Blogtext: Our Father...

"Lord teach us how to pray"

If the present tendency in the main stream churches is anything to go by, then the so called lord's prayer would not have been written by Matthew and Luke, nor would the churches have seen fit to adopt and liturgize the St Matthew version of the prayer for the last 1700 or 1800 years.

American feminist theologians have already many years ago stated that 'we must castrate the jewish father-god image and rediscover the true God behind the outdated imagery. The voices have been saying that since 1985 (Mary Daly) already but have now become wholesale actions in the Swedish Lutheran Church. *

Claiming that God is not human and therefore not a sexual being the term Father will be removed and exchanged for something else, possibly "Our parent who is in heaven". However this change over has some very serious ramifications. 

First of all: it denies the scriptures as being inspired by and outbreathed by God to say what God wanted to say. How they were written is not unimportant because the views of scripture are said to be of eternal consequence. If we do not hold fast to sound doctrine we cannot live sound lives. If we do not defend the faith that was once and for all given to the saints then there is no longer any firm truth to live by, all we have are the random thoughts and capricious interpretations of men and women whose claim to be the voice of God are at best questionable and in the normal run of things indistinguishable from what the scriptures call lies, and lies have only ever one origin.

Secondly: Jesus Christ claims to be the truth and speaks the truth to those who wrote what he had lived and died for. If Christ taught that we should address God as 'Our Father' we have not been given the option of calling God anything else. Jesus makes a distinction between his relationship to the Father and our relationship. But irrespective of that difference, for both Jesus the Christ, before and after the death and resurrection, and for us, there is one God and Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jakob. If we deny that relationship between the Father and the Son then we have no more any reliability for the veracity of anything in the entire gospels. They start out by God the Father declaring "This is my son in whom I am well pleased". They continue right through the gospel texts to repeatedly declare the Father-Son relationship to the extent that anyone who has seen the Son has seen not only God, but God the Father. The primary evidence for false teaching is the denial of the sonship of the Saviour and the total unimportance of and even denial of the Father. "He who does not have the Son does not have the Father" Commensurately: He who denies the Father has no Son. And therefore no saviour. "He will call out to me: 'You are my father, my God, The Rock, my saviour.' (Psa 89:26) "For God so loved the world that he gave us his son" .Therefore to deny the Father is effectively to have another god and therefore to be breaking the first commandment of the law.

Thirdly: It denies and ignores the different responsibilities for earthly fathers over against their own children. It ignores the making of men of God, recreated by the power of Christ's resurrection in men to make them restored men on the pattern of the Son, who in turn is the image, the express outworking of the Father's glory. The very template of male normality is therefore removed from sight. And what is not seen will not be practiced. IT IS CERTAINLY NOT TAUGHT.

But Paul the apostle has made it very plain: "Therefore I bow my knee before Him from whom everything called father on earth has its name, or from whom every family on earth is named."   To remove the Father-image of God is part of the denial of Gods created order for marriage and family structures and  has  nothing to do with the christian faith in any way.

The christian Faith starts with the understanding that the Son knows the Father and makes Him known to us:  "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him."(Luk 10:22)  It is doubtlessly obvious that those 'theologians' who now believe it to be their duty to castrate the jewish father image have no such revelation, and therefore have no right to call themselves either christian or theologians.

It can be anticipated that the next step after substituting Our Father for Our Parent is to introduce Mary as part of that Parenthood  and sexualizing the very Godhead as has already been prepared by the Roman Catholic Church. The idea that Mary is both Mother of God and Co-redemptrix with her Son has already been in place for a few hundred years. Now the defection from the Bible  is running its course in the other churches. The Holy Spirit predicted this falling away and false teaching in the very first church. (2 Tim 3:1-9)

The majestic interference in the normal process of human procreation by the virgin birth is preempted by the equally incomprehensible fact of the Son being born, begotten by the Father. From eternity and before all time there was the event at which the Father said This day have I begotten thee my son. It was a non-female participation in which the Son was brought into his Sonship by an act of non-sexual begetting, followed at the incarnation by the non-sexual begetting of a Son by Mary.

