POWER TO SPARE!

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

(I’ve dropped anchor in the third Chapter of Paul’s letter to the young Church he’d begun at Philippi. (3:10).There’s so much here, and I feel awed, humbled, and challenged to come to a much better understanding of what so captured the Evangelist’s attention. If you’ve come to a “ho-hum” attitude about the Resurrection, I hope you’ll take a fresh look during this season. It is central to the Christian faith.  It is either the greatest event in human history, or the most hideous, cruel hoax ever to occupy the world’s attention. ~donkimrey)

In this chapter it seems to me that Paul is taking a personal inventory his life and establishing priorities.  There’s a pretty long list of impressive contributions and achievements. It seems they would be grounds for boasting, or at least some self-satisfaction.

Instead, he says: “while someone may think these are merely, or very, important, I’m focusing all my energy on what is MOST important.”  And, very tersely, wasting no words, he mentions these as his primary objective:

  • Know Christ
  • Know the Power of His Resurrection
  • Know the Fellowship of His Suffering
  • Become conformed to the image of Christ.

Consider the “power” of the Resurrection.  The word “power” or its equivalent is used a lot in Scripture. When Paul was writing his letters, he was writing and speaking the Greek language.  Before the KJV translated his letters to English, the word for “power” in that language is dunamis (of course, they used a different alphabet then, too.).  That’s the word which evolved into the English word “dynamite.”  Since Alfred Nobel invented that  highly volatile explosive, we sort of assumed that kind of “power” was highly explosive and very destructive, killing or maiming anything in it’s path.

But, considered in another way, “power” can be for constructive purposes. There is “power,” for instance, in the quiet, unnoticed growth beneath the surface makes the flowers bursts fort in glory with the coming of spring.

Christianity is a very muscular faith.  Very virile. While recognizing  (in our humanity) we may be weak, we gain strength and power through admission of our weakness. For instance, one New Testament writer said: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  He provides power. The ability to do what is required of us.  The same word (dunamis, or power) is used when Jesus promised Hs followers “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”(Ref. ).   In that instance, the blessing of power is bestowed specifically upon the Christ followers. And this kind of power isn’t given so we can strut before others or admire ourselves in the mirror and just “flex” ourpowerful mew spiritual muscle.  Jesus made the purpose clear: It is the ability and authority to become faithful witnesses to the Gospel He introduced.

The same power which brought Jesus from the land of the dead is the same power which enables a “sinner” to become a “saint.”

Years ago there was a famous Baptist minister, Dr. R. G. Lee, who each year would preach a sermon by the title “Pay Day Someday.” It became an annual event and Dr. Lee delivered that same messages on numerous occasions at conventions, conferences, and other assemblies..  It was recorded and sold widely. From his pulpit in the Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, he achieved international recognition and preached that sermon 1300 times over the course of his ministry.

Needless to say, he had his imitators.  On one occasion, he happened to be in a Church when one young wannabe Lee delivered his  own version of “Payday Some day” only to learn that Dr. Lee himself was in the audience.

The young fella felt he had no choice but to continue, but afterwards he spoke with Dr. Lee, expressing his embarrassment and apologizing profusely.

Dr. Lee reassured the young minister, observing wryly that “most folks can tell the difference between a cannon and a cap pistol.”

While considering such great concepts (especially the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Christ) I feel so far beneath the subjects. I sense that I’m “on Holy Ground,” and don’t want to diminish your view of these tremendous events. I want badly not to become “as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”

I’ll save “That I may know Him, the fellowship of His suffering, & that I may be conformed to his image” for other days. Other studies perhaps.

But right now I’m concentrating on the “power of the resurrection.” When I wrote about the Incarnation I was amazed at how so much Divine energy and personality could be compressed into such a small space.  Deity becoming an infant!  Eternity being compressed into a mere moment of time. It is just too much to be taken with a grain of salt.  Too much infinity for a finite mind to comprehend!

Honestly, there is no ranting of an idiot here.  Certainly no drooling like a religious fanatic or a fool.  These questions arise in my mind: First what IS the Power of His Resurrection?” and Second:  How may I achieve it?

What is the POWER OF THE RESURRECTION? I believe it is the authority or the privilege to become children of God. It is the ability to face and overcome all life’s challenges, including the last and greatest challenge..Death.  If Jesus really conquered the ultimate enemy, He can do anything. That’s the kind of righteousness and power that Jesus spoke about in His famous Sermon on the Mount. We should “Hunger and thirst for it.
“As the hart pants for water” is the word picture the Psalmist used to explain how we should seek God’s presence and His power. That sounds like devoted desperation.  I must have it or I perish.  As inadequate as my attempts are, perhaps you can take it even further. Take this seriously.  Paul made it his top priority.  Other things may be important.  But this is most important.  Ask for it.  Keep on seeking and you shall find.  It contains the possibility of continuous devotion. Devoted adoration.  The ability to live sanely in the midst of insanity.  To be kind, calm, confident, joyful, loving, peaceful, gentle, while exercising goodness, temperance, and self control.  It is the kind of peace that you can claim in all  circumstances.

