No Evil Shall Befall Me – Really? #Psalm 91

Boat in stormy weather

During this time of the Covid pandemic psalm 91 is often recited since this particular psalm is about God keeping people safe from harm and even mentions pestilence. Some preachers and Christians are probably using this text to say that there is no need for vaccines and other protective measures against the virus, since God promises in His word to protect us from all this. They would say, we must just have faith, and then we can go on like before.

When I read this psalm on a Facebook post a few weeks ago, I realized this psalm was very suitable for the times we are living in. At the same time my spontanious reaction was that the psalmist was lying and not telling the truth about life as it is, no matter you believe in God, a Higher Power or nothing like that. Let us read a part of the psalm together:

“For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday…A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.”

Does this mean that no Christians or believers will die of Covid? We all know that is not the case. But why is the psalmist saying “A thousand may fall…but it will not come near you”, as if this is how life turns out for those who takes refuge in the Lord? I believe I do not have the full answer to that, but I do have some thoughts.

I think psalm 91 is a beatiful poem about trusting and resting in Divine Love, and therefore the text is encouraging us not to be overtaken by fear. Still, I do also believe, that this psalm is written by a person in great need of God’s help and protection, so this is also the believer trying to encourage and comfort him- og herself. We could almost say that the psalmist is trying to handle his fear and trying to survive in difficult times, and therefore he is also comforting himself, and putting his trust in God. And of course, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Rather it must be greatly advised to cry out to God, when someone is experiencing dark times. But, that does not mean that there is someone that we will save us from every bad experience and that we will never get sick, and sometimes even experience a bodily death caused by a disease. This is my humble opinion.

I listened to Marshall Davis on his podcast the other day. He is a former baptist pastor and now a Christian non-dualist. I am thankful to him that he talked about this particular psalm. He warns about telling people lies that nothing bad ever happens to Christians or people of faith, since statistics and life show that no one in particular is exempted from possible harm from Covid. Christians also experience that it is not true that “a thousand may fall at your side…but it will not come near you”. I would really recommend you to listen to this podcast episode to hear Davis’s words that are truthful and also encouraging. I think Davis is telling us that we need to face life as it is, and not lie about it, still at the same time “…the Most High can be our dwelling place”.

Marshall Davis also mentions that most of the psalm writes about God in the third person. Only the last three verses are written as if the Divine Self is speaking directly in first person. I therefore find the last three verses particulary interesting and also encouraging:

“Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation”.

Even though we also in these verses read about protection, deliverance and long life, in some way the thought that no harm can reach us seems toned down. God speaks in first person and says, “When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them IN trouble”. So, if I am to honor my own and many people’s experience, I can’t say that nothing evil or harmful will ever happen, but I can say with confindence that I will put my trust in God and encourage others believers and seekers to do the same. We can trust that The Divine Love will be with us in times of trouble, even though we cannot necessarily escape all trouble.

I also believe that Jesus Christ suffering on the cross shows us that just as we can suffer with Him being hung innocently to die on a cross, we can know He also is with us in our suffering. A reason He suffered is not so we would not know suffering in our lives. He suffered so we can find comfort in His love for us and trust that Love will bring us through the suffering and dark times. After suffering and death there is always resurrection and new life!

You can find the talk by Marshall Davis and the episode I am referring to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbMk6nDTzh4&list=PLsK97WbFX2Mb1czemIFlPSawSnD8Yti9j&index=6

The Scripture quotations herein are from the New Revised Standard Bible, copyright (c) 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reseverd.

Are #Pentecostals Afraid Of The Spirit?

Are we afraid of the Spirit's work

I am asking myself and you today: Are (some) Pentecostals afraid of the Spirit (some times)? This question has come to my mind lately, and it was so pressing that I wanted to write a short blog post about it.

Looking back upon my own growing up in the Pentecostal church I have realised that some of the preaching and teaching heard and read was more fearbased than lovebased. Or you might say there was a lack of trust in your own ability to do the right thinking and even some times the critical mind was condemned and rejected.

What makes me wonder is why Pentecostals that so strongly believe in the Holy Spirit and the possibility of being filled with this Spirit at the same time can be in the danger of rejecting the listening to this same Spirit?

Jesus talked about the letter of the law that would kill the spiritual life. And this makes me wonder if the “sola scriptura”-focus (aka literal Bible interpretation) has been a hindering for seeing and trusting the Spirit’s work among the members of the church.

When the message is believe God’s Word, and God’s Word (clearly) says this, and this, and that, we may have lost the ability to trust the promptings of the Spirit within ourselves. Was Pentecost only an outpouring of the Spirit on the outside, or was it not also a filling of the Spirit within?

Another common teaching among Pentecostals is “don’t trust your feelings, rather trust the Word of God (in the Bible, and in the Bible only!)”. I wonder why Christians want to send the message that your feelings are not so important and often should be disregarded?

One thing I have learned is that the greatest a person can experience is a sense of love and freedom on the inside. I believe this love AND freedom is what God created us to experience as the Spirit keep revealing the divine and eternal truths to us. This freedom from within is what creates a profound joy in our lives. Yes, the feeling of true joy!

Jesus said he had to leave in order for the Spirit to come. The Spirit was going to teach us, each and everyone of us. Also the Spirt would grow fruits in our lives, as joy, patience, meekness and more. I believe Jesus also was serious when He said “Fear not”. God sent His Spirit to be with us, around us, AND also within. A Spirit to be trusted.

So in my opinion I think there is a lot of fear stopping people and even “Spirit-filled” Pentecostals to trust in the inner promptings of the Spirit in their hearts. Many are so afraid of mixing up man with God, and can’t trust the Spirit within because they think they make themselves gods or God! This is one of the greatest misunderstandings I think. This is also why many believe mystics are on the wrong path. That’s until they too experience that the scales are removed from their eyes, and they finally see what a Spirit God has blessed us with and filled us with!

Please, if you have read this far, I pray that you kindly ask yourself: Am I afraid of the Spirit in my life? The promptings and the intuition, the Still Small Voice, calling me not only through the whole of creation but also from within my very soul? Is my faith more fearbased than trustbased? Can I trust myself, and the Spirit God has given me to teach me? Do I long for more freedom and joy in my life? Have teachings I grew up with stopped me from trusting that God is with me in all my processes in life, and that He wants me to grow in freedom and joy?

Grace and peace to you!

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He showed us #poem #Jesus

His life showed us the way of love and restoration

The road of life is often down before it is up

In His suffering and death He embraced the suffering of men and the Earth

We also need to surrender, trust and drink our cup

In his resurrection He shouted out that Love always wins

Let His Love be our life

Note: This poem is about life in general and does not advice people to accept abusive or criminal behaviour.

The Longing Pains Me

The longing pains me. Is it new life growing or a desire for wholeness? I thirst for His love and grace to color my life and surroundings. Fill my empty, bottomless cup. I pray and yearn, day and night. Come, heal my inner man.

Let my eyes dwell on Your goodness. I long for your touch, to drink your lifegiving water. It is painful, this hunger, it truly is. May Your Spirit quench my thirst.

Your Life within me, is my strength forever and ever. Your Love upholds me and lifts my soul. Your Grace heals my inner man and restores my broken heart. In You I find truth and rest for my soul.

Keep me Lord, surround me, embrace me in my sorrow and woundedness. Help me to be a giver of what You have given. Help me drink the cup and take the steps You ask of me. You want the whole world to know, The Christ that moves and upholds.

Christ be my life, Christ be my all. Let me see with Your eyes, each created thing and being, yes, the whole of Your creation. When everything else is burned away, be You still, the Flame burning in and embracing my heart.

Christ is all in all

Christ is all in all

“Christ is all in all” (Colossians 3,11)

I am reading the latest news and finding information that a contemplative Pentecostal brother is being evicted from the site of his religious community. Having grown up in the Pentecostal movement this saddens me greatly. All the thumbs up for this from fellow Christians scare and sadden me even more. The Pentecostal movement in Sweden and Norway is in great need of ecumenical work and broader perspectives. This is a huge step back. And a step back sadly supported by many.

I believe this is a great mistake, but it is also understandable why this is happening. When religious practice seems strange and foreign it can be very easy to dismiss, yes, even name it the devil’s work. Someone actually commented on this brother’s practice as the work of the devil. That’s how far it goes.

But when something is a bit strange and foreign to the classic Pentecostal believer it does not mean the teaching or practice is evil. We must realize that we understand some of the things that are related to and connected to our background and upbringing, while many other things are probably far better understood by others. Sometimes we need to listen, listen and listen before we discern and distinguish, but never judge or condemn. The shadow is great in many people’s lives, and many is stuck in first-half-of-life-thinking (read Rohrs book “Falling Upward”).

