Off Script

I’m [was] in my bedroom at the foot of my bed using my iPhone as a “kind-of” microphone. Reminds me of when I used to be in the pulpit and I couldn’t take back whatever I said, I couldn’t edit it, I couldn’t dig my way out of a bad comment or thought. We take chances when we speak “off-script.” I like to watch good movies and the movie is good if the script is good. I often put captions “on” just so that I can read the narrative to see if it is good. But when we go off script we’re liable to say things that are regrettable—unless of course as a preacher or pastor the passion of our hearts is somehow under the providential care of a guiding Holy Spirit.

It’s my opinion that in many ways the church is going off script. We are at times like fifth graders in the schoolyard arguing over the rules of some dumb game instead of learning our lessons. [I’ll leave it to you to apply this metaphor.]

We also spend endless hours following the narrative of the media, which incidentally is designed to control the nuance, to control our thoughts and our feelings.  The script that God wrote that should be understood through a life of prayer is not being listened [adhered] to.

God’s Script, His Word, is not the same message [as the politics]. In fact in some critical regards it is very, very different. It’s important to have our pulpit graced not only by astute men of learning but by men—and women, I apologize—who are hearing what [from] God … through times of earnest prayer and preparation.

I may sound argumentative. I may sound almost paranoid or conspiratorial but we are closing in on the last days, at least that is what we have been told to believe. And I believe it. We need to spend time listening to the true news, the prophetic news, that comes only from God.


My thoughts are commingled with the timely alert taken from “Christians In the Age of Outrage” by Ed Stetzer. Professor Stetzer speaks to the divisiveness in the civilize world that is generated and maintained by the political pundits, editorialist, journalists, and politicians who find the game lucrative and entertaining. Admittedly, we like watching a good wrestling match where the opponents slam each other to the mat. We like feeding the monster, this growing outrage, by allowing a non-biblical message to impassion us. But this is not as it suppose to be!

And now we are, or are becoming, outraged at anyone outside our tight-knit circle of interpretation, our chosen ideology, theology, or worldview.  …so, so  sad….

In his influential book “Not the Way It Supposed To Be,” theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. examines the two forces at work in our world: shalom and sin. According to Plantinga, shalom means “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.“ In other words, it is the way things are supposed to be. —  page 90.

For all those who don’t buy into a “Garden of Eden” scenario, this beautiful Hebrew term, shalom,  is filed down to a meaningless, “Hello and Goodbye.” But as Professor Stetzer summarized:

We recognize that the outrage we see around us is merely the visceral reaction of the world estranged from its heavenly Father. — page 91.

The snake is back in the “Garden” and it is “…more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD  God had made” [Genesis 3:1] This slithering apparition unseen and unimagined can see multiple moves ahead while most human intelligence is based on a single—and often desperate—play for happiness.  But the serpent’s craft is overmatched by the prudence, the wisdom, in God’s Word.

Some of us may have even “culturalized” the concept of sin.  We have all but lost site of the biblical concept of idolatry: worshiping other things in God’s stead—of lending voice to controversy and division, of promoting hate instead of christian love, of making political bias our platform instead of the gospel message. Going back to Plantinga,

“…for the Christian church… to ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin is to cut the nerve of the gospel. For the sober truth is that without a full disclosure on sin, the gospel of grace becomes impertinent, unnecessary, and finally uninteresting.“ Page 107

Professor Girdlestone in describing sin said it this way:

The pictorial power of the Hebrew language is seldom exhibited more clearly than in connection with the various aspects of evil. Every word … is a revelation. …. The Hebrew Bible meets us with a full acknowledgement of [the] manifold aspects of human suffering, and blends wrong doing and suffering to a remarkable degree, setting forth sin in its relation to God, to society, and to a man’s own self…R. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament. Page 76.