There is therefore no need to castrate God. God is HE not by sexual definition but by Fatherhood without sex. It is  rather remarkable that those who constantly complain about sexualisation of  the officers of the church, preferring males as pastors and teachers for instance, insist on doing to God what they hate done to men and women.

In our age when the only thing left of fatherhood is the sexual nature both in use and abuse the need is greater than ever to set aside the sexual part of fatherdhood and dive deep into what the fatherhood means apart from sexual activity. Only by laying aside the physical function and laying bare the spiritual calling that is in fatherhood will the church survive. Our God is Father and Spirit and those who want to worship the Father and pray to the Father must worship Him in Spirit and truth.  Anything less than that is simply not good enough.

Teddy Donobauer  Doncaster Dec 29th


Blogtext: Christmas Treat

”On the making of a snowstar”

One of the most wellknown statements about life is made by one of the ’great’ greek philosophers.

The unexamined life is not worth living
The unexamined life is not worth living (Ancient Greek: ὁ ... ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ) is a famous dictum apparently uttered by Socrates at his trial for impiety and corrupting youth, for which he was subsequently sentenced to death, as described in Plato's Apology (38a5-6).

Everything that exists in the world has been premeditated, planned and meticulously thought out by someone. The mindless mindset of the times is bent on consuming what it never thinks of or about, until the very consumption begins to have after-effects, not seldom of a terrible kind. ”Go on boy, eat all the cookies on the plate! ” But don’t complain of the stomach ache later on..."

Avoiding bitter afterthought is best done by sweet examination and thinking before hand. It is all so beautifully contained in the wise words of the ”Preacher” in Eccclesiastes 12 ”Remember now the Creator in the days of your young age, before the days of trouble come and those years become yours in which you will say: I hate how things have become.” (My paraphrase)

Remember now! This is the rallying call to every sensible and sentient human being faced with whatever task. We do most things out of habit and do not need to think about getting dressed (except what to wear that day of course) or brushing teeth (provided we have any) or eating breakfast, if we can afford it. A million things have been learnt by us and we never pause to think about them. In other words we take them at face value and also take them for granted.

It is when you become a christian that another possible attitude begins to intrude into this unexamined lifestyle. ”The healthy and reverent respect and awe of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. How often do I hear people say things like: ”You know I have never thought of that!”

Too much thinking can cause untold sleepless nights. Too little thinking does also not the least because of all the pains involved in having to do the same thing many times over before we get it right. Any fool can learn by his own mistakes, the wise person learns from the mistakes and experiences of others. But that means using thought before doing the act. To examine a matter and soundly turn it in your mind before you turn the wood on the lathe is not a bad idea.

So let’s examine the making of these snow stars. When you give a child a pair of scissors and a ready folded cone of paper they may either be dumbfounded and not have the slightest idea what to do next or they will happily snipp away at the paper as fast as possible and then unfold the paper and look at their coarse cuts with glee. They have taken things away from the whole and it is the very holes that make the pattern. The whole was of no use, it is the holes that are the whole trick.

The Cut

I said that I handed that child a ready folded cone. That was of course not the starting point. Before I could hand a cone to the child I had a square of tissue paper. In order to make the snow star I had to do something very important. I placed a plate or other round object in a desired size somewhere on the tissuepaper and drew a circle which I then cut out from the square. To cut a slice of bread or a round of paper you have to separate that piece from the whole of the loaf or the square. To cut and to separate is to set aside. The hebrew word for being holy is ’qadosh’, having the root word meaning ’to cut off’. The making of a simple snow star starts with an act of sanctification, of separating the round from the square. So the making of a simple window decoration starts out exactly the same way the christian life starts: being separated from the common mass of humanity in sinful selfdetermination to become a child of God, to be sanctified for the purpose of God, to be made separate from the world of godless existence to join the kingdom of Light. It is a deliberate and vital starting point. Without that initial separation and ’making holy’, there is no life in God.

