what does love think?

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge, but anyone who loves God is known by him.

1 Corinthians 8:1b-3; NRSVue

[Love] hopes all things…

1 Corinthians 13:7; NRSVue

Knowledge is given much pride of place in our world, even if there has been a severe backsliding in that area as of late. There’s no doubt that it has an important place in human existence. Wisdom must accompany it, or otherwise we’re stuck with problems like the specter (fearful threat) of nuclear holocaust. Along with wisdom, something even greater must accompany it, according to Paul. Nothing less than love.

Surely we need to read the Bible and all of life with both the lens of Christ and love. Of course people will rightfully want to know what our definition of love is, and just who this Christ is we profess. As Christians, Christ-followers, people of faith, we point to the cross. To understand God, we have to look to Jesus hanging on the cross, God in Christ thus reconciling the world to God’s self. The God who is love is Jesus.

Only love knows in any true sense of the word, according to Paul. Only the mind animated and moved by love, considering all things with the love of God in Christ at the center, and through which we consider everything, is of any value. Sheer knowledge by itself is not only not enough, but ultimately ends up being devilish, puffed up.

Just a simple word that I always need, to apply to everything.

why I believe in God (and what doesn’t matter or make the difference that way)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Yes, I believe in God, in a creator and supreme being somehow behind it all. And not because that makes sense to me, though that does seem to make some sense in my case. Not really because of rational argument. And not because of an inerrant Bible, because I don’t believe there is any such thing. Not because somehow I think I have an objective answer, or can prove the resurrection of Christ along with what that is supposed to prove in the Christian faith. My answer is subjective, but really, isn’t everyone’s? How can anyone really know by some supposedly objective standard, as if God laid it out, and all people have to do is see it for themselves?

I believe in God and that Mystery which is as much beyond human comprehension as quantum physics, simply observable in something like a metaphysical kind of way, even escaping the best that scientists can muster. I believe because somehow quite beyond me, quite beyond us, God makes God’s self known. Probably in many ways on earth, and I happen to believe that Christ is central to that. It is like God’s world is opened to me as I read scripture- the Bible, and interact with life, just enough to keep me going, but not in some rationalistic way which can be defended apologetically. It’s like when you know someone is present, even while you may know next to nothing at all about them. That’s something like what I’m describing here.

Faith. Not a moonshot and a mere wish. But more like a knowing we would describe as in our hearts much more than in our minds. But then reaching out to the mind and somehow all of life.

That is how I would describe why I believe in God.


look for the good, only then will you find it (dreams, etc.)

As one who catches at a shadow and pursues the wind,
so is anyone who pays attention to dreams….

Unless they are sent by intervention from the Most High,
pay no attention to them.
For dreams have deceived many,
and those who put their hope in them have perished.

Sirach 34:2, 6-7

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Fellow Jews and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit,
and they shall prophesy.

Acts 2:14-18

Dreams in one’s sleep happen to be the occasion for which I bring up finding the good. In the Hebrew Bible Joseph and Daniel stories, dreams have an important part and God gives interpretations. But as we all know, dreams are at best a mixed bag. They usually seem pointless, often strange. Although I’m not sure any dream we have is obvious in meaning anything good, we can easily imagine what is not so good from them.

The above passage from Sirach mostly puts a yellow caution light on them at the very least, and is largely negative, just hinting at the possibility that somehow God might be in a dream for good, that God might give such. But Peter quoting from Joel in his Pentecost sermon, reminds us that God can give dreams. There it is said that old men have dreams. Although neither Daniel nor Joseph were old when they received their dreams and interpreted them, one might conjecture that those who are older, certainly including women will be able to judge and interpret dreams better as a rule, with all of the life experience and knowledge gained over time from the understanding and wisdom God gives.

I think an important part of considering dreams and anything else for that matter, really all of life, is to look beyond what might seem threatening, scary, discouraging, or whatever, and find the good in it or that can come out of it. Sometimes it might be reacting to the dream in such a way that one does something of the opposite or differently, perhaps the dream being a warning or way of instructing. There may be times when the dream is a precursor of good that God is about to do. Whatever may be the case, we need to look prayerfully for what good we can find from anything and everything. And with God’s help be moved in the direction needed.

staying in one’s place

…the wise mind will know the time and way. For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them.

Ecclesiastes 8:5b-6

Sometimes we really want to do something for what is a compelling enough reason for us. Often though I have found that what I think I should do or say really is not necessary at all, in fact can be unhelpful and more than anything else an indicator of a weakness in myself.

