember  how many times I’ve played this song in worship sessions in the past. Hearing it, I immediately wrote to my band friends; It’s somehow a healing moment to hear this song being played here!

The second  time I was touched by this topic of friendship with God  was on Saturday morning, when Martin started sharing his journey in regards to friendship and intimacy with God, sparking a long string of thoughts, waking the desire and renewing the wish to keep singing the song and living this friendship, continually offered to me. Yes, it still amazes me that it is possible to be a friend of God, something so near, so special, so important, so intimate!

Verse 1
What a friend I’ve found, closer than a brother
I have felt Your touch, more intimate than lovers

Chorus
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus friend forever

James in the Bible said about Abraham:
The father of the faithful, a friend of God.

James 2:23  “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God.

Notice how James draws attention to the fact that Abraham was called the friend of God. The term “friend” is somewhat intimate and conveys a sense of closeness, trust, and sharing. The great, almighty, ever-present and all-powerful, all-knowing God was the one who made this statement. This was not Abraham’s assessment of his relationship with God, nor how he thought about God. It was a statement that God made about Abraham.

James was quoting from Isaiah 41.8
But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend.

Just consider for a moment how remarkable these words are, and what a remarkable relationship they describe! Consider that a limited, physical, mortal being would be thought of by the all-powerful, immortal, all-knowing, supreme God as His dearly beloved friend. Also consider that an imperfect man, made from the dust of the ground, would be viewed by the perfect Creator God composed of eternal spirit as one with whom He could have a warm, lasting and special friendship.

Yet the words my friend are exactly how God did consider Abraham, and his relationship with God was a true and deep friendship.

We too can experience that same kind of friendship with God which Abraham enjoyed. But to do this we need to first examine what it is that makes friendships what they are, in order to understand how we can, like Abraham, be called the friends of God.

One of the most obvious reasons, and the first point is that of agreement.

In the words of the old saying, birds of a feather flock together. So it was in the case of Abraham and his friendship with God.
He was in total agreement with God.

John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

A second aspect: Locality and dependability
Abraham was a true friend of God in this way – and the test God gave him concerning Isaac demonstrated both his loyalty to God’s commands and his dependability.

John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

A third aspect: The ability to be able to confide.
Friends confide in one another, and Christ considers us to be such good friends of his that he is able to confide in us and share all the plans, hopes and dreams he and the Father have for us and mankind. He says that all that he has heard of the Father, he has made known to us. Abraham was a man like that, so much so that God truly regarded him as a close confidant. We read of this marvellous closeness Abraham enjoyed with God through Christ who acted as God’s messenger. Christ and two angels had just met with Abraham to tell him how Sarah would bear Isaac. Abraham was open with God and talked freely with Him, as he did with Christ in the exchange that covers the next few verses.

The relationship Abraham enjoyed with God was a remarkable one by human standards – but tremendously encouraging for us. God is not a partial God. He is not a respecter of persons. God doesn’t involve Himself in cliques or narrow, exclusive groups of people that only a few can enter. Rather, He extends the hand of friendship to all of those in His family. If we follow the example of our spiritual forefather Abraham by being in agreement with God, displaying loyalty and dependability towards God, and freely confiding in Him in all matters, then we too will be called the friends of God.

I’ll conclude with a the second verse:

Verse 2
What a hope I’ve found
More faithful than a mother
It would break my heart
To ever lose each other

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus friend forever
Written by Martin Smith ©1996 Curious? Music UK

What a privilege to be a friend of God!

Philemon

Yahweh, sees, hears, eats and smells

Good Monday Morning to this week 12/2018

Yahweh can smell? What significance or of what importance  could that be?
Here some background:

They will put incense before your nose and whole burnt offerings on Your altar. Deut. 33.10

see, hear, eat and smell

This list encompasses four of the five human senses. The only sense not mentioned is touch. As Yahweh is in everything it follows He can also ‘touch’ but perhaps not in a way we can always relate to. Moses who met Yahweh face to face, states he knows that Yahweh can smell. If Yahweh can smell and can differentiate between pleasant and unpleasant smells, the law to wash before coming into His presence makes a lot of sense. (smile)
The clean smell of humans after washing both symbolically and practically demonstrates the beauty and holiness of separation. The practical aspect is in the fact that Yahweh can smell.

Of course it wasn’t just about the smell or the nose;

They had forgotten that the smell that ascended needed to be associated with righteousness. Fragrance is not enough, in fact it is likely to cause pain if the real obedience Yahweh desires is not in evidence or applied. Fragrance is a delight, a small addition reinforcing the delight of right work.
Together the fragrance and right works are a delight.

There is also a very strong link between the human sense of smell and memory. We have been designed so the connection is direct between the six million smell receptor cells in the nose and the memory section of our brain. Other senses such as sight take a longer route. The sense of smell connects to the limbic system which is the area around the brainstem responsible for learning, memory and emotional processing. Smells can immediately influence emotion and re-create memories. In a learning task it was found the capacity to remember was increased 20% by the association with a new smell. Specific odours can increase heart rate and blood pressure or to produce increased calm. An interesting aside is that most taste is smell and the signals have been designed to go to an area close to the ‘smell’ part of the brain, this may explain what is meant by our Creator being able to taste or eat

Moses made a very powerful request when he asked Yahweh to remember. “Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin”(Deuteronomy 9:27 KJV)

The smell of sacrifice is related to memory of it, and the memory of offering made in the past affects how one is remembered in the day or trouble,

To smell in Hebrew is also Ruach or breath to blow, that is, breathe; literally to smell or by implication perceive (figuratively to anticipate, enjoy). It is also translated as ‘accept, smell, touch and make of quick understanding.’ Hebrew understood the deep connections in our brains between scents and understanding.

The connection between the smell of a person and our memory of them, is expressed in proverbs. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. (Proverbs 27:9 KJV)

For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Song 2:11-13 KJV

In the Tabernacle and Temple people might associate their prayers with the smell of the ascending incense.  Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:1-2 KJV

To have been mentioned so many times, yes there must be  a connection between smell, memory, prayers, ointment, obedience, fragrance and our God Yahweh!

I’ll conclude with the wise men of the East, they knew of the best gifts  suitable for a King!

Warapunga:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. In the presence of the King they saw the young child Jesus with Mary and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Mat 2:10-11 KJV)

Here is a beautiful prayer by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. This Prayer was recited daily after Communion by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her Sisters of Charity. This Prayer is also known as the Fragrance Prayer.

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine.
It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You. Amen.

Wishing a week filled with the fragrance of Him our awesome creator.
May His fragrance go with you everywhere your feet tread this week.

Philemon
26/03/2018, 06:50 – warapunga: Easter changes everything

Good Monday Morning to this week 13/2018

CS Lewis writes: I believe that many find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down to a book of devotion, or working through a bit of tough theology, yet they find that their heart starts to sings unbidden.

Here a of bit of theology to make your heart sing unbidden!

The ancient Jewish expectation, rooted in Daniel and in the Psalms and Isaiah, was that one day God Himself would come back and would overthrow the powers that have been running the world. The death and resurrection of Jesus marks the culmination of ancient prophesy, a pinnacle moment for the earthly expression of God’s love in the great biblical narrative of reconciliation. Easter paves the way for Pentecost, and lays the cornerstone of our faith.

The four Gospels talk about the coming of God’s Kingdom, it’s all about Jesus being enthroned as King. God’s future has come forward to meet us in the present. Jesus is, from Easter on, is running the show, even though it doesn’t look like it because we have the wrong idea of what power is and how it works. God’s Kingdom is launched on earth as in heaven because the powers are defeated, and this new world comes to birth.

The resurrection says it’s all about the Kingdom of God. Jesus is confronting the powers, the plotting Pharisees, the demons shrieking at Him in the synagogues, the puzzled disciples. He’s confronting evil in all its forms, and He goes into the darkness in order to take its full weight upon Himself.
He continually goes into the darkness as our representative and, therefore, as our substitute.

N.T. Wright:  Left to ourselves we lapse into a kind of collusion with entropy, agreement in the general belief that things may be getting worse but that there’s nothing much we can do about them. And we are wrong. Our task in the present, is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.

Clowney: Christian hope is not allegiance to the possible in a random universe. It is longing for the completion of God’s work of restoration and renewal, longing for the new creation that is as real as Christ’s resurrection body, which is its center and beginning.

Ridderbos: As the Firstborn among the many, Christ not only occupies a special place and dignity, but he also goes before them, he opens up the way for them, he joins their future to his own. In him the resurrection of the dead dawns, his resurrection represents the commencement of the new world of God.

Athanasius of Alexandria: The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.

Schreiner: Therefore, believers now belong to the new creation. The new creation has not been consummated, but it has been inaugurated through the work of Jesus Christ. The gift of the Holy Spirit represents the arrival of the new creation. The Spirit is a gift of the last days, and his presence and indwelling among the Galatians shows that the final days have begun.

