Blog 2019

MONTH: JANUARY 2019
POSTED ONJANUARY 28, 2019EDIT”IN EVERYTHING, WE THINK, DESIRE AND LIVE!”
In everything, we think, desire and live!
Exodus asks, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Samuel declares, “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” Jesus declares; I desire mercy not sacrifice.

Good Monday Morning to this week 05 of 2019

Today I was preparing to translate a very interesting sermon called:

Mercy is the new holiness. (by M. Benz)

Due to a personal emergency in the family, I had to cancel and spent the afternoon at the hospital instead.

I will shortly go into the topic nevertheless.

Holiness means “to cut.” To be holy means to be cut off, or separate, from everything else. It means to be in a class of your own, distinct from anything that has ever existed or will ever exist.
Mercy is; the act of forgiving someone or not treating them severely, especially someone who you would have the right or authority to punish. (giving something they don’t deserve)
God’s holiness is not an aspect no, it’s the essence of who he is.

If you were to ask, “How is the holiness of God revealed?” the only right answer would be, “In everything he does.” Everything He thinks, desires, speaks and does is utterly holy in every way.

He is holy in justice.
He is holy in love.
He is holy in mercy.
He is holy in power.
He is holy in sovereignty.
He is holy in wisdom.
He is holy in patience.
He is holy in anger.
He is holy in grace.
He is holy in faithfulness.
He is holy in compassion.
He is even holy in his holiness!

Then Jesus came to this earth and gave another new a very different perspective. In many particularly and evident ways, Jesus corrected the understanding of holiness in Judaism to their day.
In Matthew 12:6-8 he spoke of holding the Sabbath and said:

I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.
Tax collectors and other outcasts had gathered in Matthew’s house for a feast. In the center of the hubbub, Jesus and his followers reclined at the dinner table. Noticing Jesus’s presence among such riffraff, the Pharisees scoffed. How could Jesus consider himself a rabbi and party with such a disreputable bunch? So they pulled a few of Jesus’s converts aside and huffed, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:10).
Overhearing their question, Jesus responded, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. The religious leaders’ blindness astounded him. How could he reveal God’s love to these folks if he didn’t hang out with them?
Jesus then admonished the Pharisees. “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” . He was quoting the prophet Hosea, who, centuries earlier, had condemned the Jews for attempting to excuse their idolatry and their oppression of the poor by offering the prescribed animal sacrifices.
God always values “mercy” over “sacrifice.”

Jesus longs for us to move beyond the idea of sacrifice—what we feel obligated to give up to be perceived as religious. He wants us to get our hearts involved, tangled up with other people’s lives, so the word sacrifice drops out of our vocabulary so that all we know is the passion to love others as he loves us.

This is the roadmap Jesus set for our lives!

James 2:13
For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.!
Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Mercy triumphs, mercy wins, mercy has the last word.

No one needs to be afraid of the day of judgment if they have lived mercifully!
Jesus confronted the religious leaders because they cared more about proving
they were right about Sabbath law than they cared about a man with
a withered hand Jesus wanted to heal.

Do we as leaders and people of our time argue and talk about our theological positions, or keeping our theology correct and pure, or value “speaking truth” and “being right” significantly more than the value lifting a finger to help broken, hurting, wandering people?

If you were to ask, “How is the mercy of Jesus revealed?” the only right answer would be, “In everything Jesus does.” Everything He thinks, desires, speaks and does is utterly merciful in every way!

He is merciful in justice.
He is merciful in love.
He is compassionate in mercy.
He is merciful in power.
He is merciful in sovereignty.
He is merciful in wisdom.
He is merciful in patience.
He is merciful in anger.
He is merciful in grace.
He is merciful in faithfulness.
He is merciful in compassion.
He is even merciful in his holiness!

If you were to ask how we are to live a holy life then? The right answer would be, “In everything we do.” Everything we think, desire, speak and do in showing mercy and compassion in every way as Jesus did!
I wish you a compassionate week, full of His mercy!

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 21, 2019EDIT”IS THE WOLF TO BLAME IF THE SHEEP ARE ROAMING FREE?”
Is the wolf to blame if the sheep are roaming free?
Good Monday Morning to this week 04/2019
And whence have the sheep such discerning knowledge of Christ that they take no one else’s voice for His?
– From the fact that they are known by God. Gal. 4:9
– From the fact that the Father draws them, for no one comes to Christ but him whom his Father draws.Jn. 6:44
– From the fact that all are taught of God. Jn. 6:45.

Therefore it follows that only those sheep do not err who know the voice of their shepherd so well that they receive absolutely no other. H. Zwingli

A stranger once declared to a Syrian shepherd that the sheep knew the dress and not the voice of their master. The shepherd said it was the voice they knew. To prove this, he exchanged dresses with the stranger, who went among the sheep in the shepherd’s dress, calling the sheep in imitation of the shepherd’s voice, and tried to lead them. They knew not his voice, but when the shepherd called them, though he was disguised, the sheep ran at once at his call.—Orientalisms in Bible Lands, by E. W. Rice, pp. 159-161.

Sheep come to associate the sound of the shepherd’s voice (or even whistle) with certain benefits. They know who feeds them, protects them, and cares for their needs. Sheep can distinguish their keeper’s voice from others. But what about newborn lambs? How do they learn to recognize the shepherd’s voice? From birth, lambs are conditioned to follow the flock. Sheep often get a bad rap for their flock mentality, but God created them with an instinct to stick together as a means of survival. That instinct allows the lambs to flourish. Even sheep that are introduced to a new flock will follow the other sheep until they too recognize the shepherd.

Most people know that sheep tend to flock together, but did you know that many breeds also stick to the same grazing spot? These sheep can be “hefted,” which means they are taught to graze in the same general area (called a “heft”). Hefting is a system of livestock husbandry based on territorial instincts, usually practiced on the roughest and most difficult land. It enables stock to graze a selected area without the need for fencing.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

Guidance for the sheep. The shepherd always leads them, often going before them. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them” (Joh 10:4). This does not mean that the shepherd is always in front of his sheep. Although he may be usually in that position when traveling, he often walks by their side, and sometimes follows behind, especially if the flock is headed for the fold in the evening.

From the rear, he can gather any stragglers, and protect such from a sly attack from a wild animal. If the flock is a large one, the shepherd will be in front, and a heifer will follow behind.

Isaiah speaks of the omnipresent Lord in a double relationship to His people: “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward [rear guard]” (Isa 52:12).

Wishing you the omnipresence of the good Shepherd as you hear his voice as you graze in the “heft” of His presence this coming week.

Philemon
POSTED ONJANUARY 14, 2019EDIT”SUCCESS IS A LITTLE FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD”
Success is a little further down the road
Good Monday Morning to this week 03/2019

Last week we dug deep into the top of failure not being the end. The opposite of failure is now; hope and faith and not success.

But what about success? It’s got to be a topic, there needs to be some success as much as I agree with all the nice and challenging things I wrote last week!

Some quotes and thoughts from the Bible and some smart and ordinary people:

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

Success is on the same road as failure; success is just a little further down the road.
Jack Hyles

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

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

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go. 1 Kings 2.3

A safe life is a wasted life. God made you for far, far more than the life you let your fears define for you. Rick Warren

The danger of expecting nothing (having no faith) is that, in the end,
it might be all we’ll get.  Dan Ariely

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. Norman Cousins

You have to be brave with your life so others can be brave with theirs.  Brené Brown

Here some helpful points, seven actually, I still can’t get over all the blogs with 10 points so I’ll stick to seven!

1. Embrace life’s unwanted gifts! See what happens! A transforming new perspective of life, needing some deep thought, reflecting, soul and God searching and finding!

2. Enduring harsh comments even criticism. Harsh comments can actually wake us up from a long slumber of settling for mediocrity though quite uncomfortable.

3. Embrace your failures. It appears in the biography of most successful people!

4. Life caters to the seekers. Get to work, allow doubts, deal with doubts, seek to find, being stretched despite the pain and struggles, often produces good results.

If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail
Be the best of whatever you are!
D. Malloch

5. You have a magnificent obsession! Search it, live it, spread it!

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. Mother Theresa

6. Don’t mind that you are different! Most successful people are!

7. Define success for yourself, have a vision for your life! Write up a personal mission statement for your life. A personal mission statement is a declaration of an individual’s purpose and path in life, emphasizing what is truly important to you. It lays out your core values, your expectations, and your pledge to other people.

Apostle Paul also had a mission statement:
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

In conclusion the vision of David in Psalm 1.3

You shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither
And whatever you do shall prosper!

Wishing a successful week!

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 7, 2019EDIT”FAILURE IS NOT THE END”
Failure is not the end
Good Monday Morning to this week 02/2019

Shortly before Christmas I was challenged again with the thought patterns, ideas and beliefs leading to the Theology of Prosperity. Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.

We could go into the many faces of poverty, economic injustices, financial dependencies, unemployment, or issues around ownership, material resources, use of land along with many other restrictions and injustices. Questions as notions of communal ownership of land of stewardship or the even the redistribution of resources and possessions from the rich to the poor come to mind. We’ll go there another time, to John Fischer’s book; Theology of Possession.

But how can Theology of Failure help us currently in a world so much in need of change?

Mark 6:1-13, Jesus comes back to his hometown. He tries to do some great things for the people, but they reject him. Jesus just spent a few months doing some pretty amazing things, traveled from town to town and people are blessed by His power and authority: healing people, driving demons and feeding the poor. With his homecoming, he uses the same approach but only to fail. How could this happen? How could the Son of God fail?

Could it be here where the, theology of failure comes in, isn’t it often so in life , that if something fails, where things do not go as planned, where ways of thinking do not lead to success, where expectations are disappointed where projects remain inconclusive and where intentions simply fail, that we need redirection or another perspective?

1 Corinthians 1:28; God chose the lowly, the laughable in the world’s eyes, nobodies, so that He would shame the somebodies. For he chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent.

John Navone, an American Jesuit priest answered to Pope Francis as follows:
Theology of Failure is a book I wrote about how Jesus lived patiently. In the experience of limits, patience is forged in dialogue with human limits and limitations. There are times when our lives do not call so much for our ‘doing’ as for our ‘enduring,’ for bearing up with our own limitations and those of others. Being patient means accepting the fact that it takes time to mature and develop. Living with patience allows for time to integrate and shape our lives. The failure to patiently affirm and support others is the failure to love as Jesus loved and taught us to love. When he taught us the Lord’s Prayer, the only aspect of human relations he mentions is that of our needing to forgive finite, limited others as we, too, have been forgiven.

Markus Müller put’s this in other words:

Failure is not the end of things but very often the very beginning. Some things need to go a level deeper before they can grow. Look at the many seeds needing a certain amount of depth and darkness in order to germinate. God being strong in the weak is not meant to emphasize the weak but is embedded in the compassion of God. Weakness and failure are aligned and put in the order of Him who has all power in future of heaven and earth.

Failure is not in contradiction to success. Through the compassion and grace of God, failure finds a new expression in the power of God and His works. In this light, failure leads us to strength. This is relevant not only to individual failure but also collective failure as seen in people groups, cultures, churches and society. Paul sums this up wonderfully in the verse:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who strengthens me.
Therefore taking weakness and failure seriously, is not just trying to overcome or avoid it, but seriously tackling it, leading us to transformation, to a renewing of our mind and thoughts. The opposite of failure is now; hope and faith and not success.

Heavenly Father, Son and Spirit, In your light we truly see; In your love we truly love; In your freedom we are truly free; In your peace we are truly at peace; In your joy we are truly joyful; In your wisdom we are truly wise; In your strength we are truly strong; In your goodness we are truly good; In your life we are truly alive; in your beauty we are truly beautiful; in your happiness we are truly happy. In you alone, we live and move and have our being. In you alone, we have this hope of unending joy.

Wishing a great start this week!
Philemon

MONTH: FEBRUARY 2019
POSTED ONFEBRUARY 25, 2019EDIT”THE LEFT HAND OF GOD”
The Left Hand of God
Mark 10:37
They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

Ezekiel 21:16
Go thee one way or other, either on the right-hand or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set.

Good Monday Morning to the week 07 of 2019

Reading on the wrong use of giving the right cheek I started wondering about the left hand of God. Yes, God must have a left hand as well!

The right hand is mentioned positively 100 times in the Bible, the left hand is mentioned only 25 times, mostly negatively while it presented the right hand as a symbol of strength and honor, in the left-hand are riches and honor.

Matthew 6:3 writes; But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right-hand does.

The Hebrew Bible mentions left-handed people on three occasions: the story of Ehud’s assassination of the Moabite king, the 700 Benjamites who could use the sling with deadly accuracy and the two-dozen ambidextrous warriors who came to support David in Hebron. All of these stories of left-handed people in the Bible appear in military contexts, and, curiously, all involve members of the tribe of Benjamin.

“The LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man”.

The statement that Ehud was a left-handed man and that he was from the tribe of Benjamin, is very significant. In fact, according to Judges 20:16, there were seven hundred specially-trained men in the army of the tribe of Benjamin and all of them were left-handed. The text also says that “each one could sling a stone and hit even the smallest target.”

To explain this peculiarity and how left-handedness was seen not only in Israel but also in other nations, Different nations derived their expressions for right and left from conceptions peculiar to themselves. Some are based on the idea of showing, pointing, with the right hand; sinister, from sinus, on the action of laying the right hand on the side of the heart. The left hand has everywhere been regarded as the weaker, which, properly speaking, did not wield arms.

When oriental custom placed the stranger on the left, it assigned him the seat of honor in so far as the left side seemed to be the weaker and less protected, from the idea of weakness, sprang such terms as, laevus, [Eng. left] because that side is harmless, smooth, and gentle.

Hence also the custom among Asiatic nations of inclining toward the left side, and resting on the left hand, when seated: the right hand was thus left free.

The threefold trinity can be pictured as having God-the-Father at the top, and underneath on the right side Jesus Christ our Lord, and on the left the Holy Spirit Christologically conceived!

So this question is actually not quite as absurd as it seems from the surface…

Another brain-stimulating piece of information: Did you know according to old and widespread Catholic traditionary sources the Archangel Gabriel sits on the “Left-hand side of God”? Some old authors even refer to Gabriel as “the Left Hand of God” Himself. Any interesting brainstorming?

Gabriel “God is my strength”‘. In the Hebrew Bible, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel, to explain his visions. Gabriel the archangel is also a character in other ancient Jewish writings such as the Book of Enoch. Alongside archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending this people against the angels of the other nations.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure Southpaw wrote one answer. It was surely could be concluded that God must be left-handed because Christ is sitting on his right hand!

But maybe God has no hands at all but much more a left side. He is a Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

And now here we are back here on earth to both left and right hands and side inspired by His left side, His, Holy Spirit to guide these both hands of ours to do His inspired works here this next week!

I wish you a blessed week.

Philemon

POSTED ONFEBRUARY 18, 2019EDIT”CLUSTERING THE WORD “FAITH””
Clustering the word “faith”
CLUSTER; to compare, to bind together. A cluster or bunch of grapes, a cluster of henna flowers, a cluster of dates.

Good Monday Morning to this week 08 of 2019

FAITH, is a precious possession, not visible or tangible, however, Jesus said to doubting Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. The result of a living faith is both visible and tangible! The disciples saw it and touched it in Jesus, and our calling as Christians is to come to this same fullness of life – by faith!

