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Showing posts from November, 2012

Listening as Submission

Listening is one of the most basic ways we submit to each other. In fact, listening is minute-by-minute submission to others. I clear away what's going on in my mind and I follow what others are saying. I "die" to my own desires and "live" to theirs. - Jan Johnson (Source: Invitation to the Jesus Life)

The Unconditional Prayer of the Utterly Serious

Lord God, my singular ambition in life is to magnify you. I care not what the cost; spend me as you please. On your arrangements I place no conditions. You set the terms of my service. My prayer is simply that you ordain for my life whatever will glorify Christ most through me.
If my Savior would be honored more through my death than my life, more in sickness than in health, more in poverty than in wealth, more through loneliness than companionship, more by the appearance of failure than by the trappings of success, more by anonymity than by notoriety, then your design is my desire.
Only let me make a difference A prayer from Jim Andrews' good, if heartbreaking read,  Polishing God's Monuments. I recently read the book after languishing for over six months on my Kindle. How glad I did. The book tells the true story of Jim's daughter and her devoted husband who face it all (and then some) as a baffling, mind-boggling illness hijacks their youth and shatters their dreams…

Lighthouse

There's a Lighthouse on a hillside that overlooks life's sea When I'm tossed He sends out a light that I might see And the light that shines in darkness now will safely lead me on If it wasn't for the Lighthouse my ship would be no more
And I thank God for the Lighthouse
I owe my life to Him For Jesus is the Lighthouse upon the rocks of sin He has shone a light around me that I could clearly see If it wasn't for the Lighthouse, where would this ship be?
Everybody that lives around us says, "tear the Lighthouse down, the big ships they don't sail by this way any more. There's no use of it standing 'round" Then my mind goes back to that stormy night
When just in time, I saw the light Yes, the light from that old Lighthouse that stands up there on a hill
I thank God for the Lighthouse
I owe my life to Him For Jesus is the Lighthouse upon the rocks of sin He has shone a light around me that I could clearly see
If it wasn't for the Lighthouse,…

Listen!

He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter..  - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Source : Life Together)

Serving Well

I have been attending a training course at work over the last two days. Three pieces of advice I took away about effective working.
(1) Be clear (and know) what you can and cannot do.
(2) Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your job.
(3) Always create space for thinking.
I came away thinking that the most important is missing. I would add (4) - always have someone who will honestly challenge you on (1) - (3). Acting on this is priceless.
This is good worldly wisdom which one can readily find appropriate biblical ground. For example :
(1) is all about tackling pride and insecurity. When we are secure in God, we don't need to live up to our jobs. He is our job security. That frees us to admit to stop and do less if we must.
(2) surely is about knowing that we are more important than the job. We are are NOT our job. Our worth is grounded in God himself. But more importantly, the more we act in concert with that truth, we are able to get a proper perspective of our…

A Sackful of Mercy!

Thanks be to God, through Whom we have such overflowing consolation in this pilgrimage, this exile, this present misery. I have often exhorted you never to forget that we are pilgrims, far away from our native land, heirs who have been thrown out of our inheritance. For those who never experience desolation cannot know consolation. And that is why people who live in the world, absorbed in its affairs, do not seek after mercy, for they do not feel their misery. But listen, you to whom it is said, and not in vain, "Be still and known how gracious the Lord is". Listen, you whom worldly interests do not hold back; listen, you who really know what exile means. Here is your comfort : help has come down from heaven! The kindness and love of God for mankind have appeared".
The kindness was always there, for the Lord's mercy is eternal; but it was hidden until "His love for mankind appeared . Before that, it was promised but not felt, so that many did not believe in it…

Images of God (Shepherd)

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Perhaps the most well known image of God in the Bible is that of the good Shepherd, which is beautifully rendered in the treasured Psalm 23. Shepherds also feature as the primary metaphor for leaders in the New Testament, which we may miss because of the preference in newer translations for the term “pastor” rather than Shepherd.  Everyone who lived in the ancient Near East would have had no problem understanding this image of God. They would have either lived in a household that owned flocks or seen the shepherds who led their sheep to graze along the edges of settled areas. Many people living in highly developed societies are far removed from images of a staff-holding, sheep guiding shepherd surrounded by a flock of peacefully resting sheep and goats. But thankfully in many developing parts of the world the shepherd image of God is easily one they can relate to. 
Prophet Isaiah looking forward in time to the coming of the Messiah Jesus as the coming warrior Shepherd, "Behold, th…

Who is There?

