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

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2018 +1 = 2019 His mercies, new every morning!

Good Monday Morning to this last day of 2018

and to this first week of 2019,  about to begin!

A few prayers to this day of transition and to start a Happy New Year!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23

Remember us, O God

from age to age be our comforter.

You have given us the wonder of time,

blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.

Bless us your children at the turning of the year

and fill the months ahead with the bright hope

that is ours in the coming of your Kingdom

You are our God, living and reigning, forever and ever.

Amen

It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken. St. Francis Xavier. (1506-1552 Missionary of the Portuguese empire) 

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

In the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. Billy Graham

Prayer is powerful, it fills the earth with mercy, it makes the Divine compassion pass from generation to generation, right along the course of the centuries, wonderful works have been achieved through prayer. St. Francis Xavier

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.  St. Francis of Assisi

May Adonai bless you and keep you.

May Adonai make his face shine on you and show you his favor.

May Adonai lift up his face toward you and give you peace. (Num. 6.24-26)

Blessed transition!

Happy New Year

Philemon

Watching the watches of the night

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased.
Luke 2: 14

Good Monday Morning to this week 52/2018

Today’s reading from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.

Luke, whose Gospel is the Gospel of the Humanity, lingers reverently over the Nativity, throwing a variety of side-lights upon the cradle of the Holy Child.  He has shown how the Roman State prepared the cradle of the Infancy, and how Caesar Augustus unconsciously wrought out the purpose of God, the breath of his imperial decree being but part of a higher inspiration.
Now he proceeds to show how the shepherds of Judaea bring the greetings of the Hebrew world, the first waving of gratin to be accepted by God which yet will be laid, by Jew and Gentile alike, at the feet of Him who was Son of David and Son of man.

While the shepherds were “watching the watches of the night over their flock,”  referring to the pastoral custom of dividing the night into watches, and keeping watch by turns, suddenly “an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” Now, in the dead of night, the angelic form is bright and luminous, throwing all around them a sort of heavenly halo, in which even the lustrous Syrian stars grow dim. Dazzled by the sudden burst of glory, the shepherds were awed by the vision, and stricken with a great fear, until the angel, borrowing the tones and accents of their own speech, addressed to them his message, the message he had been commissioned to bring: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” And then he gave them a sign by which they might recognize the Savior Lord: “Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.”

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased.

In both expressions the underlying thought is the same, representing man as the object of the Divine good-pleasure, that Divine “benevolence” in the germ, the Divine favor, compassion, mercy, and love. There is thus a triple parallelism running through the song, the “Glory to God in the highest” finding its corresponding terms in the “peace among (or to) men in whom He is well pleased on earth”; while altogether it forms one complete circle of praise, the “good-pleasure to man,” the “peace on earth,” the “glory to God” marking off its three segments.

But is this song only a song in some far-distant sky-a sweet memory indeed, but no experience?

Directly the angel-song had ceased, and the singers had disappeared in the deep silence whence they came, the shepherds, gathering up their scattered thoughts, said one to another (as if their hearts were speaking all at once and all in unison), “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass which the Lord hath made known unto us.” The response was immediate: They do not shut out this heavenly truth by doubt and vain questioning; they do not keep it at a distance from them, as if it only indirectly and distantly concerned themselves, but yield themselves up to it entirely; and as they go hastily to Bethlehem, in the quickstep and in the rapid beating of their heart, we can trace the vibrations of the angel-song.

And why is this?
Why is it that the message does not come upon them as a surprise?
Why are these men ready with such a perfect acquiescence, their hearts leaping forward to meet and embrace this Gospel of the angels?

We shall probably find our answer in the character of the men themselves. They pass into history unnamed; and after playing their brief part, they disappear, lost in the incense-cloud of their own praises.

Evidently, these shepherds were no mean, no common men. They were Hebrews, possibly of the royal line; at any rate they were David’s in their loftiness of thought, of hope and aspiration. They were devout, God-fearing men. Like their father Jacob, they too were citizens of two worlds; they could lead their flocks into green pastures, and mend the fold, or they could turn aside from flock and fold to wrestle with God’s angels and prevail.

But there must be the music hidden within. We may be sure of this, that had the angel-song had passed by them as a cold night-wind, had not their hearts been tuned up by intense desire until they struck responsive to the angel voice. Though they knew it not, they had led their flock to the mount of God; and up the steps of sacred hopes and lofty aspirations they had climbed, until their lives had got within the circle of heavenly harmonies, and they were worthy to be the first apostles of the new age, the Kingdom of Jesus.