This ought not be!!  I have to believe that you, as I, long for things to “be as they are suppose to be” [shalom]:

[God] will keep in [shalom: things will be as they should for] those whose minds are steadfast [fixed on Him], because they trust … [Him]. Isaiah 26:3

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The End of Money

Many christians long to dissect the book of Revelation to decipher its message in a modern context. We may, at last, be appreciative how events support the believer’s heart cry for the imminent return of our Lord. Natural disasters suggesting climate change with crop failures, mystery pandemics, and “signs in the heavens” which might be connected to the global satellites modern technologies are dependent on [Luke 21:11]; the dissolution of the traditional family unit [Luke 12:53], and an apostate world at war against the people of God in the Near East [Ezekiel 38:15; Revelation 16:11-16]  are all elements of this prophecy which now appear at least in embryonic form [I Thessalonians 5:3].

The coming sorrow is characterized by one more condition: The ultimate crash of a global market upon which all buying and selling was contingent.

“The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore Revelation 18:11

Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” ’ Ezekiel 38:13

The prophecy speaks of the final end of “the love of money” or greed [Luke 12:15] which has traditionally stood in opposition to simple faith [Matthew 6:24]. As such the “market” must be seen in a biblical context in opposition to God’s provisional care.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…. Hebrews 13:5 NIV

 


The details of a collapsing market place could not even be imagined—let alone, explained—before globalization became a key concept. The globe has shrunken down into a virtual one country, one “peoples,” central marketplace.  The Stock Market has become active across economically poorer, developing countries in Africa and the Far East.  These are  known as emerging markets.  These in effect are dominoes just waiting to be toppled by a lawless greed.

Few still cannot imagine the prophecy gaining any traction since world markets seem to be expanding, but some economists may now envision the possibility since the civilized world redefined what money is. We went off the gold standard in ’71 and decided to put our future profits in “land.” Real estate is a limited resource with respect to a demand for housing. Buy old houses, fix them up and resell them for a profit. Sounds good but most people don’t have the business acumen or resources for it. So investors decided to make money itself worth buying and selling.

There is a new word to learn: Seigniorage. Money is now simply printed, bid on, and bought and sold like any stock, bond or other market vehicle. But what do you buy money with? Buy Euros with dollars or Yen with British Pounds, etc. The Mercantile Exchange in Chicago introduced currency futures as a derivative to hedge against large swings in the price of the currency of choice.

I picture the day when paper money (and specie) will no longer exist. (It’s beginning in Scandinavia.) Wealth will be only a ledger entry on possibly a “bitcoin” or e-currency balance sheet. Money always was three things: a source of wealth, a medium of exchange, and the standard of value. But this description no longer works.

Seigniorage is the profit from creating money. $5.3 trillion per day is done in trading currency. — George Gilder , “The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does” p.66.

Money as a measuring stick—a measurement of wealth—now is constantly changing [a floating currency]. The value of any currency now fluctuates with the market. It is no measuring stick it all.

Just a footnote here:  A free market or capitalism only thrives in a democracy which is culturally faithful to the rule of law.  Anarchy, autarky, and communism see an advantage in greed (which is the market’s governing passion) and does not have the moral or ethical fortitude to allow—or even want—a global prosperity to work.

The stage is near set for the seals to be broken and the prophetic scrolls of Revelation to be read by the Lamb of God at His pending return.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20

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The Magi

“Who were they” “why were they seeking Jesus” “what became of them” “why gold, frankincense and myrrh”?


Four meanings are found together in almost every age.

  1. A magician
  2. A deceiver or seducer [2 Timothy 3:13 uses a synonym.]
  3. The specific meaning of “a member of the Persian priestly cast.” they are the interpreters of special signs. An adherent of the religion Ormuzd-Ahriman. [Mithraism, of which I wrote extensively in my book “Challenged.”] “It is obviously forbidden to Jews to have anything to do with them:” [bShab. 75a.] He who learns from a magus is worthy of death.” Philo, on the other hand, saw the Persian Magi, like alchemists, as involved in a pre-scientific research.
  4. Astrologers were said to be “the possessor and user of supernatural knowledge and ability.” [Daniel 2:2 shares the Hebrew word borrowed from the Babylonians, “an astrologer ] The name Magi originally belonged to a high sacerdotal cast among the Persians and Medes, who formed the King’s privy consul, and cultivated astrology, medicine, and all occult natural science. — Lange


There is no means of determining whether the magi from the east in Matthew 2:1 are specifically Babylonian astrologers or astrologers in general. The former is more likely, since it is only in Babylon, by contact with the exiles, that the Magi would require an interest in the Jewish king or Messiah. Magi here means the” Possessor of special, secret, wisdom,” especially concerning the meaning of the course of the stars and its interconnection with world events. — The Theological Dictionary of The New Testament, volume 4, Page 358.

