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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Only Jesus!


Ephesians 3:16-19, " ... that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."


We may smile at childishness, but the adult world is not much different. The threat of rejection surrounds us—in our relationships, our jobs, our churches, our communities. If we don't measure up, we are often no longer welcome. In stark contrast, we have the Lord's astonishing declaration: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Heb. 13:5). His message assures us, "My love will never fail. It is trustworthy, dependable, and secure."


Such love is otherworldly. No formula resolves the paradox of a knowledge, knowable, surpassing comprehension, only experience enables us to grasp its measure; absorb its weight; comprehend ' ... what is the width and the length and depth and height'. Indeed, His love "surpasses knowledge" (Eph. 3:19). But still, God is relentless in dispensing it to us.

The width of His love, surpassing the horizons of frailty, failure and promise, "... as far as east is from west ...";

the length of His love, reaching from the prevailing memory, extending to the promise of a future, Jer 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope";

the depth of His love, able to draw us from despair, sin and misery to a vision of joy and happiness;

the height of His love, love and grace unparalled, vast and boundless, measureless and incomparable, overflowing and overwhelming the sensibilities and finite understanding of all that is possible by the human mind to be understood;

the surpassing knowledge of the love of God, when words fail to describe and communicate what has been placed upon the heart as it seeks to grasp the immensity of a condescending and redeeming love which is shown for a lost soul, in the giving of Himself to die.

"O love, thou fathomless abyss!"

Though we cannot comprehend, the immensity of the love of Christ, yet we know that he has loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; Herein is love! and truly it is love that "surpasses knowledge".

Christ and Christ alone ...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Road


“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter."

It does matter! Every road leads to somewhere, every road either broadens the vistas of opportunity or narrows the strictures of possibilities. A road can lead away from captivity, pain and chaos to freedom. Or a road can lead away from order, love and safety to anarchy, confusion and imprisonment.

It matters! The road taken may have irreversible consequences from which life may not have resolution.

It matters! The road may have bumps and potholes, rocks and sinkholes, but it must be understood where the journey is to end, what goal is to be reached.

It matters! Those who have gone before and left behind the signposts, the mile-markers wanted to ensure that those who came behind would know and understand the treacherousness of the road and avoid the obvious and obscure dangers that exist, and to protect the followers so that their journey would be safer.

It matters! Many times the pioneers of the road find their efforts are in vain.

It matters! ... for they are in pain ...

It matters! The distance we travel is never so far that we cannot turn around ... and come back.

May all those who are journeying today, find safe passage from where they are to where their loved ones want them to be ...

Dad

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Gap of Belief

Did Jesus live? And did He really say
The burning words that banish mortal fear?
And are they true? Just this is central, here
The Church must stand or fall. It's Christ we weigh.


All else is off the point: the Flood, the Day

Of Eden, or the Virgin Birth - Have done!

The Question is, did God send us the Son

Incarnate crying Love! Love is the Way!


Between the probable and proved there yawns
A gap. Afraid to jump, we stand absurd,
Then see behind us sink the ground and, worse,
Our very standpoint crumbling. Desperate dawns
Our only hope: to leap into the Word
That opens up the shuttered universe.


I choose to believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - in Christ, my Lord and my God. Christianity has the ring, the feel, of unique truth. Of essential truth. By it, life is made full instead of empty, meaningful instead of meaningless. Cosmos becomes beautiful at the Center, instead of chillingly ugly beneath the lovely pathos of spring. But the emptiness, the meaninglessness, and the ugliness can only be seen, I think, when one has glimpsed the fullness, the meaning, and the beauty. It is when heaven and hell have both been glimpsed that going back is impossible. But to go on seemed impossible, also. A glimpse is not a vision. A choice was necessary: and there is no certainty. One can only choose a side. So I - I now choose my side: I choose beauty; I choose what I love. But choosing to believe is believing. It's all I can do: choose. I confess my doubts and ask my Lord Christ to enter my life. I do not know God is, but I do but say: Be it unto me according to Thy will. I do not affirm that I am without doubt, I do but ask for help, having chosen, to overcome it. I do but say: Lord, I believe - help Thou mine unbelief.