Schreiner: According to Ezek. 37, Israel will be unified on the day of resurrection, for the Spirit will breathe on them and give them life. In that day a new David will rule over them their sins will be cleansed, Yahweh will be their sanctuary forever and they will enjoy a covenant of peace in their land.

Riderbos: For it is in Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection that the mystery of the redemptive plan of God has manifested itself in its true character and that the new creation has come to light.

Corinthians: Christ died and was raised.  Therefore, if any are in Christ, they are a new creation, the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

Williams: The resurrection is something of a foretaste, a movie trailer or commercial for God’s ultimate future, for in Christ’s resurrection we have a picture of the future given before its arrival. It is total, comprehensive; so comprehensive that it claims that history is moving toward nothing less than a fully restored and glorified universe.

Romans: Those who are in Christ, along with the entirety of creation, will receive his resurrection life upon his appearing

Chesterton: It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead. On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.

Wishing you blessed Easter preparations,  celebrations and revelations as you walk in the dawn of the new day.

Easter changes everything!

Philemon

Quotes:  A Theological Devotional by Tony Reinke

The rejected cornerstone

Good Monday Morning after Easter to this new week 14/2018

Acts 4:11 This is the stone having been rejected by you the builders which now has become the cornerstone.

This image comes from the ancient quarries where highly-trained stonemasons carefully chose the stones used in construction. No stone was more important than the cornerstone because the integrity of the whole structure depended on the cornerstone containing exactly the right lines. If the cornerstone was not exactly right, the entire building would be out of line. For that reason, builders inspected many stones, rejecting each one until they found the one they wanted. Rejected stones might be used in other parts of the building, but they would never become the cornerstone or the capstone the first and last stones put in place. Jesus is the rejected stone whom God made to be the cornerstone of salvation.

Faith’s sure foundation of C. Spurgeon takes on this topic excellently:

Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he who believes in him shall not be confounded.’

The metaphor:  “He who is built upon him shall not be moved.”
The laying of a stone upon the foundation is a suggested description of faith.
If, then, you want to know what it is to believe in Jesus, it is to lie upon him as a stone lies upon a foundation when the mason puts it there.

There is the foundation firm and strong, a precious cornerstone, tried and sure. Here is a smaller stone, quarried from the pit, and the builder places it upon the foundation. Its lying on the foundation represents faith. Our souls’ eternal interests are laid on Christ. The foundation bears up the stone, and holds it in its place; so Christ bears up our souls, and holds them in their position, so that they do not fall to the ground. The stone rests with all its weight upon the foundation, and that is what the believer does with his Lord; he casts all his care upon him. Faith is leaning, depending, relying.

A stone thrown around from hand to hand is self-contained and independent, but when the mason puts it on the foundation it is dependent, it leans on the cornerstone upon which it is placed.

Faith: resting upon Christ completely and entirely, looking to him for everything that has to do with our salvation. Genuine faith in Christ does not trust him to pardon sin, and then trust itself to overcome sin. No, it trusts Christ both for the conquest of evil and for the forgiveness of it.

On what do you rely for your being faithful to him? Do you depend upon yourself for faithfulness? If so, there is a very weak place in your confidence.

That stone is not lying square upon the foundation, push it more home; it must not stand out of the line, or it will fall over immediately.

How could I rejoice in him if he would only promise to keep me as long as I kept myself;

For I need a keeper to keep me so that I may keep myself.

The stone laid on the foundation comes closer to that foundation every day, as Peter says “as to a living stone.” When a house is finished there still goes on a measure of settling, and you are glad if it settles all in one piece together. Every day the stone is brought by its own weight a little closer to the foundation; nearer to our Lord!

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him, for your expectation is from him. There is plenty for you to do for your Lord, to show your love for him, and to glorify his name; but you cannot add to the foundation of your confidence, nor should you dream of doing so. How could you improve what has been declared as finished? Trying to move the foundation?  It stands every so firmly, the rejected cornerstone!

Lean on it steadily, it is dependable and reliable, the chief cornerstone!

Wishing a good awakening today!

Philemon

God’s Grace in Disguise

Good Monday Morning to this week 14/2018

One of the greatest spiritual challenges revolves around how we frame and respond to the limits God places around us.

Yet receiving limits as a grace disguised touches the core of our relationship with God and thus the core of our leadership or life.

We are not alone. May people, many leaders, many that have gone before us as Paul wrestled with it, so did John the Baptist, David, and Jesus.

A few quotes that underline disguised grace:

The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment in our lives.

Instead the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us. J. Sittser

In coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God. J. Sittser

It is therefore not true that we become less through loss—unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left but an external self entirely under the control of circumstances. Loss can also make us more. In the darkness we can still find the light. It also (at times) depends on the choices we make.

Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift we have, the gift we were put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch. Parker Palmer

Fire, what makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would. So building fires requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and absence of the fuel together, that make fire possible. We only need lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way. J. Brown

This week you may want to take a look at that place, that space between the logs, the breathing space that creates openings so the fire can find its way!

Wishing you much of that breathing space and God’s grace in disguise!

Philemon

Who has more courage than a Maasai warrior?

Good Monday Morning to this week 16/2018

When was the last time you had a long afternoon to rest and solve some riddles with music or books or stories? I got a rare opportunity recently and listened to the best guitar riffs and solos in history along with their songs and lyrics.

Instead of on the harp,  these modern musicians were truly playing as if wanting to solve some riddles, at times the melodies were much the curing or healing kind, at times bringing resolve and even comfort. I came across Eric Clapton’s version of “While my guitar gently weeps”,  David Gilmour’s “Comfortably numb” and Mark Knopfler’s “Going Home”.  It’s as if you could give these guys a ukulele and they’ll make it sound like a Stradivarius!

In most societies, riddles are a form of art. They are simple and elegant ways to communicate a lot of meaning in few words. Riddles play an important role in the traditions of speech and conversation. Like proverbs, riddles are brief and based on observations of nature. However, with riddles, the listener is expected to guess the answer to a question or the meaning of a statement.

Riddles are used mainly for entertainment and stimulating thinking and some are not presented as question, albeit implicitly, but as true statements of something the listener has to catch, interpret and locate in its proper context.

God’s cup is always open.  A water well.

What is the house my father built with no central pole? The sky.

What is it that when it falls does not make noise? The night

Who has more courage than a Maasai warrior? Two Maasai warriors.

My father’s suit is made of holes. – Fishing net.

The two of us cross the wilderness without talking to each other. You and your shadow.

My hen has laid an egg on thorns. A pineapple.

What is as light as a feather, yet no man can hold it for long? One’s breath.

Discovered in Africa, I spread like a tide, to become a hot staple known the worldwide. A necessity to some, a treasure to many, I’m best enjoyed among pleasant company. Some like me hot and some like me cold. Some prefer mild, others only bold. Some take me straight, while some like to savour my essence to which has been added a flavour. So put down your cares and sit awhile with me; I’ll send you back refreshed and full of energy. What am I?

Coffee!!

Samson: Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.? Honey in the lion’s carcass.

Even God speaks in riddles as he did to David in 2. Samuel 12: 1-4
Then the LORD sent Nathan to David And he came to him and said, “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

You are participating in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?

Second!

A truck driver is going opposite traffic on a one-way street. A police officer sees him but doesn’t stop him. Why didn’t the police officer stop him?

He was walking!

Whatever your going this week, whatever your riddle, don’t be weary to find the meaning even if it may take a rest, a nap, some guitar solos or some hard thinking and math’s. Caution, it may not be the way you assume or think the answer might be, maybe a common answer or maybe be an individual answer just for you! Sometimes things are easier in the finding then you might think:

How can you make 7 even?
Remove the ‘s’ from ‘seven’ to make it ‘even.’

Have a great week!

Philemon

Good Monday Morning to this week 17/2018

Yesterday this chorus caught my attention:

Sumérgeme! En el rнo de tu espнritu,
Necesito refrescar este seco corazуn,
Sediento de ti. J.A. Romero

(Immerse, submerge, duck) me into the river of your Spirit
Refresh this dry heart of mine!
I’m thirsty for you!

… a theme often picked up by the various writers and teachers, the concept of being submerged, or immersed into something!

Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15,

Or in Acts, the evangelist, Philip, had been teaching the gospel or good news of Christ to an Ethiopian eunuch while they were riding along in a chariot. Then we read: “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See here is water, what hinders me from being baptized? And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe … And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Going down to the river, being immersed, then coming out of the water rejoicing! Immersing yourself could also mean,  experiencing something in such a way that it becomes a part of you. And, because it becomes a part of you, it changes you!

It’s much like becoming a character in a play where you study for months this “person” you are to become, learning her/his words, thoughts, and behaviorisms. You learn what motivates her/him and what angers him/her. You learn where she/he has been and where he/she is going.

You’ve so immersed yourself in that person, you become them.

So also with faith, scripture, with love, with relationships, and with compassion. After immersion, it’s even more powerful because it is living and breathing of this new supernatural empowered Spirit working from within you!

Two more verses of immersion, ending with a promise:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.
See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in an everlasting way.