In my life I’ve probably read, heard,written, and spoken millions of words. Hopefully, some were helpful.  Honestly, though, I have to admit the use of worthless words at times.  Some hurtful, irritating, or boring.

That question, “How may I know the Power of the Resurrection?” intrigues me. Sometimes the answer to such a question is so obvious we overlook it.   The way you “know” anything is that you accept it as fact.  Believe it is true. You spend time meditating.  In this case, you’d spend time considering the words, deeds, and influence of the only One who ever exercised that power.

This idea has captured my thinking and continues to occupy it. That powerful phrase: “The Power of His Resurrection!”  I could never compare myself to brilliant, imaginative scientists, philosophers, and can not imagine what prompted Albert Einstein to launch his quest which became the basis for his famous theory, E=MC2  which led to an atomic bomb and ushered in the nuclear age? When Ben Franklin went flying a kite in a thunderstorm, who ever suggested that he go chasing lightning and bottling it?

You already knew that without my telling you, but just so you know I have no grandiose ideas about my capabilities, I accept the fact that I have no special abilities to probe the depth of the Resurrection. Much less do I claim to be able to understand or explain its significance.   I do, however, believe the importance of the resurrection by far exceeds the importance of these, or any, or all scientific discoveries of all time.

This is another example of God acting suddenly, unexpectedly, in mysterious, marvelous ways, His wonders to perform.

“Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: “a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb.’ Jesus entered our world through a door marked, No Entrance’  and left through a door marked No Exit.”–Peter Larson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE APOSTLE PAUL’S PRIORITY

“That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to His death.” (Philippians 3:10 KJV)

Here’s where I’d like to drop anchor and just think a bit.  In the context surrounding that statement, the Apostle Paul is thinking about things which matter to him most.  He’s “prioritizing,” and in my opinion he has his priorities straight. This single simple sentence gives you his opinion of what matters most to him.  And they are as profound as they are simple.

I admire Paul greatly.  He’s one of the greatest figures in Christian history, perhaps in world history.  When Jesus was here, his closest friends (the Disciples) and perhaps some others wrote down the things Jesus said and did.  They just recorded things as they happened and recorded them for us in what we call “The Gospels.”  It was Paul, above all others, who interpreted the meaning of those acts and deeds and helped formulate a cohesive Christian theology.  He’s the one person who tried to show what Jesus words and deeds meant.  His courageous faith and preaching were vital in the spread of Jesus’ Gospel.  His writing and teaching were perhaps more influential than any Christian thinker who has ever lived. Not just in those exciting early days following the resurrection and the birth of the Church, but even to this very day.  The existence of the Church, it’s contribution in the fields of art, music, educational institutions and missions, are immeasurable and continuing. The Apostle Paul played a very crucial role in Church history.

Stated as succinctly as possible, his was a massive mind and a great spirit.  No one who is objective could dispute or deny the great contributions he made and the continuing impact those contributions have.

One thing which impresses me about the man is his singular, focused statement of his burning obsession, his supreme priority:  ‘That I may know Him, and the Power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformed to His death . . .” (Philippians 3:10 KJV)

That laser focused desire and determination was what drove him and served as his compass.  It was the key to his power.

As we enter the season when we contemplate Christ’s sacrifice and his resurrection, what a great, great objective for us to have as our own compass!  That I may KNOW HIM. . . “

Would I be imposing on our friendship if I asked you to to ponder that thought? Knowing Christ  was Paul’s magnificent obsession.  His driving ambition.  His top priority.

In considering Paul’s desire, I’ve decided that is what I’d like to have as my own goal.

What is yours?

God’s servant, your friend and fellow student,  ~donkimrey   ><>

WHO DID IT?

  • (As Easter approaches, we must first deal with the cruel reality of the Crucifixion.   Once before, I raised the question:  Who’s responsible?  Ultimately, don’t all of us have a share of blame?)

  “When Pontius Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands and said: ‘I am innocent of the blood of this Just person.  You see to it.’  And all the people answered and said: ‘His  blood be upon us and on our children.’”  (Matthew 27:24-25)

         Let’s think for a while about the personalities and the forces driving the events leading to the mock trial and  illegal crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.

From the very beginning, it was the “Establishment” which drove the events.  The well-established RELIGIOUS establishment which first viewed Jesus as a nuisance, then a threat. As their suspicion and fear grew it developed into hatred and when hatred is full grown it frequently leads to murder. The sadness and travesty in this case was horribly multiplied because it was sanctioned and propelled by the “best” civilized society had to offer at that time.

If you see similarities between that “system” and any other ever devised by man, your powers of observation are acute and accurate.  The self-seeking, self-serving, greedy, self-preserving  never have real “good” as their objective.  Whether they are religious, political, or any other kind.   And who’s to say that, given similar circumstances in our power hungry and power-polluted system we would not have arrived at the same conclusions?  The same outcome. Who among us can honestly say we’d not have been driven along by the same tidal wave of hatred and evil?

