Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon
Monday, April 30, 2007
In talking about the issues we discussed previously, I failed to take into account the opportunity afforded those who could misinterpret or infer from my comments something alien and contrary to my intent.
I in no way meant to infer that women are of no value except as baby factories. It was not my intent to mean that women can not achieve significance or personal fulfillment aside from having children.
I in no way intended to mean that women who are single mothers or those who are unmarried or widows must or would even consider their only options for life to be that of employment in prostitution or pornography.
The discussion was to point out the conceptual, theological and perhaps unrealistic ideal of the intended and original parameters of the male/female relationship. These parameters include the results of the original sin and the subsequent curse and prophesies concerning the punishment and redemption of the original creation. The opportunity that this kind of study affords us, is that we may in light of understanding apply or incorporate into our relationships aspects of this knowledge. We also have the ability through this incorporation to speak into the lives of those around us, who are struggling in their marriages and relationships.
1 Timothy 2:12 states, "...I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet."
1 Corinthians 14:34 states, "let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak, but they are commanded to be under silence..."
1 Corinthians 11:3 states,"...I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man;..."
These scripture references seem very pointed in their ---- positioning of women in a subjective place, under the authority of men. The word used for silence actually means 'in fashion still', 'tranquility arising from within', "peaceable". It returns the thought of the passage back to the woman exercising authority over the man, its intent is not to say that a woman is never to speak, prophesy or exercise spiritual gifts, it is to say that the usurping, undermining, or grasping for that which a man is to be called, and in the sense of abdication that which a man should not be turning from, is not to be the primary ambition of the woman. In the same sense the subjugation of the man to the authority of Christ defeats the notion that a man's function as a tyrant is acceptable. This is really not a discussion about tyranny and oppression, although for the most part that is the current issue, but about the mutual cooperation of men and women working and living together in unity and peace, reflecting the God as servant and redeemer relationship through flesh and blood. There is a mirroring of the subjection of Christ to the Father's authority and the sacrifice and obedience required of Him in order to attain that redemption for us. God calls men to that Adam-like position, which requires us to redeem, (not the word I would like to use?) or restore the faithful execution of the office or role through the sacrifice we make to build into our relationships the trust that is needed to obtain a willing subservience (again not the best word) or acceptance to/of a man's authority.
In Joel 2:28 we read,"...and it shall come to pass, afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:..." there appears to be no indication in this prophesy that women are excluded from the edification, exhortation, comforting or speaking in the church. This passage of scripture follows a line of thought from God whereby He is restoring to the Kingdom of Israel not only the spiritual fruit of his blessing, but, also the physical and subsequent emotional fruit of the blessing of His provision. It is only after this bodily provision that we see the further expression of God through the spiritual gifts of prophesy and the outpouring of the Spirit of God and the manifestations of His power. I think there is a relationship between the visible and the fundamental sustenance in there order of delivery. In the restoration of the male/female relationship there must be an order of delivery as well. As Jesus spoke of feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty, in like manner, we as men must feed the women, not necessarily food, but a nurturing of their souls, a delivering of ourselves in the role of leader of a home to them in an assurance of their proper care and benefit. In the same vein there must be a yielding by the woman to that leadership and a trusting, so that the man is affirmed and strengthened by her support for, acceptance of and willingness to be lead. And yes this is very idealistic, however there is a place for the institution of these principles, and however strict or domineering they may appear, the obedience to the structure of authority has the possibility of revolutionizing our culture and society. A church with no divorces, or families without financial troubles (No! I do not believe this is gender specific), cooperative husband and wives, enough said!
