W5-Who trumps what-where-when and why

In Belfast we have a wonderful science and discovery centre called W5, WhoWhatWhereWhenWhy – visit W5.  My sons aged 7 and 4 absolutely love it and we visit a few times each year.

What?

What should I do?  What do you want me to do?  What did you do?

What is the best approach to this project?  What hope do I have of making that work?

What should I spend money on? What should I eat? What type of x y and z should I have?

What subjects? What career? What company?

What is it made of? What does it need in order to work?

What am I going to do with you?

What have I done?  What have you done with my Son?

Where?

Where should we live? Where should we go to church?

Where should we holiday? Where can I find one?

Where is the best place to find peace and quiet?

Where did I lose that ticket?

Where can we go from His presence?

When?

When will that delivery arrive?

When can I go out to play?

When will I feel better?  When will things get better?

When will I learn?

When will you learn?

When will I earn enough money?

When will people realise how talented I am?

When will God answer?

Why?

Why me?

Why do I need to do that?

Why did that happen to you?

Why should I?

Why not?

Why, just stinkin’ why?

Why would anyone do that for me?

Why don’t we? Why wouldn’t we?

Why does it matter?

 Who?

Who said that?

Who knows best?

Who’s the daddy?

Who needs this most?

Who should I listen to?

Who can I help?

Who can I turn to for help?

Who can I depend on?  Who can depend on me?

Who is there?

Who loves ya baby?

Who’s left?

“Who do people say that I am?”   Who do I say that He is?

Who is a God like you?

You forgive those who are guilty of sin; you don’t look at the sins of your people who are left alive.

You will not stay angry forever, because you enjoy being kind.   Micah 7:18

You should read this great post on Coffee with Noelle for more on this verse.

Image  Some rights reserved by jonny goldstein

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A final message from the pastor

Augustus_Edwin_Mulready_Uncared_for_1871In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

I find this combination of text and painting almost overwhelming. Perhaps it is the similarity between this young boy and my own son Harrison that stopped me in my tracks.  The skin tone, hair colour even the physical size and presence are striking to me.

Final words from the pastor

These are the final words of Paul to the elders of the Ephesian Church before he sets sail, knowing he will never see them again.  After saying this they knelt and prayed before embracing each other with tears.

If you were asked to write a speech for Paul to the leaders of his church what would you write?  As their pastor what could Paul say that would have the most benefit in their walk with Jesus.

Paul’s message was ‘follow my example, I have not sought to be blessed by you but to bless you.  I have not sought to gain riches from you but to bring you riches.’  Paul instructed them that they MUST help the weak and as a result they themselves will be blessed.

Rewind to Micah

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?    Micah 6:8

The word translated ‘to love kindness’ (hesed) is also often translated ‘loving kindness’ or ‘steadfast love’.  This word appears 250 times in the Bible, mostly used to describe God, but 25% of the time it describes how we should respond to others.

Paul’s enduring message is that the church should be the source of enduring love

Our kindness must be steadfast and loyal.  Paul leaves no choice in whether or not we should be living sacrificially in order to show this kindness.

This instruction is possibly the perfect definition of Win/Win.  Living sacrificially in order to help we are blessed more than if we were receiving help. If you have ever been on the receiving end of help you will understand just how great this ‘greater blessing’ must be.

You can get a hi-res copy of the Augustus Edwin Mulready painting ‘Uncared for’ here

How long?

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?  Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice?  Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.  Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.  The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.  Habakkuk 1

The old man sits uncomfortable.  As far as he can see it the town is going to hell in a hand cart.  Justice long forgotten.  Truth a tale from a forgotten time.  The man who wants,simply takes. End of story.

He remembers stories of a  sheriff, a marshall who stood for right and wrong.  A man above men who accepted consequences but would not accept violence to an innocent.  This man wrote the book on justice.  He apprehended the wrongdoer, he rescued the abused.

But in this time, in this place he remains a memory, an echo of truth.

Someone believed this man to be in a nearby town.  Somewhere within reach.  A message could be sent.  A plea for help, he will come, yes he will surely come. He will come with perfect timing to free us from our oppressors.  His arrival will reveal our enemies as the thieves we know them to be.

The message sent “RAPE!”, they have taken what did not belong to them.  They have laid us out, bound our wrists, we have no choice.  We are hemmed in.

Message dispatched, today we wait, perhaps we can avert our eyes from the injustice for a while. Nightfall, no answer.

Perhaps the answer is delayed, today we wait again.  If it really is him in the next town an answer will come.  He will hear our cry.

The days have been worse.  Brother rises against brother, no man can trust his friend.  Truth is, there are none who stand.  No man lifts another before himself.  There is a chance the message did not reach him.  He would listen.  His ear would not be deaf to our cries.  Worse, he would not hear and then ignore us.  He would not leave us without help.  He would not.  Perhaps it was not him.

 

Image rights reserved by ccampbell10

Help from God – Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121Help from God

I have recently found myself thinking a lot about self-sufficiency vs dependence on God. I have always found the concept of relying on God to be a difficult one. I have little patience in life for those who complain about their situation but make no effort to change it and while I am not particularly ambitious or driven I have always attempted to ‘sort stuff out’ as best I can.

I have often wondered if my ‘fix it’ attitude has served to limit the provision of God in my life. In this prayer, the second in the Songs of Ascent, (Psalms 120 – 134) the psalmist contrasts our natural source of protection and strength with help from God.

It’s likely the mountains represented a variety of things to the writer, and to those praying and singing these words en route to Jerusalem. Pagan temples and places of worship sat astride mountains, fortifications and strongholds also. Bandits hid there. Lets face it, on their own with no help from anyone mountains are awe-inspiring, terrifying places.

This Psalm is primarily a song of encouragement and faith that God does indeed help, that we can be certain of his provision and protection, that the one mistake we can make is to believe otherwise. (Eugene Peterson makes this point well in the brilliant A Long Obedience in the Same Direction) I however find the application of this in life (while breathing) quite difficult. I ask myself questions such as, should I not act to sort things out? Should I be waiting for Gods ‘other and better’ solution to problems rather than moving swiftly to resolve?

Does God only appear when we are at the end of our rope, at the end of our natural ability to look after ourselves? If so, am I blessed to be incompetent or is my attitude the deciding factor?

Two thoughts come to mind.

  1. God is acting on our behalf whether we know it or not. Our very breath is from him. All is gift, nothing is ultimately created by me. Perhaps we are to recognise the help (action) of God rather than to receive it. Maybe Gods action is not dependent on either our attitude or need but rather our reception of His help is dependent on having ears to hear and eyes to see what it is that He is doing.
  2. We are taught by Jesus to petition God for our daily needs, not just those that we cannot (in practical terms) sort out for ourselves. There is a dailiness to our need of God. If we find ourselves separate from God waiting for His help there is something wrong with the situation. Understanding that God is often hidden He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Our waiting for help from God must somehow also be a waiting for God in the presence of God

If you want to approach these thoughts from a different angle have a look at this short post about work.

For completion here’s the rest of Psalm 121 don’t forget to remember God will help.

He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you, the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.

Image by Mike Baird used under license