Photo Journal: Flowers


Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. Song of Songs 2:12

… See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Matthew 6:29

Summer to me, besides the beautiful weather is together with the spring the season of explosions of color and fragrance, of amazing flowers that never cease to amaze me, new ones that I had never seen before or golden oldies that look even more beautiful than before.  Hard to beat beauty, truly royal indeed, whether it is a magnificent big flower or the tiniest small one, they all have something of a very special beauty to be enjoyed while it lasts. The good news, next season WILL come, there WILL be a new summer again and again and again in which very often the flowers come out even more beautiful, in which the plant has grown to produce even more flowers.

And so it seems with my Christian journey, one day a blossoming flower the other day withered, just as Peter explained referring to Isaiah:

 “All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
1 Peter 1:24

But like I said there WILL be a new summer, in which like the flowers we come out even more beautiful than last season. Maybe that is what Paul meant when he said:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Love is: 1 Corinthians 13: Am I?


I am currently reading through several books amongst others Alpha Questions for Life by Nicky Gumbel.

In this book Gumbel tells the story of a woman that promised herself to read 1 Corinthians 13 everyday, in which Paul explains so beautifully what love and what the importance of love is.

Love

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Time and time I am captured amazed by the beauty of these writings.

Now the lady Nicky Gumbel speaks about decides that she would replace ‘love’ by ‘I’ and stop as soon as she came across a description she did not make. Hopefully she would one day be able to tick off all the descriptions.

I have found on many occasions that replacing the Bible really starts to speak to me when I make things personal. As an example,read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 v1-17) and see how they provide you with a clear picture on what you will become or aim to become if you replace the “you” with “I”.

  • I shall have no other Gods before Him
  • I will not make or have idols
  • I will not misuse his name
  • I will remember the Sabbath by keeping it Holy and will not work on it.
  • I will honor my father and mother
  • I will not murder
  • I will not commit adultery
  • I will not steal
  • I will not give false testimony
  • I will not covet

What a beautiful promise he commandments become.

Or try this with the Lord’s prayer of Matthew 6:  9-13.

My Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name (by me)
your Kingdom come,
I will do your will as your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give me today my daily bread.
Forgive me my debts,
as I have also forgiven my debtors.
And lead me not into temptation,
but deliver me from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory.

Amen

To me the prayer speaks differently when the generic “us” is replaced by I and all of a sudden I commit myself very personally to doing His will, all of a sudden the confession of sin becomes personal and is no longer a vague ‘us’ but a personal acknowledgment that I am a sinner that needs forgiveness, all of a sudden God‘s provision becomes very personal and all of a sudden it is very clear that “we” are not just tempted by evil and in need of deliverance in general as a humanity but personally.

And so it is with the sixteen descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13 when you make them personal. What a guide for life they become:

  1. I am patient
  2. I am kind
  3. I do not envy
  4. I do not boast
  5. I am not proud
  6. I am not rude
  7. I am not self-seeking
  8. I am not easily angered
  9. I keep no record of wrongs
  10. I do not delight in evil
  11. rejoice in truth
  12. I always protect
  13. I always trust
  14. I always hope
  15. I always persevere
  16. I never fail

There is only one sad things about this checklist: So far I never made it past point one: love is patient. What about you?

1 Corinthians 13

An Inconvenient Truth?


32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32)

Today is visited an acquaintance. We were supposed to be visiting the Healing Room Christchurch but it was closed because of the school holidays. Upon my arrival I saw his state of being was not too flash. He felt rejected by society and most of all by what are supposed to be his brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Being the person whom he is, he did not blame or curse any off the people with whom he shares his faith; instead he wondered whether God had abandoned him and that as a result his fellow Christians were abandoning him.

I was reminded of some of the lessons I got when going through Law School. I thought back at how revealing it was to me that in law ot was not just what you did that could be legally relevant but also what you did not do: your omissions.  Paul very eloquently does not use any words that could indicate actions, he uses the verb causing. Which could also mean omission or in-actions. Could it maybe be that this was not a case of abandonment by God but by fellow Christians?

Admittedly, a wrong impression may easily occur. But looking through Christian goggles, that still does not mean that this man does not deserve a chance, no matter how different and needy he may be. And speaking from personal experience; give this man a chance and you will find a beautiful creation with a considerable depth in terms of faith and spirituality, despite some mental/psychological/psychiatric background and problems. Personally I can say, I have learned a lot from my acquaintance with him first and foremost that THERE IS SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL IN EVERYONE IF WE ARE WILING TO LOOK FOR IT. But are we all looking for it? Or are we feeling more at ease with just staying at a distance.How sad is it really if a pastor from Auckland need to shop around and see whether there is a church that will accept this man for who he is?

