Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mind!! Now!


What a wonder the mind is? How phenomenally deep? Who really understands it's functioning?

The source of intelligence and reason, the source of thought and communication, the place of understanding and comprehension. A diverse and complex structure retained in a body, governing the basic functions of life, automatically, and yet expressive of emotion and idea, able to provide discernment, calculation, distinction and perception.

The mind is constantly receiving information, analyzing and storing data. At a cursory level, this ... "thought does not confront its data in an attitude of free contemplation, seeking to understand their structure and their systematic connections, and analyzing them according to their parts and functions, but is simply captivated by a total impression. Such thinking does not develop the given content of experience, it does not reach backward or forward from that vantage point to find 'causes' and 'effects', but rests content with taking in sheer existent."

Memory serves a a very critical part of this process, the mind takes memories and categorizes them into narratives that can be used to either create well-being (ie. security) or to be used in the construction of a mind-set designed to create life skills to compensate for the past (whether wrongs and failures or success), to create identity, to create future and hope (survival) or enable a person to function in community.

The mind is constantly searching for relevancy and significance in the events surrounding daily interactions. Most incoming data is discarded as irrelevant or benign in nature. It is only when meaningful relationships between past occurrences and present incoming data is perceived that the mind consciously begins to trigger reactions to stimuli.

It can therefore be asserted that in the larger context of life as narrative memories serve as the greatest source for renewal. Seems strange that the past can affect the future, the contradiction lies with the window through which we view our past. The input of new and relevant information, although in reality is not always positive, if in anyway can be made positive, will result in a new perspective.

Romans 12:2 ... ' be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.'

Ephesians 4:23 ... 'and be renewed in the spirit of your mind'

These verses refer to a renewing of the mind in the sense that the natural powers (regarding memory, judgement, perception) are left intact, but the spirit of the mind is changed in its energies and bent to those that are God-ward, the controlling influence (Holy Spirit) adjusting the mind to the moral and spiritual pursuits of God and His thinking and vision.

There is still that which remains '...by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain, but I laboured even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.' I continue to be amazed at the power, wisdom, absurdity, depth, comprehension, irrationality of God's grace in that He works with the person hood of each individual, intervening in their life, disturbing the context in which they lived, yet in His sovereignty leaving as whole the body and mind of the creature, that the glory of God may be made more manifest, assuaging and soothing the fears of man when as absolute ruler there is no usurping of the persona, the heart and its character is changed in its affections but untouched is the essence of the soul (the backdrop) of the individual, grace is willing to love for the sake of love not regarding the sorry state of man as nonredeemable. Grace gentle. Grace divine. Grace.

In this new found grace, memory is filtered, memory becomes redemptive, in that, as a functioning mind-set all relevant information is placed against or compared to the new life and foundation formed by the Cross.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ' therefore if any one [be] in Christ, there is a new creation, the old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.' The fresh start is made, the creative act is in process, by consequence the old memories are passing by, being filtered by the revelation and meaning of the Cross, life context is being created anew.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Defined by Definition


I love definitions, I find they provide clarity of thought, they provide direction, they enhance ideas with nuances and insights into the foundation of the words, and thereby the intent of authors to accurately portray a concept, belief or theme.
I hesitate to use labels for the very same reason, being identified as a Sanguine, or an Otter, Bear, Lion, or Skunk (more apt for me than any other) places people in a position whereby their actions, thoughts and motivations are being determined by a predetermined definition. Expectations are that certain behaviours will occur by strength of definition. To some degree these definitions are accurate, but only in a general sense much like astrology. Generalization creates ambiguity. The reality of life is that behaviour and genetics and environment are all factors involved in the process of developing each personhood. The intervention of God in any or all aspects of life will blow out any of the determinants previously mentioned. It is in this reality that I choose to identify myself. As Paul says, ' To the weak I became as weak, I have become all things to all men, ... I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.' (1 Cor. 9:22) The surrender of my will, my life, my way, my own pleasure, my own ease, my own profit with a view to an end that sees the glory and honour of God as my first priority, lends itself to the advancement of Christ in me, and by that the use of me by God in His work.
It is within that context that I view this opportunity to blog and in the near future, speak.
It is within this context that I found the following definition of interest... "Essayists are humans who stick their nose out and sometimes their neck ... each sticks out his or her mind and scratches down some thoughts on paper... instead of leading you along a logical argument they lead you to their study or their back porch for a conversation and often you disagree. This way you get to hear their ideas and get to know them personally. This is what essayists do, ... Which is the point of essayists: they write about more particular matters ... and they wander from one author and idea to another and they don't always land on their feet and they don't always have an argument. They are ruminative and suggestive and provocative, and they lead you to the authors they mention, and sometimes they get you fired up enough to write an essay on the same topic in your own way. ... it is formless and conclusion-less (more often than not) and just a stroll in the park with an idea and a conversation with a few whom you take along. ... What they also do is assume that their readers know all they know and maybe more, and this makes reading them sometimes difficult because they assume alot at times. ... (And essayists don't footnote for fear that the piece will get pedantic or for fear that such things will interrupt the flow of thought.) *Jesus Creed*

"Unless thought is valid, we have no reason to believe in the real universe." C.S.Lewis

Monday, December 25, 2006

Balance, Risk & Security


Risk; a possible danger. usually negative outcome,
(why?) a danger: the potential (conventionally negative) (again why?) impact of an event, determined by combining the likelihood of the event occurring with the impact should it occur

Security; the condition of not being threatened


Balance; equilibrium in movement, support for both viewpoints, neutrality
Neutral; favouring neither the supporting nor opposing viewpoint; unbiased: neither beneficial nor harmful.

Neutrality; the state or quality of being neutral; the condition of disengagement; indifference.
Balance;
Risk
Security
Balance does require risk and sometimes opposition, in order to gain some semblance, however fragile, of security.
Support (i.e. faith, enabling, giftedness) however minuscule in relation to risk enables and strengthens the risk-taker to go beyond the limits or acceptable parameters of logic to acquire that for which the risk is taken. Security may not lie in the strength of the position nor in the power of the opposition the risk-taker faces to appropriate, but in the need for security that is brought about by necessity, or by faith, or by obedience.
1 Chronicles 11:19, '...shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy? For at the risk of their lives they brought it." The mighty men of David believing in the anointing of David as King by God, strengthened themselves in that faith and fought for the water that they gave to David. The King's advancement was their own, the strength of God's power on David was their own, and in that strength there was only success to be gained. The risk of failure was negated by the opportunity to do for God's servant an act of sacrifice and courage, placing themselves in harm's way. Sacrifice and risk left security and balance to achieve what could not be achieved outside of God's will. David's vision for the glory of God has not abated since the day he slew Goliath, this vision is obviously captured in the hearts of the brave men who took up with him as their King. This vision for fighting with and on behalf of the armies of the Lord invigorated and charged these men with the fortitude and desire to see God's glory manifested through their every action, even the insignificant or trivial item like obtaining a drink of water from a well surrounded by Philistines. The kingdom of God was alive and well in their souls, burning them with the desires of God for His glory and honour. It was alive and well in the leadership of David who realizing the power of his word and command, even the mutterings of his desires which took men to the point of death and sacrifice for him, spilt out the drink as an offering. In humility his position as King was now fully entrenched in his mind and the incredible responsibility and accountability for his every word and action was fully placed upon his shoulders as his right as King and anointed of God.
Obedience has risk, Psalms 15:4b...he who swears to own hurt and does not change (in other words integrity at any cost). This is exemplified to the extreme in Judges 11:29-35, where Jephthah make vow to God and is stricken with grief when it is his daughter who must bear the cost of his swearing an oath. Judges 11:30, 'Jephthah made a vow to the Lord ... whatever comes out of the doors of my house ... it shall be the Lord's ... (vs 34) behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him...' The entanglement created by a presumably rash and thoughtless vow, a risk taken in purchasing favour from God, may require a cost which exceeds our reasonable expectations of payment. The path of the Christian is such, God asks, God requires, God expects, and it is never unreasonable of Him in His contingency for our salvation to claim whatever He sees as fit, as His right of surrender.
Necessity has risk ...Matthew 18:7, 'Woe to the world because of offenses! for there is necessity for the stumbling blocks to come...' Life in this world is fraught with the dangers of sin. It is bad enough that we are subject to sin by our affiliation of birth, but to have to deal with the daily onslaught and pervasiveness of our society to encourage the pursuit of personal satisfaction at whatever cost is sometimes too much to bear. It is in this culture that we stumble and fall and trip. God permits these for holy and wise ends, that we may be a people who overcome by the power of the Spirit, that we may be sincere and humble, acknowledging our weakness and leaning on the strength of Christ's love and sacrifice.
Risk is found in relationship. It is no different with God.
Balance is found in relationship. It is no different with God, disequilibrium with God is balance by definition of the Author of life (edification, growth). Security or what human nature would define as security is not an aspect of God's nature, but is Incorporated into the context of faith (just ask Jeremiah). The infallibility of God (and all His omnis) are joined with the obstinate and criminal mind of man in the projection of His glory to all nations, a raising up of a people who are called by His name for His honour and in this 'inseparable conjunction' the Kingdom of God is defined. It is "the society in which God's will is done in the present world; it is the dynamic presence of God; it is the now/but not yet tension created by the Spirit of God in the present world" *Jesus Creed*