The gifts had both a practical—as a provision for the holy family in their impending flight into Egypt—and prophetic significance: “the gold to the King, the incense to the Lord, the myrrh to Him who was to taste of death, the great high priest.” — Theophylact,

Prof. Trench called these gifts “The unconscious prophecies of heathendom.”


??  …don’t know.  But as the saying goes, Wise men still seek Him!

 

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Of Heavenly Things

  • Eternity [I John 5:13];
  • infinite and unconditional love and forgiveness [I John 4:18];
  • a peace that knows no threat, no anxiety, no fear [Philippians 4:7];
  • a joy with unlimited energy [I Peter 1:8];
  • a voice that never tires [Revelation 4:8];
  • a song that is ever new [Psalm 40:3]

…we have no words for these! The language of heaven cannot be translated into our current tongue. The realm of heaven bears no comparison to our present sphere: …no sun or moon and no churches, [Revelation 21:22-23] Just to be able to look upon Him, Who gave all to get us there, will become a life-changing experience. [I John 3:2]

Still it’s fun to ask questions, some ridiculous, some silly, some serious enquiries, that need not be answered.

  • If nothing dies, what will happen to the clippings when we trim the rose bushes … will there be no rose bushes or don’t they continually grow? Will we grow?
  • And what if God’s idea of human beauty is 500 pounds, wrinkled skin, and white hair?
  • I plan to gorge myself at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Are there bathrooms? or is heaven’s ambrosia fiber-free?
  • Must God wipe away “all” tears? [Revelation 7:17; 21:4] What about tears of joy!
  • Will there be flies or gnats or chiggers there? Hope not! But I think dogs and cats are fine. [Romans 8:22]
  • The Bible mentions streets of gold [Revelation 21:21] but the pavement is translucent. Is it really gold? Gold—for that matter silver, and platinum—has no value there. …not to me! I think its a reflection of God’s glory off whatever is beneath our feet.
  • Are we going to drink wine in heaven!? [Matthew 26:29] Don’t tell the evangelicals and fundamentalists—unless this is just grape juice.
  • Revelation 22:2: One tree with 12 different fruit—not exactly genetically similar to the present morphology. [Genesis 1:11]

I should be permitted to expand my imagination into regions of truth I have yet to explore or realize. I should be able to dream beyond my current reality. I have God’s permission to hope for a tomorrow that exceeds all current expectations of happiness—though the details be known only to Him. [Deuteronomy 29:29; Acts 2:28] I like to picture what I cannot put into words: a mind and a heart that no longer knows the restrictions imposed upon them by this life and its weaknesses. [Hebrews 9:26] I have a right, given of faith, to conceive of a sinless world. How will things be in a theocracy under grace ..without law? The concept of “law” or righteousness will be defined  upon the heart! [2 Corinthians 3:3]

Since ancient times no ear has heard or perceived, no eye has seen, beside You, God, what You will do for those who wait on You. — Isaiah 64:4

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him. — I Corinthians 2:9

It is mostly a place that beforehand
We imagine in the words of a song
Of a promised though never explored land,
Where we know in our souls we belong. [2 Corinthians 5:8]

We are dreamers who share in the promise
Of a beautiful world to possess—
Though for many a sad, doubting Thomas
They must see to believe it, I guess [John 20:28-29]

It might seem whenever we’re hurting
Much too fancy a thought to be true,
But “a place” our Lord is asserting
“I go and prepare for you.”[John 14:1-2]

