To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”–Isaiah 61:2-3 — “A few days ago, I told you about Repeka. She continues to painfully suffer from the effects of cancer. For four years, she has outlived every prediction provided by doctors.
Her testimony is so powerful I cried tears of joy while visiting with her today in hospice. In many respects, Repeka is the embodiment of my hopes for our nation. She is broken, but her spirit is pure. She believes, as do I, that God still has a pivotal role for her to play.
So she fights to survive, all while praising God day and night. Her testimony has brought souls to the Lord. If we had the faith of Repeka, we would have never lost our country to godlessness.
I will pray for her and our country as if my life depended on it. I ask all here to please do the same.
Some believe without seeing. Others need to see a miracle. Let’s move mountains with mustard seeds.” (David Clements).
Photo credits: Repeka & Prof. David Clements, 21/04/21
Transfigured – The Christian Life of the Mind
“Christianity demands the crucifixion of the intellect.”–Soren Kierkegaard
I agree with Soren Kierkegaard’s assertion, and i want to contend that this transfigurative experience for the Christian, in contrast with the Sisyphean task posited by Jordan Peterson (above), is carried out through the work of the Holy Spirit, transforming and renewing the mind so that it is not conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2). The idol of intellect is put to death and is resurrected in the life of Christ. This is the outworking of theosis — a lifelong process of sanctification, through which the Christian becomes a partaker of the divine nature of God (1 Peter 2:4) . One should not consider this an abandonment of the intellect per se, but rather the redeeming of it from its subjection to pride and futility ― a translation from the dominion of darkness into His kingdom of marvellous light (Colossian 1:13). The ‘authentic’ Christian, is being conformed to the mind of Christ. As a new creation, He causes His face to shine upon us as we are being transformed. Yet, unlike the radiance that emanates from the face of Moses after his encounter with God– the Shekinah glory of God, he is enfolded by on mount Sinai — which the Israelites could not withstand (Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3:13-18), we need not wear a veil while we speak of the gospel.
“And he will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all nations, and the veil that is spread over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
This is illustrated further in the gospel of John, during the conversation between Nicodemus―”teacher of Israel”―and Jesus, who tells him very plainly, how one should enter the kingdom of God, through this very same process of being born again:
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:9-12)
Again, on the mountain of transfiguration, we are told of Peter, James, and John his brother who accompany Jesus, “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” (Matthew 17:5-9)
While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their feet and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”
All of these gospel encounters are manifestations of Jesus’ Shekinah glory, here on earth, and illustrate both his transcendence and immananence — the God-man in His divine Majesty, and Immanuel, God with us.
And yet, God Himself reminds us of the inevitability of human limitation in contrast with His divinity, evident in the unregenerate human [Adamic] condition:
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-9)
— “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
And of this relational proximity — the indwelling of the holy spirit — between the redeemed and the Triune God, Jesus tells Nicodemus of the Spirit:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)
There fore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children;, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:12-17)
— “People try to persuade us that the objections against Christianity spring from doubt. That is a complete misunderstanding. The objections against Christianity spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience, rebellion against all authority. As a result, people have hitherto been beating the air in their struggle against objections, because they have fought intellectually with doubt instead of fighting morally with rebellion.”―Soren Kierkegaard
Note: Although I am not Catholic, I found Dr Gavin Ashenden’s analysis of a recent conversation exploring aspects of Christianity between Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Pageau quite insightful. Particularly in relation to the tensions (I’ve highlighted above) between human [intellectual] wisdom and Christian belief about the wisdom and knowledge of God.
Here are the links: Dr. Gavin Ashenden https://youtu.be/qNJ1c3XBL5I
Jonathan Pageau & Jordan Peterson: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=y-UYHCUm3eA
Shakeid II (Watch)
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”….Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak;”—Jesus (Luke 21:34-36); (Matthew 26:40-41)
And the lookout called like a lion, “O Lord, I stand continually on the watchtower by day, And I am stationed every night at my guard post.
— I will stand at my guard post And station myself on the tower; And I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, And what answer I will give [as His spokesman] when I am reproved.
Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets So that the one who reads it will run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time It hurries toward the goal of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.
—- “As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you. —- The Lord their God will save them in that day, As the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, Lifted like a banner over His land— For how great is its goodness And how great its beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, And new wine the young women.
NOTE: shâqad, shaw-kad’; a primitive root; to be alert, i.e. sleepless; hence to be on the lookout (whether for good or ill):—hasten, remain, wake, watch (for).
shâqêd, shaw-kade’; from H8245; the almond (tree or nut; as being the earliest in bloom):—almond (tree).
📸 Almond Blossom by Vincent van Gogh
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep:
for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness,
and let us put on the armour of light.–Romans 13:11-12
Some mornings, God awakens
Jeremiah with words that cause
him to vent his spleen:
Lord, thou hast deceived me,
and I was deceived;
thou art stronger than I,
you have prevailed: I am in derision daily,
and the mockers cease not.
Then he said, I will not make
mention of God, nor speak any more
in his name. But his word was
in my heart as a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I was weary with forbearing,
and I could not stay.
Most mornings, Isaiah sings
praises unto his God
the Holy One of Israel
who has opened his ear,
awakening him with a tongue
of the learned that he should
know how to speak a word
in season to them that are weary.
Stripped naked, buttocks uncovered,
Isaiah walked barefoot three years for a sign
and a wonder upon Egypt and Ethiopia.
Every morning, God put a new song
in David’s heart – Psalms,
that would satiate a stone cold soul, like Michal, Saul’s daughter,
as she looked through a window,
(as the ark of God came
into the city of David)
and saw king David leaping and dancing
she despised him in her heart.
This morning, the words of Job
are ended. Wisdom is justified
of her children as Elihu speaks:
I am young, and you are old;
wherefore I was afraid,
and dare not share my opinion.
I said, Days should speak,
and multitude of years should
teach wisdom. But there is a spirit
in mortals: and the inspiration of the Almighty
gives them understanding.
Great men are not always wise:
neither do the aged understand judgment.
Early the next morning, Moses entered
the tabernacle of witness; and, behold,
the rod of Aaron of the house of Levi had budded
and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms,
and yielded almonds, just like the Lord
had told Jeremiah: I will hasten my word to perform it.
—- Bible references from the KJV translation:, (Jeremiah 20:7, 9; Isaiah 50:4-5; 20:3; 2 Samuel 6: 16-23; Job 32:7-8; Numbers 17:8 Artwork: Vincent van Gogh – Branches of an Almond Tree in Blossom
Note: The word for “almond” is shakeid (שָׁקֵד), which comes from a root that means to “watch” or “wake” (i.e., shakad: שָׁקַד). Interestingly, the almond tree is among the first trees to “awaken” from its winter sleep.