True Power?

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Taylor at Unsplash

 

Where does true power lay?

What o’er your life has control?

Are you the master of your own destiny –

Whether in part or the whole?

 

Was there power in that promise that was made?

Was strength really caused by the hair?

Was the physical might put on display –

In the thick ringlets you wear?

 

Did the promise made to God –

In Manoah’s wife’s fervent prayer

Mean as much to you –

As a Philistine’s bed to share?

 

You trusted in “your” strength alone

In the wit – in which you thought you showed skill

And yet for all your deceit and lies

Delilah’s was greater still

 

And why did you not seem to see?

Or become in the least paranoid?

Did her constant questions about your power –

Even once make you annoyed?

 

Did your lust and vain pride –

Blind you even before

Your shearing and capture when

The Philistine’s your eyes – out did gore?

 

Where does true power lay?

Does it rest in human might or the sword?

Are you the master of your own destiny –

Or does it come in the end from the Lord?

 

Judges 13 -16

 

Padre

 

August Bible Poem 4

 

 

 

 

Virtuous Character True

Nun, Cosplay, Cross, Vera, Religion

Виктория Бородинова at Pixabay

Where shall we find forgiveness

For the lives that we live –

The decisions we make

And the excuses that we give?

 

I trust – with full-heart

That the good Lord “above”

Will overlook my failings

Through Jesus’ blood and love

 

But what of the others

In this “here below?”

Will they be so understanding –

Pardon to me show?

 

It is here that I must

Now earnestly resolve

To live a better life

My behaviour to evolve

 

For if I become a person

Of virtuous character true

I hope that I will never need

Require forgiveness from you

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

(The) Devout of Africa

Wool, Cat'S Cradle, Hand Labor, Crochet, Fluffy

Pixabay

“I had some yarn in Africa”*

 

It is amazing what faith and determination can accomplish.

There are many, when misfortune befalls them, that will bemoan their lot and blame the world.  Others will turn to criminality or immorality to “make ends meet.”

This is not the story of one of those, but of a woman of faith.  Her’s was a faith in her God, herself, and in the principles of enterprise and thrift.

She had found herself in the situation of having to provide for her own needs, and those of her three children.  She had practical talents in arts and crafts, but little monetarily.  What she had – she invested; not in speculative ventures, but in real feet-on-the-ground practicality.  She knit, she crocheted, she fabricated slippers.  She above all believed in her principles.

She secured for herself a market place.  While only a stall on the pavement – it produced.  It produced income.  It produced an outlet for her creativity.  It produced an enduring example of what true character can achieve.

Through it all, her devotion remained strong.   Through her servant nature, her children were not only provided for, but believed themselves secure.  And secure they were in her love.

She had some yarn in Africa, but she wove more than mere crochet.

 

Padre

 

*With apologies to Meryl Streep

Beyond Shadows

Trees Sunrise, Shadow, Nature, Landscape, Mood, Forest

Pixabay

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln

 

Am I what you think of me?

Just my Facebook image carefully constructed?

Shadows and silhouettes

Of profile-building I’ve conducted?

 

Or is by the deeds I do?

Even those not seen my men?

Of my word kept, and friends helped

And such things as them?

 

Let us not mere shadows be

But true humans – even with our flaws

And as we strive to better be

Let doing right be our true cause

 

Padre

Step Up: A Mirror Cinquain

Red Deer, Capital, Antler, Handsome, Graze

Pixabay

Step up
Stand ever firm
Be ready for the fray 
Courageous for the cause you hold
Never
Never
Flee or from battle runaway
Find your own strength within
Lesser deeds now
Eschew

Padre

 

Colleen’s 2020 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 183, #ThemePrompt

This month’s theme is:

“…In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife…”

Mission Impeccable

 

Yesterday, I attended a Zoom meeting where we discussed and voted on issues involving the decolonialising of the educational curriculum.  While such discussions, I hope, will lead us forward in a truly open and equal society, there is a far more important matter that often eludes the Christian church: our approach to missions.

“Go into all the word and make disciples.”  Sounds straight forward enough.  But are we sure what that mission entails?

My first degree focused heavily on Christian missions.  One key principle of that study was for us as aspiring ministers of the Word, was to never confuse evangelism and colonialism.  In one of these missiology courses the professor (a time term missionary) warned us about this.  He presented some interesting cautionary tales. One of these is now anecdotal for the purposes of this post (as I no longer have the reference notes from the class).  It seems that some of the early missionaries to one of the South Seas islands, found that the indigenous women went topless. Because of European morality, the converts were taught to cover up and started to do so. This set the church back decades. In that culture, prostitutes wore little vests as a mark of their trade. The result was that the Christian women were shunned by the tribe. Short analysis – white male missionaries lusted after the bare breasts, so to avoid their own discomfort and sin, they limited the functioning of the Holy Spirit by imposing their own morality.  Again, I cannot reference the case, but I find it very believable.