Every beautiful real snow-star starts out as shapeless water vapor in the cloud. It is the onset of a sudden drop in temperature that separates that drop of water from the mass and it is the frost that causes the inner properties of the water to become a shape that then falls to the earth or onto my sleeve or upturned face. When examining it with our eyes it is simply frozen water. Whatever brilliant shape it has, that is all it is: water in a frozen state.

Making holes in the whole

Every beautiful window snow-star is still, however fanciful, just tissue paper. But what it looks like is anything but just paper. In fact its beauty comes not from the paper but from what has been removed from the paper. It is the holes and their shapes that creates the pattern. The great challenge is to leave as little of the original paper round as possible! In this respect it is another kind of music! All music that moves us is built up of the pauses between the sounds as well as the pitch and tone and length of the notes. It is the pause that highlights the sound. Tho create pause in between the heard and silent, between the cut away and the retained things is the art of a master. Bach to basics!

To dare to take away, to create a maximum difference between the plain round and the desired snow star is the work of the artist with the scissors. It is not the will of the paper to have most of it removed!! The paper would strive to remain intact! The purpose of the tissue papaer was to act as a covering for a gift, the act of cutting that tissue is a total setting aside of what the paper thinks it is there for and turn it into something it could never become without my scissors. Will it thank me for turning a flat round monochrome into a fascinating decoration at Christmas? Will it gladly accept the change of identity?

Do you see now that the act of turning a round of paper into a star involves losses? As a grain of wheat can never become flour for bread without being utterly crushed to the loss of its own identity so the paper must tolerate the ”holes” being cut in it before it becomes a star. ”What we keep, that we lose, what we give up, that we retain.” The cutting of the holes in the paper is exactly paralell to the hand of God working on our lives to make us true to His image, the one he has in maind, not the one we would seek or desire. It is along the line of ”though being a son, he learned obedience by his suffering, and once He had been made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation” (Heb 5:8-9). It is well for the servants of the Lord if they fare the same way that their master did.

What can it be?

The paper round is folded four times to make a cone shape. The thickness of the tissue determines a number of things. The folding of the paper determines possible outcomes. The thinner the tissue is the finer and truer the cuts made are reproduced. The thickness of the paper folded four times will determine the uniformity of the ’holes’. The importance of exact folding cannot be overestimated. The edges must be laid exact. It is no haphazard business to become a star. It needs to be an examined course. If the edges are not laid straight the star will be lopsided and there will be shapes missing on some of the prongs. The folding means one other thing: you make cuts in the two sides of the cone, but every cut is by definition a cut multiplied by 8. One cut gives eight shapes. Cut right and your work is imediately multiplied. As we start on the cone we have no idea what it will be. The folded up paper is not the end, the end result is an unfolding from something not yet known to something very other than the starting cone.

”Beloved it is not yet apparent what we all shall be, but this we know, when we see Him we shall be like him!”(1 John 3:1-3)

So the folded cone is similar to our hidden life, and the cone knows not what the end shall be, the cutter may know if he or she has done many such cuttings before. It is not for the clay to remonstrate with the potter about what the potter has decided to make. We are challenged not to complain of what happens in life because we trust that there will be an end result that is pleasing to Him. Not primarily for our enjoyment. ”No correction is pleasant while it is going on, but afterwards it will bring the joyful and peacable pleasure of rightousness”. Of course ”the paper feels pain” when we cut away bit by bit. Figuratively speaking. But so what? Is the paper my boss? Is it not my right to do with that which is mine what I desire? What will the paper say when the work is done? It will shout for joy and say ”I never knew I had it in me”. But God the primary potter knows what is in the clay to become. And I as the primary cutter know what may become of a simple cone of tissue.