1 Corinthians 11:10 states, "...therefore the women ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." The word used for authority in this verse means the power to act, it derives that meaning from the sense of 'given leave to' or 'permission', 'the ability or strength with which one is endued'. It is used here, in context of the veil, as the symbol of the subjection of the woman to the man, and his authority over her. There is also the ability of the woman to remove the veil, she has that power and authority in her ability and as opportunity affords to exercise that which lies within her jurisdiction to perform. This is more accurately laid out in Number 30:10-15 the statute was instituted to maintain and establish that the man should rule or have authority in his home. It is the veto power in the event that the health and well-being of the home should be disrupted or usurped by another or perhaps superior relationship, or a motivation in opposition to God's ordained order entertained by the woman. It is in this authority of the man that we have the greatest of difficulties and it is in this circumstance that we see the greatest opportunity for abuse and untrustworthiness. A man called to the leadership of his home should make decisions in a sacrificial, selfless, manner indicative of his understanding of the servant-leader concept represented by Christ's sacrifice for the church-bride.
Paul's intent is to maintain the order and respectability of the community of believers in conduct, in appearance, and in moral fortitude. The man/woman relationship is not an insulated, isolated, segregated, independent, or self-subsisting association. It is one which requires the utmost of understanding, acquiescence, sacrifice etc..1 Peter 3:7,"You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." The male/female relationship is the realization of the ideal of redeemed humanity represented by the bride, the Church.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Metaphysics; the branch of philosophy which studies fundamental principles intended to describe or explain all that is, and which are not themselves explained by anything more fundamental; the study of first principles; the study of being insofar as it is being (ens in quantum ens).
Epistemology; the branch of philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge; theory of knowledge.
The answer lies in the 'question'. Jesus said, "...if I have set you free, then you shall be free indeed." Free from what? What do I need to be free from? "...and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
Freedom is an aspect of life allowing movement, in the context of Jesus' statement the freedom was from sin and the bondage's developed from that sin. In my most recent of history I have discovered that I am a slave as well. This is not a new revelation but a reaffirming statement of life as we know it in this country. I am and probably always will be an economic unit, inextricably tied to a culture that requires that I perform and live a life striving for the success and significance of the norm. At various staged in my life I have not been a willing participant, at other times I have acquiesced.
It is when life takes the greatest of turns that I search. The questions always come, and they seem to be the same questions, For what purpose did this have to happen? Where does sin or obedience lie in this situation? Is God still holding me? or is He allowing? The questions are the wrong ones.
I am beginning to like the question, What is the good life?
One of my all time favorite songs is by the Edgar Winter Group called Free Ride.
The lyrics are not Christian probably more new age than anything, but the gist of the song is laying the cares or concerns of life aside and enjoying life for the experience. God says come and take a free ride, the mountains are high the valleys are low, but I have provided a way to the promised land. Nobody is winning at this game nor is there a victory to be achieved in a life dedicated to the pursuit of earthly gain. There is a place for my life to be lived out as a producer of seed, a sower of fruit, a harvester.
It seems lately that more questions have arisen than answers; What do I want from life? What do I wish to achieve? What is my significance? Who am I?
Our desire to identify ourselves by the things of life, whatever they may be, is an inherent value of this culture that crosses the spiritual delineation of the inner life and creates as a by-product of our existence a person in culture without the persona of a God-created being living in the freedom of a life directed and focused on the greater aspects of existence.
Another question, To what has God called me?
I am trying to express a thought that the intent of life should be in communion with God as a pattern of life without the trappings of society clinging to and ensnaring the physical, mental and emotional body of the believer.
Another question, Is this a reality?
The greater things in life have to be defined. The Westminster Catechism asks "What is the chief and highest end of man?" The answer, " Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully enjoy Him forever."
Glorify means to exalt, extol or praise, to lift up to a place of prominence.
Enjoy means to receive pleasure or satisfaction, to accept favourably, to delight in, goodness, bounty, to use, to begin, to associate, to continue, all these are words that are translated enjoy in various Bible translations.There lies in the concept of how these words are used that enjoy is a view to life based on a reference point determining the direction of that life. A focal point on the horizon of reality. The beauty of life is expressed fully through the enjoyment of the circumstances and the relationships developed along the way. All the words denote a favourable tone or quality to life.
Fundamental to life's pursuit is freedom, it is elemental in the heart of man, it is the tyranny that we would desire in order to achieve this goal, it brings out the best and the worst in men in its pursuit, it would be the thing for which all would be given to have, the false pearl, the apple. We see ad campaigns promoting Freedom 55 and the further opportunities to at last be free from the tyranny of striving for financial wealth and realizing the goal of freedom from the oppressiveness of work and the final enjoyment of life without the strictures of daily labour.