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Balance


I was born in October, which means I am a Libra in astrological terms. The only significant feature of being a Libra that has meant anything to me, is that of the scales being the sign. It has always been a primary character trait of myself to search for and find balance in situations. I have taken this same bent into my Christian walk. My theology( personal organized interpretation of spirituality & belief in a practical life-template) is reflective of this search. This quest for balance, the resolving of theological dilemnas to satisfy the parameters of reality, the seeking to placate (seemingly) conflicting interpretations of Scriptural truth, to use emerging church rhetoric, to contextualize faith into genuine life experience, is founded in my desire to see people speaking logical, foundational Christianity into the community. "Contextualization means "weaving together", "an interweaving of the gospel with every particular situation"... The process of contextualization includes the reflection on one's own place as a person within a wider horizon." (p. 95 Doing Local Theology; Clemons Sedmark) I believe in the unity of scripture, that its placement in history is eternal, that its practicality is universal and applicable, that it is balanced, complete and explains itself without contradiction. The problem as I see comes when people propose a theory of explanation that is supported by a portion of scripture, but only represents a reasonable interpretation without thought for the consequence of distortion in belief or the alienation of believers and non-believers alike. I believe a more thoughtful approach which allows for all scriptural truth to be expressed is possible. However this is very unlikely to happen. I read a story once which told of an prominent Armenian preacher attending a Calvinist's crusade meeting, it was asked of him if he believed he would see the crusader in heaven, he replied its doubtful, the Calvinist will probably be so much closer to Jesus that he wouldn't see him for the press of the crowd. That is the kind of attitude that will be required to attain to complete and absolute unity. A humble admission that maybe I do not have the corner on absolute understanding of scriptural truth, a recognition of diversity when to condescend is a non-option.
Balance means the joining of two bodies, a yoke
the cross-beam of the loom to which the warp is attached
the thwart that joins starboard to port sides of a ship
the beam of the balance (scale) and therefore the balance itself
Balance is seen in the flight of the eagle and the hawk, as they rise up on air currents, we watch the artful display of proportion between the effects of gravity and the abilities of the skillful flier moving gracefully but consistently higher on wings constantly and minutely fluctating, catching every nuance of flow, staying in context with the currents around them.
It is interesting that balance is found with the decrease of one that the other may increase;
John 3:30' He must increase, but I must decrease.'
2 Cor. 12:9,' My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'
1 Cor. 1:25, 'Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.;
2 Cor. 13:4,'for though He was crucified through weakness, yet He lived by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live by Him in the power of God.'


"My faith looks up to claim that touch divine
which robs me of this fatal strength of mine,
and leaves me wholly resting. lord, on thine
" Yea, make me such an one as thou canst bless,
meet for thy use, through every helplessness
thine, only thine, the glory of success."
Lucy A Bennett

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Benefit of the Doubt


How easy it is to read between the lines, the actions and words of others. How quick to judge not on the premise of understanding or full knowledge, but with the tainting of the personal. The ability of individuals to assume or presume a judgement on thought, word, and deed without full knowledge of the intent or premise of the speaker. It is so easy based on personal bias to presume upon someone an intent in their speech which either affirms or discourages.
Benefit of the doubt means a favourable judgement given in the absence of full evidence. It is the essence of forgiveness, the lingering fragrance of the sacrifice of the heart, the thought of a conversation that does not reflect on the nuance of the word spoken, nor the quickness of a retort, nor the inflection of the voice, just the quiet appropriation of shared thought and feelings, giving way, letting go of any and all misgivings or apprehensions we may have had. In discussion, lending to the other person the right to be heard, offering grace, not returning evil for misconception.
Face value means no more or less than what is stated; a literal or direct meaning or interpretation. Interestingly enough a definition of value refers to the relative darkness or lightness of colour, to make a stretch in terms of this point, in 1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. The gist of the statement is that in looking through glass which does not reveal a true image, the vision is obscured(an enigma, mystery), much like evaluating conversations and words by use of our own personal slant or bias. In reference to the word know, it comes from the Greek word ginosko. In the New testament ginosko frequently indicates an active and progressing relation between two parties in which there is value and importance in knowing and in being known. This knowledge is not obtained by any other media than contact, contact in a manner which is non-judgemental, non-threatening, intimate (personal, private, familiar), with understanding, perceptive. Knowing with whom you are speaking is paramount to the avoidance of unnecessary hurt and pain, it removes the edge that words can have, it can placate the venom that arises as sentences are put on the table, it is what we are called to comprehend about relationships. Love for one-another is not painless, nor without misunderstanding, but it can still be love; durable, permanent, strong, constant. Even forgiving.
Words hurt, the old saying, 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me' is the biggest lie we were ever taught. Words have tremendous power (read Genesis 1, John 1) and as hypocritical as this is for ME to say, I believe that the power of the spoken word extends beyond this physical realm into the spiritual. The positive aspect is the extraordinary power to heal and to restore, to correct, to affirm, to teach.
Psalms 119:105, thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path
James 1:22 but prove yourselves doers of the word
Col. 4:6 let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Deut. 32:2 let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew,...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Giftedeness


