on wisdom

28 Jul

from Romans 15:14, New International Version
‘I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

I have heard Tim Keller define wisdom as

‘Having competence in, within, the complexities of life where moral rules or laws do not apply.’

So my first question, asked, and it can only be asked of myself, is one of my four basic W’s, ‘where?’

Where in my life do ‘moral rules/laws’ not apply?

• love, loves, tenderness and kindness

• family, past and present, especially present; chosen and adopted; communities of friends; work; families of intimacies

• care, physical care of self, my emotions, healings, my spirit, mind and heart- as the ancient Greeks said and say – my ‘nous’-

• the forgotten; South Bronx students and their parents, their ‘care givers’ ( versus ‘caretakers’ ); the departed; those who do longer think of feel of about me, but who I still feel and remember; items lost- a beret? -chances, opportunities missed; books unread; people unloved

words not said…

wisdom for me is the ‘pause’; the breathe; the space between heart and thought beats where I reflect before acting, before overflowing emotion, before the flood of memory, remembrances, regrets and remorse

wisdom is creating as space to be ‘competent’; to manage and think of and thru complexities,

Romans 15:14 speaks of us as being ‘competent to counsel’

New International Version
‘I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.’

or, as the Berean Study Bible says,

13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles

14 ‘I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, brimming with knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15However, I have written you a bold reminder on some points, because of the grace God has given me 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

I, we ‘overflow’ with competence as we live in face complexities. Competence here, for me, means to balance my life with life; to live daily with myself admits others and our world.

He gives wisdom; a life – Jesus’ life- overflowing wisdom.

I sing with Jesus

27 Jul

a song of Jesus, Psalm 115

The last song the disciples heard, sung, spoke with their teacher Jesus were the Psalm series 113 – 118. This Psalm series was, is traditionally sung at the Passover meal. The first two, 113 and 114 before the meal: the others are, were sung after. Mark’s Gospel tells us,

“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” Mark 14: 26

At this last meal, a supper, Jesus breaks bread and drinks wine; he teaches by washing the disciples feet; he sings to and with his friends. The first song he sings with the disciples Li es after thee meal is Psalm 115 and this song, this prayer, is about idols. Wood and stone; hold and silver. Inanimate objects. Not dead, as they have never felt life’s breathe or a breeze; not alive as they touch and feel nothing.

Jesus will soon die. His human life that he feels so passionately and intensely; that he so embraces and loves will end. He will be inanimate as an idol.

Yes, his eternal spirit lives. And it lives with all the memories of foods and smells; healings and sicknesses. Jesus shows us by singing this Psalm that he is fully human, while God. He is totally, fully, completely man.

How do I know?

Psalm 115 tells me so.

I pray the Psalms each day. As I move thru the end of July 2020, this is how I prayed, sang this Psalm, with Jesus,

Psalm 115

1 Not to us, Lord, not to us

    but to your name be the glory,

    because of your love and faithfulness.

-Lord, Acts 4:12 tells me that there is no other name given to me that saves, – help me to pray your names as I pause, move, struggle thru any day, today – thru all and any days-

2 Why do the nations say “Where is their God?”

3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.

-But you my Jesus, you are the exact opposite of these idols- so, keep me, your dear child, from idols (1 John 5: 21)-

5 They ( opposite of those inanimate idols without are life ) their mouths, but cannot speak, their eyes, but cannot see.

no songs, no vision, no joys-

6 They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.

no empathy, no sympathy, stone; yet you, my Lord are human, Superhumanly, you feel everything- you can’t stop feeling, even me –

7 They have hands, but cannot feel,

-but you, my Jesus feels- you came to earth to feel –

feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

-all idols are statues- and all that admit them into their hearts, minds and spirits, became stone and wood, unfeeling – help me be as fully human as I can be my Lord, as human, if possible, as you-

9 All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.

10 House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.

11 You who fear him, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.

He protects us on his cross; His cross is our shield-

12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us:

He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron,

13 he will bless those who fear the Lord—

small and great alike.

