Author Archives: Jim McGuiggan

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

DON’T DO IT!

I write mainly for readers who share with me a profound and common interest in and commitment to the God who revealed Himself in and as Jesus of Nazareth—the now resurrected and exalted Lord of All. I write for readers who believe in the Holy Spirit who makes Himself present (peculiarly) in the Church of God by His living Word in the Holy Scriptures. This living Word is living and powerful precisely because it is the Word of the living Spirit of God—it is never dead! Like its holy source, the Holy Spirit, it can be resisted, quenched and rejected because the “power” the Spirit of God brings to bear on the hearts and minds of people and in their societies is not coercive. It is God’s power to save but it is a drawing and shaping power (Acts 20:32; Romans 1:16; John 12:32 and elsewhere).

We’re aware of our flaws though we accept the fact that we don’t know or see them as our God and Savior does. Still, however flawed we are in practice or vision we can’t subscribe to the views of someone like J. Selby Spong who can take or leave the existence of God and still speak as one who is a Christian.
I can’t embrace the view of a congregation of people who are committed to Jesus as Lord but that in His name calls no one to repentance. When I hear people being invited to dialogue with Christians that assure them, “We’re not asking you to change your mind about your homosexual stance or relationships” I immediately ask, “Yes, but is God asking them to change their minds (repent)?”
Romans 1:18-32 is a long list of markers that the human family has suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness and that God them gave them up to those various chosen evils that included foolishness and homosexuality in its various forms. Paul immediately follows that long (but not exhaustive list) with a fearful warning that to choose to reject a change of mind (repentance) is to choose to reject God and His goodness and store up for oneself a coming wrath (Romans 2:1-4). Not to call me to repentance when it’s clear that I’m consciously choosing to reject His goodness is not kindness or friendship within the Christian narrative. To tell me it’s my God-given right to do as I please is to speak peace to me where there is no peace.

Still, how could we not be in favor of friendly dialogue with sinners when we ourselves are sinners? How could I not believe that God is calling other struggling sinners back to Himself when He calls me to Him as I seek a nearer likeness to Jesus Christ? His goodness to me and to everyone who seeks His presence and peace is expressed in the gift of His drawing us to repentance (Romans 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:24).

This is no plea for Christians to keep sinners like ourselves at arm’s length with a “holier than thou” attitude or speech (Isaiah 65:5). We’ve done enough of that! Should we invite sinners who choose to reject God’s goodness to eat with us or to keep company with us if they choose to or to gather with us when we assemble to glorify Him? Dear God, yes!
But to tell them their conscious choosing to live their lives contrary to the good God who offers them a “change of mind”—to tell them that it is not sin to be repented of but rather a right for them to enjoy and for which they need to apologize to no one, not even to God? That is loving them with the love of the Lord? To tell people “We aren’t asking you to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20); you need no such thing”? This is the love of God speaking through us?
To make a friend of sinners is like Jesus Christ! To make a friend of a “world” and a “world spirit” that first seduces and blinds, then shames and degrades and corrupts us and through us spreads corruption that is to make an enemy of God (James 4:4; 1 Tim 1:8-11) who loves those we smile at and say, “We’re not asking you to change.”
How seductive the Tempter is and how sweet and cozy is our feeling that we’re tolerant and friendly. But there is no kindness so merciless as that which extends the hand of friendship to a slithering parasite that’s devouring those we care about. The patient and loving Son of God turned to His critics when they slated Him for caring for the noted sinners and He said, “They’re ill and I’m their doctor.” They hung Him for many things but they hung Him for making friends of sinners and even while he choked to death He said, “Father they need forgiveness. Forgive them they don’t know what they’re doing!”
Sinners like us who are “in the know” need to tell them.
There are many young people on the edge of an abyss. Don’t tell them it’s their God-given right to jump.
And there are those who are struggling with what they’re mortally afraid of and need a doctor like the Savior and friends standing by to assist Him. Don’t tell them everything is all right!
The Satan, said Paul, can transform himself into a minister of light.

