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, March 31, 2007

Authority


Authority - is the power or right to perform certain acts without impediment. It is based on a law, whether divine, civil, or moral. It is further defined as the power to enforce rules or give orders. In these definitions there is somewhat absent the intent of accountability and service or servant hood. There is an attitude prevalent, that authority is the power to assert one's position regardless of the consequence for the whole or individuals affected.
In Revelation 2:26 states. "...he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations..." This authority is an earned power, a power that is granted by one who has all power. In Luke 10;19 Jesus said " Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy..."; as well in Isaiah 22:21 "... and I will clothe him with your tunic and tie your sash securely about him. I will entrust him with your authority, and he will become a father..." There is a stronger sense of the gentle, servant leadership implied in God's plan, than the imposition of lordship. There is an underlying aspect of ownership, an understanding of the purposes of God and an acceptance of the circumstances which have come about in the attainment of authority. God has a plan which regardless of your personal bent towards your life-course has as an end result the glorification of Himself. In this life-course we sometimes have to go through situations which develop and fine tune our input and ability to exert authority. This authority is that which ministers to the body, not that which commands. This authority is that which God has prepared us for, to speak into people life. Life which in turn commands it's own authority, that which allows the pursuit of purity, maturity, responsibility, etc.. Rulers are to be fathers, their value is found in their piety, their usefulness, the honour they seek to bring to their family, their God.

Can or does God trust me with His authority? What am I doing that comforts God with the assurance that His investment in me is receiving an adequate return? In Matthew 25:14 and following the parable is told of the talents and the three men who were granted gifts from their master and their subsequent investments of those gifts and the rewards and punishment for the administration of those gifts. Two of the men paid the price in terms of dedication, focus, the taking of risk in order to multiply the gift and reward the giver for the trust placed in them. This achievement came as a result of their rising to the occasion, believing that the Master's calling was worthy of any and all of their efforts. It is an illustration of the use and in one instance the waste of opportunity. Faithfulness is what God demands of us and fruitfulness is that which comes as a result of obedience.

Romans 12:1 says, "...present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your intelligent service." We are asked by God to lay down that which is most precious to us, that which we protect above and beyond all other things, that which we love, (we guard and protect what we love the most) and submit to a King. The crux of the question lies in Am I willing? The price to pay in order to have authority may require more than I am willing to accept as reasonable payment. The kingdom is a theocracy and if I am unwilling to take orders than Hell becomes a better place for me than Heaven. Obedience resides in the decision to do whatever I get to do, as opposed to doing what I have to do. This is the difference between the responsible attitude towards obedience and the irresponsible attitude towards obedience. The presentation of myself as a living sacrifice now becomes an exercise of reward, knowing that the price paid is not only reasonable, but of little consequence in terms of actual cost.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Isaiah 40:31


"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." A very popular verse, used extensively in Christian circles, reflective of people's desires to live lives of significance, full of physical health, emotional fortitude, spiritual strength. Lives built upon the promise of God contained in this verse that our immediate future is bright with promise and hope of affluence, respect and personal gain. Why would that not make it a popular verse? I selected this verse as one of my favorites for that very same reason and ...
My personal history is such that the verse has also a deeper context. The idea of the long-haul, God's ability to see to it that the future is bright for the generations to follow, is an insight into why this verse is important to me.
The returning from exile to a land of promise, to a land that can be called home, or sanctuary. The strength to stand the test of time in faithfulness that is grabbed by the next generation and called their own, and passed on again, and again... The vigour to bear the trials and tribulations and be seen and be found worthy not only in the eyes of God, but that the value of the coming forth as gold (maybe marred and stained) is appreciated by the generation watching and is seen as that which is to be attained. The taking of steps in striving to achieve and live a good life, not built upon self gain, but on sacrifice for the greater good of not only family but also community. The God-given desire to rise above circumstance and situation to build into Church and community the things of lasting value, to leave a legacy, to build a legacy, and to leave never knowing the outcome except that God has the undertaking in His hands. It is hope for a future that is composed in a pipe-dream, but committed to the hands of a God who can make it happen. It is a prayer.

Walk Softly & Carry a Big Stick




The title is from a line in a movie called Walking Tall. It's a great bit of advice, a great way to lead. The idea of just coming up behind people and beating them into submission, realigning their thoughts to conform, adjusting their intents, persuasively, without further fear of retribution (unless of course they have a biigger stick or walk more softly). Compliance of this sort would not be that which would develope a following of any great significance, the following would be a people who would bail at the first advent of adversity. There would be no staying power, there would be no decision to stick it out in spite of situations and circumstances. Friendships would be none existent, or at best of little value, the power of a person to lean on when I'm not strong, the opportunity to have a brother beyond that of blood to help carry on, the understanding of a fellow travelor who shares or is willing to share the experiences of life.