Another question, Is that true freedom?
Martin Luther King is his famous address at the Washington Memorial said eloquently in referring to the future in paradise, "Free at last, free at last, Praise God! I'm free at last."
Another question, Do I have to wait that long? Is there not freedom in this life?
Jesus spoke of the truth setting free, He speaks of the power of sin and those shackles being lifted and not to lessen the import of this application of truth, but (the inevitable but) there must lie within this application something of the 'good life' experienced. To borrow from someone else, Acts 28:31 says of Paul that he preached the kingdom of God and taught the things concerning Jesus Christ.
Another question, What does the Kingdom of God look like in me?
What is different about my life that declares the Kingdom of God is being lived out in me? Should I not have freedoms as a possesor, inhabitant and citizen?
I understand life lived in tension or balance dependant upon your slant, however, I realize that life is to be a journey of faith with the goal of exhibiting something of note, declaring the reality of another Kingdom's rule in my life. In that context freedom or it's pursuit, or the recognition of the greater values of life must be unmuddled from the other pursuits which devalue that which is the highest.
Let freedom reign!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
"Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today." Lucius Annaeus Seneca
We have the opportunity to assign to this moment a value. Within the context of this moment in time there lies a expectation determining its inherent worth as a part of the greater landscape of our life. In that moment and each subsequent moment there lies a decision. Decisions, what ever they be, definitively define the next moment, and based on the import of the decision they may define definitively a large portion of the next moments. With this in mind it is not hard to understand why people refuse to move from behaviours and patterns of life to which they have become unduly or habitually accustomed. A belief system, however flawed or well-ordered, will limit or enhance the confidence of any commitment to a course of action. Here we find faith, healthy or flawed every decision has at the heart, a liability, the weighing of the odds, the wager.
We make these pledges based on the promise, the promise that lies in our heart, although in many instances the promise lies as a dormant underscoring of life, the philosophical will make the argument that all realize this promise and act accordingly. In a humorous way philosophy says there are only two types of decisions; those made under uncertainty, and those made under risk. Definitely not an indication that philosophical thought is determinant or prophetic, it is merely discursive. The interesting aspect of this, is that we have no guarantees, the day-to-day outcomes of our decisions are linked to so many variables that a projected expectation as to a direct cause and effect scenario is a preponderate undertaking.
Faith must have its way. Faith is not the crutch from which we gain leverage to ascertain the will of God, nor is there implied that faith or belief in the will of God determines all things regardless of potential will result in a positive consequence. Today must exist, it is in reality the only existence, tomorrow does not exist, nor will it, and yesterday is an irrevocable circumstance of life, unchangeable, regrettable, irreplaceable, only a memory. In memory we see the consequential benefit of decision as it applies to future considerations and understanding healthy and detrimental patterns of life and decision-making. The opportunity to curb and negate poor decision-making from our life vocabulary is what differentiates the application of 'faith seeking understanding' from faith in light of the weight of the evidence showing a preposterous expectation.
James 4:13,15," Come mow, you who say, 'today or tomorrow we will... instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord will, we shall...'
Luke 12:28, 'If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?"
Zechariah 9:12, "Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you."
Proverbs 22:19, "So that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you..."
Nehemiah 9:36, "Here we (I) are (am), servants today! and the land that You gave to our fathers, to eat its fruit and its bounty, here we (I) are (am), servants in it!
1 Kings 2:24, "Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which your servant is praying before You today;
Faith marvelous wondrous faith, in all this there lies the chance, the risk of sin lying at the door. Habakkuk 2:4,"Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright within him: but the just shall live by his faith." I have always tried to be very careful about presuming upon God (in that aspect there exists an issue of faith) not expecting anything beyond the daily sustenance and requirements for life, and in that God has proved Himself faithful beyond measure. There is an area of faith for which I have relied upon God and that lies in the arena of the past and the subsequent results of prior decisions and there detrimental effect upon my current (today) life. Joel 2:25, states, "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, my army which I sent among you." The occasion to act in a rash manner indicative of my past looms on my horizon, in this my faith is exercised to the extreme limits, in the vacillating of thought surrounding every aspect of promise, faith, sin, failure, etc. Faith must have its way and fear must be vanquished, peace must reign, God will be glorified and I will learn, maybe again?