Oh! The discourse of men can’t explain this!
What assurance of infinite grace!
Words tied to this life can’t make plain this
Gloriously incomprehensible place! [Philippians 4:7]

If we try to interpret this picture,
This world in its wondrous array,
There is little, alas, in the Scripture
To redress any mournful dismay. [1 Corinthians 15:51

So whenever our hearts sink in sorrow
Our eyes are awash with our tears,
Let us cling to a hoped for tomorrow
When God will have quelled all our fears.[1 Thessalonians 4:13]

These are glories not seen but in vision
Of joys unimagined, unheard;
God’s promise is God’s sure provision
If we will but trust in His Word. [1 Corinthians 2:9

The Spirit encouragingly whispers
Of glories outside of this realm.
For us who by faith become listeners
Of wonders that now overwhelm, [John 16:13]

Be assured,  what this life must conceal,
In that moment, that one final sigh,
A new world God’s grace will reveal,
“In the twinkling,” Paul said, “of an eye.” [1 Corinthians 15:52]

We shall enter to dancing and singing
Wearing righteousness as a white gown
With heavenly accolades ringing
And eternal life worn as a crown. [James 1:12]

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I’ve Changed my Mind

I had found it emotionally painful and stressful to watch the cable news networks where most of the argy bargy is pure bilge—rhetorical expostulations, dogmatic flapdoodle and the vituperations of popinjays not journalists …and this 24/7 because many people find a good shouting match entertaining and it’s good for ratings. (NOT ME!!!) Both sides of any issue deal with a different set of “facts” which makes the whole shouting match meaningless to me.

I wanted to discover real issues, first as a voter, and then in a serious interest in determining how close we might actually be to our Lord’s return.


When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Luke 21:28

What things?

  • Jerusalem under siege by Israel’s enemies; (Luke 21:20)
  • wars fought—not for freedom but motivated by rampant vengeance (Luke 21:22);
  • and a ubiquitous sense of terror gripping a terrified mankind because the entire earth and sky is “roaring” (Luke 21:25-26) which could mean many things.  (I have my theories, too.)

If our Lord’s return is imminent should the cable news chatter really concern us?  I have changed my mind on this. I now find it interesting, not stressful. I am excited about the possibilities for prophetic meaning. For this reason, I accept the results of the recent election in the U.S.A. (and the Brexit battle in the U.K., etc.). I am very interested in seeing what happens if a flood of immigrants manage to crash through the border barricades.   I am very interested in who is going to be the next Speaker of the House in Congress and what they and their committee chairs plan to do (perhaps in an effort to unravel the current U.S. president’s agenda?)


Do I want them to succeed in destroying President Trump’s presidency?  Of course not, but if they do, in my opinion, we get closer to the divine Parousia.  Socialism which is their heartthrob will kill free capitalism and weaken the U.S.A. economically and militarily, taking  America out of world events as a major player.  We will no longer be a superpower if the middle class which has been the life blood of a free capitalistic society is weakened to the point of none-existence …and this is what socialism is.  (You can put lipstick on the pig and call it “democratic socialism” but it’s still a pig!)

I am reading about China, “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.”  China, I maintain, will play a major role in Biblical prophecy. (Revelation 9:16) They have tricks up their sleeve that alone can explain the general sense of terror that will grip the globe. All the more reason to prayer for those in authority. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)


None of this is upsetting to me while I prayerfully anticipate our Lord’s coming.  The people in power are primary sources of real information (their plans and actions)—the Truth liberates (John 8:32) while the editorial filler on the “news” is just the haphazard guesswork of pundits that cannot begin to figure things out. They are watching the chess match between political enemies being played out and can only wonder what each next move might be without having even an inkling as to why the move will be made.  (A waste of time.)

If you must watch, seek out the comedic skits and pundits on your favorite side of this isle and learn to laugh at yourself.