(Holy Father, help us who wish to please you by being instruments of your blessing to the human family that you so love that you sent the Lord Jesus that we might have life in and through Him. Save us that we might not be carried away by every wind of cultural and societal change for we too are opposed by invisible rulers of the darkness of this “world” and hosts of wickedness in the unseen realms. Do continue in your faithfulness to keep us from trusting our emotions when they would carry us places and thoughts you have protected us from. Convince us that your salvation is more than forgiveness but that it includes your patient work of deliverance from ALL that is unlike the Lord Jesus and that we might be included, more and more, among he number of whom it is said, “And such were some of you but you  but you were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Do come to our aid that as your People we will trust your saving Word in the Lord Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever, rather than our ever-changing feelings. Do help us to be faithful as servants of your Saving Truth that liberates. Do it for us your sinful children and do it for those to with whom we live and to whom we speak for if they do not hear it from us who will tell them of full and one day final, glorious and joyful LIFE? This prayer in Jesus Christ.)

There It Lay Hidden All Along

His name was Levi! New Testament readers know him better as Matthew. A tax-collector. Rome had set up a system of “client kings”. It offered its approval and military support to this king or that one if the king would agree to raise taxes for Rome’s needs [the client king got his cut, of course]. They’d assess how much they wanted from a kingdom and the client king would give that to Rome. It didn’t matter how much more he could wring out of his people so long as he could give Rome their cut.
The Jewish people had two reasons to despise the tax-collectors—Rome and the Herodian family with whom Rome had made the agreement.
Tax-collectors weren’t poor little things who were mistreated; we get a better view of them as a class when we think of those who collaborated with the Nazis in France or Belgium or Holland. They must have been emotionally and socially tough to take such a job in the midst of their own people. Don’t you think they would have had to harden themselves to work for the hated and abusive authorities? Would they not be resentful and bitter and durable when every day they were despised, jeered at, isolated and passed by in silence? And if they had wives and children would they not have to steel themselves against the pain their loved ones would surely feel in such a society? My guess is they well have been lonely at times too but gutted it out.  You think so?
In any case that’s who was sitting at his place when Jesus walked up to him. There He stands looking in silence at him, those big earnest eyes searching Matthew while the tax-collector looks up at Him every now and then with a “Well, what do you want?” sort of look.
Then the silent looker-on says: “Leave all that and follow me!”

Obviously Matthew knew something of the one who spoke to him. It cannot have been just anyone—the local butcher, for example—that came and said that to him. The collaborator had heard about Jesus. Bless me, even Cornelius had heard (Acts 10:37-38) and even a little Greek mother from the Sidon area. Matthew knew who this was! Some critic would have seen all and as soon as Jesus said, “Leave all that and come and follow me,” he would have run off to tell his friends. “Guess who the new prophet asked to follow him!” They’d guess and the informant would say, “No, no, better than that! Guess again!” When they’d exhausted their list of pious people who loved Israel and hated the Herod family he’d say, “No, it was ‘old money-bags’ himself. Levi the tax-collector.” They’d shake their heads at the prophet’s naiveté but that would turn to wonder when the word got around that Matthew had got up and done it! There it lay hidden all along and only Jesus had the love to see it and the goodness and power to harness it!
All the hatred, all the sneering, all the isolation and intimidation couldn’t turn Levi from his tax-gathering table, it couldn’t melt his hardness or strengthen him to finally join the oppressed against the ruthless masters—the world powers. But the stories about this One and one long look at Him, one strong sweet appeal from Him and Matthew strode out of one world and into another, to a new way of life and never looking back.
When I think of such a dramatic turn around all sorts of questions swirl around in my mind—questions I have no satisfying answers for. Now and then when I think of it, it makes me half wish I had had Matthew’s experience and felt the dramatic urge. I was never a great kid but my coming to the Lord Jesus, my entering the waters of baptism and taking His name upon me as my Lord and Savior was almost a quiet and steady process—as it is with most of us I suppose. I love that too, but the drama of Matthew’s conversion (and many like him down the centuries) thrills me as it must thrill you.
Every final meeting of the Lord Jesus just before we get up from whatever we were busy with and follow Him has its drama even if it isn’t obvious. It’s more than (not less than) a personal u-turn. Worlds collide and empires clash on those occasions. People by God’s grace throw off the shackles and throw themselves into an adventure that knows no end. Once again, in each conversion, the Story of God as told in the person of Jesus Christ is re-told and re-enacted in a faith-filled baptism, in a weekly Suppering with the living Lord at the Lord’s Supper when they culminate in the rehearsal of His resurrection to new life and a new world [Romans 6:3-7].