Who is there? That’s the powerful question asked by one of my favourite hip-hop artists Guru from his Jazzmataz - Street Soul album in the song Who's there?. It is a question forged from a graphic description of two situations. The first verse presents a helpless young woman: These distraught thoughts of a single mother in a homeless shelter / About pain and heartache ain't nothing you can tell her / The case worker says that she should find a job / But does this worker know what kind of jobs that there are? / Degrading things like cleaning up people's vomit / For a little bit of dough and plus your brain gets nothing from it/ I'm smarter than that this girl thinks to herself / I'm worth more than that she thinks to herself / She pours a drink for herself while she stares out the window/ This guy says he got work for her maybe she should go to him yo / The money's good and plus he'll dress her up nice / She left her baby's daddy 'cause he beat her …

Limits of quantifiable wealth

Robert Skildesky has an interesting piece on the limits of using Gross Domestic Product (national income or output) as a measure of social wellbeing (or welfare). There has been a renewed push following the credit crisis for alternative measures to underpin policy direction of governments. For many years many governments have focused on increasing GDP but many a calling for a shift in think – wealth is proving not to be enough. Part of the problem is not only that money can’t buy happiness but also that how money is distributed affects many people’s happiness: Another finding has...started to influence the current debate on growth: poor people within a country are less happy than rich people. In other words, above a low level of sufficiency, peoples’ happiness levels are determined much less by their absolute income than by their income relative to some reference group. We constantly compare our lot with that of others, feeling either superior or inferior, whatever our income level; …

This is my Bible

This is my Bible.

I am who it says I am. – Matthew 5:16
I can do what it says I can do. – Philippians 4:13
I am going where it says I will go. – John 14:3

God’s Word is milk for my soul. – 1 Peter 2:2
God’s Word is seed for my faith. – Luke 8:11
God’s Word is light for my path. – Psalm 119:105
God’s Word is power for my victory. – Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word is freedom for my life. – John 8:32

When I read God’s Word, it brings me joy. – Jeremiah 15:16
When I study God’s Word, it keeps me from shame. – 2 Timothy 2:15
When I memorize God’s Word, it purifies my heart. – Psalm 119:11
When I quote God’s Word, it defeats my enemies. – Ephesians 6:10, 17
When I meditate on God’s Word, it brings me success. – Joshua 1:8
When I abide in God’s Word, it gives me confidence. – John 15:7

I am a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ!

(Source : James MacDonald)

Depth of Scripture

There is such depth in the Christian Scriptures that, even if I studied them, and nothing else, from early childhood to worn-out old age, with ample time and unflagging zeal, and with greater intellectual ability than I possess, I would still each day find new treasures within them. The basic truths necessary for salvation are easily found within the Scriptures. But even when a person has accepted these truths, and is both God-fearing and righteous in his actions, there remain so many things which lie under a great veil of mystery. Through reading the Scriptures, we can pierce this veil, and find the deepest wisdom in the words which express these mysteries, and in the mysteries themselves. The oldest, the ablest, and the most eager student of Scripture, will say at the end of each day: "I have studied hard, but my studies are just beginning" - Augustine of Hippo   (Source : Letter 137)

Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov

Karamazov was drunk when he learned of his wife’s death, and some say he exclaimed joyfully, raising his hands to heaven: “Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace.” But according to others, he wept, sobbing like a little boy so that people felt sorry for him despite the disgust he aroused in them. It is quite possible that they all were right, that he rejoiced in his regained freedom and wept for the woman from whom he had been freed, both at once. In most cases, people, even the most vicious, are much more naive and simple-minded than we assume them to be. And this is true of ourselves.. From Fyodor Dostoevsky's breathtaking masterpiece, the Brothers Karamazov. I truly enjoyed reading this extraordinary book that certainly makes for compulsory reading. That said at 1050 pages it requires some investment. I started reading it in August and I only finished in October, inter-spaced with other books, as I tend to do for larger works! There's no doubt to its value - in terms o…