Looking at individual faith, three professors of a Chennai University applied a fuzzy clustering to stories of individual faith in the Bible. They looked at well-known stories as:

Peter’s faith in the arresting of Jesus
Mary’s faith in the changing of water to wine
The centurion’s faith
Thomas and his portion of faith
Martha in the raising of Lazarus
Peter’s faith as he walked on water
Peter’s faith, catching a large amount of fish
Elizabeth’s faith with the birth of John the Baptist
Bartimaeus being healed of blindness
The disciples’ faith in the calming of the sea

These wonderful incidents in the Bible stand testament, that faith, is required if not to a greater degree, to have hope and to make us certain of the realities we do not see.

Significant about this observation is the higher the degree of faith greater to the extent of the miracle. But what needs to be noted is that eight of the attributes fall in the low level which indicates that even an individual with a mustard level of faith could definitely expect a miracle. Is faith, our spiritual hands simply accepting what is offered. Is faith a possession, a decision, an action of believing? Is faith greatest when you are least aware of it when you act like a trusting child? Yes, faith is letting God pick you up and carry you like a trusting child. Faith is leaving things to God, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.

While the raging storm swept the sea and threatened the safe journey of the disciples to the other side of the lake, Jesus was asleep in the hinder part of the boat. He wasn’t bothered by the storm. And while the lions roamed about in the den, Daniel lay down and slept in the face of danger in perfect peace and calm assurance. Why? Because Jesus and Daniel each possessed great faith.

Faith is a huge and wide spiritual concept. There is faith or saving faith, which is also a gift. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Or the faith mentioned in the cluster above is of the nine gifts of the Spirit. Faith is also a supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit whereby, one is empowered with special faith for a situation. Faith, therefore, a full and unreserved confidence in God, in His love for me, and in His power to help and assist us.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the connecting power into the spiritual realm, which links us with God and makes Him become a tangible reality to the sense perceptions of a person. Faith is the basic ingredient to begin a relationship with God.

Faith is also but far more than believing in healing. Faith, belief, trust, and loyalty to a person or thing. Finding our security and hope in God as revealed in Jesus. There is an expression of persistence, a simple hope, or a waiting for. Another term for faith stresses on firmness and stability emphasizing the varied activities of God and our responses to him. Faith is a spiritual attitude involving activity. Faith is intimately linked to the covenant between God and his people. The meaning of faith in the NT is then both a reflection of its God’s continuity with His conventual promises. Faith, primarily confident trust based on God’s promise as understood through the relationship to Him. The results of faith are seen in the radical changes that people experience when they place their trust in Jesus. The Gospels make the faith response explicit in particular miracles.
Jesus asserts, in a discussion with skeptical disciples, that power is available to all who have faith, and that prayer is one means for expressing this faith. This paradoxical power of faith is seen not only in its “mountain-mover” quality, which is a kind of participation in God’s creative activity, but also in its comparison with a minute grain of mustard seed. To place one’s trust in Jesus is to open the door for a radical change in the meaning of life itself.

Faith is linked to baptism, confession, forgiveness, grace, healing, the Holy Spirit justification, purification, and sanctification. Faith is also portrayed as something one can be full of, turned from, remain true to, and be strengthened in. Basic to all of these ideas is the understanding that the act of believing is also a commitment to a community of worship the meeting of the needs of others and the sharing of this faith with all as Jesus told them.

The effect of faith can be generalized under the picture of a new creation, sonship, unity, love, hope, deliverance, healing, steadfastness, victory, being faithful, trustworthiness
fidelity, our side of the union with Christ, overcoming, movement from darkness to light, from death to life and living in a love that reciprocates the love of the Father.

Wishing you faith this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONFEBRUARY 11, 2019EDIT”CULTIVATING THE SOIL OF OUR HEARTS”
Cultivating the soil of our hearts
I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11

Good Monday Morning to this week 07 of 2019

I just spent a very inspirational week visiting an ecological farming project in Moldova. Because it was during the depth of winter we didn’t speak too much about planting or about the harvest, but we spent most of the time speaking about the soil.

A degraded soil typically loses its ability to supply food and habitation to living organisms, in its surrounding. Characteristics of a degraded soil include high salinity, the decline in fertility, the decline in organic matter leading to declining in soil structure, soil erodibility, increase in alkalinity and acidity. Soil degradation can be caused by agricultural activities disturbing the soil structure and its drainage capacity.

Green manures and cover crops serve as mulch to the soil preventing the soil from wind/water erosion and moisture loss. They also increase the soil organic matter content as they decompose in the soil.

Organic compost is a great method of fertilizing the soils compared to inorganic fertilizers. Compost is a mixture of decomposed plant parts and animal waste. The key benefit of composting is that it increases soil organic matter content. Organic matter improves the soil fertility, the soil structure and its water holding capacity.

Crop rotation is a farming practice which involves growing different types of crops in one location sequentially.

In Bible times plowing was done with very light spear tip tines, which did not invert the soil, but instead loosened the soil to a very shallow depth for planting.

In many of the ways, we treat the soil of our souls or hearts, often like the current industrial farms plow their fields and use a quick fix for the land like fertilizers, destroying the soil on the long run.

What if this picture of organic soil management could help us understand the restoration of our soul?

There’s no question, we all want to have a heart likened to the well prepared, restored and fertile soil, where the seed of God’s Word is nurtured and the roots go deep so that we grow and produce good fruit. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The soil of our heart changes and we need to work at it to keep it soft and fertile. Just like a farmer prepares the ground to receive the seed he is about to plant, our Master Farmer prepares our heart for the truths of His Word.

Again and again, we heard from Toby and Urs the farmers, don’t plow, don’t uproot everything, plan to cover the fields, leave a mulch or “God’s blanket” as the guys from “Farming God’s way” in South Africa say.

Hosea 10:12 tells us, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now, is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.

I see many parallels in our personal lives. We could try to uproot all our history calling it bad, we could try to be perfect, we could try to have changed or imported (fertilized) soil of our souls, we could stir everything up not accepting who we are in Christ and who He is in us.

Christ in us, is the blanket, the cover, the nutrition, the restorer, the carer of the soil of our hearts. He doesn’t need us to be someone else, from the time He adopted us, He started to work the soil in us to return health and growth to our lives.

I wish you ” healthy cultivation of the soil of your hearts” and a very good week.

Philemon

POSTED ONFEBRUARY 3, 2019EDIT”GOD A TOURIST IN HIS OWN LAND?”
God a tourist in his own land?
Why are you acting like a tourist, taking in the sights, here today and gone tomorrow? Why do you just stand there and stare, like someone who doesn’t know what to do in a crisis? But God, you are, in fact, here, here with us! You know who we are—you named us! Don’t leave us in the lurch. Jeremiah 14:8-9

Good Monday Morning to this week 06 of 2019

A rather scary thought indeed! God visiting his own as a tourist. A tourist, someone visiting a place of interest for a short while to move on again.

It reminds of the quote and then 2005 documentary, God Sleeps in Rwanda, about five women affected by the Rwandan genocide, implying that he spends the day elsewhere but merely sleeps on his own land. But the proverb used to be applied in a different way, The Rwandans proudly used to say that their country was so beautiful that God spent the night there!

Before the genocide, Rwanda was widely considered to be one of the most successful examples of mission work. In 1991, about 90 percent of the population was Christian and a majority of 65 percent identified themselves as Roman Catholic. The country was widely considered to be an example of successful Christianization. But in the genocide, Christian values seemed to crumble rapidly in the face of ethnic hatred. In the face of genocide, the church was powerless.

In the book “The Churches and Ethnic Ideology”, there is a detailed study of two Presbyterian parishes in north-west Rwanda. In Kirinda both the leaders and the members of the Church were involved in the killings while in Biguhu they actively resisted the genocide. Longman comes to the conclusion that the major difference between the parishes was the way the leaders of the Church related to the population. In Kirinda, the clergy enforced the authoritarian structures while in Biguhu the leadership of the Church empowered the poor. Another interesting question raised was if the Catholic Church did repent for its role in the genocide. According to the authors, repentance was one of the pre-conditions in order for the Catholic Church to make a real contribution to the peace process.

Jeremiah takes us to a very similar and dark place, the verdict is unshakeable. The Lord does not accept them. The relationship is no longer expressed with possessive pronouns (my people/your God; our God/your people). “This” is a long way from “my” or “your” or “our.” The distance is striking as he speaks of “this people”. Does this imply the end of the covenant relationship?

In this prophetic exchange, the immediate future is set by God’s commitment to remembering their iniquity. To remember iniquity means punishment. The severance of the covenant relationship does not mean out of sight, out of mind. It is not a matter of divine indifference; rather, the mind of God is focused on “this people.” When covenantal blessing ceases, it is not a matter of a neutral absence of good. The cessation of covenantal blessing is the beginning of disaster, not merely the relenting of good.

In Rwanda very many crucial decisions were taking in the aftermath, one was that the restoration of justice was chosen in a different way, after many failed attempts in retributive justice, the restorative justice was applied.

Richard W. Nysse continues in his commentary that the false prophets had insisted that God would not reject. Instead, God, in their view, would only bless, even to the point of exempting them from the natural consequences of social injustice. They claimed that the community would not experience sword and famine. But the famine was already in place! Once God is active in punishment, the only way out, comes from God. That is what is being pleaded here, and the plea is rejected by God. God is, in this text, rejecting the intercession of the people, not because it is insincere, but because the time for pleas is over.

We desperately want to be spared the thought that God is active in the dark cloud, not just against the dark cloud!

Please, let’s just quickly move on to Jeremiah 31:34: “I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.” The move to forgiveness goes through the heart of God, and we know from the New Testament that it is not a facile move. It involves a huge price!

Yes, we know that this not be the last chapter in the story of the Lord’s people. The Lord will put these people through a fire, but it will be a refiner’s fire rather than a destroyer’s fire. Their redemption will be a long time coming, but it will come. The Lord is abandoning his people, but the abandonment will be temporary. It is the Lord’s way of acknowledging that cheap grace is no bargain, no solution. Cheap grace at this point would not help these people. It is time for Tough Love.

The answer is no, no, no, God was not a tourist on his own land. But yes He did choose to sleep or to abandon them temporarily. The people appeal to God not to break this long-standing covenant. This covenant does have two sides, it imposes responsibilities on both parties, it is the people rather than Yahweh who have broken the covenant. They have broken it over and over and over again, but now they ask the Lord not to break it. The Lord, however, is not breaking the covenant but is acknowledging its brokenness.

Many questions remain, many things unanswered as in Jeremiah 14 or in the Rwandan history, as well as maybe in the context of your life.

One of the deep findings of Jeremiah 14 is:

God is active in the dark cloud, not just against the dark cloud!

I wish you a very good week.

Philemon

Quotes taken from various Bible Commentaries mentioned.
‘God spends the day elsewhere, but He sleeps in Rwanda’. About Catholicism, conflict and peace in Rwanda. Master Thesis 12/2011 by Henrieke Buit
History of International Relations Utrecht University

 

MONTH: MARCH 2019
POSTED ONMARCH 31, 2019EDIT”HOMO DEUS?”
Homo Deus?
Good Monday Morning to this week 14 of 2019

Colossians 1:16 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

While waiting on my train ride home this evening I walked thru a bookstore and looked at the latest books on the english shelf. The following title caught my attention:
“Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari. The review reads:

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? Is the next stage of evolution?

Big questions to raise and ask, I for sure will look into the book for food for thought because I like the questions aked? Where are we going from here? The approach the assumptions he makes don’t find too much room in my mindset, but the questions are rightly put!

This one a favorite: How will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? The images of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe still very real and ongoing, with immense suffering and destruction leading us to ask this same question!

Let’s listen in to some of the authors and great mentors of ancient times written in the Bible. How much did they trust in God and how much in “Homo Deus”?

Jeremiah
Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

David
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Isaiah
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Daniel
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Paul
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love!

Joel
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

John
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Moses
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Joshua
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

David
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.

All these mentors of old put their hope in God and not in man, somehow they must have seen enough to let that perspective not get to them, so they fixed their eyes, hearts and minds on God, far beyond Homo Deus!

This gives, hope, vision, perspective and comfort in troubled times!

Wishing you a very good week!

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 25, 2019EDIT”SUFFER YOU THUS FAR!”
Suffer you thus far!
Good Monday Morning to this week 13 of 2019

On this day the 25th of March 1807 the Slave Trade Act 1807, officially An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was implemented, prohibiting the slave trade in the British Empire.

The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed by a group of Evangelical English Protestants allied with Quakers, to unite in their shared opposition to slavery and the slave trade. The Quakers had long viewed slavery as immoral, a blight upon humanity. By 1807 the abolitionist groups had a very sizable fraction of like-minded members in the British Parliament. At their height, they controlled 35–40 seats. Known as the “Saints”, the alliance was led by the best known of the anti-slave trade campaigners, William Wilberforce, who had taken on the cause of abolition after having read of more and more the evidence . These dedicated Parliamentarians often saw their personal battle against slavery as a divinely ordained crusade. On Sunday, 28 October 1787, Wilberforce wrote in his diary: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners. After a debate lasting ten hours, the House agreed to the second reading of the bill to abolish the Atlantic slave trade by an overwhelming 283 votes for to 16. The Bill received Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.

New Testament writers lived in the Roman Empire and likewise adopted widespread attitudes about slaves. Some New Testament passages rely on negative stereotypes, such as slaves being lazy. Other passages use slavery as a metaphor for faithfulness. Paul calls himself a “slave of Jesus Christ” as a sign of devotion. Jesus compares the impossible task of a slave serving two masters to followers who must choose between wealth and God. Several passages address slaves directly, which is evidence that they were attracted to the early Jesus movement. Christian slaves navigated the complex world of enslavement with their new faith.
The most famous slave in the New Testament epistles is Onesimus, the slave of Philemon. In a short letter, Paul implores Philemon to receive Onesimus as “a beloved brother”
Another very striking story is when Jesus heals an ill slave of a Roman centurion. At Jesus’ arrest, one of his followers cuts off the ear of the slave of the high priest. Though Jesus censures this act of violence in all four Gospels, only one records Jesus healing the slave!. The incident underscores how easily slaves could become victims of free people’s anger.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains Luke 22.51 as follows:
Jesus answered and said to Peter or the other listeners: Suffer ye thus far;
to Peter to stop his hand, to proceed no further, but put up his sword; and so the Arabic version reads, “refrain thyself”; and to the multitude to be easy, and not revenge the affront that was given them: and in order to pacify them, “he went to the wounded man”, as the Persic version inserts and he touched his ear and healed him; which shows, that though the human nature of Christ was in a very low condition, yet he still retained the power of doing miracles; and also his great humanity, by which example be confirmed his precept of doing good to enemies; and likewise hereby gave full proof of his willingness to be apprehended by them; for otherwise, he that wrought such a miracle as this, could easily have delivered himself out of their hands; and one would have thought this would have put a stop to them, and have convinced them of the truth of his being a divine person, and the Messiah.
J. Vaughan, M. A Jesus wrought a miracle to repair the mischief which Peter had done. Thus, by one act, in one moment, Christ made Himself the repairer of the breach. The evil, which His follower had done, was canceled; and, through the kind interposition of a special act, the injured man was none the worse — but rather the better — and the harm, of which a Christian had been the occasion, was neutralized by his Master. Now, may we take it as one of the wonderful provisions of our transformation — as one of the blessings into which we have been admitted — that the Christ, whom we now call ours, will prevent the consequences of what we too have done in days of blindness — that He will restore what we destroyed. He will rectify the ill — that He will “touch” with His own virtue the afflicted part, and that He will “heal” all that “wound.”

This could be a prayer for all those in suffering this week. Going from Mozambique to Malawi or Zimbabwe having lost all and wondering how much more they are to suffer.

I am also reminded to pray those in modern slavery. The estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world. The children, people in forced labor, forced marriages and all those in forced sexual exploitation.