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire
and to work out His good purpose.

As you immerse in the many good things of this week I wish you a good kind of “getting caught up” in the right truths, experiences, and blessings coming from above!

Philemon

Overcooked!

Good Monday Morning to this week 18/2018

Overdrive or self-imposed limitation

In today’s fast-paced, interconnected, and mercilessly competitive world, many develop a tough and relentless focus on competitive advantage. This exceptional drive needs the push of interpersonal skills to keep the success going. In a kitchen term one could say, we become “overcooked” describing the consequences as we develop unhelpful, unproductive patterns to fulfill the demands, leading to even more frenetic activity. The continued state of “overdrive”, can have immediate or long-term negative effect on work and personal relationships leading to derailment or even personal catastrophe. Thoughts from “The Leadership Shadow” by Erik de Haan and Anthony Kasozi.

This introduction nicely reminds us of something many of us are aware of. In recognizing a possible “ state we are in” is often only the very first step of many steps in the process of change.

I came across a very amazing verse in the Bible relating to the Divine, to Jesus himself. He approaches the topic of leading out to self-imposed limitation and not overdrive.

Let’s look at it in some detail:

”But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32

“The passage can’t be plucked out and interpreted in isolation, but must be understood with other comments in which Jesus discusses the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is similar to Matthew, “To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” Yet it must be placed alongside the verse, “All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him,” John 3:35, “the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand,” and similar passages attesting to the divinity of the Son”. National Catholic Register

In De Trinitate, Augustine argues that there is no contradiction in the Son being greater than the Father and the Father being greater than the Son because Jesus is True God and True man. In his deity he is equal and in his humanity, he is not: “The one is to be understood in virtue of the form of God, the other in virtue of the form of a servant, without any confusion.”

This is in every way remarkable. It indicates the self-imposed limitation of the divine attributes which had belonged to God as the eternal Son, and the acquiescence in a power and knowledge which, like that of the human nature which He assumed, were derived and therefore finite. Such a limitation is also implied by Paul when he says that our Lord “being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation” or better, emptied Himself,“ and took upon Him the form of a servant.”

If the Divine, the Son of God, “emptied Himself”, agreed to self-imposed limitation. Doesn’t this start to answer our question of overdrive or relentless, continuous drive leading to us becoming “overcooked”?

Augustine:

In the form of God, all things were made by him; in the form of a servant, he himself was made of woman, made under the law.

In the form of God, he and the Father are one; in the form of a servant, he did not come to do his own will, but the will of him who sent him.

In the form of God, as the Father has life in himself, so he gave the Son also to have life in himself; in the form of a servant, his soul is sorrowful to the point of death, and Father, he said, if it can be, let this cup pass by.

In the form of God, he is true God and life eternal; in the form of a servant he became obedient to the point of death, the death even of the cross.

In the form of God, everything that the Father has is his, and all yours is mine, he says, and mine yours; in the form of a servant, his doctrine is not his own, but his who sent him.

This approach of self-limitation does need some personal inventory before even trying to apply the implication. Yet, using this amazing example, in referring to Jesus taking the lead with His examples as Divine, sounds like a very, very good strategy.

Wishing you a great week!

Philemon

Age is of no importance unless you’re a cheese!

Good Monday Morning to this week 19/2018

Last Wednesday we got a wonderful donation, just as the distribution at the food bank was about to start. We received a ¼ “Käselaib” a loaf or wheel of cheese weighing in average 95kg when complete, our piece was about 20kg.

In the Emmental, the history of cheese goes back at least 2000 years. This original Emmentaler is produced in small rural dairies with raw cow’s milk, adding only natural ingredients (water, salt, natural starter cultures; preservatives or ingredients from genetically modified organisms are not allowed. The cheese is produced in a round shape with a natural rind and aged in traditional cellars for a minimum of four months. The Emmentaler has three age profiles: classic – four months, reserve – eight months, and Premier Cru – 14 months.

Most of our visitors this Wednesday had never seen such a piece of cheese this size. So, with our little kitchen, we weren’t sure if we could really get to work and turn this big piece of cheese into many small pieces. A great friend originally from Iran chose an assistant also Farsi speaking and took on the task. Let’s make about 70-100 wrapped pieces out of this piece of cheese. Before we could really get to work we needed to taste it. So with a glass of sparkling red wine, we took a few chunks and greatly enjoyed the aged taste of the Emmentaler. The plan was simple, the space little, the knives too small or blunt, but with much energy, a great atmosphere along with lots of laughter we managed to cut and wrap about 80 pieces of the cheese and share them with our many guests.

Yes, there were also holes in the cheese, leading us to maybe the deeper meaning and paradox of cheese:

Swiss cheese has lots of holes. The more holes you have, the less cheese you have. The more cheese you have, the more holes you have. Thus, the more cheese you have, the less cheese you have? Really?

Q: Which is the most religious cheese?
A: The Swiss cheese, because it is “holy”!

anyhow! ….

Why are the holes of the swiss cheese getting smaller?

The milk is too clean! A Swiss agricultural institute discovered that tiny specks of hay are responsible for the famous holes in traditional Swiss cheeses like Emmentaler. As milk matures into cheese, these microscopically small hay particles help create the holes in the cheese. In the transition from age-old milking methods in barns to fully automated, industrial milking systems had caused the holes to decline during the past 15 years.

For sure the holes have meaning and the cheese, yes is much older than Switzerland.

In 1st Samuel 17: 17-20

Jesse told his son David, in verse 18: Take these ten pieces of cheese to the commander of the unit, check on the well-being of your brothers, and bring something back from them. 20: David got up early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the supplies and went as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the encampment as the army was going out to the battle line, shouting the battle cry.!  “We know David defeated Goliath with a slingshot. As cheesy as it sounds, of course, we “Swiss” we think the maturity of the cheese MUST have had something to do with the success!” (smile)

Seriously, nothing beats the confidence or the conviction David had to go out there after leaving the sheep and go after Goliath the Philistine, even after having been looked at with contempt.

David: “You come at me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. And so he did defeat him with a sling and stone and in the name of the Lord.

Back to where we started, it’s not a matter or age, or size, or beauty, or strength! Who do you serve, how have you been made, who is going with you to battle, are you ready to leave your comfortable surroundings, whose son or daughter are you, and “are you ready to bring cheese to the commander”?

David was commissioned with confidence in Jahwe, with the assurance of His help for the vindication of His honor. He rested absolutely upon Him who revealed Himself as the Covenant-God!

First, he was equipped with a brazen helmet, coat, and sword, but soon found that he could not walk or do nothing with this equipment. Having taken them off, he took his shepherd’s staff in his hand, sought out five smooth stones from the brook-valley, and put them in his shepherd’s bag.

By the way:

Question: what was the cheese called that David took to the commander?
The “prophetic O.T. answer: Cheeses of Nazareth!

Wrapping up:

Wishing you the right strength and wisdom you need to approach the “battles” of this week, even if they starts by bringing cheese to the commander!

Philemon
13/05/2018, 10:09 – Eric Komi’s security code changed. Tap for more info.
14/05/2018, 06:33 – warapunga: Cradle of Faith

When you stand with the blessings of your mother and God,
it matters not who stands against you. Yoruba

Good Monday Morning to this week 20/2018,

Usually, when we think of the great women/mothers of faith in the Bible (as mother’s day was just celebrated yesterday), our minds turn to Deborah, or Ruth, or Esther, or Mary the mother of Jesus. But what about the almost minuscule mention of a woman whose act of faith shattered the enemy’s plan to annihilate the whole nation of God’s people through whom Jesus, the redeemer of all mankind would come? And her story of faith is so radical, and her obedience so extraordinary, it would change the entire course of history for the whole world the magnitude of which set the powers of darkness and the Kingdom of Heaven into a collision course. And so glorious was the outcome that angels of heaven sing about it in the book of Revelation.

JOCHEBED, Mother of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. In a great act of civil disobedience, she and the midwives allowed Moses to be born. These midwives, when asked by the pharaoh why they were not killing the boy babies as commanded, replied that the Hebrew women were “too vigorous” and popped those babies out before they could get there!

The story of Jochebed is described in the Book of Exodus although she is not explicitly named here. She lived in Egypt, where the descendants of Israel were being oppressed. The Pharaoh had decreed that all their baby boys were to be thrown into the Nile because he feared that they might become too powerful. When Moses, her youngest child was born, Jochebed, hid him for three months until she could hide him no longer. To save her son’s life, she made a wooden chest of bulrushes, made it watertight with slime and pitch and put the child in it. Fully aware that she (Jochebed) would not be able to protect Moshes from the Pharaoh cruelty, Jochebed placed Moses in a basket and released him in the flow of River Nile. The basket fell in the hands of the Pharaoh’s daughter who was bathing in the river. She was a kind-hearted lady and was filled with love and Compassion on seeing the baby. She secretly sneaked the baby into the palace. Moved with compassion when she discovered the child, she decided to adopt him. The “sister” of the child (presumed to be Miriam), who had come forward, suggested to find her a Hebrew woman to nurse the child. The Pharaoh’s daughter agreed and so Miriam called her mother, who was appointed to take care of him. Thus Jochebed nursed her son until he was old enough and brought him to the Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son.