Such conversions are an ongoing witness to the presence of God’s saving power and the present existence of a new creation.

People are called to and made for adventure when Jesus comes calling and transforming them with truth about a new world, a new creation and to a cosmic mission.
In the days of the sailing ships, sailors who had sailed with Drake would come back and tell stories of what it was like to sail with such a captain. They’d tell tales not of balmy days in safe lagoons and gentle breezes. They’d tell of storms, raging seas and battles with giant waves; they whip off their shirts and show scars they’d got as a result of battle with sea monsters and jagged rocks, they’d show calloused hands that rowed for half a day and then another half and then another until exhausted but successful in bringing their ship into contact with a friendly wind that would fill the sails. Farm boys—barefoot farm boys, eyes wide with the longing for adventure, boys who’d never seen the sea would shrug off their harnesses, leave their ploughs lying in the fields and run off to another life—to another world!
That same Jesus is walking the earth today, stopping here and there and looking long at women and men, boys and girls, then saying, “Come and follow me and I will show you what you were made for.” And then and there, even the same life setting will become new and shot through with glory and adventure and people spring up on to white horses and ride after a white-horsed rider whose name is THE WORD OF GOD (Revelation 19:13-14) to battle seven-headed beasts and Death and Hell itself (Revelation 13:1; 20:14)!

(Oh Lord of Life won’t you come to us electrify us by a new awareness of who we are? Deliver us from lesser causes and energize us for the ongoing clash with a satanic world that hates you and all you love? Open our eyes to our reason for existing; for the world’s plundered poor won’t you help us to rise to our feet and go the distance? Forgive us for having an abundance of your blessings and in our greed wanting more? For the world you have loved in and through and as your Son won’t you help us to gospel about Him? We don’t doubt you but we fear when we see and hear how we your people pursue “more” and “more” while countless Lazaruses lie helpless and licked by the dogs. We fear what’s happening to us when we demand more and more “freedoms” while millions lie enslaved. There is no other help but you. Where else can we go? This prayer in Jesus Christ.)

Storing Sand & Letting Gold Go Free

Paul was raging his way northward to find followers of Jesus Christ when he met Jesus Christ Himself on the road. The Lord had a brief but far-ranging talk with the now blind man and led him by the hand to the baptistery where Paul took on him the name of the Lord Jesus. He lived in a new world from that moment on and with the eyes of his heart wide open he found it astonishing, thrilling, demanding, painful and pleasing, confusing and assuring and the name of Jesus was never away from his lips.

He was happy to debate when he had to, he suffered when he couldn’t avoid it, he was sad when the occasion warranted it and he rejoiced like Snoopy in those hours of reflection when he heard within the gospel music of God. He was Lazarus unbound (Keck), free to live and proclaim good news about a God who said to the weary world through the prophets, “I’m coming to be with you in your trouble,” and kept His word. And when He arrived He took on Him the name: “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Paul was well schooled in the hot topics of his day and like Chesterton’s Lazarus, back from the dead, he’d stop and listen to the wise ones prove this and that and prove there is no life after death, not now or ever—all there is is this gloomy world of death now and death later. Then he’d stride off in the name of his Lord Jesus and murmuring to himself,

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

We can barely keep up with him as he goes in the name of his Lord Jesus raising the dead by the power of that name and establishing little congregations of life all over the place. They were congregations of living people who served their course and left this world but not before the resurrection life had become contagious and remains contagious to this day after nearly 2,000 years bringing wide-eyed people out of tombs into a new creation. And the life that Paul carried within him was indeed resurrection life (Ephesians 2:1-6; Colossians 2:10-12 and 3:1-4). It didn’t and doesn’t apologize for existing. It doesn’t beg Sin or Death’s permission to be alive. This is resurrection life that’s generated and guaranteed by the resurrection life of the resurrected Lord Jesus; that’s what Paul preached and embodied as he went about transforming the world while others ran behind him jeering and showing their letters of recommendation written on paper with ink! (2 Corinthians 3:I-3) I like now and then to imagine Paul and His Lord spending some time looking at the deathless life that continues to spring up all over this planet (even now) as fruit of Paul’s ministry and the Lord looking at him and saying, “I trusted you and you served me wondrously well. Look again at all that and be happy!”