Saturday, April 21, 2007
I have been challenged in my thinking to examine the hows? and wherefores? of my faith. Those of you who know me personally, have realized that I do not think, rationalize or relate to topics of faith, life and circumstance in ways which may be considered normal. This last year as I have been blogging and because of that putting of thoughts in public domain, I have become diagnostic of my approaches to the aforementioned areas. It is of exceptional interest that as I have searched for clarity (via the Internet,books) that people have been introduced into my life who's thinking and observations of the faith-life run parallel to this investigation. God is always working the seemingly impossible, molding, shaping, changing and affirming in my life that search.
My search currently has lead me to an examination of the philosophical nature of reasoning. Reason deals with the conception, discerning and intuitive faculties of thought. Philosophy deals with reason in determining the proper line of thought or argument in order to define a precept, clear and fair deductions from true principles that govern the common relationships of man with each other and with God. Philosophy has as a starting point an understanding that the principles are known to all and to each and from that point rationalization, deduction and application can be made (per se vs. per alia).
Theology has in contrast a starting point based on faith. Truth as an assumption of belief is founded on principles contained in the Bible, and its authority. Interrelations of principles are founded and expanded upon from these unerring truths.
The difference for me is blended and definitive, there lies in the two thought processes a tension and a resolution. Saint Thomas Aquinas states, '...the believer and the philosopher consider creatures differently. The philosopher considers what belongs to their proper natures, while the believer considers only what is true insofar as they are related to God...' and further '... it should be noted that different ways of knowing (ratio cognoscibilis) give us different sciences.' Inherent in creation is the glory of the creation for its purpose, as well inherent in the creation is the purpose for the glorifying of God. Romans 1:20,21a'...for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God,...' A friend of mine says there are constants which exist and they are truth, beauty and love and these attributes although variable in their nuances are unchanging in that they are representative of God incarnate. My friend says further (http://penseethoughts.blogspot.com/) '... the world today lacks confidence in the possibility of reason to know the truth, and in the possibility of true love.'
There is within me a response to this and other philosophical thought, a cry of the heart for greater understanding, a resonating of my soul which at this time is beyond my comprehension and knowledge. The ability to wrap my head around some of these discussions is not available to me at this time, however, I am going to strive to attain that for which my heart cries out.
Friday, April 20, 2007
This is in response to your inquiries to expand upon what was spoken of in Sunday school. This is my attempt to clear up what my verbal communication was unable to supply.
As I looked at the passage in 1 Timothy 2 and thought of Paul, it seemed evident to me that when he writes he looks at the issues of faith through the eyes and filtering of his knowledge of the Old Testament. As an example of that thinking I think you can refer to his treatment of the idea of grace as compared with his thorough understanding of the law. With that in mind I went to the Book of Genesis from which we see the development of the male/female relationship through the creation story and the subsequent events which seem to further define the interplay of the man, woman, God and culture.
In Genesis we have points of interest to the discussion of the male/female relationship that must be expanded. First we see in creation that Eve was created a helpmeet for Adam, I prefer the use of the KJV word because of its greater ability to express the intent in creation for God to provide for Adam a suitable partner, a co-sojourner, a co-traveler, much the way that a person on a journey who crosses paths with a fellow traveller and they join together for the support, camaraderie, protection, encouragement, etc. The word helpmeet is more often translated helper, it is from the Hebrew word ezar, a derivative of this is Ezra, the word ezar is also indicative of surround and wall. As I picture this I see the idea of a mother hen sheltering her chicks under her wing, also the wall or hedge which stands as a defense from enemies. It is in this context that the helpmeet definition has it strongest sense in application to the role of the woman. The idea of the wall will be played out further in this discussion.
