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Showing posts from October, 2012

War on Christians

Rupert Shortt has fascinating article in theDaily Telegraph on the growing persecution of Christians around the world  : Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith. Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exce…

Meaning of Life

God made the world for the sake of mankind. If you can't see this, you are little different from an animal. Who looks up at heaven except human beings? Who admires the sun, the stars, and all God's works, except human beings? Who cultivates the earth and reaps its fruits? Who navigates the sea? Who has the fish, birds and beasts in his power - who except human beings? Therefore God made everything for mankind, because all things are given over into mankind's use. The philosopher's saw this correctly, but they did not see what follows - that God created mankind for himself. Since God set about for humanity's sake so great a work as the creation of the world, and since gave humanity's sake so great a work as the creation of the world, and since He gave humanity so much honour and power that it was supreme in the world, it was necessary in consequence, and a duty, that humanity would acknowledge God as the Author of such great blessings - He Who created mankind, …

Falling asleep and growth!

You can't force yourself to fall asleep. No matter how hard you try, there is no mental or physiological switch that you can flick in order to slip into unconsciousness. But you can create an environment that is conducive to sleep. You can turn the lights off, get a soft pillow, wear comfortable clothes and (if you're like me) turn on a little white noise. Achieving transformation in your small group follows a similar dynamic. You can't force your group members to humbly seek the Holy Spirit. You can't compel the Holy Spirit to convict anyone of their sin or move into your group with a rushing wind and tongues of fire. But you can create an environment within your group meetings that is conducive to regular, life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit.. An excellent analogy about how proper fellowship conditions can help us move towards God honouring objective. The quote is taken from Sam O'Neal's Field Guide for Small Group Leaders: Setting the Tone, Accomm…

Only Junkhearts Allowed!

There's a powerful scene in a recent British movie Junkhearts, which tells a story of Frank (Eddie Marsan) an ex-soldier. Frank is haunted by an incident in Northern Ireland where he accidentally shot a woman in a failed military operation. He lives a lonely existence drowning his nightmares with booze in a council flat in London's East End. One day he meets a homeless 16 year old girl Lynette (Candese Reid) whom he offers a place to stay.


Unfortunately, after building a father-daughter camaraderie, it is rudely disrupted by the entrance of Lynette’s manipulative, violent and drug-dealing boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge). In the process Danny takes over the flat forcing the broken Frank onto the streets. A sharp reverse occurs with Frank now living on the very streets that Lynnett escape from, whilst Lynnette and her boyfriend enjoy his flat. As Frank remembers the memories he had with Lynette, he decides to come comes back for her, only to find her scrubbing the bathroom flo…

The Incomparable Prize

O Christ, Lord of the elect Immortal Logos of God the Father, Prince of wisdom, Strength of the weary, Joy without end, Jesus, Saviour of the human race, Shepherd, Protector, Guide, Leader, heavenly Pathway for the flock of your saints : Fisher of men, You come to draw us out from the sea of sin; You pull Your saved fish from the menacing waves, and carry them along to the life of the blessed. Guide us, Shepherd of the human flock; reign, O Holy One, over the children You have redeemed. Your steps, O Christ, are the road to heaven. O eternal Logos, you are infinite time and immortal light; You are the fountain of mercy and the source of goodness; You are the incomparable prize of those who worship the Most High - Clement of Alexandaria (Source: The Tutor, Book 3, Chapter 8)

Boring is Productive

Robert Pozen has a fascinating recent piece on the value of repetition in generating productivity : Chapter four in Dan Ariely's new book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty summarizes some fascinating experiments that show that a tired brain makes us more likely to eat junk food, lie, or otherwise exhibit poor self-control.
Of particular interest to me (and, apparently, President Obama) are a series of experiments run by Kathleen Vohs (an associate business professor at the University of Minnesota) and colleagues, including Professor Baumeister. Vohs's experiments tested whether everyday choices — which candy bar to eat or what clothes to buy, for instance — wear down our mental energy. The results? Vohs and colleagues consistently found that making repeated choices depleted the mental energy of their subjects, even if those choices were mundane and relatively pleasant.
So, if you want to be able to have more mental resources throughout the day, you should identify the aspect…

Laziness as Self Love

It’s a fact: laziness is rooted in self-love. It is the ability to take ourselves off the hook. It is the willingness to permit ourselves not to do things we know we should do. It is believing that good things should come our way without our having to work to get them. It is opting for what is comfortable for ourselves rather than what is best for our spouse. Laziness is always self-focused and self-excusing. Laziness is undisciplined and unmotivated. Laziness permits us to be passive when decisive and loving action is needed - Paul David Tripp (Source: What Did You Expect?)

