Hmmm, still walking with a twinge of pain in my ankle since yesterday’s game of football – which was a good run around, ending in a pleasing final result, albeit with a one or two unexpected goals!
This morning’s sermon was a look at the next of Jesus’ topics in the sermon on the mount. The manner of Jesus’ sermon was certainly ear-catching – In reference to adultery, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Mt 5:29. Evidently Jesus didn’t literally mean that if we look at woman (or man) lustfully, we should gouge our offending eye, as even without eyes, we can have lustful thoughts. What he meant was that sin is so grievous that we should try our utmost to avoid it. In the case of lust, don’t look, don’t even dwell upon it. No point in praying “Lead us not into temptation” and then walking into temptation.
Of course, the whole sermon on the mount is aimed at those who acknowledge they are poor in spirit (Mt 5:3) and put their faith in Christ to forgive them. It is not aimed at showing us how to be right with God, but how the poor in spirit should live.
Just viewed an interesting video clip by the BBC covering an American organisation called The Silver Ring Thing who are over here to promote their cause – that intimate sexual activity should only occur within marriage, as taught by orthodox Christianity from the Bible.
The commentator appeared to agree that such a cause, sexual abstinence until marriage, would lower such things as the teenage pregnancy rate as well as the incidence of STDs in Britain, but considered the cause to be unrealistic and thought that the group’s religious leanings would deter people from listening to them.
Now I’m not usually one for following American fashions but, in the 2001 census, 37.3 million people in Britain regarded themselves as Christian. (About 7/10 of the adult population). If the commentator was right, it would appear most people don’t understand what Christianity is about. Why would anyone claim to be something they don’t understand? Why would anyone claim to be something they don’t even want to be?
Ultimately, according to Christianity, God isn’t a killjoy, God loves us and every command he has given us is for our own good. If we claim to love God and trust God (which are fundamental Christian tenets), we will do what he commands – even keeping intimate sexual activity within marriage. If we do not do what he commands, then it would seem we neither love him nor trust him. Are we truly what we claim to be?
Q: Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A: The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.
Q: Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A: The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
Q: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A: The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
Beat Robin 2-1 at snooker. Still playing rather scrappily.
Well, spent the evening watching the England-Croatia football match with some friends, in the garden, with a barbeque, under the sun of the first official day of summer. Strangely enough, come the first England goal, we were all rushing into the house as the English summer produced a not entirely unsurprising downpour. At least the final result was a bit better than the weather, with a 4-2 win for England, and a fixture against the host country in the quarter-finals.
In John 14:12-21, Jesus tells those who have put their trust in him that they’ll be able to great things, not because of any power of their own, but by the power of the Spirit working in them. These great things will be in accordance with Jesus’ will, as the Spirit carries out the will of the Father and the Son. As such, anyone who puts their faith in Jesus will do what he commands, at least some of the time. Alas, our old nature will still battle with the Spirit and will still cause us to sin.
Another day of golf! I’d forgotten my brother had arranged for us to play golf in Stockwood Park, so I had golf two days in a row. Fortunately, my standard of play was on a par with yesterday, with a few cracking shots. Only problem was that, around the 11th hole, the heavens opened, and it was all rather damp. Ah well, completed the course and went to my brother’s place to a fine meal prepared by his wife. My hands are slightly tender now.
A slightly different way to spend the day with my work colleagues – the company golf day. Whilst I am not particularly good at golf (I won the award for “Most golf played” last year), today was very enjoyable, with a nice stroll around Abbey Moor Golf Course, with the occassional interruption to hit a golf ball. A bonus this for me at this year’s event was that I didn’t play the most golf, so I guess I must be improving…maybe I should get a lesson or two?
Looked at Psalms 42 and 43 in the bible study this evening. There’s so much in these two psalms, God is living, loving, sovereign….but these verses are repeated through the two psalms:
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.
Well, seeing as my piano playing is taking a break over the summer months, I thought I’d join in with some of my work colleagues in their regular five-a-side football game. The previous summer I did this – or was it the one before that? – for the first game, I ran around for about two minutes and then collapsed on the floor completely out of breath! Talk about unfit! Anyway, things seemed to have got better as I managed to stay upright for the whole hour, although I’m not sure I was much use as a footballer though. Ah well, it’s got to be better for me than just sitting at home watching the telly.
This morning’s sermon was titled “God: Does he really care?” focussing on Romans 5:8. Despite the suffering endured by many in this life, God does care. We know because God the Son gave himself for us, becoming a man, to be tried unjustly, to be tortured, to be put to death and to suffer the wrath of the Father. More incredibly, he went through all this not to save perfect people, but to save us – rebellious sinners.
The evening’s sermon was basically the answer to the question, “What is the purpose of life?” (a.k.a “What is the chief end of man?”) Of which the answer, “To glorify God and enjoy him forever” – in everything I do, is humanly impossible to keep, but with the power of God working in us, through faith in Christ, it is possible.
Well, the Harlington Singers had their summer concert this evening, with me accompanying them on the piano.
The line up, changed slightly, for reasons to be explained later, was:
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Linden Lea
Contantius Festa, Down in a Flowery Vale
Eric Coates, Bird Songs at Eventide
Nino Rota, Take the Sun
Sir Edward Elgar, As Torrents in Summer
Schubert, To Sylvia
Scott Joplin, The Entertainer
Matyas Seiber, Three Hungarian Folksongs
Cecil Sharp, Just as the Tide was a Flowing
John A. Glover-Kind, I do like to be beside the seaside
George Gershwin, Summertime
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don’t Cry for me Argentina
Richard Rogers, O What a beautiful morning
Stephen Foster, Beautiful Dreamer
John Bratton, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Percy Grainger, Country Gardens
Richard Rogers, The Sound of Music
Richard Rogers, Edelweiss
Richard Rogers, Climb Every Mountain
Looking at it – we did quite a lot of stuff! Some of the pieces were choral pieces, some were vocal solos and some were instrumental pieces – you can work out which ones are which yourself. I must say the choir performed brilliantly under the direction of the conductor. All the niggles and blunders encountered during the rehersals were nowhere to be seen, although pitching became difficult as the piano was very quiet. The soloists did very well, considering most of them are amateur singers.
Alas, the Beethoven Violin Sonata was postponed until another concert. Probably a wise idea given I was having problems with it and the violinist and myself had only had two rehersals playing together!
Most importantly, the audience seemed to enjoy it, with at least warm applause (sometimes very enthusiastic applause) after each piece and some encouraging comments from them afterwards. Roll on the next concert…
Well, did my bit to appoint a Member of the European Parliament, a Mayor for London and a couple of representatives for the London Assembly. Quite a few crosses to mark out. Rather a sobering thought to think that, unlike those living under dictators and monarchs, I am partly responsible for the actions of those I elect to represent this country…
Anyway, back to the Beethoven.
Beat Robin 2-1 at snooker. Very scrappy set of frames though. No real conclusion can be drawn from the outcome.
I must admit to being slightly bemused at a report submitted by “Muslim educationalists” to government ministers as reported by the BBC. I agree that Muslim children should be educated in their faith, as should all children in this country. However, I also believe all children should be educated in the basics of all the major religions and be allowed to delve deeper and decide for themselves what the truth is. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe all religions to be equal in truth, but I do believe in freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The conclusion of the report is that more muslim schools should be set up, but I’m not sure this is the solution – will Muslim schools present all religions to the children, or just Islam? Various proponents of muslim schools cite Church of England schools – but from experience, whilst having a Christian ethos, the basics of all the major religions are taught. Would the same be true of a Muslim school?
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