What presumption to suppose that the way I see things are as they are in the eyes of God. It is difficult for me to suppose that God would give, and yet it is clearly spoken by God that He does give, and in abundance. The question comes why should I be worthy and why should I presume that God will use me?
I specifically refer to leadership, Why should I be deserving of the gift or the opportunity? Why should I believe that I have something of significance to be offered in God's service that would bring him glory and honour? Why should I believe that God would choose me to use for his glory? Am I David, Samuel, Samson, Elijah, that God would see in me a man who's heart is breaking for the glory of his name? yet struggling under the weight of my own desires. With or without humility (an issue of the sieve) there always remains the question of an accurate understanding of my positioning in God's plan and acceptance by faith that I am a part, functioning and effective, of God's purpose.The last year has really forced me to think again about my desires for serving God in the areas that I always believed were where I was gifted. Now the question comes, do I really see reality as God intended for me to see? Is what I believe about myself true or am I forecasting into my life, my dreams and aspirations for significance (sieve time again). What if any of what I believe is invented? 1 Cor. 14:37, 'If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual,...'
'If anyone thinks...', to seem to one's self, to be of the opinion, to suppose, believe, to regard or believe to be endowed. Does this speak of confidence? Does this speak to the question of humility in service? Does this address the issue of the believer's faith that the calling is sure?
2 Cor. 10:7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone has confidence in himself...A stark identification of those who seek self-aggrandizement and not the edification of believers.
1 Sam. 24:14,'After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dog? a flea?' 1 Sam. 26:20.'...for the king has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge...'
David the chosen king of Israel is calling himself the dog and the flea spoken of here. What was David that he deserved such an effort and expense by the king to subdue? Dogs and fleas were worthless, of no account, they flew under the radar of the people. There is an indication that David understood his place in history, his position in terms of providing leadership for his nation, his sense of God's timing, his faith that God was working out the best for himself, his calling. It would be nice to have a Samuel come along once and a while, and clearly identify the leaders and clarify the calling, set the agenda. Would not that event empower leadership? provide...?
Empowerment, permission, confidence, assurance, certainty, all these words come to mind... and the bells went off... What was just created? What was just done in the heart of a man who knows he has authority? What accountability to authority given with absolute certitude? The possibilities for the abuse of such surety looms large and ominous. Maybe for a time humility would persevere, but what of...
The strength of David's leadership is discovered, he is not power-hungry, nor motivated by the quest for significance. Truly a 'man after God's own heart, must be humble. (may be a redundant statement?) David sought the best for his people, just as God desires the best for not only myself, but those whom I serve as a leader(??). Better to be a Moabite and/or eat the scraps from the Master's table, than to secure a position without affinity for the Giver. Better to be unsure and treading softly with care, better the uncertainty. Real leadership is based on the respect of people and their willingness to accept that leadership (another sieve issue).
Paul states that if any are spiritual that they should acknowledge him as one who has the right to be heard, listened to as one who has been given authority, not as one who speaks based on his own merit but as one who speaks by the authority of God. My prayer is that there is some recognition of God's working through me that is evident, otherwise all is vanity.
Andrew Murray states, "...I am sure of this, that a man's gifts are not the measure of his real power. I am sure of this, that God can see what neither you nor I can see. Sometimes people feel something of it; but in proportion as a man has in reality, not as a sentiment or an aspiration, or a thought, but in reality, the very spirit and presence of Jesus upon him, there comes out from him an unseen silent influence. That secret influence is the holy presence of Jesus."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Micah 6:8, walk humbly


"... to walk humbly with your God?"
Humble, not high or lofty; not pretentious; not proud, arrogant, or assuming; thinking one's self ill-deserving or unworthy, when judged by the demands of God; to abase the pride or arrogance of; to reduce the self-sufficiency of; to make meek and submissive.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell with him who has a contrite and humble spirit,...
Isaiah 66:2 ... but on this one will I (God) look on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Contrite, sincerely penitent or feeling regret or sorrow, especially for one's own actions.
The line of thought in Micah 6:8 is not intended to be broken into sections of thought. Doing justice is a way of loving mercy which in turn is representative of our walking humbly with our God. Walking humbly is actually the avenue by which we can approach or fellowship with God. It is the summation of the sacrifice of our hearts desires in recognition of the demands that would be placed upon us to please a Holy God. Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy and sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Men will part with anything rather than their sins, believing God to be unfair and a harsh judge. Luke 19:21 ...for I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow. Those who believe this will have nothing to call their own but their sin. As Christians we live at odds with the world. We are contrarian (just for Ron & Lloyd) to the cultural norms and the tolerance of society. We should be known by our modesty [ humbly in this verse translates as ' to be modest], being a people unique in the world, gracious in conflict ( persuade - to convince, pacify or conciliate through sweetness), at peace in accepting what life brings in blessings and handicaps (far easier to say than do), exhibiting faith, in circumstances acknowledging the Hand of God (it rains on the just & the unjust), finding favour with our fellow citizens, avoiding being suggestive in our words and actions (a double-edged sword), gaining the status to be heard.
There is also the very strong demands of walking humbly with God that mean obedience, the pursuit of holiness, devotion, love, loyalty and submission. To be watchful in prayer, to live in a state of humble conversation with God, the inclination of the heart towards the things of God. Genesis 17:1 ... I am the almighty God, walk before me, and be blameless. Matthew 23:23 ... the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Micah 6:8, love mercy


...to love mercy; to love kindness; to love goodness; to be glad in every opportunity that affords the option of doing a kindness, in being delighted in showing favour, ' loyal love', honouring the commitments we have made that meet the needs of others.
By definition; forbearance to cause or allow harm to another; forgiveness, compassion or pity shown to another.
Mercy is a state of love without respect to persons, conditions, or state that requires acts of kindness to restore, to relieve from acts of oppression, burdens and afflictions; to comfort, support, strengthen and deliver.
Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another." The idea of 'kindly affection' is linked to concept of 'kinship'; "love the brethren in faith as though they were brethren in blood" (Farrar), further to that it defines the gentle and sensitive love of a mother to her child and the delight of the feeling of that love. In the context of what happens in our churches this can sometimes find us wanting. Paul was really after the thought that Christians are constrained to obey, not from force or command, but from conscience, from sincerity of love, from duty to a God Who thought it not unworthy to love to the point of death (Eph. 4:32). Romans 13:8 "Owe to no man anything, but to love one another: for he who loves another fulfills the law." Romans 14:13, " Therefore let us not judge one another anymore. but rather resolve this,..."
I am fully aware that Paul is addressing Christians here, but how great would be the impact on our community if in practice that which was occurring in our churches was a common occurrence of Christians in their interactions in daily living. Mercy, not judgement, only love, care and concern for others, a gracious attitude esteeming the lives of our fellow citizens, a kind word, a word of encouragement, a willingness to say "I'm sorry"... or "Thank You".
There is a reason why in Micah 6:8 that acting justly is mentioned before loving mercy, there must be a point of reference defining what is due or owed to others that directs our actions in expressing the essential nature of how those actions are worked out in the flesh. Kindness in terms of an act of mercy seems to be lost in a world of 'one-upmanship' and 'looking out for #1' at whatever cost. I have to admit I am not always kind, and sometimes being willing to 'say sorry' does not nullify the harm already done by my actions or words.
Showing mercy also lends itself to the concept of 'being right'. Being right comes with a cost, it can subjugate, it can vilify a person, it can divide, and it can destroy. By this I mean that bringing into slavery a person to a thought is not always worth the argument, in that, a slave is not always a willing participant in any undertaking and may do what is asked but at what cost to the cause. In being vilified, leaving a party to believe they are now an enemy burns all bridges and future opportunities for a healthy exchange of thought and/or any involvement in their lives at all. Division is an obvious consequence without any further explanation required. Destruction, a person coming to the table with a new thought or idea, especially in relation to newness or enthusiasm, desiring input and connection, to be argumentatively or callously shoved aside because they are not right, may destroy and cause them to withdraw and never interact again.
I am so thankful for those who at one point must have listened and smiled, but chose to remain silent and instead gently nourished me, and encouraged me to keep searching to find real truth.
The etymology of the word 'good' means to unite, to associate, to be suitable. It ties in with the purpose of mercy, to be a person who is willing to be there, irregardless, association without judgement merely acknowledging (or not) the differences, willing to be used for a purpose beyond where we would find comfort. Sometimes showing mercy comes with some stains.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Micah 6:8, justly