This is what it is about, I think, it’s a clash of first- and second-half-of-life-thinking. It is a clash of black and white thinking and the contemplative mind and heart. I’ve tried to comment on this case on Facebook among a lot of judgmental messengers. It’s seems it is in vain, so I just had to write a blog post about this.

Now, I silently pray, God lead us into your unity of grace and love. God, lead us into the love of all brothers and sisters, the insiders and the outsiders, those we do not understand. Help us, Gracious Lord, to embrace our own shadow, and see that what we fear from and in others is what we need to embrace in ourselves. Lead us, Pentecostals and this brother in and through the darkness. Peace.

Lonely Longing

Sunflowers

Longing for true life

in relation to real people

Broken friendships and loss

Especially difficult

in times like these

Longing to truly give to others

what my heart has deeply received

Letting it rest

Especially difficult

in times like these

From longing to looking ahead

to days of new paths

Hungering for brighter days

Especially easy

      in times like these

 

 

Keep me in your Heart for a while

butterfly in hands
I think of Løgstrup’s words that each individual in his encounter with another human being holds some of that human life in his hand. How important is our encounter with the other and the other’s encounter with us? This applies throughout life, and some meet once, while others spend a lot of time together. How do I receive others? The same way I also want to be received?
Adults as well as children have both strength and vulnerability in a beautiful combination. And only in the meeting between people and in honesty and love does someone find the strength in his own vulnerability. It is precisely in this meeting between people that the miracle happens. In this meeting we are created for each other and for oneself. Yes so, it is! In your own encounter with the other and the other’s encounter, this is how life itself becomes.
Thank you to those I meet almost daily and thank you to those I may have only met once and I have yet to meet! Thank you for being and also giving me joy in just being! And finally, who would be thankful for meeting with you in the days to come (in corona time: a message, a phone?)? Feel free to listen to this nice song “Keep me in your heart” which for us can be both about the living and those who have found rest 🙂
Norsk versjon:
Bevar meg i ditt hjerte for en stund
Jeg tenker på Løgstrups ord om at hver enkelt i sitt møte med et annet menneske holder noe av det menneskets liv i sin hånd. Hvor viktig er ikke vårt møte med den andre og den andres møte med oss? Dette gjelder gjennom livet, og noen møtes en gang, mens andre får mye tid sammen. Hvordan tar jeg imot andre? Slik jeg også ønsker å bli tatt imot? Voksen som også barn har i seg både en styrke og sårbarhet i en vakker kombinasjon. Og bare i møte mellom mennesker og i ærligheten og kjærligheten finner menneskets styrken i sin egen sårbarhet. Nettopp i dette møtet mellom mennesker skjer miraklet. I dette møte blir vi til for hverandre og for en selv. Ja slik, er det! I ditt eget møte med den andre og den andres møte deg slik blir selve livet til.
Takk til deg som jeg nesten daglig møter og takk til deg som jeg kanskje bare har møtt en gang og takk til deg som jeg en gang skal møte. Takk for at du er til og også gir meg glede i det å være til! Og å til slutt, hvem kan bli glad for et møte med deg i dagene som kommer (i koronatid: en melding, en telefon)? Lytt gjerne til denne fine sangen “Keep me in your heart for a while” som for oss kan handle om både om de levende og de som har funnet hvilen 🙂

Last Song

prairie-679014_1920

Bluebells ringing in the morning sun

The day passing slowly

The evening coming so deep and blue

Everything said that can be said

The Earth has nourished you for a long time

Stars mirrored in the sea

Now say goodbye, to everything you know

Now it is you, who are dying

The boat is on the riverbank

The ferryman is ready

Look back no more

The Light is all you have

This poem was written by a very good, mystic friend, Dag Knapstad 🙂 Posted with the poet’s permission.

Norwegian original:

Siste sang

Blåklokker ringer i morgensol

Dagen drar langsomt forbi

Kvelden den kommer så dyp og blå

Alt er nå sagt som kan sies

Jorden har næret deg lenge nå

Stjernene speilet i sjø

Ta nå farvel med alt du vet

Nå er det du som skal dø

Båten den ligger ved elvens bredd

Ferjemannen er klar

Se deg ikke tilbake mer

Lyset er alt du har