Let us pray that Jesus would answer them: Suffer you this far. That he then touch their ears (situations, injustices and souls) and heal them!

Wishing a week of healing!

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 18, 2019EDIT”GOD OF THE PERPLEXED.”
God of the perplexed.
Good Monday Morning to this week 12 of 2019

Perplexed – completely baffled; very puzzled, baffled, confounded, hard put, hard-pressed, nonplussed …. “at a loss for a way.” A condition where we are IN a situation, but cannot see any way OUT. We have no frame of reference, no answers, and no explanation, for what is happening. But the situation cannot be ignored. It is upon us; we are in it. We have to deal with it. But the point is, we don’t know how to deal with it. Maybe we CANNOT deal with it – we have no ability or resources. That is perplexity.

With the news of Ethiopian Et 302, the floods in Malawi, the cyclone passing the city and region Beira Mozambique then the New Zealand Shootings of Friday leave us speechless and perplexed. There were other stories as well, a survey of salaries at Google revealed a surprising result: “Men were being paid less money than women for doing similar work!

The simple mistake in the kitchen turns into sweet success for a homeless veteran. Instead of adding buttermilk to a batch of cornbread, he accidentally used heavy cream. DeArno was afraid it would get him fired, but Feldman waved off the mistake and told him to pop the batter into the oven anyway. When it was finished baking, the cornbread was more moist, fluffy, and golden than usual. The other staff discovered that his altered version of a classic recipe was incredibly delicious. Feldman was so impressed by DeArno’s creation, he offered to go into business him. Today, they are the co-owners of Reverend Cornbread Co. As a result of the small-venture food startup, DeArno now has a steady flow of income and a place of his own, but he has not forgot the place that gave him hope.

Apostle Paul puts his perplexity as follows: We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Cor. 4:7-10)

some more verses on perplexity:

Isaiah 22:5
For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.

Micah 7:4
The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.

Luke 21:25
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

This week I came across “The Guide for the Perplexed” was originally written 1190 by Moses Maimonides. The work is divided into three books. According to Maimonides, he wrote the Guide “to enlighten a religious man who has been trained to believe in the truth of our holy Law, who conscientiously fulfils his moral and religious duties. This work has also a second object in view: It seeks to explain certain obscure figures which occur in the Prophets, and are not distinctly characterised as being figurative.

Ignorant and superficial readers take them in a literal, not in a figurative sense.

Even well informed persons are bewildered if they understand these passages in their literal signification, but they are entirely relieved of their perplexity when we explain the figure, or merely suggest that the terms are figurative. Maimonides deals with the problem of evil (for which people are considered to be responsible because of free will), trials and tests (especially those of Job and the story of the Binding of Isaac) as well as other aspects traditionally attached to God in theology, such as providence and omniscience:

Maimonides endeavours to show that evil has no positive existence, but is a privation of a certain capacity and does not proceed from God; when, therefore, evils are mentioned in Scripture as sent by God, the Scriptural expressions must be explained allegorically. Indeed, says Maimonides, all existing evils, with the exception of some which have their origin in the laws of production and destruction and which are rather an expression of God’s mercy, since by them the species are perpetuated, are created by men themselves.

Perplexity can certainly be the result of what happens in the outward. But really, since it is an INWARD condition, it is always the result of how we respond to either the outward or inward. Perhaps you are in a situation you cannot handle and you have sought God over and over about it – but have received only silence. Or maybe the problem you are dealing with is an inward one. But it hasn’t matter how much you have sought the Lord, the problem remains. You are absolutely at your wits end. Not only have you NO answers, but you may not even know the right question.

David A. DePra further writes: Do you think it is impossible for someone who is IN the will of God to be perplexed? Is it possible to pray and ask and seek God – only to receive perplexity? The Bible reveals that it is quite possible for even the most mature saint. It happened to Paul the apostle. He said, “We are perplexed.” And yet he added, “but not in despair.”

You will note how Paul speaks of this condition of perplexity – he makes it, not the result of being OUT of God’s will, but the result of being IN God’s will. Indeed, he speaks of perplexity as normal and expected in our walk with Christ. According to Paul, perplexity is the result of coming into contact with something or someone for whom you have no frame of reference. You are at a complete loss as to THE WAY. But as Paul says, this is all “structured” by God so that we can learn, find, walk THE WAY.

Here we are lead to the foundation of Christianity – Christ IN US, the hope of glory. Christ, who IS our life. Christ, the power of God. Christ, in whom are ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Not the thousand religious ways by which we must walk with God, not the TO DO.’s, not just the given rules or laws or principles to follow not a checklist of God. Rather, Christianity is CHRIST IN YOU, a continual unfolding of Christ to us and in us. Christ dwells within us – and He alone is the way to walk with God in Spirit and in Truth. He the Vine and we the branches,”

Abiding in Him, for He is our life.

Could abiding in Him be the answer to perplexity?

Fitting the description of Macmillian dictionary stating to the opposite of perplexity: ease, freedom, facility, assurance, certitude, explicate, facility, peacefulness, consciousness, clearness, clarity engagement, Godsend …

Abiding in HIm through all perplexity, being the branch implanted, grafted into the stem of the tree, into Him our God and assurance, certitude where we direct our faith.

I am the vine, ye are the branches:. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15.5

Wishing you a blessed week as you abide in Him.
Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 11, 2019EDIT”COURAGE IS CREATED THROUGH ACTION.  ”
Courage is created through action.
Good Monday Morning to this week 11 of 2019

Life lessons, something most of us are interested in, yet when we read them we wonder why they don’t sound too cool after all. Kris Gage threw a few into a blender, actually a text analyzer and here are a few that made it through my filter!

with the filter of “the Bible”

Treat others the way you want to be treated and live peacefully with those around you.

Go personally to the person who has done wrong toward you. Try to resolve the conflict individually. If that does not work, then take two or three other people with you to try to work out the problem.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

What you sow, you reap, including the amazing thing called Grace!

with the filter “things”

Get the important things right. Marriage is really a beautiful thing. Being different is a good thing. Doing hard things gives you more pleasure. Don’t multi-task — focus on a few things and do them extremely well. Enjoy small things. Enjoy the little things. And again: smart people also do dumb things at times.

with the filter “time”

Take time to reflect. Give it a little bit more time before you quit. Invest in new experiences to “lengthen” time. Time is the most precious asset. Sometimes you get what you want by giving up the desire for it. Spend time with people you love. Stop wasting time. Value your time. You don’t have to be happy all the time.

with the filter “objective”

Numerous studies have proven our remarkable capacity for irrationality, and nobody is immune to our very human tendencies for bias. Everything you do and, by extension, everything you are, is filtered through everything you think, and everything you feel.
We can’t assume other people who think differently are wrong. We all have blind spots (including what we pursue). We all have things we chase as “the answer,” even though it usually isn’t.

with the filter “people”

Ignore what people think of you. If you’re a people pleaser, get over it. You don’t need to work long hours to impress people. Don’t blame people. People are in love with their voice. People want a distraction from their thoughts. Everything helps people distract themselves from their thoughts. Most people say “Yes” if you offer them something they already want. People are in our lives for a reason. You’re the average of the people you spend the most time. Work with great people. Spend time with people you love. Don’t trust the wrong people. Avoid negative people. Say goodbye to people. If people want to go, let them. Never get back at bad people. Treat people well.

Stop focusing on what differentiates you from others and start focusing on what connects you to others.

And the more someone is sure they’re “100% logical and objective,” the more likely it is that they are oblivious to their blind spot!

with the filter “working hard”

Don’t complain, don’t judge, reputation is everything, It’s all about who you know.
Always prepare, no matter how small your next assignment is, come prepared. It’s the difference between an amateur and a pro. Know your “stuff”.

with the filter of “perspective”

Don’t hold your convictions so tightly. You could learn something tomorrow that disproves them all .

with the filter of “growth”

Don’t let your life be ruled by the things you think you’re supposed to do or the expectations of others. All the opportunities for growth are beyond your comfort zone.
The moment you do something nice for someone expecting something in return is the moment you lost.

with the filter of “happiness”

Stop chasing after happiness. Come up with your own definition of happiness. (or listen to your mentor!) Never blame people for your unhappiness. Having a career you love is a privilege, not a right… it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen. Find your future; it won’t come looking for you. (God does at times come looking!)

with the filter of “life”

Life is messy but mostly okay as long as we work at it as far as we can. Don’t settle for a life that just feels ‘okay.’ Don’t get so used to feeling uncomfortable that you don’t believe in anything better. If you’re unhappy, change your life — don’t be complacent.
If you wake up every day angry, or depressed, or sad, and keep waiting for life to fix it for you, it’s never going to happen. There will always be lonely Sunday nights and exhausted Monday mornings. Enjoy the little things in life! Life is not easy.

with the filter of “success”

Success equals perseverance. Momentum is the byproduct of doing things repeatedly. If it is important to you, you will find a way. Focus, ask yourself what you like to do, what you’re willing to suffer for, and what problems you want to solve. Then, go out and do those things, suffer for those things, and solve those problems.  You cannot be everywhere and have everything. Learn to make right choices and commit to things that matter most. Action trumps most everything else. People are split on “action vs. planning.

with the filter of ” life is a delicate balance between ‘ready, aim, fire”

There is no perfect moment to start. Do not wait for better moment. It will never come.
Later often means never. Life has already begun. There is no interlude. Nor is there trial version of life. Your every decision matters. You actually don’t have a lot of time. Don’t put things off. Momentum is a universal force… Every day you choose whether it will pull you further backwards or push you forward.  Make sure you maximize the opportunity you are given and utilize momentum when good things start to happen… Perfection is the enemy of good.

If you wait to have all the details you think you need to make a decision, you will never make one. Rafael Sarandeses

Stop waiting for a “Sign”.

Courage is created through action.

Act now.

Wishing you all a very blessed Monday Morning and week ahead!

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 4, 2019EDIT”4X3X2X1 = 24″
4x3x2x1 = 24
Good Monday Morning to this week 10 of 2019

A mother wants to make a picture of her four children all standing in one row. She asks them to stand in line. They obey, choose the option, from the biggest to the smallest, then from the oldest to the youngest. The mother slowly gets impatient, when then one of the four kids, good at maths, gives her the answer to the many changes. You know Mum, for the first position on the far left there are 4 possibilities, then there are 3 options left for the position to the right. If these two positions are done, there are only 2 options left for the third position from the left. One child finally remains for the far right. In total there are 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 equals 24 different possibilities.

24 possibilities for one simple photo!!

These months in Switzerland are significant for many of us regarding consulting and finances. By the 15th of March, our tax forms have to be rendered to the fiscal authority so they can calculate our income tax. In this time there is much maths being applied, much “lining up of numbers” and many doing a review of their finances and wondering what to declare and what not!

This reminds me of the in Matthew 17: 24-27

And when they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the two drachma tax came to Peter, and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two drachma tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” And upon his saying, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Consequently the sons are exempt. But lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and me”.

Now, a stater is equivalent to four drachmas. Therefore, the passage is saying, that:

(2 drachmas/person) x (2 persons) = 4 drachmas, or more simply still,

2 x 2 = 4.

There are many interpretations to this story of Jesus and Peter the taxes.

Adult Jewish males throughout the Empire paid an annual two-drachma tax, based on Exodus 30:13-16, for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple. Even in Matthew’s day, after the temple was destroyed, this tax remained important: after 70, the Romans required all Jewish people to pay that tax to the Roman government. For the sake of maintaining public identification with their Jewish heritage, Jewish Christians should join non-Christian Jews in paying the tax.

One principle is that we are to upholding society’s requirements as citizens of the communities where God has placed us. Jesus cares about our social obligations.

or

Jesus did not regard the poll tax as binding on himself or Peter, but recognizes that the tax collectors do. Head or poll taxes normally listed specific exceptions who would not have to pay. Conquerors subjected conquered peoples, not their own subjects, to taxation. Priests were exempt from the two-drachma tax cited here so in later times were also rabbis. Are we therefore to surrendering “rights” for the sake of the gospel?

Jesus supplies these needs as well as other needs.

The four-drachma coin probably is a Tyrian stater, precisely enough to pay two persons’ temple amount. Following an old Greek story, some Jewish stories of uncertain date speak of God blessing pious people by leading them to find precious objects in fish. If Peter knew of such stories, the moral of Jesus’ causing him to find money in a fish would not be lost on him. This is irony of a sort: the King’s children can pay the tax because the King gives them the money to do so. Jesus can take care of his people who walk close to him.

Paying taxes, therefore, could be seen as a spiritual expression. Since the King gives us the money to manage, as his children we manage it well and pay the taxes to the earthy to the king knowing that the heavenly King is taking care of us!

A short disclaimer for those of you living under dictators or corrupt regimes: “I know that for many of you the “rulers” are far from just and exploit the land and those paying the taxes. Many questions of these situations are not considered here in this short text! For this we’d need to look deeper into the question of when Jesus calls us to go against the rulers of the time in a nonviolent way, as he also did so at various times.”

I wish you a good week and wish you His blessings in all the decisions you make, also the financial ones, for example how you pay your bills or what you write on your tax declarations!

Philemon

 

MONTH: APRIL 2019
POSTED ONAPRIL 29, 2019EDIT”GIVING GOD HIS BREATH BACK.”
Giving God his breath back.
Worship is simply giving God his breath back. Louie Giglio

Good Monday Morning to this week 18 of 2019

Yes!

God breathes in many ways:

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

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

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

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

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

God never lost His breath!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon

POSTED ONAPRIL 22, 2019EDIT”AFTER EASTER, BEFORE PENTECOST!”
After Easter, before Pentecost!
Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2019

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2019-04-21 at 23.40.40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon

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

POSTED ONAPRIL 15, 2019EDIT”WHEN JESUS COMES TO TOWN”
When Jesus comes to town
Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon

POSTED ONAPRIL 8, 2019EDIT”PRAYER IS THE GREATER WORK.”
Prayer is the greater work.
Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2019

Thinking about the Memorial season, the 100 days of mourning starting, remembering the terrible genocide in Rwanda I started thinking about prayer. What would these 25 years looked like, if it weren’t for the prayer of millions?
#kwibuka25 remember-unite-renew

Throughout history, faithful followers of Jesus have continually lifted the cries of their heart to the Father, screaming out at injustice, acting as a voice for the voiceless and selflessly interceding for those in need.

These little prayers may well have felt like drops in the ocean to those who prayed them, but these prayers make an impact that echoes throughout the generations, inspires others in their walk with God and led to revolutions of the move of the Spirit across the world. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.”

Saint Patrick
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Amen

Mother Teresa
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends
and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Amen

Immaculee Ilibagiza

Clutching her father’s rosary beads and a Bible, Immaculee, a Rwandan genocide survivor, hid in a tiny bathroom with seven women, imagining the fate that awaited her family and friends being hunted down during the Rwandan genocide.
She prayed in faith and with a gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit :
“Remember me from the bathroom?”
Amen

Close your eyes. Impact eternity.
African

Wishing you a blessed week!
Philemon

 

MONTH: MAY 2019
POSTED ONMAY 27, 2019EDIT”HYBRID POWER; DIVINE POWER”
Hybrid power; Divine power
Good Monday Morning to this week 22 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A spirit of power.

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

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

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

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

Power in affliction.

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

He can do far more abundantly!

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

Yes! This I seek this morning!

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

POSTED ONMAY 20, 2019EDIT”ABOUT KINGS ….”
About kings ….
Good Monday Morning to this Week 21 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a great week!