As Moses grew up Jochebed gave Moses all the traditional Jewish education and knowledge ensured his upbringing was Jewish. As result he could not bear the injustice done by Egyptians on the Jews. Moses convinced the Pharaoh to amend his oppressive laws. His behavior made him popular among the Jews. The story continues with Moses, who grew up to become the leader of the Exodus, leading his people out of the land of Egypt.

Thousands of years later, the book of Hebrews tells us that “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” (Hebrews 11:23). SHE WAS NOT AFRAID. She was a revolutionary in every sense of the word. A super-hero believing in the God of miracles and proving to herself and to the world for ages to come that no evil scheme of the enemy or edict from hell could defeat her. And the means through which she would ultimately save her son, some would call crazy!

The God who sees through eternity considers the mustard seed faith as faith that can move mountains.

He considers frail and feeble attempts to obey as mighty acts of righteousness.

He moves swiftly to rescue, using the most unlikely means and vessels for his purpose, as he did when using Pharaoh’s daughter to rescue Moses from the river and raise him in a house of royalty.

God saw the incredible act of a heroine and the cradle of faith she created, God chose to exalt her son to be the deliverer of His people, which would set the stage and make evident the need for a Savior.

In tenderly weaving reeds and covering them with tar, all the while trusting that God was in control, Jochebed was victorious over evil. And this basket though it wasn’t much was all she had. And in a way, she threw her son into the hands of a living and powerful God, and completely loosened her grip from him, knowing that in the unseen hands of God was the safest and best place her son could be.

What a faith!

Who knows what “Cradle of Faith” you might make this week!

Have an inspired start to this week!

Philemon

Soft as silk, strong as steel!

We’re accustomed to thinking of the strength as opposite to gentleness, softness and tenderness.

Good Monday Morning to this week 21/2018

No strength is by far not the opposite of gentleness. During World War 1 British fighter pilots made an amazing discovery, that thick layers of silk stopped low-velocity shrapnel better than steel. So they wound the silk around their heads and then wore leather horse riding helmets on top of the silk.

Scientists have studied spider silk and they know that it is extremely strong. They also know that spider silk is made out of protein. Protein is the stuff you get from eating meat or beans. It’s found in all living things. It is what your muscles are mostly made of.

Spider silk, bird wings and oyster pearls, one of nature’s many wonders. Smooth, shiny and flexible, it is also extremely light. Thousands of meters of spun silk typically weigh no more than a gram. And the wonders do not end there. Dragline silk, used by spiders to create the structural frames of their webs, is nearly as strong as Kevlar, yet significantly more elastic.

Spiders need to have a strong string because they use the string (called spider silk) for many different things. They use it for constructing their webs, making egg sacs, wrapping in their prey, as a lifeline when jumping, or dropping to escape, and as a shelter in which it can retreat.

Each protein in the spider’s thread is a spring which can be stretched a long way before it breaks. The result is, that it takes a lot of force to stretch a spider’s thread, and you have to apply that force over a long distance before it will break. When you apply a force over a distance, physicists say you have done “work”. It takes a lot of work to break a spider’s thread.

Scientists still aren’t sure just what it is that gives silk its strength, but it’s true, that in certain situations soft, gentle, tender silk can prove far stronger than cold, hard steel.

Some of these following verses get new meaning read out of this perspective:

She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Proverbs 31:22

I clothed thee also with broidered work and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. Ezekiel 16:10

With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown. Chinese Proverb

As the keeper of sheep takes out of the mouth of the lion two legs or part of an ear; so will the children of Israel be made safe, who are resting in Samaria on seats of honor or on the silk cushions of a bed. Amos 3:12

Silk is a fine, delicate, soft, illuminating, beautiful substance. But you can never rip it! If you take this tender silk and attempt to tear it, and cannot tear it. “I thought it was soft, I thought it was delicate, but look, I cannot even tear it”

Jesus showed us the same holds true for human character. Some people try to make themselves impenetrable to the people around them. Jesus showed us that gentleness, a heart that’s soft toward others, and tenderness are in fact qualities of great strength!

Be as soft as silk, as hard as a diamond, be calm and never show anger, but if you have to fight, be strong and be resolved in your purpose. Thai proverb.

Wishing a week, soft as silk with strength of steel!

Philemon

Open the door and give Him access!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelation 3:20  (NKJV)

Good Monday Morning to this week 22/2018

“The real purpose of our wrestling in prayer is, therefore, to render us so impotent and helpless not only in connection with our physical and spiritual needs, but, above all our inability to pray, that our prayer becomes a prayer for the Spirit of prayer”. O Hallesby

Some of the key phrases out the book Prayer written 1931 by Ole Hallesby.

Have you ever faced a problem that was too big for you? Have you ever encountered something that you couldn’t change by your skills or smarts or hard work? Have you ever come to the end of yourself and be forced by life’s circumstances to acknowledge your limits?

Prayer is the breath of the soul, the organ by which we receive Christ into our parched and withered hearts. He says if any man opens the door, I will come into him.

It’s not our prayer which draws Jesus into our hearts, nor is it our prayer that moves Jesus to come to us. It’s the access he needs, then he enters in on his own accord!

As air enters in quietly as we breathe, and does the normal work in our lungs, so Jesus enters quietly into our hearts and does his blessed work there. God has designed prayer as intimate and joyous fellowship with us.

To pray is nothing more involved then to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise His own power in dealing with them.

Remember the sick man the friends brought to Jesus, yet the couldn’t enter the house. They lifted him to the roof, made a hole and lowered him to the feet of Jesus, then stood undoubtedly and waited for the authoritative word that their sick friend would immediately become well. Instead, they first heard: Son your sins have been forgiven. This prayer had been “crying” louder, therefore he answered this first and then restored the man to complete health. Prayer is deeper then words, it was formed on in his soul and abides there even when our last words have passed our lips. The spiritual condition for prayer is: Helplessness! Prayer and helplessness are inseparable, it’s your best prayer! It calls from your heart to the heart of God. As an infant without words, yet can, or might just have a cry, but the father and mother are concerned with hearing and seeing the every need an infant has! They then can neither thank you for your care, but that would not hinder you, no you answer and hear every need or “prayer” that is sent to you as a mother or father! Such is God!

Our helplessness can become the quiet sustaining power of prayer. It becomes prayer the moment we bring it to Him and speak candidly and confidently with him about our needs. This is to believe, this is Faith!

He seeks the access, so we don’t need to exert ourselves or force ourselves to believe or try to chase doubt from our hearts, this is useless!

Prayer is a fine delicate instrument, to use it right is an art. To move in prayer in “one’s element” to pray with a willing spirit, with joy, with gratitude and adoration is far beyond us and requires the Spirit of prayer.

Yes, there are the many unanswered prayers but how do we rise from those prayers?  Wonderful things can happen in the “secret prayer room”, the needs and prayers given over to him, will be replaced with calm and hopefulness.

Our “secret chamber” can be a place of rest, but more so can also be a workshop, the power of prayer so rich and mobile, independent of time and space. It’s a place of work with prayers for the workers and the harvest of the field.

Some verses to meditate:

Psalm 62:8  (KJV)
Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him:
God is a refuge for us.

Philippians 4:6  (KJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Romans 8:26  (KJV)
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Prayer is not only about changing our circumstances. God asks us for access, in order to change us and our lives!

Wishing a great week!
Philemon

Kyrie Eleison
Good Monday Morning to this week 23/2018

Attentively listening to a variety of classical pieces being played yesterday evening in church,  the piece of the composer Camille Saint-Saëns caught my attention, reminding me of the “Saint-Cène”, the Holy Communion or the Eucharist, further taking my thoughts to “Kyrie Eleison”.

Kyrie is the first sung prayer of a Mass. Kyrie is a common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called the Kyrie, Lord, have mercy.

The prayer, “Kyrie, eleison,” “Lord, have mercy” derives from several New Testament verses. In Matthew 15:22, the Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.” In Matthew 20:30, 31, two unnamed blind men call out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.” Finally, in Mark 10:46, Blind Bartimaeus cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” There are other examples too, such as Luke 18:39 and Matthew 9:27, but the phrase “Lord, have mercy” was well-enough established in the Gospel narratives to become the basis for the use of “Kyrie, eleison” as a liturgical prayer. An important difference is that in the New Testament the expression is always personalized by an object after the exclamation while in the Eucharistic celebration it can be seen more as a general expression of confidence in God’s love especially in view of the litany form in which it originated.

When Christianity became legal (after 300 A.D.), one person would lead the people holding a cross while the pastors, walking along, would sing a Christian hymn. They would start at the outskirts of town and go through the main streets, gathering the congregation.  When they reached the place of worship, they would continue with readings from the Scripture (the Word).  A song with the words Kyrie eleison was soon a favorite.  The people or pastors would shout out something or someone who needed prayer and the people would sing in reply “Lord, have mercy.”  This is the way the Kyrie (eleison) began.

