The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Want to hang out with God?

Here is the question of the day: What does it take to hang out with God? What are the qualities of those who are invited to sit with God? This question has been around for a long time. About 3,000 years ago, the Psalmist wondered as well and wrote a list of 12 qualities that marked those he noticed lived in God’s presence:

The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Psalm 15:2-5

One an interpretative note, it could be argued that there is only one quality required of a person who lives in God’s presence: live a blameless life; the rest of the list simply defines what a blameless life is. The one quality on this list that has always intrigued me is this: “lends money to the poor without interest.”  During the Seventies I was the pastor of a church who had a revolving account that did this very thing. Many people were helped by this account. Every borrower paid back the money they were lent. Which quality in this list strikes you as significant or interesting? – Ron Friesen

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Any good people left?

Are there any good people left? Some days we wonder as the news of violence fills our newscasts. The Psalmist wondered as well three thousand years ago:

“The Lord looks down from heaven
 on all mankind

to see if there are any who understand,

any who seek God.
All have turned away,
all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
 not even one.” Psalm 14:2 – 3

Many Christians use these words to prove the universal evil character of the human species; I am not sure that this is meaning of this psalm. The Psalmist looks around at the people in his community and notices:

“But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.” Psalm 14:5

There are many who plot evil, however, there is a remnant, a small group of people, who have a holy fear of rightness. Some days they may think they are all alone against the tsunami of evil barreling down on them, yet they know they are not alone because God is very much alive and active among them. Do you feel alone today in the evil around you? God is present with you today. – Ron Friesen

Friday, September 27, 2013

How long, God?

How long, God? We have waited for justice. We have waited for a word of wisdom. We have waited for a word of hope. We have waited for some good news. How long, O God!

We are not alone in our cry for a word or action on our behalf from God. Over 3,000 years ago the Psalmist cried out the same: How long, God?

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13:1-2

When you can believe while the heavens seem like brass, you are coming to a place of spiritual maturity. You see it is easy to believe when the bank account and the freezer are full. It is another reality to believe when all seems to be going badly: there is no gas in the car, there is no food in the cupboards, the rebels are shooting as you flee for safety and your heart knows more days of sorrow than joy. If you can still believe when this is the state of your life then you have joined the Psalmist as he sings the final words of this song:

“But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6 

- Ron Friesen

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Whose side is God on?

Whose side is God on? Good question! Well, apparently, God is not on the side of those who think they are good, for Jesus said, “The good people do not need me.” Over 3,000 years ago the Psalmist knew whose side God was on:

“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
   I will now arise,” says the LORD.
   “I will protect them from those who malign them.” Psalm 12:5

It does seem that some days the poor look more abandoned than protected, however, that could be because the people who God called stand on the side of the poor are not listening. Want to be on God’s side? Take care of the poor around you. – Ron Friesen

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Where is justice?

Will we ever see justice in this world? Will we ever see it in our time? The quest for justice is a very old one. Over 3,000 years ago the Psalmist wrote a few lines about the seeming freedom with which violence is practiced. Malls, churches, theaters, classrooms are filled with blood. I have seen what a crime-scene filled with blood looks like – it is not pretty! The very blood flowing out of a car where a young man was senselessly shot five times in the head still haunts my mind. Where, oh, where is justice?

There is a judge who will bring ultimate justice, says the Psalmist:

“For the Lord is righteous, 
 he loves justice; 
  the upright will see his face.” Psalm 11:7

Justice flows from God because God is a God of rightness – a God who set the wrongs of our world right. On some days we do see justice as I saw in that courtroom when 10 peers of the accused found him guilty of murder. On many other days we wait in anguish for some justice. The promise of God is that God loves justice as much as you do and someday justice will come down the mountains to the valleys. – Ron Friesen