(Holy Father, thank you for Paul and for all those people you provided to keep him on his feet in good faith! And thank you for all those who in faith and proclamation even now in their own unheralded ways image Paul as he imaged you and your indwelling Son (Ephesians 5:1-2) in whose name, this payer.)

 

Yes, Yes, But What Was His response?

“God allowed the nations to go their own way.” Paul said that in Acts 14:15-16. “Allowed!” he said. God didn’t desire it and much less did He ordain it! And He allowed the nations to walk in “their own way!” We can argue about how the entire sinning business got started—we can to that until the cows come home but we can’t deny the awful mess the sinful human family is in.

If Paul’s teaching matters to us we can’t argue about this: “God allowed it!” And then there’s this truth: God chooses to allow what He allows! He knows what He is doing and takes responsibility for His choices. And there’s this, the nations are capable of choosing a direction and living in it. (That sentence needs developed and the dynamics of “national choice” need to be taken into account.)
God “allowed” the nations to go in “their own way.” And the result was what? Here it is spelled out in Romans 1:18-32 & 3:1-20.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

And God’s response to that? The Holy God’s response to that? The Sin-hating God’s response to that? The righteous God’s response to all that degeneration, cruelty, heartlessness? The forsaken God’s response to that swaggering insolence, that slanderous self-righteousness, that voracious greed and lust for power? He comes walking down the steps of heaven with an innocent baby in His arms to give to the world, to live in the midst of moral insanity, to experience and bear the sins of such a world and in that child who would become a man to redeem it.

And if people asked Paul where can we see God’s righteousness? He points to the young man hanging on a cross (3:21-26). Where can we see that God cares what the malevolent powers are doing to us? Paul points to a young man called Jesus of Nazareth hanging on a tree, like so many voiceless and powerless men and women that were dragged out and lynched (Acts 5:30; Hebrews 2:10-11). And if people asked Paul in light of our awful record of malicious warfare and the starving and robbing of little nations –asked him if forgiveness could ever be possible he would point at a young man called Jesus of Nazareth hanging on a public gallows (1 Corinthians 15:3; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 1:4: 6:14). And if the dying asked Paul if they could be sure that Sin & Death did not have the last word Paul would say he had met the once dead and now living forevermore Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 9, 22 & 26; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 50-55; Romans 8:11) and His immortal LIFE was gained for all who want it!.

That’s God’s response to Romans 1:18—3:20 and it’s what Christmas is all about.

.

 

TURGENEV AND THE BEGGAR

I’ve borrowed this from my Life On the Ash Heap: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0977338460

“Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing” (29:11-13). That’s what Job said about himself but he wasn’t bragging. He’s desperate. He’s defending himself against God because he thinks God is punishing him for some wrongdoing. (See chapters 29—31.)
Novelist and social critic George Gissing who went to the aid of a little boy he found crying and worked “sixpenny worth of miracle.” Gissing died in 1903 but not before writing in that year a novel (of sorts) based on his own experiences. He called it The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft. Here’s how the great man tells of the incident in his own words.
“Near a hamlet, in a lonely spot by a woodside, I came upon a little lad of perhaps ten years old, who, his head hidden in his arms against a tree trunk, was crying bitterly. I asked him what was the matter, and after a little trouble—he was better than a mere bumpkin—I learned that, having been sent with sixpence to pay a debt, he had lost the money. The poor little fellow was in a state of mind which in a grave man would be called the anguish of despair; he must have been crying for a long time; every muscle in his face quivered as if under torture, his limbs shook; his eyes, his voice, uttered such misery as only the vilest criminal should be made to suffer. And it was because he had lost sixpence!
I could have shed tears with him—tears of pity and of rage at all this spectacle implied. On a day of indescribable glory, when earth and heaven shed benedictions upon the soul of man, a child, whose nature would have bidden him to rejoice as only childhood may, wept his heart out because his hand had dropped a sixpenny piece! The loss was a very serious one, and he knew it; he was less afraid to face his parents, than overcome by misery at the thought of the harm he had done them. Sixpence dropped by the wayside, and a whole family made wretched! What are the due descriptive terms for a state of ‘civilization’ in which such a thing as this is possible? I put my hand into my pocket and wrought sixpenny-worth of miracle!”