“The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos. This word has the same ultimate root as the old Greek word for oil, or more precisely, olive oil; a substance which was used extensively as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured onto the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the injured part. The Hebrew word which is also translated as eleos and mercy is hesed, and means steadfast love. The Greek words for ‘Lord, have mercy,’ are ‘Kyrie, eleison’ that is to say, ‘Lord, soothe me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love.’ Thus mercy does not refer so much to justice or acquittal a very Western interpretation but to the infinite loving-kindness of God, and his compassion for his suffering children! It is in this sense that we pray ‘Lord, have mercy,’ with great frequency throughout the Divine Liturgy.” Anthony Coniaris

In light of this explanation, the phrase comes alive and highlights the beauty and depth of God’s mercy. It shows a loving God who wants to bind our wounds like the divine physician he is. Instead of standing in front of a tribunal at the beginning of Mass asking for mercy from a powerful judge, we are face-to-face with a compassionate God, who is ready to pick us up when we fall down.

So while it may seem strange to speak Greek words at Mass, the Church chose those words centuries ago specifically for their deep and powerful meaning.

Kyrie Eleison, may the Lord show you, bless you, soothe you, comfort you, take away your pain, and show you His steadfast love this week.

Philemon

Sacred Rhythms

Good Monday Morning to this week 24/2018

When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potifphar, an Egyptian officer. Potifar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Gen. 39.1

Who knows what Potiphar wanted when he dropped past the local market on that hot and sticky day in Egypt. Instead of buying fish or tomatoes or coconuts, he bought a slave! Not just any slave, it was the grandson of Abraham, the man God ultimately used to save both Egypt and the Israelites. Even in this the worst of cases, to be sold as slave, God had a plan or changed the plan and used Potiphar to save both Egypt and the Israelites. Potiphar didn,t take long to trust this Israelite with everything he owned and the longer he stayed in his house, with Joseph things seemed to get better and better, even his crops and livestock increased. Was it luck, in the purchase? As Potiphar tossed Joseph in prison, it still wasn,t the end of the story for Joseph, actually things were just getting started.

I wonder how Joseph did it? Yes, it must have been God,s re-created plan, yes it must have been with much favor involved, but could it also have had to do with the way Joseph was organized? Did he have sacred rhythms in life? Did he arrange his natural life that blended that with his spiritual ones. Or was his desire for change and deliverance as slave the big game changer?

The spiritual life begins with the willingness to name our desire in God,s presence. It is one of the most powerful motivators for a live lived with intentionality and focus. It begins with a longing stirring way down deep, underneath the noise and activity and drivenness of our lives. Yes, even that stirring indicates that God,s Spirit is at work deep within. R.H. Barton

M. Eckhart writes: The reason we do not see God, is the faintness of our desire.

I,ve just spent a week in Angola and it,s been very inspirational. Yet at times I saw or heard things that greatly fed and stirred my desire for transformation in many areas of daily activity. When it comes to the spiritual desire and trust in God I saw that it was far stronger in many of those I met then my own. I,m going to explore this a little more.

I wish you a good week as you explore you sacred rhythms or nurture your spiritual desire this week!

It is your desire for God and your capacity to reach out for more that is the essence of who you are.

Philemon
18/06/2018, 06:36 – warapunga: Don’t fight a lion with a stick.

Good Monday Morning to this week 25/2018

Bravery is not everything, and however brave a man may be, two brave men are better. Maasai

Proverbs 14:16
The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito. Anita Roddick

A few men are sitting around a fire, sadly not, it was the only the Wireless hotspot, at the centre we were staying at in Luanda Angola. Due to the bad connection of the internet we did start telling stories. When we arrived at the man who had killed a lion in order to pass his initiation rite of passage the internet immediately lost all priority.

The Maasai, they go after a lion it in a group, a group of boys who are all armed with spears and long knives and those sorts of weapons, the hunt is achieved by the spears where the lion is speared multiple times until it collapses dead, and it is a part of the culture of the Maasai where a man has to kill a lion to be able to marry and be recognized as a man and a true warrior. The whole process takes time and it accompanied by the coaching and assistance of elders and experienced warriors. There is so much fear, bravery, wilderness, hurt, strength in the story that we could just listen for hours.

The only true disturbance to this great time of storytelling were the many mosquitos coming after us again and again. All of a sudden there was a short exclamation coming from one of the listeners: You my friend are very brave, respect, you may be able to kill a lion, but now as you sit here, a tiny nuisance of an animal called mosquito could string you and cause you do die!
You are right, very true my friend, this is a statement that makes me is like a paradox and yet so true.

By many measures, mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals in the world. Conservative estimates hold mosquitoes responsible for hundreds of millions of malaria cases each year. However, mosquitoes also transmit a host of other diseases, including West Nile virus, yellow fever, and dengue fever. There’s ample reason to take every possible measure to avoid mosquito bites even without taking into account their terrible, stinging itchiness. For the best chance at thwarting these tiny killers, know where mosquitoes live, how to repel them, and how to kill them.

Our storytelling came to a halt, honestly do we need to speak about mosquitos now? We returned to the initiation rite, the preparation, the loneliness, the wild, the homelands, the exodus from Sudan more then 2000 years ago. They do remember when they left the hot floor of the Kenyan Rift Valley and followed the Kerio River southwest until it guided them onto the well-watered range lands just east of Mt. Elgon. Once they arrived into the Kenyan Highlands where they pushed aside other pastoralists, they also cultivated long lasting exchange relationships with neighboring agricultural people. This rescued them to a great extent from the periodic famines that are such a very great challenge to cattle keepers without reliable agricultural neighbors.

Back to Proverbs; The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

Yes, with a Lion or with big fierce attacks, yes there we plan, prepare and carefully take our steps. But with a little nuisance like a mosquito or with little problems that daily get into our way we tend to the opposite, we have no plan, we don’t plan or prevent, but sometime plunge ahead with reckless confidence. Controlling mosquitos or lions, huge problems or little in life is a tough call. It’s not quick; it’s not easy. It requires work day in and day out to track, plan and eradicate where mosquitos or the danger comes from, then takes good care to apply safely the appropriate control safety methods or precautions.

Whether you face a lion or you face a mosquito this week, be wise and cautious and avoid danger!

Blessings to you all!
Philemon

The rule of three “Omne trium perfectum”

Good Monday Morning to this week 26/2018

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me. 1. Samuel 3: 8

The number 3 is used 467 times in the Bible. It pictures completeness, though to a lesser degree than 7. The 3 righteous patriarchs before the flood were Abel, Enoch and Noah. After them,  there was the righteous “fathers” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was placed on the cross at the 3rd hour of the day (9 a.m.) and died at the 9th hour (3 p.m.). There were 3 hours of darkness that covered the land while Jesus was suffering on the cross from the 6th hour to the 9th hour. Three is the number of resurrection. Christ was dead for three full days and three full nights, before being resurrected. There were only three individuals who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on Mount Hermon. Those who saw Jesus’ glory on the mount were John, Peter and James.

The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers in execution of the story and engaging the reader. The reader or audience of this form of text is also thereby more likely to remember the information conveyed. Slogans, film titles and a variety of other things have been structured in threes, a tradition that grew out of oral storytelling. Examples include the Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and the Three Musketeers. Similarly, adjectives are often grouped in threes to emphasize an idea. The Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete) conveys the same idea as the rule of three.

The story actually begins not with God speaking, but with God’s silence. Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli’s supervision. According to the historian Josephus, Samuel may have been about twelve years old here, but we don’t know for sure. We do know he was still a boy.

We are also told that the word of the Lord was rare at this time, and there were not many visions. This was a time in Israel’s history when Israel was out of communication with God. There was the occasional prophet, such as the man of God who came to Eli in the last chapter, but by and large there was no prophetic word from God to Israel. The word of the Lord was rare in those days, but God was about to change all that. Samuel was the first named prophet in Scripture since Moses, and with the calling of Samuel God instituted the prophetic office to operate alongside the kingship in Israel. The details of Samuel’s call here are rich in symbolism. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. His fading eyesight is highly symbolic of this time in Israel when the word of the Lord was rare and there were not many visions. We are also told that the lamp of God had not yet gone out. The priests were required to keep the lamps burning in the temple every night from evening until morning. So this detail places the timing of Samuel’s call late in the night, perhaps shortly before dawn, but it also gives us a ray of hope. Yes, the word of God was rare, but God had not given up on his people. The lamp of God had not yet gone out. So the nation of Israel was in a time of spiritual darkness. The priesthood was corrupt. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. There was no word from God. And it was in this context that God called Samuel.

Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

I love this scene. Samuel is alert; he is responsive; he is obedient. He goes running to Eli. “Here I am; you called me!” Eli says, “It wasn’t me. Go back to bed.” So Samuel goes back to bed, and the Lord calls him again. Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

God had never spoken to Samuel in this way before, and Samuel, as young as he was, did not realize that this was God calling him. After God’s word was revealed to him, Samuel would learn to recognize God’s voice. But for now, he just assumed it must be Eli. And Eli just kept sending him back to bed. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Finally, Eli figured out what was going on.

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” That is a great prayer to pray anytime before hearing God’s word. It shows a desire to hear, a willingness to listen, and a heart that is ready to serve and obey. And God said; “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.

Could go much deeper here, but the encouragement for this week is that sometimes we may need to listen 3 times to hear,  and sometimes our action needs to be threefold – the use of head, heart and hands. Engage with action, love with our hearts and reshape and serve with our hands.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Philemon

Mindfulness
Good Monday Morning to this week 28/2018

Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.
2 Corinthians 10:5b

Tiny actions can fundamentally alter your
relationship to the world for the better.
J. Mark G. Williams

In mindfulness we identify thoughts and feelings about a particular issue, choose to live in the moment, and to accept oneself completely. When this goal has been reached, it can be said that we have entered a state of mindfulness. There is the element of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. It also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

Yes, sounds good. All good? An important lesson of self-discipline for sure, learning to live in awareness, using helpful techniques in the attempt to reach that place of calm and mindfulness.

One thing though is missing:

In doing so, unlike some, we add the element of the Divine Messiah and the power of His comforter.  It’s not just about spiritual disciplines like study, fasting, prayer, meditation and the like, It is a method of following the portrait of the Messiah himself.

To think like him.
To be more like him.
To tune in to him.
To walk with him.

“Most of us, most of the time, are satisfied if we satisfy the expectations of society and the requirements of God by our outer, visible actions. God looks on the inner; He said, as early as Samuel’s day, that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).” T. W. Hunt

“Philippians 2:5;  tells us that we are to have the mind of Christ, to think or to be minded in a certain way. Our mind is to have the same characteristics that Christ’s mind has.”

The Messiah Jesus had this mindfulness and repeated it again and again. He didn’t turn to himself, but away from himself for the benefit of many.

Looking out for the interest of others:
“Love your neighbor as yourself”

Counting others more significant:
“Let each esteem others better than themselves”

Feeling overwhelmed by God’s grace:
“Freely you have been served, freely serve”.

Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing [literally emptied himself], taking the form of a servant [that is what it means to look to the interests of others], being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself [he laid down all his legitimate entitlements] by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

“Therefore God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. And it will be true for you as well:
“Whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

Coming to the end of this Monday Morning’s musings I suggest:

If we are mindful, take every thought captive, then we let the Messiah transform and reform each of these thoughts, the present moment of calm will come to past, not because we created the moment, but because He made it possible in us. The consequence therefore, will no longer be in trying to satisfy ourselves, but to feel so overwhelmed by God’s grace that we will act upon having been served freely we will freely serve others.

Wishing you a mindful week!
Philemon

Our eyes made open!
Good Monday Morning to this week 29/2018

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3

A time to plant, laugh, gather stones, to keep, to mend to speak
… even a time to be silent.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart.
No one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that everything God does will endure forever.

Better, as removing the ambiguity of the possessive pronoun in modern English ears, “in its time.” The thinker rests for a time in the primeval faith of Israel that all things were created “very good” in a Cosmos of order and of beauty, of a plan, even in the development of human history, in which all things work together for good.

So even in Lucretius:
“Certa suo quia tempore semina rerum
Cum confluxerunt, patefit quodcumque creator.”

“So when the germs of things in season due
have met together, all creation’s work
is to our eyes made open.”

“Nay, going to the very root of the matter and expounding its whole philosophy, the Preacher teaches us that wealth, however great and greatly used, cannot satisfy men, since God has “put eternity into their hearts” as well as time: and how should all the kingdoms of a world that must soon pass content those who are to live forever? This saying, “God has put eternity into their hearts,” is one of the most profound in the whole book, and one of the most beautiful and suggestive. What it means is that, even if a man would confine his aims and desires within “the bounds and coasts of Time,” he cannot do it.” Cambridge Commentary

For time, with all that it inherits, sweeps by him like a torrent, so that, if we would secure any lasting good, we must lay hold of that which is eternal.

I wish you a wonderful week as you ponder the seasons of time, God’s work of creation and your eyes made open to every purpose of God revealed, the now and the eternal.

Philemon

Uphold
Good Monday Morning to this week 30/2018

Spending some time in the Netherlands, I came across one of their motto’s:

The motto of the Netherlands is translated into English as ‘I will uphold.’ But I want you to know that, as we go forward, our message together is not just ‘I will uphold,’ but ‘we will uphold.’ L. Lynch

uphold, confirm or support, confirm, endorse, sustain, validate, ratify, verify, vindicate, justify, approve, maintain (a custom or practice),  maintain, sustain, continue, preserve, protect, keep, hold to, keep alive, keep going, strengthen, nurture

And if thy brother be waxed poor, and his hand fail with thee; then thou shalt uphold him: as a stranger and a sojourner shall he live with thee. Lev. 25:35

The Lord will not abandon his people because he wants to uphold his great reputation. The Lord was pleased to make you his own people. 1 Sam 12:22
The LORD will uphold him even on his sickbed; you will transform his bed of illness into health. Psalm 41:3

And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. Psalm 41:12

Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Psalm 82:3

How happy are those who uphold justice, who practice righteousness at all times.
Psalm 106.3
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isiah 41.10

Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. Job 4:4

Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. Proverbs 20:28
Uphold, to show that you support something such as an idea by what you say or do. According to the verses listed, it seems to go both ways. We uphold and He upholds us.

Beware of glorying over the natural branches. Or if you are so glorying, do not forget that it is not you who uphold the root: the root upholds you. Romans 11:18

Take care of your roots, the uphold you!
Wishing you a wonderful week!

Philemon

Embrace
Good Monday Morning to this week 31/2018

On a bike ride last week I saw a signboard leading to an art installation in an old sheep barn, open from sunrise to sunset. Embrace!

Hendrijke the artist writes on silentplaces.org:
The abstract Pietà in which the white woolen knitted panel [5×5 meters] interacts with a smaller black one is attached to birch branches out of 30kg of hand spun and hand knitted sheep. The black one [wool of a black sheep] in front of the white one, wool of the Texelaar. The way the wind blows through the knitted panels, the way the light falls upon them, creates a ‘picture’ a vibe, a story, a feeling, an energy. But still they are nothing but handspun and handknitted panels, hanging together in an old barn, and that all on very old terrain. [150.000 years old].

There’s a voice. There are sounds, very cello-ish like, though some visitors did not hear any music at all, no wonder .. if kept on talking while visiting the barn.

There are smaller knitted panels all about 2×1 meters made of Loagthan sheep wool, Ouessant, Heideschaap and Blauwe Texelaar. You can sit down and have a silent view of the Pietà called;  EMBRACE.

The artist writes: Food for the Soul that highlights sacred time and even rhythms in silent places. The place she created is not empty or bare, but filled with:

Beneficial time, without luxury
Powerful time, without power
Charging time, without sugar

Consolation time, without appeasing
Shared time, without your presence
Tender time, without love
Fragile time, without enemies
Independent time, without ego
Mourning time, without resistance
Calm, almost serene time, without being boring
Universal time in the unique, present moment.

I would add, spiritual time, holy time, in the presence of God
with prayer being like the wind blowing into the hand knitted woolen drapes.

Embrace:
With your whole being you embrace God setting things right,
and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” “No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.”

The Message puts it so nicely in Mark 11:
Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get “God’s everything”. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive ….

Where will you give space to your soul this week? Where will you find the place where God can set things right? Where is the landing ground of your soul where you will again discover “God’s everything”?

I wish you that!
blessings

Philemon

Like a well-watered garden …
Good Monday Morning to this week 32/2018

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly, my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

Many areas of Europe are breaking heat records this year. As you sweat it out in the yard, tirelessly tending to your plants, it seems you merely blink and, in an instant, the moisture dries up. Your trees and plants also suffer from stress in the form of drooping, curling and browning leaves; premature fall color; leaf drop; or weakened root systems.

Perhaps more life-threatening than anything to a tree suffering drought is an invasion by borers and disease-causing organisms that can happen as the tree is recuperating and still in a weakened state.

Proper tree care during drought includes watering, mulching and pest management. Organic mulch, such as wood chips, to a depth of 2 inches will help the soil retain moisture. If the soil does not have any moisture, the mulch will have little effect; as there is no water to lose.

Routine pruning is not recommended during a severe drought, as this can cause tree stress which can make the trees even more prone to borer attack.

As the heat continues, there may no longer be enough water to sustain the root systems. It’s just harder to realize this is not unlike what happens to our souls when they are neglected and become malnourished.

Our souls also need maintenance, watering,  attentiveness, space to breathe along with care management to be refreshed and nourished and restored.

Some states and symptoms of soul neglect are: “self- absorption, shame, physical fatigue, isolation, drivenness, feelings of desperation, panic, insecurity,
callousness, a judgmental attitude, cynicism and lack of desire for God.”

