Thursday, July 21, 2022

To a Height above the Storm!


Distinctly I remember a time on my long-distance travel, the aircraft was buffeted by strong turbulence, when passing through the storm. The pilot took the plane around 300 feet high, and peace and calmness were restored since we were flying above the storm. The storm and lightning were raging below us, but the aircraft was in a different height and so does all the people in it. That height was the safest place we could be. Storm could not touch us, when we rose to such an altitude!

The metaphor above, not only does bring a picture of God surrounding us and protecting us, but also of Him lifting us up and carrying us away from all the problems and stresses that have been bound. (Chaim Bentorah, Revealing the Heart of God, Hebrew Word Study, 2016). This is what the Hebrew word Sagav ( שָׂגָה) or “refuge,” refer to. 

The term “ oppressed is from the Hebrew word adah ( אדה), which means “to be crushed under affliction” or “to have a heavy weight on top of something.” The word for “trouble” is tsarar ( צָרַר), which means “to be bound up”; it could also come from the root word batsar (בָּצַר), meaning “a pruning” (Chaim Bentorah). 

God is a refuge for us from those who seek to crush us or to hold us down, or from those who have us bound up in fear. The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble, Ps. 9:9 (KJV). Time and time again, when the storm of life threatens us, we may think our shelter will be found in the arm of flesh, by our ingenuity, brilliance, inventiveness, creativity, imagination, resourcefulness, cleverness or by our insight. Our raging creative thoughts in our fallenness were often humbled by God’s protection and He is able to make us inaccessible to the storms. 

When we are lifted to the height above the storms, we can look down in peace and know we are in God’s protection, to a place of ultimate safety. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, Ps. 91:1(KJV).

The word is “sagav” which means to be high. The picture is a refuge in the heavens or outer space, a place that is inaccessible. More Hebrew words for refuge. noun מִקְלָט. shelter, asylum, haven, sanctuary. noun מִפלָט. escape, retreat, haven, shelter, asylum.[1]



[1] How to say refuge in Hebrew - Thesaurus and Word Toolshttps://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the/hebrew-word-for-cdc93d65384e9644...

 

Friday, July 8, 2022

Wrestle: ‘Aveq (אָבַק)

 

Hebrew Base Word: אָבַק Part of speech: Verb Usage: Wrestle Definition: To bedust, i.e., grapple. Detailed definition: (Niphal) to wrestle, grapple (get dusty), bedust. 

       And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him; Gen 32: 24-25 KJV. 

 “It does not say that he wrestled with the man, but ‘there wrestled a man with him.’ We call him ‘wrestling Jacob,’ and so he was; but we must not forget the wrestling man, — or, rather, the wrestling Christ, — the wrestling Angel of the covenant, who had come to wrestle out of him much of his own strength and wisdom.” (Spurgeon)

“I suppose our Lord Jesus Christ did here, as on many other occasions preparatory to his full incarnation, assume a human form, and came thus to wrestle with the patriarch.” (Spurgeon)


i. Sometimes we feel man really can contend with God. A man or woman in rebellion against God might seem to do pretty well. The match seems even in appearance only. God can turn the tide at any moment, and He allows the match to go on for His own purposes.

ii. It isn’t hard to imagine Jacob working so hard and feeling he is getting the best of his opponent, until finally the Man changed the nature of the struggle in a moment. Jacob must have felt very defeated. (Enduring Word, David Guzik).

I believe that this wrestling match is more of a mind and heart battle than the physical one. This can be related to what we as humans would do when facing an extremely difficult situation! The metaphysical aspects of man, the intellectual property endowed to man by God is very complex, intricate, compounded, complicate, unfathomable, and not easy to analyze or understand fully by humans. 

Agonizing over the decision we would make, while thinking about the pros and cons seems to be very norm! This could be related to rolling in a dust, while most of the battle is in determining God’s will. Possible Jacob was rolling in the dust, wrestling with many things (such as thought, reasoning, judgement, will, design, affection, love, anger, hatred, courage, fear, worry, anxiety, joy, sorrow, and life itself- the issues of the human heart and mind), trying to absorb a little of God’s wisdom, and to know God’s will for his life, as he was running away from his brother Esau! Most likely Jacob knew what was God’s will, or he knew God’s heart, but has difficulty accepting God’s will and decision, and hence wrestling through the night, with the struggles of submitting to God’s will.

