Musing on Remembrance

Today is a day marked of remembrance of a fateful day when two towers fell in New York city. On this day the memories of the darkness and the evil on man can inflict on another are prime. Remembrance is importance. This blog is not going to reflect on any aspects of that fateful day but rather discuss the ongoing importance of the act of remembrance. It is some God directs us to do and is important to any level of moving ahead and growing. Often we want to forget dark and painful things. Yet, there are important things to bring to attention, primarily the ways God moved.

God directed others over and over to remember. First of all to remember Him and His promises as we can often forget. We can become dull of mind and caught up in varied aspects of life and we can forget. God knows our tendency to forget. He directed Israel on several occasions to set up memorials and altars to remember what God has done. He established festivals in Israel such as Passover that focus on remembering what God has done. These things can be easily forget or even set aside off in some dusty corner of our lives and mind. We need to remember. There is restoration and healing in healthy remembrance. Any healthy remembrance is focused on what God did, is doing, and has promised to do. So take time, reflect and consider what God has done, is doing, and has promised. Look back on that fateful day eleven years ago and look at how God dealt with you then, where are you know, and where are you going. As you remember let God move in your heart and deal with whatever needs to be dealt with and surrender whatever comes to light to him. And when you do, when you remember, then praise God, for whatever has been gives chance for God to reveal Himself and each memory is an opportunity to give God praise and glory. Even in the darkest of memories and time.

Personal musing: What is going on? Way too much silence!

Yes, I have been quiet. I even neglected to write what would have been important blogs during important times such as my birthday, independence day, father’s day and other moments where I certainly have had thoughts pondering and percolating.  Yet, I have failed and not lived up to this commitment. It is something God has called me to do but I have let self get in the way. For there is always a reason not to write something. It is too late, I am too tired.  Things have kinda spiralled a little down for me since April. Now a lot of the focus was on prayer for Freedom house and there battles. Yet, as that battle went on and things started moving forward in some directions the energy and ability to push through from me was lacking.   Certainly at some point inertia sets in and trouble with motivation. So it may be that slipped into doing just a enough.  It also may be that writing opens me up to others in terms of my thoughts and ideas. There may be factors that were not directly at top of my mind that end up impacting mood and energy. I know something is not quite lined up as it should. I may be learning and discovering what that may be on the surface and the other issues God is working with me on.  So to all those who read and follow and have any care of what I have to say and share I apologize.  I do know I have pains and wounds of some sort that will need healing as when I examine self the pain is there.  So know this I am hurting for reasons not entirely know. The hurts have led to silence. The hurt leads to growth. And strangely it is my giving speech at church which I have yet to publish on the blog that really was a beginning. I promise to get that posted this week. I hope have not lost all who have followed. I know it is hard when you read others thoughts, they go silent and sometimes never return to writing. Well I have been silent but not gone. Do pray for me and for healing as I in turn work to help others in their process.

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/


The Day of Judgment and Atonement: Yom Kippur

From sundown Friday September 17, 2010 to sundown Saturday  September 18th, 2010 was the day considered Holiest in Israel for this year. It was Yom Kippur also know as the day of judgment and the day of antonement as well as the sabbath of all sabbaths. On this day, in Israel the do not eat, drink, wear leather, bathe, wear fragrances, or engage in pleasure such as marital relations. For the day is a somber day and one that brings great joy. For this day results in a person being in good standing for the year ahead. It is the day sacrifices were made that provided for the atonement of the community. It was a day for the purification of the temple.  It ultimately served as the day of  final judgment. It is the day when things are set and God provided that his people were in right position with Him for the coming year.  It was always a year to year process. 

There are some interesting facts about how God communicated his approval of this day and the changes that occurred.  These facts are presented at the following blog article: http://www.yashanet.com/studies/revstudy/rev2e.htm.

 

The miracles/signs that took place, showing God’s approval and forgiveness:

Drawing of lots always produced “LaHashem” in the right hand
The red ribbon tied to the scapegoat always turned white
The Center light of the Menora always burned until morning
Fire on the copper altar never went out even when it wasn’t properly stoked
Priests felt full even after eating only a small part of the offerings
The smoke of the incense offering would fill the Holy of Holies
The Talmud however, records that many of these miracles ceased to occur about 40 years before the destruction of the second Temple, and never returned. This of course coincides with the time of the death of Yeshua:

Yoma 39b – During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself? I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Zechariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee: Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.
The miracles/signs that took place, showing God’s approval and forgiveness:

