Tender Regard ~ Henry Scougal

14 05 2012

The entire human race—has been made in God’s Image. That means, that we should regard highly, every human being we meet. This may sound a bit strong, a bit over-the-top, a bit of ‘living in fairy-land’, a bit unrealistic, particularly as many people we meet have behaved so terribly, said so many things that sound shocking, and unhelpful, and hold such views of life, God and humanity which we find to be distasteful – to say the least.

Even so, that is the deal. That is what is expected. That is why Jesus says: love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Henry Scougal (1650-1678), died at the age of 27. By then, he was already Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen University. Henry wrote a very influential small book, entitled, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. He said:

“The meanest and most contemptible person whom we behold is the offspring of heaven, one of the children of the Most High; and however unworthy he might behave himself of that relation, so long as God hath not abdicated and disowned him by a final sentence, he will have us to embrace him with a sincere and cordial affection” (p. 124).

Yes, disagree as we might, God has ‘a very dear and tender regard‘ for us all… for you, and for me.

We know this, for certain, through the ministry of Jesus Christ.

http://www.ccel.org/s/scougal/life/

Advertisements




Proverbs 4:23

13 10 2009

There is a Proverb, that keeps speaking to me. No. Rather, there is a Triune God, who keeps speaking to me, through these words:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (NRSV Proverbs 4:23).

Just in case you missed it, here are some other versions.

NIV Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
NAS Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
GWT Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.
KJV Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
BBE And keep watch over your heart with all care; so you will have life.
DRB With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issueth out from it.
DBY Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded; for out of it are the issues of life.
WEB Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.
YLT Above every charge keep thy heart, For out of it are the outgoings of life.




The Joy of Jesus

15 09 2009

Jesus’ words really are captivating. They were, and they still are. It was observed by the temple police, as they heard Jesus, that: ‘Never has anyone spoken like this’ (John 7:46)

What about these captivating words: ‘I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11 )

Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. Yep!

You may often feel a lack of joy, a dearth of joy.

There is so much in our media, and our lives, that makes it seem a joyless world.

Sadness is very prevalent. We need no examples.

But the joyless world is passing away. For the man of joy, has come.

Listen to the promise again:

Abide in me…. that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

Abide is the Greek word meno ‘meno’, also translated ‘remain’, or ‘dwell’. Remain in me. Keep in fellowship with me. Keep talking to me. Keep being filled with the Spirit of God. Keep being a person with with the Spirit, in whom is love, joy peace…

The joy of Jesus in us? Yes, indeed. Here, is the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3b) deeply acquainted with grief—who was made to be sin for us, as he bore our griefs, guilt, sadness, shame and failures in his body on the tree, once for all—who is also the most truly joyful human being to ever walk the face of the earth.

Meditate upon this man, who has all things in his hands. This man of joy is near. This man who gives joy to the brokenhearted. Two old hymns, keep coming to mind:

Jesus thou joy of loving hearts‘, and ‘Joy to the World, the Lord is come’!

Are you joyful?  Do you find such questions annoying? Do you answer that we only have joy by faith, and not by sight? Do you admit it is a deep joy, but not necessarily a smiling joy? Do you have the joy of Jesus, now?  Does this seem a bit of an inward question, to you? Are you frying bigger fish than this?  Have you the global political scene in your sights? Or the local contribution that you are going to make? Are you deeply bent on justifying yourself by your achievements? Is yours a joyful contribution?  Are others in your life affected by the joy of Jesus? Is it coming through in your life? Is there a joy

May you be filled with the joy of Jesus. May the joy of knowing the Father, and all things being in his hands, be in you! May the joy of the Holy Spirit renew you today.

The joy of Jesus, is a joy which comes to us, in the joy of the one who has conquered sin and death. The joy of Jesus is the joy which is a secured joy, of an eternal God, lodged actively in a person, and now given to us. The joy of Jesus! The joy of Jesus in us, and our joy complete. Complete. Full. More than sufficient. Real joy. Spreading joy. Global joy. Eternal joy. Present joy. No one will take your joy from you. Joy that can’t be stolen. Joy.

Joy. Short word. Profound effect.





All Things Must Pass

12 09 2009

All Things Must Pass’, by George Harrison is a collection of music, a 1970 record album, which, as the title suggests, announces the impermanence of all things – life, love and mop top pop bands.  It is ironic that this album stands as one of his greatest legacies!  It was produced at a significant time: The Beatles had broken up as a band, only 6 months beforehand, George’s wife Patty was falling for his best friend Eric Clapton. And George’s mother had just died—things were quickly very different. Looking back over the years of the Beatles huge stardom, this album was ‘his hand full of earth upon the coffin’ of the band (M. Cheney).  Interestingly enough, a song emerging at this same time was Harrison’s search to know God: ‘My Sweet Lord’, (“I really want to know ya yea”…. in, I think, Eastern religion terms). It was a popular song!