Another point has to be made in understanding the deception/abdication aspect of the sin which was committed in the Garden of Eden. Although the deception of Eve is loudly touted as the bane of women forever in that they are the gullible and less intelligent of the genders, this is not the intent of Paul's references to this event in 1 Timothy 2:15. The abdication by Adam of his position of authority and dominion placed him in a position of culpability which is brought forth, although rather weakly in the use of the English language, but as powerfully as can be expressed. The strongest of emphasis should be placed on the phrase Adam was not deceived, the import is to place emphasis on the fact that Adam willingly, with eyes wide open, without objection, took from Eve. This places Adam in the direst of predicaments as the one who is to be held accountable for the introduction of sin into the human race.
Another point that has to be made in relation to this discussion is the statement by God that the 'seed of the woman will bruise Satan's head'. This is a strong messianic prophesy, however it does translate well to current and historical events as well as to the character of woman and her role in the family, church and the propagation of the human race. By this statement God is placing woman as an moral authority, her nature is such in the nurturing and closeness of the relationship with her children that this is a natural extension or property of her character.
Another point is made in reference to the passage that states the woman will desire after the man (all the men say I wish) which is an indication of the struggles contained in the relationship between the man and the woman. When the man abdicates, falters in his leadership, perhaps is weak in areas which concern the woman, then the woman will step into that position left vacant and fulfill the role as leader. This usually happens when decisions made by a man jeopardize the health and well-being of the woman and her family.
There is contained in 1 Timothy 2:15 the reference to a woman being saved in childbirth. I believe the word used here for saved may be more accurately translated restore,(see James 5:15) the only redeeming (saving) factor that may be assumed is in the sense of the righting (redemption) of the relationship between man and woman. It is in the act of childbirth that we find the indications of the yielding, submission (i.e. the act of conception), we also see in the process the obedience (coming under authority) that is required of a woman in nurture, necessity, and faithfulness in fulfilling her duties as a mother. I believe every woman who has bore children comes to a realization that for a time her body is not her own and that whole concept is what is incorporated into my understanding of Paul's intent in making this statement.
The controversy has and probably always will lie with the opportunity that is presented to oppress women with a misguided interpretation of the role of man and woman together, serving God in life,family and Church. To blanketly proclaim that women have no purpose but to remain silent, without ability and input into life family and Church is to create a travesty of the ordained order by God.
The reason for this stymieing of the women in the Church at Ephesus is very similar to the situation society and the church face today. The dress code and speaking rule was put into effect to address and control a problem. The problem was that women were attracting to themselves attention in a manner unbecoming and undermining of their moral authority. Throughout history the last bastion or fortress or wall of defense against the prevailing and insistent advances of Satan against man has been the woman. Her moral integrity until compromised, ensured the survival of each civilization. This last vestige of decency when finally downtrodden meant the decline of that era. As I look around I see us in a very similar predicament, not unlike the days of Caligula and Nero.
It is in the woman that the power to bruise Satan's head lies, it is in the authority of the man and it is his mandate to ensure that the moral authority of the woman is never placed in a position where it will be compromised. Man does this by first maintaining his own purity and not requiring the woman to behave in a manner which either by force or compulsion require her to behave in an ungodly manner. He also has within his authority that of being a protector of the widow and fatherless, not forcing them into places of poverty where options are such that prostitution, pornography or other vices become a mainstay. It is a twofold mandate and requires the most diligent observance as to his own posture, as well as the posture of the culture in which he lives. this can be further emphasized by adding to the aforementioned co words the word co-empowerer, a role in which the man walks beside his wife empowering her in her giftedness to fulfill God's calling upon her life.
It is clear from history and a defining aspect of most male/female relationships, that when the male abdicates from his role of leader, the woman must then step up.
It is in this environment that Paul speaks, seeing the opportunity for women to be placing themselves as objects of desire in dress, appearance and notoriety. It is in this type of environment where we see the greatest opportunity for men to abdicate from there role as protector of the morality of the day, as protector of the family, as protector of the widows and fatherless, as fighters against poverty and injustice to becoming victims of that lascivious lifestyle and subsequently the loss of their authority base to actively speak into the lives of the culture. It is also in this environment where the woman can exercise her feminine wiles in the subjugation of the man.