There are those things we may well need to get done. If such is the case, it might be well for us to sit on it some, to see if on further consideration and the passing of some time it is still something we want to do. We might by and by see it as just putting something else unnecessary into the mix of things, perhaps even muddying the waters, something we may have to take back or fix.

But if on further prayer, thought and time, we think we need to act, then we should do so maybe right at that point in time, or when we see as the opening we’ve anticipated. It is overall best to err on the side of caution. If we do that then whenever we do will likely be much more helpful for the matter at hand.

what helps in our faith (and doesn’t)

I will sing of loyalty and of justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing.
I will study the way that is blameless.
When shall I attain it?

I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is base.

Psalm 101:3

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her, then, to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but few things are needed—indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

One of the most basic things we need to ask ourselves and take personal inventory on is our use of time, what we’re doing with it. And I’m thinking now of the free time we have when we can do whatever we please. On the other hand there are a good number of things we need to do or have to do, and there are also those things which we will end up doing if we use our free time wisely.

This can be like many things in life: Too much is no good, but a certain amount may be quite good. And this will differ from person to person. For example some may spend hours and hours reading novels and the like. And while that might be helpful in many ways depending, it might also eventually leave one feeling empty and convicted in their use of time. For others like myself we might spend a lot of time on history or politics. That can be good too, but in my case I find too much not only can leave me feeling empty, but also unsettled and indeed unhappy. Anyone alive and aware today understands.

We all know how much might be or is enough. And what we need to do. To have a faith which is active in love to each other, to our neighbors, indeed even to our enemies, yes to the world, we have to prioritize and foster certain practices. For me it includes scripture reading, hymns and songs from “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer” in our hymnal. And to meditate on scripture through reading books and listening to podcasts.

What we have to keep asking ourselves as followers of Christ is whether or not what we’re doing is helping us to follow or not. And not just by ourselves, but in company with others. And just what the fruit of that is. Is it resulting in good works out of love for each other and for others? And are we growing in this way, or not?

Important anytime and especially during certain times when other things which though worthy of careful consideration, can crowd in and take over.

making our words count

Some people keep silent and are found to be wise,
while others are detested for being talkative.
Some people keep silent because they have nothing to say,
while others keep silent because they know when to speak.
The wise remain silent until the right moment,
but the arrogant and the fool miss the right moment.
Whoever talks too much is detested,
and whoever pretends to authority is hated.

Sirach 20:5-8

How many times have I went into a meeting, which for me was blessedly few times given my factory work so that I was far from weary of them, even if wary… But how many times have I gone into such meetings full of things to say? And the result was less than satisfactory at least in my eyes. Thankfully I think a majority of the time I had little to no idea how or what I would contribute. And those were the times when something would come to me based on my experience and working knowledge at what seemed to be the right or at least a good time.

It’s not like we should choose silence and not be open to speak. Maybe we will do well to prefer silence and if we have something helpful and fitting to say, then we can speak., but if not, then fine. Especially when we remember the times when what we said may have been alright, but did not necessarily fit the need of the moment. Or may have simply been too much, and therefore less helpful.

It’s not like we’re going to get this perfect. We should want to contribute and especially so when we can in spite of our inevitable mistakes or incomplete view of things, which is in part why conversation/dialog is so necessary. Considering everything, weighing all of that, not the least of which whether or not the person or persons on the receiving end are ready. And most of all, only after we’ve not only listened, but have heard well enough to understand. Which may mean we will do well to ask clarifying questions, a good practice. Always in my opinion with the default being simply being silent, and refusing to say more than what might actually help.

tell the truth

…no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongues to speak lies;
they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.

Jeremiah 9:5

Truth cuts every way possible. It cuts no corners, but covers all.

God’s people if there is such a thing, and I believe there is, should be people of truth. And truth regardless of how it exposes them, or what it is. Humans ought to have a passion for truth: “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

But “what is truth?” Unlike what we under the influence of the Enlightenment think, it’s not about knowing the right things. We know nothing fully or without distortion. Only God knows like that. Truth morally speaking is the reality of goodness, justice and love. While humans have a capacity at live in truth, we all have given into error of various kinds, so that at least we can be aware of that default within ourselves, or it is simply a part of our lives, who we are.