Similarly, in our cultural appropriation, many White Pentecostals don’t see the African expression of spirituality in their mode of worship. “Why it’s just the outpouring of the Spirit,” they might say.  However, much of the European ecclesiastical past relied far more on “smells and bells,” than on ecstatic releases of emotion (I am not saying it never happened, however, before you object).  We are in the modern church an amalgamation of merging traditions.  Whether it is Greek intellectualism, Hebrew ritualism, or Native American and African passionate spiritualism, we are the inheritors of rich heritages.  We all bring so much to the worship of God.  It is in a way a corporate and cultural expression of the all one body scripture (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

So as we go into all the world, let us share the good News of the Gospel, and not our dress codes, seating arrangements, non-biblically sanctioned rituals, or even our expectations of the outward appearance of being Spirit filled (after all God gives different gifts to different individuals as He sees fit).  Reaching the world, even in 2020 is not a “mission impossible,” as long as we stick to scripture and conduct ourselves in a “mission impeccable.”

 

Padre

 

Thank you to my dear sister, Joe Elayne for inspiring this post and beginning the conversation.

Decisions

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image: freepik

Each day we have choices to face –

Yet, oft we just do what we haft –

But we need to remember

That decisions are more than math

Zero gain balances may sound good

But that ignores what’s wrong or right

It’s not a utilitarian game

Where individuals can be given a slight

What is good or bad is not opinion

What is truth is always true

Ponder this next choice you make

Giving integrity its due

 

Padre

 

 

Standing for God

Image result for daniel lions den

image: Wiki

Brother Adrian Semerene from Cambridge brought us our message this week.  He challenged us to examine the situations we have been called to and to face them with a mind for making a stand for God.  He drew his message initially from Daniel chapter 1.  He began by reading the entire twenty-one verse passage, as it showed a wonderful overview of his theme.  In it we find Daniel and his three companions brought to Babylon as captives or slaves.  They are renamed, and educated in the literature and ways of the Chaldeans. 

Fair enough, they were forced to be in a certain place, and to accept things unfamiliar to Jews, but when it came to issues that mattered, like eating food forbidden in the Law of Moses, they chose to risk punishment rather than conform.   They made a stand for God.

The chief eunuch was concerned by this.  He wanted to uphold his king’s demands, and Daniel found a way.  He asked that they be given only vegetables for ten days, and then to assess whether the diet was harmful.  The result:  Daniel and his friends were found to actually be healthier than those who ate “from the king’s table.”  The experiment complete, they continued on with their “kosher” diet and in the end were found to be blessed by God, and exceeded the accomplishments of all of their contemporaries.  They stood for God, and he in turn stood for them.

This didn’t mean they had life easy, however.  Further stands for God by the four led to three being cast into a burning furnace, and Daniel himself into a lions’ den.  Again, they made a stand, and God preserved them.

Making a stand for God, involves an active decision to follow His commands.  When Jesus was asked about these commandments in Matthew’s account of the Good News, He said the matter was straight forward.   To love the Lord your God with all of your soul, heart, mind, and strength.

Brother Adrian noted that this all inclusive list applies to all of God’s people.  It is also not a pick and mix, but an expectation for all to follow all.  Some might find serving God with all their mind a blessing.  They might love to study the Word, etc.  But to others that might be an arduous task.  For others it might be opening yourself up emotionally (the heart) that provides either the blessing or the trial.

We need to be prepared to surrender whatever it takes, not just embrace the bits we like.  Daniel may or may not have been a contented Vegan, but he surrendered to God.

But for those of us who are wonderfully God-centred misanthropes, Jesus challenged us as well.  He said the second command spins off of the first.  “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Not just the neighbours who love you.  Not just the agreeable ones.  But to love all of the children of God.  Now there is a stand to take.

Are you prepared to stand for God today?

Padre

 

 

Who Knows The Hour?

Capture

Jesus told a parable of a rich man who had an abundant crop, and seeing that it provided so much promise, tore down his old barns and had bigger ones built (Luke 12:16-21).  The rich man was looking forward to putting Solomon’s maxim from Ecclesiastes 8:15 into practice.  He was going to “to eat and drink and be glad.”  What the man failed to remember was his own mortality, and as Robert Burns so aptly put it, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley (or more simply plans go awry).  Jesus states this clearly when He relates – “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’(vs 20).”

Almost exactly a year before her passing, my wife Dianne, posted the following reflection on her blog:

The last few days i have written about some of the problems of my situation, but i have discovered there are some unexpected blessings too.

Having a time limit makes my relationship with God more real. I cant afford to be lax with my conscience, put things off, bury my anger etc. I have an approaching appointment with my Lord when accounts will be closed and i have to stand before him and answer for my achievements, my mistakes, my decisions and the level of sin in my life. I cannot afford to harbour resentments, or allow myself to ignore any sin or hurt.

This is a good thing, it keeps me close to God, constantly on guard of my tongue and my actions. Really where we all should be daily.

Perhaps we could all benefit from remembering that none of us know when we could be keeping that appointment, and live as if it is fast approaching, keeping ourselves close.

Ecc 9:12 moreover no one knows when their hour will come.

 

What a great reminder to each of us to be diligent in our walk with God and our relationships with our fellows!  Jesus said that the two great commandments were to love God, and love our neighbours.  To do so, isn’t about “us” but “them.”  We need to avoid the eat, drink and be merry attitude and work on those important relationships.  We need to seek integrity in all things, and give thanks and praise daily for what we have been blessed with.

Remember the only “hour” we have to for sure to do this in is NOW.

Padre