If we’ve never done something like that we’ve always wanted to, haven’t we? The delicious thrill of transforming a scene of anguish into one of disbelieving joy by writing a check is hard to equal. It makes your heart sing! There’s too much needless sorrow in the world and a lot of it could be removed by a generous and wise sharing of wealth. I know there are many problems that are only made worse by “throwing money at them” but in my own tiny little life down the years I’ve known many hundreds of situations where the generous giving of money would have changed the world for poor souls whose dreary existence was suffocating them.

When you did that lovely thing, don’t you remember the wide eyes and the utter speechlessness? It was more than the money—the world became a different place, if only for a while. Unrelieved darkness was lifted with a warm light and despair was replaced with possibilities and hope. Maybe things wouldn’t always be as bad as they had been. At least once, these beaten people felt they mattered to someone. A job, a coat, a box of groceries, a debt paid, a friendship offered and hearts begin to sing.

Very often there’s money involved in this loveliness but it’s more than the money, isn’t it? Russian-born novelist, Ivan Turgenev tells how one day he met a beggar who asked for some money. “I felt all my pockets,” said the writer, “no purse, watch, or handkerchief did I find. I had left them all at home. The beggar waited, and his outstretched hand twitched and trembled slightly. Embarrassed and confused I seized the dirty hand and pressed it. ‘Don’t be vexed with me, brother, I have nothing with me, brother.’ The beggar raised his blood-shot eyes to mine, his blue lips smiled, and he returned the pressure of the chilled fingers. ‘Never mind, brother, he stammered, ‘thank you for this. This too was a gift, brother’.” Turgenev concludes, “I felt that I too had received a gift from my brother.” Yes, it’s more than money! When hearts reach out to hearts, whether it’s expressed in money or food or clothing or work, depending on the situation, people who aren’t too far-gone to recognize it know that they’ve been cared for.
This leads me to say we should never be ashamed to give what we have even if we have nothing tangible to give. Turgenev and his begging brother have taught us that. If all you have is tears or an embrace or a kind word—if that’s it, give it, for people are hungry for more than food and long for more than a physical coat to keep out the cold. Who can say what a word of kindness from a tender heart can do for a soul right on the brink? Give what you have and God will see and maybe he’ll give you more to give.
God looked down at the land of Uz and saw the needs of countless people so he blessed the family of a man called Job with incredible wealth; he made the man’s fields simply burst with rich harvests; he made his flocks and herds multiply until the herdsmen and shepherds scratched their heads, not knowing where to put so many thriving animals; he made his investments generate money beyond the capacity of all his banks and made his commercial trading so successful that he became the greatest figure in the entire East.
Job knew very well where all his blessings came from. “The Lord gives!” he insisted. But he knew more than that—he knew the Lord and he knew why the Lord had given him such wealth and influence. Now that was life in the sunshine. Rolling in money but rich toward God this man exulted in the privilege of giving money away. Listen to the pleasure in his voice as he says:

“I made the widow’s heart sing.” (29:13)

Don’t you love that? Imagine what must have been happening all over the place when this man got to work. The widow’s heartbroken and can’t stop crying. A thousand and one things need done and she isn’t able to handle the stress to make ends meet, her loneliness and grief drain her of energy, her pain leads her to wonder where God is and if he knows or cares about her.

Then down the street comes a smiling Job with a well-loaded cart. What did he say to her? What was his tone? Did he hug her without a word, respecting her suppressed sobs and blessing her with silence until she was done? And when she finally poured out her heart did he listen intently, nodding and saying in that compassionate way I used to hear my Ethel speak on the phone to so many, “I know, I know”?