The understanding of justice is of significance to living in community. Justice means the state of being fair, the ideal of fairness, especially with regard to the punishment for wrongdoing. However, the Biblical concept of justice extends beyond the punitive to the relational aspects of being just. It is in that context that we can see the wisdom of God as exemplified by His concern for the health and security of not only the individual, but the whole of society. By intent God is addressing three areas of our lives; to Himself, to each other, and to ourselves.
The first aspect of being just is the relational duties required by God to Himself; the sacrifices of our hearts, minds, souls, and lives to His purpose is recompense for the grace and goodness extended by God to us. This does not imply that by some method of payment we may purchase from God, it only declares a minimum requirement in light of the judgement that awaits those who choose to follow after their own ways and the least of what we may do to acknowledge His provision of salvation for those who call Jesus Christ, Lord. To do justly, in relation to God, is to give Him His due, "To love Him with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength"
The second aspect of being just, is found in our relationships with others. "And love thy neighbour as thyself". In this there is no wrongdoing. Rather than expecting what is our due, we kindly yield to the obligation to see the health and well-being of our neighbour as paramount to our own. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
The third aspect of being just, is to give to oneself what is my due. To acknowledge and to enjoy the good gifts that God has given, not living in a state of deprivation to satisfy some form of martyr complex or a form of physical discipline to win God's favour. To use and enjoy the good gifts from God for my happiness. To practice love, patience, self-control while taking pleasure in effort, work and passion. To be a receiver, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." 2 John 1:8

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Micah 6:18, knowing


It is amazing how complicated we like to make life. It is even more amazing in the realm of religion the way that mankind desires to make finding, pleasing and/or knowing God an excercise. A verse which is a personal favorite of mine and which expresses, I believe, the intent and total of our existence and our relationship with both God and man is Micah 6:8.
Micah 6:8," He has shown you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
The first part of this verse deals with the knowledge of God? or more pointedly, a revealed knowledge of what is good. This is not an affirmation of the good gifts of life (i.e. food. shelter, community, safety, etc.) but the concept of how as individuals we fit and work together for the mutual benefit of all. There is within all man a realization of how our actions affect. This is expressed further in Romans 2:14,15.. "for when [those of the] nations, which have no law, practice by nature the things of the law, these, having no law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts accusing or else excusing themselves between themselves..." It is encapsulated in these verses the thought that all men have within them the knowledge of right and wrong. Man's actions are always judged on the basis of what edifies society and what is detrimental to society. There is a foundational belief that the elements of justice, mercy and truth are hallmarks of a successful civilization. This extends to the everyday actions of people relating to people. The component of trust which encompasses the notion that my well-being being is of interest to you, and your well-being is of interest to me, is that notion which includes my safety in my community and that people will respect myself, my family amd my property. The absence of these primary elements of society result in anarchy. There presence is the moral and ethical superstructure to community.
We all know what is good, the question lies in the desire to do good, or the knowledge of how that good is fleshed out in living. Hence, the rest of the verse!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

God Is


There are certain aspects of Christian belief that create problems for Christians as they attempt to explain the workings of God in the world. These aspects are those by which we as Christians define God, His attributes and how they seemingly govern His abilities, or maybe better stated how we are engaged in life as defined by God's attributes.
Omnipresence means, that God is free from the laws or limitations of space.
Omnipotence means, unlimited power, as George Carlin jokingly asked, If God is all-powerful can He make a rock so big that even He can't lift it?
Omniscience means, the capacity to know everything. There is nothing beyond the scope of God's understanding. His understanding embraces everything there is to know, past, present, future, all things possible and actual; the inner thoughts and intents of man, and the outward actions.
He is by His omnipotence able to do as He wills, He is by His omnipresence able to do as He wills instantaneously, and He is by omniscience able to do as He wills with full knowledge.
He is by nature God, God Himself, the IAM, and in that nature, His existence and all attributes are perfect.
The Question for Christians is, what about our will? It would seem that God by His attributes undermines human freedom.
A second Question is does God know the future? and if He does, does His knowledge determine its outcome? It could be understood that God's power and ability to be present in the here and now, everywhere, enables His control of the future. He is able to manipulate events to meet the future needs of his will. God's sovereignty in the acts of divine intervention circumvent the courses of nature and the daily circumstances of life as they unfold. The natural order of life need not be micro-managed by God, only the acts of God which by design glorify Him beyond the everyday are in need of His extra-special touch to serve His special purpose.
As I look at the sciences, everything from biology to astronomy, I see the hand of God having set in motion or determined by laws spoken by God governance of His creation.
I struggle with the intent of some proponents of God's 'omnis' which negate the obvious gift of will given to mankind. The God of providence rules and overrules, but He does not by His omnipotence overpower and override and destroy man's true freedom. Things that are do not reflect God's perfect providence, but rather His providence as affected by human free agency and as marred by man's sin. As a note it would seem obvious that God's original plan of provision did not include healing from disease or death.
This in no way refutes, repudiates or proves the truth of who God is in His attributes, I merely seek to resolve some difficulties in the understanding of God's attributes worked out in everyday life. Isa. 30:18 says...and therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of justice: blessed are all they that wait for Him.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remember Me


2 Chronicles 7:14 states ..."if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
As I look at our nation of Canada and reflect on this verse, it seems an impossibility that this event, (a nation humbled by assent) would ever occur. Watching the days activities surrounding Remembrance Day, it struck me that we are in actuality in a position where this could happen. The nation took notice of a sacrifice that was made and one that continues to be made. Across the country people humbled themselves, and I mean they exhibited those characteristics of humility that show, lack of pretentiousness, lack of pride, lack of arrogance and instead showed honour and respect for those men and women who have and are in military service. They read prayers and heard prayers. and regardless of personal beliefs, those prayers were offered to God.
I may be too optimistic in my outlook on the days events and the opportunities that are present, but I see in the leadership of this country and in the will of this nation the desire to do the right thing. The right thing is based on an understanding of a Sovereign God, who holds our good fortunes in the palm of His hand.

The thing surpasses all my thought,
But faithful is my Lord;
Through unbelief I stagger not,
For God hath spoke the word.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone:
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries,"It shall be done!"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Existential Faith Part 3


