Saturday, 24 February 2018

Write it down!

A Christian should keep two books always by him: One in which to write his sins, that he may be made humble. The other in which to write his mercies, that he may be kept thankful.

Friday, 23 February 2018

A Bitter Monk!

Long ago, two monks were traveling and approached an unusually rough river. Standing alone on the bank was a woman who approached the monks and asked if they could help her cross so she could return home to her family. 

Knowing it was forbidden to touch a woman, one monk quickly looked the other way, ignoring her request for help. The other monk, feeling compassion for the desperate lady, decided to bend the rules. Breaking tradition, he lifted her into his arms and carried her safely across the rushing water. Exceedingly grateful, the lady thanked the helpful monk and left for home. The two monks continued on their journey. 

After miles of silence, the first monk finally said with disgust, “I can’t believe you picked up that woman! You know we’re never supposed to touch the opposite sex.” The compassionate monk replied, “I put her down miles ago, yet you continue to carry her in your heart.” 

(Source : Craig Grouschel, Christian Atheist)

This little medieval story captures the manner in which bitterness and anger holds people prisoner. Month after month, year after year, people continue to carry wounds, refusing to put them down. The tragedy for a follower of Jesus is that we carry a burden that Jesus has already carried and nailed to the Cross. So let us go the Crosd and leave it there.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Love your enemies

A Turkish officer raided and looted an Armenian home. He killed the aged parents and gave the daughters to the soldiers, keeping the eldest daughter for himself. Some time later she escaped and trained as a nurse. 

As time passed, she found herself nursing in a ward of Turkish officers. One night, by the light of a lantern, she saw the face of this officer. He was so gravely ill that without exceptional nursing he would die. The days passed, and he recovered. 

One day, the doctor stood by the bed with her and said to him, “But for her devotion to you, you would be dead.” He looked at her and said, “We have met before, haven’t we?” “Yes,” she said, “we have met before.” “Why didn’t you kill me?” he asked. She replied, “I am a follower of him who said ‘Love your enemies.’”  

(Source : L. Gregory Jones, Embodying Forgiveness)

This sister in Christ demonstrates an important principle. If you are a beneficiary of God’s costly grace in Jesus, you will practice costly grace with others. The forgiveness we have received does not just make us grateful, it gives us a new heart that forgives and the Spirit of God who empowers us to do it in difficult circumstances. 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Peace of silence

One word spoken in season will do more good than a thousand out of season. But in some cases peace, through having our faith to ourselves before God (Rom. 14:22), is of more consequence than the open discovery of some things we take to be true, considering that the weakness of man's nature is such that there can hardly be a discovery of any difference in opinion without some estrangement of affection. So far as men are not of one mind, they will hardly be of one heart, except where grace and the peace of God bear great rule in the heart (Col. 3:15). Therefore open show of difference is only good when it is necessary, although some, from a desire to be somebody, turn into by ways and yield to a spirit of contradiction in themselves. Yet, if Paul may be judge, they `are yet carnal' (1 Cor. 3:3).
(Source : The Bruised Reed)

The point here being that sometimes it is better to remain silent over certain truths where the discovery of our views would only lead to unnecessary disunity with other Christians. This as he rightly notes is in those unnecessary areas which we may call speculative or open to general interpretations. For example, do people really need to know our opinion on the millennium? No. 

And yet too often we find that people are only eager to let us know their views on such non-essential matters. As Sibbes would say, the motivation in those instances is always to be a “somebody”.  It is therefore little surprise that the dawn of social media has spawned more disunity among true Christians with everyone graviting to their echo chamber over non-essentials. We would well to practise the discipline of silence more often. 

Live lightly!

"Build your nest upon no tree here; for you see God hath sold the forest to Death, and every tree whereon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may flee and mount up, and build upon the Rock, and dwell in the holes of the Rock”

Monday, 15 January 2018

True face of pornography

The Daily Mail on how a growing number of women in Japan are stepping out of the shadows to say they were forced to work in Japan's multi-billion-dollar porn industry:
Young, pretty and hoping for stardom, Saki Kozai thought she had found her ticket to fame after an apparent model scout spotted her on a Tokyo street and offered her a job. Then just 24 years old, starstruck and excited, she quickly signed a deal with the agency he introduced her to, believing that she would soon star in promotion videos. In fact, it was not a modelling agency, and on her first day Kozai discovered the job required her to have sex on camera. "I couldn't take off my clothes. All I could do was cry...There were about 20 people around me, waiting. No woman could say 'no' when they're surrounded like that," she said.
It is good to see the Daily Mail report this story because this is not just a Japanese problem it is a global problem. In a world of the internet the supply of pornography in Japan has a ready market around the world. Many of the consumers are people who live in Western Europe. The pornography that people watch has real human stories behind them. These people are treated as nothing more than sex slaves for the benefit of pornography consumers world wide.

More than that the story highlights the true face of all pornography.  No one in any country goes into the industry willingly. The industry thrives on coercing people who have come to the end of the road in life or young women lured by a lavish lifestyle that never materialises. As one of the victims says, "[the women] are not necessarily all abused or locked up...It's more like they are tricked into it". And of course once they are in it that then becomes life. 

But the main reason I am flagging up this story is not simply to highlight the human tragedy.  Pornography is rampant. People, including many who claim to follow Jesu, think it’s normal and just an ugly part of human existence. As I have thought about this issue, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason why pornography is tolerated even by people who profess to have faith in Jesus is that as human beings we always try and insulate ourselces from the human side of stories.

We to fight the desire to look at pornography with a better look at the faces of people who supply pornography. Who are these women in the pornography industry? Who is Saki? She is a daughter of someone. She has dreams just like you. She have fears just like you; she desires to be valued and cared for just like you do. And yet all over the world, millions of women just like her are abused, raped, and exploited because men settle for base animal lusts over a redeemed human identity. 

God the Son put on our humanity in Jesus to be one of us. He cams not only to save us from sin, but to show us how the original design was meant to be. He taught us how to love a sinner and how to treat the sick and the poor. He showed how to work with integrity. He encouraged us to be incredible neighbors and above all to be people who love other people, as ourselves, especially those of the opposite sex. In short, Jesus challenged us not to look away from the computer screen, TV, billboard ad, or lovely woman walking down the street. He actually taught us to look more deeply at other human beings. To see God’s divine imprint on them alongside the stain of sin that has marred human nature. 

If you find yourself looking lustfully at a woman. What you need is to look a little longer. And while you look, pray for that girl and see if you don’t see her differently. You will see everyone differently and you will repent from your sin. You either look at the opposite sex as a father, son or brother … or you are a predator.  As followers of Jesus, there is only one way to see other people :  “from now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. (2 Corinthians 5: 16).