Reblog: Transfigured and a Source of Joy

sandyfaithking:

********

Knowing that this is enough is a huge relief. Knowing that this is enough is also a huge challenge. Too often it is tempting to want to be more, and often it is tempting to be discouraged because we know we are less. I like to think of it as like a pot, like the Romans would have had, an amphora: a vessel which is designed to be useful. The trouble is, we’re all broken. But God puts us together again and the Holy Spirit shines through the cracks. The more jagged the cracks are, the more He shines, and not only are we now useful, but the cracks are bursting with His light. Jesus shines through the cracks in a completely unexpected and unique way.

Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:

antonio6In one of his sermons, Saint Anthony of Padua says of Christ,

His very physical appearance, on which the angels desire to look, is a source of joy.

This reminds me of Mount Tabor. Christ took James, John, and Peter up Mount Tabor and was transfigured before them. He shone in glory. His appearance was bright, visible, luminous, and pure. That must be how he is in Heaven. He was glorified, and it affected the visible features of his sacred body.

To some extent, this is what is supposed to happen to us here below. We are supposed to be, by our very physical appearance, a joy to others.

Now, of course, this joy isn’t merely carnal, it’s spiritual!

And of course, barring any miracle, we do not physically shine like Jesus on Mount Tabor!

But still, our very physical appearance is meant to be “a source a joy,” real…

View original 92 more words

Reblog: Shining Mirrors

sandyfaithking:

********

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40 (NRSVA)

‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.’

Galatians 2:19,20

‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

John 13:35

Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:

If you consider God in all of them [other creatures, other persons], they will be to you as a shining mirror that represents the Creator to you.
Saint John of Ávila

View original

Far Away and Close at Hand

CHIBOK GIRLS MISSING FOR OVER A YEAR

The girls abducted from a school in Chibok have now been missing for one year and three days. For their parents who continue to hope and pray for their return, it feels like an eternity. Of the 252 girls that were taken, 16 jumped off the trucks, four escaped after arriving in the Sambisa forest, but 232 are still missing.

It seems likely that they have been moved to another country, possibly Niger. Muhammadu Buhari, the recently elected President of Nigeria, has said that his government will ‘do everything in its power to bring them home’ but that he ‘cannot promise that we can find them’.

PLEASE PRAY:

  • Continue to pray for the protection and safe return of the Chibok girls
  • For comfort for their parents. Twenty of them have died since the girls were taken, many because of stress-related illnesses.
  • For wisdom for those who are working to secure the safe release of the girls.

From an email from Open Doors, a charity serving persecuted Christians worldwide. I can only imagine what those parents are going through. My heart goes out to them. I can’t doing anything other than pray and show my support through agencies like Open Doors. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

What about closer to home? What can we do to love those who are distraught and in our midst? Too often the response is to avoid the person, because their grief or distress is so deep that it seems overwhelming and although we might like to help, we just don’t know how. Plus, it’s scary. We fear becoming entangled in their pain and distress. We know that, as followers of Jesus, we must be kind, we must show compassion, but what can we do? I’d like to share this, which happened when I was a teenager:

My grandparents were visiting us for Christmas. On the evening they arrived, my grandmother was taken ill. She was rushed to hospital and the next few weeks were a blur as she was admitted to hospital, sent home, admitted to hospital again, had surgery… and then she died. My grandfather, my father and his brother were overwhelmed. Their grief was palpable; it seemed to hang in the air.

My grandfather stayed with us for four months after her death. One morning, I heard him sobbing. The door was open so I went in the room. I put my arm on his shoulder and stayed with him until the sobs lessened. Later that day he said to me, “How did you know?”

“How did I know what?” I replied.

“How did you know to not say anything?”

I looked him in the eye and shook my head, “I just did.”

“Thank you.” He said.

Sometimes words are not enough. Sometimes words are too much. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Genesis: Blueprint for the Dysfunctional Family

The stories in Genesis are mind-bogglingly sordid. They really are. The people are miserable and vile to one another, even those whom God ‘favoured’, e.g. Abraham and Sarah. Take the story of Hagar: first off, she’s a slave. Later, she is a sexual tool used and abused by both Abraham and Sarah, then she is physically abused by Sarah while Abraham doesn’t bat an eyelid.

Thankfully, God sees Hagar’s misery. He ‘sees her’, as she puts it, for who she is and takes her, the slave, the odd one out and not ostensibly part of His plan, and gives her life blessing and purpose.

Genesis 19. What the heck…? A father offers up his daughters to be gang raped:

…the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them.

Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. He said to them, “Friends, I beg you, don’t do such a wicked thing! Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don’t do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.”

Genesis 19:4-8 (GNT)

The man has to protect two strangers above his own daughters? What?! Later, Genesis tells us, the daughters seduce their own father, who doesn’t know what’s happening, so that they can have children. I remain unconvinced that it is possible for a man to be unaware of the sexual act. Either way this is seriously screwed up stuff. I am glad to be revisiting these passages with a fresh eye, but I never thought that the bible could give EastEnders a run for its money. It’s depressing.

Thank heaven I know what happens later! Thank heaven that ‘every story whispers His name’, as the Jesus Storybook Bible puts it, even when the only whisper is the implication of the unequivocal and desperate need for a Redeemer.

