2. No electricity for two days.
3. Bureaucratic nightmares getting seemingly endless official documents.
Must remember Romans 8:28! Come back tomorrow!
“The resurrection . . . sharply defines what it must mean to have faith in Christ. Because Christ has been raised from the dead, we are not putting our faith in merely a historical event but in a living, death conquering, and reigning Savior. Our faith is based on something in the past, but it is placed in One who is very much alive today. Notice how the apostle Paul speaks of faith in terms of a living Christ: ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Paul is living by faith in the living Christ. And he prays that this would be our normative Christian experience: ‘that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith’ (Ephesians 3:16-17).”
- John Ensor, The Great Work of the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006), 102.
“He laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and look! I am alive forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and Hades’” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Literally, Jesus says, ‘Stop being afraid..’ Why? Because Jesus Christ has walked into the gaping jaws of the greatest enemy there is. On the cross he let all the powers that threaten to undo us have their unrestrained way with him. He let death take him captive. And then he burst out of the prison and carried away the prison keys!”
- Darrell W. Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2004), 47-48.
“Though he be the great God, yet he has, as it were, brought himself down to be upon a level with you, so as to become man as you are that he might not only be your Lord, but your brother, and that he might be the more fit to be a companion for such a worm of the dust.
This is one end of Christ’s taking upon him man’s nature, that his people might be under advantages for a more familiar converse with him than the infinite distance of the divine nature would allow of.”
- Jonathan Edwards, “The Excellency of Christ”
Christian TV internet provider Premier TV features an interview with Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, in "Off the Shelf" with Victoria Laurence. The interview discusses Patrick Sookhdeo's new book "Faith, Power and Territory" and focuses on the issue of Islam in Britain today and how it will impact British society now and in the future.Link here.
Proverbs 28:1 - "The wicked flee when no man pursues: but the righteous are bold as a lion."That's how it should be, and often is: with a good conscience, you can act boldly and openly; with a bad conscience, you're afraid even when nobody else is around. Which of these two is the anonymous Internet poster behaving most like?
Philemon 1:14 - "And many of the brethren in the Lord, growing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."Paul was in prison - but spoke boldly. This encouraged others in Rome who had previously been silent to do the same. What are you going to encourage other Christians to do by your example?
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 - "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who tries our hearts."Paul commended the gospel, and his own sincerity, by being bold even in the face of real persecution. At Philippi he was flogged and put in jail with open sores. That's a little bit worse than some angry ranter sending you a rude e-mail - or even five rude emails! Paul testified that the words he were speaking were sufficiently important and true that he was willing to publicly own them, whatever bad consequences came his way. Therefore, I find it hard to buy into the argument that by hiding our identities, we can commend our witness by drawing attention away from anything else. To Paul, his straightforward boldness was an important part of his witness that he appealed to - he had nothing to hide.
1. The sacrifice of Cain (Genesis 4:1-16) : God looks at the heart
I have heard many sermons in which it has been said that Cain's sacrifice was unacceptable because he should have offered a blood sacrifice – Abel offered a lamb, which was a “more excellent” sacrifice (c.f. Hebrews 11:4). I may be wrong, but whilst the overall teaching is good, I cannot see this in the text itself. The text emphasises that Cain himself was unacceptable to God (v4-5, 7). God looks first at the offerer, and then at the offering (Haggai 2:10-14). Cain's received his rejection not with godly repentance, but with anger (v5), showing that his worship had always been for his own, not for the Lord's, benefit and that God had been right to reject him. The great lesson from Cain's sacrifice is that “the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
2. The strange fire of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) : Worship is for the glory of God
Nadab and Abihu the sons of Aaron were very greatly privileged. They had been included with the elders of Israel (Exodus 24:1-11), and appointed as the first priests of the Old Covenant. They (Leviticus 9) had assisted at the sacrifices offered at the inauguration of the covenant, and seen fire come out from the Lord to consume those sacrifices. Leviticus 10:1 gives the stark statement that they brought an offering “which [the LORD] commanded them not”, and in verse 3 Moses gives the hard-hitting explanation: “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” Worship is primarily for the glory and honour of God, who is a sovereign and awesomely holy God. Worship of such a glorious being can only be acceptable when offered according to his prescription. The second commandment (Exodus 20:4-6) forbids us to innovate in worship, according to our own ideas of God and what we find pleasing to think of in relation to him. God is honoured when we draw near when we come in the way that he has commanded, and no other.