The Soul for comfort holds herself to be
Inviolate; but like the blowing sands
That sift in shuttered houses, Christ's demands
Intrude and sting, deny her to be free.
She twists and turns but finds it vain to flee,
The living Word is in the very air,
She can't escape a wound that's everywhere,
She can but stand or yield - to ecstacy.
Her Lord is seeking entrance; she must choose.
A thickening callus can withstand the pain
Of this rough irritant, the sands that swirl
Against her thus defied. But if she lose
Her self, Christ enters in - the sharp-edged grain
Of sand embeddd grows a shining pearl.
Quoted from A Severe Mercy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Job; Is Love



Job 3:8, "Let the cursers of day mark it, who are ready to wake up Leviathan.


Job 3:8, "May those curse it who curse day, those who are ready to arouse Leviathan."


These are statements made indicating the depth of the inward trials of Job showing the reason of the change that took place in Job’s conduct, from entire submission to the will of God, to the impatience which appears here. The believer, who knows of the few drops of the bitter cup of despondency understands that they are more dreadful than the sharpest outward afflictions, it is this cry that is heard in Job's rhetoric. The disillusionment and despair created by inward turmoils and that assault upon the mind and following in succession the heart, the spirit and the soul and finally the strength, shake the confidence, faith, hope and belief in the love of God. These are the hard thoughts; the dreadful discourse of the soul; wishing and calling upon leviathan, the monster of our soul; the self-derived (is there such a word as aseitious) fear of our spirit; the antagonist of our will; desiring that final conflict, knowing the desperation of the vanquished, and yet, welcoming the defeat, the inglorious rout. This is the personal dirge and lament of the depressed. There is shame, disappointment in extending an invitation to the ultimate leviathan, death.

There is the hint of the complaint against God and the reproach of the heart with regard to the affliction as Job says, " ... for the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes." We often find that the lack of appreciation for our circumstances are expressed in almost identical terms; the presence of the bitter complaints and reproaches addressed to God are indicative of a remiss theology in which we find the absence of submission of the heart which acknowledges and accepts that God is perfect in all His ways. Job was upright, pious, religious, but he began to make those attributes his righteousness; which evidently proves that he had never really been in the presence of God. The consequence of this was that, although he reasoned more correctly than his friends, and he showed a heart that really felt far more than they what God was, he maintained that the injustice(?) he was suffering was unwarranted and he falsely associated the authorship to God and he falsely attributed to God the desire of God to harass him without cause. His discourse underscores his benevolent attitude toward his life; his complacency with life as it is, and perhaps his wish that it always should be; his satisfaction. God's grace was his mantle piece; it was his observable self-satisfaction. Job did not misbehave in prosperity, abusing it by presumption and security, but had lived circumspectly, walking humbly with God, and working out his salvation with fear and trembling. However, ...

Salvation with fear; life with fear; life full of anxiety; life with/without consideration for the variety of God's providence's; life experienced with the changeableness of this vain world; life lived with the spectre of God's justice, and my sinfulness. These fears of mine will never be in vain, but are justified by my present calamities and the narrowing of my life by the prospect of my future ruin. The hammer will fall, destruction will come, and with it the memory of prosperity and safety will be up-rooted. It is the anticipation of those things that wreck havoc upon the heart, mind, soul and strength and create the greatest of fears and apprehension. To live with the expectation of misfortune; to constantly wait for pain and suffering; to believe that without cause or solution dire events will occur; to see each dilemma intensified by it's randomness; is the epitome of dread.

We tend to think it is unreasonable for men of faith in God, men who trust God to entertain and indulge themselves with such thoughts and surmising of calamities and distresses. The fact is we have all suffered loss and with each successive instance of loss comes the fear of the next, the further depth of pain experienced, and subsequently more fear. This is not cyclical, it is helical, ever downward, unbroken. Into this quagmire of thought God must intervene and heal, breaking the twisted mind-set that keeps the continuum organic and active.