All Things Must Pass, is a saying which echoes (sort-of) that of Jesus’ own statement:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away

(Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).

Not quite all things must pass, then! The words of Jesus have an eternal quality, because they are spoken by the eternal one: How about that?

Saul (or Paul), like many others, fiercely opposed that idea. Maybe you doubt it? But he did come to know it. So can you. It all hinges on the present activity of this Risen Man, this Son of God, and the work of his Spirit in you and me, now.

In the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and seeing that the new eternal kingdom has arrived in him, and will coming fully at his next coming-appearing, the Apostle Paul put it like this:

For the present form of this world is passing away (1Corinthians 7:31).

We don’t like it when our world changes rapidly. But there is a good aspect to it… Do you think much on the good aspects of this statement?

It was on this insight, that Paul charted his course through life. He had rich insight, and certain faith, in what Christ was doing, and had done. In him there is a new creation. The old things are not only passing away, but, indeed, in a human being who is ‘Christed’ – forgiven, and made new, then those ‘old thing’ are made new.

Many things in our old world—that we liked—are passing away. This we find hard. These are some of mine, or my parents… experiences, think on your own:

(1) The good old slower life, when people had no cars and computer, but they did have time to chat by the roadside, with the horse and dray creating little road noise.

(2)  The good ol’ days when England, Australia, and the noble Westminster system of government, worked well, and people could speak at length, and gain a hearing, and reflect – and not be manipulated by a smart 20 second sound-bite.

(3) The days in Europe, recovering from WW2, as growth and peace came in various places, industry grew, the new possibilities opened up, and the whole future was not threatened by the growth of legalistic Islam, and ghettos and terrorist bomber violence.

(4) The days when a monogamous mum and faithful dad and numerous children, and grandparents, and uncles and aunts, were accepted as the normal basis of family life, and the push, push, push, for the a new anthropology, and view of marriage was not ‘in your face’.

(5) Ice cream and chips were reserved at Christmas or a birthday, not in the weekly supermarket trolley; childhood obesity was not hear of; you could play in the trees, miles from home, without a ‘keep out’ sign, or a sanctimonious ‘safe plastic sterile playground’ [to ward of the insurance claims], or a greenie initiative preventing your joy, you could run home without fear of being molested, stolen, beaten up, or of finding no one at home; these were great days!

(6) There are squillions of thoughts, multiplying, however…

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, who, although Christians, had become bogged in a few deficient ideas: He gave them some health-giving instructions concerning married life, unmarried life, normal creational human passion, and working in the things of the gospel, in the light of this fact:

For the present form of this world is passing away (1Corinthians 7:31).

Here is the full text.  Try and read it with prayer, not just a critical eye! 🙂

7:1 ¶ Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command.

7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. 9 But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

10To the married I give this command–not I but the Lord–that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say–I and not the Lord–that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

13 And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.

16 Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.

17 ¶ However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches.

18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.

20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.

24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.

25Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

26 I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.

29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.

And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband.

35 I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

36 ¶ If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37 But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well.

38 So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

Yes folks, what a piece of writing!
Yes, it needs some clarification. A commentary will help.
The hope is, that in Christ, you will ‘do well’!
The point is there is a noble, creational way of living, in the present age, in the light of the impending crisis, yes, the coming of the kingdom. This is it. It is a gracious kingdom, with room to move, under the gracious care of the Lord, for each of us. Are you keeping uppermost in mind what matters most?

The world of sin and death, is passing away, and the world of holiness and life, is breaking in upon us. Amidst all the uncomfortable changes, faith sees Jesus.

Jesus Christ, and his kingdom. Thy Kingdom Come.





Abide in Me

4 08 2009

Jesus said: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).





Three things come not back

3 06 2009

Three things come not back – the spoken word, the spent arrow, the missed opportunity. 

Sometimes pithy little sayings stay with you. Like this one.

They have their place. Yes, they can be trite cliche’s. And, yes they can be annoying. And yes, they can keep one in baby land – in a way… by avoiding tackling a longer piece of thoughtful work. They can be an illusion, thinking we now have something deep, when we don’t. But they can act as a valuable prod, to be about what counts. And to go about things in a gracious manner. 30 years later, or so, one can still recall that spoken word, which went out – and it jarred, grated or offended.  It is out there now! 

And missed opportunities? Enough said.

The spent arrow!

I guess… it may have cost many an Indian warrior, his life. Or his lunch.








%d bloggers like this: