Month: October 2004

a.m.: Matthew 5:3,4 p.m.: 1 Timothy 3:16

At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it clear who he is speaking to.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3

Before anything else is said, he explains what it is to be one of his followers. We need to realise we have nothing we can offer God to make us acceptable before him. Nothing about us, our pride, our righteousness, our works can justify us before God. Once we have acknowledged we are truly poor in spirit, true, deep, exceeding happiness is ours when we trust in Jesus Christ instead of ourselves.
Jesus then follows with another facet of what it is to follow him.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

As our relationship with Christ develops, we become ever more concious of our sinfulness, indeed we mourn over our sinful state. Yet, because of what Christ has done for those who trust him, we are comforted that our sins have been dealt with. To have one’s sins wiped away is happiness indeed.


Much as usual

Went bowling with the usual suspects this evening, after spending the day doing pretty much nothing. Started fairly well, with Karen and I on level pegging pretty much throughout the whole game, with the rest either way behind or way ahead. Eventually came fourth being pipped to the post by Karen in the ninth frame.
Thinking about it, whilst this evening wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, it was still a good evening. Sometimes routine is a good thing, just to keep ones sanity. It is such a blessing that friends are part of routine. Life would certainly be a lot poorer if friends were not routine. I guess this is what makes friends so precious. Hmmm…rambling…possibly…

PS Don’t forget tomorrow is Reformation Day, commemorating the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 theses to the door of a church at Wittenburg and unwittingly beginning the Reformation.


Here there and everywhere

Spent the evening at Slough Ice Arena with some of the usual suspects. I must admit ice skating is not one of my talents, although I only fell over once today, taking out Dave in the process. I can actually pick up quite a scary speed, although if anyone gets in the way, steering is a problem, so if I hit anyone I’m likely to flatten them. As most of the rink seemed to be populated by small children and rather young teenagers, I kept my skating antics to sedately going around the edge. Although I must admit that going round and round in circles did induce boredom after a while. Ah well, at least it was slightly different from usual. I guess a little more practice probably wouldn’t go amiss, although maybe somewhere a little quieter.


Prophet and Priest

Q: What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A: Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Q: How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A: Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Q: How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
A: Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us.

(Questions XXIII, XXIV and XXV from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)


Image is everything

I must admit to being slightly bemused by yet another article speculating on Jesus Christ’s ethnicity. It would seem that some people only look on the surface, especially in this image concious age – although this is not a new phenomenon – rather than “look” at who Jesus really is.
The Bible is notable for lacking any information on Jesus’ appearance, but concentrating on his deeds and his words. It would seem that the writers of the Bible considered his image to be completely unimportant, and Jesus’ message to be of utmost importance.
Will we follow the world and look at the surface, or will we look deeper and discover what is really important?


Nineteen Eighty-Four

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clements
You owe me five farthings
Say the bells of St Martins
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey
When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney
I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head

Chop chop chop chop the last man’s head!


Back to routine

Well, I appear to be restored to full health as I wandered onto the football pitch this evening. Well, I say full health, as full as it was before my cold. Of course this meant my usual attempt to run around lasted around half the game, with the other half spent wheezing and wishing the game would finish soon! Not a bad result though, with the team I was on coming out ahead in the end. Although not sure I helped much there.
Saw the second episode of Monarchy, chronicling the reigns of Alfred the Great’s descendents up until the arrival of William of Normandy. I still find certain parts of history fascinating, especially the events which have helped to shape the world into what it is today. Things such as the agreement of King Ethelred in 1014 to rule by the consent of the nobility – the first vestiges of a parliament – rather than as a warlord.


a.m.: John 16:25-33 p.m.: Ephesians 5:1-15

In this part of John 16, Jesus explains his Father to his disciples. From this dicourse we can learn something of the God the Father.
The Father can be known. If this were not the case, Jesus would not bother to explain the Father to his disciples. As such, the Father is approachable by us.
He has special love for those who believe in the Son. He provides and cares for them.
And he has purpose, to bring about the salvation of men through the work of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Everything that happens is ultimately under his control.

We should trust the Father and not in our own strength. If we trust in our own strength we will fail. We should put our faith in the Father, and not in our faith. For the Father sent his Son who has the power to “overcome the world”.
Can Jesus say of each of us “You believe at last!”?


Raindrops keep falling on my head.

What a cool day. 🙂 Started off very early this morning for Alton Towers, with Ally, Dave and Mim, with the intention of getting there for 9:30am. Anyone who knows me will know this wasn’t quite achieved as intended, although we did get there by 10 o’clock and met up with the Salisbury lot and some bods from HTC.
Now I’d been to Alton Towers quite a few times in the past, yet I’d never been on the ‘Black Hole’, so it was quite fitting that the first ride we went on was the ‘Black Hole’. To be honest, I don’t think I had missed much in the past! However, as the day progressed, some of the rides left an impression on me. A cool ride was ‘Oblivion’, which isn’t much to look at – basically a vertical drop, but after taking a ride on it, I was impressed. Such a simple concept, yet very effective in getting the adrenalin going! The best ride though was ‘Air’. This ride wasn’t scary and didn’t try to chuck you around a lot, nor did it intend to get you wet. The background music for this ride was serene and the movements along its course were graceful and sweeping. What was great about this ride was that it gave quite a good idea of what it would be like to fly like Superman.
Of course, the quality of the rides wasn’t the only thing which progressed during the day. Slowly but surely, the rain clouds made their presence known. Starting off with occassional droplets just after lunch, through drizzle to full-scale raining by the end of the day.
Regardless of the weather, a very cool day. It was good to catch up with the Salisbury lot, with the added bonus of a chance to ride some of the latest attractions at Alton Towers