This is the mantra of the heart yet untouched by the love of God, a heart yet untouched by the fact " ...that Christ may dwell in (my) heart(s) through faith; that (I), being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that (I) may be filled with all the fullness of God."

There is a danger that as a person I may never come to know myself, the 'I, myself', that with all my piety, my knowledge(?), my study, my searching that my conscience has never been placed before God. There is a danger that real liberty and perfect peace which "passes all understanding" and can not be shaken are as yet unknown. There lies danger in not understanding the fullness of the grace of God and His love, as it is really and as it really is. "God alone can search out what the heart really is before Him; and the absence of all self-will, perfect agreement with the will of God, absolute submission, these things God alone could test, and thus lay bare the nothingness of man's heart before Him. God did this with Job; revealing at the same time that He acts in grace in these cases for the good of the soul which He loves."


Many Christians know this sense of hopelessness while knowing, but not believing, that there is currently, in this present moment, an opportunity to be favoured with a sweet sense of the love and presence of God. Many Christians attempt to resolve the inequities of life through empirical explanation. This is interesting, dangerous, perhaps futile, however, it will result in an affirming of the fact of a Sovereign God presiding over a sin-confused world with power and authority directed by perfect wisdom, love and mercy.

When there are no rational, empirical, theological explanations for disaster and pain, we must rest by faith in God's goodness and love and the hope of His redeeming purpose in the midst of suffering and pain. This is not a vain attempt to trivialize the intensity of pain as it is felt and experienced, nor is it meant to be a petty or irreverent overview of the question of the purpose of distress and despair in the world, but is meant to underscore the importance of trusting God's purposes in the midst of suffering because suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by divine wisdom. Divine wisdom has as it's motivation, design and desire the expression of God's love. The search for answers to life's dilemmas, the analytical quest for resolution of this perilous, mixed up and troubled situation of Why? this had to happen can not be found apart from the consideration of the love of God.

This means that we take the words God speaks to us in our today, and write them "on our hearts". The promises of God create a tone of thinking and believing upon the nature of God, and in that nature we believe that "God is love", so that, principally through the course of circumstance we can understand that God's purpose is healing and restoration of the 'I, myself', from the treacheries of sin and the captivity of fear. Divine love conquers all. The question is no longer asked "Is the Lord among us, or not?" for He is truly here, we need not assume, because He has said, "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid ...; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." "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 will deliver you."

Are you listening? Do you hear?

"For God so loved you, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but will have everlasting life."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Predestination?


Predestination could be viewed as predetermined stages in life finding ... "provision for later stages in earlier ones".

Ecc 1:9, "That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun."

Ecc 1:9, "That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun."


Our ability to think and determine, to examine and discern, are pathways of the mind leading to understanding of life and God. These pathways existed before our travel on the highway of life and are precedent to any knowledge or future considerations. "You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me."

Einstein has a famous statement to the effect that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is its comprehensibility. We allow ourselves great glory and pride in thinking that a thought, idea or concept somehow came about as a result of insight or some intuitive principle at work in our minds enabling us to create. An idea does not form of its own volition. The idea, before it was an idea, was contained in the make-up of our existence and was ordained as a stage to pass through because of the existence of the prior stage. Each stage in life a precursor for the next and determined by the previous. That which was incomprehensible only becomes comprehensible because of the opportunity afforded by the passage of either time, experience, pain or pleasure, and all of these are common to all men and happen within the Sovereign Will of God. Discovery becomes recovery of what God has placed in the heart of man. We can never understand or know in our heart that which never existed. That which exists is a part of who God redeemed us to be and the recovery of that knowledge and understanding is available as a predetermined aspect of life, the discovery of which is within our grasp but remains determinant upon the paths of life chosen. 2Pe 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." In this lies a truth, in that we never fully understand the distance we are from that which determines the length of the journey. 'The way less travelled' is the path of recovery of those freedoms which God ordained to be the intrinsic part of our lives.
Jn 8:36, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."


