Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flying Man!

I own a lithograph of Mihail Chemiakin’s “The fall of Icarus” (the largest lithograph he has ever produced). Icarus, son of Daedalus, attempted to escape Crete by flight, but fell to his death. I'd wager that long before Daedalus fashioned a pair of wax wings for himself and his son, we've been trying to find some means to fly, with more than a few casualties along the way.

Well, several weeks ago (May 14), a Swiss man named Yves Rossy (a.k.a., "Fusion Man") made headlines when he strapped on an 8-foot jet-powered wing and leaped from an airplane, soaring over the Alps. Rossy spent years developing his device, and successfully flew the first jet-powered wing in November 2006. There's been a smattering of R&D on jet packs to propel human beings dating as far back as World War II; Rossy's invention is the first to combine a jet pack with actual wings (See more videos at his website).

Now, when I was a small child, I would have this recurring dream about flying. Inevitably I would be falling or jumping from some great height. At first a tinge of fear would come over me. But almost immediately I would begin to fly. Gliding effortlessly. Moving from side to side and up and down with the greatest of ease. It was pure ecstasy, interrupted only by awakening from my slumber.

enjoy, ron

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Philanthropy & Humiliation!

Luke 16.19-31 & 1 John 4.16b-21

It is a frightful thing to say, but … there is indeed a love which is mere philanthropy, a sympathetic and benevolent concern and assistance which we can exercise with zeal and devotion without taking even a single step away from the safe stronghold of being without our fellow-man, but in a deeper withdrawal into our shell. There is a form of love - mere charity (the mere crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table)* - in which we do not love at all; in which we do not see or have in mind the other man to whom it is directed; in which we do not and will not notice his weal or woe; in which we merely imagine him as the object of the love which we have to exercise, and in this way master and use him. Our only desire is to practise and unfold our own love, to demonstrate it to him and to others and to God and above all to ourselves, to find ourselves self-expression in this sublime form.

There is thus a form of love in which, however sacrificially it is practised, the other is not seized by a human hand but by a cold instrument, or even by a paw with sheathed talons, and therefore genuinely isolated and frozen and estranged and oppressed and humiliated, so that he feels that he is trampled under the feet of the one who is supposed to love him, and cannot react with gratitude. The great tragedy is that it is perhaps in the sphere of the neighbourly love established and shaped by Christianity, in Christian families and houses and societies and institutions, that we seem to have more frequent and shattering examples of this than in that of the worldly love, courtesy, affability and fellowship which are so much more shallow and discriminating, and therefore so much the less exacting. - Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics, Volume IV : The doctrine of reconciliation, Part 2. (p. 440). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.

Doing all things in love begins with the realization that we owe everything to Jesus Christ, His Person & Work (the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us). God demonstrates God’s love in that Christ died for us; out of God’s great love God made us alive in Christ; and in that love we live, by it we conquer, and from it nothing shall separate us. “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 15.14). Indeed, our love merely reflects the love God first “poured into our hearts”. This love is directed toward Christ and toward others, whom we love for Christ’s sake!

Enjoy, ron

PS. I included the Luke 16 quote (parenthetical*) in Barth’s comments above

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The test of self-interest!

If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. Genesis 13:9.

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.

Whenever right is made the guidance in the life, it will blunt the spiritual insight. The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. It would seem the wisest thing in the world for Abraham to choose, it was his right, and the people around would consider him a fool for not choosing. Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eye on God. “Walk before Me.”

Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (May 25). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Enjoy, ron

Friday, May 09, 2008

Looky-Loo or Seeker?

And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. (Luke 19:2-3 ESV)

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; (John 6.44 NASB)

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19.10 NASB)

Jesus sought out Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus was transformed into a seeker: not, of course, an indecisive and indiscriminate seeker or one who especially knows what he is seeking. Yet a real seeker whose tax grubbing hands are empty, who has not yet apprehended, but wants to apprehend because he is already apprehended (Phil 3.12f). And Jesus does not allow Zacchaeus to be merely a casual or even friendly seeker, preoccupied with unraveling facile cultural barriers. Zacchaeus is no longer a looky-loo who divides his powers between this seeking and a possessing. No! Zacchaeus is a true seeker. He seeks this one thing, his life in Christ, and all other possibilities have passed away.

Like Zacchaeus, once our Seeker finds us, our lives on earth may now be defined in “seeker-only” terms. This is the meaning of the imperative (Col. 3.1f): “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sits.… Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” As K. Barth puts it, “To seek that which is above means that we are to seek here and now, but not in this here and now, not on the earth, because, … the true life of the Christian is with Christ, his true and exalted life, his own proper life, which begins with the death of Christ as his own death, the death of the old man. Christ is above, and so too is the Christian in so far as he is in Christ.”

enjoy, ron

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Make a name for youself!

"Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it
;" - Ps 127:1

See Genesis 11.1-9

So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city” (Gen 11.8). Is it important to see why God does not simply destroy the Tower of Babel? Perhaps it is if we consider the fact that it is not the building, the technical invention or the attempt at civilization facilitated by it, which constitutes the evil against which God takes His measures. It has more to do with the fact that “They said, ‘Come, … let us make for ourselves a name…’” (Gen. 11.4).

God’s judgment is not against the advancement of culture. Rather, “the Lord came down …” against the way in which humanity tries to facilitate and affirm and maintain itself, to make itself a name, to play the part of Providence. God’s judgment is against any attempt or intention of humanity to achieve a name for itself independently of God Himself.

You see, once humanity’s contrived object was taken away (unity through culture) the building process ceased automatically. “That it could cease shows that it was not harmless in intention but directed against God and therefore evil”, says K. Barth. According to Ps. 127.1, the building process had to cease because it was in vain. Again, Barth points out, “Everything is in vain, and moves self-evidently to destruction sooner or later, that is ventured by man with the same intention as this building” of the Tower of Babel.

enjoy, ron