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A Statute of Limitation on Hate

Is there a statute of limitation on hate? Is there a law against “the smear” and character assassinations? We live in a politically charged culture that is ripping families apart because it has become all too easy to put one more ornament on the tree of our discontent. Hating gets easier and easier when even our social gatherings—and cable news—support it. If you think that the American Civil War was a flash in the pan, guess again. It took decades to eventually bring the nation to Fort Sumter. And this was most literally a war of brother against brother.



There should be a statue of limitation on our rage. What I mean by this is that our dialogue should be more reasonable: fair and moderate with a goal to reach an understanding—if not a compromise. Such speech is characterized by three qualities:

  1. Constructive: forward looking, corrective, suggesting resolutions, not a hateful refrain reminding us of how evil they ‘allegedly’ are.
  2. Conciliatory: seeking to reconcile differences which might suggest first we really talk differences. Somehow, I am asked to falsely maintain that the American who votes the opposite ticket from me is as morally and ethically debased as the name they checked on the ballot—even though, neither they nor I know what each the other really believes or why we voted the way we did. Political parties are religious commitments for some that by-pass logic and are embarrassingly ignorant of the candidates’ real views.
  3. Caring, loving, not driven by a sadistic interest in hurting someone else. Hate does hurt and we have to stop getting in someone’s face simply to get in their face. We must cease getting a passing thrill out of offending them in the name of justice or fairness. It’s never what it seems. Hurting them never assuaged our own hurt. If we feel better it is, oh, so temporary.

Deep convictions and spirited debates do not engender hate but openness, honesty, and understanding. The past has a place in dialogue when remembering is intended as part of learning. Some mistakenly think forgiveness means forgetting. Not true. How can we ever forget what pure hate does—and the destroyed lives which such evil leaves in its wake! How can we wipe a civil war from our history. We must learn from the injustices of past generations perpetrated on others who were culturally or ethnically different; we must learn to embrace one another despite these differences. Maybe there is something about our opposition worth learning. Their endearing friendship might be the beginning of a peace worth pursuing for our children’s children’s sake.



I have tuned out 90%, most, of the daily news cycle because it is not only repetitious, saying what already has been said many times over, but it is often said to stir me to anger. I am not ignorant of the device employed. [2 Corinthians 2:10-11] The goal is to bring me to a white hot rage over someone I should hate. Issues are resurrected from a forgotten past to bring old memories to the forefront in support. This attitude can destroy a nation—let alone the individual who sees no value in a statute of limitation  on past offenses.  I am talking forgiveness.



“Oh, but we are defending our values.” You say.  “We are defending the faith. We are not hateful but defending a democratic legacy for which many have fought and died.” “This is not a matter of forgiveness!” you say. “This is a democracy, which means we must, any way we can, even with half truths, a negative spin, and uncorroborated rumor, raise a populous army of voters to protect the rights we so passionately and vehemently cherish.”

Does the end justify the means?  Voters shouldn’t need to be controlled. Citizens should not be handled to become passionate about the privilege to vote. Why can’t real issues and understood differences based on meaningful dialogue be the driving force?  Why can’t I choose to vote for a candidate simply because it is my sacred right in a democracy. Why can’t we agree to disagree, if we must, for the sake of a united future. Why not proclaim a moratorium on hate, a statue of limitation on “old” offenses, old ideologies, that should not—and do not—any longer have relevance?



Is there a statute of limitation on hate? For a believer there is both the “law of the Spirit” and the “law of Christ.”  We need to expand our understand of scripture and apply these verses to embrace a few more neighbors and family members.

because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you [and me] free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2.

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How Healthy is Our Economy

On October 16 the evening news for the three major networks in the Boston area gave zero minutes to the economic recovery that is underway in America, although there has been a clear update of good—great—news from the market as well as other financial indicators. If its good news and there is a hint that President Trump might be credited, the media is silent?

The president has made his campaign slogan clear to all:  a nationalism which cries, America First. But is that bad?