Advice for doubting times

When the Lord’s ways do not neatly conform to our pat little paradigms of what seems (to our fallible minds) right and just, and good and faithful, it says something about human nature that usually the first thought that comes to mind is that something is wrong with God. Somehow the last thing that occurs to us is that God is simply too big for our small boxes. It is imperative at such times that we learn to be humble, not haughty. God always deserves the benefit of any doubt. And, faith always pleads with us, “Dear soul, trust God’s power, trust God’s wisdom, trust God’s goodness, trust God’s faithfulness—even though to your mixed-up, emotionally over-charged mind he doesn’t seem to be living up to his résumé or promises. Just do it anyway.” - Jim Andrews (Source : Polishing God's Monuments)

Moment of Truth

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Phone Booth is undoubtedly one of my favourite films of all time. Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is the arrogant married New York City publicist who has been cheating on his wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) with Pam (Katie Holmes). While using a public phone booth to contact Pam, he is interrupted by a pizza delivery man, who attempts to deliver a free pizza to him, but Stu turns him away. As soon as Stu completes his call, the phone rings. Stu answers, to find that the caller, who knows his name, warns him not to leave the booth. And so begins the ordeal with Stu now a virtual hostage to a sniper/caller lurking in the surrounding buildings.


The film serves as a classic illustration of how cinema interacts with viewers. As the drama unfolds there’s a mixture of curiosity and mild sympathy at the rude interruption of Stu’s day. A phone call is private even in a phone booth, and yet, we can’t help but wonder whether there may be more to the story than meets the eye. And so it proves, as the ca…

Every Christian is A Sun!

There is nothing colder than a Christian who does not work for the salvation of others. You cannot use poverty as an excuse; the widow who threw in her two small coins will accuse you (Luke 21:2-4). Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6). Paul was so poor, he often went hungry and lacked even necessary food (Philippians 4:12). And being lower-class by birth is no excuse either. The apostles were obscure men from obscure families. Or are you uneducated? That is no excuse. The apostles were illiterate (Acts 4:13). Are you weak in body? That is no excuse. Timothy was a person who suffered from frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23). Everyone can serve his neighbour if only he is willing to play his part…
Don’t tell me, ‘It is impossible for me to influence others.’ If you are a Christian, it is impossible for you not to influence others! Just as the elements that make up your human nature do not contradict each other, so also in this matter – it belongs to the v…

Images of God

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Krac des Chevaliers was one of the crown jewels of the crusader Latin kingdoms of the east. It was built as an Hospitaller stronghold by the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem to hold onto the gains that had been made during the crusades. It became crucial to the defence of the Crusader kingdoms between 1142 to 1271. While other Crusader strongholds were under threat from opposing forces, Krak des Chevaliers and its garrison of 2,000 soldiers dominated the surrounding area. It was  the centre of the Crusader defences  until 1271 and was the only major inland area to remain constantly under Crusader control in during the 13th century. Without the Krac des Chevalier all other kingdoms were vulnerable.
One of the images of presented of God in the Bible of God is similar to that of Krac des Cheveliers. The Prophet Nahum declares, "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble" [Nahum 1:7]. God is a stronghold! Many of us live thankfully insulated from warfare and therefore t…

Primacy of Scripture

No doctrine concerning the divine and saving mysteries of the faith, however trivial, may be taught without the backing of the holy scriptures. We must not let ourselves be drawn aside by mere persuasion and cleverness of speech. Do not even give absolute belief to me, the one who tells you these things, unless you receive proof from the divine Scriptures of what I teach. For the faith that bring us salvation acquires its force, not from fallible reasoning, but from what can be proved out of the holy Scriptures. - Cyril of Jerusalem (Source: Catechitecal Lectures)