If something big. . . really big. . . were happening downtown right now, would you stay home?  Really?  If you just ambled in and everyone was screaming something at the top of their voices, would you bravely step forward, calm them down and suggest a more reasoned approach?  Even if that same angry crowd turned on you and told you to “Shut up, or Else?”

Don’t kid yourself.  If any of us get caught up in the “herd mentality,” any one of us. . . and every one of us . . .can easily become subject to mass hysteria.  I read a book some years ago entitled Rumour, Fear, and the Madness of Crowds.  The central thesis was that, under the right circumstances, with the “right leader” any crowd is subjected to being manipulated.  Whipped into a hysterical, insane frenzy.  You don’t have to go far back into history to encounter Adolph Hitler and his monstrous Third Reich.  Somehow, I cannot believe every single person who got swept along by that tsunami sized tide of evil was actually evil.  Bit by tiny bit, they bought into a huge lie.  They fell hook line and sinker for a line vomited from the mouth and mind of maniacal madman.

As you read the stories about Jesus’ life, you will recognize that early on he aroused the suspicion, jealousy, and ire of the religious leaders.  “The Common People heard Jesus gladly.”  Some of them said: “No (mere) man ever spoke like this Man.”  He performed miracles, in addition to being a compelling speaker.  He intimidated the “powers that be.”  Then, He started saying things pretty clearly that people interpreted as Him saying He was the Son of God.  Or even God (“He that has seen me has seen the Father.”).  And he messed up one of their “profit centers,” turning over their tables, sending the synagogue profiteers scrambling for cover.  The common people must have loved it!  And I have to confess I’d have been impressed seeing Jesus snortin’ fire and chasing religious thugs from the temple.

Admittedly, the ringleaders in this plot to do Jesus to death were the Jewish religious leaders.  Admittedly, from their standpoint at least, they had reason to be upset.  He was “messing” with their way of living.  Encroaching on their “turf” (Believe it or not, ministers can become very territorial!).  Upsetting the people in general, and maybe attracting too much attention from the Romans garrisoned there.  Israel was, you may recall, an occupied country at the time.  An unruly, almost ungovernable country but dominated, nevertheless, by an invading foreign power. They hated being under the boot of Roman authority, and also feared that any uprising on their part would be cause for the iron fisted, full fury of Roman wrath to fall upon them.  (In 70 A.D., their worst fears were realized.).

As you follow the career of Jesus, you can see these guys (or their spies) stalking Him constantly.  Taking notes.  Gathering false testimony. Exchanging knowing glances.  Looking for, and finally finding, the one weak link in that original Band of Brothers, then bribing Judas to help them ‘take Jesus down.”  Behind the scenes, under cover, they conceived and hatched an evil scheme which would find culmination on Golgotha’s brow.

In light of this, it is no wonder that Annias and Caiaphas were the architects and engineers of the farce of a trial, under cover of night, and before “normal office hours” on the Friday  morning of the day Jesus was  murdered at the instigation of religious leaders and with the co-operation of an established government which violated their own laws..   They were the jeer leaders.  They, and their plants, worked the crowd very effectively until they were chanting frantically, feverishly frothing  angrily

“Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!     “We will not have this                      Man rule over us!”“Barrabbas!    Release unto us Barrabbas!” 

         If you’re inclined toward prejudice, and if your reasoning powers are limited, you might be able to psych yourself into believing this was a “Jewish thing,”  Before you seek to place blame, perhaps you should take an honest look in the mirror at the person whose face you wear.  When I view the cross, I see very little occasion for pointing an accusing finger.

In fact, in answer to one of Pilate’s proposals, trying to wriggle himself off the hook the Jewish crowd seemed to have been led in a self-incriminating shout  “His blood be upon us. . .and upon our children.” This is one of those statements some people use to judge and condemn Jews.  That is not a rational conclusion.  Prejudice of any sort is emotional. It is wrong to hate anyone whom God created.  Do you remember that later that same day Jesus prayed and said:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Now this raises a question.  Not simply a rhetorical question.  It deserves a carefully considered answer:  “If the Person against whom the sin is committed asks forgiveness for the offenders. . . what room is left for anyone else to pass judgment?”  Even if we think our claim is valid, what gives us any right to judge and condemn when the injured party says: “I forgive the offenders.  They did not realize the gravity of their offense.”

Another unreasonable reason some people offer in attempting to justify anti-Semitism is the way they (the Jews.  The entire nation of Israel)  “hang together” so tightly.  Even a casual observer of history can discover this.  My personal opinion is they’ve had to do that for self-preservation.  Through millenia  no other nation  has ever been able to erase their identity.  Not the snide, cutting remarks we make.  Nor the holocaust.  Other peoples migrate and assimilate into almost any and every culture.  We’ve prided ourselves in calling America the “Great Melting Pot.”  While there are pockets of people here from every place on the planet, and while it may take generations for assimilation to fully take place, most are eventually absorbed in our culture and adapt to it or adopt our ways of thinking.  The lone exception is the Jews who cling tenaciously to their faith, their distinctive, unmistakable Jewish identity.

