Freedom House Update 2/1/2012: Progression with ongoing battle. Response of trust, obedience, prayer, and requests

The battle does continue with no resolution on licensing concerns at this point. However, there is a progression going on in the steps needing to be taken.  Currently one property has been approved for Board and Lodge license. The property that has not is a duplex. It is scheduled to have four per unit.  The city has stated that it does not meet requirements for licensure at that number.  The units are at that number at cities request according to zoning laws. Kingdom Pathways has sought to be submissive and obedient to all city requests.  Yet, they have refused licensure on that property due to the number per unit. The part that is hard to understand is that licensure law is written that is one building that has to be over four members not a part or unit, so it should meet requirement for being able to license the one property. However, the city has declined licensure and directed Kingdom Pathways to go through the appeals process.

The other end of things is the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services which requires funding in order to receive the Chemical Dependency treatment funds.  They have been insisting on the licensure for funds even though the city does not require the licensure.  Attempts are being made by the lawyer to negotiate with the state to take inspection reports in lieu of licensure but so far they have declined to accept that condition.  Please pray for a potential favorable outcome here and if not, pray for the movement in the process to those that will make a favorable decision in the appeals process.

It is worth noting that in the process Kingdom Pathways has sought to be obedient and submissive to authority. It has not sought to create publicity, nor find methods of exerting pressure by finding connected members in community to exert influence. Rather, the steps in the battle have been to obey, submit, and pray.

It is noteworthy that in the process, the six resident building has been approved for licensure by the city.  Also, Kingdom Pathways has received a U-Care insurance contract. There will be services starting.  The plan is to start staff receiving training and starting on February 23rd.

Now it is important to make people aware that the financial needs are ongoing. Director Jim Michaud has missed is own personal mortgage payment for the first time ever.  The family has literally given all and put total financial health at risk by taking on personal debt to keep buildings running.

In terms of need, there have been several mortgage payments missed on the two properties. Jim Michaud has been able to negotiate with the banks but payments are expected in February with no ability to hold back payments.  One building has a payment due of $1400 on February 10th. So donations are needed ASAP to be able to make this payment.  The other property has a mortgage due of $2200 dollars on February 20th.  Please go to http://www.kingdompathways.org/generosity.php and make a donation online.  You can also send donations to:

Kingdom Pathways
P.O. Box 4125
St. Paul, MN 55104

You can reach the director of Freedom House and Kingdom Pathways at info@kingdompathways.org.

If unable to give please pray.  Also feel free to send an email with any encouragement or connections to the Kingdom Pathways email. 

Please pray for the obedience and submission to be honored with a negotiated resolution to the licensing issues on the duplex property. Pray for God to bring in donations. Pray for other preparations to start with things becoming operational by the end of February.

If you have considered donating but are waiting for the end result of the licensing please do not hold  back.  There are resources in place to start that will enable beginning but the biggest need is the financial resources, in particular with full funding not being in place for both properties.

It is also worth noting that the plan is develop multiple funding sources, as money from government is often fickle.  Yet, those all take time and need operations to be active in order to obtain.  Yet, God can and will raise up people to meet needs. So currently the steps on the path are to walk in trust and obedience.  The obedience it to both God and man (the established authorities) as go through the due process. The response has not been to go the way of the world but to pray, make requests known, and to obey. Please consider how God wants you to be a part.

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For those awaiting new content that is not simply a Freedom House update, there will be a return soon to new content.  In the meantime please read an old post on God’s provision that is appropriate to this situation: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/some-principles-of-god%e2%80%99s-provision-found-in-1-kings-17/

Personal Musing: 9-11-2001 to 9-11-2011: Thoughts on ten years of change and choices

Today, 9/11/2011 is the ten-year anniversary of the collapse of the twin towers after airplanes ran into them. Tributes, memories, and stories have been playing on television on varied stations. It is also a time where can reflect on where at on that day emotionally and where are today. God showed both the illusion of perceived peace of the world as well as His sovereignty. Each person in the United States had to face how he or she perceived safety and some took time to examine relationship with God. God also showed that pride does come before a fall. People thought nothing could ever happen; pride was strong. Then towers fell. Things have changed. Ten years have brought a world more insecurity. There have been wars, financial struggles, and everything shaken. There were cries for change and disillusionment. In addition, whether we like it or not, change happened. Ten years ago the world is not the same as it was, this country and the world is a far different place than it was ten years ago.