3. Worship according to the doctrines of men: The pharisees (Mark 7:1-23)
The Pharisees were offended, because Jesus' disciples broke the traditions of the elders because they failed to wash their hands before eating after being in public. In their minds, this tradition was equivalent to God's word: it came from the elders, and was necessary (they thought) to guard against the danger of unknowingly becoming unclean through contact with an unclean person in public. This tradition had the appearance of honouring God, but did not. Firstly, it was not performed from a heart-felt desire for God's glory – it was outward only. Secondly, the commandment was ultimately man-made: God had not given it, and so slavishly obeying it honoured man, not God. The Pharisees dishonoured God by finding clever ways to subvert the obvious meaning of the commands which he had given, such as to honour one's parents (v9-13). God's laws about cleanness were not given to glorify man and dishonour God in this way; they were given to remind people of the true uncleanness which comes continually out of our hearts.
4. Wrong all the way down: The woman of Samaria (John 4:1-26): New Covenant worship
In this passage the Lord Jesus corrected many fundamental errors in the woman's thinking. One is that, when she thought of worship, she thought the main issue was over the correct place. It was true that there was a right and wrong place under the Old Covenant; and in fact she had the wrong one – as a Samaritan, her worship was ignorant (verse 22). However, a more fundamental error was that she had not understood the nature of the New Covenant that the Messiah was now bringing in, where worship would not be tied to a place at all. The defining characteristics of acceptable New Covenant worship are that it is offered through the Holy Spirit and it is according to truth: which means that it is offered by converted people who believe the gospel about Jesus and are obedient to his commands. In the three examples above, the result was death: jealous Cain killed Abel, a righteously jealous God killed Nadab and Abihu, the Pharisees killed the Lord Jesus. In this example, the Lord graciously opened the eyes of the woman, and the result was life to her and to her village (v39-42).
Barack Obama: This is something that I have not come to a firm resolution on. I think it’s very hard to know what that means — when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don’t presume to know the answer to that question. What I know, as I’ve said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we’re having these debates.Both candidates are, their voting records show, strong supporters of a right to abortion. Senator Obama has even put on record, in the Illinois Senate, his support for the right to kill disabled babies even immediately after birth, as well as before it.
Hillary Clinton: Potential for life begins at conception. . . I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out. But for me, it is also not only about a potential life — it is about the other lives involved. And, therefore, I have concluded, after great concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.
"God never punishes his people. That is, their sufferings are never designed to satisfy justice; nor are they always even chastisements in the proper sense of the word. They are not in all cases sent to correct evils, to repress pride, or to wean from the world. God often afflicts his people and his church simply to enable them the better to glorify his name. It is an unchristian disposition, therefore, which leads us always to ask, 'when afflictions are sent upon ourselves or others, 'Why is this? What have we or they done to call forth this expression of parental displeasure or solicitude? What does God mean to rebuke?' It may be that our sufferings are chastisements, that is, that they are designed to correct some evil of the heart or life, but this is not to be inferred from the simple fact that they are sufferings. The greater part of Paul's sufferings were not chastisements. They were designed simply to show to all ages the power of the grace of God; to let men see what a man could cheerfully endure, and rejoice that he was called upon to endure, for the sake of the Lord Jesus."Charles Hodge, 2 Corinthians, Banner of Truth Trust, 1959, p163
“All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it. When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.” - John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 109.HT: Of First Importance
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."In contemporary political discourse, democracy is a sacred cow. It's not enough to believe that, on the whole, generally, it's better than the other options. We are also required to believe, on pain of being suspected of being an insane fascist, that democracy is a panacea to usher in the next golden age. If we can bring about more choice, bring power closer to the people, and so on, then all our problems will be solved.
2 Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.Paul said that he commended himself to his hearers' consciences - not just his message. Is it possible to do that anonymously?
2 Corinthians 9 And he said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.God works through weakness. He rejoiced that people could see him in all his puniness (in worldly terms), because then God was glorified by showing his power through him. The message and the messenger were part of a God-ordained partnership - they were not intended by God to be separated. This is a major plank of my objection to Internet anonymity amongst Christians, along with the cutting of the accountability chain. Anonymity removes the messenger from the message, which is a move without any Biblical approval.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 ... you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.Paul made a deliberate effort to set an example that could be followed - an example he could appeal to, so that nobody could say that he preached differently from what he practiced.
6 And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit
Acts 20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, "You know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,"
1 Corinthians 4:9 For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.Paul saw a divine purpose in the things which he, as an apostle, had been made to endure. God did not only intend for him, Paul, to declare a message - he also intended him to be a living theatre in whose experience certain spiritual truths would be displayed. Anonymity thwarts this divine purpose - that God's workings in our lives should accentuate the message that we speak.
At the University of Chicago Divinity School there has been an annual "Baptist Day" for many years, when leaders of that denomination in Illinois are invited to the School. Their supports is encouraged, and those who go bring their packed lunches and sit and eat together on a grassy knoll in between listening to theologians. One year the Divinity School invited the late Dr Paul Tillich to speak. Tillich was born in Germany in 1886, and in 1933 he went to Union Seminary, New York. On that "Baptist Day", Tillich lectured on the resurrection of Jesus, giving his restitution theory: that the resurrection took place in the "ecstatic" experience of the disciples, and that it restored Jesus to the dignity of the Christ in their own minds; that it probably belonged to the time prior to Peter's confession, but it was not an event belonging to the time after the death of Jesus. Tillich told them that the resurrection of the body was a symbol expressing the truth of "essentialism", and that heaven and hell were to be taken seriously, but not literally.Daniel: Servant of God under four kings, Geoff Thomas, Bryntirion Press, 1998, p25-26
The lecture was long, almost two hours, and given with a strong German accent. Then there was a question time. An old minister rose to his feet: "Docta Tilick, I got a question." The congregation turned round and looked at him. He slowly lifted an apple out of his lunch bag and took a bite. There was an embarrassing pause. "Docta Tilick .... my question is very simple (munch, munch) ... I don't know much about essentialism, nor about this restitution theory (crunch, crunch) ... and I don't speak a word of German ... All I wanna know is this ... This apple I'm eating (chew, chew) ... is it bitter or is it sweet?" The plain white-haired man was old, and from a minority race, and so he could not be belittled. In exemplary scholarly fashion Dr. Tillich replied courteously, "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple." The white-haired preacher dropped the remains of the apple into his lunch bag, looked at Dr. Paul Tillich and said calmly, "Neither have you tasted my Jesus." There was a smattering of applause in the room.
I was more preoccupied by the 125 mile non-stop Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race which we began that morning, at 8:22 a.m., which would keep me up all the next night!
Today I casually said to my father, "it's the 10th of April". He replied, saying that that must mean it was ten years since "the DW", in which he led one of our support crews. He hadn't forgotten! (Support crews meet us at locks to cram bananas and drinks down our throats, change our water bottles, speak encouraging things and even serve up a gobbled meal and quick change of clothes at the half-way point - there's no timing concession for it, but we decided a bowl of
pasta and some dry canoeing gear would be beneficial).
A lot has happened in ten years. I finished my degree, did another one, met and married my wife, we had children, I entered the Christian ministry, I've lived in 11 different houses, we emigrated, etcetera.
What about you? There's one thing we, if we're Christians, surely have to come back to. How many sins, how many falls, how many wasted opportunities, how much time frittered away, how many blind alleys have we gone down? How many times have we stumbled? How much confusion and worldly-mindedness led us astray?
Yet at the end of it all, we can still say "I was repenting of my sins and trusting in Jesus Christ then - and I am today too. I have disgraced my Saviour many times; he has been so gracious to me and because of his love I'm still here through it all."
I remember being conscious whilst paddling in the dead still of night on the deserted Thames, that God was always present. He is still present. Ten years is a record of ten years in which the Lord has been so patient with a continually stumbling sinner.
It's good to look back on special days in our lives - it's even better to look back on the perseverance of our Saviour in his ministry towards us, despite our poor return of gratitude to him.
"The stay in the Royal London was for emergency treatment on a subdural haematoma (blood clot on the brain). The seven days I spent there were precious days in which I believe the Lord, through his word, taught me several important lessons. See what you think. Better still - let me know what you think."http://mourninghouse.blogspot.com
That's by definition, really. If you don't give your name, it's because you didn't want to, unless you did it because you make all your decisions by rolling dice. For now we'll presume it's a rational thing and leave the dice-players alone.
What are the motives someone could have for not wanting to associate their name with their words? Your name is your identity or reputation; I take it then that when someone says something anonymously, it's because they want to protect their reputation from the potentially damaging effects of their words. (The atheist comments that didn't make it through moderation on this blog were certainly cases in point!)
Think about that for a moment. What we are saying is that anonymous writers normally want a reputation that isn't earned from what they say and do, but from somewhere else. Or alternatively, their real-life reputation is so bad, that it might discredit their comments; or at least, might give a different spin on them.
At the moment I'm just motive-mongering, which has limited value. The limit in this case, though, is quite high - I put it to you, readers for evaluation from your own experience, before pressing on. There is Biblical precedent for hilighting this aspect of human behaviour. When Adam sinned in the garden, he tried to hide himself, and cover his nakedness. He didn't want to be seen. He instinctively felt over-exposed, and wanted his identity to be hidden. His deed was obvious - there was a piece of fruit missing from the tree. But, as a sinner, he instinctively sought to separate himself from his action, and when questionned he drew attention to his wife, who shifted focus to the serpent. The innate sense of shame and wishing to be hidden is still present in mankind.
Hmmm. (Actually it's more recent than that, though I didn't ask where in the world he was referring to, so he may have meant his own home country).
He wanted to look at Christians as an infallible guide to Jesus Christ. He rejected Christianity because he saw something offensive in one group of Christians in history. That's the wrong way round. We should look at Jesus Christ as the infallible guide to what Christians are becoming. The historical example of Christ is normative; the copies are all imperfect.
Sure, if every Christian in the world owned slaves, or if at least many more of them did than non-Christians, you'd start to think that the two might be linked. There's got to be a reason why whenever you hear on the news of a terrorist outrage you think "Ah, that'll be something to do with Muslims." The two aren't completely independent; ever heard of Quaker terrorists? Cause and effect can be complex, but the Christian claim isn't that no Christian can ever make a moral
mistake. It's that after making a barrel-load of them every day, Jesus Christ who died for us forgives us as we repent, and that by his Spirit he is working holiness in his people so that that repentance is not just a sham.
Some who name the name of Christ may indeed be shams; but if Jesus wasn't gold, he wouldn't be worth counterfeiting as well as faithfully imitating.
The UK's Tax Freedom Day will fall on June 2 in 2008. That means that average Brits are spending more than five months of the year working for the Chancellor, rather than working for themselves. Government spending is set to reach £600 billion – £10,000 for person in the UK, and twice as much as in 1997. If public spending had only grown in line with inflation since then, we could have abolished income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax by now, leaving the taxpayer £200 billion better off. When you factor in government borrowing the picture is even worse – Tax Freedom Day does not come until June 14.The Bible teaches (Romans 13:1ff) that civil government is instituted by God, that we ought to obey it as such, and part of that duty is that we should pay taxes. Work can't be done and servants can't work using only thin air. The governors have a God-given commission to reward good and to punish the evil-doer, promoting peace and punishing wrong-doing in the public square. That means they have a right to be supplied with the necessary funds to do so, and eat and drink at the same time.