As the fight progressed, it seemed Jacob was somewhat evenly matched against the Man, but the match was only evenly matched in appearance. The Man could have won easily at any time, using supernatural power, (Enduring Word, David Guzik). As Jacob, fully spread his fears before the Lord, (the angel) suffered himself to be conquered, to encourage Jacob’s faith and hope against the approaching danger, and in truth, he even imparted strength to him to maintain the conflict. I am confident that there is sizeable element of truth in this understanding.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Complicated Grief: Heart- rending

 

Rending means  tearing, so when something makes you feel deeply saddened.

Hebrew word study:

lev לב means, heart-  which is defined as the seat of all passions.

ayakah/ AYEKAH – איכה means  “where are you?”

“And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” - Genesis 3:9-10, (KJV).

Ayekah is an ancient Hebrew word that is still used in daily life today. It means, “Where are you?” It is used today when a person, parent, friend, compatriot wants to know about your inner world, the heart experience of you. 

Can you picture God wandering through the garden, weeping, and saying, “O woe is Me!”?..... If we believe we are created in the image of God, then we have a heart like His- a heart that can be broken. Haven’t you ever lamented over a broken relationship? Most Christians seem to have a hard time picturing God as weeping over His lost children. Hence, we use the more appropriate rendering  of “where are you?” But while ayakah is an interrogative,* it is also an expression of grief. So, what is causing this grief? Adam and Eve were not hiding from God; they were hiding from the presence of God. They had willfully separated themselves from His presence. God is grief- stricken because the sin has caused to hide one from His presence- the presence He longs to share with us. After searching for the heart of God and capturing a few glimpses of His heart, you may no longer see Him as a task master ready to whip you into submission to His will, but as a lover who has His arms open, ready to embrace you, to forgive you, and win you over to submission to His perfect will through His passionate love for you. - Chaim Bentorah, Hebrew Word Study- Revealing the Heart of God, (2016). 

If God had problems locating where Adam was hiding in some bushes, this does not inspire in me much confidence that God is watching over me all the time and protects me and knows my going out and my coming in! So, what is the literal rendering of the verse, Genesis 3: 9-10? The complicated grief which came out of original sin (peccatum Originale- Latin) is heartrending, and this is something that  rends God’s heart, rips it apart, like a tale of a terrible tragedy! Looking at the effects of Fall, ayakah- this rendering makes more sense, to me in my search for God’s heart!


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Got the story all wrong?!

       Trauma is a sentence in the story- it is not the true story! We can always make anything in our lives the focal point of our stories! Pursuing wealth, perfect families around, one’s own perfect family, perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect fitness, and all of these have the capacity to move us away, and hijack us from the real story! Suffix to say, that trauma has the capacity to move one away from the real story!

Missing the profound opportunity to glory in the True Author of Life?

Get the narrative theme right in the heart, and nullify the sentence of tragedy, and one need not be hopeless and miserable! The painful reality of the death of Jesus Christ for humanity (recorded in the Gospels), the fallen world (Gen.3), privilege of being a part of God’s story (Psa. 139:16), man created for the glory of Another (Ps.147: 10-11), vanity of life without God (Ecc.1:14), God’s goodness and love (Psa. 136:1), Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus is Saviour (Jn: 3: 16), God works in all things even in tragedy to transform his own into children of glory (Rom. 8: 28-29), and our Savior is committed to the full redemption and healing of his children (Phil. 1:6, Jam. 1: 2-3) should be our focal point.  

The grandeur of the Gospel narrative, and of God’s wonderful, beautiful heart, in restoring all mankind to His bosom of love, and the unspeakable honor to relate to God cannot be hijacked by a mere sentence of horror/trauma in one’s life story. One cannot absolutely constrict their entire life and God- ordained purpose into a sentence , a moment, a season in their life, and miss the real story for their life completely!


Monday, December 6, 2021

How to overcome guilt with forgiveness?

 

Forgiveness, pardoning one´s sin, does not come easily for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we have been injured. We do not naturally overflow with mercy, grace, and forgiveness when we've been wronged.[1] In this section I want to elaborate first on the vertical and horizontal aspect of forgiveness and then on several reasons why we should forgive.