14 May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.

15 May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He blesses-

16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.

17 It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence;

18 it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.

Praise the Lord.

-I love you Lord Jesus. I love you-

punctuation 2, Tim Keller on mothers’ forgetting

25 Jul

In my thirties I found out that my mother in 1953, on giving birth unexpectedly to twins gave one of them to her unmarried sister to care for for six months.

That was me.

Today I know that in 1953, married for 11 months and told that she was carrying an very big baby’ had an emotional breakdown. She couldn’t care for us both.

But we never really bonded. I left home and married ‘out of my race’ when 17. My parents did not talk to me, as they promised, for eight years. No one in the family did- in in a real sense – they never did, even after my divorce from Barbara.

An Elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, I serve in multiple ways and in Sunday’s did membership interviews during the AM service ( from 8-12 ) and cane back to evening 7 pm service to do after service prayer.

This was In the early 2000s and I got the CD of the morning services. On 7 February 2010 the topic from Isaiah 49: 1-16 in the Songs of the Servant series was ‘Can a mother forget?’ ( note the question mark )

Well I listen to it that afternoon before the 7 pm service. My mother had forgotten me. And still was forgetting me. I knew this scripture well, and wanted to hear a comforting response.

While Tim Keller did most of the teaching at that time, one sermon/talk out of the four services on Sundays was ‘farmed out’ to one the other staff pastors. That AM service on 7 February at the Lincoln Centre site was taught my a staff person and not Tim.

In brief summary their answer to the question of the Sunday was: Mothers, just like God, never forget their babies.

I knew from personal experience that was a BS, a crappy, answer.

My mother forget me. I was working in a high school in the South Bronx and there were hordes of forgotten kids all over the place. I believed the scriptures as true, literally and metaphorically true. I believe with all my heart. Yet, here was a scriptural interpretation that didn’t match my experience.

I needed, I still need, more.

I needed someone to acknowledge all those kids I knew. I needed someone to also see me.

I needed a mother who saw, who did not forget.

Well, off to the 7 pm service and I prayed Tim would speak.

He did.

And in his opening he immediately, immediately, said that this translation was wrong.

The punctuation of verse 15 should not be a question mark but a period. The scripture Tim explained was clear in the original:

⁃ mothers will forget children, but God never forgets anyone. We are embedded and recorded on the palms of his hands, just as the nails were on Jesus’ hands. Resurrected those wounds remain on his hands for all eternity.

I had my healing answer; I had the more I thirsted first. I had a true taste, true a sip from this word,

The Servant of the Lord

Isaiah 49: 13- 18

“Shout for joy, you heavens;

rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains!

For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget,

I will not forget you!

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

17 Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.

18 Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you.

As surely as I live, “declares the Lord you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.”

Comforted with compassion, my affliction was healed. I now have more, more than enough.

My healing lasts. Eternally, it lasts.

a pause, a prayer, a punctuation

22 Jul

my reflection on Psalm 113 today.

punctuation, a praise prayer in Psalm 113 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

1 Praise ye Jah! Praise, ye servants of Jehovah. Praise the name of Jehovah.

2 The name of Jehovah is blessed, From henceforth, and unto the age.

3 From the rising of the sun unto its going in, Praised [is] the name of Jehovah.

4 High above all nations [is] Jehovah, Above the heavens [is] his honour.

5 Who [is] as Jehovah our God, He is exalting [Himself] to sit? 6 He is humbling [Himself] to look On the heavens and on the earth.

7 He is raising up from the dust the poor, From a dunghill He exalteth the needy.

8 To cause to sit with princes, With the princes of His people.

9 Causing the barren one of the house to sit, A joyful mother of sons; praise ye Jah!

So, into punctuation: verses 5 & 6 in both the NIV and KJV switch the question mark from verse 5 and place it at the end of verse 6… as here in the NIV,

5 Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,

6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

Why the switch? Is this choice a minor one, not changing meaning?

