Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
CS Lewis, Miracles, P47
Is he right? Maybe. In the next chapter Lewis goes onto talk about common, but 'red herring' objections to Christianity and miracles. 1) People didn't understand enough about miracles in Biblical times to know they were miracles. BUT unless you understand the parameters of nature, you don't know what's miraculous. Unless Joseph understood the way women became pregnant, he wouldn't have been angry at Mary, unless the disciples knew that man can not walk on water they wouldn't have been scared when Jesus did. No one would be surprised if the sun rose in the west one morning unless we understood that it should rise in the east.
2) That the universe is so huge how can we claim that God is concerned with us? Men have known since ancient Egypt the size of the universe, in the Psalms it's used as fuel for praise. No Christian has ever claimed the universe existed for man, it exists for God. No Christian should ever claim that Jesus came to Earth because we were lovely, but because He is love. And if naturalism is right, it still doesn't give us an answer. Old errors don't pass away, they simply change their form.
Are those slightly lazy, ill thought out objections to Christianity and miracles evidence of what Lewis is talking about? Maybe.
Friday, April 24, 2009
We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. . . . A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle!
He is inspired, and yet he wants books!
He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books!
He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!
He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books!
He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books!
He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!
The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "Give thyself unto reading." The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.
Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master's service. Paul cries, "Bring the books"—join in the cry.
I'm off the sit in the eighty degree evening heat with CS Lewis
Monday, April 20, 2009
The Pyros have been writing about the same thing.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Please don’t miss this. Being a Christian means more than being part of a family that comes to church, or going to a Christian school, or going to camp or competing in competition or being nice to your parents or dressing and acting right. That’s the same sort of thing that the young man presented to Jesus as why he should inherit eternal life. It is impossible for us to be saved because of the things we do ourselves. This is what Jesus says. But not with God. God can save us. Not because of our efforts but in spite of them. Jesus would have saved this young man in a flash if he’d wanted to be, not because he’d kept the commandments, but in spite of that fact.
Then Peter speaks. It’s always worth paying attention to what Peter says in Mark’s Gospel because you know it’s normally something pretty daft. Verse 28 says ‘then Peter began to say unto Him, ‘lo, we have left all and followed thee.’ Peter says ‘hey Jesus, look dude, we’ve given up everything, we’ve done what you said, so…what are you going to do about that?’ Peter always has an answer, and in this case it’s a good one. If anyone has given things up to follow Jesus, it’s his disciples. They’ve given up their jobs, their homes, their family, their friends…everything, to follow Jesus as He walks around Israel. Peter wants Jesus to remember than when it comes to giving things up, he’s up there with the best. So what does Jesus have to say to that? Is He grateful? Does He apologise for speaking so harshly to the young man and let Peter know what a great guy He is? Sometimes we’re like Peter, we want Jesus to remember all the great stuff we could have had, all the fun we could have taken part in if it hadn’t been for Him.
Jesus, as we might have come to expect, has a different answer, and a better one. In verses 29-31, we see this answer: and Jesus answered and said ‘verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house or brethren, or sister, or father or mother, or wife or children or lands for my sake and the Gospel’s but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.
What Jesus is saying here is that it is worth it to be a Christian. It is worth it to give up what you need to so that you might gain Jesus. It is worth the ridicule, worth being an outcast, worth ‘missing out’ because of what you gain. This verse is true, trust me. When I came to America I left my sister, my father, my mother, my land…most of everything that made me who I was. And now? I miss my family every day, but Jesus has given me Christian brothers and sisters, a home at this church, friends, hobbies, a job. Jesus tells us not to worry, that whatever we think we’ll lose in this life for following Him, we’ll get back much, much, much more in the next life. There will be persecutions. We will struggle and suffer sometimes, people will laugh at us, people will end friendships with us. But it will be worth it. It would have been worth it for the rich young man to sell all that he had so that he could follow Jesus. He would have got it back 100 times. The same is true for you and me. There are things we all need to give up, but it’s worth it.
Jesus says it’s impossible to do this by ourselves. It’s impossible for us to do what we need to do. But with God’s it’s possible, He has done it on the cross. Jesus saving work that we celebrate on Easter Sunday is the ground for all His teaching, and all our hope. We can’t do what we need to do to be saved, that’s why Jesus had to die, that’s why Easter is so important, that’s why our response to the cross is so important.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Jesus’ answer to this young man is both instructive and condemning. He says in verses 18 and 19 ‘why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, no steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honour thy father and thy mother.’ Jesus answer seems like two different answers, but as we see this incident play out, we’ll understand why He talks as He does. Firstly; there is none good but one, that is God. This is a statement totally opposed to what most people think today. People are regarded as ‘good,’ we’re not so sure about God anymore. People are the judge, God is in the dock. Not according to Jesus. Jesus says there is no one good apart from God. Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, according to Jesus, there are no good people. We’ll come back to this.
