Mid-month musings

Mid-month approaches in February. The sun is shining but things are not as they ought to be…that thought that we subdue with forgetfulness, tame with entertainment and a minimum of two glasses of merlot.

 

Things are not as they ought to be and how to bridge the chasm between what they ought to be, but are right now? There is no earthly way because philosophy has tried to answer the existential dilemmas and failed. I instantly think of the name Kierkegaard, one depressed existentialist from the otherwise content peoples of Scandinavia.

 

Musings from time past, when the questions were first asked. And they will be again because we cannot help bust ask questions because we know that there is an Answer, and He does not always divulge the deep stuff, the answers to which we are not privy, probably because we are not intelligent or wise enough to understand.

 

Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time in a corporate environment…the thought occurred to me sometime last week: What if I’m supposed to be on mission? What if my first, best destiny is some kind of ministry, apart from office politics and monthly salaries?

 

I thought about it because the sermon that previous Sunday at church was about the Gospel, and the fact that it must be preached. Can I preach the gospel where I am? How can I keep from failing in that responsibility?

 

I’ve been reading up on the history of Hacksaw Ridge, the subject of Mel Gibson’s latest work. How do I stack up against Desmond Doss, the conscientious objector medic who was prepared to face court martial and the stockade for doing what he knew to be right? Where would I find my courage faced by a determined Imperial Japanese enemy who fought to win at all costs?

 

I’ve seen the things that God allows to happen. He allows heart-breaking, breath-taking calamities, the left-jabs of life, and the knock-out blows from the right arm of death.

 

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22; NIV)

 

Why does God not intervene visually and spectacularly for us? Why is it most often seen in retrospect? And isn’t it a mystery that He prays for us?

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8: 35 – 37)

 

I can only conclude that somehow, it fulfils His purpose. Somehow, He wants us to fight the good fight of faith, which may involve us finding belief in the midst of evidence to the contrary.

 

On this Friday morning, with all these thoughts and more I prayed to be able to see Him in the day and for Him to be a practical help for those in need. If God knows anything, He knows what we need in the most practical sense. A colleague gave me bread (egte plaasbrood), and other gave me jam and butter and if that isn’t practical evidence, then I don’t know what is. Completely unexpected, and welcomed and yet not every rumbly tummy is met with unexpected bread. Perhaps that what fighting the good fight of faith means.

 

Listening to CCFM this morning, Rob Parsons was delivering a lecture/homily and all I can remember from that now, four and a half hours later, is that God loves me, even if I didn’t have a quiet time this morning, or even though I may have been spiteful or ignorant or partisan or lacking daily faith in the last fortnight.

 

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 

(Habakkuk 3; NIV)

Clueless debate class

At home we have well in excess of 200 DVD titles and my speciality is choosing a movie for the night as the evening is winding down to sleep. And in this week, I chose ‘Clueless’, a charming-despite-itself 1995 offering from Paramount pictures, loosely based on the Jane Austen novel ‘Emma’.

As if!

It proved to be incredibly topical when a scene played out and I heard the phrase ‘refugee’. In Mr Hall’s class, he poses the question: “Should all oppressed people be allowed refuge in America?”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF8ULuzcnUc

 

What follows is a ‘debate’ (if it can be called that) between the protagonist, Cher Horowitz and an equally ditzy character named Amber.

 

Cher’s argument in abbreviated format is:

 

  • Look at the Haitians who want to come to America.
  • Cher arranged a garden party with RSVP because it was sit-down dinner.
  • Some people showed up who hadn’t RSVPd.
  • Cher had to hastily arrange extra plates and food, but at the end of the day it was ‘the more the merrier’.
  • If the government can just get to the kitchen and re-arrange something ‘we can certainly party with the Haitians’.
  • ‘It does not say RSVP on the statue of liberty’.

 

Mr Hall does not give her a pass mark for the debate assignment.

