The winner takes it all

Chapter 26 – ( I skipped 25)

Good Monday Morning to this new week.

I hope you’ve been enjoying my weekly blog chapters. Now for Week 25…the famous week that Christopher Latham Sholes patented the Sholes and Glidden typewriter, the first commercially successful typewriter of its kind. Honestly, Sunday and Monday came and went in a blur, probably lost in a sea of to-do lists, and then, before I knew it, Week 25 itself was history! But fear not, dear readers! If you’d like me to make up for the lost chapter 25, I’m all ears for your suggestions! Stay tuned as I regroup for this weeks chapter 26!

“The winner takes it all.” This phrase, often heard in the context of competitions and high-stakes environments, came to mind recently while reading about a prominent bank in Switzerland of which they say it is the “Winner and took it all”!

Yesterday, I watched the game EM-2024 between Belgium and Romania. As a spectator, I felt like the real winner who took it all. It was an incredibly cool match, with both teams playing as if they had nothing to lose. Yes, Belgium won 2-0, but Romania continued to play excellently, taking chances and risks, and showcasing good football.
But is it really true? Does the winner truly take it all?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1. Corinthians 9.24

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Know ye not—The Isthmian games, in which the foot race was a leading one, were of course well known, and a subject of patriotic pride to the Corinthians, who lived in the immediate neighborhood. These periodical games were to the Greeks rather a passion than a mere amusement: hence their suitableness as an image of Christian earnestness.
in a race—Greek, “in a race course.”

    all … one, although we knew that one alone could be saved, still it would be well worth our while to run. Even in the Christian race not “all” who enter the race win (1Co 10:1-5).

    So run, that ye may obtain—said parenthetically. These are the words in which the instructors of the young in the exercise schools (gymnasia) and the spectators on the race course exhorted their pupils to stimulate them to put forth all exertions. The gymnasium was a prominent feature in every Greek city. Every candidate had to take an oath that he had been ten months in training, and that he would violate none of the regulations .He lived on a strict self-denying diet, refraining from wine and pleasant foods, and enduring cold and heat and most laborious discipline. The “prize” awarded by the judge or umpire was a chaplet of green leaves; at the Isthmus, those of the indigenous pine, for which parsley leaves were temporarily substituted (1Co 9:25). The Greek for “obtain” is fully obtain. It is in vain to begin, unless we persevere to the end (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Re 2:10). The “so” expresses, Run with such perseverance in the heavenly course, as “all” the runners exhibit in the earthly “race” just spoken of: to the end that ye may attain the prize.

    So, does the winner take it all? In the literal sense, perhaps. But in the grander scheme, everyone who runs with dedication and integrity gains something invaluable. Whether it’s the thrill of the game, the satisfaction of trying our best, or the lessons learned along the way, we all have the potential to be winners in our own right.

    “The winner takes it all” in another context, yes it completely fits our run and journey of faith … after long perserverance, recieving grace upon grace!

    The runner, according to Paul’s vivid image in another of his letters, forgets those things that are behind and strains toward those that are ahead. And just as a man runs with his body leaning forward, and his eager hand nearer to the prize than his body, and his eyes and heart running ahead of them both to grasp it, so let us live with the one worthy goal for ours, and let us set our whole effort and faith on what is worthy of it all, the prize of our high calling, the crown of righteousness. Then let us run, that we may finish the race with joy!

    Wishing you a great start to this new week!

    Philemon



    More Then Good News – a Promise

    Chapter 24

    Good Monday Morning to this new week.

    And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 1. Corinthians 15.28

    In honor of Jürgen Moltmann, who passed away this past week. (07.04.1926-03.06.2024)