For me and my wife, we had been married for just over a year. There were lots of hopes and dreams as we were working on growing together and getting started. It was a strange thing waking up and then learning what happened on the internet. The action shattered the perception of “safety” and awareness of pervading darkness was strong, particularly for my wife. Fears were pervasive. In the midst of that, as we sought God, He gave us a lesson and a promise. The story is found at this previous article https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/reflections-8-years-after-9-11-2001/. Quickly the lesson was twofold. People are bound in darkness, listening to lies and need the truth. The second is that God is aware of the encroaching darkness and is always simply a request away. He will provide safety in the darkest times if one turns to Him in surrender and calls on Him. The promise was personal to the desires of me and my wife with the promise of two children.

Looking back ten years, the promise still stands awaiting fulfillment. In the past ten years, the calling on God in need at times missed; succumbing to the darkness happens easily. Yet, we have changed and grown. We live each day aware of the fragility of this life. The things that have transpired have worked in our lives to shape and change us. We both have areas of needed growth and moving toward overcoming the own things that bind us. We are free in Jesus but He has us work out the healing and growth. It is easy to lose focus and at times, we certainly have; yet God brings us reminders, draws us back, and urges forward on His path. We know that as we walk through life in this dark world there is joy and pain. We can choose to focus on self, and on pain, or walk the path God sets before us. When we follow God’s way, ultimately there is fruit. When we go our own way, we struggle. It is easy to fall into the path of pride. It is easy to embrace unbelief. It is easy to be selfish. Honestly, there have been moments of each. There also was been moments of great change and repentance. Today, we face a challenge to move forward on God’s path. A challenge to trust in God and move forward on the path with what God puts before us. A challenge to spend more time calling on him and be filled with the light of His love. Each day needs to be a day to move forward. He will renew and uplift but there needs to be responsible forward movement while depending on Him. The choice is ours as it has been each day since that fateful day. Either shrink back and be overwhelmed in the encroaching darkness, or to walk in faith taking the steps as God leads. And these choices are not just for me and my wife but for each us. For tomorrow everything can change in a moment.

Every day each of us need to remember the He who promised is faithful. We live in days of encroaching darkness. Things will continue to change. A time is coming when right is called wrong and wrong right, even more than what is in evidence today. People will lose sight of God’s path and walk their own. People will embrace promises of safety that will crash. Some people will embrace illusion and lies. Other will see and speak truth. As much as things have changed, more change is to come. People will either embrace the darkness of find God’s light. As for me and my household, we are seeking and serving the Lord and His way. Take time and reflect where you have been, where you are, and where going. Are you seeking God or seeking self. Walking in God’s light, or lost in the dark. So here is the challenge, seek, examine, and pray. Ask God to show you where may be bound and what you need to turn over to Him. Seek him and move forward in your relationship with God and touching those in the world around you. Each day is a new day and new choice. Move forward or shrink back. Faith or fear. God’s light or chains of darkness. Truth or lies. God’s love or despair. Resistance or surrender. Self-determined path or God’s way. What do you choose?

 