Paul Jones in his book entitled Theological Worlds states, "...the faith journey begins when we experience our obsessio." "An obsessio is whatever functions deeply and pervasively in one's life as a defining quandary, a conundrum, a boggling of the mind, a hemorrhaging of the soul, a wound that bewilders healing, a mystification that renders one's life cryptic. Whatever inadequate words one might choose to describe it, an obsessio is that which so gets its teeth into a person that it establishes one's life as plot. It is the memory which, as resident image, becomes so congealed as Question that all else in one's experience is sifted in terms of its promise as Answer. Put another way, an obsessio is whatever threatens to deadlock Yeses with No. It is one horn that establishes life as dilemma...The etymology of the word says it well: obsessio means "to be besieged." To expand we all have something in our life or character which is determining our faith level (existential factor) like a fear which creates a barrier to faith released. It may be the environment in which we were raised or now live in which is creating barriers to faith released. In my life, being raised in an alcoholic home has created in myself certain co-dependencies which have been and are detriments to faith being released in me. The big issue in my life has always been when will the hammer drop, the anticipation that life can not continue on with any hope for blessing to last. This is significant when coming to faith with God as a father figure, who arbitrarily (seemingly) can bring calamity upon life (read Job). To be cast upon the deep with this mentality has created an indeterminate amount of stress in my spiritual development. There have been many setbacks, but there have been many successes and God has proven Himself to be a Father-God. With this in mind you may understand why I relate to the concept of obsessio, to be besieged. It relates well to the concept of fortresses and strongholds built into my psyche, those fortifications designed by circumstance and environment to satisfy the existential dilemma. Those high places not accessed by God for fear of the consequence of exposing my heart, not giving God the opportunity to cause me to experience pain at the hands of one who has the power to cause harm. Relinquishing my power to control the pain I experience, is not an option for my continued emotional health. In all this, faith will never be released, because at that level I can never trust.
Please note: that I have moved away from the foundation of existential faith to a more personal and pointed expression of existential faith, relating more to personal fears and personal coping mechanisms dealing with existentialism.
As I look at the story of the woman with the issue of blood (Matt. 9:20; Mark 5:25; Lk. 8:43), I picture a woman who is confronted with her fears. She takes the chance and faces the danger of her exposure as an unclean person, defiling others by her touch, to receive healing from Jesus, just to have herself publicly exposed by Jesus. Jesus confronts her by asking of the crowd 'Who touched me?... and all denied ... and when she saw she was not hidden, she came forward and trembling fell at His feet.' All her fears were being realized, now finally healed she is faced with the expectation that what was secretly given through less than forthright methods by a prophet of God, may now be taken away. Jesus recognizing her declares 'Daughter, thy faith has healed...go in peace.' Her hopes are not dashed by God, but affirmed by the love of a savior. 1 John 4:18 "... perfect love casts out fear..."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Existential Faith Part 2


Faith that is based on a defensive orientation to life has as its flaws a separation from reality which makes it difficult to subscribe to as a viable alternative to any other defense mechanism designed by an individual which enables that person to function in society without anxiety. The foundational orientation is based on five assumptions;
1] protection - believing that life will be better, because; a type of prosperity gospel
2] insight - the will of God is revealed consistently and concisely daily, leading for today and tomorrow
3] butler mentality - that God will look after every minute detail of life
4] destiny - that God has a special purpose and plan for my life
5] patterned life - every detail of life is orchestrated by God with His purpose intended.
This model of life seeks to deal with confusion, pain, and life's difficulties by creating a world which is orderly, protected, guided, served, and special.
Existential faith is based on five assumptions;
1] It rains on the just and the unjust - life happens in the physical world to me the same as others
2] God's will is difficult to discern -
3] God is autonomous - God intervenes at His discretion
4] Choice & responsibility - life decisions requiring responsibility from me are predominantly mine to make
5] Random presiding of God - God does not micro-manage the world, accidents are allowed to happen because they are the circumstances of life.
There is opportunity to fluctuate between the assumptions mentioned in each model, there is even biblical truth to believing assumptions from each model. The exercise is to understand that by being objective (without bias or personal prejudices) about faith, faith then has the ability to be authentic ( worthy of trust, reliance & belief).
There are many that will defend their faith as a free-choice issue without any recognition of an ulterior motivation for their belief. My question is, In denying the validity of some of the issues brought forward questioning the foundation of my faith, will I not strive for deeper meaning in my faith?
Faith without deeper meaning, is belief without transformation. It is Christianity without surrender, without the deeper communion with God, without the relationship with God that Christ's sacrifice was all about. It is about a faith that establishes a person as a believer based on superficial evidence that is masquerading as a changed life.
I must move beyond faith leading to salvation (which seeks to quench existential fear), to a faith knowing that God will answer because He is my Heavenly Father. I remember swimming in Shushwap Lake, diving off a houseboat into the water. I didn't take much thought of the lake itself until someone told me it was 600 ft. deep, at once there was a change in my sense of enjoyment. Even though I was still using the same 5 ft. of water I was using before the knowledge of the lake's depth, know I was troubled, it was disconcerting to think of all that water under my toes. I was in the deep and it is in that sense of deepness where faith is truly found. The intimidation, the sense of my smallness, my inadequacy, my proportion in relation to my immediate environment and much more are the feelings, but most importantly the fear, the unpleasantness of my lack of comfort with being in the deep. God calls me to be transitive (moving) to a faith upon the deep. Jesus took His disciples on a boat-trip (Mark 4:35-41) and a storm arose, as the disciples fought to keep the boat afloat (remember we have experienced fisherman on board) they begin to despair for their lives. Jesus is ' not available', He is sleeping in the stern of the boat. Was it not His idea to go on the boat? Did I not trust in His judgement that it was the best decision? Do You not care that I am dying? Do You not understand I followed You here? Where are my expectations now? I think God will leave us in a place where are fears are placated by 'salvation' where our fears are laid to rest and we live our lives on the narcotic faith. However some are being called to live on the deep, shipwrecked, without the props, without stock or trade in the commodities of religion, without defense or pretense, just God. This will only be realized by those who know Jesus is in the boat with them, maybe sleepy-eyed willing to throw us into peril, forcing us to deal with the tension between our faith and our fear. May we ask in awe, Who is this that I am following?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Existential Faith 1


Modern psychology deals with the issues of thought and the mind. Psychologists deal with the subconscious, in that dealing there are various lines of theory to explain the behaviour of people. The existentialist psychologists promote that existential realizations produce anxieties leading to defense mechanisms. Existential thought says that the unconscious mind is working hard at repressing and distorting the content of the subconscious that will create anxiety. In short, keeping realizations from awareness.
What are existential realizations? A brief summation is as follows;
1] I am finite - I will die, and, any choice I make negates a multitude of other choices which may have been equally as attractive or advantageous:
2] Meaning is not tied to life - there is no point to my life other than what I make of it, but even still it is nothing special, of no special significance:
3] I am free - I must bear full responsibility for my life, living only for this moment with its choices and consequences of that freedom. A German proverb says, ' He who has choice, has torment.'
4] I am alone - Only I can live my life, all other aspects of life are parasitic, or at best symbiotic.
These are the existential thoughts underlying our lives which must be suppressed by the mind in order for us to remain as functioning people in society. There reality in our lives are the impetus for the proliferation of drugs, alcohol, and yes, religion.
In the quest for a sense of self-worth and self-esteem we seek meaning and significance. Everyone whether conscious or not of it, is involved in a cultural hero mentality, which is designed to quench the existential fear which is the result of the aforementioned realizations.
The foundation of repressed thought can be found in the common fear of all people, death. In Genesis 3:2-4 we find that the first issue of appeasement when Satan confronts Adam & Eve with the temptation to eat of the Tree of life, is the issue of the fear of death. "You shall surely not die." This is the pervasive thought common to all people. All of what we think and do is based on the repression of fear. Fear causes the creation of a lie. A lie about the control we have over our lives, a lie about our ability to stand alone, when in reality we have crutches (a system, a power, a god, a team, a passion, a way of life, a religion, a faith) which keep us afloat in the stream of life. We are all desiring to forget the awful reality of life, and that it ends in death and without significance in the grand scheme of things.
It is in this chaos that faith interjects, but faith must move beyond the quenching of fear and the shoring up of life to form purpose and meaning, for this is in reality only another form of crutch, another narcotic to see us through the day, another lie denying the truth of our fear. Jesus said, " I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly."
Faith must come to a point in our life where the absolute futility, hopelessness, despair for significance. despair for meaning, our sense of lost is confronted with the reality of belief. Belief that is significant deals with the vulnerability and frailty of life (existential realizations) and positions us in a place where the motivation for faith is not a defensive posture to insure our sanity. The faith stance is not held as a denial of death but as an acceptance of its inevitability. It is here that true faith is expressed, in the state where there is no where else to turn, where the predictability of our demise is, where there is nothing left but God. It is at this point the story of the woman with the issue of blood comes to mind. In Luke 8:43,44 it is said she had spent all her money on physicians who were unable to cure, her thought was if only I may touch His garment... and Jesus said to her "Thy faith has made thee whole." She was desperate, without any other recourse but God. How many times does our faith hinge upon the fact that there are still other options available to us, that we are not in desperate need of God, that our position is still one of hope based on some circumstance or power other than God that will see us through? Even in light of the existential fears we still deny faith its place. There is no place for faith except in the destitute of heart, with the shipwrecked souls. This faith comes with a price, it requires belief that life must be lived, not in the fullness of health and vigour, but with the assumption that why should I be healthy and well without pain, loss, distress or sadness.
Back to Abraham, there he is with Issac, no lamb, walking up the mountain, a bundle of wood, a fire, a knife. Nought else but his thoughts of who he believed God to be, nought else but the firm conviction that to loose all and gain God is worth the sacrifice of his son, and Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. How lost to the circumstances of his life Abraham must have felt when his son, no doubt doing the math, (wood, fire, knife, no lamb) asked "Dad, where's the lamb" to which Abraham replies, "God will provide for Himself a lamb."Abraham had to realize that there was no special existence or significance attached to his life outside of that which was determined by God. The promises of God were solely dependant upon God, and whether arbitrarily or not God determines the outcome of life. Life orientations must be relative to the faith of the believer and to the object of his belief. For faith to be truly authentic it must deal with the issues of existentialism, or it is just a crutch or a narcotic to be used to enable people to assuage their fears, never facing them in the light of true faith.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Perception versus Truth


