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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Growing Eyes 

                          That Thou are nowhere to be found, agree 
                          Wise men, whose eyes are but for surfaces… 

—George MacDonald

Theologians tell us that God is transcendent: existing beyond the range of human perception. But, as they also say, he is immanent: in all things and existing everywhere at the same time. (A remote analogy would be the world’s oceans existing “in” a sunken ship and yet surrounding it.)

That’s cold comfort to me, however, unless I understand God’s immanence to mean that he is everywhere present in and around me, with me wherever I go and involved in all that I do. He is present in the quiet place in which I now write, or in the next difficult and dangerous occasion I face, be it a fractious board meeting, or a firing squad.

Read the story of Elisha at Dothan, how the Syrian army gathered at night to kill him. His servant, awakening, looked over the wall and cried out in panic, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet replied calmly—then prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes that he may see.”

The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw God, and a gazillion angels,[1] guarding the city and protecting Elisha and his servant from harm. Then Elisha said, “See? There are more of us than there are of them.”  
 
As Yogi Berra said: “You can observe a lot by seeing.”

DHR


[1] Aquinas comments on this verse: “God fills (heaven and earth), not like a body fills a place... When God is in a place, others are not excluded from it” (Summa I, 8.3). Aquinas’ point is that while two material bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time, spirits can be co–present with matter. This may be the origin of the famous question, “How many angels (spiritual beings) can dance on the head of a pin (a small space)?” It’s actually a very good question though often used to mock medieval philosophers. The answer? An infinite number of angels inhabit your small place.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Butte Creek Mill

"I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith." —Philippians 1:25 

There’s an old mill on Butte Creek in Eagle Point, Oregon that was built in 1872. It’s weathered and worn by the daily grind, but it’s still going strong, doing the work for which it was made.

You too were made for a purpose: to work for others “progress and joy in the faith.” Even when old and gray you can do the work for which you were created.

Perhaps you wonder why you’ve lingered so long. Like Paul you long to go home and be with the Lord. The reason you “remain and continue” is because you’re still needed—like Paul, you’re “necessary for the sake of others.” There are individuals to touch with the love of God through the words you speak, the counsel you give, the letters you write, the kindness and compassion you show.

“We are immortal,” Augustine said, “until our work is done.” The time of our death is not determined by anything or anybody here on earth—physicians, actuarial tables, or the average human life span. That decision is made in the councils of heaven. When your work is finished, then and only then will God take you home. “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep…” (Acts 13:36)—and not one second before!

David Roper


Monday, June 1, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty

Why have I found favor (grace) in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” —Ruth 2:10

According to legend, American writer Anne Herbert scribbled the phrase "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a placemat at a Sausalito, California restaurant in 1982. The sentiment has since been popularized through film and literature and has become a part of our cultural vocabulary.

The missing note is Why?Why should we show kindness to others?

For those who follow Jesus the answer is clear: Whether voiced or unvoiced the purpose of every act of kindness is to show the tender mercy and loving kindness of God. When acts of kindness are done in that spirit theres no end to the good we can do.

Theres an Old Testament analogue of that principle in the story of Ruth, the emigrant from Moab, a foreigner, living in a strange land whose language and culture she did not understand. Furthermore, she was desperately poor, utterly dependent on the charity of a people who took little notice of her

There was one Israelite, however, who showed Ruth grace and spoke to her heartas the Hebrew text puts it (Ruth 2:13). He allowed her to glean in his fields, but more than that simple charity, he showed her by his compassion and tenderness the tender mercy and loving kindness of God, the one under whose wings she could take refuge.

As you know, she became Boazbride and part of the family of God and one in a line of descendants that led to the One who brought salvation to the world (Cf. Matthew 1:1-16).

You never know what one act of kindness, done in Jesusname, will do (Mark 9:38).

David Roper

“You have not fulfilled every duty, unless you have fulfilled that of being
kind” (Charles Buxton).