Musing on the Tragic Death of Amy Winehouse

Well yesterday, 7/23/2011, the pop music artist Amy Winehouse died. Sadly, not one person is truly surprised at her death for she was living on borrowed time, long ensnared by addictions to drugs and alcohol. It was simply a matter of time. She continued to use and ultimately she died. Sadly, her one hit was the song “Rehab” which she essentially wrote and sang about her rejecting a plea for her to go to drug rehabilitation. Her is a fact, while Amy’s life and death was tragic and while many can easily sit in judgment over how sick she was and proclaim if only she would get clean, each of us are really no different. When it comes to making changes, we too often protest “No, no, no.” There are things we like, we enjoy that we really just do not want to give up. We resist calls to repentance with the reply “No, no, no.” It takes brokenness and a realization of the truth to move toward change. We all have choices to make. There are many paths to death and destruction beyond the likes of alcohol and drugs. We are selfish and walk paths even with full knowledge that it is not good. We all have trouble embracing changes and turning from the paths of death. Ultimately there is one choice each person needs to make and sadly the refrain there is too often “no, no, no.” And that choice is surrender to the Creator, to Jesus the King of Kings. All to readily the response is “They told me to submit to Jesus” and “I said no, no, no.” See, for the appeal of self-direction and choosing own life, even if well aware of the pain and emptiness with lack of true peace, is alluring. Any life that dies apart from surrender is tragic. It is the path of many, not just Amy Winehouse. It is a sad day that such a hurt and broken soul reached the death point. It is too late for Amy, it is not too late for you. Please do not cry out “No, no, no” any further. This is true even for those who have submitted to Jesus yet God is stirring you to change and let go of areas of sin in your life. Stop saying “no, no, no” and repent, for the rejection only brings more pain. Surrender, say yes, it is worthwhile!

July 4th Musing: Comparing self-determined and God-determined living

Today, Monday July 4th, 2011 is Independence Day, a day of celebration of the birth of the United States of America. It was on this day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was sign. It is that document that sets forth the guiding principles of the United States.  The document set forth the principles of freedom that this country was built.  Yes, this country has freedom and self-determination. Today many folks talk about the cost of freedom, that it comes with a price. Certainly the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave their all in support of the concept of freedom proclaimed in that document. However, this article is not about extolling the virtues and cost of the founding principles of this country but rather examine the principles in comparison to God’s Kingdom principles.

The principles at the core of the Declaration was that  people have a choice and are free to set their course.  These principles are summed up with the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  In other words, people are free to determine there course including the government they are willing to submit. People are free to make there choice in all areas of life.  They are free to choose their path in life.

The Kingdom of God does not operate on principles of self-determining a path in life. Yes, we have choice but the key element of the Kingdom of God is this “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (ESV).  The Kingdom of God is about self-surrender which brings true life. There is much in this world that can be pursued but the only real life, is life in proper relationship with God. It is leaving the world of self-determined choices and surrendering to following God’s leading and God’s way. It is a move from self-determination to God-determination.

The Kingdom of God view of liberty is also different than that of the concept in the Declaration of Independence. The liberty referenced is that of freedom to do whatever one desires as long as it does not interfere with others.  It is freedom from not only oppression but restriction of own desires.  The Kingdom of God principle of liberty is quite different. The Kingdom of God liberty is about freedom from the bondage to sin and self.  It is freedom from the consequences of our selfishness.  Each of us makes choices each day. There are many choices that move away from God and give a momentary pay off that leave one bound and oppressed.  Yet, God offers freedom to all who will take it, but it means surrendering God’s authority. When you do so, freedom from all those choices of the moment is granted and relationship with the Creator is secured. 

The Declaration of Independence indicates that the ultimate goal of all is the “pursuit of happiness.” In  other words, we are to be free to take a path that makes us feel good. It is pursuit of overall well being. It is a pursuit of that which is pleasing.  In the Kingdom of God, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 which offers a different take than that which makes us feel good or pleases us.  Rather, it stands in contrast with brokenness, mercy, righteousness, purity, and persecution as elements valued in God’s Kingdom which is moving being the satisfaction of self known as happiness.

The world today bemoans the pain and suffering.  There are cries for tolerance and letting everyone select their own path toward creating their own good.  Now, self-determination has often resulted in people pursuing goals that bring success and benefit many, but it simply provides means to limit the pain.  Any government can become oppressive and certainly will not please all. There is a better way to live than by the concepts found in the Declaration of Independence when you live in submission to the creator and surrender self to God.  The surrender of self is what is required to join God’s Kingdom. It is His rule and following His determination or it is a self-determined course.  The path of self is filled with illusion and temporary gains, the path of God is that of faith, endurance, and promises of lasting life and happiness as we are transformed and brought in alignment with the Creator’s design and intent.  