 

The issue of refugees and immigrants is not merely pertinent to America but to all nations that serve as a destination for those escaping from unpleasant countries of origin.

 

Whereas the Lord reminds the Children of Israel that they too were once foreigners in another land (Exodus 22:21):

 

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

 

The commands of the law were still applicable for those who wanted to be like the Children of Israel as they related to their God (Exodus 12:48):

 

“A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.

 

It would seem perfectly reasonable to ask that the people let into a country abide by the norms and rules that define that country. After all, if the uninvited guests at Cher’s garden party ignored social custom, even clueless Cher would have asked them to leave.

The rain of Isaiah

In the quite of a Saturday morning – which is a rare occurrence – I opened up the Bible program on the laptop and consumed spiritual resources.

 

As is my custom when waking, I check Twitter while enjoying a coffee, and on this Saturday morning I did indeed enjoy the same, and when I had finished that I opened the kitchen door and checked the sky – the weather report ha suggested that rain might be on the way, and we need rain very badly here in the Western Cape.

 

No wind, but a stillness as if the birds and creepy crawlies were quiet before the theatre of rain, and curtain rising on the performance of precipitation.

 

Except that it wasn’t raining. I could tell that they sky wanted to, but I wasn’t sure that it would. And then in the quite I consulted scripture and inclined myself towards the Heavenly Father. And not being sure where to consult, and not entirely at random, because I love the book of Isaiah, I found myself in the 55th chapter:

 

 

1           “Is anyone thirsty?

Come and drink—

even if you have no money!

Come, take your choice of wine or milk—

it’s all free!

2           Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?

Why pay for food that does you no good?

Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.

You will enjoy the finest food…

 

…10     “The rain and snow come down from the heavens

and stay on the ground to water the earth.

They cause the grain to grow,

producing seed for the farmer

and bread for the hungry.

11         It is the same with my word.

I send it out, and it always produces fruit.

It will accomplish all I want it to,

and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

 

We need rain and without it we could not live. But it occurred to me afresh that rain or snow or precipitation of any kind is a metaphor for God’s word that brings life. Without which our countries might look like the dark side of the moon, bereft of movement or life.

 

Many people in the world deny obvious phenomena, like atheists who deny that a person needs God to live morally. Without God there are no morals. And yet there are people who still go there. But that same atheist would not be able to deny that precipitation has an effect, especially if he or she has a jasmine in a pot or a patch of grass. Apart from the effect of a sprinkler system, the effect of water on plant matter cannot be denied.

 

It is the same with the Word. We need rain, and we pray for it, but we also need scripture because without it there is no life.

Always look on the bright side?

The following is a candid photo of me sitting down to witness history, watching the inauguration of Donald J. Trump:

Watching the inauguration

In the way of pictures that illuminate something best without saying anything else (being worth 1,000 words on a page), I was quietly content. And in thinking about it, I cannot remember what I was doing when either inauguration of Obama was going on (2009 or 2013). I simply wasn’t that interested because I had extreme reservations about Obama from purely a political point of view, and my reservations were confirmed through the course of his administration.

 

And yet, there are people in the U.S. – and indeed around the world – that are not content to let others enjoy the national theatre of an inauguration without partaking themselves. Nope, they have to spoil the party.

 

And I get that not everybody’s pleased with Trump, but the over-reaction from many liberals has gone beyond what most would consider unhinged…

 

…setting a Trump supporter’s hair alight…

 

…sucker punching people in the street giving an interview…

 

…Madonna preaching about love at a woman’s march and then simultaneously expressing a desire to see the White House blown up…

 

…a SNL writer tweeting that Trump’s son will turn out to be the first home-schooled shooter…

 

Now, there are many things I don’t get, like an appreciation for Liverpool or Manchester United, wrestling or rap music, the Canterbury Crusaders or broccoli, but it’s downright rude to spoil someone else’s enjoyment of a thing. So, while I hope that the offended will bring it down a notch and get on with life, I’m also not sure they will.