Drawing of lots always produced “LaHashem” in the right hand
The red ribbon tied to the scapegoat always turned white
The Center light of the Menora always burned until morning
Fire on the copper altar never went out even when it wasn’t properly stoked
Priests felt full even after eating only a small part of the offerings
The smoke of the incense offering would fill the Holy of Holies
The Talmud however, records that many of these miracles ceased to occur about 40 years before the destruction of the second Temple, and never returned. This of course coincides with the time of the death of Yeshua:

Yoma 39b – During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself? I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Zechariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee: Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

It shows absolutely in amazing fashion the change from the need of yearly atonement to the atonement once and for all. Upon Jesus the Messiah’s death and resurrection the signs indicated forgiveness was granted ceased.  They ceased because Jesus gave the sacrifice once and for all. He is the source of purification.  He is the scapegoat who took sins upon him, so there was no need for any other.  Yet, there is a time yet coming. We have yet to have the final judgment. There is coming a great and final day when all creation is untwisted and cleansed. There is a day coming when Jesus judges all.  Be assured that when Jesus sits on the great white throne of judgment it will be on a Yom Kippur day.  

So Yom Kippur is a day to truly be still and know that He is God, for  that is the proper response to His providing atonement and judgment.  God has provided the scapegoat who has carried of the sins. He no longer requires sacrifices year after year because “It is finished.”  The time is coming when all will be set right. All that is twisted undone.  All purified. The day is truly the day the Kingdom of God is fully established and the kingdom of darkness is no more.  The King of Kings sorts out those who are his, and those who will face eternal punishment. This day is great and Holy.

So how then does a Christian respond and focus on this day.  Atonement is complete and judgment is coming.  Well it is a day for sober reflection.  A time to look back and look ahead.  Look back at what changed within in the past year and a day to look ahead to see what God is doing and identified the places that need a change and turning.    It is a day to praise God for it is truly about the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.  This day, is the day. Once the great and final day comes, there is no more choice, no more time, no more second chance. The great Judgment will be cast.  So today, while it is today, it is not to late.  Let Jesus serve to provide you atonement and make you clean and right.  For a time is coming when there is no  longer a choice as the  end has come.

Musing on the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim)

Recently on this blog there was some reflection on The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) which has also been commented on in two previous articles one in 2008, the other in 2009. There has been little commentary on this blog regarding the days following Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur. This year this writer is being stirred to comment on these as well. Starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are ten days known as the ‘Days of Awe’ (Yamim Noraim) also known as the ‘Days of Repentance.’ Part of the reason these days have not been addressed is because of the perspective of doing something to get right with God to assure being in good standing and possibly reversing God’s judgment. The views is that the actions taken on the Days of Awe can alter what God had written on “The Feast of Trumpets” with the final judgment being cast on the day of Judgment. The viewpoint is that during this time a person can engage in one of three actions: “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds. There is also the focus on reconciling with those who you have done wrong as Jewish though based on the Talmud suggested that the Yom Kippur sacrifice does not atone for what you have done wrong to others. So,w hile the ten day focus on repentance and getting right with God is honorable, it is coming from a missing perspective.

As a Christian, the perspective of repentance is different, as we do not focus on whether or not we have to “earn God’s favor.” Nothing that we do makes us right before God, as we have been redeemed, covered by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, if you take some time to examine and consider there is a Christian perspective on these days and it is certainly worthwhile to take time to engage in extended reflection on our relationship with God and others. Note, that these days start with the “trumpet blasts” of the Feast of Trumpets. The blasts are a wake-up call stating the time is now and time is left before the coming day of Atonement, the great day of judgment. The period between the “wake-up” alarm and the serious day of atonement may well be reflective of the tribulation period. God does nothing without meaning and what he established is a shadow of what is to come. So it is worthwhile to take these days seriously and reflect on repentance. On this blog up until Yom Kippur the article focus will be on various aspects of repentance. From a Christian perspective this is examining both what have done wrong and what am doing right. It is seeking God to know and learn what area of life he is refining toward change. It is a time to look at the things that have been left undone. It is a time to allow the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts and move through the ongoing sanctification. It is also worthwhile to consider or relationship with others and reconcile with those we have wronged and forgive those who have wronged us.

