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."