Saturday, 28 March 2015

A reality check!


O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.  (‭Psalm‬ ‭3‬:‭1-2)
We all have a tendency to deceive ourselves about our true circumstances. The behavioural science school calls these “cognitive biases”. We tend to underestimate our problems. Whether it a struggle with sin, emotional pain or physical suffering! This is why I find reading Psalm 3 so refreshing.

Friday, 20 March 2015

On the Kindle

I have enjoyed reading every Sunday afternoon over the last few months Proverbs : Wisdom that Works by Raymond C Ortlund. It is part of the “Preaching the Word” commentary series. Although he does takes a somewhat topical approach after Chapter 9, it still rich in depth.

The only quibble I would have is that the Ortlund sometimes moves too quickly in connecting the text to Christ. But I suppose that is a good problem. Otherwise this is a very rich and practical reflections on problems as illustrated by this helpful excerpt from the book :
The Lord Jesus Christ who died for you also claims you, all that you are from head to toe. The gospel calls you to deploy your very body for him: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

God is an Undertaker








I recently came across this article about Chloe McKnight one of the youngest female funeral directors in the UK. She was inspired at the young age of 12 to one day become a funeral day after visit the local funeral home on work placement. She remembers that on arrival, she was confronted with a corpse in the chapel of rest and felt "strangely comfortable with it".  It is quite a thought - being comfortable with death.

I was very assured though when she later says that the job has tonnes of sadness : "When the police call you to remove a body on behalf of a coroner, you don't know what you're going to see – an accident victim, a suicide …It can be overwhelming at times – even now I sometimes have to take a deep breath – and it's always unsettling when the person is younger than I am". 

This double tension of anundertaker - comfortable and yet unsettling is worth bearing in mind as we come to one of the most interesting descriptions of God in the Bible. According to Nahum, God is apparently an undertaker.   
The Lord has given commandment about you: “No more shall your name be perpetuated; from the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the metal image. I will make your grave, for you are vile.”  (Nahum 1:14) 
The prophet Nahum was raised by God to declare an oracle against Nineveh for its long list of sins, especially subjugating God's people. At the time of this prophecy, Nineveh is materially prosperous culture. In fact earlier on, Nahum reminds Nineveh that though it commands a mighty army in the end its military might will prove futile against God's judgement.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Road to Golgotha (Part IV)

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. (Matthew 26:47-50)
The key point Matthew is making in his narrative is that Jesus willingly embraces not only his betrayal but also his betrayer. Jesus is not distancing himself from Judas. He still has arms extended wide. We shall see this amplified later in the context of Peter.

This is a tremendous source of comfort for all of us. There is no doubt we are in the garden, not with Jesus but with the crowds. We are carrying swords and clubs. We are those who everyday seek to crucify Jesus all over again with our sinful deeds.

Is it then not amazing that Jesus, in the midst of our daily sinful betrayal,  still keeps open the hand of friendship? We falsely say to him "Lord" when we do not mean it. But Jesus never pushes us back for our lack of seriousness. It is this steadfast love of Jesus that is propelling him to Golgotha.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Road to Golgotha (Part III)

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:45-46 ESV)
As we continue our daily walk to Golgotha through Matthew, we see one of the big themes of Matthew's Golgotha narrative emerging : Jesus is the betrayed King!