Fair trade

I was tidying up my papers last night, taking a little longer than I thought. It’s amazing how much paper comes through the letterbox. Some of it is useless, some of it is actually useful. Amongst the useless stuff are numerous credit card application forms, book club offers, wine club offers, personalised number plate promotions, magazine subscription forms…the list goes on.
However, whilst sifting out the useful stuff, I came across a few pamphlets and magazines which caught my eye. One was from the Co-Operative Bank detailing their ethical stance on banking. I also came across magazines published quarterly by Tearfund and World Vision. They detailed the plight of many people around the world, some caused by natural disaster, most caused by man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, but they also detailed how we can help them to change these situations for the better. Included with both magazines were also catalogues of fairly traded goods, where the producers are paid a fair wage for their labours.
How often we complain the world is unfair and then do nothing about it. We have so much power as consumers. We can choose who we purchase our goods from. Do we choose the cheapest source, regardless of the ethics, or do we choose sources which deal with their suppliers ethically?
I guess G.K.Chesterton was right, “What is wrong with the world? I am….”
Since I’m quoting, I’ll finish with a quote from Big Tent Revival, “To change my world, I gotta change me”.


Matchmaking

Scene three

Act one, “The mother-in-law”
Ruth 3:1-5

After discovering that Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer, Naomi see an opportunity for Ruth to find a new home – to find rest, and so she tells Ruth to do something rather unusual. Not entirely something I’d consider to be a typical way to become acquainted with someone!

Act two, “The threshing floor”
Ruth 3:6-15

Ruth dutifully does as her mother-in-law says, and goes to the threshing floor. When Boaz arrives at the threshing floor, presumably to guard the new harvest, Ruth waits until he is asleep. She then removes his footwear and lays down at his feet. Boaz awakes, probably because he has cold feet, and finds Ruth at his feet.
However, Boaz is a man of integrity and good character. He points out that there is someone who is more eligible as a kinsman-redeemer and does not take advantage of the situation. He also thinks of Ruth’s reputation and tells her to leave before she could be recognised, even though they had not done anything wrong. Before she leaves, he generously gives her some of the barley.

Act three, “The report”
Ruth 3:16-18

When Ruth tells Naomi everything that has happened, Naomi’s trust in God and Boaz is evident. She tells Ruth to wait and see what happens, and also that she is sure Boaz will do what is right.


Cherubim

Now there are some parts of the bible I have no problem understanding, stuff like:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith�and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God�not by works, so that no-one can boast. For we are God�s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

As amazing as the passage is, I can understand it. However, I’m currently reading through Ezekiel in my quiet time and I’m struggling to make sense of some of it, even to be able to picture it would be nice.

“I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like chrysolite. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called “the whirling wheels”. Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.” Ezekiel 10:9-14

OK, so there’s four wheels, four cherubim, each with four faces. Is there some significance here? Even consulting the wisdom of Matthew Henry leaves me feeling I’ve missed something. I guess I’m not going to understand everything, so maybe I should leave it for now and maybe pursue it later?
Possibly even in eternity…


Kiss and tell

I don’t know why, but sometimes I use too much force. Sometimes I should probably just hold back, nestle up and just gently kiss. There is just too much of an urge to be impatient and go in all guns blazing. Admittedly, even with this approach, I still beat Robin at snooker this evening by three frames to nil. Fortunately, I’m on target most of the time, so I can pot balls all over the place. Probably best to try and play more controlled shots though.


And relax…

As I am still slightly ill, after work I figured I’d go home and spend the evening doing nothing. It actually turned out to be fairly productive as I managed to catch a few good television programmes on Channel Four.
Usually, I lament when I see what is being broadcasted on the television, especially in the evenings. (Usually because of documentaries irresponsibly presenting fiction as fact, and the ridiculous notion that entertainment can’t be educational, anyway I digress). I had intended on just watching the news and have done with it. Being 7pm when I switched the TV on, I caught the Channel Four evening news. However, in the ad-breaks, the couple of programmes which followed the news caught my eye. After catching up on current events, I found myself listening to the arguments of a composer, who had Tourette’s syndrome, that W A Mozart also had Tourette’s syndrome. I must admit that after watching for an hour, I wasn’t entirely convinced, but the argument was an interesting one. What followed was a magnificent opening of “Monarchy“. A series which has set itself the task of chronicling the foundation, rise and maturing of the British monarchy from its roots in the Dark Ages, through 1500 years, to the Constitutional Monarchy we have today. At the heart of the series was the idea that monarchy in the British Isles was ultimately grounded in the people and at the consent of the people. The first episode dealt with the birth of the nation state, under one king, one Church, one language and one currency. Very compelling and I hope to be able follow the series to its climax.
A thoroughly relaxing evening.


a.m.: Matthew 6:11,25-34 p.m.: Ephesians 5:1-2

“Our Father in heaven…
…Give us today our daily bread.”

A right attitude to prayer reflects on a right understanding of God. When Jesus reveals the Lord’s Prayer, he reveals God for who he is. From a God who is our heavenly Father, to a God who provides for all our needs. In this line of the prayer, Jesus says we should ask God to provide for our basic temporal needs. Further on in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus elaborates on what it means to rely on God to provide for our needs.
If God is our provider, we should be anxious for nothing, from the basic things of food, drink and clothing, to things such as friends and relationships. What we are to do though is to concentrate on seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness seeking and then doing his will, for God will provide.
It can be a challenge sometimes to rely totally on God and to concentrate on doing his will. Yet, my ultimate happiness in life can only be found by putting God’s glory first and my glory last.