It is also important to be aware that for each of us this process should be a daily process. As being a member of the Kingdom of God and being made clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, every day is really a day of Awe. Every day is a day to consider our relationship with God: where we are missing the mark due to action or inaction. Daily we need to forgive and be forgiven. Daily we need to make right what we have done wrong. Yet, there is the time of the calendar between God’s established days that we can learn from. The majority of the Christian church has lost awareness of these days. Some parts of the church have taken the concept and used it for other extended periods of reflection such as Lent. Yet, God has set some days for His purpose and being aware and remembering what God has done and is doing is important. It is worthwhile to reflect on what God has done, what he is doing, and what is yet to come. As a believer in Messiah, God has made me clean and redeemed me. I am currently in an ongoing process of being cleaned known as sanctification where that which is unclean is being refined and done away with. There is a coming and future point where as a part of the body of Christ, we will be presented as clean before Jesus as the “bride of Christ.” For those who accept Jesus as Messiah, each has no fear of the day of Judgment for the position before God has been established. We await the great and future day of true great Awe and wonder as we await Jesus who will straighten out all of which has been made crooked and twisted and all shall be brought into proper account. So take time, reflect. Repent. Pray. Act in love toward others. These are actions of people in the Kingdom of God, not because they put us in right position with God, but because he loved us and we desire to serve and grow into a greater reflection of Jesus the Messiah. It is a day by day, step by step process.

Reflecting on the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

Today is the Feast of Trumpets, the Jewish New Year, one of God’s Holy days.   Sadly, it is a day that most Christians know nothing about other than a name that appears on a calendar in the fall and known as a Jewish Holiday.  Well, it is not just a Jewish Holiday; it is the Jewish New Year.  It is a day established by God for celebration.  As all things established by God the day has specific meaning about what has happened, what is going on today, and what is to come.  The point of this article is to examine some principles of this day a little deeper. Admittedly, this article is written not from personal experience, but upon examination of the documented elements of the day. Certainly there is plenty of information out that can give much deeper insight into the day. One article that has been helpful in understanding the elements of the day is found here: http://brenda.ratcliffs.net/07Trumpets.pdf.  

This Holy day is a day of transition.  As such it is a day of paradox. It is a beginning and an end. It is a day of celebration and introspection. It is marked by a transition of a waning moon to a new, full moon.  It is a day of joy and can be a day of fear.  The fear comes as the day is the start of focusing on God judgments. According to Jewish thinking it is the day when God writes folks in the book of life, the book of death, or sort of a yet to be determined state.  Thus there is fear of judgment and sober reflection.  As followers of Jesus the Messiah who as made us clean, there is no need of fear of judgment but sober reflection is beneficial.  I think it is very important to note there is a day that reflects beginning and end, as this day clearly points to Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, where everything starts and everything ends. He is the one who brings about all changes and by His gift our name is assured of being in the book of Life. And this Holy day is a day for reflecting on this fact.

One element to reflect on is that the Holy day of Rosh Hashanah is a day that does point to the past. It points to the beginning of all things. It points to God as the creator.  There are other events that may well have taken place on this Holy day. One is that is the most likely day that Jesus was born. There are also suggestions it also was the day of his baptism and the day he was led to the wilderness. So this day has been a day of prime importance to God, one that He has seen fit to be a day he has chosen for some beginnings.

If we look at this Holy day for what it what it means to us today. It is a day to look both at what has changed from the past year and what it is ahead. It is a day to focus on what God has been doing and to note what comes ahead.  For Jews, there are two greetings on this day. One is “May you be inscribed and sealed (for a good year” the other is to wish others a year of sweetness and joy.  Well, every year is a year of sweetness and joy when we live a life of surrender to Jesus.  When we accept Jesus as the one who saves us and the one to whom we submit it bring a complete wholeness that is sweet and joyous. And the fact is that with that relationship to the Messiah, we are sealed and inscribed.  A follower of Jesus is sealed with the Holy Spirit and his name is assured of being written in the Lamb’s book of life.  There is no greater joy than that fact, as for the follower of Jesus there is no fear of judgment, just the need to continue to grow and be cleaned and purified.

Now, the day is certainly one about the end. While Jesus may have been born on this day, there is another day coming. It is a day of Jesus coronation as coming King. A day he establishes his government and authority and begins the judgment.  This day is a day established by two witnesses because it may be missed because of clouds and obscuring darkness.  Those who have turned to Jesus for salvation and call Him Lord are to be having a mindset of preparation and watchfulness. We his followers are his servants and bride. He is coming to claim his bride and reward faithful servants.  We are to be about His business. We are to watch. We are to prepare. We are to be sober and alert.  This day, is a day that reminds us of all these things.  It is a day to examine what gets in the way of walking in surrender and being faithful servants. It is a day for the bride to be cleaned and prepared for the groom.  So on this day and the days that follow is a day to take a close look at self and listen to God’s direction to learn what needs to change in the year ahead.  It is an ongoing process until the day of the great Rosh Hashanah when the King of Kings comes and his throne is established.  It is a joyous and dreadful day, for judgment is coming but Jesus will put all enemies to flight and then there is true joy and rest.

