The word “experience” in religious and spiritual settings is dangerous. For so many it means emotionally charged moments — moments that have nothing to do with God in reality, or with his coming into one’s life. But we’ll not let the danger keep us from the necessity of addressing the need for experiencing God.

Often, in Scripture the idea of experience is found in the verb “to know” and the noun “knowledge.” Many metaphors are also used in describing relationship with God, such as “walk.” The language of Scripture is rich to describe how we experience God.

What is it exactly that we need to experience in terms of God? Continue reading

She asked what makes me feel safe.
In reply I say: To have beside me
The Almighty God. No circumstance will chafe,
External factors will never trouble or guide me.
I do not say that God is in my pocket.
He’s no one’s personal genie, idol or charm.
I fear his holy Name — let no one mock it.
But under his wing his people come to no harm,
For they possess what even death can’t touch:
No human can destroy eternal hope.
And this, my friend, is no religious crutch,
But true reality to help you cope
And — more than cope — to flourish, grow, enlarge
Your sights and borders. First, to him we must kneel
And know the Lord of all the earth is in charge.
Security like this we all can feel.

On my microblog, “R’s Commonplace Book,” its subtitle is “God in the details.” This is an allusion to the phrase that “the devil is in the details.” Devil here apparently stands for difficulties. The idea is one thing, working it out is quite another. By putting God in the place of the devil, I wanted to say that God works out his plan in and through our lives.

In our faith we need the details. We also need to see the big picture.

This morning I came across a brotherhood article about Six Core Beliefs. It was a good article. At the same time, I begin to think what I would name as my six basic points of faith. Here’s what I came up with. Continue reading

“I will lead blind Israel down a new path,
guiding them along an unfamiliar way.
I will brighten the darkness before them
and smooth out the road ahead of them.
Yes, I will indeed do these things;
I will not forsake them.”
—Isaiah 42.16 NLT

The word “Israel” which appears in the NLT above does not occur in the original text but it is who is referred to. See verses 19-20. God continued to work in the midst of the people, because of his commitment to the covenant. A remnant would survive. The reference here is possibly to the people’s return from exile to their own land. Continue reading

What joy to meet with God’s own saints,
In greetings face to face;
We mutually lift our heavy weights,
In love and warm embrace.

In common our pains and gains we share,
Whatever may be our load;
Together we engage in prayer,
Companions on this road.

Our sins and errors we confess,
´Tis grace our common bond,
To live and love and give and bless
In fellowship Beyond.

I took an old hymn, “As the Sun Doth Daily Rise,” and revised it. I couldn’t find a video or audio without instruments, so you can do your own search. Do you prefer the original, or the revised version? Do you see where it might be improved?

When the sun begins to rise,
Brightening all the morning skies,
So to you with one accord
Hearts and voices lift, O Lord.

Day by day provide us food,
For from you come all things good;
Strength for life and limbs afford
From your living bread, O Lord.

Be our guard in sin and strife;
Be the Leader of our life;
Lest from you we stray abroad,
Stay our wayward feet, O Lord.

Living by the Spirit’s grace,
All your holy will to trace
While we daily search your Word,
Truest light impart, O Lord.

Praise to God who knows no limit,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
We, your saints, with one accord
Praise your holy name, O Lord.

Do you approach the coming year
With expectation or trembling fear?
With hope and faith in God I face
The day, for I’m awash in grace.
Yes, I am weak, but God is strong,
So when the day is tiresome and long,
Upon his ready power I lean
When crisis spoils the planned routine.
To ponder all the months and days
Of Twenty-One and all its ways,
The mind might panic in alarm,
Did I not lean upon God’s arm.
The Lord alone is absolute,
With him is blessing, peace, and fruit;
In him can no defeat disturb,
For every day and year’s superb.

Fathers must not be put to death for what their children do, nor children for what their fathers do; each must be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24.16.

Moses said it by inspiration to the people of Israel, before they entered the land of Canaan. Centuries later, the prophet Ezekiel developed it further, speaking again to the Israelites. (See chapters 18 and 33.) Go to the New Testament and see that condemnation and salvation are determined on an individual basis.

The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16.16.

Some Bible versions published in recent years throw statements into the plural in order to avoid the singular masculine pronoun. All fine and good, but it sometimes misses a point, like individual responsibility. Continue reading

Fathers must not be put to death for what their children do, nor children for what their fathers do; each must be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24.16.

Moses said it by inspiration to the people of Israel, before they entered the land of Canaan. Centuries later, the prophet Ezekiel developed it further, speaking again to the Israelites. (See chapters 18 and 33.) Go to the New Testament and see that condemnation and salvation are determined on an individual basis.

The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16.16.

Some Bible versions published in recent years throw statements into the plural in order to avoid the singular masculine pronoun. All fine and good, but it sometimes misses a point, like individual responsibility.

Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. For each one will carry his own load. Galatians 6.4-5.

Am I to blame for what happened a hundred years ago or more? God is more interested in what I am doing right now. Continue reading

So what’s it been now, four, five months? How does it feel to live in lockdown? Is there anything we can learn from this experience?

#1. We can’t live in isolation. We need people — physically near us — and more than just one or two family members. Remember that “no man is an island”? We were created as social creatures. As much as a blessing as the internet can be, it cannot substitute physical presence. Isolation creates stress. And while so many talk about how hard it is to work with or deal with people, we’re far worse off without them. You may say, well, sure, we all know that. If so, why are we living as if it weren’t true?

#2. Go read about the testing in Florida, with reported positive test results 10 times greater than the real results. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but something is deeply wrong with the whole approach here. I refuse to be cowed. I refuse to bow to the fear-mongering. We need not be stupid about risks, but neither must we faint or fear. The social Awe-and-Wow is smoke and mirrors, except when you get fined or jailed, but even then realize who the magician is behind the curtain. Continue reading