    On June 3rd, after 98 years on this earth, Jürgen Moltmann entered his eternal rest. It is impossible to summarize Moltmann’s legacy in a handful of paragraphs. A prolific writer, he produced more than forty theological monographs over a span of six decades. He was on par with Barth and Pannenberg as one of the great Christian systematic theologians of the twentieth century, but it was not primarily his systematicity that had a profound influence on those of us whose work—or whose lives—he changed. Instead, one piece or another of his theology slipped into our heads and our hearts, under our skin. His writing, like his demeanor, was humble and self-effacing. It was, one could say, quietly revolutionary: the unsuspecting reader might flip a page, stumble upon an unassuming sentence, and catch themselves thinking, “This changes everything.” It is impossible to summarize Moltmann’s legacy in a handful of paragraphs. A prolific writer, he produced more than forty theological monographs over a span of six decades. He was on par with Barth and Pannenberg as one of the great Christian systematic theologians of the twentieth century, but it was not primarily his systematicity that had a profound influence on those of us whose work or whose lives he changed. Instead, one piece or another of his theology slipped into our heads and our hearts, under our skin. His writing, like his demeanor, was humble and self-effacing. It was, one could say, quietly revolutionary: the unsuspecting reader might flip a page, stumble upon an unassuming sentence, and catch themselves thinking, “This changes everything.”

    Facts About Jurgen Moltmann

    Jurgen Moltmann, a prominent German theologian, was actually a prisoner of war during World War II. He was captured and held captive by the British army for several years in an internment camp. This experience had a profound impact on his theological thinking and shaped his understanding of hope and redemption.

    Despite being known for his Christian theology, Moltmann drew inspiration from a wide range of philosophical and cultural sources. He was heavily influenced by the existential philosophy of Karl Jaspers and was deeply engaged with philosophical and sociopolitical trends of his time, including Marxism and liberation theology.

    Moltmann’s most famous work, “Theology of Hope,” which revolutionized Christian eschatology, was initially met with skepticism and criticism from many theologians. It challenged traditional notions of a purely heavenly afterlife and emphasized the importance of hope and liberation in the here and now. However, it eventually became a seminal work in theological circles and greatly influenced subsequent generations of theologians.

    Moltmann’s stress on eschatology was stated unmistakably in his first major publication, Theology of Hope. Christianity, he argued, is not only evangelion but epangelia: not only ‘good news’ but ‘promise’. Furthermore, evangelion itself has to be taken not primarily as good news about the past but as good news about the future. There is an alternative way, argues Moltmann. Christ did not simply repeat the past. Neither will Christian history merely repeat the past. The parousia (second coming) will bring something new: something that has never happened before, even in Christ. The resurrection tells us that history is governed not by analogy, but by (divine) promise. It is the first of these ideas that dominates Moltmann’s Christology. He is concerned with the eschatological journey of Jesus. It is not, however, a solitary journey. It is a trinitarian one: the story is the story of Jesus’ dealings with the Father and Jesus’ dealings with the Spirit as, together, they redeem and renew creation.

    Jesus’ Way, according to Moltmann, is in three stages: the messianic fulfilment in the Advent: the apocalyptic sufferings of Messiah at Calvary; and the messianic consummation in the final renewal of the cosmos.

    Moltmann is deeply conscious that messiahship is a Jewish concept and that any claim that Jesus is the Messiah must refer in the first instance to his being the Jewish Messiah (there is no other) and the fulfilment of Jewish hope. This raises a question of critical importance: Why does the Jew say ‘No!’ to Jesus? Moltmann cites a number of Jewish scholars (most notably Martin Buber) to provide an answer. They say, ‘Jesus has not fulfilled our hope! The world is not redeemed! And we do not see the life and work of Jesus as constituting any real caesura in human history! Moltmann’s answer is to accept the premises of the Jewish argument and then proceed to assimilate it into his Christology. Jesus has not fulfilled the hope of Israel: yet. The ‘yet’ is crucial. Jesus has still to complete his way and finish his journey. Moltmann even suggests that he is not yet Messiah. It is something he is becoming or working his way into. The fact that Christ has not completed his task does not discredit him. He is on the way to completing it and in his parousia he will give us all that the Jew ever longed for. In particular, he will give us that new creation which is central to Jewish hope. The kingdom of God will ultimately mean the transformation of the whole of reality. It is external, material and social, involving both a universal reign of peace and a perfected creation. Moltmann’s favourite text is 1 Corinthians 15:28: God will be all in all. The best provisional exegesis is the Lord’s Prayer: when the Messiah finishes his journey. God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    “For the Greek philosophers and the Fathers of the church, knowing meant something different: it meant knowing in wonder. By knowing or perceiving one participates in the life of the other. Here knowing does not transform the counterpart into the property of the knower; the knower does not appropriate what he knows. On the contrary, he is transformed through sympathy, becoming a participant in what he perceives.” J.M.