Now, we do  have a choice. Each of us. We can choose our path and direction and go by our will, avoiding harm to others.  We can select those who govern us and see if they help or hinder our own and societies well being.  We can seek to live in an ever changing world, altering the social contract as necessary.  The other choice is that of looking beyond this world and entering the Kingdom of God.  It starts with being reconciled with the creator and then results with changes within as we grow and mature as members of God’s kingdom. In God’s Kingdom though all who enter are more than simply subjects, because we are adopted into God’s family. We are selected to a very intimate and select relationship with one who looks for our good always. Yes, even when it does not appear to be so.  It involves entering the eternal contract and surrendering to God’s determination and way.  It is only by doing so can one truly find life, liberty, and happiness for any other way is temporary and illusion leading to bondage.  For it is as stated in John 8:36 (ESV) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Holy Week Musing: The Dark Sabbath: Resting When All Seems Shattered

The day after Good Friday is a day not much attention is paid. Not many sermons are given on the day in between the cross and resurrection. When we do not spend some time focusing on this day of deep, dark despair we miss part of the picture. See the disciples; those who left all to follow Jesus had nowhere to turn. Jesus was just crucified, now what were they to do? They really didn’t have a clue. The choices basically were less than inspiring. All their hope was nailed to the cross, depression and despair took hold. Fear was great. Peter was so afraid he denied knowing Jesus three times. There has never been a period in time darker. Hope was gone. Some gather together and waited; some went back to what they knew best. Simply put, they were devastated and were just surviving.
Each of us do have moments of time where dreams are shattered, hope seems lost, things do not go according to our expectations, and often to the contrary. We can pull back, shut down, sleep or go back to what we knew. Of course each moment when we engage in those actions in the times of dark despair, we know that our response doesn’t suffice, but we know not what else to do. We do not know what God is actually doing or saying. All we know is we need to follow, hold on to God in spite of all appearances. For none of us knows what tomorrow brings, all we know is what God set before us, even when we cannot see any sign of hope.
But this we can know for certainty. God is at work. God is faithful. He will accomplish all He has set forth. He always keeps His promises and His word. Any period of dark despair is but temporary. Morning will come but does not last, the mourning is turned to dancing as God reveals His will and intent which is always better than anything we devise of our own accord. So in those dark times, God calls us to trust in him, rest in Him. The darkest time, a time where rest truly was needed, happened on a Sabbath, with the focus to be off self and on God. And on the darkest Sabbath, God was acting to secure the Eternal Rest, found in Jesus. Thus a call when times see dark, no where to turn, no where to go, no idea what God is going to go, remember to rest in God, for He is at work and will show the way, you can rest. Morning is coming and soon you will dance. Soon!

Now given these thoughts and musings, take some time to meditate on Psalms 30

A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple. I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

News Commentary: Mr. Frank Vennes Jr. Indicted- An Exposed Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

         Soon after this blog was started the Tom Petters ponzi scheme was exposed.  One of the individuals involved in the scheme was Frank Vennes Jr. a professed evangelical who had ties to Teen Challenge, a prison ministry called Charis, and Northwestern College in Minnesota.  The initial article[i] called Mr. Vennes Jr. to task for being a wolf in sheeps clothing and those who knew and supported Mr. Vennes confronted this writer for jumping to conclusions and passing judgment without facts on Mr. Vennes. I recognized that my initial response did come from some anger, but the anger was related to what appeared to be blatant deceit.  The anger was recognized leading to a published apology.[ii] In January of 2010, this writer wondered what did Mr. Vennes actually know and commented about how we all need to stand for truth[iii]. See Mr. Vennes friends and voraciously defended the man and his reputation that doubt was caught on the initial impressions and anger.  It turns out the impression and anger was righteous and justified.

            His friends pointed out the fact that Mr. Vennes was not indicted no did he seem the target of the investigation.  It was that one fact that led to questions. Well, now there are questions no more.  As. Mr. Vennes has now been indicted. Apparently his finances had long ago been seized in relation to the fraud.  Sure, an indictment is not “proof” but the points of the initial articles were relevant and on target. See the question was always whether Mr. Vennes was a man conned, or an integral part of the con.  The current allegations point to his being an integral part of the con.  The Star Tribune article[iv] states that Mr. Vennes is on tape stating the empty warehouses will cause the scheme to “implode” and that the whole thing is “a little paper manufacturing plant.”