The second part of Jesus’ answer is just as interesting. He lists the commandments in answer to the man’s question. Do not commit adultery, do not kill, no not steal. But there’s something missing from this list isn’t there? He’s missed out the commandments that concern man and God. In my experience whenever you ask someone why they deserve to go to Heaven they’ll always say ‘well I’ve never killed anyone or stolen anything, I’m not that bad.’ and that’s exactly what the young man says here in verse 20: ‘and he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these I have observed from my youth.’ He says: ‘Jesus, I’ve done all that, I’ve been doing them all my life, I have kept these commands and kept them well.’ He is, in many ways a typical unsaved member of a church. He does everything, he attends every event, he’s respectful, everyone thinks he’s a good guy…and he’s going to Hell. That’s what Jesus says. Look at verses 21 and 22 with me: ‘then Jesus beholding him, loved him and said unto him, ‘one thing thou lackest, go thy way, sell whatever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come, take up thy cross and follow me. And he was sad and that saying, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.’
The young man thinks he’s good, good enough for Heaven. We know that Jesus says that there is none good, but God only. This man is not good enough for Heaven. You are not good enough for Heaven. So what is he supposed to do? Jesus says ‘sell everything and follow me.’ So is that how we get to Heaven? Being poor? Living in a hut with no electricity? Do I need to sell my laptop to go to Heaven? The man went away sad because as much as he wanted to inherit eternal life he didn’t want it more than his riches. He was more interested in thirty, fourty, fifty years of comfort here than he was in an eternity of joy in Heaven . Jesus said he lacked one thing…what was that one thing? Saving faith! He lacked a love for Jesus. He lacked an understanding that what Jesus called him to lose was nothing in comparison to what he would gain.
Here’s where tonight’s passage gets really relevant for you and me. Jesus says later in verse 25 ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.’ Will it be hard for you to go to Heaven? Do you find it hard to be a Christian? Do you find it hard to do what you know is right when you’re at school, or when you’re surrounded by your friends? Are there things, like this mans riches, that you need to give up so that you can enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Do you need to take some things to Jesus and give them up because they are making you like a camel going through the eye of a needle? It was hard for the rich man not to be rich and to be a Christian instead. What would his rich friends say if he gave all his possessions away ‘because God told him to?’ They’d laugh at him, he’d be an outcast. Is that true for you? What’s holding you back from giving everything you’ve got for Jesus? What’s stopping you? Do you think you’re ‘good’ like this man because you’ve never killed anyone? If you think it’s tough in middle school it’s going to get a whole lot harder in high school. If you think it’s tough to stand up for Jesus at high school then trust me, it’s going to get a whole lot harder at university. It just is. If you think that you can just not break commandments and be ok as a Christian, Jesus says theirs is one thing you lack. You lack Jesus.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
John Alfred Anderson (62)
Colin Mark Ashcroft (19)
James Gary Aspinall (18)
Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16)
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron (67)
Simon Bell (17)
Barry Sidney Bennett (26)
David John Benson (22)
David William Birtle (22)
Tony Bland (22)
Paul David Brady (21)
Andrew Mark Brookes (26)
Carl Brown (18)
David Steven Brown (25)
Henry Thomas Burke (47)
Peter Andrew Burkett (24)
Paul William Carlile (19)
Raymond Thomas Chapman (50)
Gary Christopher Church (19)
Joseph Clark (29)
Paul Clark (18)
Gary Collins (22)
Stephen Paul Copoc (20)
Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23)
James Philip Delaney (19)
Christopher Barry Devonside (18)
Christopher Edwards (29)
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34)
Thomas Steven Fox (21)
Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10)
Barry Glover (27)
Ian Thomas Glover (20)
Derrick George Godwin (24)
Roy Harry Hamilton (34)
Philip Hammond (14)
Eric Hankin (33)
Gary Harrison (27)
Stephen Francis Harrison (31)
Peter Andrew Harrison (15)
David Hawley (39)
James Robert Hennessy (29)
Paul Anthony Hewitson (26)
Carl Darren Hewitt (17)
Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16)
Sarah Louise Hicks (19)
