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Showing posts from May, 2020

Her Love Story

I recently finished reading Tina Turner's My Love Story.  I will not say much about the book because I am planning to write a proper review. The book is co-authored so at the beginning I did not know whose voice I was hearing. I guess one has to know Tina Turner pretty well to be able to discerned whether the book is written in her own language.  I am not a fan of Tina Turner. I picked up the book because I have heard many stories about her and I know of her many  songs.  There is little admitting of faults. Is it worth the read? I have not decided yet! What I will say for now is that this book is very much, "this is me, take it or leave it".

Today I Learned

George Whitfield, a famous British preacher in the 18th Century, sailed across the Atlantic thirteen times (taking six weeks to three months), so he became as famous a preacher in the American colonies as he was on England. He preached to vast crowds without a PA system. He must must have had spectacular lungs and vocal cords.   Again and again, he preached, he preached from John 3:3, “You must be born again”. Somebody eventually got really upset with him. He concerned him one day and asked, “Mr Whitefield, why is it you keep preaching again and again, ‘You must be born again’?” “Because, sir,” Whitefield replied, “you must be born again”. ( Source : The God Who Is There, D A Carson)

Christ and Coronavirus

I enjoyed listening to John Piper’s recent short book,  Christ and Coronavirus . I prefer to read rather than listen to something.  I have read some John Piper books which proved relatively dry. But given it is narrated by John Piper, it felt like hearing him teach, which is always engaging. I am glad I gave this a go because it is an excellent and time book with lots of wonderful things in it. Like this anacedote:  On January 9, 1985, Pastor Hristo Kulichev, a Congregational pastor in Bulgaria, was arrested and put in prison. His crime was that he preached in his church even though the state had appointed another man as pastor whom the congregation did not elect. His trial was a mockery of justice. And he was sentenced to eight months in prison. During his time in prison, he made Christ known in every way he could. When he got out, he wrote, “Both prisoners and jailers asked many questions, and it turned out that we had a more fruitful ministry there than we could have expected in chu

Understanding Emotions

I have read a number of books that touches on emotions, but this is the first one that focuses specifically  on the subject. Although the book does discuss what emotions are, its quite light on theology of emotions per se. For example, the authors do not sufficiently wrestle with the falleness of the human condition. Instead of discussion  emotions in terms of sinfful and non-signiful emotions, they opt for positive and negative. This is because fundamentally they see emotions as not sinful in of themselves.  The problem is that the Bible does speak of "evil desire". The whole questions of what emotions really are is not discussed in depth, which is surprising. I have read books which are not about emotions give an indepth treatment to this question.  The weak theological foundation aside, I think the book is immensely helpful to every Christian in terms of how to engage with emotions. I particularly found section 3 on enganging the hardest emotions helpful. It is definitely

The Template of Love

The atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, once said:  “The Christian principle, ‘Love your enemies’ is good…. There is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practise sincerely.”  Russell was right. But only for those who have not experiencef genuine spiritual birth. Once a person surrenders their life to Jesus, God gives them a new capacity to love others.  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practise righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10) If you are in Jesus, God has downloaded a new love software program in your life called Jesus – love is in you because Jesus lives in you. Love is your default! This does not mean that there will not be moments when you struggle to love. You are not in Heaven yet, so sometimes you will struggle with expressing love.But if you are truly born again you will repent from any hatred and grow in l

Chist and the Christian in Temptation

I am a huge fan of the writing of Octavius Winslow. This past week I read another of his works -  Christ and the Christian in Temptation .  I must say, compared to other books by him this was less engaging given the subject matter. Nothing really stood out as particularly pithy or original. That is not to say it is not worth reading. The book is theologically accurate and as always for the more careful reader there may well be gems to find. I certainly found the warning below useful. Memorable Quote: There is in our individual history which Satan may not make the occasion and instrument of a temptation. Our social position in the world may be one of peculiar snare; our calling in life especially so: our sore trials, crushing afflictions, and pressing needs all may furnish ample material for the purpose and devices of the Enemy. Yea, there is nothing that may not be an instrument of sore temptation-our poverty and wealth; our exalted position and our low estate; the publicity, the priva

Adele, Beauty and Jesus

Last week social media went into a frenzy after the singer Adele released a snap on her birthday where she looked unrecognisable. It turns out the singer has lost quite a lot of weight during the lockdown. In a normal world, this would not be headline news but Covid 19 has generated a negative supply shock to news. The media is desperately trying to find any non-Covid stories to report. At the time of reading the story on the BBC, Adele’s Instagram post had gunned millions of likes and spawned much discussion on Twitter! Adele before the weight loss All of this of course has made me wonder  whether I should be writing on this at all. I suppose what has got me thinking about this are the comments people have made about her. All of them admired how wonderful she looks now .  The media has used words like “stunning”, “incredible”, “sensational”, “beautiful” and other words better not to be repeated. These media comments largely report what Adele’s celebrity pals and fans originally sai

Church Life

Just finished reading Paul E Brown's   Church life . The strap line says, "its nature, privileges, demands and blessings". I think this book was sent to me. I do not remember buying it, but I may be wrong! I also could not find a link to it on Amazon.  The book was helpful, but the problem is that it attempts to cover all the relevant ground of church life. After reading, I was wondering who  this book is aimed at. For church leaders it says nothing new and lacks sufficient depth. For church members it includes material not relevant to them, and says one or two incorrect things. It is still worth the read. I am just not sure who I would recommend it to! Memorable Quote: In the [local] church people do not pick and choose what they are going to hear; they do not simply listen to well known or favorite preachers via the modern media. It is their pastor who brings the Word to them, someone who knows them, who meets with them, who is growing in his knowledge and understading