Well what about your own church?

He does not want to go there any longer because of how he has been approached. He wouldn’t go there even if I tried to take him and believe me I will, again and again, despite his objections. What do you say to someone that cries out to you: “I have no church to go to anymore.” What do you say to someone that is experiencing a paradox daily as a resulted of the well meant but safe advice of fellow Christians.

You should be more amongst people.

However implicitly or explicitly it is also made clear that this does not include ‘the people’ that form part of the body of the ‘wise adviser.’ It all reminded me of the healing through Jesus, most of all the healing at the Pool of Bethesda. On several occasions people are urged by Jesus to go to the Temple. This is not so in the text of John 5 but thee a second encounter with the healed invalid takes place in the Temple. A number of the healings performed had a another significance:  hey did not just mean a physical healing, but also a spiritual healing which ensured that people could be entering the temple again. People that were crippled, or had other physical or mental conditions were not allowed access to the Temple, the core of their faith as a result of the Mishnah, the laws for Israel derived from the scriptures. Jesus did not just physically heal them, he ensured that the could be reconciled with the core of their faith in God. It fits in perfectly with his mission, with the concept that God wants to reconcile with His creation and uses Jesus and so illustrative are the words

“See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5: 14)

He did not say “Stay well” but “stop sinning.”  At the same time how harsh a law that prevents people that need it the most to have entry to the core of their faith. What else is there left than to stumble? What else is there left than to think that ‘you are not worthy of God’s grace because God’s law ordains it’?

At the same time I now wonder what is harder for a man: being denied on the basis of a religious law that is supposedly put in place by people that knew what they were doing, or being denied by people that purportedly care about your health and well being also in the spiritual sense?

You’d be better of finding another church, you would not or do not fit in. You are better of where there are more people like you.

Is this not the word upside down, and certainly not in line with what Jesus was teaching?  Paul, referenced at the start,  continued:

For I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many so they many be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10: 33)

Do we need to fit in with the worldly standards of the congregation of who is acceptable and who is not or do we as a Body of  Christ show the world that there is a place within the body for anyone and everyone no matter what their state of being is.  Yes it may be inconvenient in worldly terms, bit is that a reason to deny access, whether explicitly or implicitly?

I could well imagine someone saying to me referring to 1 Corinthians 10: 13:

Well if this man is tempted to turn away from God because of out alleged actions and omissions should we not expect God to provide a way for this man to stand under this temptation?

My rhetorical answer would be:

You are absolutely right, but given what I said earlier on, could it maybe be that we as the church, as the body of Christ arre that way out if we are willing to face the inconvenient worldly truth that comes with that.

Paul said:

20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

With that in mind as well as out claim to be living out the full Gospel what is holding us back to restore this man to a state where he is no longer denied the core of his faith.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 11 “The son of man came to save what was lost (only according to some manuscripts)

12“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (Mathhew 18: 10-14)

Can we really look ourselves in the eye when we have to admit that it is our worldly standards rather than our spiritual that is keeping such a man away from a fellowship in Christ? Is it maybe time for a “gutter bucket” ministry? And if so, “why me?”

What am I to do? Your words of wisdom would be appreciated as I am lost in this all.

Paul’s Shipwreck | Bob Cornuke


In approximately 60 A.D., a ship carrying 276 men and a cargo of grain shipwrecked off the coast of Malta. Two of the passengers on that ship were the biblical writers Paul and Luke, who were on their way to Rome–Paul as a prisoner, and Luke as his attending physician and friend. Through Luke’s meticulously-detailed account of the voyage and shipwreck, as recorded in Acts chapter 27, we can today undertake a journey back in time to find the remains of that shipwreck. And, even more precisely, we can attempt to find the four anchors described in the Bible that were abandoned in the sea.

“When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves” (Acts 27:39-41).

For the past 500 years, tradition has held that the shipwreck of Paul occurred at St. Paul’s Bay on the northeast shore of Malta, a view held by the people of Malta today. But the biblical narrative and geography of the Mediterranean and Malta tell us that the site of the shipwreck must be located somewhere other than the traditional site, where no physical evidence has been found to-date, in spite of extensive research and exploration.

In order to solve this biblical mystery, we need to review the biblical narrative written by Luke. Luke was a trusted historian and medical professional, whose careful attention to detail will prove invaluable in our quest. Even though Luke uses nautical terms which were understood at the time but have vague meaning today, extensive research involving weather, ocean topography, landmarks, and maritime lore, gives us a well-defined path of the ship that the Apostle Paul was sailing on in the Mediterranean Sea.

Read the rest of this amazing story via Paul’s Shipwreck | Bob Cornuke.