There are those who would use intimidation and power to master and control, in order to achieve an agenda of thier choosing. Absoloute power corrupts absolutetly. Power under control is the theme of leadership in the New Testament. Mastery is a servant term in the new covenant instituted by Jesus. Mandates for leadership are given and their appropriation by the men and women of the times are seen as gifts from God. The giftedness carried with it a sense of accountability that left leaders humbled by the awesome responsibilty of the care for a people purchased at such great cost. It has a tendency to leave me breathless (not speechless) in anticipation of the calling. It leaves me searching for the means to teach into lives, to bring change, to be a part of a canvas being painted by brush strokes and weavings of colour beyond my vision to comprehend. Truly who would not be humbled by the workings of a God full of grace and understanding?

F-Bomb


Nothing retro, no returning to the days of George Carlin or Richard Pryor, I'm talking about the F-word which can make Pastors anxious about the events that are taking place, the F-word which shuts Elders boards behind closed doors to dialogue about decisions that are being made and trying to anticipate the fallout by these actions, the F-word which brings a woman to tears in Sunday school as she expresses in very simple and direct language her grief at the state of her dismay, the F-word which brings out such strong emotions in a man that he can barely contain as he questions the validity and sincerity of the conversations that he has had as the reality of his expectations for resolution and healing is seemingly contrary to his hearts desire.

I'm talking about the word - forgive.

Arguably the most powerful word in the English language, at least by definition of a concept of human relationship.

Two other words walk in hand with forgive, trust and forget. One must increase that the other may decrease. In the realm of personal relationship where differences are bound to happen, the opportunity for memory to play a very large part in the resolution of conflict is the strongest of realities. Trust is linked to another word - repent, it is in the aspect of belief that a party or persons has resolved and committed to a continuing way of life and relationship which would ensure no further harm to be done, that we find the building of trust. Memory serving its purpose in offering security and protection bucks against forgive, justifying its position by its claims for safety and its obligation to guarantee the health of the individual. This becomes the great crux in the realization of the full import of forgive in the lives of people.

Does forgive involve forget?

In the economy of God, Yes, in the reality of life, Maybe, more than likely No. In the economy of God it would be nice to have the reality of Dante's river of forget and remember, where are sins are forgot and our good points become remember. The problem does not actually lie with the memory, it lies with the power of reflection upon that memory. The lady from Sunday school spoke expressively and pointedly of the fact that our gaze fixed upon the cross should remove the burdens of memory and release the freedom to love. It is in this context that we find probably our greatest failing as the Church.

It is in looking upon the cross and the unconditional grace that was exemplified by the death of Jesus that the true power of forgive is found. There must be a personal realization of that power, and here the question arises, Is there that evidence in my life? In the life of those around me? In the Church?


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Of Foxes


Romans 7:15 states, " For what I am doing, I do not understand; for what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." From this we could translate "What I carry out I do not recognize in its true nature, as a slave who ignorantly performs his master's bidding without knowing its tendency or result." There is this dual life pictured in this verse which resonates in all of us. Those of us who have lived a life outside the Christian life we now lead may struggle more than those 'born under the altar'. There is a power in the habits and memory and the mind whose thoughts have been filled with sins indulged, conscience seared by passion and impure thoughts, prejudices, and pride. "The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it."


"My reason this, my passion that persuades;
I see the right, and approve it too;
Condemn the wrong, and yet wrong pursue."
"More in my mind than body lie my pains:
Whate'er may hurt me, I with joy pursue;
Whate'er may do me good, with horror view."
Francis de Sales tells of the Paphlagonian partridge which has two hearts: a heart which is charitable in its tolerances towards oneself, yet, overtly intolerant of faults in others; a heart blind to motives which serve self, yet, discerning of the intents and purposes of others; a heart quickly judging, yet, indisposed to examination of ones self; a heart struggling with flaws, yet, unable to show compassion for failure in others; a heart prideful in position, yet, unwilling to bend in humility to the need for forgiveness by others; a heart unyielding, yet, requiring all others to acquiesce to ones view. We see in these attitudes a justifying of a close mindedness to understanding which removes others from dialogue, interaction, and/or receiving from us any benefit or blessing which God gives us the opportunity to bestow upon others. It also affects the ability to trust and forgive, to move beyond the rubbing of personalities and the abrasiveness of character into a place where love , understanding, compassion, grace (the dirtiest of personal virtues) reside in that fullness which can be only achieved by the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon His people.
In this we sin.
Foxes are resilient and hardy animals, very adaptable to a changing climate or culture, very able to survive and proliferate in a wide variety of situations and circumstances. Foxes are survivors, there representation is pointed out as the crafty way in which 'little sins' are parents of the greater. Foxes are also indicative of the need for watchfulness of their encroachment in our lives, and understanding of the times when their eminent arrival is due. They know! why should we not remain vigilant and perceptive?
" And when I have acted I find myself face to face with a result which my moral instinct condemns," how many times can we say this about ourselves? 70 X 70? The need for a movement, the changing of the heart, the building of a people that can get past their differences and set the agenda for the world by our love for another is perhaps the most critical characteristic of the church which will ensure its endurance as a moral and influential part of society. Or in place of that, maturity which understands that agenda and relinquishes the rights of the individual for the greater good of the body of believers. The world needs, and we need a climate of this caliber and strength in this culture to have significance and value.
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, " Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines,..."