Victoria Jane Hicks (15)
Gordon Rodney Horn (20)
Arthur Horrocks (41)
Thomas Howard (39)
Thomas Anthony Howard (14)
Eric George Hughes (42)
Alan Johnston (29)
Christine Anne Jones (27)
Gary Philip Jones (18)
Richard Jones (25)
Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)
Anthony Peter Kelly (29)
Michael David Kelly (38)
Carl David Lewis (18)
David William Mather (19)
Brian Christopher Mathews (38)
Francis Joseph McAllister (27)
John McBrien (18)
Marion Hazel McCabe (21)
Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)
Peter McDonnell (21)
Alan McGlone (28)
Keith McGrath (17)
Paul Brian Murray (14)
Lee Nicol (14)
Stephen Francis O'Neill (17)
Jonathon Owens (18)
William Roy Pemberton (23)
Carl William Rimmer (21)
David George Rimmer (38)
Graham John Roberts (24)
Steven Joseph Robinson (17)
Henry Charles Rogers (17)
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)
Inger Shah (38)
Paula Ann Smith (26)
Adam Edward Spearritt (14)
Philip John Steele (15)
David Leonard Thomas (23)
Patrik John Thompson (35)
Peter Reuben Thompson (30)
Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)
Peter Francis Tootle (21)
Christopher James Traynor (26)
Martin Kevin Traynor (16)
Kevin Tyrrell (15)
Colin Wafer (19)
Ian David Whelan (19)
Martin Kenneth Wild (29)
Kevin Daniel Williams (15)
Graham John Wright (17)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But it has become popular in certain circles to employ extremely graphic descriptions of physical intimacy as a way of expounding on the euphemisms in Solomon’s poem. As this trend develops, each new speaker seems to find something more shocking in the metaphors than any of his predecessors ever imagined.
Thus we are told that the Shulammite’s poetic language invoking the delights of an apple tree (Song 2:3) is a metaphor for oral sex. The comfort and delight of a simple embrace (2:6) is not what it seems to be at all. Apparently it’s impossible to describe what that verse really means without mentioning certain unmentionable body parts.
We’re assured moreover that the shocking hidden meanings of these texts aren’t merely descriptive; they are prescriptive. The secret gnosis of Solomon’s Song portray obligatory acts wives must do if this is what satisfies their husbands, regardless of the wife’s own desire or conscience. I was recently given a recording of one of these messages, where the speaker said, “Ladies, let me assure you of this: if you think you’re being dirty, he’s pretty happy.”
Such pronouncements are usually made amid raucous laughter, but evidently we are expected to take them seriously. When the laughter died away, that speaker added, “Jesus Christ commands you to do this.”
That approach is not exegesis; it is exploitation. It is contrary to the literary style of the book itself. It is spiritually tantamount to an act of rape. It tears the beautiful poetic dress off Song of Solomon, strips that portion of Scripture of its dignity, and holds it up to be laughed at and leered at in a carnal way.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
1 Samuel 4-8 is both instructive and upsetting. Israel is defeated in battle by the Philistines, somehow they decide that if they take the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them they will be guaranteed success. Wrong, Israel is defeated, the Ark is captured and Eli dies as a result of the shock. But as wrong as Israel was about the Ark being a good luck trinket, they were right about it's power. The Ark is placed in the temple of Dagon, but the statue of Dagon can not stand with the Ark. He falls, his limbs broken off. That's so cool. Then the Ark brings disease wherever it goes in Philistia, and is eventually returned.
Israel have obviously had enough of this. Surely rejecting God and having a king 'like the other nations' is the answer. Of course! Samuel warns Israel what sort of king they will get in return for rejecting God, while, probably at the same time writing the book of Judges. Israel will get a King who will take their sons, their daughters and their crops.
Luke 22 sees the beginning of a dark and glorious coronation. here is God's King, God's anointed, God's man. Here is the Messiah. This is the King who will not Lord over his people as the Gentiles but will serve His people. Willing die for His Father and His people. At least Israel is consistent. They didn't want God to be their King in 1 Samuel, and they don't now. But i love how God works, i love that Israel's rejection of God as their King results in God's Son being crowned King.
In Psalm 89 there is great hope. Hope in God's promise to David, hope that in times when God's people are crushed God is faithful. Hope that God will not hide Himself forever because He is faithful to Himself.
