Poetry 020: Bathsheba

I have made a covenant with my eyes

Job

 

A few lines musing on the root of lust. 

It’s strange that I would wish I hadn’t
raised my head from the soft pillow.
For maybe I this madness wouldn’t
have ingested from the window.
In slumber I’d my thoughts so ardent
Kept concealed and winnowed.

And so I’ve lived in persistent fear
of that day when the Lord would come,
for the cool – once an oasis near –
now burns my parched tongue.
And his words – once songs to my ear –
the noose from which life hung.

If love lived in a hunger unquenched,
and lust was a drowning thirst,
Then merry many sweet fruits untouched
would have kept us with the first.
And the words he placed to stay the tears,
would have worked to stay the hearse

© Denis Adide 2011

Once he saw her, he was lost. Two people lost their lives, two had their lives changed and three relationships were broken. Bathsheba, like eve, is not to blame.

Addiction and Grace

Repression, then, in spite of its sinister reputation, is relatively flexible. It is workable. Addiction, the other force that turns us away from love, is much more vicious.

Gerald G. May MD Addiction And Grace

 

As reflected in my posts of late, the idea of being vulnerable and broken has been burning within my mind and heart. I have been contemplating the effects of denying my own brokenness on my relationships and the expectations I have within them. By relationships I also refer to the one I have with myself. The questions regarding how I interact with myself, treat myself, apply also to the way I treat others. This is because the command that I feel my desire leads me to try and follow is that by Jesus to us to try and love our neighbor as we do ourselves.

I have therefore been forced in a way to confront my own desires, both the deep inner good ones as well as the deep inner bad ones; the kinds that lead to my diceitful and selfish choices – choices that I knowingly make and even desire to make. This contradiction is a reflections of my own brokenness and unless I face them and begin that first journey of self acceptance, there would be little success in my attempts to love others or even accept being loved – especially by myself. Odd to think that unless I see myself for what I am, warts and all, I am bound to constant self-deception which weakens rather than strengthens.

In discussion with a close friend about these conflicts within me, the ideas regarding addiction and repression in respect to sin were brought up and he recommended Gerald G. May’s Addiction And Grace which I have just started reading. It is very insightful and one chapter in has opened my heart to thoughts I had denied within myself. The nature of addiction is still far from my understanding. The nature of love, however, is much closer and I think is the driving force on this journey.

Lets see where it leads.

Happy New Year to you all.

 

The Service

My sister asked me, as we drove to church on Remembrance Sunday, if there was going to be a third world war. I responded by saying that if there was that there definitely wouldn’t be a fourth – misquoting someone. My wife cut an eye at me and reassured my sister that there wouldn’t be a third world war because it was something that no one would benefit from. It seemed a good response for my sister as she stilled; I was troubled by it. If the reason for a cessation of arms is a selfish one rather than a social one then is peace really a reality. I suppose it is one of those things that you have to accept when it comes rather then analyze. What is clear though is that there is a deep lament within humanity for rest.

I wonder what my Sister will say to my children, or my children to hers, about Rememberance Sunday?

Lines written after the service

I could hear the children making noise from the annex
as everyone else stood in the moments of silence.
Inside I chuckled in the realization that for the most part
the future has a way of, at it’s inauguration, forgetting the past

© Denis Adide 2011

Faith: Shame and Glory (a)

Elohi! Elohi! Lamma Sabbach Thani!

Jesus

I’m always harking on about the power of vulnerability and the importance of openness. A thought crossed my mind as I sat to a bowl of leek soup – that’s a story on it’s own. What was taking place on the cross? This in keeping with the idea that God intended not only demonstrate love but also how to love. So… He is crucified. (Phillipians 2) Having already come down from heaven and been condemned by man, Jesus faced death at the hands of the beings He created (John 1). Not only is that a lesson in humility – the bridge between shame and glory, submission and leadership, accountability and Lordship – it seemed to me to be a deep lesson in vulnerability. For God saw fit to show his biggest strength and ultimate power by being victorious over our biggest enemy (sin and sinfulness), when under great shame (that of dying on a cross) as well as the great pain of separation.