Perception is truth to those who believe. Conscious understanding of that which conforms to reality to the degree that what is being represented, represents that which is meant. Sounds confusing!! The statement means to accept what is true based on the circumstances , events or personal discernment of the viewer. This is the Christian perspective??
One of the pillars of postmodern thinking is that each of us has possession of our own truth, and that truth is relative to our situation, environment or emotions. The pervasiveness of this thought has infected even the church. It is to me a thought process that absolves the owner of accountability for actions taken in the pursuit of flawwed personal faith, or mistakes made in leadership of the church. Barna states, "The virtual disappearance of this cornerstone of the Christian faith - that is God has communicated a series of moral principles in the Bible that are meant to be the basis of our thoughts and actions, regardless of our preferences, feelings or situations - is probably the best indicator of the waning strength of the Christian church in America today." This thought has moved beyond the cultural issues of gay and lesbian relationships, abortion, cohabitation, drunkedness, and viewing pornography to the church issues of discipline, forgiveness, service, fellowship and accountability to the body of believers.
The removal of absolute truth is resulting in a mentality which esteems relativism, tolerance, pluralism and diversity without any thought for the repurcussions and implications of these actions.
Barna says, "Embracing relativism under the guise of Christain faith facilitates comfort with sin." He states further, "Without some firm and compelling basis for suggesting that such acts are inappropriate, people are left with such philosophies as ' if it feels good, do it,' 'everyone else is doing it' or 'as long as it does'nt hurt anyone else it's permissible.' In fact, the alarmingly fast decline in moral foundations among our young people has culminated in a one-word worldview. 'whatever'.
F.B.Meyer stated in 1913, "There are many incitements to similiar misgivings in the present day. They arise, in part, from the comparative study of non-Christian religions; from the advance of exact scientific investigation, which leads us to demand similiar exactitude in the evidences for religious statements; and in the general flux of opinion... The old order is changing, and giving place to the new; but the precise shape of the new is not yet determined, and men fail to distinguish between truth, which is immutably the same, and the forms in which it is capsuled."
The eroding of the concept of absolute or objective truth is the bane of the gospel. It reduces the import of a righteousness needed, beyond what man can attain by his own efforts, to an achievable end based on the truth that I am good enough by my own merits to avoid judgement, or my truth may not even include a judgement of the actions or intentions committed in my life. Without absolute truth the need for a Savoiur is negated, and Christian as well as non-Christian who believes in relativism has blasphemed the name of Jesus.
1 John 3:24 'The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given." The false must be separated from the true. The incorporaton of truth (that God is, and God does) into the human condition enables people to live in the fullness of life, in confidence and anticipation of the revelation of the character of Christ in us. It is the catalyst to faith, that I may believe God to be gracious and through reconciliation have access to the fount of all existence.
John 4:23,24' True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.' The Greek for truth means "the reality lying at the basis of an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of a matter." Truth here means the substance, the reality, the actual possession of all that the worship of God implies, both in what it demands and what it promises. This truth is indicative of God's faithfulness in the fulfillment of His promises, it is the truth of God the verity of God's existence. He is the I AM.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What a Saviour!!


To offer up Isaac was to sacrifice the very object of faith!!
Faith properly exercised performs two functions: First, it attributes to oneself a position by which otherwise it would not have standing, but based on the Word of God dares (courageously challenges) to claim that position as its right (faith); Second, based on that position it lays hold of the power of God to make it (the promise) a reality in everyday life. As Abraham moved up the mountain he said ' God will provide (for) Himself a lamb', not 'God will provide a lamb', the context is such that it resolves faith and promise by allowing God the full working of provision ( salvation, deliverance, prosperity, security, help) based on Him and no other factor or circumstance. There is no room for anyone or anything else besides God, in the plan of God for His people.
2 Samuel 23:3 "God is my rock (the God of my strength), in whom I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, you save me from violence. I must trust in the Lord, and that trust is dependant upon the essential condition that I believe God is wholly devoted to my well-being.
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in
My arms.
There is always at work an interlacing of earth and heaven, of the human and the divine, of the things that press on the senses and those which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived. If there is scarcity is it not that I have not trusted the hand of God who holds all in His hand, or have I not learned in the moment of emergency to take what is required?
Abraham learned that God provides, may I too.
Faith is the reconciliation of the promise with the sacrifice, God showed mercy to Abraham and his son, however when the time was come there was no mercy shown for Jesus, no voice called out 'spare thine only son', only silence on the hill of Calvary. What must I learn of sacrifice and trust, what work must be done in my heart to understand how fully the love of God incorporates His desire for the best for me? How deep must the cross cut into my life?
Genesis 22:14 - '...and Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh... on the mount of the Lord it will be provided [it will be seen]'
1 Sam 3:18b '...It is the Lord let Him do what is good in His sight.'

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Promises, Promises


I had full intentions of moving away from the discussion of faith and dwelling on an aside topic of close proximity, promise. The topic of promise lends itself well to faith, for the obvious reasons, (faith is based on promise) but also for the clarification of why it is reasonable to believe.
God refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have always found it disconcerting that Issac never really came to any level of notoriety, except as the son of Abraham and the father of Jacob. There was that little issue up on the mountain with his dad. I mentioned before that one of the issues of faith is what is my Isaac, that which must be offered for sacrifice without regard for the consequences of the loss or gain from the sacrifice. The real worth of God's promises cannot be lessened to a believer by any cross providences that may befall him, in effect 'if God be for me. who can be against me' or if I am where God would have me to be, then nothing but my own unbelief or distrust can prevent me from finding comfort. On the mountain we see faith, no doubt or delay, no hesitation or reluctance, instead we see 'he rose up early in the morning". There was no opposition from natural affection or unbelief. Faith moved over natural affection and self-will and bowed in absolute submission to the will of God, and the Father of Faith, Abraham learned something of God that he may have known partly, but now he knew perfectly, that God was Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord Who Provides. God has proportioned trials in my life in respect to my strength, I see the same thing happening in the lives of these three patriarchs, each has life circumstances (a famine) in which each is allowed or told how to react. It is only by passing through these trials that I have learned who God is - a God of grace, a God of sufficiency, a God of faithfulness. We can go anywhere with comfort and contentedness if we believe that God will do as He promises.
As far as sight is only seeing, so faith is only believing, the only thing necessary thing about seeing is, that you see the thing as it is, in the same way the only necessary thing about faith is the believing and believing the thing as it is. The virtue does not lie in the believing, but in the thing you believe. This is nothing tangible. it is simply believing God, and like sight it is nothing apart from its object.