           The Flow of forgiveness: Vertical and Horizontal Forgiveness


1. God

If we picture a world without forgiveness, we need to humbly confess that God´s forgiveness and his willingness to pay the price of that forgiveness makes a real difference in our vision of human life. It is God´s love and forgiveness toward us which forms the basis for our forgiveness towards ourselves and others, which I call vertical forgiveness. God is not only the author and perfecter of our life and faith (Hebrews 12:1) but also of our forgiveness. Pride, rather than forgiveness, is our human default setting, and therefore the concept of forgiveness is a divine concept. He enables us to forgive! Everything we have comes ultimately from Him!

2. Self

Without experiencing this vertical forgiveness of our sins (John 3:16), we cannot forgive ourselves, which is necessary to forgive others. Though talking about love, Matthew 22:29 (love your neighbor as yourself) supports this principle: Our love for our neighbor is based on our love for ourselves. Not loving ourselves will disable us to genuinely love our neighbor. In line with this train of thought: if we cannot forgive ourselves, how are we supposed to forgive others?

Experiencing the forgiveness of God brings us back in right relationship with God. Through this right relationship with God, we now have the hope of discovering our true selves and of being able to live at peace with what we find. We also have the hope of discovering others, meeting them in no exploitative intimacy instead of self-serving manipulation.[2]

Forgiving ourselves also implies accepting the way we look and are. It means accepting-even though we may not be perfect—that when God created us he said “behold, it is very good” (Genesis 1:31). Believing anything else about ourselves is declaring God to be a liar.

3. Others

Based on the forgiveness of God (vertical forgiveness), applied in forgiving ourselves, we are able to forgive other people: horizontal forgiveness. However, in order to make the flow of forgiveness more visual, above is a simple diagram.

Do we need to forgive God?

Common sense tells us that we can only forgive if there anything to forgive. If someone is not breaking a law or wronging somebody, he does not need forgiveness but is righteous. Having said this, we have to answer the question: is God sinning against us? Though it may look like God is wronging us and that he offends ‘our rights,’ he is not. God is the potter, and we are the clay.

Paul says “who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:21-22). Since God is God and we are created by Him, he has the right to do whatever he wants to. However, in his unfailing love for us he says in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”

So, it is very possible that occurring events are not pleasing to us. Jeanette Lockerbie says that “we will never be able to understand or explain the wonderful alchemy that produces sweetness out of sorrow, beauty from ashes, peace in the midst of pain.”[3]

 


Website Reference:

        1. Guilt and Forgiveness www.grin.com/en/e-book/143262/guilt-and-forgiveness

2. William T. Kirwan, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book ... Guilt is the 'phenomena' humanity has been dealing with since the fall of Adam and Eve. .... Your comment is reviewed before being published ...

 



1About.com is a part of New York Times company. Article “What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness? “was authored by Mary Fairchild. Date of publishing this article is unknown. Accessed on 10.12.2009.

2Leroy Aden and David G. Benner, Counseling, and the Human Predicament,206.

[3] Jeanette Lockerbie | Christian Books - Moody Publishers https://www.moodypublishers.com/authors/l/jeanette-lockerbiJEANETTE LOCKERBIE (1916-1998) homemaker, writing consultant, lecturer, and author of nearly forty books, was born in Scotland and spent her adult years in Canada and the United States. Jeanette was author of numerous books including Morning Glories and Salt in my Kitchen. In addition to her responsibilities as a pastor’s and missionary’s wife, she also served as staff editor for Psychology ...

How do we deal with guilt?

 

Guilt is the ‘phenomena’ humanity has been dealing with since the fall of Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, there are four common approaches I may consider. First, as in the 60´s, it was the common practice to convince someone that he should not feel guilty for divorcing his wife, because divorce is legal. Second, as in the 70´s, people were encouraged to see themselves as more than their guilt. Their potential for good would overcome their guilt. Third, as many people believe, one has to feel guilty only when one is being caught. If no one knows, no one worries.1

These approaches lead only to denial and ignorance. None of them deals with the core of guilt, which is sin. Therefore, I want to consider the fourth option: forgiveness. It may be the most time-consuming treatment of guilt, but the only one that is really orthodox with scripture and the only one that brings true holistic restoration and healing.