When darkness fell, the Son called out to the Father, The Father – for Justice – turned away. Our LORD fell into death and emerged victorious. In crying out, Jesus was honest about His pain, honest about His circumstance, needing the Father – such brokenness, such shame, how glorious. Jesus was honest about His weakness; His need for the Father. Naked of outward Glory, but still shining nonetheless.

My soup went cold for the contemplation led me to praise. I made no noise, sang no songs, and in fact said little. Overwhelmed with the sense of God’s ability and desire to share life ultimately, I rested in the state of overwhelm (I’m still there).

I think heaven will be an eternity of moments like these – Infinite spaces to discover more about the Infinite father, the incarnate Son, and the Intimate Holy Spirit.

 

PS: I haven’t studied theology so correct any mistakes!

Keep God in the heavens

Outward authority is cast off and is replaced by the inward authority of the individual thought or experience. Reason here, emotion there, usurps the place of God… every individual becomes a law unto himself in religious matters. God is dethroned, humanity reigns, and in practice humanity means little more than individual man, the thinking or feeling self.

The New Bible Commentary Revised ed.

I came across this excerpt in the introduction to the commentary quoted and had to halt for a moment. My first instinct was outward and the thought that dominated my mind was that of how it summed up the simplicity – stupidity even – of a lack of faith. Refusing to acknowledge God – Keeping Him in the heavens – was tantamount to outright rebellion and all who indulged in it did so at their own detriment. If only there was a way ‘I’ could convince them otherwise. It was at that thought – the ‘I’ – that caused check from my conscience – Holy Spirit time.

It is a strange commission that we have been given: to go into all the world preaching the good news of Jesus. I’ve always wondered – especially when with my intellectual friends – why God didn’t just reveal Himself to them in power like he did for Paul. Why was it that He left it down to me at times to try and defend his cause? Carrying the frustration of failing to convince – to convert even – after throwing all I knew at the person. To aid my arsenal, I read a plethora of books and took an interest in all manners of religious ideologies as well as philosophy: none of which made a difference. The basic fact was that the inward authority of my individual thought and experience was not enough. It would take an outward one, expressing itself – impressing itself onto the individual – to inaugurate change. In my drive to convince, I had kept God in heaven. Professing my faith in factual terms, as the most rational way, meant that I had entered into the selfsame realm of rebellion. Let me quantify this.

Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent (Alpha and Omega): God is infinite and complex. Where would his complexity and magnitude be if ‘I’ – a human being unable to totally comprehend himself – could present God boxed in a present at the end of a rational pursuit. This is what makes proclaiming the Gospel, especially in this day and age, quite a difficult task. We can easily make it scientific, or philosophical, with proof  and Logic being the only modes of discourse. Have you ever encountered someone who is as sure of his disbelief in God as you are of yours in His existence? There is the frustration that accompanies the urge to with Reason destroy the erroneous edifice within which your compatriot is hiding, ushering him into the light – and delight – of a relationship with God especially if, like the people I know, they are stubborn intellectuals.

Unless, however, there is that total dependance on His Outward authority, the exercise is futile. Part of the message itself is the call to humility: that is the idea of a total surrender – intellectually as well as emotionally – to the Godhead. Our faith begins with bad math, we have to let go of Logic, let go of proof, and surrender before we are able to see the logic. The temptation is to keep God in heaven so we can reign – inaugurating change on the strength of our argument. But as Paul says…

The kingdom of God is not of talk but of Power

1 Corinthians 4:20

Far from giving me a rod to condemn unbelief – whose symptoms I sometimes show – the excerpt challenged me away from loftiness. As an evangelist – which we all are – the most important thing to be able to say is “I don’t know it all”. It is true because we don’t. Relinquishing our inward authority breeds a reliance on God and invites Him down to earth – or rather acknowledges that He is already here. It is an act of faith – assurance of hope in the face of skepticism – exemplified by Jesus in the garden.