To tell the truth is a nice thought. Better yet, seek to live in truth, whatever that may be. Not many of us are called to say a lot. Living speaks to us as well as those around us. None of us live completely well in truth. But that should be our goal, indeed passion, with plenty of repentance along the way. In and through the truth, Jesus.

putting on the whole armor of God: belting your waist with truth

Stand, therefore, and belt your waist with truth…

Ephesians 6:14a

There’s no escape from the spiritual battle all around us, which if we’re not disengaged, we’ll find ourselves in. What this passage from scripture tells us is that if we’re not strong in the strength of the Lord’s power and don’t put on the whole armor of God, we will no longer stand, but fall. I wonder what not standing looks like. It may not seem like a fall, but for those who have experienced any degree of standing in this way at all, one can tell the difference.

After being told to be strong in the Lord’s power and put on God’s whole armor, we’re then told to stand and put on the first piece, belted around our waste so to speak in this metaphor: truth. Christians have often made truth above and beyond anything else to refer to scripture itself. I prefer to see truth as what we can draw out of scripture as truth, given to us by God. Truth is above all else found in Jesus who called himself “the truth” along with “the way…and the life” (John 14:6). Truth is in Jesus (Ephesians 4:21). All else has to be measured by Jesus and considered in that context. “All truth is God’s truth” (Augustine) and Jesus as creator and sustainer (John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3) of all things, I think affirms that.

Truth is often viewed as concepts that are considered absolutes which we’re simply to believe and accept with absolute certainty. Whereas truth as it really is comes only with experience and cannot be totally understood by us. Some might suggest that opens the door to the saying: “What’s true for you may not be true for me.”  Yes, everyone has to work out what this uniquely means for them. But truth is truth, God’s truth in and through Jesus in every way. But subject to revision since our understanding of it will always be incomplete, certainly so in this life (1 Corinthians 13:9a).

Just a few thoughts about truth. The first piece of the armor we’re to put on. In and through Jesus.

the walk by faith is not the easy life

Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me and between your herders and my herders, for we are kindred. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Lot looked about him and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward, and they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Genesis 13:8-18

Lot chose for himself what he thought would be the easier way. But as the story tells us, while on the surface it may have been easier, it had serious consequences. Abraham offered that choice to Lot. What was basically different between the two is that Abraham was living a life of faith, Lot, not so much. You might say that Lot wanted a cushy life, what looked most comfortable.

I find similar inclinations in myself. I would like to cushion my life, and when I think about that, the life of my wife, even pets, as much as possible. I would like to live the life of faith, too. But comfortably.

But I think you can make a serious argument from scripture that there is no such thing as a life of faith being compatible with living in comfort. Faith in this existence is not comfortable for a good number of reasons.

In our western world we tend to see faith as knowing the right answers and proceeding accordingly so that we can know all is well and good and be at rest. But biblical faith is different. It’s most often a matter of not knowing, and never knowing all there is to know or with perfection. Instead, it’s a matter of trusting in God. That was the path Abraham was taking. Based on God’s promises Abraham would carry on. As you read the narrative of his story from Genesis, you certainly understand that his life was far from easy. Even apart from his own mistakes and seeming missteps, which made it all the more difficult, it was going to be hard.

We will do best if we’re to commit ourselves to a life of faith to accept this. Get ready for hard things, and many of them. But in all of this to hopefully grow in our trust in God. To believe that God will come through not only for us, but for others, even for the world. In and through Jesus.

God’s word in sight

And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord!

Jeremiah 2:31a

The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann is considered a most insightful book in understanding the prophets and add to that The Prophets by Abraham Joshua Heschel and you’re set to go.

Early prophets in the Hebrew Bible were called seers. They were receiving a vision from God for God’s people and also in a true sense for the world. The idea here is framed in words, but it’s not so much about actual words as it is about vision, what one sees. 

What we see, feel and experience, not just some head things, what we imagine we know. The knowing here is something more than words, though words can help us find our way to it. The importance of words can’t be questioned, but it is what we see and what God helps us see that is the point of it all.

Do we see a world including our own world where love reigns supreme in our thoughts, attitudes and actions? After all the two greatest commands according to Jesus are to love God with all of our being and doing and to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

The words from Jeremiah quoted above come in a heavy context in which God is challenging God’s people to repent. When one reads the Prophets, one can’t help but notice that the appeal is made not merely to the intellect, but to the imagination. An image of what is and what needs to be. Over and over again. Hence, how we’re to view ourselves, and the world in which we live. In and through Jesus.