Specially Formulated

Medicine, Pills, Nutrient Additives
Pixabay

Specially formulated

Aches to relieve

If the adverts

Your meant to believe

A little of this

A dab of that

Before you know it 

You’ll be back on track

And all this – and even more

You will find waiting for you

At the druggist’s store

But what about relaxing – taking your time?

Might that not be better than

What you can buy online?

 

Padre

 

Nuance and Shades of Hue

Triangle, Background, Abstract, Mosaic

Pixabay

Real life is beyond mere clichés –

Full of subtle nuance and shades of hue:

A general – that a great battle won –

Then debated himself defeated –

For having lost a man or two

 

“I am happy to see you”

But is that smile – an expression true?

Is “What a lovely dinner,”

Costumed code for thoughts inner –

Known but to you

 

A “white lie” or deception grand –

Are these not the one and same thing?

“Being kind” – “Sparing pain”

Noble intents

No matter the consequences – they bring?

 

And if hatred is to be disdained –

For love – is the splendid ideal?

Those things that we oft “Love to hate?”

Should we love them or hate them?

What do these about us reveal?

 

Real life is beyond mere clichés –

Full of subtle nuance and shades of hue:

Is what may be right for me –

Be the correct action for you?

“Live and let live,” is it true?

 

Padre

Removing the Filters

As Jesus rode into the city, people rushed to find out what the commotion was about. ‘Who is this?’ they asked. – Slide 18

Free Bible Images

In Genesis 1 we are told that we are made in the image of God.  This is not a physical manifestation, but one of nature.  We like Him are creative, we have a moral aspect, we are to oversee the Earth.  “Male and female,” were this made God-like.

We can see as well in Genesis 3:8, that Adam and Eve walked in companionship and relationship with God.

Yet Eve was tempted.  The serpent challenged her to eat from the tree, and she at first objected.   She noted that it was forbidden.

But, Genesis 3: 6 tells us, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Satan tempted her with the idea that if she ate from the tree she would be more God-like – gaining wisdom.  Eve failed to see she was already in God’s image.  She was already in relationship.  She looked at the situation with several filters.  The practical filter the need for  food, the aesthetic filter of its beauty, but most of all it would “improve” her.

What she actually got was a relationship that was broken.  Sin and corruption entered the world.

But God is a compassionate God,  He opened up a path of return.

Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus is above the angels, and His people are to be served by them as well:  “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (vs 14).

Hebrews 2 goes on to say, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet (vs 2: 6-8).”

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them (us).  And why?

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8: 29).   We are once again in relationship, but even more so, we are again in the image of God.

But even with all this on offer, so many of us (like Eve) start putting filters or blinders before us.  Lets look at what happened in Mark 11.  On Sunday:

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it,  some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.  When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve (vs. 4-11).

From a earthly point of view “Nothing happened.” Many people, the Zeolots in particular were disappointed.  They wanted an earthly king, someone to save them from the Romans.  But Jesus just departs.  They didn’t get what they wanted.  How many fell away, because they had a filter of political power on their agenda?

On Monday, Jesus returns,

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city (vs 15 -19).

Jesus is acting in a righteous manner.  He is seeking to assure the purity of the outer court.  But rather than see their own error, they become angry.  Their own filter of self interest and profit leads Priests, Levites, and merchants fall away.

On Tuesday,

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him.  “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.  John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”  Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things (vs 27 – 33).” 

The Temple authorities and High Priest challenge Him.  They seem to be more interested on “whose turf” it is, than on the Words of God being spoken.  This is an interesting follow up to what happened on one of Jesus’ previous visits in John 7.  Here again the leaders want to silence Him.  They send the guards to arrest Him.  But,

Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied (vs. 45 – 46).

The authorities use the filter of privilege, and power.  They thus miss the truth.

Later that day or on Wednesday (the scripture is unclear), there are further confrontations.  The first is about paying the Imperial tax to Caesar.  The Pharisees and Herodians attempt to apply the filter of legalism to silence Jesus.  They fail miserably, and are made to look foolish.

So far Zealots, Merchants, Levites, Priests, Pharisees, and Herodians have cut themselves off from Christ.  Their filtered views of God and righteousness have failed them.

This is next mirrored by the Sadducees.  The use their theological dogmatism as a filter.  They challenge Jesus on the nature of heaven and of an afterlife.  The result of their narrow theological view alienates them from the truth as well.

Sadly even on Thursday Judas, driven by the filter of greed betrays Jesus.  Thirty pieces of silver are more meaningful than his relationship with God, or his own conforming to the image of Christ.

Even sadder is Friday morning.  Peter, his relationship filtered by fear denies he even knows Jesus.

If we look closely we can see that when Jesus spoke uncomfortable truths, people fell away.  The crowds that had praised Him Sunday by Friday were only a handful.  Even most of the Twelve were absent from the cross.

It is a bit like the Parable of Sower.  The Word of God fell on hard, stony. or weedy ground.  Those filters prevented the seed to grow, for true conformity to the image of Christ to manifest itself.  And in so doing relationship was lost.