The role of man and woman has to be based on a level of trust whereby the woman understands that the man is going to make decisions which will always have at their heart the protection and security of her well-being and that of her family. It is in this context of authority that true leadership is performing it's ordained function. Ephesians 5 declares the role of the man as being compared to that of Christ's role in the redemption of His church, that of a willing sacrifice for the attainment of the best that can be achieved. When a woman can believe that this is the basis of her relationship with a man there is now no longer fear for the consequences of the decisions made.
In a perfect world this happens, in reality we see this happening very little, hence we see the divorces, affairs, use of pornography, drinking, etc,. As the church we have the greatest opportunity to model something in this world that stands as the last line of defense in the decline of society as we now know it. We have the right way by God's grace to impact culture with a proven, viable alternative to the militant left-wing agenda that declares fatherhood and the role of man as an authority a conservative, Judea-Christian ethic demeaning to woman and an offense to all who are striving for equality and tolerance. We have the mandate to declare to the world and model consistently and in a unified manner the God-ordained relationship of man under the Lordship of Christ, and woman under the authority of man. Living together without fear, oppression or dishonour.
I may have left some items on the table, unresolved, I hope that you will have the opportunity to look over what I have written and understand where I was coming from in Sunday School.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
In the beginning God created... then God said,... in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (Genesis 1:1-3; John 1:1-3) In the use of language there is no simpler nor greater expression of the Divine in the workings of life and man, than in these passages of Scripture. In this we see the uncontrollable authority and omnific power of God, who merely needs to speak the Word and by that Who He is it must come to pass. In this attribute of God there are no transferable qualities. This is and always will be a position held by God and God alone.
In this I believe. There is much to be said for faith and its operation in my life and of those who believe. We look into the Word of God and find in it our consolation, our life, our comfort, our hope, etc. I personally have many Scripture passages which come to mind at various times during the course of the day, during times of praise or duress.
Isaiah 53:5,...He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Matthew 8:17,...that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.
In this I believe. I will not claim to have full understanding of the application of these passages of scripture to a life of faith or there implications to the aspect of spiritual and corporeal healing. There exists in my belief and in my heart an understanding (&yearning for) of the realization of all the mystical and miraculous intents that are represented.
Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry, and deliver you.
'I am He'; God who spoke the Word is He Who will care for me, sustain me.
Analyses is part of who I am, being rational, digging out things. Sometimes I just have to sit back and accept (rest in) that God is God and rely upon that fact setting aside all my desires to understand.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
There are concepts and acceptable modes of behaviour which are indicative of the current health of culture, whether that be the culture of society or closer to home the culture of church or family. Game playing brings out the true character of a large portion of people, (which is why I don't engage in a wide variety of games) some character traits are amusing, some are disturbing and offensive.
We all have opportunities to engage in the game of life. Decisions are made daily regarding how we are going to play, what rules we may choose to ignore, what rules we expect others to adhere to. A zerosum situation is one in which my defeat means your victory, total conquest or annihilation of the opponent is the primary objective of the game. It seems we are brought up with the attitude of zerosum thinking all of our lives.
With the development of relationships, friendships and roles at work, we find that there are those who will never play by rules other than that which enables them to win, and attain that which they have deemed to be worth the victory. There are costs to this kind of behaviour, alienation from friends and family, distrust of any and all actions taken whether they are ulterior or not. The willingness to take advantage of weakness in others is the predominant character trait of these individuals or organizations. Their ability to search out and abuse the naivety and goodness of those around them knows no bounds, they refuse to be checked, or critiqued and in most cases will justify their action's in a manner of their own device and thought.
When confronted with this type of person or organization, we as Christians (believe me Christians are not exempt from the previous descriptions) are to turn the other cheek (no Jesus did not specify which, the Greek denotes jawbone) he says prior to that ' we are not to resist an evil person.' That's tough!! However the result which we would desire comes about as an outcome of our quietness. God says in Proverbs 25: 21,22,"if your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.This is a really cool way to be vindictive, the burning of the heart by being kind and the reward from God who is able. It involves my obedience in that I do not take the matter into my hands to dispense vengeance or seek retribution of my design. I must practice being quiet.
