A Question

I never understood why people felt the need to defend God. God is God and does not need finite, ignorant, arrogant me to defend God. How would I defend God? (I have a hard enough time just desiring not to offend my Lord who loves me).

If you feel you need to defend God, then how could the god you are defending truly be a god at all? Not intending to insult but asking one to think.

I want to write about a view I have of David and Goliath. Very popular story and oft used analogy of courage. However, I have a question. Did God want David to fight Goliath?

Let me set the context. It starts with this; “Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare and bring some token from them.” (1 Sam. 17:17-18 NRS) Note, “and bring so token” was a directive to bring back good news a sign that things were ok. David disobeyed his father. And this was after,

“The LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.” (1 Sam. 16:12-13 NRS)

Now back a little further, “The word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the LORD all night.” (1 Sam. 15:10-11 NRS) God was going to remove Saul as king. Likely God was using the Philistines to bring this about. God has Samuel anoint David is King. Saul is tormented by an evil spirit. The stage is set for abdication. Saul will either resign or have an nervous breakdown and be removed. Then in comes this young arrogant shepherd boy who feels he must defend God and country and sets himself on course for a suicide mission.

Malcomb Gladwell does not see it this way. He sees David having the advantage due to weaponry and tactics. I do not believe it matters. David’s actions back God into a corner (not), but David does change the direction of the scenario and because of his victory Saul is kept in power and will make David suffer. Saul will come to hate David and become driven to try and kill him. Many people suffer because of this. And David, a man with blood on his hands, cannot build a temple for God in spite of being a man after God’s own heart.

Again, I ask, “Did David do what God wanted?

Can this mistake of David, a man after God’s own heart, show us what God is willing to do in order to bring about the best out of the worst and love whose limits exceed our unbounding ability to be non-discerning and impulsive.

I ask this for the following reason.

When your heart is open, you are willing to be convinced of the opposite of what you believe to be true, knowing you are seeking Truth, not trying to defend it. Anything true will stand in the Light of Truth.[1]

This is what good spiritual direction offers.

I am open for new pilgrims.     Email or Zoom contact at this time.  Lovethelord2@outlook.com

The importance of being an image bearer.

[1] Skurja, Catherine. Paradox Lost . Whitaker House. Kindle Edition.

Lectionary Sermon September 7, 2021 Mark 7:24-37

Resources for the Fall

Mark 7:24-37

We all have watched the bad news on TV. It is sad. The Good News of God is that God’s Kingdom is with us. This is wonderful. It is found within our hearts. This is found in Luke 17:21. The older King James Version translates the passage, “the Kingdom of God is within,” ἐντὸς – entos the word KJV translates within can be translated within or among. Most modern translation translate the word among, in the midst, or some other form of among.

I think this is a good paradox of faith. What do I mean by paradox? The Kingdom of God is both with and without. We find the Kingdom of God within us, that is through the process of soul, heart, and mind. While at the same time we are surrounded by the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ without.

Because the Kingdom of God has come to us in and through Jesus, we can discover God’s love for us and learn how we can become the greatest we human beings can become, a person who loves God and neighbor with all they are.

Also, it is through the power bestowed on us by God’s Kingdom’s presence that we have the strength to pursue this love in the midst of a curse world, demonic activity, and death’s continual presence.

In this passage selection Jesus confronts both demonic suffering and the suffering of an imperfect world in which people can be deaf and dumb. A world that is unfair and constantly judging us.

First, in the passage selection, a mother comes looking for Jesus. This is more than a wishful dream that she has. She is committed to getting to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. I am not going to argue what kind of unclean spirit or virus or illness or what the daughter was suffering from. I trust the Scripture to believe it was an evil that was causing this suffering. I will tell you that if you do not believe in spiritual forces that are against humanity I honestly feel sorry for you. You do not even realize the spiritual danger you are in. And, you will experience this danger whether you accept it or not.

This woman who comes to Jesus is an outsider. She is not of his people, his tribe, his faith yet she seeks because of what she has heard. And when, after all her effort, she gets to him Jesus insults her.

I have heard several sermons in which the preacher tried to make light of this or attempted to explain it away. Why, why do that? Just because we judge things through our limited finite perspective does not mean we judge correctly. Jesus does not need defending.

Jesus knows the heart of everyone he encounters. Jesus knows what every person needs and what everyone faces. Jesus knows his disciples are watching. The way Jesus responds is the way any good Jew should respond to this kind of situation. First a gentile, second a Canaanite, and third a woman.

Jesus says to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (Mk. 7:27 NRS) Jesus basically calls her a dog one of the worst insults you could call a person then. We say how horrible yet, this would have been a common practice in Jesus’s day. In fact, it is likely the woman was prepared for this type of reception. She likely even rehearsed her reply.

“Sir, Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

I wonder if she knew Jesus loved her and if she were the only sinner Jesus would have come for her. She pleads, “Sir, Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

She has faith. She is committed to having Jesus help her. And Jesus responds, “For saying that, you may go — the demon has left your daughter.”

I am thankful Matthew give us more information is his Gospel. Matthew tells us, “Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.”

Faith, she placed faith in the person and power of Jesus. She was rewarded. Even at a distance the power of the Lord ruled over the evil power that oppressed the child and the child was healed. Does she know Jesus is the Promised One, the Messiah, the Savior? Likely not, but her faith is confirmed.

I have a few questions. Do you see bad things in our world? Do you see more selfish things than selfless? As you view this world and know what you know can you honestly not say that evil, selfishness, hatred is growing, and love is shrinking? Where are we to turn? Where can we find the strength to be the source of love we need to be?  Only in the one whose power does exceed time and distance. Jesus. The account of this woman should let us know Jesus is open to all.

The next account we find in the selected passage is an account of a healing. A man who is deaf and has a speech impediment is brought to Jesus. Jesus follows a seemingly personal ritual that is ripe with opportunity for symbolism and heals the man of deafness and cures his speech impediment.

We are not told why the man was in the condition he was in. We are not given any insight into his future. All we know is that Jesus had compassion on an individual who was trying to live his life with a horrible disability. Jesus changed his life at that moment.

Jesus does have the power to change lives. Anyone believe this is true and/or happened to you raise your hands.

We need to understand, God is very much aware of the unfairness of this world. God is very much aware of how hate seems to be growing. God is well aware humanities’ unwillingness to see how we are destroying this planet. God knows very well how and where we live.

Does God still have compassion? Yes. Can God still cure deafness even if it is the deafness of ignorance and arrogance? Yes.

Here is the Good News. Jesus has died, Jesus has risen, and Jesus will come again. God incarnate who has compassion on all people will come again. This is what we believe even if it is just crumbs from the table.

In fact, through the gift of the Holy Spirit Jesus is with us now. The Kingdom of God is with us as we face evil and suffering in this world. God incarnate who will never leave us or forsake us and will surprise us with his power and glory if we are but willing to encounter him.