The shepherds appear no more in the Gospel story. We see them returning to their task “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen,” and then the mantle of a deep silence falls upon them. So these anonymous shepherds, these first disciples of the Lord, having laid their tribute at His feet in the name of humanity saluting the Christ who was to be-now pass out of our sight, leaving for us the example of their heavenward look and their simple faith, and leaving, too, their “Glorias,” which in multiplied reverberations fill all lands and all times, the earthly prelude of the New, the eternal Song.

How do we reply to the song of the angels this Christmas? Do we neither shut out this heavenly truth by doubt and or vain questioning; nor keep it at a distance from us?  Do we yield ourselves to it entirely; and as they,  go hastily to “Bethlehem”, with a quick step with a rapid beating of our heart,s can so we can trace the vibrations of the angels-song?

Happy Christmas!
Philemon

 

A wideness in God’s mercy.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Luke 1. 28

Good Monday Morning to this week 51/2018

With Christmas a week away, discovering the real Christmas message requires looking beyond the all-too-familiar holiday experiences. “Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and all His love was poured into Mary as she fell into favor with God.

Key statements we read again and again:

“God with Us” In Exodus, God appeared over us, in the cloud, as a pillar of fire, or on the mountain. But now, in a common feeding trough, He became Immanuel

“Good News of Great Joy”  The good news transcended politics, languages, and geography. A Savior is given to all mankind, making us the recipients of
God’s good will and favor.

“Lying in a Manger” We must marvel at the humble entrance of the Eternal, Almighty Creator, God, into our world. The Savior of mankind, found lying in a manger, a (feeding-trough), thus giving the shepherds a specific sign to guide them to the Christ-Child.

In the world that God created, there was no room for Him at the inn or anywhere. To have “God with us,” the God-Child entered the world in a place where few would even notice.

God’s return in Jesus to His creation wasn’t “good news” to everyone. No ruler was willing to abdicate their throne. No palace opened their gates to welcome the King of kings or the Prince of Peace.

God, who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-righteous, longed to touch everyone — the beggar, the prostitute, the leper — presenting Himself, a helpless infant, “lying in a manger.” Common folks can never visit the palace of a newborn king, uninvited. But kings and princes can visit mangers.

The Nativity scene isn’t designed “only” to put us into a festive “holiday mood.” It should stir us to the very depth of our souls. How will we respond to the Divine Designer of the universe who sacrificed everything to bring us back into a relationship with Him!

And Mary said in Luke 1: 46-55 from The Message:

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Wishing a great week in these waves of His mercy!

Philemon

 

Therefore I hope in Him

Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!”
Lamentations 3:22-24
Good Monday morning to this week 50 of 2018

The other week we passing through town in Lomé listening to a Christian radio station as we drove through hectic and busy traffic. The traffic is slow, busy, and whenever at a red light there are motorbikes in front, behind and on both sides of the cars. I see the many families or mothers with 2 or 3 children on the motorbikes and pray for their protection.
As I am deep in thought with all the many thoughts of those on the “moto-taxis”,  I hear a song a hymn translated to French that has accompanied me for all of my life. As a child we used to sing it in church or hear parents and elders sing it.

Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. Born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, Chisholm became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent. Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.

Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

Just think, with each new day, God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness.
His mercies are new every morning, no matter what.

Great is thy faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm – 1925

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
2
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
3
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

How many millions has this hymn blessed down through the years? The suffering man who penned it could still look to the goodness of God and His loving care in the middle of trouble. If you are suffering today,  struggling with untold and seemingly intolerable burdens, this a prayer for you, He has not forgotten you. He is faithful, a loving Father who has engraved you on the palms of his hands. (Isaiah 49:16.)

A prayer, a proclamation, a wish, a truth, a hope and much more!
A prayer of protection for all the many people on the “moto-taxis” of Lomé
A prayer for the many suffering in Yemen, Syria, Irak, Somalia, Burundi, Cameroun,
A proclamation for communities, homes, families and you as individual.

Wishing a good start to this week.
Philemon

You did it for me

Matthew 25:40

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Good Monday Morning to this week 49/2018

This week I was able to help someone out practically. It was cool to have the right thing available to help this person, to receive exactly what they needed at that time.
The incident was quickly forgotten and all the other busy meetings and concerns of the day continued. The next morning I went for breakfast and someone approached me and said with a very thankful voice and mannerism.

Thank you so so much for what you did for me!

I was surprised, glad that in such situations I’m not too spontaneous, so I waited and thought hard …. and luckily they then helped me out.

Thank you for what you did for my friend!

I was humbled, moved, truly surprised. I’ve been thinking about the spontaneous little act of kindness and then I receive such a blessing of thankfulness.