    “To believe means to hope for, to reflect on, to dream about, and to love things and people beyond ourselves.” J.M.

    May this promise more than the hope and good news we carry, continue to challenge and inspire us, reminding us that in Christ, we are always moving towards a future where “God will be all in all.”

    Rest in peace, Jürgen Moltmann.

    Philemon




      A Matter of Context

      Chapter 23

      Good Monday Morning to this first week of June 2024

      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.…. possibly one of our most beloved, yet most misunderstood, verses in the entire Bible. Here a few thoughts by Thomas Turner.

      Sure, it might make a person feel better, but this verse as we often prescribe it is being taken completely out of context.

      Like any author worth his salt, the writer in Jeremiah begins by stating the subject of the passage: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon … “ (Jeremiah 29:4).

      This verse, quoted to countless individuals who are struggling with vocation or discerning God’s will, is not written to individuals at all. This passage is written to a whole group of people—an entire nation. (written in plural)

      And the verse just before it is perhaps even scarier. For in Jeremiah 29:10, God lays down the specifics on this promise: that He will fulfill it “after seventy years are completed for Babylon.” In other words, yes, God says, I will redeem you—after 70 years in exile. This is certainly a far cry from our expectation of this verse in what God’s plans to prosper us really mean. He did have a future and a hope for them—but it would look far different than the Israelites ever expected.

      So what? Some of you may be thinking. Even when the verse is taken out of context, it still offers value, right?

      Context matters;

      If Jeremiah 29 is speaking to the nation of Israel, and not just one person, then yes context matters—God speaks at a particular moment in time, to a particular people group, for a reason. God has plans for a whole group of people, namely the nation of Israel. And if we read on in the Scriptures we find that this promise was fulfilled: those in exile returned, and the nation of Israel was restored for a time. God made a promise through the prophets, and that promise came true.

      But that’s not the end of the story, either. There is something to the out-of-context prescriptions that so many make using this verse. God is a God of redemption, after all, and He wants to redeem people and put them on a path of wholeness, just as He wanted the nation of Israel to be redeemed and whole again.

      As John Calvin says about this passage, the prophet is speaking not just of historical redemption, for that period in time, but also of “future redemption.” For the Israelites, God listened to their prayers when they sought Him with all their heart, and in His time, He brought them out of exile. But how does any of this apply to us today? Can we still take heart in such a beautiful promise—even though it was spoken to people long ago, people in a far different situation than ours?

      First and foremost, we are all in this together. This verse does not apply to isolated individuals or to a broad community. It applies to both, together, functioning as one. The image painted here is one of individuals in community. Here are a bunch of people, worshipping God together, hoping for a future redemption.

      The theologians Stanley Grenz and John Franke explain in their book Beyond Foundationalism just how a community “turns the gaze of its members toward the future.” The future in Jeremiah is one that is bright—one that everyone in the community through prayer and worship seeks as their collective future hope. Many of us want to desperately know the plan that God has for each one of us as individuals, but let the prophet Jeremiah remind us that it’s not all about us, and it might not look like what we think.

      Even more important than our decision about which college/education to attend, which city to move to or what job offer to take is the future hope of the Kingdom of God foretold by the prophets and fulfilled in the reign of our now and coming King. In this way, the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is bigger than any one of us—and far better.

      Wishing us all a good start to this week!

      Philemon

      Gut feeling / Intuition

      Chapter 21

      Good Monday Morning

      As we start out into this week, I want to look into a topic that many of us often rely on but sometimes struggle to understand: gut feeling, or intuition. I just saw a magazine with the following title; “We all have our intuition and gut feelings, but can we really trust them?”

      Our lives are filled with moments where we must make decisions without having all the facts at hand, and in these times, we often turn to our gut feelings.

      Noah and the Ark: A divine hunch?

      Just imagine: It’s a regular Monday Morning in ancient times. Noah is minding his own business when he gets a divine memo: “Hey Noah, build a massive boat because, you know, apocalypse.” Now, if that isn’t the mother of all gut feelings, I don’t know what is.

      Trusting the inner voice (even when it sounds nuts) really? Noah’s neighbours must have thought he was out of his mind, there he was, building a colossal ark in his backyard, far from any lake or ocean or any body of water!

      Despite the sceptics, Noah ploughed ahead, trusting his gut feeling or, in this case, a rather direct divine message, yet his gut feeling told him it was right and he didn’t mind being ridiculed. Here’s what we can learn from his boat-building escapade:

      Listen to that inner voice: Noah didn’t just shrug off his gut feeling. He embraced it with enthusiasm. He took it seriously, even when it seemed downright crazy.

      Act with courage and a little madness: Following your gut can make you look a bit bonkers. Noah’s commitment to his ark was rare but impressive.

      Have faith and humor: Whether you call it faith, trust, or sheer stubbornness, believing in something beyond the obvious is key. Noah had more faith than all around, really an extra portion, but yes he did have favor with God! Does make a difference!

      Wishing you a week filled with intuitive insights and favor with God as you act upon a gut feeling!

      Philemon

      P.S.

      Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, was a righteous man, walked with God, and had three children. Let’s just say it’s a good combination of elements for using your gut feeling!

      P.P.S
      I’ve translated the inspiring editorial as well. If you have the time, I’ll add it for you to read.

      Gut feeling and intuition – Guideposts in the jungle of life
      (ERF Medien Magazine 06.2024)

      Dear reader

      In the midst of the jungle of life, there is a quiet but powerful voice that is often overheard – the gut feeling. It is that intuitive whisper that guides, inspires and that guides, inspires and sometimes even warns us in an inexplicable way. But what is behind this seemingly mysterious phenomenon? The gut feeling is not just a whim of nature; rather, it is a gift from our Creator. It is a connection to our soul and to the divine, a kind of inner compass that guides us on our path through life. In the Bible, we find numerous stories that testify to how people trusted their gut instincts and experienced divine guidance. Let us think of Abraham, who left his familiar land on God’s instructions, or Mary, who responded to the angel of the Lord with a humble “May it be done to me according to your word”. In these moments, it was not just a feeling in her stomach, but the voice of God speaking through her heart. But how do we recognise this divine voice in the midst of chaos? It starts with silence, pausing in the midst of the storm. If we take time to listen, we can hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit speaking within us. It is this intuition that shows us the way, that comforts and encourages us, even when the path is rocky. But our gut feeling is not only a connection to God, it is also characterised by our experiences, our fears and our joys. It is a mirror of our soul that shows us who we are and where we can go. It is therefore important to be mindful and discern whether our intuition is influenced by God or by our own desires and fears. As a Christian media organisation, it is our job to spread the message of hope and trust. In a world full of uncertainty and doubt, we would like to encourage you to trust your gut feeling, the divine voice that speaks in your heart. May you seek the silence, may you may you listen to the Holy Spirit and may you find the courage to walk the path that God has prepared for you. With this in mind, I wish you God’s blessing and much wisdom on your journey. Best regards, Hanspeter Hugentobler, Managing Director.
      (translated from German)

      The five whys

      Chapter 20

      Five whys is an iterative interrogative technique, pioneered by Sakichi Toyoda of Toyota, used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?” five times, each time directing the current “why” to the answer of the previous “why”. The method asserts that the answer to the fifth “why” asked in this manner should reveal the root cause of the problem.

      Acts 2; 1-2
      When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

      1. Why do we need Pentecost to be repeated in our daily lives?
      Because Pentecost represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, empowering them for ministry and service.

      2. Why do we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit daily?
      Because our daily lives are filled with challenges, temptations, and opportunities to serve others, we need the guidance, strength, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to navigate them effectively.

      3. Why do we need guidance, strength, and wisdom daily?
      Because we are fallible human beings prone to mistakes, weaknesses, and uncertainties, we require divine assistance to live according to God’s will and purpose.

      4. Why do we need to live according to God’s will and purpose?
      Because God’s will and purpose for our lives bring fulfilment, joy, and alignment with His plan for the world, leading to our flourishing and the flourishing of others.

      5. Why is our flourishing and alignment with God’s plan essential?
      Ultimately, our purpose as human beings is to glorify God and participate in His redemptive work in the world, which requires ongoing transformation and empowerment by the Holy Spirit.