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 12, 2019EDIT”GOD, NOT GIVING US MORE THEN WE CAN HANDLE?”
God, not giving us more then we can handle?
Good Monday Morning to this week 20 of 2019

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

Some verses suggest the opposite approach:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some more promises:

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

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

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

One conclusion:

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

I wish you His grace this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 5, 2019EDIT”BUT NIGHT WILL BE LIGHT AS DAY”
But night will be light as day
Psalm 139:12

Good Monday Morning to this week 19 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane and Shane start out their song very beautifully with the following words:
You wrote the story of my life
You go before you fall behind, yeah
Before a breath beyond my death
you are with me all the way
to everlasting
Oh I can’t run, I can’t hide
Even darkness is a light
From the lowest place to the highest praise
You are worthy

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

Philemon

 

MONTH: JUNE 2019
POSTED ONJUNE 30, 2019EDIT”LOYALTY IS RETURNED”
Loyalty is returned
Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. Martin Luther

Loyalty is about people that stay true to you, behind your back.

Respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained, loyalty is returned.

A woman’s loyalty is tested when her man has nothing … A man’s loyalty is tested when he has everything …

For the eyes of the LORD are looking and seeking throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are loyal and fully committed to him.
2 Chronicles 16:9

Good Monday Morning to this week 27 of 2019

Was thinking about loyalty last week ….

Loyalty, in general use, is a devotion and faithfulness to a nation, cause, philosophy, country, group, or person. Philosophers disagree on what can be an object of loyalty, as some argue that loyalty is strictly interpersonal and only another human being can be the object of loyalty.

The willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause”. Loyalty is thoroughgoing in that it is not merely a casual interest but a wholehearted commitment to a cause. Josiah Royse

In the Gospel of Matthew 6:24, Jesus states, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. This relates to the authority of a master over his servants, who, according to Biblical law, owe undivided loyalty to their master.

On the other hand, the “Render unto Caesar” of the synoptic gospels acknowledges the possibility of distinct loyalties (secular and religious) without conflict, but if loyalty to man conflicts with loyalty to God, the latter takes precedence.

Loyalty in the personal realm, which comes out of love, devotion, dedication and commitment to the well being of another, is healthy.

Loyalty in marriage; Being loyal means being respectful of your partners’ weaknesses and discretely helping them compensate for those weaknesses.

Being loyal means keeping confidences, without fail.

Being loyal means reassuring your partner that you will be there emotionally and physically, whenever you are needed and following through with this promise.

Being loyal means keeping your word, being truthful and reliable in keeping your promises.

A young man was traveling first class on a flight out of India. The friendly cabin crew kept coming past to offer him alcoholic drinks. After refusing many drinks they asked if he wasn’t happy with the inflight service and how they could help him to feel more comfortable. The young man answered. I will drink alcohol on one condition. Can you offer the pilot the same drink first, only then will I accept this offer of yours.

The crew member looked at him with surprise and hesitation and replied: Sir, he is on duty and if he drinks there is a great chance we will crash. Upon this the young man replied; This is interesting, I too am on duty, in the same way, I have to save my faith and stay loyal, not risking crashing my principles for a complimentary drink.

Loyalty is the pledge of truth to oneself and others. Ada Velez-Boardley

Loyalty is what makes us trust. Trust is what makes us stay. Staying is what makes us love, and love is what gives us hope. Glenn van Dekken

Loyalty means I am down with you whether you are wrong or right, but I will tell you when you are wrong and help you get it right!

We’re just scratching the surface of this topic …. it’s vast, deep, huge, wide and a life long discovery!

Wishing a great week!

Philemon

POSTED ONJUNE 23, 2019EDIT”DEAR GOD”
Dear God
Good Monday Morning to this week 26 of 2019

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

Thinking about money matters last week, I stumbled upon this little story:

A poor man decides to write a letter to God, asking for some money…
In the letter, he writes that he works very hard but can never make enough. He pleads to God that even $100 would make him extremely happy.

The next day he goes to the post office, hands in his letter, and leaves with high hopes. The person sorting all the mail notices the envelope addressed to God. Confused, he stamps the letter to be returned to the poor man’s house.

Later that week, as the mailman comes to the poor man’s house to deliver his mail, he also notices the letter addressed to God. The mailman reads the letter and feels bad for the poor man, so he decides to get $50 out of his wallet and put it in the envelope. He puts the envelope in the poor man’s mailbox and continues on with his day, feeling great for helping a man in need.

The next week, when the mailman reaches the poor man’s house again, he notices yet another letter from the poor man to God. He opens the envelope and reads the letter:

Dear God,
“Thank you so much for the money you sent me last week, but you should know that my thieving mailman stole half of what you had sent me!”

Let’s look at the four characters of this story?

Poor Man

He is hardworking, tries to pay his bills and says the “dear God prayer” asking for heavenly provisions for 100$.

God

He hears the prayers and answers part of the prayer through the Mailman.
Or, God doesn’t hear the prayer because 2 humans try to solve it on their own.
Or, He wants to answer through the Mailman, but this man isn’t completely obedient and only gives half.
Or He wants both involved to give 50$
Or His intention is that both give 100$ so the Poor man is blessed abundantly.
Or, He wants to answer it through the Sorting Mailman, to return the letter and challenge the Poor man to speak directly to God and his community.

Mailman

Crosses his competence, opens a letter, let’s his heart get moved and shares his money. He gets the “good feeling” after helping the man in need with 50$.
Later finds himself accused of being a thief because he only answered half the request. But maybe the 50$ were all he had left, maybe also was poor, would this change the story?

Sorting Mailman

Is this the real villain? He doesn’t send the letter to God, returns it without letting his heart be moved, returning it back to the Poor Man?

Yes, such a little story raises some good questions. Could the Mailman really be seen as a thief, robbing God, robbing the Poor Man? Or did he give all he had, and did the problem rest with the Poor Man who didn’t have faith and started accusing people of his own being in need?

A few years ago the following book was very popular amongst people I work with:

When Helping Hurts, alleviating poverty without hurting the poor and yourself, written by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

In bringing change the writers take the following approach. Asset-based community development, a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action.
This method uses the community’s own assets and resources as the basis for development; it empowers the people of the community by encouraging them to utilize what they already possess.

Let me re-write the story from this viewpoint:

The Poor Man

Is in need and prayers for 100$. He also shares a copy of his letter to God to the community he lives in. He specifies to God and in this letter that the roof of his house is leaking, as well as his feeling of always being in need.

God

God has heard the prayers directly, hears the second prayer, then hears the prayer of the community as well.
God starts stirring the hearts of the people in the community, preparing them for action.

Sorting Mailman

He says a prayer and sends the letter a local building company known to be very professional, built on good values and with an excellent reputation.

Mailman

He hears of the letter being sent to God. When he goes to the house of the Poor Man,
he sits down for tea and listens to the worries of the Poor Man, buys him some food, and pays him a bus ticket to the company the mailman sent the letter to.

This story could end with the local building company repairing the roof of the Poor Man’s house with the Mail Man and the Sorting Man sharing the costs.

It could end with the roof being fixed without cost, just a few hours of labor of person coming from the local building company to fix it.

WWJD? What would Jesus do? Would he preach the Sermon on the Mount and challenge his hearers to sell their earthly goods and give to the poor, and so provide themselves with “a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”

What would Bill Gates do?
What would your parents do?
What would your pastor do?
What would you do if you were the mailman, or the guy sorting the mail?

Let’s end by what the boy in the story with Jesus did:

And the boy offered Jesus his meager lunch. He only had a few loaves and fishes, and Jesus had 5,000 mouths to feed. Gifts in God’s hands can be and often are divinely multiplied to meet the demands of greater works.

What are your “loaves and fish” to give this week?

Wishing you His provisions!

Philemon

POSTED ONJUNE 16, 2019EDIT”INDEPENDENCE OR DEPENDENCE”
Independence or Dependence
Good Monday Morning to this week 25 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He revealed Himself to him.

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing a blessed week!

Philemon

POSTED ONJUNE 9, 2019EDIT”UNBOSS OR WWJD”
Unboss or WWJD

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

Good Monday Morning to this week 24 of 2019

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

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

Here are some of their principles:

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

Good stuff – I like it!

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

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

– Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
– Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon
POSTED ONJUNE 3, 2019EDIT”INTERRUPTIONS”
Interruptions
The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life. C.S. Lewis

Good Monday Morning to this week 23 of 2019

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together,

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

Interruption, a period of time between two events

a temporary or permanent stop in a process

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

a short period of time between two longer periods

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

a time during which something interrupts a process or activity

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish you many good interruptions this week!

Philemon

MONTH: JULY 2019
POSTED ONJULY 29, 2019EDIT”MUCH ADO ABOUT SOMETHING”
Much ado about Something
Good Monday Morning to this week 31 of 2019

Much ado about nothing. Shakespeare (1598 play)

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

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

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

Here a few of my favorite quotes so far:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon

POSTED ONJULY 21, 2019EDIT”ADVANCE PAYMENT”
Advance Payment
Good Monday Morning to this week 30 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings

Philemon

POSTED ONJULY 14, 2019EDIT”FOUND (NOT) WANTING”
Found (not) wanting
In the popular film, A Knight’s Tale, Adhemar says to William: “You have been weighed; you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.” This is a paraphrase from the Old Testament of the Bible (Daniel 5:27), which reads, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”

Good Monday Morning to this week 29 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon

POSTED ONJULY 7, 2019EDIT”FOLLOW YOUR PASSION?”
Follow your passion?
Have you also received this very questionable advice: “Follow Your Passion”?

Good Monday morning to this week 28 of 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philemon

 

MONTH: AUGUST 2019
POSTED ONAUGUST 25, 2019EDIT”SPIRITUAL DESIRES”
Spiritual Desires
Good Monday Morning to this week 35 of 2019

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

The interpretation of the Bible has its many options, variations, questions and methods.
You might have heard many of the arguments, here a few:

• The Bible should be understood literally whenever possible.
• The customs and culture of the biblical world must be understood.
• Knowledge of the structure of a passage can be valuable for interpretation.
• Identical things must be distinguished from similar things.
• The word “all” can be used in a universal or limited sense.
• The Bible is full of small words with big meanings.
• Time, and time words, are essential to proper interpretation.
• It is important to understand biblical prophecy.
• It is necessary to distinguish between a believer’s permanent spiritual standing before God and his “walk.”

For example Psalm 37:4 many only see the second part, and then mention the first. , “He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Only seeing this you miss a lot: if you follow the first part of the verse, and take delight in the Lord, those desires of your heart are going to change to what God desires for you. Many go to this verse when they’re already desiring something badly. They think that if they just take the minimum required delight in the Lord and wait a bit, then bam! What they desire is delivered to them. … not really! . This verse could be saying much more, that the more you delight yourself in the Lord, the more your heart reflects His.

Interlinear
Of your heart the desires you, He shall give Yahwe in, and delight yourself.

New International Version
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

New Living Translation
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

King James Bible
Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Contemporary English Version
Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire.

Good News Translation
Seek your happiness in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desire.

NET Bible
Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Hope in Lord Jehovah and he will give you the requests of your heart.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

JPS Tanakh 1917
So shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD, And He shall give thee the petitions of thy heart.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall grant thee the requests of thine heart.

Webster’s Bible Translation
Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he will give thee the desires of thy heart.

Young’s Literal Translation
And delight thyself on Jehovah, and He giveth to thee the petitions of thy heart.

Or some Cross References

Isaiah 58:14
Then you will delight yourself in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Matthew 7:7
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Psalm 145:19
He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry and will save them.

John 15:7,16
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you…

Proclaiming the many deep truths, with the many angles of interpretations of this verse for your life and the week ahead!

A prayer: “Lord, all my desire is before thee” (Ps 38.9); and I know You form the desires of my heart more like those of your heart! (Ps 37.4).

blessings
Philemon

POSTED ONAUGUST 18, 2019EDIT”PRESENCE STRENGTHENS; ABSENCE SHARPENS”
Presence strengthens; absence sharpens
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
Psalm 139.7

Good Monday Morning to week 34 of 2019

Absence = “Ruach of God”
The wind to the fire; it puts out the little and kindles the great!

Presence = “Ruach of God” is the mighty wind, the breath of God, the Spirit of God, the Burning Bush of Moses, the pillar of fire leading the Israelites, the eternal flame lit in the tabernacle, the incense, and the individual tongues of flame at Pentecost.

Every time you take a matchbox into your hand to take out a match, you hold it in your hand before you open it. What do you see? You see three sides of the box. Of course, you know it has six sides, even though you only see three.

Presence strengthens!
Absence sharpens!

Where shall I go from your spirit? – Where shall I go where your spirit is not; that is, where you are not; where is there no God?

Where shall I flee from thy presence?
Where shall I flee from your face?

A fearful thought, for those who fear or hate God.
A deep comforting word, for those that love God.

What do you see? Some examples in the Old Testament:

Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go back” seven times.

Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days you would not believe if you were told.

Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you!

What do you see, Jeremiah? And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.”

What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”

Jesus: What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed, shaken by the wind?

Then again Jesus laid His hands on his eyes, and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.

If we go back to the metaphor of the matchbox and apply it to Psalm 139.7;
God’s presence is always real, the other three sides of the matchbox may be felt like absence, yet we know very well, the matchbox is complete and the other three sides are there and continue to make the whole box complete.

The Psalmist knew these thoughts only too well:
Psalm 139. 8 and following:

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
For darkness is as light to you.

Wishing you a good start to this new week.

Philemon

POSTED ONAUGUST 12, 2019EDIT”SWIFTER THAN EAGLES!”
Swifter than eagles!
Good Monday Morning to this week 33 of 2019

David and Jonathan

Jonathan and David become friends and loved each other as themselves.
Jonathan swore eternal friendship David and gave him his robe.

David became successful pleasing Saul, killing even Goliath in battle.
David became the peoples favorite, making Saul jealous and suspicious.
David committed to the friendship also his musical gifting on the harp.

Saul put the life of David in danger, not dealing with his demons.
Saul was afraid of David after his two attempts to kill him.
Saul, not David felt abandoned by God.

Israel and Judah loved David as a successful leader

Saul tries his trick David and promises his oldest daughter.
David had a good idea of timing and didn’t want to be joined to the King yet, nor did he take the bait given by Saul.
(With David having 7 wives, 19 sons, and one daughter in the time of his life, there is more than timing at play here I assume.)

David changed his mind, fell in love with Michal,
this time delighted to become the kings’ son in law.

The greater the love between David and Michael , David and Jonathan, grew,
the more afraid Saul became of David.

Jonathan told David of his fathers plans to kill him.
Jonathan stood to the friendship and commitment to David.
Jonathan intervened even to speak to his father in favor of David.
Saul still wasn’t rid of his demons and tried to kill David again.

Again David fled, Saul, followed close behind, Michal warned David and
him and let him down a window to escape.

Michal also stood to David and tricked her father, this time with goats hair on a pillow.
Groups of Prophets were gripped by God’s spirit when Sauls’ men came they too were gripped by God’s spirit and began dancing and shouting. The same thing happened to the messengers three times, then finally even when Saul went,
the Spirit of God took control of him in Samuels presence.
David fled again and went to Jonathan for advice and friendship.

Jonathan negotiates a plan, while David hid.
Saul threw his spear at Jonathan in rage.
Jonathan sent the arrow to warn David to hurry out.
Jonathan and David were filled with grief as they farewelled.

Jonathan blessed David.

The friendship of David and Jonathan:
They were swifter than eagles
They were stronger than lions.
The weapons of war couldn’t withstand their friendship.