Yet I want your will to be done, not mine

Luke 22:42

Think on this

The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity: and whoever is moved by faith to ascent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience

David Hume

More musings to come.

Feel free to comment or query.

Faith: What if you’re wrong?

Question:

Are you ever scared that you have it wrong, that God doesn’t agree with you?

This was a question I came across on twitter. It was tweeted by a Christian Youth Worker on her feed as one of the questions she had to respond to. I spent the first half of the night envying her, dreaming of being there to witness the prelude as well as the ensuing conversation. The second half of the night was spent considering how I would respond: putting in sensible ways the almost irrational notion of faith. How do you convey something so subjective in a way that resonates in the face of doubt.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,”

Hebrews 11:1

For a very long period of my life I believed strongly that faith was on the opposite side of uncertainty. That faith, my faith in particular, was set in absolute objectively verifiable facts which I could call up whenever doubt arose. The older I get however, and the more I study, the further away from the possibility of absolute certainty everything moves. Just as doubt is necessary for the continuity of the sciences, absolute certainty evades most of our experiences – enriching it.

How can one be sure of what is abstract (bound in hope) or certain of what they cannot see (far from proof). By definition then, faith isn’t the opposite of doubt. In fact doubt is almost necessary for Faith, any faith to be. The key to it all is the abstract idea of Hope. Hope is wrapped in trust and trust requires a reputation (Glory). Hope, being abstract, opens the resulting reality to all the probable possibilities so that, as with the initial question, I could be totally wrong about God in the end. Let’s interrogate this with an analogy.

My mother, note the ‘my’, is the greatest mom in the world. For the years I have been alive, she has nurtured me all the way from vulnerability to manhood. This doesn’t mean that when we sit to eat, the probability that the food she’s set before me is poisoned isn’t present. I have a hope, based on her reputation thus far, that the food is safe to eat. There is no absolute certainty here, just the assurance from faith in my mother that no harm will come to me from her. This hope/ faith doesn’t guarantee the outcome, it is – rather – a conclusion completely based on mine and my mother’s collective history – a reflection of her character so far.

If, however, I had a friend over, his ability to trust my mother will be solely based on my bias. He would have every right to check the food. Because she is not his mother and he doesn’t have an in depth knowledge of her character as I have (the primary relationship and the intimacy between my mother and I being a key factor affecting my assurance/ faith in her).

Therefore:

Romans 10:17

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ

ESV Bible

Put differently

The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

The Message Bible

So where do my assurances about God come from? The come from the reputation of God, as illustrated across scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ. They come from the ongoing intimacy developing between Him and I by His Holy Spirit. They come from the crowd of witness to the Loving Nature of the Godhead. They come from the wide range of promises He has made.

His reputation has given me hope, and that hope has given me certainty – or faith rather (because even in the face of all that’s before me, I still doubt).

Think on this

Mark 9:24

Lord I believe. Help my unbelief

More musings later….

Feel free to comment or query.

Psalm 137

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever”

George Orwell

Life can seem unfair. Things can look bad.

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept 
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

 

When the Psalmist writes, Israel is in captivity. The Babylonians have come in and taken them into slavery. This was a situation they knew they would only find themselves in if they were collectively disobedient. Being right with God equaled being In Israel and worshipping in Jerusalem. Being rejected by God equaled captivity.

To be a Jew then meant to be set aside for God. To be chosen away from the rest of the world, to be God’s special people. To be rejected by God meant loosing identity, it meant loosing their sense of significance; and loosing their land. And to make matters worse, the Babylonians mocked them and asked them to sing songs about God.

As Christians – God’s chosen people – living in today’s world, the boot on the human face, it is hard to feel constantly connected to God, Let alone praise him. The sense of God’s absence, or what we perceive to be his passiveness is magnified. With all the power at his disposal, why is it that people die of hunger, children get abandoned, siblings become strangers, and divorces happen. Fathers reject sons, loved ones pass away, heartbreak and loneliness are commonplace even within the church. Meanwhile thieves get away, embezzlers get rich, and power stays with the corrupt. And at times corrupts the true.