There are the opportunities in the development of close relationships and the communing of similar hearts that confidences and the secret thoughts and intents of the heart are exposed in light of accountability and love and forbearance, and edification and any other of the virtuous intents of brothers-in-arms. There are also those things that come to light that may or may not reveal the true character of the man, they may be areas of the past or present which when revealed bring dishonour to the person or organization, These are the pebbles in our shoes, which cause the whole body to limp,the smaller and least of things which cast in the light of the oppressive opportunity which they offer,are able to affect the whole body.
There are always those who will choose victory over all else, at whatever expense, at whatever cost, I only hope they realize the happiness that they seek. Amos 9:9 "For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake ... as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not one kernel will fall to the ground.
Mysticism by definition is the doctrine of direct communication or spiritual intuition of divine truth (ESP-Evangelical Sensory Perception); a transcendental union of the soul or mind with the divine.
There is and always has been a mystical aspect to the Christian 'Way'. It is in effect the place where the 'organ of man's spiritual consciousness' (our spiritual heart muscle) meets God. It is the seat of the transcendental feeling of 'that which was and is and ever shall be'; it is the conviction that life is good. It is metaphysical (immaterial, not physical) we find it in prayer, meditation, aesthetics and poetry. It is the consciousness or sense of the Divine encapsulated in the observance of, or the sensation of awe in that which exists and is magnified beyond our understanding. Einstein said 'My sense of God is my sense of wonder at the universe.' Whether you are a 'mystic' or not it is a fundamental basis upon which the Christian faith is built. Its existence is the justification of itself and asceticism and the self-renouncing life. Our link to reality lies at this juncture, in that there lies a position enabling man to commune with the Absolute, and that this reality exists for the purpose of that communion.
The Theologia Germanica says, "The two eyes of the soul of man cannot both perform their work at once: but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it were dead. For if the left eye be fulfilling its office toward outward things, that is holding converse with time and the creatures, then must the right eye be hindered in its working; that is in its contemplation." Jesus said "if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" and "No one can serve two masters..." (Matthew 5:29 & 6:24)
"There is within us an immense capacity for perception, for the receiving of messages from outside; and a very little consciousness which deals with them." Multi-tasking is the byword of this time. The information available and at a speed which is mind-blowing (I currently have 10 programs running, which is nothing) is evidence of this phenomenon. Isaiah stated in 6:9 "...go and tell this people, 'keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their eyes heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, ...and be healed." and in Romans 11:8 '...God has given to them a spirit of slumber, eyes not to see, and ears not to hear."
In order to counter the culture in which we live there has to be a radical (from the root) change in lifestyle reflective of our desire to reach the heart of God and even more importantly to hear the heart of God. The prevailing and outwardly manifest opinion of the Church by our society is that Christians have or are seeking a congenial relationship with God, delighting in his perfections, in the assurance of his love, in submission to his will, in satisfaction in the enjoyment of his favour. The end which is to be attained in actuality is union with God. The seekers of our day are searching for the sensory realization of this phenomenon, it is the underlying current of the movement of the Emerging church, in that there must be something more to Church than what is represented by mainline denominations.
For the most part this group of people is unreachable by the church. In the pursuit of these idealist encounters with the Divine our ability to accurately communicate the realm of the Kingdom and all its nuances of thought and belief is hampered by the rhetoric of Christianity. Augustine said 'human language labors from its absolute great poverty." Wherein lies the answer?
"With men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Our lives must be lives of discipline, so altering in its make-up that the hidden things of God become evidence of the deeper levels of our existence, reflecting the Divine, in the way we are guided and sustained and in the depth of our souls.
A cross to bear is found!