This is huge, this I need to remember, this I need to learn.

It gets even better!
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Wow, this answer of the friend, who thanked me for helping her friend out, this is
Kingdom thinking, these are the thoughts of our King, this is His nature, his approach, and the way he sees things.

I am blown away by this, this morning.

How great is the condescension and kindness of the Judge the King, our Saviour of the world, thus to reward our actions, and to consider what we have done to the poor as done to him!

The surprise expressed is not at their being told that they acted from love to Christ, but that Christ Himself was the Personal Object of all their deeds: that they found Him hungry, and supplied Him with food: that they brought water to Him, and quenched His thirst; that seeing Him naked and shivering, they put warm clothing upon Him, paid Him visits when lying in prison for the truth, and sat by His bedside when laid down with sickness. This is the astonishing interpretation which Jesus says “the King” will give to them of their own actions here below.

I wish you a blessed week in all you do for Him!

Philemon 

Being part of God’s plan

Good Monday Morning to this week 48/2018

I delight greatly in the Lord my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness. Isaiah 61.10a

This past Sunday I was honored to speak in wonderful church in Segbe, Lomé. Speaking about being important in the plan of God we looked at Jochebed, the mother of Moses.
Her courage to give away her son twice laid the path for Moses to grow up and lead Israel out of exile. She applied the following quote: If God asks you to give up something, trust him and release it.  Shortly after the sermon, there was a dedication of a newborn then following was a prayer for a widow in mourning. Before the prayer she received new clothes, was accompanied outside to put them on, with the new clothes she returned and received the prayer of the pastor and the elders. There was something very beautiful and graceful in this.

Scripture uses metaphor all the time in order to illustrate spiritual concepts and one such metaphor is clothing. This metaphor can be easy to miss because there are also many instances in Scripture where clothing means exactly that: literal clothing. However, careful reading reveals that clothing is a frequent biblical metaphor and as such it is rich with meaning. Therefore, it is critical us to recognize the instances where this metaphor appears and to understand its implications. First, let us look at one Old Testament instances of the use of clothing as a metaphor.

After the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, we again find clothing being cleansed prior to making a covenant with God:

When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD, the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. Exodus 19:10-14

God told the people of Israel to wash their garments as part of the preparation for His arrival at Mount Sinai and for the establishment of the Covenant of Moses. Without clean garments which symbolized their right standing, the covenant could not have been established.

Then once the Mosaic Covenant was established, we find extensive and repeated instructions regarding the clothing of the priests.

In Zechariah, we read the account of Joshua the high priest whose filthy garments are removed from him and he is left standing in “pure vestments.” In the midst of this clothing change, Joshua is told by the angel of the Lord that his iniquity has been taken away from him. Once his clothes are pure, symbolizing the removal of his iniquity, God says to him:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. – Zechariah 3:6-7

While his garments were filthy, Joshua could have no relationship with God. Once his garments were cleansed, God granted him access as long as he walked in God’s ways.

The function and scope of the clothing metaphor symbolizing one’s standing with God finds even greater evidence in the New Testament.

Clothing as a picture of one’s standing before God in the New Testament.

One of the first mentions of clothing as representative of something truly important occurs in the parable of the wedding feast. Here, Christ tells of a man in attendance at the wedding, but when the host spotted him, he orders the man to be thrown out into outer darkness for apparently no other reason than that he was without a wedding garment (Matthew 22:1-14). Clearly, a right standing was required to attend the feast and this wedding garment was essential to that right standing.

In Corinthians, Paul further connects the dots of the clothing metaphor when he writes:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

Paul’s point was not that the Corinthians needed physical clothing of some kind, rather he was telling them to make sure that they were in a right standing with God.

The metaphor of garments as representative of one’s standing with God is carried on into Revelation where we find a host of allusions to garments, clothing or robes. As a result, is in the book of Revelation where the clothing metaphor finds its fullest expression.

Clearly, the state of one’s clothing is a big deal in the book of Revelation. It also becomes easy to understand the picture given to us in Genesis 3: the clothing worn by Adam and Eve signified the atonement that had been made on their behalf and their restored standing with God. In Genesis, this clothing was necessary for entrance into a covenant with God. In Revelation, one must be clothed in a similar, though now even more clearly metaphorical garment.

Isaiah 61:3 – To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

I wish you “new clothes” this week, as you seek Him and are confirmed of your “standing” with the God Almighty.

Stay blessed!
Philemon

 

The ability to spring back

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Good Monday Morning to this week 47/2018

The scientific study of resilience shows how to increase our chances of recovering from challenges. These principles are related to biblical perseverance.