Once I worked with the parents of Autistic Children.  One of the things which impressed me early about them was that they were their own best and only friends in lots of instances.  The enigmatic disorder their children had was so demanding, so cruel, no one really understood what caused it.  Much less could others understand the difficulties the families of autistic children had to face.  In addition, a nearly Neanderthal German pseudo-scientist had concluded the problem of autism was caused and promoted by what he called “Refrigerator mothers.” He was a “scholar.”  And he stated his “findings and theories” so emphatically that they were accepted by many as absolute fact.  So, in addition to the incredible demands placed upon the families by the children, they were now faced with the added burden of feeling the problem was of their own making.

And every consideration they gained required that they fight.  Hard. Together. Can you wonder why they drew so closely together, held tightly to that, and seldom allowed “outsiders” to see their pain.

Other minorities have endured  isolation and ignorant prejudice.  Often shut out of mainstream society, they had to find ways to preserve their way of life, as well as their very lives.  What we view as arrogance or isolation may, in fact, be their means of self~defense or self-preservation.

If you think the Jews in this scenario are evil, take a long, good, honest look in the mirror.  The “sins” of which they were guilty are the same kinds of things we do every day.  Every one of usEvery day.  The Bible teaches that sin is what made Jesus’ death necessary.  Not Jewish sin.  Not White sin, or Black, or American sin.  Sin. The same kinds of “sin” which we commit routinely.

Just as Christ died so all may be forgiven, so all of us…and each of us…is culpable in His crucifixion.  Why would anyone and everyone need to be “forgiven” if, in fact, they’d committed no offenses?  The truth is it was the sinful human nature (Jew,Greek, Presbyterian, Baptist, Agnostic, etc., etc.) which did the Son of God to Death.

I believe it’s important to think about that.  The Jews were no more the reason for Jesus’ death than I am.  No more than you are.  Their “sins” were no more, and no less, sinful than mine.  Or yours.  The truth of the matter is that He died for all of us because all of us “have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”*

Think about the kinds of sins they committed.  They were “religious” people.  Not a murderer among them probably.  Certainly none who’d committed financial thuggery of the AIG and Madoff proportions!  They were the very best that their society had to offer.   They were preserving their jobs.  Their religion, their thought.  Their traditions. Their way of life.   And they fought the only way they knew how to fight.

If a light shines too brightly and hurts your eyes, you either adjust to it, or put it out.  In this case, the Light of the World was simply so bright they had to adjust to the Truth.  Or kill it.  Being Jewish had little, if anything, to do with it.  Being human, and therefore sinful, had everything to do with it.

Would you and I have handled the situtation differently?

Do we handle challenges differently today?

Really?

God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student,     ~donkimrey

GOOD NEWS!!

GOOD NEWS!

The quotation below is attributed directly to Jesus of Nazareth.  It gives His “take” on why He visited us in time gone by.  He was having a conversation with a harried, confused businessman and religious leader who hadn’t a clue about things that really matter. Worried perhaps about how his peers and colleagues might view his visit to consult with a controversial Rabbi, Nicodemus had slipped in under cover of night to “swap some ideas,” perhaps give the young Teacher some of his own counsel and ask a few questions to clear the air.

Always able to look past our subterfuge, Jesus quickly and directly went to the real heart of the matter.

“For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten son, (so) that whoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”                            (John 3:16)

That’s the almost forgotten reason why there’s such a celebration (more like a sale-a-bration these days) tomorrow.

That’s the Good News! Enough to cause angels to sing or shout (or sing AND shout!)! Glory to God and on earth, peace, good will toward men.  That’s Good news of GREAT JOY for all the people on the planet then and now and forever.

Nothing else now even remotely and strangely associated with that Eternal Event will produce that kind of response.  Not all the flashing neon lights, the gaudily decorated trees, the sleigh bells jing-a-linging, the holly, the ivey, the mistletoe and the hugely obese jolly old fella and his band of dwarves and impossibly agile herd of flying reindeer (one with even a flashing red nose leading the pack and directing the way.).

I’m not trying to be an old curmudgeon like Scrooge snorting “Bah! Humbug!”  Go ahead and enjoy all the great old traditions and make some new ones of your own. Enjoy Der Bingle and dream with him  again of “A White Christmas.” Or the almost angelic voice of Karen Carpenter, silenced too soon by death but kept alive through the genius of our electronics wizards.

Just don’t allow yourself to swallow all the hype, stuff yourself and your children with stuff which will eventually rot or rust or lose their attraction.  At the expense of depriving yourself and them of Joy, Peace, Forgiveness, Hope, Faith, and Eternal Life.

Why don’t you read that report again?  This time with your brain and your heart engaged fully and open?   And before the excited, noisy, joyful squealing and ripping of wrapping paper, consider the real reason why there is even a Christ-mass in the first place!  John 3:16.