I would encourage my reader to read more books, study a little economics, and listen to less “news.”  I would encourage all of us to roll back time to when the only news was one hour around dinner time which we heard on our radios.  24/7 reporting is oxymoronic, if you think about it.  Most of what is said is editorial blather designed only to get “clicks” on web sites or higher ratings for networks.  It appeals to a base of listeners that accept such bloviating as gospel in their innocent ignorance. (This is true on both sides of the political coin.) …I hope I didn’t just say something terrible about the woman I love who has the news on ..  a lot….  She is smart and able to sift through the morass and find something worth hearing which she will share with me on request.

Studying both sides of an issue with an open mind encourages sanity. Here is My Review —so far. I am reading two economists: one is a conservative and one is a liberal.

How Healthy is Our Economy?

 

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The Lottery

The lottery is still out there—no winners (as of this printing).  654 million dollars with odds of wining estimated to be 1 in 302 million (according to local news).  I would like to win this to pay off my mortgage and those of our sons and provide them and the Mrs. with all they would need for life.  The extra could go into my dream foundation to support those qualified [?] who are in serious need of funds due to medical emergencies, etc.)

But for a believer, isn’t this God’s job?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

And if I trust Him in these matters, what could be my reason for wanting a half billion (with a ‘b’) dollars!?  What would be my rationalized justification for wanting gobs of dough?  What is it about the human heart that anyone should desire more than they would ever need!? And how might I square all this with the writer’s instruction to “be content“?



The New Testament represents this idea with two different words—one, of which, is found here:  “love of money.”  The other is translated “greed” or “covetousness” [I Thessalonians 2:5].

…seek[ing] rather to grasp what one has not; the second [word, then], to retain, and, by accumulating, to multiply that which one already has – Trench

Or said another way: Wanting more, having more, wanting more, having more, wanting more… (You get the point. [Luke 12:18])  It makes sense for Jesus to warn us about “serving mammon instead of God.” [Matthew 6:24] and instruct us to seek (in our hearts and minds) our happiness in the provision and promises which are part of His kingdom by a willingness to live within whatever means God provides for us here and now. [Matthew 5:3; I Timothy 6:8]

None of this means we should not seek to better our lives but there is a line we should not cross and, contrary to our desires, we do know in our conscience where that line is.



Exactly where in the Torah, the Old Testament, did God promise this? (Oh BTW, the Hebrew word for ‘promise’ is not in the Old Testament in reference to God.  It was sufficient to remind us that this is something God said and He cannot lie [Numbers 23:19].)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

Was not Moses referencing a national security matter while His people were surrounded by enemies …and NOT an economic one? The writer to the Hebrews seemed to misplace the context of the promised presence of God.  Or can we safely conclude that God’s guaranteed security is not just His protection from physical harm but also from the effects of financial disaster. Remember the prayer Jesus encouraged us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.…” [Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3]. A half billion dollars sounds like a life-time supply when God asked us to think “daily.”

Brother Spurgeon took God’s promise in an even more general sense:

Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death, will not the corruptions within and the temptations without, will not the trials from above and the temptations from beneath all seem but light afflictions when we can hide ourselves behind the bulwark of “He hath said?” – Charles Spurgeon

 



What drives our interest in such outlandish sums of money? (Most people could never manage such an astronomical amount. It’s like giving the keys to the car to a five years old and then keeping your fingers crossed. I don’t want to be in that car!)

I have been reading about the history of the global economy and what might appear to be its ultimate reasons for its collapse. (It is prophesied: Revelation 18:11)  …and greed is a major driving force. Greed is—not for nothing—designated as one of the seven deadly sins.

I haven’t bought a ticket, and now you know why.  My envy, though, over the winner will be another matter for another day….

Lord, help me!!

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’ Matthew 6:13 NIV

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

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I Have Left Facebook

I have left Facebook which in recent days has meant increased stress as well as a degree of tension with persons I love.  Social media, to retain its innocent interests, should continue to display the meaningful and delightful movements of each day and not political explanations or strong negative feelings—as it has become.  

Taking a step back into the past, pre-facebook times, for me is a wise choice.  I can be reached by email (and snail mail for those who have the address),  or I can be text’d (if you have that number). Only serious friendships will use these media.