      So, in summary, Pentecost needs to be repeated in our daily lives because we continually need the empowerment, guidance, and transformation of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our purpose and align ourselves with God’s will in a world filled with challenges and opportunities.

      Acts 2. 3-4 and 11 -12. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Both Jews, Cretans and Arabs we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

      Wishing you this empowerment in your daily lives, but also the ability to continue to ask the whys looking for root causes in your lives.

      Philemon

      Full of Mercy / In need of Mercy

      Chapter 20

      Good Monday Morning to this week 20 of 2024, to a word in great need of Mercy.

      Hebrews 4:16
      “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

      Yehuda Amichai’s inspiring poem accompanies this wonderful, challenging verse out of Hebrews 4:16.

      God Full Of Mercy

      God-Full-of-Mercy, the prayer for the dead.
      If God was not full of mercy,
      Mercy would have been in the world,
      Not just in Him.
      I, who plucked flowers in the hills
      And looked down into all the valleys,
      I, who brought corpses down from the hills,
      Can tell you that the world is empty of mercy.
      I, who was King of Salt at the seashore,
      Who stood without a decision at my window,
      Who counted the steps of angels,
      Whose heart lifted weights of anguish
      In the horrible contests.

      I, who use only a small part
      Of the words in the dictionary.

      I, who must decipher riddles
      I don’t want to decipher,
      Know that if not for the God-full-of-mercy
      There would be mercy in the world,
      Not just in Him.

      Psalm 103:8:
      “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

      I hope you can receive and extend mercy as necessary this week.

      Philemon

      A leaf, branch or root?

      Chapter 19

      This past weekend, I observed a substantial tree planted close to a body of water. Its extensive root system was particularly noteworthy.

      You may have encountered this metaphorical illustration of comparing a tree with relationships. While it may appear straightforward, the interpretation depends on the context and depth of the relationship in question.

      Are you a leaf, a branch or a root?

      There are three kinds of people in our lives. The people in our lives are like parts of a tree.

      We have the leaves, the branches and the roots. Some people are like leaves on a tree, when the wind blows they go with it. When the season changes, they change. They’re like temporary friendships, they change. Like leaves, they’re beautiful in the beginning, but eventually they fall away. When we think about this, we can remember people who have been leaves in our own lives. We can appreciate the lessons they brought and have gratitude for the moments and detachment from any pain they caused, they helped us grow at that time.

      The second type of people in our lives are like branches, we have to be careful with them because they can often deceive you. They make you think they’re a good friend. They’re really strong and they’re there for you. But the minute you step out on them, they can break and fall. We’ve all had people who say ‘I’ll always be there for you, I’m just a phone call away’. But when you follow up on those promises, you find that they were hollow.
      They’re like temporary friendships: the leaves represent those who come and go, fleeting and temporary in our lives. Then in our own lives we know moments when we’ve been branches for others and had branches in our lives. Often we may have promised a lot and not been able to live up to it because of our own shortcomings and the same is true for others. This gives us the opportunity to be more honest with ourselves and with those around us. We need to surround ourselves with people who contribute to our overall emotional, mental and physical well-being.

      The third type of person are those who are like the roots. People who are like the roots of a tree that are permanent. Friendships that go through everything, through the rock and the hard place and back, and grow from it, and still stand strong as friends worth keeping, and still stand.

      The bible summs it up very nicely in Jeremiah 17.8

      But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

      Wishing you a great start to this new week!
      Philemon

      The Invisibles

      Chapter 18

      The unnamed Servant

      The character of Abraham’s Unnamed Servant is mentioned in Genesis 24 of the Bible. In this chapter, Abraham, who is advanced in age, tasks his servant with finding a wife for his son, Isaac.

      Let’s continue with the story.
      Upon arriving at his master’s ancestral city, Abraham’s servant first had a practical concern, to water his camels. He then had a spiritual concern, asking for God’s guidance through providential circumstances. Is this a lesson of how to pray. Furthermore, the fact that God uses an unnamed servant instead of Abraham, Sarah, or even Isaac to teach this demonstrates why God says things like, “The first will be last”.

      Is this is a lesson here?
      God often acts in countercultural and counterintuitive ways.