When he was leaving, how much money did he press into her hand? Whose name did he give her that her oldest boy could go see about work, saying, “Mr. Job sent me”? What crushing debt did he commit to take care of right away with the words, “Leave that to me and don’t give it another thought”? As she stared in wide-eyed joy at her change of fortunes did he give her his address and tell her to call on him at any time and at the gate ask for him personally? Are those the kind of things he said and did? God knows! But we know that when he left her, her heart sang!

And did his heart sing? Wouldn’t yours? Knowing you’ve been the outstretched hand of God that banishes misery and brings relief, that obliterates gloom and brings hope for more than a day? That’s life in the sunshine! And maybe you’ve done and do such and you’re smiling as you read this.
To be unashamedly rich and to love God because it’s His pleasure to let you ease burdens and mend broken hearts so that they sing; to know you’ve been made a steward to help the helpless is to enter into the heart of God in a very significant way. Those who work faithfully and wisely in such a position gain God’s admiration and they should gain ours. Working with riches is, I would suppose, like working with volatile explosives. Money brings power—money is power and power is such a corrupting force; so powerful that Jesus in a proverbial overstatement said the wealthy won’t make it into the kingdom of God. Money, which is nothing more than the symbol of power, whether we have gobs of it or more modest amounts, is to be used wisely in the sight of heaven, Jesus taught us in Luke 16:9 (note the context all the way to the end of the chapter). In that section he wasn’t speaking to or about the world’s wealthy; he was making all his hearers stewards of their money.

Be all that as it may, there’s no reason to believe that Job was a prisoner of conscience because he was rich and others were poor. He probably didn’t have the time to think about it; he was probably too busy making hearts sing and lying at night planning his next contribution to making life warm and productive and leveling the playing field for so many in life. An interest-free loan here, a piece of family property redeemed there, a job interview arranged over there or a free night’s lodging for travelers in one of his numerous houses. He wrestled with no nightmares and if he wasn’t sure quite how to handle all the decisions he had to make, his dithering was the confusion of a man who didn’t have all the answers on how to do good. God had been watching all this and with that delight that allows us to imagine Him smiling and saying, “Let’s see what he’ll do with even more.”

A bushel-worth of miracle! Singing hearts all over creation! This was life in the sunshine. More wonderful than all that, more wonderful than how he felt about God was the way God felt about him! “There’s nobody like him!” If the cynical Satan had had the heart to see it, he would have seen one of the great glories of God’s universe—a beautiful human being; brimful of life from God and spilling it everywhere he went. A man with that heart almost makes you want to be rich. Almost!
I know, I know! They need more than a “handout”. But until we can do more a kind-hearted “handout” is better than nothing. I’m 81 years old now but why is it I can vividly remember numerous little kind deeds I was blessed with as a young boy? The very thought of some of them still makes me happy and now and then I wish I could back in time and experience them again. Life’s mysterious, isn’t it!

(Holy Father, we’re not wise. We’re foolish but we’re also confused and ignorant. We’re giving life our best shot. Use those gifted with your wisdom to open our eyes so that we can be better stewards of our blessings whatever their nature and give us the heart to act on that wisdom. In the meantime keep us from being paralyzed by our ignorance or by a misguided embarrassment at the little we have to offer those without a song to sing. This prayer in the Lord Jesus.)

A Woman Is Not Man’s…….

Look, a woman isn’t a man’s idea!
A woman isn’t even a woman’s idea.
A woman is God’s idea!

She is no less God’s idea than a man is. It’s hateful to have to say such things but in a world as wicked as ours we’re required to proclaim it loud and clear. Women exist as women because God who is our Father and creator lovingly wanted it so. If we ask a wise devoted Christian woman why she is a woman she would happily tell you that she is a woman because God loved the thought of her! He thought of her as a woman, loved the vision of her as a woman and so He created her as a woman! She would tell you more than that but not less than that. You know that, I know that and Paul knew that and it was from Paul and others like him that we learned that.