            See this shows appearance can be deceiving.  It illustrates that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. If you think you know a person, even had his deep faults confessed, he still can be seeking after that which is crooked and deceiving.  And Mr. Vennes is not really any different that any of us.  Each of us are capable of deceit and betrayal.

            In retrospect, there are lessons to be learned. While caution is always in order, there is righteous judgment and discernment.  The truth can be known without evidence of all the facts. Mr. Vennes is alleged to have actively conned others, and this writer believes that to be true.  He put both Teen Challenge and Northwestern College in positions that impacted them and threatened their existence. The root of the actions and deception was all in order for a handful of people to make a lot of money.

            Another point is no matter how well hidden things seem to be, sooner or later all the deeds in darkness will be exposed. Some, like the Petters scheme will be exposed in this life time before all. But when Jesus returns, every little evil will be brought into open. Nothing hidden! 

            It is also worth noting how easily any of us can be if we operate based on experience.  We think we can know a person, view their actions and conclude they are seeking after pure motives. Yet, there are many like Mr. Vennes or Ananias and Sapphira, or Judas that more is going on then the initial experience. With the disciples, none but Jesus knew what was in his heart, even when he left the last supper, pointed out as a betrayer, the disciples see were unaware of the darkness in his heart. He followed Jesus.  It is due to revelation of the Holy Spirit that Ananias and Sapphira were exposed and brought to death.  Some think that God is cruel for such actions. But it is that deep deception, the deceitful appearance and heart that God knows impacts and corrupts many. Their death was an act of love and righteous wrath. Now, I hope and pray that Mr. Vennes is not like Judas or Annanias and Sapphira. It is not too late for true repentance. However, the man has conned many for a long time and the veracity of anything coming from the man will need to be questioned.  For it is not the appearance of good works that is the fruit of repentance, it is true surrender to Jesus. Mr. Vennes faked it fooling many, but He has been exposed. The story serves as an example for all.  And if there are friends who still seek to defend the man, take it up with the creator, for Mr. Vennes in my mind is a deceiver and wolf in sheeps clothing that fooled many.

Personal Musing: When things compound

Well, on the verge of getting moving forward when ended up with a new influenza infection resulting in any momentum that was restarting slowed.  Many of what I wanted to get moving forward on and getting back to continued to be on the back burner.  However, one thought notice is that this viral infection was another in a series of compounding events that built up to make it difficult to engage and move forward.  It is the compounding of things in and of themselves minor that can wear one down.  In essence, the more things that can compound the higher the level of “felt suffering” or as we like to call it, stress.  It is one bit of pressure compounding another and so on.  We all have periods in our life where we experience such pressures.  Now, in the long run such moments and seasons of life do strengthen us, for it is under pressure that we grow.  It is times like this that can reveal areas of self that need to be turned from or grow.  It is under such periods of time that we can be aware of things that were doing, ways of interacting or doing that are  not in line with serving Jesus.  It is the ways of self, the routines we get comfortable with even if we know it is just not quite right but have come to have it as acceptable and no big deal.   See, here is the deal, just as what might be considered minor “personal suffering” when taken in whole with other issues will be harder when compounded with others, is it not or sin and selfishness and acceptance of what we consider minor just a reflection of deeper issues.  When sin compounds and builds on sin it becomes far more than one issue.  This is part of why all sin is sin, there is nothing minor.  For it all compounds and before God, even what most may consider no big deal, to Him is corruption and twisting and will only compound with other things that might not be considered no big deal.  So what are your thoughts?  Are you in a period or season of compounding suffering?  Do you have things in your life you consider to be minor and no big deal?  What do you need to turn from in this season, this time?

Superbowl Sunday Musing: True Victory

The day of this commentary is Superbowl Sunday. The day the “big game” is played. The games serves as the end of the football season where one team comes out on top and achieves victory. It is the cultural apex not only in the United States of America, but the world as well. No other contest, no other game gets the attention and the notoriety worldwide.

This game and the ultimate victor is one of many such contests, with one gaining the victory and coming out on top over all others. It is really a contest to determine who is the best and is the essence to how things function in the ways of the world. It is all about “reaching the top.” Be it career, politics, athletics, games, contests, and so on, in the world it is all about rising above the rest. Then once that is achieved, the contest starts all over. The victory is temporary and fleeting, lasing but moments.