Images of God

One of the most powerful images of God presented in the Bible is a God who rides in the whirlwind and the storm. Prophet Nahum declares, "The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3).  It is a tremendous image of the Creator. God has power  over and through the whirlwind because He himself rides on it. It speaks of his sovereign control over catastrophic and unpredictable force of natures. Forces feared by ordinary man such as powerful tornado and hurricanes are mere servants of God. He towards above all.  When the ancients looked at the storms they remembered this prophecy and exclaimed, yes, the clouds are the dust of his feet!

We too need to keep this image of God firmly locked in our minds. It is a powerful challenge to current worldly thinking, where we have given "nature" a title of "mother" and worship it! The Bible says, no God controls it all!  But we also need to retain it because i…

The Last Frontier

Andrew Peterson's The Last Frontier:
Why don’t the mountains make me cry no more? / They don’t sing the way they did before / They’re just piles of stone / Dead as bones /Like corpses on a field of war /And they just don’t make me cry no more /And the highway’s like an old sad song /People moving through their lives alone /On the run from grace /From place to place /Like fugitives without a home /And the highway’s like an old sad song
And my heart is black as coal /It’s been mined and there ain’t no gold /It’s so dark in there /But I don’t care /I will lay down in this empty hole /Where my heart is black as coal /And there is nowhere left to go from here /I have fallen past the last frontier
But at the bottom of this well I hear you breathing: /Love below me /Love around me /Love above me /Love has found me /Love has found me here //So lay me down / Lay me down in a field of golden // Lay me down  /Lay me down in a field of gold and green The song is a portrait of the despair and ho…

Where the sun never stops shining!

Well four suns actually that ensure it is always shining! Armchair astronomers recently discovered a planet with four suns. The "bright new world", just under 5,000 light years away, is believed to be six times the size of Earth. It orbits one pair of stars and is in turn circled by a second pair. As a result, a total of four stars light up its skies. A handful of planets are already known to orbit pairs of binary stars, but the new find is said to be unique.

Oxford University's Chris Lintott says, "It's fascinating to try and imagine what it would be like to visit a planet with four suns in its sky". Well one thing is for sure in that world one would find it difficult to sleep! A world that never goes dark of course should remind us of that world that is coming that will never go dark. A world where God himself will be the sun!

Execution of Blandina

The whole fury of crowd, governor and soldiers fell with crushing force on Sanctus, the deacon from Vienne; on Muturus, very recently baptise, but heroic in facing his ordeal; on Attalus, who had always been a pillar and support of the church in his native Pergamum; and on Blandina, through who Christ proved that things which men regard as mean, unlovely and contemptible, are by God deemed worthy of great glory, because of her love for Him, shown in power and not vaunted in appearance. We were all afraid, and Blandina’s earthly mistress (herself facing the ordeal of martyrdom) was in agony in case she should be unable to make a bold confession of Christ due to her bodily weakness; but Blandina filled with such power, that those who took it in turns to subject her to every kind of torture from morning to night were exhausted by their efforts, and confessed themselves beaten – they could think of nothing else to do. They were amazed that she was still breathing, for her whole boy was m…

The Sin of Forgetfulness

Perhaps a lifestyle of unforgiveness is rooted in the sin of forgetfulness. We forget that there is not a day in our lives that we do not need to be forgiven. We forget that we will never graduate from our need for grace. We forget that we have been loved with a love we could never earn, achieve, or deserve. We forget that God never mocks our weakness, never finds joy in throwing our failures in our face, never threatens to turn his back on us, and never makes us buy our way back into his favor. When you remember, when you carry with you a deep appreciation for the grace that you have been given, you’ll have a heart that is ready to forgive.  - Paul David Tripp (Source: What Did You Expect?)

A Suicide Spot for Bankers

Another banker plummeted 80ft to her death from an exclusive open air restaurant on the roof of an office building in London last night. According to the Daily Mail, the smartly dressed woman fell eight storeys from the top of Sir Terence Conran's restaurant Coq D’Argent, landing in front of hundreds of commuters outside Bank station. One Eyewitness said, "I saw a handbag and a glass of wine that had obviously been the woman’s. From listening to what people were telling the police it sounded like she had been quite self-collected, just taken a sip of wine, and then stepped over the edge". This is the third suicide from what has been dubbed a "suicide sport for bankers". In May 2007, City employee 33 year old Richard Ford died after he plunged from the terrace and landed on a bus. In July 2009, 24 year old stockbroker Anjool Malde leaped to his death from the venue holding a glass of champagne after being suspended from his job at Deutsche Bank.
The peaceful an…

Sin is splitting of personalities

All sin involves a splitting of the personality—what James calls being “double-minded” (4:8). If we become proud, we have an inflated sense of self that has lost touch with who we really are. If a husband watches porn online and then warmly greets his wife, he has created two people—one public and one hidden. If you talk about friends disparagingly behind their backs, you’ve created two personalities—the loving friend and the gossiping friend. You try to keep the personalities separate by telling those to whom you gossip, “Please keep this in confidence.” - Paul E Miller (Source :A Praying Life)

Looper

Last week I achieved the impossible. I managed to convince my wife to watch the new science fiction movie  Looper. The movie is written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In 2072, time travel has been invented and immediately outlawed. It is now only used by the mob who find it useful as a way of getting rid of someone by sending them 30 years in the past, where an assassin (called a “looper”) finishes the job, paid with silver bars strapped to the target. The time fix helps the mob avoid trace, allowing the classic mob threat of “making you disappear” to take on a literal meaning.


The story revolves around Joe, a looper living in 2044, where economic collapse in the United States has left cities at the mercy of organised crime. At the same time a “genetic mutation” has occurred in 1 in 10 people giving them telekinetic ability to levitate small objects. In the course of his duties, Joe discovers that his mob clients in 2072, want to “close t…

Island of Patmos

The Island of Patmos is arguably one of the most important places in the Bible. It is the location of St John's confinement when he received his Revelation. According to a tradition preserved by Irenaeus, Eusebius, Jerome and others, St John was exiled here in AD95 during 14th year of the reign of Domitian. A year later he returned to Ephesus. Patmos is an arid Aegean island to which Rome exiled political criminals. It is approximately 24 square miles (62 sq. km) in area and roughly 40 miles (64 km) from the mainland of Asia Minor. Since antiquity, it has possessed a working protected harbor near its centre (modern Skala) and other places for small boats to anchor. Inscriptions and archaeological remains indicate the existence of a fortress before St John's arrival, and the clear presence of the Artemis cult afterward. The limited population of the island during St John's day was probably largely pagan. St John may have been granted some freedom of movement on the island …

Never Again by Remedy

Music has unparalleled power to forcefully express the reality of a given condition. One of my favourite Hip hop albums of all time is Wu Tang Clan's "Killa Bees" (1998). It has the above amazing song by Remedy - "Never Again". I believe it to be one of the most powerful hip hop songs ever written! The evil of the holocaust is an enduring reminder that the heart of man is totally depraved. It is remarkable that it was only around 60 years or so ago that so many innocent people perished under Hitler's evil regime. We forget such horrors at our own peril. Songs such as these are vital in ensuring that we are ever conscious of our evil nature. Quietly through them we recognise that the hope for humanity necessarily lies outside ourselves and towards a God who has done all to offer a way of rescue out of our present evil predicament. On our own we are doomed to repeat the mistakes. But with Jesus as the centre we live in hope for a better world to come.

Come messy!

God also cheers when we come to him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers. Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.” No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest”... The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. - Paul E Miller (Source : A Praying Life)

A Confused Faith

Ed Miliband, the atheist leader of the UK's Labour Party made an interesting statement yesterday about his "faith" : When I was twelve years old, I met a South African friend of my parents, her name was Ruth First. The image I remember is of somebody vivacious, full of life, full of laughter. And then I remember a few months later coming down to breakfast and seeing my mum in tears because Ruth First had been murdered by a letter bomb from the South African secret police. Murdered for being part of the anti-apartheid movement. Now I didn’t understand the ins and outs of it, but I was shocked. I was angry I knew that wasn’t the way the world was meant to be. I knew I had a duty to do something about it. It is this upbringing that has made me who I am. A person of faith, not a religious faith but a faith nonetheless. A faith, I believe, many religious people would recognise. So here is my faith. I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Images of God (Artisan)

That image is similar to one found in Timothy Laniak's Finding the Lost Images of God, which I read last week alongside my ongoing reading of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov.Lost Images is part of a fascinating series I have begun reading called "Ancient Faith, Ancient Faith" put together by Gary Burge. So far it has six books in it, with Lost Images being the fifth book, but only my first! The series does not require you to read sequentially. 
The book explores how images are used in the Bible to describe God and his relationship with his chosen people. The image above is that of God as the Divine Artisan. A poor grasp of of these images makes it difficult for us to comprehend the profound biblical revelations they communicate. Key to this is understanding the "cultural vehicles" of communication and that requires learning the cultural background of those who created them. Timothy Laniak wonderfully uses his background as an expert in Near East studi…

Master at Work!

God is using the difficulties of the here and now to transform you, that is, to rescue you from you. And because he loves you, he will willingly interrupt or compromise your momentary happiness in order to accomplish one more step in the process of rescue and transformation, which he is unshakably committed to.. - Paul David Tripp (Source: What Did You Expect?)