God’s  son and servant, your friend and fellow student, donkimrey

12/24/11

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY

(Blogger’s note:  I posted this late last summer just as fall began to arrive.  I’ve thought about it ever since, and felt it would be worth your visiting it again.  Some things are worth repeating.  We can never plumb the depths or wear out some ideas. With finite minds, we cannot define infinity or eternity. We’ll never be able to do that. But we can think. ~dk)

As an exercise in thought, here’s something I’d like to suggest that you consider: For a long time, scientists thought a molecule was the smallest particle in existence. Research went a bit further, and we were taught that neutrons and protons and atoms were even smaller. Nobody ever saw any of those things! They were able to observe effects of their presence, but no one ever actually saw an atom. They can see what the wind does. But no one has ever seen the wind.

Much of our knowledge about some scientific facts (astronomy, for example) is based on mathematical calculations. That’s how some of the planets were discovered, and how other intergalactic objects (distant planets and stars) were located, identified, and tracked. Before Albert Einstein, atoms were considered to be the smallest particle(?) in existence and his “Theory of Relativity” grew out of the research of a massive mind. He was a theoretical physicist. All his work was cranial. It took place between his ears. He never conducted actual physical experiments, but his thought experiments were the basis upon which theories were developed, the atom was split and the nuclear age emerged. And our world was changed dramatically, forever.

One of the practical results of Einstein’s thinking was that the atom, once considered the smallest, indivisible particle in the universe, was split! Some disastrous consequences of that theoretical research were the atomic bomb, the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the birth of the nuclear age. We have yet to see where that discovery may lead.

I simply cannot comprehend the enormity, mystery, and potential of some of the ideas which Newton, Einstsein, Hawking and others considered. Nor can I, on the other hand, understand the profound and powerful statement John used when he spoke of the entrance of Jesus Christ into human history. Here’s his version of the Nativity. Here’s how he tells the Christmas event:

THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US, AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY, AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF GOD, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH. (John 1:1 and following)

May I just ask you to ponder this statement further? If such incredible power could be released from the ‘splitting of an atom,’ can we even begin to understand the reversal of such a process? Can you imagine compressing eternity into time? Not just turning loose all the stored up energy and power in a tiny atom, but getting all that colossal power compressed again into such a tiny space?

What John is trying to tell us is that the Son of God stooped to become a human being. The Apostle Paul had his own way of tracing this great descent. A baby! Asleep in an animal’s feed trough!

Eternity did not simply intersect time. The glory of God, the living Word of God (Jesus Christ), the “only begotten Son of God” was funneled into that little infant, sleeping, gurgling. With dimpled elbows, arms and legs and all the jerky motions of a new-born, in the sleepy, but busy, little village of Bethlehem? And the entire event was almost unnoticed out on the edges of nowhere in ancient days.

Can you imagine! Really!

Can you even begin to imagine????

Response: We don’t even know how to respond, because we have no idea what we’re trying to understand. Awe. Adoration. Jaw-dropping wonder. Sheer amazement! Those seem to be the only appropriate responses.

One of baseball’s all-time great, colorful characters and catchers was Yogi Berra. He worked some athletic magic with his catcher’s mitt and his bat, but he’s probably equally well known for his malapropisms, his mishandling of words. No one could bungle words or mangle the language quite like Yogi. Like no other I’ve known, he could get his tange all tongueled up! His expressions are the stuff of legends. Even the ones in doubt are delightfully inappropriate. When asked about the Napoleonic Era, they say he said: “It shoulda been ruled a hit!” And this: “I never said all the things they said I said.” Or, “It looks like déjà vous all over again.”

Once on a rare occasion, he dropped a routine popped fly. When he tried to explain what had happened, he commented: “I musta nonchalanted it.”

We do things like that. When in the presence of mystery and things that are eternal, we sometimes ‘drop the ball.’ We ‘non-chalant’ it. We skim lightly over strong, heavy, profound words and scarcely grasp what they really mean. Truth be told, we probably hardly even try to understand.

If even a tiny fragment of the Christmas story is true, the time to yawn and stretch Is gone! “Ho-hum” is not a rational approach to such profoundly beautiful, wonderful concepts.

The Bible says simply, plainly, that the Word…The Eternal Living Word of God…became flesh, just like us. And lived among us.

As summer settles into autumn and we head toward winter and into the Christmas season. . . and before we get caught up in the red and green, insanely profit driven rush to make the cash registers ring . . . wouldn’t it be wise to pause and consider the real significance and wonder of the real meaning of Christmas?

God’s son and servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey

“Wherever you go preach the Gospel. And when necessary, use words.” ~ St. Francis of Assissi.

