Unfolding

I am grateful for the cooler morning and shower to settle the dust.

The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. – Psalm 119:130

Me:
Good morning Father!

ABBA:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
Psalm 119:130 has an intriguing message. Unfolding intimates a process, revealing in stages that which was hidden inside before. I think of a folded map. The outside might only have a title and other identifying markings, the useful details folded inside. I have to unfold the map, one crease at a time, to learn where I should go.

ABBA:
The adjective “the simple” has a connotation of “open minded” (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6612.htm)

So it is not just the word which must be unfolded, but realization ripens under the message’s radiance – recognized from rudiments and repeated refinements – a rhythm of revelation and recognition resulting in refreshing and regeneration and renewal, and rejoicing.

If you look closely, you will find also, that some of the fun of the choice of words is lost in translation from the pictographs that underlay the Hebrew alphabet to the words of English:

Opening, unfolding – פֵּ֫תַח pethach (pay’ – phakth) and simple, open-minded – פֶּ֫תִי pthiy (peth-ee’)

Those who assert that Hebrew does not contain “rhymes” have not unfolded all.

Me:
Thank You Father! I love You!

ABBA:
You are welcome! I love you!

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Coincidental Meditation

There it was, on the third shelf in the basement. One of those artifacts that just seem to aggregate of their own will. The white insulated vinyl shopping tote was a leftover from a 1981 trip my wife made, before she became my wife. She had picked it up to carry her purchases from the refrigerator case back to the rooming house where she was staying. The Tesco logo was plainly visible even in the dim light from the single basement window high on the wall above. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if Stephen Black hadn’t issued that silly flash fiction challenge on his blog and included cellphone photos of the receipt he had picked up at the counter on one of his own shopping expeditions. They were left behind, Stephen said, by those too impatient to wait for the printer on the register to spew out the record of their transaction. What possessed him to pick them up? I can’t say. Did some force of the mysterious universe cause him to take the time to write about them on his Fractured Faith blog? Obviously.

Once I had picked the bag off of the shelf and slid its galvanized zipper open and  peered inside, my eyes straining to pierce the gloom, I knew I would have to strike the word “obviously” forevermore from my vocabulary. (After this one last time.) It was there in the bottom. Just one slip of faded paper.

My mind couldn’t take in the contents of that fragment. The universe had become too weird to comprehend. Yet there it was, identical in every twisted  way, to the one that Stephen had posted, except the year on the date and the parchment-yellowed paper marking its travel through time.

I don’t know what to make of it. It is too strange for coincidence. Somehow, Stephen had to be behind it all. But how? Did he collaborate with her ages ago? For what purpose?  To mess with my mind? Mission accomplished, if that was their aim.  Was there some sinister portent behind waiting until the digits of the year were reversed? Clearly my wife had waited for her receipt, in the Tesco that day.  I decided I wouldn’t risk asking her about it as I went up the basement stairs, whistling in the dark, at least on the inside.

 

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If

Featured photo from Garden of the Gods – Colorado Springs Colorado

 

I am grateful that You are loving!

 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10

 

Me:

Good morning Jesus!

 

Jesus:

Good morning Jon!

 

Me:

If I didn’t know better, from verses like Romans 5:8 (But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.), I could read John 15:10 as a statement of condition for God’s love.

 

Jesus:

“If” precedes a statement of condition, by definition. But it is not the condition that has come first to your mind. The condition is not stating that God will love you only if you behave in a particular way. The condition stated is that God – because He loves you – has prepared a beneficial (saving, growing, healthy, vibrant, giving, amazing, purpose-fulfilling, life-changing, joyful, …, and on and on) way for you to walk and has told you about it. The “if”, therefore, refers to whether you will accept His goodness and walk in the Way He has prepared; His plan for your good (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

“Don’t play in the street”, a parent tells his child. Is this a command?

 

Me:

Yes, it is.

 

Jesus:

Is it given to prevent the child from enjoying the wonders of the roadway?

 

Me:

It is given to protect the child whose experience is not developed enough to avoid the mortal dangers of traffic speeding along the street.

 

Jesus:

Is protection an expression of love?

 

Me:

Yes, it is. An expression of love by a parent meeting a critical need of the child.

 

Jesus:

Do all children obey?

 

Me:

No. Not all. Perhaps none obey all of the time.

 

Jesus:

Does disobedience in this matter dissolve the love of the parent for the child?

 

Me:

Not even if the worst actually happens.

 

Jesus:

So it is with God.

 

Me:

Thank You Jesus! I love You!

 

Jesus:

You are welcome! I love you!

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Town Deer – Woodland Park Colorado

Grateful for Wrath

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

It seems Jesus used some harsh words, calling the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs”, “hypocrites”, “brood of vipers”, and other such things.

Which stirred up anger.

Resulting in His crucifixion, according to the eternal plan of the Father.

And resulting in the written record of unmistakable condemnation of the hypocritical behavior of the religious leaders.

Satan is also known for wrath, but of a different sort.  There is no turning away or appeasement of Satan’s wrath. He is consumed and identified by it (Revelation 12:12). The Pharisees were channeling it.

Most Bible verses containing the word wrath refer to God’s. God’s wrath is against evil. Satan’s wrath is against God and those who are His.

The Greek is instructive. ὀργῆς (orgēs) wrath – intrinsically/settled and constitutionally opposed. (As used in Revelation 6:16 of the Lamb.)

Ours is usually of a lesser sort. [F]or the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:20

As you see from the Greek, God’s wrath – His opposition to evil – is precisely because He is good. He cannot be good and wink at evil¹. We visualize wrath from our own experience with anger, which unredeemed, is based in fear, and certainly not of God. His wrath and righteousness are not mutually exclusive, but complementary and protective (of us, for example).

Satan’s wrath fits the same definition but is pointed in the opposite direction; he has become constitutionally opposed to good.

Me:
I have not (ever?) meditated on Your wrath, Father. Probably, I should have. I thank You for Your wrath. I am grateful that it is Your nature to oppose evil – the corruption of Your creation under the influence of sin. I love you! Thank You for Your wrath! Thank You that Jesus bore Your wrath on my account!  It was right that You oppose the evil I have done. Sometimes mindlessly, always selfishly, never justifiable.  It was pure mercy that He bore my penalty.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

[1] Phrase remembered from C. Spurgeon?

Bulwark

I am grateful for the day at home and the chance to reflect on the glorious benefit of the eternal stability of God to those who rely on Him.

He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. Psalm 91:4

Down toward the end of the time before Jesus’ arrest (which, from this,  we know He clearly saw coming) we see this protective heart of God revealed at work in Him on our behalf.

Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:31-35

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Placard: Building Fort Sevier
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You Are Here (Obviously)

Released!

I am grateful for the rain on this spring day, preparing the soil to support the season’s new growth.

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:3

Changing minds and hearts is often a slow process. Changing my heart and mind is a slow process. My enemy may lay traps for me in my circumstances, to be sure. But more insidious are the snares laid in my own beliefs that as yet have not been conformed completely to the truth. I thank You Holy Spirit that You are come to guide into all the Truth (John 16:13) and that the Truth is setting me free (John 8:32). What a powerful Agent of Deliverance You are!

 

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Placard at Fort Sevier, renamed Fort Bruce, renamed Fort Defiance

 

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Big gun, with my Sweetie for scale

most High

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1

Father, whatever I can imagine, You far surpass.  Anything I observe, You created.  The loftiest human endeavor, the most beauty I have seen with my eyes, the highest aspects of my character (even after being redeemed by You), the most magnificent melody, these are all fall short of You by an infinite measure.  Thank you for revealing as much of Yourself as I am able to take in!