So, there is much to reflect and learn from on this day.  Take some time and learn more about the Feast of Trumpets, for the day is soon coming when the trumpets shall resound and it will be a day unlike any other day.  A day from which forth the whole of creation will resound with “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” and “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Musing on the Ascension and waiting

Yesterday was the anniversary day of the Ascension. The day Jesus returned to Heaven.  He spent forty days on earth after the Resurrection teaching and explaining things to the disciples.  There are a few interactions recorded in scripture of some of the time He spent but most of it was not. Basically, the forty days were spent with Jesus really explaining the meaning of scripture to the disciples in relation to what just happened. He made sure they were on a sure ground of understanding. In the Gospel of Luke he is described as opening their minds to understand scripture. In the book of Acts he is described as teaching them about the Kingdom of God.   Jesus took time to make sure they fully understood and had full knowledge before he returned to heaven. He also gave them instruction to wait.  They were waiting for the power, the Comforter that was promised.  They waited because the knowledge itself was not enough; the power of the Holy Spirit was needed.  So the disciples waited. 

The ascension was definitely a strange day for the disciples. They had to be awe struck as they saw Jesus leave. Acts describes them as just standing there staring. They needed a message from angels to get them moving again and they followed direction.  The emotions had to be raw. There had to be pain of separation. They had forty days of joy and learning and wondering what would happen next.  The learned new insights and really began to fully understand and then Jesus left with instructions to wait.   Since they were all gathered together on Pentecost, I believe they were told how long they had to wait and the importance of the day to come. No it is possible Jesus did not spell it out and they all were together to celebrate the feast. God does often leaves waiting without the details, but I believe Jesus told them enough to know that the coming Feast something important would happen.  So they waited and prayed. Excitement and anxiety building each day for what would come. 

Waiting is difficult.  When waiting on God to act and move in His time is challenges faith. There is the mix of anxiety and excitement.  There are often encroaching doubts and questions.  Especially in relations to be sure of understanding fully what God has shown us.  The time is best spent seeking God, taking time to understand what has gone on, make preparations for what is ahead, but still it is waiting.  Often God works as he did here.  He gives us times of knowledge, learning, and growth. He then has us enter a time of waiting and preparation.  The waiting period serves to let us more deeply grasp what we learned and let it reach a level beyond just knowledge.  Sometimes the waiting is tough, particularly if we are not given specifics of when.  However, knowing the specifics does not make it any easier.  There is always a temptation not to wait, to take matters into own hands and bring about what God promises on our own.  Scripture is filled with examples of such choices.  In the days following the Ascension though we have a picture of faithful waiting. 

Ultimately we are all in an ongoing process of waiting that is undefined. Jesus has left and his return is soon. We have the Holy Spirit to direct and comfort us, to leads us in to the right paths and to build us up and cleanse us.  We have the ongoing work of salvation and sanctification going on in our lives.  Yet, the waiting gets tough.  We live in a world filled with darkness filled with pain and suffering. Each of our lives is touched with pain and sorrow.   We lose focus. The pains, doubts, and anxiety overwhelm us. God’s love and plan is questioned. We easily get distracted and lose focus.  Yet, Jesus is coming soon.   Yet, while he is in Heaven making all preparations, he is still active and he is here.  We have access through the Holy Spirit and He is here. 

So we wait and we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  We are to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  We can rest simply on our knowledge and what is written in God’s word. Yet, the disciples were told to wait for more. We cannot diminish or separate the importance of the Holy Spirit and His empowerment.  For if we are acting simply of our own knowledge are efforts are of self and weak. When we are following the lead of the Holy Spirit and acting at His direction, God moves in powerful ways. Sometimes we are aware and see the result, often it is unseen for we are at the time where each day is a day to grow in faith.  Waiting is really about time to grow and build faith.  In waiting we learn the limits of our faith. In waiting God causes what he has done to grow and take root.  Waiting is a really a Holy time we really struggle to grasp. The ten days that the disciples waited before being empowered by the Holy Spirit were a special, God ordained time.   The time is painful, difficult, and intense but God has a purpose.  When waiting follow the disciples lead and review, worship, pray, and prepare.  Do not retreat into fear and anxiety but look ahead and behind for the time that is coming, what God has in store is glorious.  When Jesus returns there will be no greater day. When God acts in our life in the now, it reflects that greater glory as he moves in deeper maturity and dependency on Him.