DREAM ON

DREAM ON
Genesis 37: 16 – 20 “And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks. And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37: 16 – 20)
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28)
“Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17]

A few days ago, while hospitalized, I watched a couple of documentaries on the surprising emergence of Susan Boyle. Judged by outward appearances, she looked like the deck was stacked against her from the start.
She was obviously very shy. Not really very attractive. Not young. Unknown and to all appearances out of her element. Completely and embarrassingly so. Even I felt uneasy for her, afraid she might humiliate herself or trigger a cruel avalanche of boos and hisses.
The crowd, including a cynical “judge” gasped in amazement, though, as the first notes of her song were heard. Jaws dropped. It was that obvious.
One thing that most of us would have failed to take into account in this kind of situation is that lady, Susan Boyle, had a dream. In addition to talent which had lain undiscovered, unnoticed for more than four decades, she had a dream. That was what made the difference. That was what enabled her to overcome her reluctance. Overcome her fears. Stand up against the naysayers. That is the extra factor that enabled her to stand strong in the face of almost certain scorn and humiliating, brutally embarrassing failure.
If she had bolted off the stage before the first note, I’d have felt sorry for her. I could almost see her at the last, weeping, rushing for the exit, hiding her face and nursing her sorrow and embarrassment for perhaps the rest of her days. But she had a dream. And she refused to let the dream die!
Even her song selection, “I dreamed a dream” from the successful production, “Les Miserable,” was a dead giveaway. She seemed inspired. Gripped. Driven. Confident. Invincible almost. In a word, she “knocked the audience back on its heels” with the power and haunting beauty of that incredible voice.
Most folks who’ve read anything I’ve written over the last several months know the simple single string I’ve strummed is the Scriptural study of people who were considered defeated, useless, human rubbish even. I’ve focused my attention as intensely as I’m capable on why they failed or were apparently ignored and beaten down by life. And how they were able to recover and become great leaders.
Joseph, for example, had a dream in his youth that was fulfilled in his later life. He was ridiculed because of the dream, but he held fast to it. Remember his resentful brothers out on the dessert that afternoon so long ago and so far away: “Behold, the dreamer comes” they spat his name out on the desert sand with bitter resentment when they saw him coming with their lunch. Joseph suffered great consequences because of that dream, but when you see him you can ask him yourself if it were worth the cost. He never forgot that dream, and that was certainly one of the things which sustained him when he could very easily have died in despair and been forgotten by history.
This is something to which I’ve devoted a great deal of thought lately. There’s a statement in Scripture which you could easily overlook if you read casually. “In the last days, your young men shall see visions, dream dreams.” (Joel 2:28).
I’ve read a lot of stuff in my life about people who did not stand a ghost of a chance. It feels as if I’m sort of on a mission now to discover as many of these folks as I can, and LEARN from them. Look at history. Look at Scripture. See how many you can find who succeeded mainly because they had a dream and would not be denied. Susan Boyle is just one beautiful example.
Based on my own experience and observation, I’m guessing that someone somewhere someday will read these words and remember. You once had a dream. There was a time and a place when it seemed that God was more real to you than anything. The fact that you couldn’t explain it does not mean it was not real. If your mind is open, even now you can recover that dream and never let it die!
Susan Boyle had a dream. A vision, not of what she was but of what she could do and become. Joseph did. Edison did. Winston Churchill did. Steve Jobs did. Martin Luther King did.
Do you?

Christmas is coming

JUST A WORD….

            The Last Lecture, a book by Dr. Randy Pausch, is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read in my life.  At the age of forty-seven, Dr.Pausch discovered he had pancreatic cancer and very limited time to live. Perhaps by divine coincidence, at the same time Carnegie Mellon Institute of Pittsburgh, presented an opportunity for a professor to deliver a lecture, assuming it would be the last he ever delivered.

Having gotten married only ten years earlier, Dr. Pausch had three children under the age of ten.  Children who would never really get to know their Dad, what he valued, what kind of man he was, and what his hopes and dreams might be for them.  There were also his students, who could never again learn from him.  So, with his wife gently protesting, he went ahead and delivered the lecture. If you’ve read his book, or seen his lecture, you probably feel the same awe, admiration, and respect I do

There were just words on the pages.  Just words.  But what emotions they created.  How well we were able to get to know such a beautiful person, when most of us never had and never could have had opportunity to meet him personally.  Words.  Written words, help us find out a lot about him and will continue to do that.

We also recently lost one of the most brilliant men of our time, Steve Jobs.  More than anyone alive today, his life and work have impacted us.  All of us, and in ways we could not have imagined even a decade ago.  After he discovered that he, too, had pancreatic cancer, Jobs contacted one of the most accomplished biographers our country (or any other) has ever produced.  Jobs contacted Walter Isaacson and asked if he’d write his (Steve’s) biography.  Some may have viewed that as presumptuous.  But Steve Jobs had a driving compulsion to let people know what Steve Jobs was about.  I’m sure he felt the same way Randy Pausch felt: He had something important to say, and a book. . . just filled with words. . . seemed to be the most effective way to do that.

Words.  Just words!

Believe it or not, with the coming Christ mass season, that has been the way my mind has been working.  Personally, I believe the Incarnation of Christ, the Nativity, was God’s dramatic attempt to introduce us to His Son, so we can see what He’s like, what He thinks, how He lived and died, and how He treated others.  No one else has ever even come close to Jesus in the beautiful, simple, profound way He demonstrated the perfect ideal of life.  If we want to know what God is like, how He thinks, how He works, what He’s willing to give because of love, then we should know Jesus.