There is a victory though that is not about “rising above” others. This victory is not fleeting or temporary but endures. This victory is that which occurs when one enters in to the Kingdom of God and recognizes Jesus as both Savior and Lord. For the true victory was already won, already declared when Jesus cried “IT IS FINISHED!” This victory is about victory over sin and the return to relating and depending on God. It is the setting in motion that of untwisting what was twisted when life apart from God was chosen. In this victory the least are the greatest and loss is gain. It is contrary to the world system and the constant striving to come out on top. It is simply victory through right relationship with God and having a place in His Kingdom. No granted, this victory is one that does not appear sound to the normal eye.

If I let go of that which is of self and look to God alone, how gain I gain. This because all we know of victory is the crawling, scratching, and fighting to come out on top. But see, the worlds way, the fighting to be on “top” there can only be “one” victor. In the way of God, the way of Jesus, there are many winners, yet it is hard to grasp. This victory is called the narrow way for many will choose the road that appears right with confidence they will make it through on top. It is a way of self-effort and self-determination. It is a way of losing. God’s way, the way found in Jesus and the victory established of the cross is the way of surrender. It is the way of growing up in righteousness while both transformed and renewed. It is the way of letting go and giving up of self. The cross started things moving and the course is set, victory is assured for all those who accept Jesus as both Savoir and Lord.

The time of victory is coming closer every day. The day is coming when all will be made right. It will appear for a time that the powers of darkness win and the schemes of the devil prevail. But the time is but limited and soon all will be made right, not by our efforts or strength but in surrender to Jesus and bringing all things under His authority. It is not done by our striving or effort, but will happen upon His return. True victory is assured. Victory over death. Victory over suffering. Victory over all that ails all of creation. Those entangled and engrossed in the twisted things of self and darkness will be death with and true life will be known. When Jesus does return and claim victory, the war cry will be sure “HIS LOVE ENDURES FOR EVER!” For it is by His love alone that all is made right. It was His love alone that established the way. It is His love alone that assures the victory. Imagine if you knew today the outcome of the game ahead of time. This is what it is like in terms of the true and eternal victory. We know the outcome, we know Victory is assures. So no matter what the struggle of the day is, as long as you remain in Him, remain true to the Kingdom of God and continue to surrender to Jesus as both Savior and Lord, then Victory is assured. So stand firm, endure, and surrender to him. Then rejoice in the Lord, for Victory is Won for it is HIS LOVE THAT ENDURES FOREVER!

Musing on Reflection

Reflection: A simple word that brings immediate thoughts to mind such as an image reflected by a mirror or body of water.  Today in thinking about this word it is taking on more depth of meaning.  The thought process started in recognizing not only is a reflection duplication of an image or a representation of something but it also is a word used to denote careful consideration of a thought or idea[1].  So while the word at face value is simple, when you examine the word more closely it bring greater depth of understanding which also helps us grasp our relationship with God and others. 

The depth does not just stop when examining the word pointing to both representation and careful consideration.  The word is also one that indicates active ongoing change. For example, in computer science the term reflection points to a process that observes and modifies its own structure and behavior at runtime[2].  One could gain even further depth of meaning by understanding the physics of the reflection of light[3].  There are essentially two forms of reflection: one that gives an image (specular) and one that holds the energy but does not give an image (diffuse) [4], the difference between the two being the nature of the interface[5].    Now take some time to think about these facts as it pertains to the Christian life.

As Christians, we are directed to be “imitators of Christ” (Ephesians 5:1, 1 Corinthians 11:1) which is by nature reflecting Christ.  The starting point of our being a reflection of Jesus the Christ is God’s initiation.  God’s initiation is always His word.  It was by His word that all was created. It is by His word we receive direction.   His word is His command.  Now here is the central element of God’s word, Jesus is the Word. (John 1:1) In all cases, God’s initiation, God’s word is Jesus.  He is the light.  He is what we are to reflect.  It is all about Jesus and his sacrifice so that all may be free. Jesus is the initiation.

