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

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..."