When you read the opening chapter of the Gospel record of John, you run immediately into these words: “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God.  And the Word was God. . . the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of God, full of grace and truth.”

Most people who study Scripture even halfway seriously know that the Greek word used in that paragraph is “Logos.”  That was the Greek’s attempt to put a name to God, or whatever they perceived as the most lofty, elevated idea of the Reason for existence which We translate Logos as “Word,”

If you think you’d like to know about such outstanding people as Steve Jobs and Randy Pausch, I’d suggest that you read the books (the words) about them.  If at Christmas, or any other time, you have a desire to know God, I’d suggest that you read about Him in Scripture.  God has spoken to us in His written Word, and through His Son, the Living Word.

Just a word?  No, I rather think not.  HE IS THE WORD.

I believe God still is speaking and in this coming season, especially, my prayer is that the Glory of the Lord may shine on you.  Joy to you, too!

God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student  donkimrey

 

A Fellow-Student’s Response

 (It is my good fortune to have some very good friends, who’ve understood what I’m trying to do.  I ran the earlier post by one to get a reaction.  Here’s how she responded.  If you read the earlier post, you’ll probably understand this one was very difficult for me to do. I will continue to pray for my friend, encourage you to do likewise, and would welcome your thoughts.  donkimrey)
          I read the Jacob/Israel post you sent via email; and as always it’s in-depth and heartfelt. (I did recognize that it was very personal to you because of your very selfish friend.) I think the difference between your friend and Jacob (and David and Moses and all the others who made a mess of things!) is Jacob was willing and ready to accept the changes God offered and made in his life. Apparently, your friend is not.
  Crudely put: God will not mess with our freewill.
            He wants pliable, teachable hearts; not puppets on strings that He can control. God isn’t in the business of manipulation, is He?
            You posed the question: “Do I give up on such an apparently lost cause from a purely human standpoint? How can I do that unless God does?” My answer would be you are not the Sovereign Almighty Limitless God. We are made in His image, but we are also humans with limited capabilities.  You also commented that “he (your friend) continues using, hurting, disregarding and discarding those who really love him, moving on from one duped victim to the next.” Continue to lift him in prayer, certainly, but I would Really Encourage you to prayerfully consider the bruised, battered and bloody hearts of those victims of which you spoke. AND all of the ones he’s not yet met and duped. Perhaps it’s just me, Don, but my heart goes out to those folks. But you know, Don, one can only cry “victim” for so long. After a while “duped-victims” become “self-pitying-enablers.” And they become as diseased (perhaps even more so!) as the one victimizing.

Let’s Talk Some more about Jacob/Israel

l

          (The story of Jacob/Israel spans decades and is spread out over a vast area. It is recorded, with no holds barred, between the twenty-fifth and fiftieth chapter of the book of Genesis.  In this instance, I haven’t tried to identify specific verses.  This represents a sort of overview on my part, taking into consideration his entire life.  Doing that, necessarily you see one very flawed, selfish, self-centered man whom you probably would not have trusted or even liked very much. This is another case where the wonderful grace of God rescues, cleanses, and uses someone who just as easily could have wound up in the garbage dump of wasted humanity.  I can’t honestly tell you to “enjoy” this study, but it seems to be a crucial piece if you view the entire picture of man’s need and God’s grace.  Please pray for my friend, and rest assured I’ll pray for anyone in your life who resembles Jacob. ~dk)

Sorry I’ve been sort of out of touch lately.  Health issues, mostly.  In addition, I’ve really gotten stymied in my attempt to understand Jacob, another Biblical figure whom I’ve designated as one of God’s “Comeback Kids.”  Working on my book, some personal matters, and the health issues with my wife and me have been only a partial explanation of my absence.  To be very candid, in considering Jacob I’ve struggled.  It isn’t an easy study.  I find him to be one of the least likeable (yet one of the most important) of the Hebrew “heroes of faith.”  In fact, early on I consider him to be almost contemptible.  He’s a con man.  He was incredibly  selfish, apparently incurably narcissistic.  Routinely, he lies and cheats, defrauds and uses even his closest family members, friends, and strangers and is always on the take and on the make.

Apart from those considerations, I have a friend whom I’ve considered almost as close as a brother to be a modern day clone of Jacob. Seeing him waste himself and leave scars, heartbreak and carnage in his wake, has really  troubled me. And my pain is nothing when compared to those who’ve been closest to him.