An important conclusion from scientific studies is that resilience or perseverance is a skill that can be learned through training. The Time article listed 10 “expert tips” for developing the skill of resilience. Let’s analyze these tips and see how each one correlates to fundamental biblical teachings.

Joseph can be thought of as a come-back king. His brothers planned to kill him because of jealousy over a prized garment, but they eventually sold him into slavery in Egypt. As the story is told in the Book of Genesis, Joseph worked for a man who placed him in jail in Egypt because of a lie. During this time in prison, Joseph interprets dreams for other convicts. The talent Joseph possesses leads him to the ruler, who was having dreams about a coming famine in the kingdom.

After interpreting the dream correctly, Joseph was given a position of great influence. He managed the agricultural efforts of Egypt and he was in charge of distributing food. Joseph’s brothers finally approach him after he ascended to his post. Ten years had passed, and Joseph’s brothers wanted food. He told them who he was, and Joseph forgave them for what they had done years earlier. His brothers and father move finally to Egypt to be with Joseph.

Joseph teaches us to recognize we can’t determine what the future may hold. Unforeseen circumstances and conditions make up our existence, including calamities and victories. We also can gather holding grudges does not produce happiness from this Biblical story. Joseph shows us an attitude of optimism should always be adhered to, even in dire situations. The story of Joseph reminds us to be hopeful and have faith when there is no reason to think our surroundings or state of being will improve, at least in our foreseeable future.

Here a few thoughts of by Rick Avent on Perseverance and Resilience:

1. Develop a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake.
The Bible goes a step further by emphasizing not just any core values but the specific values. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

2. Try to find meaning in whatever stressful or traumatic thing has happened.
In a broader sense, our trials serve as a training program to help us see our weaknesses and grow. Job’s experience is an excellent example (James 5:11). David expressed it well: “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12, emphasis added throughout).

Peter recognized that resilience was among the key components signifying growth. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

3. Try to maintain a positive outlook.
A more suitable term than optimism is hope. Romans 5:1-5 summarizes the fullness of hope. God suggests a more coupled interaction that works both ways. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Here we see that perseverance (resilience) leads to hope (optimism).

Yet in Romans 8:25 we also see the reverse. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Here the scripture indicates that hope leads to resilience. A contradiction? No, but rather an indication that hope and resilience reinforce each other interchangeably as we learn and grow.

4. Take cues from someone who is especially resilient.
God goes a step further and asks us to also learn from the examples of those who failed (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).

5. Don’t run from things that scare you; face them.
This concept is consistent with how God expects us to not only examine ourselves and face our sins (2 Corinthians 13:5), but learn from them and change, repent and grow.

6. Be quick to reach out for support when things go haywire.
God has set up a dual-support system for us. First, He provides direct access to Him through prayer. Second He gives us the support of the Church through both individual relationships and prayers of the brethren. Reaching out through prayer can train our brains to react more calmly to stress, creating more resilience—a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).

7. Learn new things as often as you can.
This idea fits right in with the biblical admonitions to study and meditate.

8. Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on the past.
Some simply can’t seem to move on from the past. Either they can’t forgive themselves, or they can’t forgive someone else. This is a huge impediment to resilience (Hebrews 12:15).

Forgiveness is central to the New Covenant. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is through forgiveness that we can put the past behind us and move on with our lives—an essential component of perseverance.

9. Find an exercise regimen you’ll stick to.
Paul sums it up well. “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things,.

10. Recognize what makes you uniquely strong—and own it.
Scientists tend to point toward an individual’s personal strengths as a key to resilience. Such strengths clearly can play a role. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

But what is it that makes us uniquely strong? Abraham had it. Moses had it. David had it. Daniel had it. Peter had it. Paul had it. The answer is faith.

Growing in perseverance
Scientists have concluded that resilience, or perseverance, is not a disposition or personality type. Rather, it is a skill set that can be learned, making it possible to not only endure trials but to thrive during and after them. We see this includes learning from biblical examples, self-examination, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, Bible study, meditation, hope and faith.

Applying these principles can make a major impact on how successful we are in conquering our trials and challenges.

I wish you a week of much “springing-back” as you do not become tired of doing good!

Philemon

 

Your love defends me

Chorus
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me

Good Monday Morning to this week 46/2018

This song has been accompanied me throughout this weekend. I really like that aspect of God’s love, it’s not just a cozy, sweet-ish kind of romantic feeling, no it’s far more. God’s love defends us! Wow

This weekend’s featured and favorite song story comes from Matt Maher. Here is what he says to the song:  “Your Love Defends Me.”