Jonathan’s gifts to David; a robe, his armor, a sword, his bow, and a belt.
Were these a token of their ancestral friendship? When Jonathan makes “a covenant of love and brotherhood with David does he invest with his garments and weapons? By giving him his clothes, Jonathan gives to David, a personal pledge of love, by David’s accepting them, he accepted Jonathan’s invitation to become his dearest friend yet more also expression of “loyalty, service and obedience” as Jonathan pledges his allegiance to David, recognizing him as the next king of Israel.

J.P. Fokkelman (1986) proposed a three-fold meaning here: By giving David his arms, Jonathan “is transferring the title of a champion of Israel to David,” as the national hero and great liberator in the name of the Lord. By giving David his cloak, the crown prince hands over to him “his rights and claims to the throne.”

There is so much purpose, intention, symbolism, signs, methods, truths, and learnings in this short story of the Bible.

From Sunday school or early childhood memories we probably already have our interpretation and “takeaways” from this story.

Here a few of mine:

– God values relationships and friendships far beyond our imagination.
– God has a plan and will reach his goal whatever detour he takes with his people.
– It’s good to deal with demons before they guide our lives and try to take all from us.
– God is the only who has the “big picture” in mind, every move he makes!
– The battles we win, are won in deep friendship with Him, our almighty Guide!
– Some secrets and hidden things stay hidden to then later reveal God’s intentions.

A personal takeaway:

A deep personal intimate relationship with God our Maker, Father and divine King, enables us to be, swifter than eagles, stronger than lions, therefore the opposition formed against us can’t stand!

Wishing you a very good week!

Philemon

POSTED ONAUGUST 5, 2019EDIT”THE DRAMA GOING ON IN OUR MINDS!”
The drama going on in our minds!
Good Monday Morning to this week 32 of 2019

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

There is a compelling drama going on in our minds, sometimes like a plot of various players or characters; impulsive, thoughtful, automatic, systematic, spiritual, deliberate or even calculated. Sometimes they playoff against each other and determine judgments, decisions and leading to actions we take.

There are also responses coming from “within us” like things we do to survive, but then there are many responses out of deliberate focus, attention, trained self-control and behavior.

A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs $1.- more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Let’s do the math!

For many, the first intuitive answer is $0.10. The correct answer is $0.05!

One way of thinking was quicker, tricked the other with the faster answer and in this case leading to an incorrect answer for some.

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Isaiah 11:3-4
He will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness, he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

James 3:13
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

What comes to your mind when you see the word “So_p”
Now those who were thinking of eating or saw the word eat in advance will probably think the word should be “Soup”. While those who were thinking or reading of washing or cleaning probably thought the word should be “Soap”.

Our individual thoughts are primed so easily, how much more to prime them with truths of love, of depth and coming from the creator of all wisdom!

Traumas, illness, culture, training, health, family and much more, of course, influence our thinking in a far greater context, yet that is a topic in need of much more detail.

Everytime the people of God thought less of themselves, something went wrong in the story. K. Adams (preaching the sermon: What The Enemy Wishes You Didn’t Know)

If you’re interested, there is a version on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS_XzBYGir8

Ending the sermon she summarises with words of empowerment, the thinking and thoughts from above that influence and drives our thinking through our new “life” we have, with a reformed mind for thinking our of the thoughts that God has for and over us.

Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Wishing you transformed thoughts this week.

Philemon

 

MONTH: SEPTEMBER 2019
POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 29, 2019EDIT”THE VOICE OF JACOB, HANDS OF ESAU!”
The voice of Jacob, hands of Esau!
I’m back again with the story of Jacob … probably some catching up time for me with stories I thought I understood having heard them already in Sunday School, yet continuing to finding new meaning in them.

Good Monday Morning to this week 40 of 2019

The voice of Jacob and the hands of Esau! Isaac takes a both/and approach.
Let’s have a look at it:

One verse in particular is fascinating. In Genesis 27, Jacob takes food and bread from Rebekah to his aged, blind father. “I am Esau your firstborn”, he says, as he hands Isaac the meal, asking for his patriarchal blessing, an act more assuredly political and symbolic than personal and intimate. At first, Isaac is surprised at how quickly the hunter had succeeded at his task and, perhaps because he is a bit suspicious, he asks his son to come close so that he can feel him, to determine whether or not he is really Esau. Then comes the crucial verse 22: “So Jacob drew close to his father, Isaac, who felt him and wondered, ‘The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau.’”

Is the assumption right that Isaac does not realize that it is Jacob standing before him, and so Isaac blesses him? Yet what does this peculiar remark “The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau” mean?

Here is one obvious possibility: Isaac uses his other senses to compensate for his blindness. When Jacob speaks to him, Jacob says that he is Esau. But Isaac is incredulous because the voice sounds like Jacob’s. So he feels his son’s arms and neck, which Rebekah had covered with the skins of kids, and they feel like Esau’s. Now Isaac is confused, and he utters the above statement expressing his puzzlement: Who stands before me? Who has brought me my favorite meal? Who seeks my parental blessing? The text says: “Isaac did not recognize him” but gives him the blessing nonetheless. Why? Does Isaac weigh the evidence? Does he choose to credit his sense of touch more than his hearing and his memory? Or does he decide to trust what his son has told him, namely, that he is Esau? We do not know. Isaac blesses even though he is confused: The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.

Who is this before me? Do I trust myself, my senses? Or do I trust my son? How about vocalizing the conflict: The voice, listen to the voice, its tone, and timbre; but the hands are the hands of Esau-this is what they tell me, indeed this is what he says to me. But I am his father. Would he lie to me?

What went through Jacobs mind; … as I decked out in these skins to fool my old, blind father, hungry for his blessing, his power. A minute ago, I knew he was suspicious, but now, I think that I have persuaded him. He has stroked my arms and felt my neck; he is fooled. He cannot trust his grasp of who I really am but must trust how I seem to be. My deception has worked. He blesses me because I deserve to receive his blessing.

To the storyteller; are the stakes greater, neither personal, nor familial, nor even political, but rather mythic? Here are two dimensions of human existence, culture and nature, speech and violence. Which shall receive the blessing of the future? Which shall flourish and rule? Which shall be the master and govern the ways of human life and the ways of nations? Or might it be that there is no alternative, no either/or? Isaac blessed the one who stood before him. He was worried but resolute. The decision would not be wholly rational and cultivated nor wholly violent and driven by passion. It would be both, for the voice is the voice of Jacob, and the hands are the hands of Esau.

Jacob may have thought that Isaac was fooled, yet this was not the same for Isaak. Feeling Jacob’s arms and neck did not resolve Isaac’s suspicions but deepened them. As verse 23 says, because of those hairy arms, Isaac “did not recognize him.” Why? Because the sons he had known were either/or, while the man who stood before him was both/and. Isaac was surprised by what it was going to be because his senses were confined to the past. But he did bless this man. Why? Because he accepted the past for what it was and the future for what it would be: All of his offspring would have the voice of Jacob and the hands of Esau.

Is it possible that this approach both/and, was an alternative version of the story that eventually found its way into the text. If so, Isaac did not ask the question once again, looking for confirmation but in doing so accepted their verdict. Rather, Isaac never recognized the man as either Esau or Jacob because he was both-a symbol of human existence as a struggle between culture and nature. He blessed him nonetheless, with the words ringing in his ears and ours: “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” This passage was inpired by texts of M. L. Morgan.

The God of the Old was not invisible or an abstraction. He appeared to people – often when not expected or sought out and sometimes he was not recognized. Many of these moments often perceived as confusion in which an encounter, a special encounter was first mistaken as the confusion of ordinary people, was much more an encounter with God, purposely orchestrated by God! God was always there, but standing just behind the curtain of ordinary reality!

I wish you a blessed week as you keep discovering an awesome God, even in parts your mundane, ordinary life!

Philemon

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 22, 2019EDIT”ENDLESS OR ETERNAL MEETINGS”
Endless or Eternal Meetings
Good Monday Morning to this week 39/2019

When were you last in some meetings that seemed endless or tiring? As much as you know you want or need to be there, you just want to run out, grab a coffee, go for a walk, read the news, just find any reason to get out of it? Yes, I know it …

Jesus held meetings: A meeting with four – yes that’s a good number!

While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple complex, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately. Mark 13.4

Well, this was an important meeting, they were talking about “Signs of the End of the Age”. Yes, those meetings go deep and are very serious stuff!

David held meetings: “The God and me kind”.

Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far? 2 Samuel 7:18

David was forced to meetings: Joab threated to kill all his men before nightfall if he didn’t.

So the king arose and sat in the gate. When they told all the people, saying, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate,” then all the people came before the king Now Israel had fled, each to his tent. 2. Samuel 19.8

Martha had a “One to One” meeting with Jesus: Yes these are the kind I like!

Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Jesus said to her, your brother will rise again. Later she answered, yes Lord, I believe …

Here is the ultimate reason to have meetings where two or three gather in His name!
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Mathew 18:20. This was right after it was written that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by the Father in heaven.

Let check out John C. Maxwell

“Effective teams have teammates who are constantly talking to one another.”

“What’s true for a teammate is also true for the leader: If you don’t grow, you gotta go.”

“Individuals play the game, but teams win championships.”

Here some other great quotes on meetings:

Meetings don’t have to be endless to be eternal. James E. Faust

The world is run by those willing to sit until the end of meetings.
Hugh Park (really?)

Meetings move at the speed of the slowest mind in the room. Dale Dauton (aha!!)

Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.
Peter Drucker (that’s a bit rough?!)

Life is a series of meetings and separations. Santosh Kalwar (oh yes, you’re at something here!)

You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question. Bill Gates (yes, I’ve been at this kind of meeting!)

A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted. James T. Kirk (nice word game going on here)

Meeting new people is just remembering faces of God we’ve forgotten. Harry Whitewolf
(beautiful – nicely put)

The longer the meeting, the less is accomplished. Tim Cook (good you at Apple have the cool watch to help you with that now!)

Okay, I resume and sum up what I’ve learned:

Good meetings:

– up to four people.
– meetings with God.
– meetings with Jesus.
– meetings with friends.
– meetings in a discipleship process.
– short meetings for eternity.
– meetings as a team with a practical goal
– meetings where decisions are made
– meetings with food, like fish and bread (Jesus was good at that)
– meetings that save the lives of others

In conclusion, the Bible has a really great one on meeting for worship, prayer and spirituality!

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning. Hebrews 10:24-25 (TPT)

Wishing you a great week with a “healthy bunch” of good meetings!

Philemon

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 15, 2019EDIT”THE PASTURES OF THE WILDERNESS”
The Pastures of the Wilderness
Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Psalm 85:6

Good Monday Morning to this week 38 of 2019

Spring 1859

Faith grew. Hope brightened. The power of prayer began to be known, felt and seen. A contemporary account describes the Year of Grace in this way; The winter was passed; the time of the singing of birds had come. Humble, grateful, loving, joyous converts multiplied the great concerns of eternity were realized as they had never been before. Many walked about in deep anxiety about the one thing needful; while others rejoiced in the experience of a present peace and a complete salvation. The community was altogether changed in its outward aspects, and a pervading seriousness prevailed a total transformation has been affected in the hearts and lives of those who were the subjects of the change, and throughout all the neighborhood was heard thanksgiving and the voice of melody. The 1859 Revival in Ireland edited by William E. Allen

Fruit of Revival 1859

Full sanctuaries, full Sabbath schools, full prayer meetings, brotherly love, increased generosity and additions by the hundreds to the communion of the churches. These are the fruits that remain to the summer Revival of 1859 in Coleraine.

Wilderness

Shortly before the “Year of Grace” they had Joel 1: 19 ringing in their ears:

O LORD, to you will I cry: for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.

The sorrow of the people is turned into repentance and humiliation before God. With all the marks of sorrow and shame, sin must be confessed and bewailed. A day is to be appointed for this purpose; a day in which people must be kept from their common daily in’s and out’s.

The School in Coleraine in Summer 1859

One boy after another silently slipped out of the classroom and after a while the schoolteacher looked out to see boys on their knees throughout the playground, each one in earnest prayer. He turned to the two boys and asked them; Do you think you can go and pray with these boys? They did so and kneeling down with one after another, they began to implore the Lord to forgive their sins for the sake of Him who had borne them all upon the Cross. Silent grief soon turned into bitter cries.

As these cries reached the girls’ school, they too fell upon their knees and wept in grief over their sins. The cries of the boys and girls at school reached passers-by in the adjoining streets and conviction of sin came upon them and they fell on their knees in the streets pleading to the Lord for mercy. Pastors and men of prayer were sought and they spent the rest of the day in counseling and praying with these mourners. The sweetest of all toils, when to intercede for those who are brokenhearted by the sight of their sins, dinner was forgotten, tea was forgotten, and it was not until 11pm at night that the school premises were freed from their unexpected guests.

The Pastures of the Wilderness

Words translated as “wilderness” occur nearly 300 times in the Bible. A formative Hebrew memory is the years of “wandering in the wilderness,” mixing experiences of wild landscape, of searching for a promised land, and of encounters with God. The wandering takes place in the, uninhabited land where humans are nomads. This common Hebrew word refers often to a wild field where domestic animals may be grazed and wild animals live, in contrast to cultivated land, sometimes “the pastures of the wilderness” (Joel 1:19–20). “The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice” (Isaiah 35:1).

The wilderness is a “given” for intense experiences, of stark need for food and water (manna and quails), of isolation (Elijah and the still small voice), of danger and divine deliverance (Hagar and Ishmael), of renewal, of encounters with God (Moses, the burning bush, the revelation of the divine name, Mount Sinai). There is a psychology as well as a geography of wilderness, a theology gained in the wilderness. R. Homes

Turning to the New Testament, the word most often translated as “wilderness” is “eremos” an isolated place. The wilderness figures at critical junctures in the life of Jesus. Jesus is baptized by John and then is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days. The Devil is there, but so is the Spirit. “A great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed”. This records a search for solitude, for self-discovery, for divine presence, but this process, crucially, seems to require the ambiance of the natural environment.

They drop on the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side. Psalm 65.12

In those wastes, however, there would be valleys or places watered by springs and streams that would afford pastures for flocks and herds. Such are the “pastures of the wilderness” referred to here. God’s passing along those valleys would seem to “drop,” or distill, fertility and beauty, causing grass and flowers to spring up in abundance, and clothing them with luxuriance. The freshness and beauty of plant life, which suddenly, as by a miracle, clothes the hill-sides, resembles a fair mantle thrown around their shoulders, as if to deck them for some festival.

In conclusion, I summarize:

Our dwelling place: The wilderness.

Our spiritual provision: Pastures.

Our heavenly refreshment: Thy drop.

******************

Wishing you a very good start to this week

Philemon

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 8, 2019EDIT”MERCIFUL LIMITATIONS.”
Merciful limitations.
Good Monday Morning to this week 37 of 2019

Observing at a distance a fig tree full of leaves, he went up to it to see if he could find any fruit upon it. but when he came to it, he found it had nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for that sort of fig. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11:13+14

Last night I enjoyed an evening tour on the Bielersee with many sightings of the beautiful Church of Ligerz at a distance, far and near, in various shades of the evening light, reminding me of the importance it once and wondering about the relevance to this day.

The pilgrimage church of Ligerz was first mentioned in 1261. It was built in the vineyards above the village. It became a parish church of its own parish in 1434 but was still dependent until being rebuilt in 1526. Until the early 19th century there were no good roads into Ligerz, instead, goods and travelers came by boat. The church amidst the vineyards is visible from a long distance and is, therefore, the landmark to Ligerz and the region.

Back to the parable of the Fig tree being seen from far, covered in nice leaves:

Fig trees around Jerusalem normally begin to get leaves in March or April and do not produce figs until their leaves are all out in June. This tree was an exception that it was full of leaves early.