Friday, April 06, 2007
The cross is the most significant symbol known to man. Its inference as a sign or token of power, majesty, forgiveness and offense is the most highly recognized in the world. In Luke 9:23'...and He said to them all, If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me; ... and whoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:27) Thankfully there is no implication that the cross we must bear resembles that which Jesus bore for us.
The power of God in that most paltry of particles (sand) created by God has as an inherent quality a power and ability beyond the scope of human understanding. God's willingness to prevail at any cost over the powers of this world and age is clearly evident in the cross. Philippians 2:8'...being found in appearance as man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.' 1 Corinthians 1:18 '...for the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.'
Somewhere in the context of these verses Jesus addresses the issue of our responsibility to the cross. The command is simple, 'take up your cross and follow me'. What does my cross look like? It is different than yours or ours corporately. Simply it is the cost of my daily walk with Jesus. There are those things that have to be done by me to ensure the purity of my existence in the Kingdom of God. The counting of that cost in terms of the personal sacrifices that are made, the personal laying aside of the rights and freedoms which would place me in opposition to God's mandate for my life, the rights I would have to the enjoyment of life, the things that I deem as essential to my understanding or lustful intent contrary to God's defining of the 'the good life'.
There is the deeper issue, the setting aside of my life for a purpose outside the understanding of my present thought. The laying down of my life, the offering of my life as a living sacrifice (sometimes crawling & squirming to get off the altar), the preparedness to say "Lord, have your way with me".
The 'Way' isn't easy. Just as any path or road which you take that is predominately uncharted as a route has dangers and obstacles, so is the following of Jesus. He is our guide and He has the map, sometimes we get glimpses of the Way ahead, oft we are told to remain confident that the next steps are on firm footing, or at least footing which we can handle with some assistance. Constantly the battle wages, Can I trust the Leader?, Is He faithful?, Will I be harmed?, What must I leave behind?, Is the gain worth the price? There may be those of you who now doubt the validity and integrity of my walk at this juncture. There are those who will never question, some days I wish I was wired that way, other days it is in the questioning that I find the grace of God the wonder of His love and mercy. With the questioning come the answers and the affirming of faith.
The accuser of my faith is always with me, his whisperings are incessant, but his silence is imminent; his distractions are pervasive, but his defeat is insured; his lures are surprising, but vengeance is mine says the Lord; his traps are insidious, but there is victory in the cross.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
1 Timothy 3:16 - "...and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels,
preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
received up into glory."
Creeds are incredible works of prose, designed to give clarity and definition to concepts not formally or expressively spoken of in Scripture. Creeds are the beliefs of people conveyed through word or thought. "A creed... is a confession of faith for public use, or a form of words setting forth with authority certain articles of belief, which are regarded by the framers as necessary for salvation, or at least for the well-being of the Christian Church." Creeds of Christendom: Schaff,Philip Creeds are complex and in some instances very wearisome (you think I'm wordy J) (the Westminster Catechism, Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America) and sometimes very simple, Jesus asked in Mark 8:29, 'But who do you say I am? and Peter answered Him and said, 'You are the Christ'.
Creeds come with history and mystery, take for example the creed:
This term was used by the early church and was remembered by the acrostic for fish. The Greek word for fish is ichthus, each of the five first letters of each title are represented by a Greek letter contained in the word fish. There is myth that the term was also used as a means of being able to safely identify strangers and travellers by the use of the fish sign. The drawing of one half of a fish in the sand in front of oneself was completed by the person facing, thereby indicating that the visitor was a Christian also.
The word credence means in effect faith or persuasion; from this we develop the thought of moral conviction. Paul uses this word in 1 Timothy 1:5 where he says,"... the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith (credence). There is a strong sense of the inward workings of the man described in this verse, the attitude of the heart without dissimulation from the pureness of the motivation, the accusing or excusing of the intent as moved by an active and discerning conscience and the Holy Spirit, and the movement and desire to love as a result of the operation of the heart that believes, '...by this all men shall know you are my disciples, if you love one another.' John 13:35
Faith is an expression of our life and the actions in that life as an end of what we believe. Luke 10:27 "...you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself." John 15:13, "Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
Credence as a current term means credibility, believability, or applicability, how apropos.