Jn 8:32, " ... and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Predestination, in this light, can be seen as the struggle of human willfulness and divine purpose and guidance. In this light, predestination is a real struggle in which we realize that God’s purpose for us is good and that God’s determination to help us is prior to all of our struggles. We are included, predestined, and elected as we believe in Him by the power of the Spirit. God, working His way through us, determines us. Part of God’s determination is that we should be participants in our limited human way with God in doing God’s will. God’s will is that people should have a will that is exercised toward Him. Predestination never eliminates human will.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Too Personal; Theology


Luke 8:22-25, "Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"

A story is told of the naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir. An avid adventurer and explorer John Muir was noted for his willingness to experience nature in its most profound expressions. While staying at a friend's cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California a storm came in off the sea. The clouds moving in were ominous and held the promise of a great deal of moisture and with that very ferocious winds. It would have been very assuring to have a well-built cabin, a large supply of wood for the accommodating fireplace, and the supply of needs to weather out a storm of this magnitude. All this was available, there was safety and comfort at hand. The storm erupted upon the mountainside hide-away and it was everything the clouds and darkness foreshadowed. Most people would curl up beside the fireplace, grab a book, make some coffee and enjoy the safety and security of a well-made cabin in the midst of ferocious turmoil. John Muir was of a different ilk, he put on his Winter clothes, went outside, climbed a tree beside the cabin and began to write of the experience, the intensity of the storm. "A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship ... All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God's eternal beauty and love."

We mistakenly view comfort, shelter, safety as the norm of life, the great escape from the treacheries and vandalism of existence. We mistakenly view life lived with ease and security as blessed, more highly esteemed, being free from disorder, apprehension, worry, threats and fears.

I am not saying that there is a lack of courage and faith to face the extreme challenges of life and consequence, it is that we are no longer forced to face our insecurities. As men we have been allowed to become complacent; euthanized to the state of our own apathy; seldom challenged to go above and beyond; to face the immensity of our fear; to be antagonized to action; to confront failure, immanent or unforeseen; to encounter our vulnerabilities; to deal with our weakness and defenselessness; to strive in the plight of the feeble: to defend against the powerful forces arrayed in life; to be of those who would dare to stand with defiance and bravado against insurmountable odds holding to certainties like a glass chain knowing it to be as fragile as life itself and yet ... it is heroes who understand the joy of the victory even in the midst of defeat.

Why, if we acknowledge that which lives in a man's heart vicariously through the heroes of fiction, would we not expect that God would want to tap into the depth of that potent, feral essence that we hold in earthen vessels, knowingly anticipating that breaking which is inevitable as an outcome of our inherent design. We have become domesticated, anesthetized to the vision of a man's worth; allowing, perhaps embracing, our devaluation as fathers; being emasculated as able-bodied, nimble-minded, virile leaders of home and community. This is my sin, in that I choose to abdicate; to reside in the stall, and the price I find is more than I can afford. In this exists the greatest of pain, the sorrow of my soul, the horror. In this I am mortified at my own sense of humiliation and shame for what I have become.

Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." A man's willingness to sacrifice is an untapped reserve in this day-and-age, as a generalization, because of the lack of need for the courageous and noble to be exhibited as a daily, 'a moment made eternity', expression of a 'great love'. Men understand that at the heart of the issue of manhood is the desire to be employed in the pursuit of an eminent 'good', a quest for ultimate 'freedom'; the giving and receiving of 'love'; the height of joy; the agony of defeat; and a heart convinced of the faithfulness and eternalness of God's love. If I want the heights of joy, then I must have, if it is possible, to find and submit to a 'great love', for "to be in love, as to see beauty, is a kind of adoring that turns the lover away from self". However, 'great joy' found through 'great love' always go hand-in-hand with frightful pain. In this a man is willing to sacrifice, to submit, to be willing to experience the pain in the attempt to realize the joy as it is fulfilled in love. If there was a choice between the heights and the depths and the safe and cautious may I have the courage to face the fears and take 'the path less travelled'. Sorrow is every man's plight, may the joy be worth the pain.