Signs of soul health are love, joy, compassion, giving and receiving grace, generosity of spirit, peace, ability to trust, discernment, humility, creativity, visions, balance and focus in the spiritual relationship with God.

Here some in-depth watering for the dry soul leaving out the pruning as recommended above!

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God
where Jesus, running on ahead of us,
has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us.
Hebrews. 19-20

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:
I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.
Isaiah 44:3

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isa.58:11.

Wishing your soul to be like a well-watered garden this week.

Philemon

Giants are not what we think they are
Good Monday Morning to this week 33 of 2018

And the Philistine drew near morning and evening and presented himself forty days. 1. Samuel 17:16

“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”
Malcolm Gladwell
Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a pebble and a sling-and ever since, the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David’s victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn’t have won.

Or should he?

“David and Goliath” sets out to explore two — just two — ideas. The first is that there is greatness and beauty in David-Goliath fights, at least when the underdog wins. The second is that “we consistently get these kinds of conflicts wrong” by failing to realize that giants have weaknesses, and that underdogs can accomplish the unexpected.

In analyzing the David-Goliath story Gladwell, compares the effects of slingshots to those of sword and spear. He lauds David’s little-guy maneuverability. And he suggests that Goliath, like scientifically studied giants, might have had acromegaly, a growth disorder that would have meant a pituitary tumor, which could have created vision problems, which might explain why Goliath had an attendant to lead him. Maybe that led him to misjudge David’s power. Maybe the Israelites watched from a distorting vantage point that made Goliath look excessively big, David excessively puny. Do we see the relevance of these thoughts to our daily lives?

This then leads to his main point: The Advantages of Disadvantages and the Disadvantages of Advantages.

For 40 days the Philistine would come forward, morning and evening, to take his position, his stand, make his challenge.

Who took the biggest learning in these 40 days? Was it more about David going back and forth for 40 days from Saul, back to tending his father’s sheep in Bethlehem?

Or was it when David brought the roasted grain and ten loaves of bread to his brothers at the camp?

In Genesis God caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights. After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian, where he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks. Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights. The Law specified a maximum number of lashes a man could receive for a crime, setting the limit at 40. The Israelite spies took 40 days to spy out Canaan. The Israelites wandered for 40 years. Before Samson’s deliverance, Israel served the Philistines for 40 years. Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him. When Elijah fled from Jezebel, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb.
Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.

Forty, life begins at forty, the average pregnancy weeks are forty, Ali Baba and the forty thieves … To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days. Arabic proverb

There are a few takeaways from this rethinking of David and Goliath.

– Giants move slowly
– Giants are vulnerable
– Giants are slow and need to be lead by an attendant
– Giants may not see too well (suspicion is that Goliath may have had double vision)
– The greatest strength of giants may be their greatest weakness
– Giants are not as strong and powerful as they seem

– Shephard boys with slingers are not underdogs! Slingers had one of the best and most precise weapons of their time. The slingshot and the stones were not all he had, they were the best weapons David had chosen.

– David had great disadvantages that lead to his advantage, he fought the fight on another level, with other weapons then Goliath had planned.

– Goliath’s advantage became a disadvantage. His strength and armory didn’t lead to his victory but to his being defeated.

It may be time to rethink and revision some of the Goliaths (giants) and some of the David’s (strengths disguised in weakness)  in our lives.

Wishing you a fantastic week!

Philemon

Imagine …..
Good Monday Morning to this week 34 of 2018

Whatever is true, is noble, is right, is pure, is lovely, is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Philip. 4:8

Imagine! So many stories, essays, songs and films start this way. Imagine, just a wish-fulfillment to an unreal world or a dream that never came true? Is it the beginning of a new episode, does it start to narrate the story of so many of our imaginary characters, to be fanciful, full of warmth, being upright and graceful people of wonderful integrity? Or is the narrative about ourselves being right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?

“And Mordecai bade to answer Esther: Imagine not in thy heart that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.” The idea of Mordecai here is, that he is imagining the escape of all the Jews and see’s Esther, possibly as part of the narrative, though cautioning her not to escape herself or to go her own way without her people. He sows the seed of the freedom of the Jews after being in captivity for such a long while.

Ellicott writes in a commentary:

Once more; as thought makes deeds, and thought and deeds make character, so character makes destiny, here and hereafter. If you have these blessed thoughts in your hearts and minds, as your continual companions and your habitual guests, then, my friend, you will have a light within that will burn all independent of externals; and whether the world smiles or frowns on you, you will have the true wealth in yourselves; ‘a better and enduring substance. Therefore let your minds be exercised, breathed, braced, lifted, filled by bringing them into contact with truth, especially with the highest of all truths.

All these things, true, venerable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, are not things only; they are embodied in a Person. For whatever things are fair, meet in Christ, and He, in His living self, is the sum of all virtue and of all praise. So that if we link ourselves to Him by faith and love, and take Him into our hearts and minds, and abide in Him, we have them all gathered together into that One. Thinking on these things is not merely a meditating upon abstractions, but it is clutching and living in and with.

Imagine, as St. Francis puts it in his famous prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

Wishing you a week of many blessed thoughts as continual companions this week.

Philemon

No. 100
Good Monday Morning to this week 35 of 2018

This weekend we celebrated with the number 100. My son turned 20, while my dad turned 80 this past week. It’s a great number to celebrate in the lives of these two men!

100 is an amazing number with very much going for it.

At 100 degree’s, water usually boils. In Greece, India, Israel and Nepal the number of the police is 100. In Belgium 100 is the number of the ambulance, in the UK it’s the number of the operator.
In London there is a 100 Book Club, in Germany the famous car called the Audi 100. Usain Bolt was the fastest 100-meter runner, making the race in 9.58 seconds.

In history there are the 100 days of Napoleon, the 100-year war that lasted 116 years, the 100 days genocide that changed the lives of all in and around Rwanda. The 100th day of a non leap year is April 10th. On April 10th 1912 the Titanic set sail. At the year 100AD the Gospel of John is written, while Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 is called Military. August 8th 1918, 100years ago, the Battle of Amiens started the opening phase of the Allied 100 day offensive, that would ultimately lead to the end of World War I.

Hundred is used 590 times in the King James Bible. It is said that Shem and Abraham both became fathers at the age of 100. God is designated as the “Most High” 100 times in the Old Testament. The hundredfold is promised to who have left all for God as in Mark 10:30. The fourteen epistles of Paul have on the whole 100 chapters and we read that Obadiah saved 100 prophets. One verse very often mentioned in churches and sermons is the one:
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

This leads us a ritual very close to the hearts of the Jews. The 100 Blessings a Day.

“Rabbi Meir said, ‘A person is obligated to bless 100 blessing every day, as the Torah says: ‘Now Israel, what does God ask from you, but only to fear your God, to go in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve Hashem your God, with all of your heart and with all of your soul. To guard His commands and His statutes which I command you today, for your good.” (Deut. 10:12,13)

The Rabbi explains, that the word “what” (“mah” in Hebrew) is to be read not “mah”, but “meah” (meaning 100). So instead of the verse above reading “what does God ask of you,” it should be read, “100 does God ask of you.” Meaning, God asks 100 blessings of us.
The Rabbis instituted 100 blessings as an expression of Moses’ sentiment that the Torah is not a burden. By blessing God 100 times daily, we are in fact stating, “even 100 blessings is no burden to us, for we love the one we are blessing. This Jewish practice of 100 blessings a day develops an attitude of gratitude.
All of these blessings really are times when we ‘bless’ God by saying thank you.” This idea of constantly giving thanks for even minute things is the key to changing our overwhelmed thoughts into a constant positive and prayerful mindset.

Bless you God for this new day, this new week,  the early morning sun this Monday Morning  the 27th of August 2018.

Wishing you many Godly, God-filled and God-sent blessings this week!

Philemon

God was in this place and I did not know
Good Monday Morning to this week of 36/2018

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Jacob’s Dream

Jacob’s response to his dream provides us with two models of discovering God’s presence.

Like Paul in Romans, connects suffering with hope. He says something insightful when he shows how hope is something that is created within you – it’s not a fleeting thought or idea, it’s a state of being that is only shaped when you allow the suffering you’ve been through to work on you and transforms you in particular ways. R. Bell

As we zoom in to the story of Jacob, we come to that amazing dream amidst the running for his life, leaving others to suffer, suffering himself greatly as he flees from his brother and father.

Commentary by  Parashat Vayetzei on Jacobs Dreams:

Jacob runs for his life, fleeing the fury of the brother from whom he has stolen the patriarchal blessing and the father he has deceived. He stops for the night, for the sun is setting. The next day he will cross over into another land, a new family and a world that knows nothing of a covenant with God.