Friday, September 29, 2006

My Final Word on Faith


Faith does not reason, it acts from its own point of view, and leaves the result to God.
This is the sum total of faith. All thought is given to the goodness and mercy and love of God, who in His sovereignty supplies the objects of faith, and governs the heart with a view to those objects. In Hebrews 11:1 we find the only attempted definition of faith given in the Bible. It states what is the nature of true faith, 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...' it is the ground or confidence (basis, foundation, support, reality, substance, existence) which imparts reality to the heart and mind. Faith enables action based on that reality which the heart and mind have acquired as a possession of right by the unfailing faithfulness of belief in God who does not change and who when He can swear by none other swears by His own name. The substance is real, not fained hope, it is founded on the infallible Word of God. The motives and affections which govern faith are given by God, and are given by Him in order to form and govern the heart. Faith gives all the force of reality to that which is believed. Faith has substance.
Faith 'is the evidence' (conviction. proof, proof which convicts) and adds to the previous thought of assurance a suggestion of influences operating to produce conviction which carry the force of demonstration. This means that in the working of God in my life, I see a transformation taking place in my inner life, a more deliberate functioning of my heart, a deepening of self-possession,
a confidence in the immutable God, a trusting in the daily circumstances of life to mold and change my character, and a desire to live more fully in the Spirit. This is the proof or demonstration, from where I was to where I am, with firm persuasion of where God is taking me.
In reality, I cannot answer the question of faith and mountain-moving prayer, even in all this discussion it is unresolved. In Exodus 4:31 it says,' and the people believed.... and He (God) looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped'. God sees, God knows, God understands, God grieves, God loves, God....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What is Faith?


What is faith? It is not some inherent power or quality in certain men, by virtue of which they are able to accomplish special results unrealized by others. It is rather the power of putting self aside that God may work unhindered through the nature. It is the attitude of the heart which, having ascertained the will of God, and being desirous of becoming an organ for it, goes on to expect that God will work out His purposes through me, its medium. It is in brief, that capacity for God which appropriates Him to its uttermost limit, and becomes the channel or vehicle through which He passes forth to bless mankind. The believer is the God-filled, the God-moved, the God-possessed man, and the work which he effects in the world is not his, but God's through him.
These men of faith mentioned in the honour role of faith in Hebrews 11, are men who had a marvelous faculty of faith, which is in reality the capacity of the heart for God, they also had an equal capacity to question and challenge God, to the point of even exhausting God's patience. This explains the life these men led and the circumstances that surrounded their rise to prominence in the history of the children of God. All suffered setbacks and/or failures in God's working to mold them into vessels fit for His use. Strong and self-reliant natures are at odds with a life of faith. God's work can only be done through vessels specially fitted by Him for service. Special service is not natural, and can only come about after a time of deep and searching discipline from the Lord.
Faith is the requirement. and cannot be overstated enough. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the same truth. He never asked what is the specific quality of power, or wisdom, or enthusiasm which was present in His disciples. He did require of them, an assessment of the depth of their faith knowing full well that their success depended on this reality. To a father Jesus said, " There is no if in my power, it is in thy faith, if you will believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23,24)
In the process of God molding my nature to a usable vessel, empowered to withstand the onslaughts of circumstances designed to bring failure, God has placed difficulties to confront me which seem to indicate that I am on the wrong path. I understand that He is testing the sincerity and temper of my soul, and is seeking to bring me forth as gold, pure gold,(Job 23:10, 1 Peter 1:17)) refined in the fires of adversity and trials to bring greater honour and glory to His name. It is through these times that the death of self and the appropriation of the greater mysteries of God will be attained. It is during these times that the promises of God will become more real, and there lies the crux of faith, believing in the promises irregardless of circumstance. Faith rests on promise, understanding that the promise is as good as the gift already given, it is the equivalent of fulfillment.
Faith is only possible when I am in God's will, pursuing His plan, It is then that I can stand on God's promises. It is of no avail for me to pray for increased faith, miracles, or vision, etc., unless I am fulfilling the conditions for that faith. These conditions are:
1] understanding and sensing the helplessness and nothingless of my position;
2] the absolute assurance of being in the will of God in terms of His plan
3] entire consecration, that He may work out His will in my heart and soul
4] daily remembering His promise (provision, etc.,)
5] willing to risk, to act, independant of feeling, on faith which being indifferent to consequence, rests absolutely on the faithfulness of God.
Am I willing to die to my own strength, to submit my will absolutely to God's plan, to seek and do God's will without reservation, to daily rely on God's provision, to develope an attitude of surrender loosed from any limitation or condition, to risk in faith, without emotion, on the faithfulness of God, fully persuaded that He will do what He has promised?
Am I at this point, in such a condition, is my faith of that nature, that God can work through me to the glory and honour of His name?
Truly only God knows for sure, may He reveal that to me and my prayer is He will reveal to you as well. And I am right back to another faith issue.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Faith: and Now What


Faith is a wonderful thing, the ability to trust in a sovereign God and know His care for me is being perfectly worked out is truly one of the greatest of gifts that could be given. However I am finding that faith has it's limits. What is the next step, I sense that all things must move. There must be an increase in faith, in the knowledge of God, in understranding the ways of the Lord, in depth of love and devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and in the deepness of surender and death of self.
Mountain-moving prayer and the belief that comes with that profundity is a hallmark of a life of faith which transcends the frailty of this life and enables the holder to stretch, grow beyond the borders of human understanding and to lay claim to the mysteries of God's healing and miracle-making powers. This faith is spoken of as being like a grain of mustard seed (possibly referring to a thriving increasing faith) which when excercised is capable of trusting to the inclusion of any event or happenning within the will of God to perform. This is miracle faith.
The crux of the issue is summed up in the question This is the big question for myself in determining the whys? and wherefores? of mountain-moving faith that fails to have success. Does something in our hearts say that God will do this, or is there no expectation in us? It seems more often than not prayers are not answered in miraculous ways. This questions the amount or quality of the faith that I possess and further entrenches the fear of failure and the promotion of doubt as to the validity of my faith.
In looking at scripture, specifically Matthew 17:20, Mark 9:23, & 11:23 we would assume that in the healing ministry of Jesus faith was a dominant human factor. It would seem that the faith of the sick or someone elses faith would be a requirement for healing. (see Matthew 8:13, 9:2,22, 29, & 15:28) Having stated that there is also no indication that Jesus ability to heal or that his ability to heal is delayed by personal faith. (see Matthew 13:58 : 17:20 & Mark 6:5-6) I hope you are not surprised that this has created some confusion in the church about the importance of faith in prayer and in healing.
So how do I resolve and deal with the strong element of doubt that pervades my belief (not that God cannot) that God in His sovereignty will not at this time grant my request, even though I have the faith to believe in His ablility to do so. As a writer has stated, rather than say Jesus heals where there is faith and that this is a requirement of healing, I should say that Jesus' healing ministry is an opportunity for the sufferer's to express their desire to be healed. This in part removes the requirement of human faith and the aspect that faith can manipulate healing power. One's faith is to be based on God's fathfulness, goodness, power and mercy. Seems rather placebic when it comes to the actual dealing with the pain and the loss as a result of unanswered prayer. It still leaves me with the question is there not something more I could have done?
To move further in this discussion we find in James 5:14-15 a further indication of faith in healing which for me brings the impetus of mountain-moving faith back onto my shoulders. There is no indication that the sick must have faith only that the elders in believing will see people restored to health. This brings about great risk. The fear of failure, the implications to the life of faith in the person of the elder, and the subsequent questioning of the personal call to that position by the elder. I am not the type of person who is willing to take the easy way out in terms of understanding these issues or in writing off failure as the will of God without accountability for the failure to see healing. It brings my thoughts to Moses who fully understanding that to stand in the gap before God meant his death did so anyway. With full knowledge of the consequences of his actions he choose to place himself in harm's way for the salvatioon of his people. How much greater should my willingness to stand be in order to accomplish in the name of the Lord the healing of the people whom I shepherd. Ken Blue in Authority to Heal points out that those who pray successsfully for healing in whatever tradition have three characteristics in common: (1) the conviction that God is willing to heal (faith); (2) compassion for the sick person (also a characteristic of Jesus); and (3) the wilingness to risk ( faith must be put into action; the prayer of faith must be prayed). the fact remains that those who do not believe that God wants to heal the sick person normally do not see those who they pray for healed, as well, those with even a mustard-seed-belief in their hearts often do.
I cannot understate the risk that is involved, the eyes of public opinion loom largest when they can cast down the efforts of leaders to move people in to greater grace and love and devotion and fear of the Lord and faith and strength and......
In the Psalms it is said by David "for your Name's sake" and in the likelihood of sounding
apologetic all things must be relevant to the advancement of the Glory of God in the lives of His people. May we all have understanding of that advancement even in the face of seeming failure and the possible pain of that failure.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Faith Defined