 4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

Well first thing is to follow the psalmist and remember Jerusalem.

“They defeated the evil one by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony”

Revelations 12:11

Last time I focused on the ‘word of their testimony’ part of this verse as an urge to us for honesty with each other, sharing the moments of God’s blessing and intervention in our lives. This time I focus primarily on the ‘blood of the lamb’ part of this verse. The first thing this speaks to me about is that God didn’t let the evil one prevail. Even from genesis where sin has caused mans separation from Eden (the place of unity with God), within the curses of separation is a promise. Of one whose heel will stamp on the head of the serpent.

The problem of the world is the human beings within it. Adam and eve with the freedom that God out of his love gave them, for pride and selfishness turned away from him. What we see and experience are the accumulated effects of this same pride and selfishness over the span of man’s reign.

The solution to the world comes from the God who made it and them. This is the Good news, that God has not left the world – and us – in the state that we are in. That there will be an End, which will in fact be a beginning for perpetual joy and fellowship, and deep intimacy with Father. In fact with Christ, this end has begun.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only begotten son, that whoever believed in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

   may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

Remember that God has a plan. And that there will be an end to injustice – the boot kicking the face will be stopped. There will be an end to pain, to sorrow, to rejection, to insecurity, to sickness and to loneliness. There will be a beginning to life, to joy, to peace, to reconciliation, and to freedom.

The Psalmist says.

“happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.”

But does this mean we can’t complain about how things currently are? At times I’ve found, that being a Christian magnifies the sorrow of the situation. Knowing how good things were or could be, or will be (in our case) makes how things are sometimes more painful. For instance: I pray for the health of my non-Christian friends because the thought of them dying without ever knowing the love of God through Jesus is difficult to deal with. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to actually loose a loved one before they knew God. Or even just loose a loved one. I haven’t spoken to my father in months. Knowing God and his love for me, amplifies the desire to be loved by my father and increases my pain at his silence. These things make some of my conversations with God extremely difficult.

I remember the first time I spoke to one of my friends (he was not a Christian then) about God, he swore at God. Life had been so hard on him that the thought of God loving him didn’t make sense. And a God who seemed to stand by while everything bad took place in his life wasn’t worthy of praise but on the contrary – to my friend – should be cursed. I stepped back because I thought lightning would strike him and was a little shocked when it didn’t. What actually happened was a slow resilient hug from heaven. He was a Christian in the space of months and still is today.

9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

This is the anguish of a true complaint. The sorrow of the situation expressed. We all want some sort of retribution and the psalmist is merely asking for what was done to Jewish children to be done to their captors. The law of an Eye for an Eye. The problem with this law is that if we call for it then we have to live by it. And by the same law that the psalmist condemns he is condemned: the Israelites wouldn’t be in captivity if they hadn’t disobeyed God and the wages of sin – disobeying God – as we all know is death. So having been forgiven, or even praying for forgiveness, we are left to wrestle with forgiving others. Turning the other cheek is difficult.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t complain. Knowing the end, knowing Jesus should usher us into freedom not into bondage. Paul says “there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love” and that God’s “grace is sufficient for us”. This means that we can come boldly before God with our deepest pains’ deepest anguish and darkest laments knowing that the father – thanks to Jesus – understands. And we know this because on the cross, in the darkness, in the loneliness  where he who was perpetually in a relationship was separated from his family and himself, and was being mocked by us; the people he was suffering to save. Jesus, feeling abandoned by his father, complained.

“Elohi, Elohi, Lamma Sabbach thani”

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me”

Jesus more than us, understood God’s plan for humanity. He even knew the glory that he would receive after he resurrected. That didn’t stop him crying out to his father. And when he died, the curtain that meant Jerusalem was the only place where we could find God was split in two. We were given the right by his blood to come before God as sons and not criminals.

So… take a moment.

Be Still and Know!

….

Feel Free to in comment or query.