“This song comes out of Psalm 91, and the idea of God being not a refuge, but our ONLY refuge. I think we can all relate to moments in our lives where who we were (or who we’ll become) comes crashing to the forefront of who we are, and all of a sudden there’s this fight happening inside for who gets control – the past or the future or the present moment now. Evil is in the business of accusation but God is in the business of raising up testimony – of who He is and what He’s done. This song talks about how God is a defender. How the love of God is not just a defense, but it’s really the only defense we have that can stand against the inconsistency of ourselves. It’s not our job to defend everything, uphold everything, protect everything. It’s His, his grace strengthens us, His love defends us. Matt Maher

Verse 1: 
You are my joy, You are my song
You are the well, the One I’m drawing from
You are my refuge, my whole life long
Where else would I go?

Verse 2: 
Day after day, night after night
I will remember, You’re with me in this fight
Although the battle, it rages on
The war already won
I know the war is already won

Bridge:
We sing Hallelujah
You’re my portion
My salvation
Hallelujah

Chorus 
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me

God is your defense  …. 

Psalm 91: 14+15
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

 

and what He says about you is what matters!

Have a blessed week!
Philemon

Attached the youtube link:

 

A King’s Friend

Enjoying stories, legends, Jewish wisdom and further growing up in the Huli Tribe of Papua New Guinea, I enjoyed this legend and share it with you today!

Good Monday Morning to the week 45/2018

The King’s Friend
Based on an urban legend

Once there lived a gentile king who delighted in having an audience with a particular rabbi who lived in the kingdom’s capital. The two would converse on various subjects, and the rabbi’s acuity and sharp intellect amazed the king again and again. No one could compare in counsel and wisdom to the charming rabbi.

The king had a fascination with outings to the country, and he would invite the rabbi so that they could discuss the kingdom’s happenings.

The rabbi had a way of always weaving into the conversation the idea of, divine providence, constantly seeking to connect the unfolding events with God’s underlying presence and guiding hand.

The rabbi fumbled with the rifle, and a shot accidentally escaped from the weapon.
On one of these outings, the king decided to go hunting. Accompanied by the rabbi, his companion of choice, the king insisted that the rabbi also hunt together with him.

Unfamiliar with the sport, the rabbi fumbled with the rifle, and a shot accidentally escaped from the weapon. A bitter scream pierced the forest, a scream from none other than the king himself! The rabbi had mistakenly shot the king, damaging his hand forever by shooting off one of his fingers.

Enraged, the bleeding king had his guards imprison the rabbi immediately, with swift orders to put him into one of the dungeon’s prison chambers.

Months passed, and the king’s injury slowly healed. His hand was getting stronger, and his desire to go on one of his outings finally made him plan a most extravagant trip to many far-off lands.

Throughout his trips, he missed the wisdom and companionship of the brilliant rabbi.

In one particularly exotic location, the king was warned not to leave the campgrounds, because hostile natives lurked. But the king’s adventurous spirit was sparked by the idea of seeing the area as it was.

The king was warned not to leave the campgrounds, because hostile natives lurked.
On one of his forays outside the camp, the king was captured by cannibal tribesmen. As was their custom, they inspected their “merchandise” before cooking. They were alarmed to find that the enticing specimen before them had a missing finger. Immediately they declared it a bad omen, and discarded the king close to his campgrounds.

The king was beside himself with joy. The rabbi’s “blunder” had saved his life.

He immediately changed course and directed his entourage to return home. He had to speak to the rabbi.

When they arrived at the capital, the king immediately set the rabbi free.

He asked him:

“Dear Rabbi, you have always spoken of divine providence, and how everything comes down from heaven for our good, and I see that here. But rabbi, I have one question: what was the divine providence as it relates to you? You were in the dungeon for months; where is the good in that?”

If I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been with you.
The rabbi smiled as he answered, “Your majesty, if I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been with you, and the cannibals would have eaten me, God forbid.”

“What lesson can we take from all this?” asked the king.

After some thought, the rabbi answered.

“Perhaps the lesson is that everyone is essentially a friend of the ultimate King, the Creator of heaven and earth. Since He is a true and good friend who wants the very best for us, we must have faith that all our experiences, even the seemingly negative ones, are really for the best.”

By Bentzion Elisha

Not all that is dark is dark, not all that is light is light. God can create or recreate a situation in all situations, He helps us up, He makes a new way as He recreates and lets His Kingdom come!

God, our King can even change his mind: 1 Chronicles 21:15

And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunahb the Jebusite.

Trusting in Him for whatever Situation you are in!

Wishing you a good week.

Philemon