One of the things that enable me to maintain a vibrant belief in the ability of God to provide for me came in the form of question? A few years ago in studying scripture and trying to understand the dealings of God with me it was posed to me this question,
If I believe God to be Who He says He is? (as revealed in the Bible and in my personal life) then it follows that where I am right now is absolutely the best place for me to be. Notwithstanding (there has to be a notwithstanding clause) that I am living in obedience to His call on my life. It's at this point that a renewed emphasis on grace must be placed, for all obedience is not the working of my own but the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to enable.
It follows that faith is nothing more than following the leading of a God who always has at His heart the best interests of His child, with a desire and an outcome that will insure the maximum amount of growth in grace, faith, ability to serve, promotion of love and glorification of God.
Even as I write these words, the full import of the statement is lost in the infallibility (without fault or weakness) of the words themselves because they fail to portray the reverence and power of the thought that is behind the belief.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Elijah


Elijah is a pretty interesting person, at least in terms of his life story. Due to the reading i did this summer and the circumstances of my own life he became a personal interest story for me.
The one question that first came to mind was When was Elijah closest to God?
Now you have to recount some of Elijah's history to come to any conclusions, at least the ones I came to.
Here we find Elijah on this mountain-top, (a Mountaintop experience) where he is doing this marvelous and miraculous work for God.
This isn't to discount what had already been done by him, he had prophesized the 3 1/2 year drought, had raised the son of the widow from the dead, had prayed and received confirmation that the food would not run out during his stay at the widow's house.
I start my narrative on the mountain-top, challenging the prophets of Baal to a contest. I see here a man devoted to God and obviously taking instructions from Him, however I would hazard to say that in some ways Elijah is just going through the mechanics of his job without the heartfelt knowledge for the work he was doing. It is duly noted that what happened here was of no small consequence to the people of Israel or the promotion and glorification of God as God.
I like to look at this from a little different perspective. his prayer to bring down fire from heaven was very nice, I relate it to many prayers I have said myself, where you really feel you have been at the Throne of Grace and have really touched the heart of God. Those are the special prayers you remember for years after.
But back to elijah, i'm the type of person who is strong on visualization when it comes to reading narratives , and I can picture the clear blue sky and the people gathered around,especially those false prophets, and from out of this sky a column of fire, the sound must have been a phenomenal roar and then the cessation (maybe the snap like when an acetalene torch is turned off, just for effect) and then dead silence. Those who were gathered there to see this event with anticipation and exopectation would have been astounded by the actual event. But what of those false prophets. Can you envision them? The blood having drained from their faces I'm not sure what the slang of the times would have been but insert a deletive expletive at this point. Then there would be the physical maladies, that feeling like you want to have a bowel movement but really you should be running. In a moment after that Elijah calls the people out of their shock to grab the false prophets and they cart them off. Now Elijah spends the rest of the day hewing the heads off of 400 prophets of Baal.
What a day for a prophet of God, but is he at the closest point in his relationship with God?
I'll move ahead to the race to Jerusalem, Elijah outrunning the chariot of Ahab and arriving in Jerusalem first.
The next event is perplexing, we see Elijah after the tremendous show of God's power working through him, he now turns tail at the threat from Jezebel that she will kill him. There was no need, God had proven Himself as a Protector and Provider. A little bit of Elijah dies.
He runs....and runs....and runs. He runs to the point of utter and absolute exhaustion. So exhausted so wishing to die that he attempts to kill himself in flight. Elijah dies just a little more.
Now arrives the mercy of our God, who understanding that man is flesh sends an angel to care for His beloved servant. I have always pictured this happening at the side of a road, the angel awakening Elijah out of his stupior to give him food. Alot like being in a fever and being awakened by your mother to have some soup and then rolling over and going back to sleep. Time and again the angel awakens Elijah and health is restored. Strength is given through nourishment of a type that is able to sustain long beyond that of ordinary food.
Elijah now begins his journey to mount Horeb to meet with God. A real accountability session.
What must have been the thoughts that went through his mind over those forty days and nights.
My thoughts return to an evening when walking home I came around the corner and looked up the street towards my house to see a Policecar parked in front. No doubt it was the same two officers who had been talking with me earlier in the evening, I was in trouble!!! It just felt like the bottom dropped out of my gut, and it seemed that I just couldn't walk slow enough, but even still it was in no time at all that I was stepping up to the door and in a dreamlike animated state I was opening the door and entering my house.
Forty days is a long time to think of what you are going to say to God when you get there. I wonder if it seemed that long to Elijah. And still more of Elijah dies in the journey.
It seems that there is more of Elijah yet to die. God talks to him and tells him to stand outside the cave. Now the display begins, all theatrics aside I would entertain the notion that in the hurricane and the earthquake and the fire there was nothing left on the table by God. I am sure that it was probably the most terrifying thing that Elijah had ever witnessed and I am sure also that Elijah stood on the edge of that cave knowing in no uncertain terms how fragile was his existence. Words cannot express the terror of falling into the hands of the Living God and coming out alive and yet here was Elijah surviving that very event. And a little bit more of Elijah died. Is he now as close to God as he can be? How does this compare to the mountain-top experience with all its hype and theatrics?
And now after all this the still small voice, and Elijah's heart is now completely yielded and submissive to God.
This may not be exegetically correct but I relate the story this way to draw parallels to my own life and the realization that I must die to self and be fully yielded and submitted to God. I am on a journey, God is moving me from not neccessarily a mountain-top, but positionally from a point of origin to a final destination which must have as it's final goal the death of self. I really think Elijah never came to terms with God until he heard the still small voice. I realize that there must be a cross which God will bring into my life by which I then will have the opportunity to understand the still small voice, and yield to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

First Time


Well, this is an adventure, who knows what will be discovered in an undertaking of this nature.
At this time I will not say much about who I am, as that may be information that is more important at a later date.
Hopefully in exercising some writing I will be able to deal with some issues in my life.