He dreams in verse 12 of a ladder that reaches to heaven with angels (messengers) of God going up and down on it. One probably should not think of a ladder in the contemporary sense of the word, but rather something like the Mesopotamian ziggurat; a ramp-like structure that served as a divine sanctuary through which heaven and earth were connected. This stairway to heaven does not give Jacob access to heaven; rather, God speaks to Jacob where he is, denoting God’s immanent presence rather than a faraway removed God calling from a distance. It is significant that this surprise encounter completely comes from God — breaking into Jacob’s state of sleep which signifies a brief cessation of anxious fleeing.

Jacob has reached the borders of his life with no assurance that the blessings of power, wealth and progeny he has received from his father, Isaac, will ever be fulfilled. Jacob dreams of a ladder to heaven with angels ascending and descending. He envisions God at his side, renewing the covenant made with his father Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham … All the families of the earth will bless themselves through you and your descendants

Jacob awakens from his sleep and says: “Surely there is God in this place and I did not know.” What is it that he did not know? Two Hasidic masters provide contrary yet equally remarkable insight for us, each responds to Jacob’s confusion over God’s presence.

One explains the place where God was found was in the “I”–the self of Jacob. Consumed with anger, fear and deceit, Jacob suddenly becomes aware of the potential divinity with himself, the place where God can reside.

The second intuits the opposite. At the very moment that Jacob becomes aware of God’s presence, he exclaims: It is “I” (the self) that I do not know.” Only when I am not filled with myself, when I empty myself of the ego and self-serving explanations that encrust me, can I truly experience God’s presence.

Both remind us how ever-present God can be and how easy it is to say
“But I did not know.”

When Jacob awoke from his dream, not only the place has been changed by God’s presence, but also he is a changed man. Professing God’s presence in this rather ordinary place, Jacob builds an altar, converting his “pillow” — just another stone from that place — into a type of memorial stela that marks the life-altering encounter with God. He calls this place without a name “Bethel” — house of God, professing that God is here, on the way right there where Jacob finds himself.

Wishing you God’s presence as you seek him or as you don’t seek him, but as he sends his messengers to meet you.

Philemon

Relentless
Good Monday Morning to this week 37/2018

Relentless is mostly the opposite of what we are about, yet when we see Him and start to ponder His greatness and His character we encounter this relentless love and relentless God!

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast “relentless” love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has “relentless” compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

Relentless:  continuing in a severe or extreme way! Here some synonyms to describe relentless: Persistent, continuing, constant, continual, continuous, non-stop, lasting, never-ending, steady, uninterrupted, unabated, unabating, unbroken, interminable, incessant, unstoppable, unceasing, endless, unending, perpetual, unremitting, unrelenting, unrelieved, sustained, unfaltering, unflagging, untiring, unwavering, unswerving, undeviating, persevering, determined, resolute, purposeful, dogged, single-minded, tireless, indefatigable, patient, diligent, assiduous, sedulous, tenacious, pertinacious, insistent, importunate stubborn, intransigent, obstinate, obdurate.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

There is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who … relentlessly loves (1 Kings 8:23 MSG)

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)

Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4)

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

Higher then the highest heavens, so great is your steadfast, relentless, loyal, love, towering over all you who bow before and worship Him.  (Psalm 103:11)

He is relentless in His pursuit of You this week!

In His grip!
Philemon

The rise of winds
Good Monday Morning to this week 38/2018

The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. That’s the way it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut roared ashore on the same day this week, half a world apart, but the way they spread devastation was as different as water and wind. Mangkut had winds at the speed of 285- and 270kmh at landfall. Florence took a journey of 15days  and made landfall with 150kmh and a width of 300km, about the distance of Paris to Brussels.

Wind is far more than these extreme forces of destruction we saw this weekend. Wind is known for transportation, power, mythology, erosion, sound, dispersal of seeds in finding a place to germinate. Winds are known beyond earth, as the planet winds or the solar winds. Most countries or regions have special names for the wind or meaning to what the wind brings or changes. I’ve been in West Africa when the Harmattan “blew in”. It was more then a dry wind bringing dust or different temperatures, there was cultural and emotional element and at times it even seemed as if a spiritual one as well. Our West wind here brings us rain, warmer weather, even different sounds influencing our sleep so very different from the North Wind blowing. The Joran another wind here that is hard to predict,  not too strong, but very stormy and “show’s up” without little warning,  often to the big surprise of those enjoying the waters at the lake of Biel/Bienne.

The Bible contains several references to the power of the wind, its variability and its destructive potential. Besides such allegorical imagery, in many places the wind is referred to in practical terms. Out of the four winds of the Bible, the east wind is the one which is mentioned most often and it is generally described as a very strong, hot and dry wind. The book of Genesis talks of the heads of grain that sprouted and then got withered by the scorching east wind. The book of Ezekiel tells how the strong and tall vine was uprooted and got completely withered and stripped of its fruit by the dry east wind.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but cannot tell where it comes from, and where it goes. So is every one who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8
Warapunga:
The Spirit breatheth where He will, rendering a comparison between the unseen but powerful operation of the Spirit in regeneration and the invisible but mighty power of the wind. You hear the voice of the wind but cannot see where it comes from nor where it goes to. So in the new birth the Spirit moves and works unseen. The thunder as it comes and goes is not seen: the winds also are invisible though their effects are manifest; the soul of man is itself unseen.  In favor of the other rendering it may be urged that there is nothing to warn us. The Spirit breathes where He will,” that is to say, there is no limitation of His power to certain individuals, classes, races. The Spirit makes Himself audible in articulate and intelligible sounds. The breathing of the Spirit is like man’s breath, not mere air, but articulated and significant voice. He does not roar like the wind and toss men in unavailing contortions as the wind tosses the trees. It is a voice and the result is full of reason, in harmony with human nature and vivifying it to higher life. But for all this you cannot observe and regulate the Spirit’s approach and departure thus it is in the case of every one who is born of the Spirit. You cannot see the process of regeneration; the process is secret and invisible, the results are apparent. So is every one that is born of the Spirit: he is regenerated by grace, that is, as free and sovereign, as powerful and irresistible, and as secret and imperceptible, as the wind is. The same Hebrew word the quickening influences, be it practical or spiritual. The risings, failings, and change in direction many times in a day, of those gentle breezes referred to, will probably ever be a mystery to us: So of the operation of the Holy Spirit in the new birth.

The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. That’s the way it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

So is every one that is born of the Spirit, regenerated by grace, that is, as free and sovereign, as powerful and irresistible, and as secret and imperceptible, as the wind is.

Wishing you that gentle quickening influence of His Spirit this week.

Philemon

The Story behind the Story
Good Monday Morning to this week 39/2018

“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water…” Jude 1:12

Clouds without water

Let’s take the metaphor “clouds without water.” A cloud in Scripture is often a symbol of divine presence. A pillar of cloud led the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

And the LORD came down in a cloud…

Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain…

And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

Yeshua ascended to heaven in a cloud.

Thirsty for TORAH by Rabbi Ismar Schorsch

They traveled three days in the wilderness and found no water”, some mystically inclined Rabbis opined: “Water actually stands for Torah, as it is said (by Isaiah, 55:1),  All who are thirsty, come for water.’

Having gone for three days without Torah, the prophets among them stepped forth and legislated that the Torah should be read on the second and fifth days of the week as well as on Shabbat so that they would not let three days pass without Torah” .
Now let’s take this one step further. Let’s look at the root word for TORAH, yara. The verb yara means to throw cast or shoot, but is also connected to the act of raining.

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain. My speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: (Deuteronomy 32:1-2)

What is the message transmitted through this comparison, comparing the Torah to rain and dew?

What is the difference between rain and dew?

Although the earth needs rain in order to sustain life, rain is not always appreciated. Rain can cause inconvenience. The traveler does not wish to battle inclement weather. A farmer whose harvested crops are still in the field is not pleased with a summer storm.

Dew does not have the life-sustaining power of rain. However, it is more appreciated. Dew provides moisture, without inconvenience.

Rain represents an activity with a long-term sustaining effect. Dew, in contrast, symbolizes activity providing immediate joy and benefit. He explains that the Torah combines the benefits of rain and dew. Like rain, Torah sustains life.

Through observance and study of the Torah we can achieve eternal life in the world to come. The Torah also has the quality represented by dew – immediate gain. We are not required to sacrifice happiness in this life. Instead, the Torah enhances our temporal existence in the material world.”

So what does this metaphor of clouds without rain mean?

Clouds without rain are those who have the appearance of God’s presence, His anointing (a cloud), but without having rain (TORAH)!

The Jewish philosopher Philo also expressed, the goal of any kind of instruction given by God is to be salvation, especially as human beings understand their limitations in light of His eternal holiness and perfection. And while it is most imperative for us to obey the Lord,  it drives us to the cross of Yeshua in confession and repentance,  seeing the Holy Spirit take up residence within us and transform us to be more like Him.

Therefore the Law (Torah) has become our tutor to lead us to Messiah, so that we may be justified by faith.” Therefore we stay i need for the (Torah).

We seek the dew and the rain for the days to come.

Wishing you a week filled with clouds with rain and accompanied with His dew.

Philemon

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