So what are our personal uncomfortable truths? Is our prayer life what it should be? Is our service dedicated? Do we fall into the wealth and fame trap? Are we conformed to keeping up with  Kardashians rather than being conformed to the image of Christ?

Where are our filters?  Shouldn’t seek the fresh air of the Gospel over any type of filtered air?

Padre

Based on my sermon of 1 Sept 19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Whose Image?

Michelangelo - Creation of Adam (cropped).jpg

Michelangelo – Public Domain

Genesis begins with a simple phrase in English: “In the beginning God  . . . .”  How often do we ponder this starting point?  In the biblical narrative it continues on to explain the sequence of creation.  Before all of it, however, God existed.  “At the creation, God created . . .” is one rendering of the Hebrew.  He was pre-existent.

As the Creator, He is the cosmological cause of each of us.  He has made us, not we ourselves.  Most theists (and people of faith more generally) will except this as a obvious truth.  Our physical forms are “inherited” from the long sequence of reproduction which begun with “In the beginning.”

We are not so forthcoming in our “making of ourselves” in spiritual, and social terms.  Think about the term: “self-made man/woman.”  The achievements and accomplishments are attributed to the hard work and talents of the individual, not to some divine plan.  We set our minds on a course, and off we go.  Or do we?

 

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27).”    Even is the rule and mastery humanity has shown over the creation, it was tasked to them by god.  It was a destiny set by God, not one of our creation.  So why should it be any less so in our individual lives?

Our purposes have a starting point: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29). We are to be conformed to Jesus’ image.  Put simply to be Christ-like.   Yet Jesus was not one to do His own thing – to fly after any or every fancy.  Nor was he dictated by ego.  John 5:30 says in part, records Jesus’ words, “for I seek not my will, but the will of him that sent me.”  Again at Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Father, all things are possible to thee, take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done (Mark 14:36).”  

If we are truly conformed to God’s will – if we are Christ-like, we should be seeking what is good for His purposes, not what strokes our egos.  Let us test our motives.  Are we striving to be in God’s image, or are we trying to force His purposes into our wills.  Are we like some Medieval artist making God in the image of man, not man in the image of God?

 

Padre

Detrimental

images (5)

image: Telegraph co.uk

Detrimental

 

New routes home –

Going abroad alone –

And practice of talking to strangers

They tell us are things detrimental

 

Juicy red meat –

Fried foods that we eat –

And the amount we drink

Too are things – detrimental

 

But to see only the same street –

Never a new person to meet –

Bland diets with no treats –

Is this to real life, not detrimental?

 

Padre

 

Thank you Fandango for the excellent prompt: Detrimental

 

Quiet Yard

 

Sharon's photo.jpg

                                                       Quiet Yard

 

Open to all – day by day.

Quiet yard, hedged in ewe,

An invitation is always there,

But its visitors, are but a few.

. . .

Cool stones there await the feel,

The warmth of breath upon their faces.

But seldom are they so tempered;

As people rush to other places.

. . .

But alas the day, will surely come,

when all – these gates shall pass.

But warm breath shall not be shared,

having already having loosed the last.

 

Padre

———————————————————-

I challenge you prompt

Life’s Twisting Path

Image result for tunnel

Life’s Twisting Path

The Road of Life is twisting –

Its ways not easy to discern.

Its winding paths oft deceive us –

As to familiar crossroads, we again return.

 

The passage is often littered,

The detritus of our past mistakes,

Like some catacomb of old,

Blocked by choices, we didn’t make.

 

 

But each day brings a new dawning,

The blockage we can rise to shift,

A travellers’ cloak we’re donning,

Fresh starts, our journey’s gift.

 

Padre

——————————-

 

 

Today’s Prompt:

The passage was blocked by decades of dirt and debris.

 

Write Now Prompt

A Conflict of Principle(s)?

imageedit_7_3537981532 (1)

Life is full of contradictions. Grey areas are ever present.

“The motion before you is not in principle one to limit access to a voice or platform to anyone.  We fully support the freedom of individuals or organisations to express their consciences and beliefs.  However, if we are to share a platform with individuals which stand in opposition to our own beliefs and principles, let us make it in a forum of structured debate, where we can make our views of opposition clear. All too often people take the view that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  This is not always the case.  While there may be many with whom we share certain views and principles, it does not follow that all of their views may be held by us.  If such varied views are of a neutral nature, then we need not address them.  But, when someone with whom we share a platform with, hold views which we hold to be incorrect, or even abhorrent, we should make it clear, that our presence on the same stage does not suggest we agree with such view.  It may at time require that we refuse to share the platform, and at the minimum due diligence to make sure that our disagreements, are clear. Due diligence also means we should make an effort to know and understand the views of those we stand beside. Colleagues, there may be those here who have reservations about the motion.  We welcome the debate which will follow. But, I am proud to be a member of a union which has laboured and struggled for toleration. I am proud that we are tolerant of difference.  But I am equally proud that in our history, we have shown one intolerance.  We are intolerant of intolerance.  I ask that you support the motion.”

The above is a seconding speech I gave at a trade union conference. It addresses an old problem of alliances, but also of hierarchies of principle.  We make value judgments every day. We prioritise these, and (ideally) follow the paths which promote our “higher” values.

Conformity and pragmatism are ever threats to the above. We (like many politicians) do some “horse trading.” We make alliances but in doing so have to “give” as well as “take.” We justify one action that we might normally eschew in the name of “a greater good,” or as a “necessary compromise.”

The photo for this post is an example. It is of me at an American Civil War reenactment event.  The persona of the “character” is true to the 21st Century me. I am a Southern man. Born in North Carolina, and raised in Maryland by a Kentucky-born father.  I was college educated in Tennessee. I am a Southern man.  But, I am nevertheless a Union man (in this case the Federal Union of the United States).

Add to this I am a Christian and a minister, thus the uniform of a chaplain.

The question I must ponder is, would this have been true in 1861? As a North Carolina born, Maryland reared, Tennessee educated man, would I have “gone North?” I really don’t know. It is the issue of my Christianity which I hope would be the constant in my decision. My belief in the equality of man, and the authority of secular powers, I think would have still led me to the Union cause.

This (if you have noticed there is only one veiled reference to equality) is not thus far a reference to slavery. Again, my Christian, socially liberal, and altruistic 21st Century self hopes and pleads internally that I would have been anti-slavery. My theological position in this modern age clearly states I would. But what of those other influences, including a Tennessee based theological education? Would my understanding be skewed by teaching I might have received in the 1840s or 50s?  I again hope, that a thoughtful reading of God’s word, would overcome the external influences on my mindset.

Now, I have set the stage.  Are we really any different in 2018? Do we diligently explore the scriptures for our answers? No matter where we may be in the political (and social) divide there are some things God makes clear: Black lives do matter, Me Too should mean that I too am respected, cared for, and never harassed or abused.

I may not have total confidence of the pathway my 19th Century self might have followed, but my Christian-self thinks I would do the right thing. As for my 21st Century self, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).”

Padre

The Choice is Ours

good-choice-bad-choice.jpg

Choices: photo credit – http://jenekapela.com

Sister Joe brought an incredibly powerful word this week. Her focus was on the choices we make as free moral agents, and how these affect our lives and our relationship with God.  She began her message with Daniel 3: 16-17,

 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.”

Here we have three young Hebrew men, who have been taken from Israel and given positions within the Babylonian Empire.  They are housed, fed, and even renamed by the king, but they go along with it. To a point.

They are then faced with a challenge. The king has made a decree that all must bow to a golden image. They choose to say no.

This idea of human choice, often called free moral agency was in two gardens: Eden and Gethsemane. In the first case, God’s simple command to avoid a single fruit was ignored by choice, leading to the fall of human kind. In the second, Jesus faced the decision as to whether to follow God’s plan and face His own death, or to refuse.  In the end, he chose to obey, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42).”

This example of Jesus as a choice maker is consistent throughout the New Testament. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He three times had to decide between His physical needs, His ego needs, and His ultimate mission, and God’s plan for the same.  In each case He responded with scripture, and yielded to the Father’s plan. The choice, however, was always His own.

This brings us back to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They too had to make a choice of ultimate destiny. They could obey the edict of the king, or follow the first two commandments. Look closely at their words. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (verses 17-18).”

They would not comply, and they trusted in God to deliver.  And even if not delivered physically, they could rest assured in God’s promise to keep His promise of the covenant, so they were going to keep their side.

The three were indeed punished by the king. But in furnace, they were preserved.  They had chosen obedience to God.  It would have been easy to make a token gesture to appease the king, but they chose integrity! Much as Polycarp would centuries later.

How then do we choose? Sister Joe gave four really great tips on this!

Choose Companions that will encourage and support you in keeping to a positive path. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).” If we are to choose wisely, let us surround ourselves with those who do likewise.  The inverse of this is also true, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character (I Corinthians 15:33).” Be an example of integrity and yo will strengthen others. Resist and avid that which corrupts. These are choices. 

Choose Your Battles wisely. Don’t wear yourself out on things that don’t matter. The three Hebrew youths of Daniel 3 accepted exile from Israel, new names, positions, and more.  But only when it came to things that would truly corrupt their relationship with God, did they make a stand.  Let that be a standard we can hold onto.  Does it glorify God?  Does is help or hurt our relationship? These are the battles to choose.

Choose to PrayRather simple, but profound. We need to choose relationship with the central power in the universe.  You cannot have relationship without communication.  We need to choose to keep this avenue open.

Choose Eternity. Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego chose to follow God’s plan, even at the risk of this life. They saw God’s promise as sufficient. In fact, the El Shaddai, all sufficient God was enough.  How about for us?  Do we cling to the here and now, or for a better hope?

The choices are ours, but in the end, neither Sister Joe, nor I cannot make your decisions. You are a free moral agent.  The choices are yours to make.  How will you choose?

Padre

Thank you Sister Joe for such an amazing message.  It was truly inspiring, and powerful.