It is my experince of what may be which allows me to hold the scissors rather than letting the paper cut itself. The paper would not cut itself at all. It would never say to me: ”not my will, but your will be done”. But if any paper is to become a star, someone must cut it to shape. And cut it to give it a shape that it had in itself, but did not have in itself to do to itself. Our true human potential can only be released and made visible by the working of God in us.

So often the church is an assembly of tissue paper squares with a lot of potential, but with an inate horror of everything from sanctification to being shaped by a sovereign God for His purposes. And so there is a lack of stars. But lots of window dressing.

Eight or Sixteen

Less is more? The end product will be either a round paper full of various holes with the look of a crocheted little placemat or anti-macassar (if you know what that is raise your hand), or it may look like a star indeed. With eight or sixteen prongs. The number is determined by how much you are willing to risk cutting away. If both ends of the crescent on the top of the cone are cut free then the result will be sixteen, if you cut away most of one side the number will be eight. A bolder star will have less prongs. Less may then be more. There is a tendency on behalf of God to reduce us and teach us to become more and more focused on the important things and therefore be less ready to spread our selves over more than we can actually cope with. ”He must increase, we must decrease.””I have made it my business among you to preach Christ and Him crucified only”. And not the least Jesus statement to Martha about Mary chosing a better part indicate that although all things are lawful, not all are useful. ”She has chosen the better part” would be as much as saying, yes, she could have made a 16 prong star but chose an 8 prong star. It stands out clearer.

Tackets and Lumummas

One thing finally is a word about the two major shapes used in making the stars. Some cuts will be angular, spikish and sharp-pointed, rather ’maleish’. Some will be rounded and soft and much more ’female’in aspect. Of course there is never a question of whether one or the other is in anyway better, both are needed and it is the way they combine that determines the end effect. The two terms are taken from a Swedish psychologist who used them about how we communicate to one another. Tackets are agressive self-centered modes of putting my view across without much concern for what the listener thinks. A lumumma is a softer, disarming and concensus inviting way of speech that opens up where the tackets shut down. But there is a place for both. Typified in John 3:16-18: ”For God so loved the world that he gave us His son, so that whosoever belives in him shall have eternal life.” That is a clear ”lumumma”. Soft and inviting. But the last part in v 18 is the opposite: ”Whosoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he does not faithfully trust and implicitly believe in the name of God’s one and only son.”

It does not get more ”tackettish” than that. Each ’shape’ has its place. Life is not one or the other and a skilled person learns when to use what to whom and when. Those who endeavour to mollify and soften the word of God by removing all ’tackets’ will find themselves on the sharp end of God’s words. When it is too late to be any longer swallowed up by the ’lummuma’ embrace of salvation.

You now know what my examination of this simple christmas craft signifies to me. I am not just doodling stars the way some clutter their phonebook while talking to grandma on the phone. I have been cutting these stars for over forty years, if not fifty. It started out in my home, my mother taught me. I have done it as a child and that same child has remained with me and in me. I continue to derive immense pleasure from each surprise. Because although I know a lot about these shapes and how they affect the end, I am always surprised by the end result. I normally take the as yet uncut cone and hold it to my ear, and I ask it what sort of shape and form it wants to have. Then I thread my fat fingers ino the eyes of the scissors, take a deep breath and apply the first cut. ”The first cut is the deepest!”

Where did I start this discourse on such a simple thing as a Christmas decoration? By speaking of the unexamined life. I can’t say that I have examined all of life by a very long shot, but some things I have examined deeply. And the joy of doing them is now doubled by seeing the way they parallell those spiritual truths that are in God’s other book. The Bible.

”Man shall not, cannot and will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

May your experience with the snow stars lead you to this other aspect of being a star yourself: ”Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness , like the stars for ever and ever."

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster 12th of December 2017

Blogtext: Make me a tent!