Leroy Aden understands forgiveness as a divine tool for dealing with brokenness: “Guilt speaks with a loud voice, but forgiveness has the last word.”2According to the dictionary, forgiveness is granting pardon for a mistake or wrongdoing, to free someone from penalty (like a sentence) or obligation (like a debt or payment).3Forgiveness is the response to sin and an act of grace which cannot be earned or deserved (Romans 3:23). Forgiveness denies the self that demands its “rights.” It is, as David Augsburger said, “like turning a key in the lock. You never go back to look at it again. It´s closed. Forever.”4

Therefore, we can say that forgiveness is the highest form of giving in a relationship, as we can see when Jesus was incarnated and died for our sins so that whoever repents shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Leroy Aden highlights that forgiveness is not only the center of relationships, but also of Christian faith on which all other biblical claims rest.5Forgiveness suggests that there is another and better way than to ignore and deny guilt, which allows us to be honest about the reality of our own guilt and that of others. It encourages us to take honest responsibility for our own side of relationship.6Though forgiveness is a gift, it requires that the guilty person repents and turns away from his sin and desires and pursues to cure the cause of the problem.7

Having said this, forgiveness, pardoning one´s sin, does not come easily for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we have been injured. We do not naturally overflow with mercy, grace, and forgiveness when we've been wronged.8In the next section I want to elaborate first on the vertical and horizontal aspect of forgiveness and then on several reasons why we should forgive.

References:

1Gary R. Collins, Counseling and Guilt,(Texas: Word Books Publisher, 1987), 40.

2Leroy Aden and David G. Benner, Counseling, and the Human Predicament -A study of Sin, Guilt, and forgiveness-

(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 184.

3The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language.

4David Augsburger, Caring Enough to Not Forgive,(Scottdale: Herald Press, 1981), 39.

5Leroy Aden and David G. Benner, Counseling, and the Human Predicament,177.

6Ibid., 183.

7Duncean Buchanan, The Counselling of Jesus,(Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 101.

8About.com is a part of New York Times company. Article “What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?” was authored by Mary Fairchild. Date of publishing this article is unknown. Accessed on 10.12.2009.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Guilt: Psychological and Theological guilt

 Today's blog is about guilt and the difference between "Psychological and Theological guilt."

Guilt: Definition

The dictionary defines guilt as, “Remorse and regret, caused by having committed an offence, crime, violation, or wrong, esp. against moral, religious or penal law; justly subject to a certain accusation or penalty.”1

Guilt is caused by breaking a law which the Bible calls sin; falling short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Since one is declared ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty,’ it is therefore not a feeling but a status we have because of sin or breaking a law. However, being guilty is usually accompanied by emotions of regret, inadequacy, unworthiness, remorse, embarrassment, shame, and blame-consequences that are painful. Unresolved guilt does have the power to destroy one´s life emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and I will explore this part at a later point.

Psychological and Theological guilt

Satan accusing us: Psychological guilt is the internalization of the emotional experience of, for example, being rejected or shamed by one´s parents, or some one closer.  It involves self-rejection (“I´m not worthy”) or self-shame (“I always blow it”). Psychological guilt often leads to self-punishment (such as cutting)and self-denial as an attempt to find relief, which turns out to be not a relief at all. Sadly, destructive thoughts such as “I deserve punishment,” or “I don´t deserve to live” are the motivation for a shockingly high percentage of people who see their only way out of their shame and guilt. 

In one's despair in attempting to find relief, even committing, or wanting to commit suicide seem to be the inward thought process in some individuals. However, nowhere in the New Testament is psychological guilt regarded as a desirable or constructive feeling. In fact, Paul says that worldly sorrow leads to death, but godly sorrow (i.e., theological guilt) can lead to life (2 Cor. 7:10).3

The root of psychological guilt is often the ‘diablo,’ which is the Greek word for Satan.4 In Zechariah 3:1 and Revelation 12:10 we learn that he is also called "the accuser of the brethren." 

The Holy Spirit convicting us: Theological guilt is the Holy Spirit convicting us of breaking God’s law as it is recorded in the Bible. This leads to the feeling of having failed in one’s relationship with God. Dealing with it in the proper way leads to reconciliation and restoration of a full relationship with God and others.5 On the other hand, rejecting the Holy Spirit´s guidance leads to the hardening of our hearts (Hebrews 3:15) and grieving of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

1The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Article “guilty” was accessed on 10 Dec. 2009. <Dictionary.com<span="">http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/guilty>.</Dictionary.com<>

2William T. Kirwan, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling,(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), 197.

3Ibid..

4The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

5William T. Kirwan, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling,198.