Jesus, approaches the tree in his hunger, with the expectation of finding fruit. But as he draws near, he realizes the fact that the tree, though full of leaf, is absolutely fruitless, he forgets his natural hunger. As he approached this fig tree full of leaf, but destitute of fruit, it stood before him as a striking or awful image of the Jewish nation, having indeed the leaves of a great profession, but yielding no fruit. The leaves of this fig tree deceived the passer-by, who, from seeing them, would naturally expect the fruit. And so the fig tree was cursed, not for being barren, but for being false.

A church or community or individual whose religion runs to leaf is useless if it brings forth no fruit or furthermore being false. Do those around care about the ceremonials or the outward appearance, more than it bearing fruit?

These words of Jesus, in their application also have a merciful limitation – a limitation which lies in the original words rendered “forever,” which literally mean for the current age. “No man eat the fruit during the age until the times be fulfilled. A day will doubtless come when those concerned will say, “I am a dry tree,” I shall accept the words of Him and respond, “From me shall thy fruit be found,” and shall be clothed with the richest fruits of all trees.

Here the fig tree was growing by the road; it belonged to no one, and nothing had been done for its improvement; it was destroyed when its uselessness was made manifest. It was fruitless, because the fruit season had not come, and no old fruit remained on the branches. The destruction of a senseless and worthless thing made known the power of God, the purpose not just to wither, but all the more to restore. To wither was within the power of anyone, but to wither by a word was a supernatural act only possible to one.

Jesus gives his answer or interpretation of the parable with these words:

“Have faith in God.”

In doing. The words “shall say unto this mountain,” are figurative. A magnificent promise! Not only such an act as the withering of the fig tree, but one comparable to the uprooting of the Mount of Olives on which it grew. It is spoken of moral and spiritual difficulties met, within fulfilling the great plan of God along with personal and individual spiritual growth.

In receiving the answer was not to be merely looked forward to a coming age, but of an age being imminent, already fulfilling itself in present experience. A secret of intense and successful devotion.

The story teaches us that the Master looks for fruit in the proper time for fruit. In the case of this tree, “the time was not yet.” Figs come before leaves on that kind of tree. So the appearance of leaves assumed the presence of fruit underneath them, but none was there. For some phenomenal reason, this fig tree was a hypocrite. Jesus caught it for a parable with which to teach His disciples, and warn them of mere profession without performance. God does not, in any case, come hurridly demanding fruit, as soon as trees are planted; He seems to respect the laws of growth and ripening. He never hurries any creature of His hand. But He gives help to the end He proposes. He certainly puts realities before shows; figs previous to leaves.

Not all is lost. When the disciples ask Jesus to explain what just happened, he turns the topic and talks about prayer. Why? Though they do not yet fully understand, they will be the new caretakers of God’s people. They will be instruments of transformation. And, as Jesus teaches here, they will do this by the power of faithful prayer. Thus the fig tree cursing is not just about historical Israel. It’s about us. It’s about all the people of God throughout time.

A challenging text this morning, yet full of promises. Knowing all too well about things withering, areas in our lives with no fruit, of times not being fulfilled. I draw from the thought that Jesus shared, as he turned to the concept of merciful limitation and the importance of prayer.

Wishing merciful limitations, along with transformation and restoration

of areas in your lives that have withered and no longer bring fruit.

Philemon

Kirche Ligerz, Bielersee, Saturday 07.09.2019, 19h30
Screenshot 2019-09-08 at 14.21.06

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 1, 2019EDIT”PRAYER OF RELINQUISHMENT”
Prayer of Relinquishment
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Jeremiah 18:4
Good Monday Morning to this week 36 of 2019

There seems to lie in all people and times, a certain proportion to the strength of their understanding, a conviction that there is in all human things of real order and purpose, notwithstanding the chaos in which at times they seem to be involved.

Suffering scattered blindly, good and evil distributed with the most absolute disregard of moral merit or demerit, enormous crimes perpetrated with impunity, or vengeance when it comes falling not on the guilty, but the innocent. This phenomena present, generation after generation, the same perplexing and even maddening features; and without an illogical but none the less a positive certainty that things are not as they seem—that, in spite of appearance, there is justice at the heart of them, and that, in the working out of the vast drama, justice will assert somehow and somewhere its sovereign right and power, the better sort of persons would find existence altogether unendurable. This is what the Greeks meant by the Ἀνάγκη or destiny, which at the bottom is no other than moral Providence. Hasting

Back to Jeremiah, this implies the living presence of the Potter in this world which is being molded. It involves the constant, direct impact, if one may so speak, of the Divine fingers. The Israelites thought that God had selected them and wound them up like a clock so that they were to go on and on without further change forever. St. Paul says No. God has not taken His fingers from the work. He never bound Himself to have mercy on you and on no one else. “He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.” And if you do not answer His purpose, He will change matters with you. And so, according to the picture before us, God is ever actively present, the great Hand at work, touching every individual thing, allowing nothing, whether the law or anything else, to intervene between His living purpose and the world that is being molded by Him.

This week I was occupied with the task of disposal of materials as wood, steel, paper, aluminum. In German, there is a nice word used as a verb and noun. (entsorgen, Entsorgung). Literally one could translate it as the opposite of worry. To rid of worry. It’s the same word we use to dispose of waste in the practical sense. To relinquish of one’s possession, to let go, to release, to renounce or surrender of even the right possession. I learned that plastic can be recycled 7-9 times, paper 4-6 times, while glass, steel and aluminum lose no quality during recycling and can be recycled endlessly! So translated to modern days Jeremiah might have used aluminum as his metaphor to explain how many times God can remake and mold us.

The potter does not fling away the marred vessel, but he breaks it and puts it on the wheel again and reshapes it. The potters’ skill is not to be baffled. He wants to give his ideal reality. And he will shape and break, shape and break again, till the clay has taken the form he wishes. Jeremiah saw what that meant for the Israelites as a nation. The prophet saw that God would still hold them, and by sterner discipline, by harder blows and hotter fires, would mold them to the use and form He wanted. That was the answer to Jeremiah’s question, What can God do with this nation? Break it and reshape it.

The patience and persistence of God with man is the truth which this sets forth. God will not easily let man go. He stands over mankind and over every individual soul with boundless patience. The gifts and calling of God, says St. Paul, are without repentance, without recall or change.

“So he made it again.” He can remake us. God persists till His purpose is achieved.

Relinquishment is a kind of dying to self. This is to trust that God will cause something better to develop from us ‘letting go’. Not that letting go is ever easy, but it does open us up to fresh ways God wants to shape us and mold us for his ways. We see ourselves no longer as the finished product, but rather as clay in the Potter’s Hand.

Thou, Thou art the Potter, and we are the Clay,
And morning and evening, and day after day,
Thou turnest Thy wheel, and our substance is wrought,
Into form of Thy will, into shape of Thy thought.

Wishing you a great week on His “wheel”!

Philemon

MONTH: OCTOBER 2019
POSTED ONOCTOBER 27, 2019EDIT”MISTAKES I’VE MADE, WHEN READING THE BIBLE.”
Mistakes I’ve made, when reading the Bible.
Two situations lead me to this text today:
The more important first, a talk with my young adults about the relevance of the Bible in today’s world and culture and secondly a rather simple article, nevertheless catching my attention with the title: “Seven mistakes I made in my twenties”.

Here a few of the mistakes I’ve made reading the Bible.

Good Monday Morning to this week 44 of 2019

1. Looking for insight rather than a personal application.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20
A great verse for all small group leaders, pastors and gatherers of people!

Although God is always with us when believers gather together, it doesn’t mean that He is not with us when we are alone because God is omnipresent meaning He is always with us no matter the circumstance.

2. Failing to research the context.
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” (Mark 9:43)
The Broadman Bible Commentary nicely writes: “… if what you desire to do, or the places you long to frequent, or the things you are greedy to possess… would entice you into a path departing from the way of life, whatever sacrifice is necessary must be made to return to the path of life!

3. Sticking to only one translation. (this now comes so much easier now with so many translations available on the internet)
When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David. (NIV) 1 Sam. 18:28
But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that all Israel loved him. (RSV)
Quite a difference here!

4. Thinking the only way to read the Bible is by looking at the words on a page.
And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die … meaning: “Don’t tear your clothes”, if you only read the words on the page it leads to a strange interpretation.
It’s good to be sensitive to distinctions between Israel and the Church and Old Covenant and New Covenant eras/requirements.

5. Not using the Bible to help interpret itself!
Interpretation, based on the author’s intention of meaning and not the reader.
Get into the author’s context, historically, grammatically, culturally and the literary forms and conventions the author was working in. Interpretation in the context of the passage. Interpreting of Bible not only literally, allowing for normal use of figurative language. For example, Isaiah 55:12 states the trees of the field will clap their hands. Since trees do not have hands or clap this must be a figure of speech.
Interpretations come to life, once in the context of the passage, as with the trees of the fields clapping their hands!

5. Not forming your own interpretation. Some questions to ask as you form your interpretation in prayer and in the company of the Holy Spirit:

What do I learn about God in this passage?
What do I learn about people?
What do I learn about relating to God?
What do I learn about relating to people?

How would I say this verse in my own words?
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11.3

Formed in my own words: Be an honest person of integrity, this will keep you on track, all else will destroy you.

6. Sometimes I look for verses that “only” fit the topic or theme I have in mind:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This is a verse where an infinite, all-powerful God meets very finite, not-so-powerful human beings. Sure, the possibilities are endless with God. The spiritual gifts, holy callings and life journeys available to the Jesus follower can be endless. The keyword is simply can. Do you see the words should or will? Isn’t the emphasis on the infinite God and not on us here?

I’ll conclude with Deuteronomy 31.6 (NIV the interpretation that I grew up with!)

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

Moses sharing this with Joshua at the age of 120, knowing he won’t continue to the promised land as a consequence of his own sin, yet knowing a God that has lead him faithfully in all his ways, he now lays this promise on Joshua. Moses animates the people to the perseverance of hope when God declares that He will be their helper even to the end. Faith corresponds with God’s promises, and is, in harmony with them, it, therefore, extends itself to our whole life, even beyond death itself; for God removes all doubt as to the future by these words, “I will not leave thee nor forsake thee.”

Wishing you a blessed week!
Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 20, 2019EDIT”LOST IN REALITY”
Lost in reality
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again. In his joy, he goes away and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Good Monday Morning to this week 43 of 2019

The opposite of being lost could be: found, located, situated, here, present
in, owned, retained, there, adequate, enough, sufficient, accounted for, at hand
in attendance.

Last week we looked at secrets hidden in scripture and discovered the chiasms found in many texts. Lost and found are concepts and words also very often mentioned. The world “found” is quite popular in the KJV, with it being mentioned 470 times.

In this parable, we could speak of the “being lost” or the “being found”.

There is a man, and there is a field, these two things are immediately recognizable. Where could this lead us? The man in these parables … Jesus himself. And the field, the world of humanity, the human race, all of society. With these clues, a key to this first parable is opened. Jesus came, found a treasure hidden in humanity. Something was hidden, lost in the human race, but to then be uncovered it. And then he did an amazing thing and covered it up again, buried it again. Then he went and gave all that he had and bought that field of humanity. The purpose is not lost, the treasure is not lost. It was found, unveiled and hidden again. God emptied himself, being equal with God, he didn’t keep the treasure but gave all he had as he walked the mystery of darkness before being found again. A treasure was uncovered for a brief time the secret revealed but then hid again. And then he went and gave all that he had and bought the field in which it is hidden. Here we see the narrative to the story unfolding. The owner of the land now becomes the owner of the veiled or hidden treasure. The owner is now in control. He bought the field in order that someday he might use that treasure. This treasure is now hidden or “Lost in reality”, hidden in the now, in today.

Later Jesus drives this point home with his statement in John: “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one”. Hidden yet revealed, the perspective of the interrelationship between, this age, our reality, the coming age and the interplay of the various elements in our lives.

To find love you must enter into the sanctuary where it is hidden, which is the mystery of God. Thomas Merton.

Wishing you a wonderful week, being present, located in the field of the hidden treasure, with the field already in the hands of the eternal owner.

Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 13, 2019EDIT”SECRETS OF GOD”
Secrets of God
Good Monday Morning to this week 42 of 2019

He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him. Ephesians 1.9

Jesus answered them, “To you, it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been granted. Matthew 13:11

In this passage of Matthew 13, Jesus answers in terms of the elect, God’s chosen people, defined by those who have genuine faith in God in contrast to those with rebellion, spiritual dullness and unbelief.

Jesus answers with a well-structured chiasm. (Two ideas are interwoven in one narrative.)

“Chiasmus, the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism”

Jesus said:

While seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘you will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes,

otherwise

They would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and he would heal them. Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men
desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The literary beauty of the chiasm is apparent.

Another example of an ABCB’A’ chiasm in John 4.

A – But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:
B – For the Father seeketh such to worship him.
C – God is a Spirit:
B – And they that worship him
A – And must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Chiasmus is not a secret Bible code, although it is often hidden by translations which may obscure the occurrence of repetitions of keywords and phrases, and sometimes it is hidden by numeric verse and chapter divisions.

Jesus himself taught in chiastic structures. Take the parable of the workers recruited for a penny a day recorded in Matthew 20. The parable is bounded by the classic chiasm.

“The first shall be last, and the last first” which is repeated at the end of this parable but in reverse – “the last shall be first, and the first last”!

In between, the parable is a dramatized chiasm – the first laborers are called up last, and vice versa. This clearly demonstrates that chiasm is a conscious technique in the mind of Jesus for teaching disciples.

One more meaningful Chisam.

No one can serve two masters;
for either, he will hate the one
and love the other,
or he will be devoted to one
and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and wealth.
(Matt 6:24 NASB)

Chiasms are usually arranged in the same top-to-bottom form as they appear in the text:

A – No one can serve two masters;
B – for either he will hate the one
C – and love the other,
C – or he will be devoted to one
B – and despise the other.
A – You cannot serve God and wealth.
(Matt 6:24)

In Western cultures, we are trained to look for the emphasis at the beginning and/or the end of the text. Therefore, we naturally believe that this verse is about serving either God or money.

Looking deeper at this chiasm, you see two places of emphasis: the center point focuses on loving the right master and the first/last elements focus on serving that master.

While serving God is good and proper, love and devotion to Him should be our driving force.

Wishing you deep insights this week as you look at the mysteries or secrets of God and discover beauty, right in the depth of the living Word.

Have a blessed week

Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 6, 2019EDIT”(21+3) QUOTES OF FAITH AND MORE”
(21+3) Quotes of faith and more
Good Monday Morning to this week 41 of 2019

It’s always good to learn from the past. Since I like reading quotes, I looked through the centuries (sounds amazing I can do that nowadays) and found one I liked to each period. Between the 10th and 12th, it was harder to find any. It seems like they were too busy preparing the crusades, with Pope Leo, Gregory and Urban completely occupied with another separation within the church.

Listed are 21 quotes of Christian Theologians. At the end, I then added three odd quotes in completion. I wish you much inspiration as you read and discover!

1st Apostle James
For the one who does not practice mercy will have his judgment without mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.

2nd Tertullain
Hope is patience with the lamp lit.

3rd Marcus Minucius Felix
The poor man is he who, having much, craves for more.

4th Basil of Caesarea
A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

5th Augustine of Hippo
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

6th Gregory the Great
The spiritual director should not reduce his attention to the internal life because of external occupations, nor should he relinquish his care for external matters because of his anxiety for the internal life.