Jesus is truly God's King, crowned with thorns, dying to save His people. Even in darkness, even in rebellion, God is King, God is faithful. Since listening to Carson's talks on Jeremiah i've been thinking about my hearts reaction to God as my King and Father. Do i want a King? or just a forgiver? Someone to kindly overlook my failures. This Easter lets look at the cross. Let's see God's man, the Godman, God's King, Jesus, doing what we could never do for the sake of His subjects. And lets be humbled around the cross, and rejoice.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
1) Judges is about Jesus. Obviously. The whole point of the book is that we need a Judge that will neither be evil or die. And we've got one. We need God to choose our leader, our King, He needs to be God's man, God's anointed. And Jesus is. Judges screams for Jesus. Our hearts should cry to Him and for Him as we read. There was no King in the days of the Judges, we need a King, but not any old human king, God's King.
2) Linked to that, Judges seems to be a polemic against human leadership. Some of the Judges are a pretty shoddy bunch. Look Israel says (probably) Samuel, you're fools for wanting centralised, man made power, this is what it brings. Idol worship, civil war, needless slaughter. Maybe this is Samuel's tract against human Kingship. It shows us how much we need the Godman, how much we need Jesus to rule over us. No human king will ever do it well. Interestingly in Judges Israel is oppressed by foreign powers and rescued by God's judges, in the later history books Israel is oppressed by wicked kings from within and God 'rescues' them by the exile.
3) I see myself so much in Israel in this book. The cycle of sin-oppression-crying out-rescue-sin is pretty familiar. It shows me that my sin is gross. Cosmic treason. It shows me that God is gracious to provide a judge. And if He's gracious to provide Gideon (the mighty man who hid in the gleaning pit) and Deborah and Samson, how much more gracious and generous has He been to provide us with Jesus.
4) Judges gives deeper meaning to Ruth. I think. Israel wanted a King, it needed to be God's King, He had to come from Judah. And in Ruth 4 we see the Kingly line continued. We see that even in the darkest of times spiritually for a nation God's purpose is still at work. He is still planning to provide His King, the King. Israel's rejection of Him would not go unpunished, but they would not go unsaved. Through Boaz and Ruth comes Obed, then Jesse, then David...then Jesus. God is still perfectly at work in the darkest times.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
2) Tuesday was lunch at Blackbeards, very good, then driving to Kinston to have lunch where Rachel's student teaching, and then in the evening, my/our first baseball game. I love college sports, the collision of the amateur and the professional, knowing that the kids scoring touchdowns and home runs one day are learning about economics and history the next. Thats cool to me. And East Carolina won 15-4. And it wasn't too cold.
3) Wednesday it rained. It seems that spring in North Carolina involves some days in the seventies and eighties and some days where it rains like the end of the world. But we went to a civil war fort, Fort Macon, and learn about the war between the states. And i had blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Excellent stuff.
4) Thursday it was time to rest...we did very little. I actually don't remember anything about thursday...but i'm sure we had a nice time!
5) And then Friday...boo, back to the airport. We had a good meeting with the wedding caterer in the morning and then spent about an hour learning about the Estuary that flows through Washington...which was more exciting than it sounds!
6) I've also been reading Judges, a difficult book. It's probably the one i struggle the most with in the Old Testament, it's my Deuteronomy. My new ESV Study Bible has been very useful though, and i'm seeing in the four part cycle (sin, oppression, crying out, saviour) more and more of myself as well. Which is humbling and instructive. And how amazing to have a Judge that will never die and is good!
7) Sunday. Lunch with a family from church, a great time in Childrens church and going out to eat with the junior school kids after the PM meeting. I <3 church!
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I also love seeing ideas that are bought to their fullness in the New Testament introduced in the Old, which is why i love Psalm 81, particularly the last seven verses.
God reveals Himself as the Lord who bought Israel out of Egypt. He is God, He is good. Surely Israel needs to gain his respect, needs to work hard to repay Him right? No. Verse 10 says, 'open your mouth wide and i will fill it.' That's it. That's what Israel needs to do. To be full we don't need to crawl up the Basilica steps on our knees, we don't need to fast to the point of emaciation. There's actually nothing we can do, except open our mouth. This id death to self reliance, death to works fulfillment. Open your mouth and the Lord will fill it.
There's the tragedy of the Old Testament in a nutshell. Instead of relying and trusting the Lord with open mouths, instead Israel followed foreign gos, Canaanite gods. Instead of following God, who would defeat their enemies, they followed gods that demanded child sacrifice. Why? Well why do we ignore the God who saved us and chase after gods that did not, will not. Sex, fame and fortune, more stuff...these things promise much, but why drink from the toilet when there are fresh streams of water?
But it's not just water. God will feed His people will fine wheat and honey from the rock. That's we open our mouths for, the best of the best. Christianity is hedonistic self denial. Deny yourself the things that you love that will destroy you, for what will give you life. Sin looks great, but it's sugar coated poison... Open your mouth and be fed with life.