The next element is the response. In examining the meaning and dynamics of reflection it stands out that the nature of the “responder” to the initiation is indicative of the result. The initiation is both matched and duplicated or it is absorbed and dissipates.  So it with our response to God’s word, His initiation; all that is Jesus. Either we match and duplicate what God directs or we simply absorb it, having no impact.  This is the essence of light and darkness. When we follow God’s word, we reflect Jesus and shine light. How we respond, what we do is the reflection. When we are in line with God there is light.  When we fail to respond in accordance with God’s word and will then we consume or deflect the light and generate darkness, as darkness comes from consumption of light.

Now it is important to also take note the active change.  We are to constantly observe self and modify when we find self not in line with God’s word, God’s initiation. In order to do this we need to take time in deep consideration of God’s word and self-examination to see where we are not aligned with God’s initiation.  We are to keep on considering and modifying to become more and more aligned with God’s word, will, and way; to look more and more like Jesus. So now take some time, deeply consider reflection and let God show you ways to be more aligned with him and more accurately reflecting Jesus. 

*Post written to participate in one word blog carnival: http://peterpollock.com/2010/12/reflection-blog-carnival/


Musings on the Incarnation: God’s Divine Empathy

Lately God has brought to my mind a growing awareness of the depth of God’s empathy. Perhaps it is related to the gifts of empathy he has given me and the ongoing awareness of deepening levels of pain. As thinking about empathy and God in relation to this season where we celebrate the Incarnation, of God stepping down and taking on flesh, being God with us it cross my mind that the Incarnation really is a visible demonstration of God’s empathy. God became flesh, experienced life in a world twisted by sin and filled with pain and suffering. Jesus ultimately suffered greatly, dying a gruesome death in order to set us free and opening the door for God to be truly with us.  Emmanuel, God with us is all about divine empathy.

Divine empathy is a difficult concept to fully grasp for often times we fail to even grasp simple human empathy.  We have difficulty at times putting ourselves in the place of others.  Yet, God is constantly aware fully of others.  He knows our depth.  God daily is aware of the pain of all.  He knew from the moment of the first choice to go against His will the depth of pain, the twists it caused.  God is in constant awareness of the whole of pain. He is constantly filled with empathy. Then He took that empathy, came to earth and entered into the physical reality of the fallen and twisted world.  He moved beyond the emotional awareness to the physical experience. He does not just know of the pain, does not just feel the pain, but experienced the depth of the pain.  God’s awareness of the pain of sin, God’s empathy, really helps us understand even God’s wrath and actions that cause many to suggest wrath in inconsistent with love. Well if one begins to understand divine empathy the reason for divine justice and wrath is clear.  God is not capricious in His actions, there is purpose and that purpose pertains to the pain and twists caused being outside God’s will, plan, and order. 

Yet, even greater than understanding God’s wrath, is if we understand part of God’s character as divine empathy then we understand better the relational nature of the Holy God.  Personally, one of my struggles with God is truly entering and engaging God relationally.  God often has felt distant and far off.  Now there are certainly experiences in my life that helped shape that faulty perception but really grasping God as one who embodies true and pure empathy lets me grasp deeper the love and know that God is far beyond one that is distant.  He is always aware of every ounce of my pain and knows full well the pain of my own choices.  Each and every self-centered action is aware of.  In fact, God’s empathy stretches beyond humanity to the whole of Creation. He knows how it was twisted. He knows the pain of each living creature.  Divine empathy is beyond understanding.  And grasping God as divinely empathetic gives a grasp of His love and awakens me that there is not a moment, not a speck that God does not know and understand.  He knows my pains, my hurts, my pains, my fears intimately not just at the “awareness” left but also at experiential and felt level. 

Takes some time during this season of celebrating the incarnation and God’s carrying out His plan of salvation. His plan displayed divine empathy and enables God with us, enable God in us, and makes it so we can approach God, as no longer any barrier for the sin and pain and twist of actions outside of God’s will is more than He could bear in His Holy empathy for our sins cause God great pain.   God’s love and empathy and immeasurable, ever enduring.  Praise the Most Holy One who is beyond our ability to grasp, for who can measure the love of immeasurable empathy that bore all so that we may be made right.  Hallelujah!