7th Isaac of Nineveh
There is love like a small lamp, which goes out when the oil is consumed; or like a stream which dries up when it doesn’t rain. But there is a love that is like a mighty spring gushing up out of the earth; it keeps flowing forever, and is inexhaustible.

8th John of Damascus
He who longs alway after God, he seeth Him: for God is in all things. Existing things are dependent on that which is, and nothing can be unless it is in that which is. God then is mingled with everything, maintaining their nature: and in His holy flesh the God-Word is made one in subsistence and is mixed with our nature, yet without confusion.

9th Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Christ wears “two shoes” in the world: Scripture and nature. Both are necessary to understand the Lord, and at no stage can creation be seen as a separation of things from God.

10th Anselm of Canterbury
God does not delay to hear our prayers because He has no mind to give; but that, by enlarging our desires, He may give us the more largely.

11th Peter Abelard
The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.

12th Hildegard of Bingen
You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.

13th Thomas Aquinas
To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

14th William of Ockham
Keep things simple.

15th Catherine of Siena
Speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills.

16th Ulrich Zwingli
Our confidence in Christ does not make us lazy, negligent, or careless, but on the contrary, it awakens us, urges us on, and makes us active in living righteous lives and doing good.

17th John Owen
The growth of trees and plants takes place so slowly that it is not easily seen. Daily we notice little change. But, in course of time, we see that a great change has taken place. So it is with Grace. Sanctification is a progressive, lifelong work. It is an amazing work of God’s grace and it is a work to be prayed for.

18th George Whitefield
Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.

19th Charles Spurgeon
A dark cloud is no sign that the sun has lost his light, and dark black convictions are no arguments that God has laid aside His mercy.

20th Reinhold Niebuhr
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

21st Eugene Peterson
I’m bankrupt without love. Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.

2nd Martin Luther King, Jr.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

23rd Dallas Willard
We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.

24th and the last quote of this series by Miroslav Volf
Faith is the way we as receivers relate appropriately to God as the giver.
It is, empty hands held open for God to fill.

Wishing you a wonderful and inspired week.
Philemon

MONTH: NOVEMBER 2019
POSTED ONNOVEMBER 24, 2019EDIT”CROSSING THE JORDAN”
Crossing the Jordan
I’ll cross over the Jordan someday. Jonny Cash

Good Monday Morning to this week 48 of 2019

This week the Jordan river came up in a few talks, in music with a live event, hearing of life-changing baptisms and in reading about the amazing story of Eliyahu Ben-Shaul Cohen.

Last week we looked at times when our well runs dry and concluded with Faith, faith being one of the most vital keys to keeping your well, well-watered. So what is it like to stand on the shore of the Jordan? What does this phrase mean?

Crossing the Jordan ….

God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and the Jewish people that their descendants would inherit a land given to them by God himself. Before Jacob died, the children of Israel found themselves living far away from that land.

Slavery, a handful of plagues, forty years in the wilderness added to the long story arriving at the shore of the Jordan.

Before Joshua could lead the people into the land flowing with milk and honey, an intimidating river had to be crossed – the flood stage of the Jordan River to be exact. By the grace and a miracle of God the people safely crossed the river, and by faith, they received a land that they had only heard of through a promise that had been made so long ago.

The river starts flowing on the slopes of Mount Hermon, on the border between Syria and Lebanon, and flows southward through northern Israel to the Sea of Galilee/ Tiberius. Exiting the sea, it continues south, dividing Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank to the west from Jordan to the east before emptying into the Dead Sea. The surface of the Dead Sea, at an elevation of about 430 meters below sea level the lowest land point on Earth.

The Jordan River is more than 360 km in length. After 1948 the river marked the frontier between Israel and Jordan from just south of the Sea of Galilee to the point where the Yābis River flows into it from the east. Since 1967, however, when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, the Jordan has served as the cease-fire line as far south as the Dead Sea.

The Jordan Valley itself is not well watered. The Jordan is fed by rains falling on the neighboring plateaus; the waters then flow downward through rivers or wadis. The Jordan itself is shallow. Its high-water period lasts from January to March. The existence of thermal springs, in the Tiberias region give the Jordan’s waters a relatively high degree of salinity. The Jordan’s waters are of special importance for irrigation especially for several oases in the bordering foothills at Jericho permitting the cultivation of oranges, bananas, early vegetables, and sugar beets.

The Jordan River is the river that David crossed to escape Absalom’s rebellion. Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan River before Elijah gave his double portion of anointing upon Elijah and being taken by a whirlwind into heaven. The Jordan River baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, perhaps the most popular biblical events at the river. This biblical event is one of the foundations of the Divine Trinity of God.

Joshua ordered the people to consecrate themselves, the next day, he assembled them a half-mile behind the ark of the covenant. He told the Levite priests to carry the ark to the Jordan River, which was swollen and treacherous, overflowing its banks with snowmelt from Mount Hermon. As soon as the priests waded in with the ark, the water stopped flowing and piled in a heap, 20 miles north near the village of Adam. It was also cut off to the south. While the priests waited with the ark in the middle of the river, the entire nation crossed over on dry ground. The Lord commanded Joshua to have 12 men, one from each of the 12 tribes, pick up a stone from the center of the riverbed. Once everyone had crossed, the priests with the ark came out of the riverbed. As soon as they were safe on dry land, the waters of the Jordan rushed in.

Israel learned important lessons from the miracle of crossing the Jordan River. First, God demonstrated that he was with Joshua as he had been with Moses. The ark of the covenant was God’s throne on earth. Literally, the Lord went into the dangerous river first, demonstrating his role as Israel’s protector.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

God revealed that his wonder-working strength would enable the people to conquer the enemy they faced. Most of the year, the Jordan River was about 100 feet wide and only three to ten feet deep. However, when the Israelites crossed, it was at flood stage, overflowing its banks. The mighty hand of God parted it, made it safe for his people to cross with no other power overcoming God’s mighty power.

Crossing the Jordan – a breaking with the past for Israel.
When the manna stopped, the enemies needed to be overcome.
Crossing the Jordan – crossing to a new form of a spiritual life of freedom.
Crossing the Jordan – a transition and the begin of a new conquest. (for Joshua for sure)
Crossing the Jordan – a preparation for a new mantel, again with a transition an a crossing on dry ground (also for Elijah and Elisha).
Crossing the Jordan – a place of new beginnings, not just the waters part, the heavens did as well.
Crossing the Jordan – a place of personal conversions as in the cases of Rahab, Naaman, Zaccheus, and Bartimaeus.
Crossing the Jordan – requires leaving one shore and crossing the river for another.
Crossing the Jordan – entering a promise, crossing over to new spiritual life.
Crossing the Jordan – the Grace of God leading you home.

Pick a stone from the Jordan river today:

Joshua placed a second set of stones in the river bed to be cover by the water when God removed His unseen hand holding the river back. Sometimes we are to build monuments in our hearts that only we know about monuments of anonymity in our hearts reminding us of God’s power and provisions.

Wishing you a good week “crossing the Jordan”! .. remember not to cross alone!

Philemon

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 17, 2019EDIT”WHEN THE WELL IS EMPTY.”
When the well is empty.
You think of water when the well is empty. Ethiopia

Good Monday Morning to this week 47 of 2019

Drink water from your own cistern and freshwater from your own well. Proverbs 5:15

Cape Town is a city of more than 3 million, suffered from drought for three successive years, which led to extensive water shortage. In February 2018 they got the shocking news of a possible “day zero” due in April 2018, if the people did not implement water-saving actions, with a maximum use of 50 liters of water per capita per day. In European countries, the estimated water usage is between 130-160 liters per capita per day.

Environmental psychology is a relatively new, however a growing branch of psychology. Many of the questions that arise here can be explored and understood within popular and valid frameworks, from social, cognitive or biological models. The term ‘coping’ indicates the psychological and physiological condition where an organism or person is expected to master and adapt to a stress-inducing/evoking challenge. Coping can be understood as a positive expectation of a situation. Two possible consequences of not coping are – hopelessness and helplessness.

Not just our environmental well runs dry, often also our physical or spiritual wells
“My soul is greatly troubled. But You O Lord – how long? says David in Psalm 6:3.

In the frailty of our souls, even prayer is hard at such times. We can’t just replace the dryness of our souls with prayer as good as it is! One of the difficulties in prayer is that it doesn’t stem from what we do, but from what God does.

In our spiritual life, with intense soulsearching and prayer, there are times that even then God seems to take a step back from us. Why do our prayers find no answers? We hear no whispering of his voice or indication that He is close or within reach. We are left feeling alone, isolated, confused and perhaps angry. Of course from good teaching we know that God is within us – never to depart. He will never leave us or forsake us! We’ve got that part of theology engraved, yet the distance, the absence may only be a perception, while the struggle is genuine even if the distance is not.

For some of us, there are clear responses to these situations. Pray more, pray harder, examine our inner life, look for personal mistakes and failures, learn new prayers, try new spiritual exercises, keep looking for hidden distance in us that concludes that we are being punished by God. With more and more religious effort, the distance doesn’t change but we ask more questions and even put God’s love and care into question.

Did you ever ask God for unshakable faith and then he started to shake your faith?
Back to David in the Psalms, “How long O Lord?!” Could the silence and stillness of God, be pathways on which our faith grows? Doesn’t our spirituality grow and increase by faith, is fueled by faith, so that these times of distance also become times of God’s mercy, strengthening a very part of us, in need of the fuel called; Faith?!

Could the first part of filling the well, not be the rain, but the gentle soft precipitation of faith? As we physically wait for the first snow to fall this November in Switzerland, we go from a long month of heavy rain to the gentle reception of the precipitation of snow. Be it snow, drizzle, rain, the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, so that the water condenses and precipitates. Isn’t it so with faith, we saturate the spiritual atmosphere with faith? On the other hand, fog and mist are suspensions to precipitation, because the water vapor doesn’t condense sufficiently. Fog and mist could be mistrust, incertitude or confusion in regard to our spirituals lives.

Back to lack of rain or the drought, Cloud seeding is a type of weather modification that has been experimented for quite a while. It changes the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances into the air which changes the microphysical process within the cloud. Evidentially cloud seeding was attempted during the 2008 Summer Olympics n Beijing to coax rain showers out of clouds before they reached the Olympic city in order to prevent rain during the opening and closing ceremonies. Do we also attempt spiritual cloud seeding, trying to force an outcome, especially in times when the well runs dry?

What do we do to fill our well with? Do we try religious attempts to force it, like the physical attempt of cloud seeding? There are so many books, Internet sites, recommendations explaining what you need to do to fill that void, water your dry well with, sometimes even in “7 steps”. No, I won’t fall to the urge to do the same and give you these steps like with a quick fix.

Let’s take another approach:

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought, it is not anxious and it does not cease to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17.7-8

My child, pay attention to what I say, listen carefully to my words.
Don’t lose sight of them let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they bring life to those who find them and healing to their whole body.
Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4: 20-23

Have you never heard? Have you understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength, they will soar high on wings like eagles they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40: 28-31

It’s a time for faith, His well has not run dry, He is there!

Wishing you a blessed week as you think of the water while the well is not empty or as you wait in faith for a new filling of your well.

Philemon

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 10, 2019EDIT”BELONGING”
Belonging
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other Mother Teresa
Good Monday Morning to this week 46 of 2019

Belonging;

The best of community does give one a deep sense of belonging and well-being; in that sense, community takes away loneliness. Henri Nouwen

Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.
Brené Brown

Belonging;

The affinity for a place or situation, acceptance, association, attachment, inclusion, kinship, loyalty, rapport, relationship.

“It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.” Keegan

Having a sense of belonging is a common experience. Belonging means acceptance as a member or part. Such a simple word for huge concept. A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Feeling that you belong is most important in seeing value in life and in coping with the intensity of daily life.

So many churches or groups of people claim that first, you have to behave right, and then you can believe the Gospel, and then once you have gotten that right, we will let you belong and become a member of our church or group. I believe it has to be the other way around. When it comes to church, I think the formula in a sense should be;

belong, believe, behave.

Jesus first let these individuals know that they belonged—that He loved them regardless of their behavior. One of the most powerful verses is in Mark 10 where it says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him, in the encounter with the rich young ruler who chose money over following Jesus. Or another of his answers “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me”. People around Jesus didn’t have to believe in Jesus before they were shown His love and compassion. Rather, they believed because of it. And only after the belonging and the believing comes the third step—behaving. Because I belonged, it led me to believe. Because I believed, it causes me to change my act, challenging that within me that wasn’t is according to the belonging one you now believe in.

The House of Belonging
Awake to a new morning.

Thinking for a moment
it was one day like any other.

But, the veil had gone
A new feel of heart.
I thought; as I utter the place of exile
the dimensionality of being out there,
to then have my face turned towards a place,
immediately start to walk in that direction
of a new way, a new being part of partaking,
spelling the word; be, be-longing to belonging.

Was it the quiet and stillness of
God Shekhinah, as HIs manifestation, descended to
dwell among humanity?

Another prayer returned through
the voice of He with the
triune nature calling forth the real sense
of belonging?

And I thought,
this is a good day!

This is the day
I realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between the world of exile
to the one to belonging
coming as you are and yet in the same
breath, extending this acceptance to
others as they come as they are.

And
I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light, away from
separateness to togetherness
with the unique gem of being a partaker.

For we have become partakers of Christ,
For we have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews

This is the bright home
in which I live, this is where
I ask my friends to come,

This is the temple
of my new home
having made His home
as I belong to something greater
where I belong.

I belong, I present my authentic, imperfect self,
I accept who I am, I embrace who is He is,
He that is greater within me.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

Warapunga
Inspired by Yahwe, D.Whyte, B. Brown

Wishing you this same belonging!

Philemon

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 2, 2019EDIT”THE MASK YOU DO’N(O)T LIVE IN?”
The Mask You do’n(o)t Live In?
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Good Monday Morning to this week 45 of 2019

Recently I was made aware of the fact that I am a “white male”… . For most of my life
I’ve been “culturally-color-blind” and was trying to understand what the explicit mentioning of this title meant. Where does this idea come from, is this an attempt to unveil or an attempt to cover over with a mask? I am quite sure you’ve had similar experiences due to an ethnic, gender or social peer group you’ve spent time in. Of course, I am aware of the privileges I’ve had growing up in a country (PNG) with few in this category. I do ask myself this morning, is this the right season to walk this line? Of course, I am a white male, not that it matters; with slightly red hair and red skin (smile), not out of the middle class and spent most of my life caring for marginalized, so this mask feels estranged and hostile to say it mildly. Yes, I won’t put on this mask, not saying that those masks aren’t there or don’t continue causing so much harm, hurt and discrimination to many all over the world.

Galatians 3:28, represents a new construct of reality, opposing the dominating construct of Hellenistic-Roman society. Although Christians still had to live in this Hellenistic-Roman culture, they had a new mental context in their minds, which became the social context when they gathered for worship. Scholars pose the question as to whether Galatians 3:28 is indeed the great egalitarian text that it is often assumed to be.
It does as well address the issue of inheritance of Abraham’s promise, and against this background, one should indeed accept that no worldly distinctions have any bearing on the inheritance of the promise. Douglas A. Campbell distinguishes important aspects: He points out that the heart of the matter is “the uncompromising eschatological logic of Paul’s reconciling gospel and that this has universal abolitionistic consequences. Secondly, he argues that the binaries typical of Hellenistic social ideology could be detached from the Christological claims and may indeed be abolished itself.

Paul’s Christology thus underpins a (controversial) model of community in which Jew and Gentile enjoy unbounded table-fellowship, sharing one bread and one cup, demonstrating in concrete social interaction that they are “one body in Christ”.
Paul did not have the abolishment of human categories in mind. However, he wanted the relationship between people of different status to change – a claim that is best understood in terms of the metaphor of the building of family.