With that in mind, have a listen to these lovely ladies from Tonga singing ‘Soon and Very Soon’

Reblog: Myths about Domestic Violence

sandyfaithking:

I remember looking at a poster about domestic abuse and thinking “he only does x,y and z, but he doesn’t do all of those things, so it can’t be abuse”. I think the worst thing, though, when you’re trying to come to terms with what you have been through, is when people somehow blame you, the victim. Even if not overtly, they make assumptions. I felt so ashamed. I felt guilty for what had happened.
Also there is a lack of understanding of the nature of coercion and manipulation which is a huge part of domestic abuse and has just as bad an impact as actual physical violence. Also, and this is really important: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PHYSICAL TO BE ABUSIVE. Sexual abuse, coercion, emotional abuse, etc., are just as destructive and just as wrong and NO ONE, male or female, should feel obliged to put up with it out of a misplaced sense of ‘Christian’ obligation.

Originally posted on The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors:

View original

What the…?

In my wisdom I decided to go through the bible again from beginning to end, only this time I am listening to it rather than reading it. I find I have a different perspective when I listen. Within the first hour I noticed several really weird things and I thought it was about time someone dedicated some small part of the blogosphere to these strange stories. Before I begin, let me say I am no theologian, although I’m married to someone who studied theology to degree level and is annoyingly well-read in the subject. I’m just someone who reads/listens to the bible and spends time thinking about God and taking an interest in His word.

Some of these passages are just bizarre. I can only think their true meaning has become obscured by the mists of time and culture. Other passages are worthy of an eyebrow-bending look of puzzlement, and some are outright hilarious (admittedly I find things funny when other people don’t – it is perhaps a survival mechanism; I see it is a God-given gift to be able to see the funny side). My aim is to compile and consider some of the passages of the bible (over time and with no particular intent) that, for example, The Jesus Storybook Bible*** leaves out. These are the strange, otherworldly, oddly-placed passages that you’ve probably never heard in a sermon (feel free to tell me if you have; I’d be intrigued).

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Genesis

I love the story of God bringing all the animals to Adam so he could name them, it reminds me of a daddy playing with his child and taking delight in him. I love how God sees that Adam is lonely and makes him a wife while Adam sleeps – that has to be one of the sweetest stories in the whole bible. Often we overlook this sweetness and focus only on the Fall. I think that’s a shame. There is something precious and wonderful about the relationship between God and Man before the Fall.

There’s also this strange sentence in Genesis that is definitely one for the ‘lost in the mists of time’ compartment.

‘In those days, and even later, there were giants on the earth who were descendants of human women and the heavenly beings. They were the great heroes and famous men of long ago.’

Genesis 6:4 (GNT)

Giants? Heavenly beings?

Anyway… today I’m writing about someone very familiar: Noah. Everyone knows the story of how Noah was the only man who listened to God, and all the other people were horrible and self-obsessed and grasping and wicked so God decided to put everyone but Noah and his family out of their misery, so to speak. But few are familiar with the rest of Noah’s story. This happens later, long enough for Noah to have planted a vineyard and made wine from the grapes so, at a guess, several years after the flood. Noah drinks the wine and gets completely and utterly – er – sloshed. In fact, he’s so steaming drunk that he takes all his clothes off and passes out in his tent. It all sounds remarkably like Glastonbury. Definitely not like New Wine.

So Noah’s lying naked in his tent when his son, Ham, walks in – they weren’t Kosher yet <ahem>. Maybe he was checking on his father. Maybe he was having a giggle at his dad’s expense. We don’t know and the text doesn’t say. Either way, he goes back out and tells his two brothers, Shem and Japheth, who between them gingerly make their way backwards into the tent (to avoid seeing their p****d, naked father) and cover Noah up with a robe. Let’s face it, the children’s storybook character of a jolly little man with a smiley face and a long grey beard, somewhat like Santa Claus but with an ark instead of a sleigh, is completely gone at this point. Or is it just me?

To top it off, when Noah wakes up the next morning it reads as if his hangover got the better of him. He curses Ham’s son, Canaan, saying vile things and ordering that his grandson be a slave to both of his uncles.

Is it just me or does the story of Noah and his sons seem like an episode of EastEnders?

*** I love the Jesus Storybook Bible.

EMDR: Enough

‘It is enough to know that it is He, the all powerful God, who has performed the work… It comes from God alone…’

Teresa of Ávila, The Interior Castle

EMDR again tomorrow. Feel a bit like a WWI soldier sitting in a trench waiting for the call to go ‘over the top’, Dulce et decorum est and all that. And yet I still have to be Mummy. What a peculiar juxtaposition. No wonder my therapist said I’d be glad when the 18 EMDR sessions are over. It’s like intentionally climbing into a car you know is going to crash at 100mph. It’s crazy. But it does work. That I do know. So I won’t give up.

‘Three times I begged the Lord for [the suffering] to leave me, but his reply has been, “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.” Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him.’

2 Corinthians 12:9,10 (Phillips)

Amen, I say. Amen! I pray that God will use all of it for His glory and I thank Him for His provision, everlasting gentleness and the gift of hope. I thank Him for the gift of my patient husband and for my boisterous children, who always make me smile. God is good.