God has right through the history of mankind shown a considerable interest in the making of tents. In his two major contracts with humanity, those we habitually call the old and new covenant or testament, the tent and with that  the concept of a temporary dwelling-place play a significant part. The invisible eternal and everlasting God who knows of no change of light and drakness. who himself is beyond the ever changing conditions of His creation finds a great pleasure in meeting with us in a tent. He even shows us the pattern of it in the celestial realm before asking us to build it exactly according to the image shown.

There is then a permanent pattern for a most temporal structure. The fact that what we build always will be tarnished by the conditions of the world in which we live, and will always therefore be of a finite nature, does not detract from its usefulness as a meeting place between God and man. The very fact of its earthly character speaks a volume. It is generally connected to the "Word becoming flesh". The divine clothing itself in the frail frame of humanity and taking the earthly and presenting it as the embodiment of the divine to all that is earthly. The very User Friendly Interface between the Majesty on high and its subjects below. And the one given meeting point between that which is of the earth and that which is of the heaven.

Moses is commanded to build a tabernacle, a tent, a place entirely made by human hands according to a divinely given pattern. The only thing in the entire tabernacle made by God are the written instructions on the tables of the law! Moses is then the tentmaker of that first visible meeting place where God decides to make His presence known to his people. Everyone knows for sure that this in no way limits Gods presence in the world, but it is for them who need a physical reality in order to believe, that this "chamber of commerce" between the two worlds is made. "God does not live in houses made by men, the whole world is in His hand and he fills heaven and earth with his glory." But nontheless it has pleased God to make himself knowable in this manner. And so this mobile worship center becomes the very life center of the nation and of the people who agree to the covenant stipulations. "You shall be holy, for i am holy."

The instructions given for the building of anything that is even remotely like what God wants to honor by His presence are mandatory. They are compelling and cannot be tampered with or rewritten as it pleases us. No later fancies can redraw the original pattern. If attempted it will not be the house of God, albeit having the form of godliness but without any power. It will be the house of idol-worship. Almost right is always not right. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, informing him to say to the people of Israel: raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution... According to all that I am agoing to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so shall you construct it." (ex 25:1-9)

This tent, this dwelling place, is not for any man to sleep in, but to stand before God in. It is not a place of rest but a place of worship. It has several covering layers, one of which is of rams hides dyed red. Another is of 'sea cows' hide and leather, or 'porpoise' as one version has it. But leather it is. The skill of the leatherworker or tentmaker is in the fitting and sewing together the different bits that make up the whole. Skills learnt over time and with many hours of practice. Skills of value in a world of many animals and many varying needs for things made of the hides of living beings. 

No such tent with leather coverings can be made unless lives have been sacrificed for it. The tent of the presence of God goes with the notion of lives spent totally in order to make the covering of the tent. Some even dyed red to show their character of having been sacrificed. The logical result of sin is death. The forfeiting of life cannot be turned to new life without the giving of some other life, one that is innocent and not deprived of life because of its own sin. Only the guiltless can count towards the removal of guilt.

Who else would make a covering for a tent causing that deep sense of gratitude for the constant reminder that the only safe place for the church of Christ, is found in the sacrifice of His own blood? The church, i e the living body of Christ consisting of many many believers all joined together into a well fitted building is the birthright of him who bought her with his blood and paid for it with his own 'hide'. And behold, the tentmaker of the new covenant can speak of "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus".(Gal 6:17). The same man elsewhere makes the same point over and over: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of god and not from ourselves.. we..are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (2 Cor 4:7-11)

Paul the apostle was by virtue of his jewish upbringing gifted with the learning of a trade. He supplied his own financial needs by working in the trade of a tentmaker, a leather worker, one who made tents as well as utensils of hide. He who knew that our bodies are merely a tent in which we live for the time on earth knew all about the making of tents. Of the art of fitting things together, of allowing the oddities of the individual hides to make their mark on the 'house'. "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heave; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." (2 Cor 5:1-4)

Paul would have been flummoxed by the idea of "training for the ministry" as a source of livelihood. To wit: he that shares the good of God with people may rightfully expect that they in turn share their earthly goods with the teacher, but to be dependant on that means of keep was not on the apostles chart. Nobody would ever be able to say: I have made Paul rich, or Paul has robbed us of our possesions. No! said Paul, I will rather work with my hands, than be paid for preaching that which God has given me freely. "I do not do this on behalf of my own interest, no the love of God constrains me."  Godliness is never a means to personal gain of earthly things. Never.