"Now behold, one came and said to Him (Jesus), "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? What do I still lack? ... Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

This is God's economy of life, in that, "God's kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks (or great possessions) Rather, God's kingdom consists of God's approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives."

Romans 12:1, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

Php 2:17, "But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all."

1Ti 6:11, " ... but you, man of God, ... Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

Jas 1:12, "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Jn 6:27, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."

... and are these just words ...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Theology; Personal Too


Do you put your soul at risk and in hazard if you want to understand the nature of your own fears? if you wish to understand the working of your own faith? if you desire to know the limits of your transgressive inclinations? if you cannot live without answers?

To answer the question, is to recognize that there is " ... a profound ambivalence shared by all people: a simultaneous terror and fascination with the beast within, (and) the impulsive need to both deny and acknowledge that, no matter how exalted, we humans are members of the animal kingdom and heir to violent instincts." I live with transgressive tendencies; the temptations of life; the primitive fears and anxieties; the atavistic (established; habitual, ingrained) coping skills and mechanisms derived from life's pains and circumstances; and the demons created by the existence of my aforementioned mental and emotional maladies.

In all this there, as a negative consequence, is the absence of faith, the blatant denial of God as provisional and benevolent. An atheist may have more integrity than a Christian in this view, at least an Atheist as he lives with the hypocrisy of what he may know in his heart to be an untruth, yet, at least in his life he does not deny his faith. The Christian believes in God and yet holds to the illusory and misguided vision of the future and the point of view of this life as holding no promise other than what is at hand or can be attained by personal effort. Must I believe that even within the menial tasks of the day there lies no other purpose than the attainment of food and lodging. Is there not a greater purpose, a larger significance (maybe I need more melatonin at this time of year) a more profound life to be lived?


I do not wish to sound like a depressed and raving lunatic!

Romans 7:22-24, "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!"


"T]he monster of the mind is always the familiar self disguised as the alien other."


Do I risk the loss of faith in the battle to win faith? Is there a danger in becoming the captive of sin in the battle against sin? Is there hope in defeating the demons without losing the war to win the battle?


This battle " ... embodies the existential threat to social life, the chaos, atavism, and negativism that symbolize destructiveness and all other obstacles to order and progress, all that which defeats, destroys, drawsback, undermines, subverts the human project--that is, ... " the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains the basic drives; the instinctual needs; the dark, inaccessible part of the soul which motivates selfish and infantile expectations; the chaos; the sense of disorder; the cauldron of seething excitations; the amoral and egocentric; the life ruled by the pleasure–pain principle; life and death themselves. This is the battle for the soul and it is being fought in the battleground of the mind. It is fear versus faith.


Faith must have its place and its work in deciding and modifying the defensive, instinctual, intellectual, cognitive and perceptual functions of my conscious thought. Faith must be the overriding principle of my life when faced with my concerns of safety, my inherent fears; the issue of pain and displeasure, my defense mechanisms; the sense of the world's overpowering and captivating my life, my pride and my will. My desire to marginalize and control the consequence of all my actions, maintaining the 'I, myself' is the holding to a reality of life inconsistent with the life of faith.

John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Within this statement lies the evidence of the truth of submission to the Lord, and more, the acceptance of the love of a sovereign God. Within this statement lies the profound realization of an attitude of humility, salted with the willingness to believe that God's love is the only means by which God communicates and in that belief to be fully satisfied with my life. Faith, hope and love are more often than not, words; words typed on a page; words spoken in situations of pain and dis-ease (Thanks Ron); words that have lost their flavour to influence and change the battle for the thoughts and intents of the heart, mind and soul; words that lose their meaning in vain repetition and repeated emphasis on their application to life. But, they are so much more than just words and in an ironic twist, words, more often than not, fail to communicate and express all that God's love means as it fills the hearts, minds, souls with faith and hope.


2 Cor. 4:16, " ... therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
Ephes. 3:16, " ... that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man ... "

... and these are just words ...