The implication I see in both the NIV & KJV translation choice is to emphasise a God who sits and stoops to look. He is a God we look to, look up to Him to sing and praise; to worship and ask a rhetorical question that needs no question mark. It answers itself. It ‘sits.’ God sits.

Yet he does more than sit. He moves.

Young’s Literal Translation, though, has an active, moving Lord who exalts himself as he stoops, humbles, comes to us to sit. Paradoxically, His movements both humble and exalt His being, His character.

He is with the poor, the needy, and princes with the full and the barren. He moves toward us and sits with us. His movement to touch us both exalts and humbles.

Jesus is a picture of this movement. He came from heaven to earth, to sit, look, sleep and eat and pray with us. To show us His way of humility and leadership.

Humble, yet exalted; enthroned in heaven, yet seated by me. He is Lord of all, and among all.

Yes, this punctuation choice matters. It is in YLT 5 Who [is] as Jehovah our God, He is exalting [Himself] to sit?

It is question of awe that is factual by what follows: our God is exalted as he moves to humbly to sit with me.

Jesus exalted; seated at table with me.

Kathy, the valiant

21 Jul

Tim Keller in an interview on his and Kathy’s work on the book of proverbs,

‘They ( men ) shouldn’t be afraid of strong women, since the word “noble” used of this wife (31:10) means to be bold and valiant, a term ordinarily used of warriors (think “Lucy the Valiant”).’

In an epigraph to one of Tim and Kathy’s published works, he calls Kathy, his wife of many moments, the ‘valiant.’

I stopped reading their book at that point and have not picked up that particular work again. ( to this present 20 July 2020 moment )

My Pausing there came from seeing the beautiful. Tim’s dedication was a beautiful seeing. In some ways the hardest and most difficult sight; viewing and feeling your spouse as they truly are, and not how you desire them to be.

Valiant Kathy accepted my offer to serve as a NYC South Bronx HS principal. Those asked serve as ‘Principal for a Day.’ Just a day. ( a former principal before I began the job that one year as a principal was the equivalent of one year of a dog’s life. )

This day’s origin has its genesis in relationship and network building. It was about getting, generating, obtaining resources for your school.

The most precious resource I could place before my loved students was a valiant person, a Kathy Keller.

So, I always team taught one class during the school day. I needed to be in the classroom to exist, to preform and lead outside of the classroom. A principal for a day shadowed the school principal and that meant Kathy word teach an 11th grade ELA class that was studying the play ‘A Streetcar named Desire.’

Kathy was familiar with the play. We prepared by phone together and she came to the school and entered the classroom and began teaching. I always tired to take on a ‘difficult class.’ This class had a number of special needs students and, truthfully, I was a bit concerned about how the kids would relate. And I didn’t have long to wait to see these concerns begin to take shape.

One of two twin sisters shoot her hand up immediately as Kathy began speaking about Stanley and Stella’s marriage, and that she she, Kathy, had been married for 30 plus years.

Desiree asked in her blunt young uninhabited fashion, ‘Don’t you get tired of the same old dick all the time?’

I wanted to crawl into a hole.

But Kathy? She calmly and with gentle force began talking of the beauty of long term friendship with another human being. She talked about how such a long term relationship was and is true intimacy.

Only the students listened more intently than me.

Then, we went smoothly back to Stanley and Stella’s marriage and questioned if theirs was one of true intimacy. The kids thought at discussion’s end it was not.