      Upon arriving at his master’s ancestral city, Abraham’s servant first had a practical concern, to water his camels. He then had a spiritual concern, asking for God’s guidance through providential circumstances. Is this a lesson of how to pray.

      Another lesson is prayer?
      The servant’s prayers were divided into three categories: prayers for self, prayers for others, and prayers to thank and glorify God.

      The servant then took ten of his master’s camels and departed, as all his master’s goods were in his hand. He arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. He made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please grant me success this day and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.”
      Before he had finished speaking, Isaiah 65:24 provides an example of a gracious answer to prayer:

      It will be demonstrated that, before the supplicant has even uttered a word, an answer will be forthcoming; and, before the supplicant has finished speaking, an answer will be given.

      In the rabbinic literature, Eliezer of Damascus is the prototypical loyal servant, who embodied the ethical values he learned from his master, the patriarch
      Abraham. Eliezer was the servant whom the then childless Abraham complained to God would inherit Abraham’s estate (Gen 15 : 2). The rabbis identify him as well as the unnamed servant Abraham later sent to find a wife for Isaac. Importantly, the rabbis say that, in carrying out this assignment, Eliezer acted against his own interests, since he himself had a daughter whom he hoped Isaac would marry. Eliezer thus modeled the highest level of loyalty and virtue, carrying out his master’s will even against his own personal interests. As a reward for finding a wife for Isaac, Eliezer is said to have been awarded the kingdom
      of Bashan, which he ruled under the name Og. The rabbis read the designation “Damascus”
      (Dammasek) as deriving from the Hebrew words Doleh we-Mashkeh (“drew and passed on”). Thus they hold that Eliezer drew from his master Abraham and passed his teachings on to others. Rabbinic texts assert that Eliezer even looked like Abraham and that, because of his loyalty, the curse that applied to all other Canaanites was lifted from him.

      As I was writing, I realised that I had come to a different conclusion than I started out with. I thought I would land at an usual topic of mine: the unnamed, the weak. This unnamed individual was not weak; he was influential, important to a whole family, knew his role, was loyal and stuck to his task! I like this example.

      This story is about the unnamed servants and invisible forces that may cross our paths. They could have a significant impact on our lives.

      Wishing you a wonderful day and start to this week!

      Philemon


      Job Interviews

      Chapter 17

      Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2024

      I recently interviewed and received a spontaneous application by email. Interviewing is like navigating without a map, sometimes there’s a surprise at every turn. Recruitment requires speed and precision. Recruiters look for synergy between talent and organisational needs. Asking the right questions is an art, revealing hesitations and unspoken truths. Some candidates exaggerate their skills, others downplay them, seeking a balance between confidence and humility. It can also be a series of contrasts – between spontaneity and strategy, openness and caution. Yet amidst challenges lies the promise of discovery – the unearthing of hidden treasures awaiting opportunity; one needs guidance to find diamonds in the rough.

      A recruiter said to a candidate
      “In this job, we need someone who is responsible”.
      The job applicant replies,
      “I’m the one you want. In my last job, every time anything went wrong
      they always said I was responsible”.

      Nehemiah’s “job interview,” so to speak, is recounted in the Bible in the book of Nehemiah, specifically in chapters 1 and 2.

      Nehemiah served as the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. He receives news about the dire state of Jerusalem—the walls of the city lie in ruins, and its inhabitants are in distress. This news deeply troubles Nehemiah, and he mourns, fasts, and prays to God for guidance and favor in addressing the situation.

      Nehemiah seeks an opportunity to address the king directly when he is serving wine to the king. The king notices Nehemiah’s saddened demeanor and asks him about it. Nehemiah, after a quick prayer to God, shares his concerns about Jerusalem with the king, requesting permission to go and rebuild the city.

      The king, moved by Nehemiah’s sincerity and trustworthiness, grants his request, providing him with letters of safe passage and resources for the project. Ultimately, Nehemiah’s successful interaction with the king leads to his appointment as the governor of Judah and his subsequent leadership in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls, demonstrating the importance of faith, preparation, and seizing opportunities in achieving one’s goals.