Are you confused? Here we have spoken of three different tents and it might seem that Teddy is mixing his metaphores. That is so. You are quite right. There are three lines along this matter of the tent, the tabernacle, the temporary abode.

1 It is a shadow of a permanent heavenly tent, a temple which is the Lord himself."I saw in the city no temple, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the lamb are it's temple." (Rev 21:22) What was ordered by God to be built on earth was to accurately forshadow and prophecy of the divine and everlasting. This could only be done by following the given pattern precisely. Or else we would be preaching another gospel and even misrepresent God and preach foreign gods. This is the teaching of the tabernacle.

2 It is an image of the church of Jesus Christ, that while it meets in buildings made by men is never the building nor the organisation but the living body of all the believers. "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthhood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet 2:4-5)  And again this time by the Apostle Paul: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are now fellow citizens with the saint, and are of God's own household, having been built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you ar also being built together into a dwellin of God in the Spirit." (Eph 2:19-22)

If you get the impression that Paul has a similar role in the New covenant as Moses had in the Old, you are quite right.

3 It is a way of describing the individual believer. Each in his or her own 'tent' until the greater tent is made ready and all the individual tents are swallowd up by life itself. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:19-20)

Fitted together? By whom are these individual hides fitted? By the tentmaker naturally. He knows the hides and the way of bringing them into unison. How to sow them seamlessly together. How to make the many seem as one. That is the skill of the pastor and teacher who uses the raw matrials in front of him and works to join them in Christ. That is the work of the tentmaker.

Paul is reported in the Acts of the Apostles to have met up with Aquila and Priscilla and as they were all three of them in the same trade they set up shop together, but on the sabbath they rested from work as the law prescribed and shared the gospel of Jesus with jews and greeks. The heart of this tent maker and his double skills are indicated in his letter to the church in Rome. He has never yet met them, he knows them not by sight but he knows them by their Spirit. And he does not presume to be coming to those ignorant but rather to people who were well versed in much of the scriptural truths. So he resigns himself to 'remind' them of what they could already well know. After all he is speaking to people whose faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.(Rom 1:8)

In Romans chapter 15 Paul shows what the tentmaker understands about the individual 'hides' in the fellowship. "I myself am convinced concerning you, that you are all filled with godness and with knowledge and are able to admonish one another. I have written boldly just by way of reminder." (Rom 15:14f) In his letter to the somewhat more wayward church in Corinth he writes about how to worship God. "What then is the summary of this? When you come together, each one of you, according to the soveriegn and free distribution of the gifts by the Spirit to whom He will, come to serve one another for the upbuilding of the whole by each member in the church." 1 Cor 14:26

The role of the tentmaker becomes clear: each brings his or her portion out of their own life with God. The tentmaker receives all the bits and pieces and stitches them together to form a tent for the congregation of their own contributions. He sows them up, may cut some bits off and may have to add a missing piece himself, but they bring the admonsihing, the encouragments, the insights and revelations which are for the whole church. This is the empowering of the believers to be contributors in part, to the whole. To move from the consumer church of limited dialogue to the church of all-member-interaction is on the cards for tomorrow, but needs a close look now, while there is time to rethink what we are doing as to 'being church'.

But it means that the role of the tentmaker must be both understood and allowed. We seem to be far off that necessity still.

Build me a tent said God. Will we obey?

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster 1 Dec 2017


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