Sorry.  I’ve dragged my heels.  I’ve not felt like a judge, condemning, criticizing.  I’ve felt more like a doctor looking carefully, with some understanding of human nature and a very heavy heart at a patient whom I happen to love and having to deal with the fact that a cancer is gnawing voraciously at his vitals, growing daily and inevitably leading to no good end.  And the patient, his friend, is willfully ignorant of his danger, dismissive of any attempts to block his descent,  and takes no steps to face reality and the pain he causes those who love him.  They still believe, and still hope against all odds.  He continues using, hurting, disregarding and discarding those who really love him, moving on from one duped victim to the next

The reality is there is people today just like my friend, and just like Jacob.  And, because they have such high opinions of themselves and such little regard for anyone else, they are perhaps among the most difficult to ever recognize their need to humbly, honestly seek God’s wisdom, forgiveness and grace.  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. They deceive themselves when they think otherwise.

So, through several months now, I’ve thought about “Jake the Snake.”  Wondered how he could be so  blind. So unaware or uncaring that others can see through the veneer.  How can he be so careless with his own great gifts, and trash the trust and love of those whose love he should have treasured. . . using them for his own advantage? How or why does he savage their lives with such apparent impunity?

Do I give up on such an apparently lost cause from a purely human standpoint?  How can I do that unless God does?  God saw things in Jacob that I missed. How can you explain a transformation of one so selfish and deceitful into a tower of  strength and an admirable example of faith? How could anyone except God break through such a barricade of selfishness and create a heart and life devoted to serving Him and becoming the Father of a Nation?

My guess would have been this guy, Jacob, was a lost cause.  Who knows what God can do with someone whom we regard as a lost cause?

I will say this, though: If anyone “lives for self and none beside, as though Christ had never died,” they do so at their own great peril.

God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student,                                                      ~donkimrey

A FITTING TRIBUTE

 With Fourth of July Approaching, I asked (and was given) permission  to air this post written by an acquaintance and fellow blogger.  He (Robert Brault) and his sister in law (Dr. Evie Sweet-Hurd) have been very helpful friends to me as I tried to get my own  book in some form.  This isn’t a “Scripture Study,”  but it does provide me with opportunity to thank some friends and pay tribute to our troops, everywhere, all the time, in harm’s way.  And it should also serve as a reminder for us to pray for those who serve so valiantly and sacrifice so much.  Please pray for our troops and their families.  ~don

This piece was first published on Memorial Day 1987. Its focus is Vietnam and the ambivalence about the war prevalent in the USA at that time. But its sentiments remain relevant today, and I present it again as an appreciation of all those who have died for us in battle.  Please see my note at the end of the piece.

*********************************************************************************

I never knew Donn Sweet. He was killed in Vietnam before I met his sister Joan. We’ve been down to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., my wife and I, to hunt up his name. It’s there, not quite lost among the thousands.

In a way, I’ve become acquainted with Donn Sweet. I’ve watched him mug for photographs and cavort in home movies. I have his collection of baseball cards, passed along to me by his mother.

Several times I’ve scanned a packet of letters written by a young fellow who motored from New York to California and sent home a running account of his first excited, amused view of America.

When he died, in that forward observer post, he was unknown to me. If I hadn’t met his sister a few years later, I would not think to pause before that particular name etched on the memorial stone. It might, by chance, have been any other name.

Today we honor those who died for our country. For the purpose, we’ve moved all their birthdays to a Monday in May. We honor them as America’s war dead, and this year we haven’t forgotten to include those who died in Vietnam. We’re in a mood, as a nation, to do so.

There is unease, though, when we speak of our Vietnam dead. The questions – “What were they doing there?” “What did they die for?” – are troubling. As we celebrate Americans who gave their lives in defense of freedom, we include those who died in Vietnam – but we do so with a note of defiance in our voices.

I don’t know what Donn Sweet thought about what America was doing in Vietnam. But as to what he was doing there himself, why he took the final chance he did, what he died for – it is possible, I think, to know.

When the enemy mortar shell hit, he was alone in that observer post. It was a high ground position he had taken in mortal, hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier. He had deemed the personal risk necessary — in order to direct mortar fire that would cover the pullback of the men in his platoon.

I have no doubt that he died for those men – for his friends, for the family they had become to him. He perhaps did not think beyond that – that he died also for the families of those men back home , and for other men who would live because those men lived to serve beside them.

He was trying to do there what citizen-soldiers in every war are trying to do: he was trying to end it.

He was trying to control the damage as best he could. And he was trying to not to lose his life in the process, knowing though, having thought about it, perhaps, that there is more to life than hanging on to it.

You can safely honor a person for doing something like that. You needn’t feel unease or defiance. You needn’t concern yourself about where it was: the Argonne, Normandy, Korea, Vietnam, [the Middle East].

The first Memorial Day observances honored the dead of the Union and Confederate armies. It was not a day to celebrate victories or to trumpet ideas. It was not a day to speak of national causes.

It was, and remains today, a day to salute heroes.

~~ Robert Brault in The Hartford Courant

Note: In 2008, Silver Star recipient Donn Sweet became the subject of an award-winning book by his sister Evelyn Sweet-Hurd. His Name Was Donn: My Brother’s Letters from Vietnam, was one of the national USA Best Books of 2008, placing second in the category of military history to David Halberstam’s Korean War account, The Coldest Winter. His Name Was Donn is available on both amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. My review of the book can also be found on Amazon.