So much political opinion floats about on social media, none of which concerns me but character assassination (and those whose think this is not happening on the national scene are by this mindset in favor of it)—character assassination—is  something I positively disassociate from on all levels: political, social, and domestic.  I am outspoken against it.  I am best off Facebook. (I do not use my Twitter account.  It serves the Mrs.)

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I Will Be With You

My mother once told me she was holding onto a verse in the Psalms [Ps. 138:8]. She believed God gave her this verse concerning her two sons, my brother and I. She was convinced we would both become ministers of God’s Word, working together.

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me… Ps 138:8 NKJV 

This became somewhat true.  In the course of time my brother would obtain a Masters in catholic theology and enjoy ministry teaching God’s people the Word of God (perhaps, I should add: from a catholic perspective). I was a protestant pastor for almost 25 years before I changed “careers.” 


Is this realistic to believe in one’s heart that God speaks to a particular situation in a particular verse of scripture? Some claim it is not: 

  1. Not only since the Bible warns that “No prophecy is of private interpretation” [2 Peter 1:20] which some interpret to apply to all scripture. but 
  2. because the very thought of giving the average christian, without pastoral guidance, license to “read into” a verse what might not be there makes God complicit in spreading false hopes while 
  3. A wrong interpretation invariably devalues the spoken Word.

Our pastor, some years ago, wrote in his autobiography, “God’s Plan & Purpose for your Life,” that while pastoring his first church in Vermont, his wife came down with Bright’s disease but it wasn’t diagnosed until the condition was so far advanced doctor’s thought there was little they could do for her. She was dying. After the family discussed moving her to a diagnostic center in Boston, He went before the Lord in prayer asking for wisdom when God shared Psalms 46 verse 5 with him in the translation of the time [King James Version]. 

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 

Two days later she was well enough to be discharged from the hospital—in Vermont. She was not moved. 


John Calvin called the Psalms: “The anatomy … of the soul.”

Many of “The Psalms,” Walter Brueggmann argued are

“not unlike ‘Negro spirituals’ that have no author or identifiable place or origin, but simply arise in the life and practice of the community and are found to be recurringly adequate to many different usages overtime. [Brueggmann, 313]

If this is so, how about the rest of the Scripture?  Is there a hermeneutic, a science of interpretation, that allows for the individual believer to find uncommon hope in its message?  I want to believe so. What about Isaiah 43:2:

“I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.  [Christian Standard Bible]

And to whom does God promise such protection? Does not this apply also to us, as believers!!

  • Verse 1: I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
  • Verse 4a: Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and 
  • Verse 4b: because I love you, 

Some might say verse 3 is particular to Israel: “I give Egypt for your ransom.” I argue that this is simply the validation of the real emphasis of this verse [3a] “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  He is our Savior, too.  Is He not!


The Word of God should not be viewed as a static history of what God did but as a dynamic revelation of what God does. 

To get to the actual heart of the matter, one must know the heart of God!  One’s interpretation must somehow through a life of prayerful meditation be able to grasp the true meaning discernible in the stories, the testimonies, and the recollections of the saints of old.

Since my latest experience with cancer, I have become more aware of the pain of others who face the same disease. I believe that for all believers facing this dreaded enemy of the body that Isaiah 43:1-3 is ours for the asking (prayer). 

If God were to give me a pulpit for one hour, I would  prayerfully desire to provide faith-strengthening hope to any within the sound of my words. As a child of God we have  every right to claim this truth in our most trying and painful circumstances.


 

But we must see clearly the fulcrum point of all this in verse 2.  It has been translated “I will be with you” but perhaps the original is tighter than that.  

אִתְּךָ־אָ֔נִי

 

In the Hebrew this is 2 words connected by an elevated dash they call a “makkeph [ ־ ].”   Scholarship tells us these words together indicate “companionship”  It is perhaps better to understand that promise in a more intimate way:

When you go through such deep waters, such pain emotionally or physically you doubt you can endure it, the Lord reassures you.

“You and Me, together …we’ll make it!!”

 

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