To be, to understand the meaning of ‘valiant,’ see Kathy, through her writings or talks, her children or grandchildren, her friends or even her Tim. She is a warrior, a noble warrior.

teaching points, 2 ‘love’s question’ part b

18 Jul

To briefly review ‘love’s question part a:

after hearing Tim Keller’s teaching on the Book of Hosea, I went back, involuntarily, in time and memory to my first Christian steps with the book and the person of Hosea. ( part a )

In Tim’s Q & A session after the talk I asked in Hunter’s auditorium the following question,

How can Hosea love again? How can you, I, be able to love again? How Could someone after a Gomer’s deceits love her or another again? How would, could such a return to love be possible?

Tim tried to stall for time and then responded. Here, in a summary, is what I heard:

Tim talked about forgiveness. He moved us to Matthew 18 to see Jesus’ teaching to us and specifically to Peter on forgiving.

from Matthew 18

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Tim’s simple and elegant point from from and on this text was and is unless we forgive the person who hurt us, our Gomer’s, from the heart we can never fully love.

Our, true forgiveness, flows from the heart. From a Hosea heart.

My personal take away from Tim’s talk, sermon that day was when he spoke about God, our Father, crying for, crying over, us, his Israel, the passage he used,

from Hosea 11

8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim?

9 My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.

I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again.

For I am God, and not a man the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities.”

So, Verse 8 speaks of ‘all my compassion is aroused.’

This phrase in the Hebrew communicates tears. Crying, overwhelming emotion. The Father cries over our hurts; and how we hurt him. Yet, He forgives us, just as the King in Matthew 18 forgives his unmerciful servant. Truth, healing is in forgiveness, in mercies, in tears.

truth: we are all at times both Gomers and Hoseas; the wrong doers and the innocent; the supernaturally faithful and the spectacularly unfaithful.

If we forgive, if we let, completely ‘let’ go with open hands, we can feel words and wounds. We can feel also feel the touch on a shoulder by a hurting fellow servant in a NYC auditorium. ( see blog love’s question, part a )

Forgive to feel, to cry and then, you can, will be able to love again.

teaching points, 2 ‘love’s question’ part a

17 Jul

Tim Keller would give his Sunday morning talk/sermon at NYC’s Hunter College and then, after a brief auditorium emptying, Tim would have a question and answer session on his talk. ( this was the mid 90’s …or so- time blends )

Normally, I didn’t go to those Q and A sessions. But that day Tim subject was “Love” and his text the book of Hosea.

This was the first book of the Bible I ever studied, and I read it with a mentor while separated from my wife of seven years. This was my introduction to Christianity. I do not recommend Hosea as a spiritual beginning. It is a hard, difficult read for a person whose marriage is failing due to unfaithfulness.

Tim Keller is always an ‘A’ teacher. He is concise and insightful at the same time. He knows. And he was very good that day.

But now very happily re-married 15 years after that difficult time, the topic and my response surprised me. I wanted now to go back in time and ask one essential personal question of Hosea:

Hosea, can you, could you be able to love again? Could you after Gomer’s deceits love her or another again? How would such a return to love be possible?

So I sat in Hunter’s auditorium as Priscilla went to another Sunday School class toward the mid section. I was in the next to last row of people.

I waited and midway through I asked Tim by question, how can one who had been deeply hurt love again?

I had to go forward to the front to ask the question and as I returned to my seat, a young woman who looked as though she could be a model, touched my shoulder from her seat behind me and simply said ‘thank you.’

Tim had paused. He started talking about Star Trek and force shields. Then he paused again and said that he was speaking about Star Trek till he came up with a response,

In a few minutes he did. But it was that young woman’s touch and words that was and is my answer.

As attractive as she was, she was deeply hurting also. She needed to hear that her hurt had meaning, weight, gravitas. All hurts do with Him, with our all loving Saviour m, Jesus.

That she, her hurt mattered. And that she wasn’t alone,

Tim’s response to my question I will post Saturday 18 July 2020.

But God answered my question with a touch and a ‘thank you.’

teaching points,

16 Jul

teaching points,

20 He sendeth His word and healeth them, And delivereth from their destructions. Psalm 107:20

In May 2009 I was interviewed by ‘Christianity Today’ magazine’s Tim Stafford ( https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/june/15.20.html?share=) on the work and ministry of Dr Tim Keller.