Human Happiness

Are you a happy person? Everyone wants happiness. We all want to fulfil our physical, emotional, social and spiritually needs. The mathematician Blaise Pascal said:   Everyone seeks happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves. The issue is not whether you are currently searching for happiness, but whether you have found the source of this happiness and are currently living a happy life! There many places we are searching for happiness. Some look for it in sensual pleasure, others in accumulating things, and yet for others it is looking deep within ourselves. Perhaps the most obvious place we look for happiness is in other people.  One of my favourite films is A Beautiful Mind. It tells the story of the mathematician John Nash who

Dom’s Dragon and Happily Thereafter

In the children’s story Dom’s Dragon , the little boy Dom finds a small red egg. He decides to hide the egg under his bed. The next day, the egg hatches and out pops a little red dragon. She is a little bit hot and she glows, so Dom naturally names her Glow. He decides to hide Glow under his bed. That night we are told Dom has a nice and warm sleep thanks to the hot dragon glowing underneath his bed. As one would expect, Glow starts to grow bigger. So Dom tries to hide it from his mum. He takes Glow to the bathroom where she makes the water nice and hot. On that day we are told young Dom has a wonderful bath! Unfortunately, Glow just keeps on growing. So Dom moves the dragon somewhere in the kitchen. The next day all the food and plates are nice and warm. Young Dom and his little sister enjoy a wonderful warm meal.  Sadly for Dom, Glow just keeps on growing. She is now too big to hide around the house. So Dom is forced to come clean and tell his mum about Dom. The mother decides

One Minute Lessons (Lesson 42)

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)  In our society when someone says Satan is working day and night to make their life difficult people often laugh at them. They consider them crazy. Even professing Christians are skeptical about it. But Peter says, ‘stay alert’. Be on the look out for Satan! He is more at work than you realise!  The devil may not be in the cupboard or behind the chair, but he is scheming and working 24/7 to undermine the children of God. If Satan experiences a lockdown or take annual leave Peter would not need to shout to us: “stay alert". All true followers of Jesus are in a perpetual "state of war".  Just as the government has told us that invisible enemy Coronavirus has changed our lives, when someone becomes a follower of Jesus, he or she now has a new invisible enemy, the devil. As you obey the slogan of the government to “stay alert” t

How does God love Jesus?

How, and in what way is Christ beloved of God? First as Christ is God, the Son of God, the engraven image of his Father, so he is primum amabile, the first lovely thing that ever was. When the Father loves Him, he loves Himself in Him, so he loves Him as God, as the second person [of the Trinity], as his own image and character. Secondly , God loves Christ as a human being. Christ is the most excellent creature in the world. He was conceived, fashioned and framed in His mother’s womb by the Holy Spirit. It is said in Hebrews 10:5 that God gave him a body. God the Father by the Holy Spirit fashioned and framed and fitted him with a body. Therefore God loves Christ as His own workmanship.  Finally , God loves and delights in Christ as our mediator, one who is both God and man. God decreed and sealed Christ to that office, therefore he loves and delights in him as the mediator of his own appointing and ordaining, to be our king, and priest and prophet. And He loves and delights in him,

Walking Side By Side

I have enjoyed reading  Side by Side by Edward T Welch. The book identifies the skills we need to help one another. It is intended for everyone - friends, parents and even neighbours. It is fair to say that I did not really come across anything that I thought was new. However, there are some much needed reminders. Here are some things I want to keep remembering: 1. Those who help best are the one who both need help and give help. A healthy community is dependent on all of us being both, as Welch wonderfully puts it:  "Your neediness qualifies you to help others. Your neediness, offered well to someone else, can eben be the one of the great gifts you give to your church. You will inspire others to ask for help...We spend too much time concealing our needeines. We need to stop hiding. Being needy is our basic condition. There is no shame in it - its just the way it is. Understanding this, accepting it, and practising it will make you a better helper".  2. Our emotions point ou

Faith when life is hostile

A while back I watched a movie called Hostiles. It is a western drama which centres around a battle-hardened US officer Captain Joseph (Bale). He has been ordered to take his mortal enemy, the Shayenne war chief, Yellow Hawk and his family back to their tribal lands in Montana.  The whole journey is full of suffering, bloodshed, and death. But in the middle of these horrific scenes are some revealing conversations.   Among the people in this afflicted group is a stricken widow, Rosalie Quaid who has just seen her family massacred in a raid. In a brief pause of the terror around them, Mrs Quaid sees Captain Joseph reading the Bible. So she asks him: “ Do you believe in the Lord, Joseph?” The Captain responds: " Yes, I do. But he’s been blind to what’s going on out here for a long time". To which Mrs Quaid replies, “I can see what you mean”.   As I watched that I thought to myself, this is how many of us live. We believe in God, but we think he does not see us. He is not inte

William Cowper's Blood Fountain (Part III)

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more. The French Philospher Jean Jacque Rousseu said, “Man is born free but everywhere is in chains”. Rousseu was only partially correct. It is true we are not born in physical handcuffs, but we are born locked in the spiritual handcuffs of our sin! It has been like this since we rebelled against God our Creator in the garden of Eden. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The apostle Peter writing to churches in Asia Minor in the first century reminded them of our common condition: “ you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”.  He is saying their lives, and that of all followers of Jesus, before we turned to Jesus was a life of permanent and helpless imprisonment b