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

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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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Is the wolf to blame if the sheep are roaming free?

Good Monday Morning to this week 04/2019
Philemon

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

 

 

 

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