It wouldn’t matter to that woman what some men thought and think of her for she’d be well aware that she was equal in the eyes of her Heavenly Father with any man. It wouldn’t matter to her how God had created her. Following the Genesis narrative she’d take no offense at God making her 2nd (though that’s the wrong way to put it—or the wrong way to leave it. In the creative act of God she was 2nd but she was also the last, the completing act of God in creating humankind—more later on that). God has His loving and wise purposes. It’s His world and she’s just glad to be in it because He wanted her in it and wanted her in it as a woman!

She knows that God didn’t make women to be beaten, humiliated, robbed walked on or “kept down” by men. If and when men do that they don’t have God’s approval; they have His condemnation. She’s well aware that God did not create her just to exist as a mortal but that He purposes to bring her to glory and immortality, to wild adventure, joy and unending life that is brimful of life! He created her to shape the world, to be an agent for change now and not only as a woman who has political, financial, literary or artistic power but as a woman. Yes, a woman of power if and when she gains it, if she wants to gain it. Such a woman knows her God, knows who she is and knows the power exercised by Jesus of Nazareth who imaged God and knows that it wasn’t His miraculous power that changed the face of the earth. She knows that Jesus Himself subjected Himself to the will of His Redeeming Father and if it’s the case that the Holy Father asks her in some way to live within the Chosen People in some place of subjection that He most have a good reason. And since her Lord and Savior did it she is in good company if she does it.
For such a woman it isn’t a matter of men robbing them or humiliating them; like her Lord she chooses her form of service. Stupid and selfish men may think they are stealing but they can’t steal what she, like her Lord, freely gives. And there’s this: those unrepentant overlords will answer to God when they meet Him.
She doesn’t mind at all, then, if God calls on her to function in some specific ways that suit His purpose to gain what He has in mind not only for her but for numberless humans like herself as He moves through long ages of sinful human history. If He had come to her just after He made her and she, filled with joy at her Father and His limitless love for her, heard Him say, “My love, I want you to work with Me in ways that I will ask of you as I bring you and the human family to unimaginable glory. You willing to do that?” You know what she’d say. She would say what real lovers say to one another even to this very day even in this tired and sinful old world. “Well of course! I’d be more than happy to work with you in any way you choose.”
So if He asked the woman (in company with and not apart from) the male to live and function as His image in some way and some place of “subjection” to the male she’d do it in a heartbeat. She would do it because she knows who is asking for this. She would do it because He would not for a moment think of her as a doormat or as less than equal to the man. She would do it because she would feel that it’s a glorious thing to be commissioned to something that must be of great significance. And if she knew the Story as we have been privileged to know it she would reflect on the truth that the Lord Jesus laid aside privileges and aspects of His own glory to glorify the Holy Father. And if she knew the Truth about God’s overarching purpose (as Paul did) she would know that her presence in the world as a woman alongside a male, would be a visible witness for the Lord Jesus and His redemptive relationship with eschatological People the Church (Ephesians 5:25-32 with the Genesis references.)
She might even wonder how it is that some women currently aren’t happily astonished at their God-gifted glory as womankind. She might ask herself, “Do they think because God has asked something special of them that that destroys the glory of womanhood? And do they think if they get the ‘freedom’ of X that will make their womanhood glorious? Do they not realize that they have inexpressible glory by virtue of creation by their Holy Father?”
So yes, women too are sinners as was their Mother Eve. And maybe Paul thought women in Ephesus were being deceived, cheated out of their glory, and that’s why he wants them to remember how the serpent cheated her. She had glory unimaginable and the Serpent conned her into wanting to be something else that would result in her losing what God didn’t want her to lose. She was a beautiful woman in the image of God and the sly serpent with pleasing words sweet-talked her into turning from her Father who created her glorious.
And knowing the above is true, knowing it is true and rejoicing in it, what if such a woman read 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and took it at face value and believed it to be God’s word? What if such a woman gladly chose to live by that believing it pleased her Holy Father? What would she say if we said she was being humiliated and robbed if she lived a full and glorious life as God’s daughter and humanity’s mother but happily took 1Timothy 2:8-15 as one more way to please her Father?