Covering and answering a range of topics, I had one essential point: Tim Keller was and is a healing pastor. And his teaching of God’s word was, and is, Tim’s healing gift.

God sent Tim the gift of teaching so we would be ‘delivered this from destruction.’

Today is the first of 20 teaching points I have gleaned in over twenty years of healings from the succinct, concise images of Tim’s teachings.

Connections and content; memories and conversations, all blogs that follow have their genesis, their radix come from sitting with, listening and speaking, with Tim.

Read, meditate; pray and heal through the word.

Heal.

Luke’s Acts of the Apostles narrative ends, ends in, with ‘kindness’

15 Jul

I tell people I am not a kind person,

I go immediately go angry with people who hurt others, especially children.

I hate feeling my own empathic emotions. They hurt so.

I love watching ice skaters in competition, especially when they fall.

I love being right. Right about trivia and people; events and sports; right.

But I can recognise kindness. And giving, generous kindness does not hurt me as I see it.

I think the doctor, writer Luke is similar to me in this revised. From Stephen to Lydia; from Barnabas to Lois, Luke sees, he feels kindness. And images and people of kindness wash over the endings of his Acts narrative.

And this how Luke ends the Acts of the Apostles narratives with: images and actions of ‘kindness’. The kindness of strangers, gentiles…,

Strangers.

One of the great closing, exit lines of a character is spoken by the disgraced and emotionally and sexually abused Blanche in Tennessee William’s play, “A Street Car Named Desire” –

‘ whoever you are- I have always depended on the Kindness of strangers.’

Gentiles are Paul and Luke’s kind listeners as Acts ends,

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

One of my Favorite scriptures is Proverbs 19:22. Today I close this series on Acts Lord king at two translations of this word.

First, from Young’s Literal Translation

‘The desirableness of a man is his kindness,’

And now, New International Version

‘What a person desires is unfailing love; ‘

Kindness, is, in the Hebrew, the same as ‘unfailing’ love

The Hebrew word here on ‘kindness’ and/or deep unfailing love here is difficult to translate. It is used a great deal in the OT and is key in the Book of Ruth,

Defined, it is ‘Chesed (Hebrew: חֶסֶד, also Romanized ḥesed) is a Hebrew word. In its positive sense, the word is used of kindness or love between people, of piety of people towards God as well as of love or mercy of God towards humanity.’

Kindness is both an attribute as men and women and of God, of Jesus. And of Gentiles as Acts close.

Kindness is defined in great part here as ‘listening.’ I am kind when I listen to others, to strangers, to the poor, to the different. I am kind when I do not, do not just just to myself, but when I mediate and listen to Him.

To His word. To Acts. To act.

I pray today for to be as a gentile, to listen as a gentiles. To live as such. To experience ‘being green’, to experience first love, to be burnt out of my unholy lips as Isaiah in the temple.

To be empathic with others again.

To listen.

Paul’s at his end, Rome, listening Acts 28

14 Jul

They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”

‘…we want to hear…’

Hearing is not listening. Hearing sits with words, words spoke or written; words external or internal; words written or in silences, hearing sits with words for a moment and then, releases their meaning. Meanings leave without any trace.

Paul spends all day with this crowd. What do they retain, what is listened to, absorbed?

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say,

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

This large crowd of Jewish leaders whom Paul has given all to speak to, they cannot hear the Jesus in, with Paul. Words are heard, and gone. Nothing is listened to, retained and held. Hearers of the word do not act. Listeners do.

Only those who listen act. Like the apostles; like Paul. Like gentiles.

Paul now knows that strangers, gentiles, will listen.

And as we end our walk with Luke through the acts of the church and her apostles in tomorrow’s post, we will see how and why they listen.