Alio Cissé Niang puts it nicely:
Paul the counterculturalist, acting with liberating passion for all people, emphasizing that all are God’s children, in spite of ethnicity, social status or gender, as Galatians 3:28 indicates. Paul viewed believers as a new ethnic group that had been created through participation in Christ, with all other norms being relativized. A theology of inclusiveness. The Church as a unique culture, while at the same time respecting the peculiarities and particularities of ethnic and cultural specificities with the emphasis on both unity and diversity.

Galatians 3:28 could indeed be an “open text”, interpreted in diverse ways, these approaches emphasizing the immense depth of this verse with the importance and implication of these momentous words. Could this verse be
The Magna Carta of Humanity?

Mary McLeod Bethune writes with impressive implication to her life:

With these words, the scales fell from my eyes and the light came flooding in. My sense of inferiority, my fear of handicaps, dropped away: “Whosoever”, it said. No Jew nor Gentile, no Catholic nor Protestant, no black nor white; just “whosoever”. It meant that I, a humble Negro girl, had just as much chance as anybody in the sight and love of God …

Wishing you a wonderful week as you keep embracing this verse unmasked, revealing the wonderful implications of this inclusiveness and knowing of new belonging.

Philemon

MONTH: DECEMBER 2019
POSTED ONDECEMBER 29, 2019EDIT”LETTING GO”
Letting go
Good Monday Morning to this last Monday of 2019

We’re about to let of go of 2019 … some thoughts to letting go.

Letting go is incredibly difficult. No matter if we cling to worries about the future, or if we keep replaying the mistakes of the past it can be quite challenging when you have difficulties to move on. The attempt to hold on to the things that were familiar to us can limit our capability to experience the present moment. Yet, life is all about continuous change, no matter how hard we try to keep things as they are, we will sooner or later be confronted with relentless changes, whether we like it or not, especially as we open ourselves to new possibilities.

In the Bible there are quite a lot of stories of letting-go:

Mary and Joseph are asked to let go of their son Jesus.
Jonah is asked to let go of his hatred for the Ninevites.
Sarah is saddened and angry, she lets go of Abraham.
Pharaoh is asked to let go of the Israelites.
Esau is asked to let go of his inheritance.
Saul is asked to let go of his throne and his power.
David is made to let go of his son he fathered with Bathsheba.
Paul is asked to let go of his prejudice and hatred.
Abraham is asked to let go of Isaac.

Story 1
Once upon a time, there were three men. Each man had two sacks, one tied in front of his neck and the other tied on his back. When the first man was asked what was in his sacks, he said, “In the sack on my back are all the good things friends and family have done. That way they’re hidden from view. In the front sack are all the bad things that have happened to me. Every now and then I stop, open the front sack, take the things out, examine them, and think about them.” Because he stopped so much to concentrate on all the bad stuff, he really didn’t make much progress in life.

The second man was asked about his sacks. He replied, “In the front sack are all the good things I’ve done. I like to see them, so quite often I take them out to show them off to people. The sack in the back? I keep all my mistakes in there and carry them all the time. Sure they’re heavy. They slow me down, but you know, for some reason, I can’t put them down.”

When the third man was asked about his sacks, he answered, “The sack in front is great. There I keep all the positive thoughts I have about people, all the blessings I’ve experienced, all the great things other people have done for me. The weight isn’t a problem. The sack is like sails of a ship. It keeps me going forward.

“The sack on my back is empty. There’s nothing in it. I cut a big hole in its bottom. In there I put all the bad things that I can think about myself or hear about others. They go in one end and out the other, so I’m not carrying around any extra weight at all.”
Source | H. Norman Wright, The Perfect Catch

What are you carrying in your sacks from 2019 as you journey and transition towards 2020?

Who do you identify with? The most sympathetic is the one who remembers all the blessings while acknowledging and letting go of negativity and judgment toward self and others?

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
Henry Ford

Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.
Nicole Sobon

Story 2
Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the roadsides. At one place a woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman.”

The elder monk answered, “yes, brother”.

Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”

Paul put it this way in Hebrews 12.1
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, everything that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn. We stay focused on Jesus (a master in letting go), who designed and perfected our faith.

Wishing you a blessed transition and crossover from 2019 to 2020.

Philemon

POSTED ONDECEMBER 22, 2019EDIT”WHEN JESUS BECOMES KING”
When Jesus becomes King
Good Monday Morning to this week 52 of 2019

This morning many thoughts and ideas are out of the book to N.T. Wright, How God became King, as we launch into these next Christmas days, being drawn to the extraordinary events of the birth of Jesus.

Through the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph a powerful, mysterious presence of the God of Israel, the creator God, opened Israel’s story, bringing it to its climax by doing a new thing, bringing the story of creation to its height by a new creation from the womb of the old. The birth of Jesus opens the door to the “Miracle”, the divine intervention “from outside” into this world.

Jesus was born to a very difficult and dark world under the rule of the Roman empire. Jesus was born in extraordinary situations, all the difficulties known all too well to the people of the time, also to Mary and Joseph. Joseph had the role and responsibility to take care of a child that was not his own, yet full of obedience he took very best care of the child Jesus together with Mary. This plan of the almighty God to prepare the return of the King to live in this known world, in all its brokenness is a beautiful image of the path of Kingdom coming and returning. Jesus became King when He ascended to heaven and established the church. Before that time, Jesus promised and mentioned that the Kingdom was at hand. The first part of his life here on earth in the fullness of the time, the predicted age of the Roman Empire when God would establish His eternal kingdom.

Christmas offers us, not so much a different kind of human, but a different kind of God! A God who, having made humans in his own image, will most naturally express himself in and as that image-bearing person in Jesus.

If you belong to Jesus the Messiah, if his Spirit dwells in you, if you are a worshipper of the one true God, maker of heaven and earth then however you may feel at the moment, whether you are sick or healthy, successful or in trouble, you are simply a shadow of your future self. God intends to transform the “you” the you who you are at the moment into a being, a full, glorious, physical being who will be much more truly “you” than you’ve ever been before.

Jesus pointed to God in order to explain his actions as when he commanded the wind and the sea to be still and they obey him. Jesus himself the new temple, the true King, the true priest at the heart of the new creation, preparing that day when the whole earth shall and will be filled with the glory of God.

And so this temple, like the wilderness tabernacle, is a temple on the move, as Jesus’s people going out, in the energy of the Spirit, to be the dwelling of God in each place, in anticipation of the entire fulfillment of the Kingdom of Jesus.

God is also becoming King through you, the meek, the peacemakers, the heart pure people, the hungry for justice people, the people of a new identity.

When God wants to take his power and reign, putting the world to rights as he promised, he doesn’t send in the tanks, he sends in the meek the brokenhearted, the crushed in spirit, they will do in humility and hope, the world renewing tasks through which the living God is implementing His way of being King. His Kingdom project is launched in and through Jesus, the creator God began the new phase of his great world-changing project.

May you be filled with the wonder of Jesus the King being born, of the deep joy of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the Wise Men, as God becomes King through you in many renewing tasks, going out in the power with the Spirit of God the King living in you.

Philemon

POSTED ONDECEMBER 14, 2019EDIT”POWER OF CHOICE, A NEW LIBERTY?”
Power of choice, a new liberty?
Good Monday Morning to this week 51 of 2019

This week I saw a very disturbing picture of many worship leaders gathering at the White House. The same people who write songs about Jesus are endorsing policies that are destroying the very people Jesus cares so much about like immigrants and refugees.

This took me to reading Romans 13. This chapter is one of those classic passages, used to make sure we are all being obedient citizens, which historically has led Christians into all kinds of problems:

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…” (Romans 13:1)

We live in times where dissent is more important than ever. All around the world we are witnessing the rise of the “strongman” and brutal leaders. These are hard-line men that rule with an iron fist and with little regard for justice or the downtrodden.

Craig Greenfield took a closer look at this:

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, King Herod arrested some of the believers, including James and Peter, and put them on public trial. The night before the trial, an angel of the Lord woke Peter up, removed his chains, opened the prison doors and led him out the main gate of the prison.

Yet after escaping from jail, Peter went on to write:

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to the governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

Or when Paul was in Damascus, he escaped from a strongman city governor who was trying to arrest him … after reaching safety, Paul wrote a surprising letter:

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

The key to understanding is in the word “submit”. The Greek word hupo-tasso, which has been translated as “submit” or “be subject,” literally means to arrange stuff respectfully in an “orderly manner underneath”.

This simple meaning of “social orderliness” would have been understood by original readers, but it is a little obscured in our English translation.

This word is used in Ephesians 5:22 to encourage husbands and wives to submit to one another, and it reflects God’s concern for order and respect.

Here’s the main point – Paul and Peter believed that governing authorities are necessary for keeping the peace. God is a God of order – not anarchy or chaos.

But here’s where we go wrong. There’s ANOTHER word, hupo-kouo, which is best translated as “obey,” which literally means to conform, to follow a command, or to kowtow to an authority as a subordinate. wasn’t used by Peter and Paul, they chose not to.

Though Paul, Peter and other followers of Jesus deliberately disobeyed laws that were in conflict with God’s commands, they still submitted to the authorities by accepting the legal consequences of their actions.

As far back as the book of Exodus, the Hebrew midwives refused to carry out the Pharoah’s repugnant order to murder newborn babies.

Slavery was lawful. The holocaust was legal. Segregation and apartheid were legally sanctioned. Many of today’s laws are created to protect much “other” rather than people.

So does the law or does God dictate our ethics?

Could this be showing us another way to interpret Romans 13 as Peter and Paul meant? If we break an unjust law to highlight and protest its injustice, we should be willing to submit to the punishment for breaking such laws, so that we demonstrate our respect for the role of government, in general, no following a God of chaos, each doing whatever we want but a God of order and respect for one another and the governing authorities.

There are times when we, as followers of Christ, will be called upon to stand up with a holy ‘NO!’ in the face of evil and injustice.

This week I saw a preview of the film of the life of Franz Jagerstatter, a forgotten martyr, devout Catholic, telling the harrowing and heartbreaking true story of his life refusing to take the Hitler oath. During his military training in 1940, he notices the evil underlying the Nazi regime and arrives home dead-set on refusing to fight for the army in the future. He declared his refusal to fight when he was summoned back to the Linz barracks in 1943, where he was held in custody, transferred to Berlin-Tegel to await trial, and condemned to death for sedition.

Gregory Williams puts it this way:
The Greek word used in Romans 13 by Paul is exousia, which is defined: “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases.” It is translated “right” in Hebrews Revelations and it is even translated “liberty” in Paul’s own 1Corinthians 8:9.

In the original text of the Bible the translation of exousia as liberty or right would fit the context of scripture. One may translate it as power of choice. The Greek word exousia is considered to be one of the strongest words in the Greek language representing the idea of liberty. Accepting the idea that Romans 13 is actually a statement by Paul in support of individual liberty, rather than a command to submit to the commands of authoritarian rulers, will be difficult for some pastors and Christians alike to admit.

Romans 13 could be read as follows: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher liberty. For there is no liberty but of God: the liberties that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the liberty, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the liberty? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” Romans 13: 1,3

God desires that every man should have the unimpaired and divine right of choice as long as that choice does not violate the right of our neighbor to make his own choices. There is a distinction between the privileges of governments granted by the people and the rights of the people granted by God. We must not only care about the rights of others while exercising our own, but we must fulfill that obligation without infringing on the rights of our neighbor to make their own choices. To accomplish that mission prescribed by God we must discover the whole truth and provide for it.

From the beginning, our Creator has allowed that men have the power to choose to be free souls under God or go under the authority of other men and their gods. That choice is never without consequences.

As Christians, we not only profess Jesus as Lord but we follow him. We proclaim the Kingdom of God is here, just as he did. We don’t claim to be residents of earthly borders but of the kingdom that is within. Jesus is the only governing authority of this kingdom. To be disobedient and resist this authority is to not feed the hungry or give water to the thirsty or clothe the poor. It’s to not welcome the stranger into our home, our land. It’s to not forgive our enemies.

So what do we do when we see injustice within the governing authorities? Do we follow Jesus to feed the poor welcome the stranger and proclaim a different kingdom than the one the world system has drawn borders around and tries to keep people out of and say “the kingdom is within you, welcome”

In the upside-down kingdom where Jesus is Lord, the table is open to everyone.

Wishing you a wonderful week as you welcome this Jesus and his arrival to the world.

Philemon

POSTED ONDECEMBER 10, 2019EDIT”SHARED HAPPINESS TASTES BETTER!”
Shared happiness tastes better!
Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.
Charlotte Bronte

Good Monday Morning (now Tuesday) to this week 50 of 2019

Traveling home from Togo in West Africa yesterday, I spent my time in planes, trains and buses. Arriving safely late Monday evening I was reminded of my missing Monday Message and a little story of untasty food because of an interesting situation with a toddler.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

On Sunday afternoon in Adido-Adin, I was drinking coffee spending some time with a toddler staying at the same place. This toddler enjoyed my company and was happy to share all with me and assumed I would do the same. When I didn’t share the hot coffee with her, she was greatly insulted and wouldn’t look at me anyhow. Actually, she was deeply hurt and tried to express that in many emotions to her mother. All of my reconciliation attempts failed for a very long time.

From time to time I tried other attempts, playing with toys, making a joke, offering a hand, a smile, all failed. As I then ordered lunch and started eating salad, this finally caught some attention, yet only very vaguely.

The happiness of my lunch and nice salad was quite unshared. A fork a knife and a spoon were with my plate. I finally took the fork put some corn onto it, took the spoon and put a few pieces of corn onto the spoon as well. Putting the spoon into the hand of the toddler she took the first bite, still not looking at me. The next spoon she refused, then returned to grab the spoon and take another load of corn and salad. Her hunger was long gone because she had her favorite lunch already. But sharing these colorful yellow corn pieces with me, eating with a spoon, seeing me do that the same, finally brought peace and reconciliation between the two of us.

Happiness shared can truely be called happiness; with the taste being so delicious!
warapunga

I wish you a wonderful week with the taste of happiness, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Philemon

POSTED ONDECEMBER 1, 2019EDIT”GOD SAYS YOU FILL HIS MIND”
God says you fill his mind
Thoughts to make your heart sing.

Good Monday Morning to this week 49 of 2019

When you were little, did someone big and strong carry you?

As I go through the day’s here in Togo, I see the “little ones” being carried in many ways. A wonderful moment is usually when the babies get uneasy, unhappy, though fed, it’s simply time to get some rest, and where best than on the back of the mother. Gently she wings the baby onto her back, positions the feet, wraps the towel carefully around and tightens it until the child is firmly secured. In no time the babies fall asleep. The message is clear, affirming, straightforward; I can help, trust me, I’ll show you, let me get you firmly positioned and you’ll have a wonderful sleep.

God’s intention is very similar with his words, actions, His affection, His care and love for us. Are they really an option to fully trust? How we need this firm swing onto his back to realize that He is for us, that we are fully in His grip, that He is in charge and has got us tight “under His wings”.

I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth

In other words: Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Fill his mind, give him no rest! Isaiah 62:6-7

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. Isaiah 58:9

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

And so we know and rely on the love that God has for us. 1 John 4.16

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve got your back!

But you will not leave in haste or go in flight;
for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Like the child on the back of the mother, the mother can do many things while the child rests, but her mind is on the child, feels every move, feels the warmth, and reacts to the sleeping and awakening.

You fill God’s mind!

In His grip!

Philemon

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