      Nehemiah’s “job interview” with the king unfolds in an instant – let’s call it divine timing. At a critical moment, Nehemiah turns to prayer for divine guidance and courage, then reverently and humbly presents his case to the king, articulating his concern for Jerusalem’s welfare and desire to lead the effort to rebuild its walls. His words are marked by a clear vision of the task at hand.

      A guy goes to Ikea for a job interview… (In the Ikea Customers are responsible for assembling furniture themselves using included instructions and basic tools.)
      Recruiter: Welcome sir, nice to have you. Please assemble that chair over there and take a seat.

      And perhaps, like Nehemiah, you too find yourself called to rebuild walls, whether metaphorical or literal, with courage, conviction, diving timing and a steadfast trust in the guiding hand of God!

      Wishing you a good start to this new week!
      Philemon



      Still Knitting

      Chapter 16

      Good Monday Morning to this new week 16 of 2024!

      In Chapter 16 of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, “Still Knitting”, set in the lead-up to the French Revolution, the scene is set in Saint Antoine, Paris, a district bubbling with revolutionary fervor. The chapter focuses on Madame Defarge, a key figure in the revolution, and her husband, Monsieur Defarge, who run a wine shop frequented by revolutionaries. Madame Defarge, characterised by her incessant knitting, which symbolises the inexorable march of the Revolution, engages in conversations in which she expresses her grievances against the aristocracy. The knitting is a metaphor for her role in compiling a list of enemies. Through Madame Defarge’s conversations and actions, Dickens foreshadows the brewing conflict and violence that will erupt in the Revolution.

      In Chapter 16 of “Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne, Detective Fix remains suspicious of Fogg’s true intentions but becomes increasingly perplexed by his behavior. Despite his doubts, Fix continues to travel with Fogg and his companions aboard the steamer Mongolia. As the journey progresses, Fix tries to gather more evidence against Fogg but finds himself questioning his own judgment. This chapter sets the stage for further intrigue and suspense as the characters race against time to complete their journey around the world.

      And now for the most read book in history? No, it’s not “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx, and chapter 16, entitled “Bourgeois and Proletarians”, outlines the historical development of capitalism …

      Genesis 16: Hagar flees from Sarai, her mistress, but is met by an angel who tells her to return and submit to Sarai.

      Exodus 16: The Israelites complain about hunger in the wilderness, and God provides them with manna and quail to eat.

      Leviticus 16: Instructions for the Day of Atonement, including the role of the high priest in making sacrifices for the sins of the people.

      Numbers 16: The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram against Moses and Aaron’s leadership, resulting in their punishment by God.

      Judges 16: The story of Samson and Delilah, where Delilah betrays Samson to the Philistines, leading to his capture.

      1 Samuel 16: The anointing of David as king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, after God rejects Saul as king.

      Jeremiah 16: Jeremiah’s instruction from God not to marry or have children, due to the impending judgment on Judah.

      Ezekiel 16: Allegory of Jerusalem as an unfaithful wife, illustrating God’s relationship with Israel and their idolatry.

      Matthew 16: Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, followed by Jesus foretelling his death and resurrection.

      Mark 16: The resurrection of Jesus and his appearances to his disciples, along with his commission to preach the gospel.

      Luke 16: The parable of the dishonest manager and the rich man and Lazarus, illustrating principles of stewardship and warning about the dangers of wealth.

      John 16: Jesus predicts his departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit, and he assures his disciples of his victory over the world.

      Hebrews 16: Exhortations to show hospitality, remember prisoners, honor marriage, and avoid covetousness, along with a call to remember and imitate faithful leaders.

      James 16: Warning against boasting about the future and encouragement to pray in times of suffering and to confess sins to one another.

      Revelation 16 portrays the climax of God’s judgment with the 7 bowls upon the earth, signaling the culmination of human history and the imminent return of Jesus.

      Let’s conclude with Psalm 16 that begins with “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.” or in Latin Conserva me Domine. Psalm 16 is also mentioned in Acts and in those cases both Peter and Paul applied Psalm 16 to Jesus’ resurrection and not to David’s life.

      Let’s wrap it up here … kind of hard, so many topics at once, from encouragement to many themes of faith. Since this is a blog post, I’m going to cut it down to a short thesis;

      Preserve me (us) oh God, that we may not lose faith but are found by you – still knitting!

      Philemon