Month: November 2004

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Attended the funeral of a good friend’s mum today.

a.m.: 1 Chronicles 6 p.m.: Galatians 3:15-25

What is God that he could be constrained? When Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, he acknowledged that God could not be contained within the Temple. Even the whole earth and the highest heavens could not contain God. God is beyond containment.
Yet, on the first Sunday of Advent, we are reminded that around 2000 years ago, God took on flesh and became a man. Jesus Christ is God incarnate. The infinite within the finite, the immortal within the mortal. What people make of this varies considerably.

A lot of people would say this is impossible, because they believe God does not exist. Looking around, it would seem to take more faith to believe God does not exist than to believe he does exist. From the precise arrangement of the solar system, with the third planet from the sun being so carefully aligned that life could exist on it, to life itself. Life, that is so intricately designed from the smallest organisms, to the largest mammals, and so intricately interweaved into a complex and marvellous ecosystem. To believe this universe happened by chance, rather than to believe the universe was created by a creator, would seem a large leap of faith.

Some people may accept that God exists, but believe that the incarnation is beyond credibility. They refuse to accept that Jesus Christ is God. Yet looking at what he does and says in four separate accounts by the Gospel writers doesn’t leave much room for another explanation. C.S.Lewis titled it the Lord, Lunatic or Liar argument. If we cannot accept him as Lord, we can only come to the conclusion he is either a lunatic, on the same level as a man who claims to be a poached egg, or a liar from the pit of hell itself. (To paraphrase Lewis) But from what Jesus says and does, he is neither a lunatic nor is he a liar.

Ultimately, the incarnation was inevitable, as God loved us. Whilst it seems amazing that God would even consider us, given our insignificance before him. It is even more amazing given that we are rebellious sinners before a holy God. Yet, through faith in the incarnate Son of God, we can be made acceptable before him and he will make his dwelling in our heart.

Everyone is special

A nice lazy Saturday, after the rather hectic Saturdays of late. Woke up nice and late, had a nice long shower, cooked some breakfast and then lounged around in front of the computer for a couple of hours, played the piano for a while then went and played snooker against Pete. I must admit, Pete isn’t that bad at it, although very, very, very, slow… In the time it would take to play around six frames, we’d only played three! There’s lazy and then there’s lazy…
In the evening I went to see The Incredibles, by Pixar, with some of the usual suspects. In true tradition, the main feature was preceded by short film, although this particular short was slightly bizarre!
The main film itself was very good though. Can Pixar do no wrong? It was fast paced, yet had a good underlying message. In a way, it is rather ironic that Prince Charles’ comments of the past days have surfaced, as both the film and the prince say similar things. Whilst everyone is special, everyone’s gifts and talents are different. Additionally some people’s talents will far exceed the talents of others. As such, we should be able to recognise those talents we have and work hard at them, developing them to the full, whilst not gloating about these talents before others. These gifts and talents are precious and should be used for good. We should also be able to recognise when we do not have a talent for some things and accept it.
On top of this message were great animation and a superb storyline, with characters who were incredible, yet had very human issues. Well worth seeing.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Q: How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A: Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

(Question XXVI from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Sonnet XVIII

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft’ is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare

Sweet sixteen

I must admit that Mondays aren’t always my favourite day of the week. However, this Monday was very good as we spent the evening celebrating Ally’s sixteenth birthday at Nandos in Hounslow. The usual suspects from HWEC and HTC were there, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and most importantly, the birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself.
Afterwards we headed round Sarah’s, rather unexpectedly, and chatted and continued where we’d left off, although somehow it ended up with everyone trying to determine who I might marry! After much deliberation and amusement, no concensus had been found and it was time to head home.
Needless to say, a good evening for which I’m grateful.

PS A belated Happy Birthday Ally! 🙂

a.m.: John 17:1-5 p.m.: Ephesians 5:18-21

As John continues to record his account of Jesus’ life on earth, we become privy to a conversation between two persons of the Godhead. God the Son is talking to God the Father.
The immediacy of the Son’s mission is made apparent. Despite his status, the Son doesn’t ask that the Father will protect him or save him from this hour, but that the Son might glorify the Father. This same Son has authority over all, that he might save those whom the Father has given him.
The Son knocks human pluralistic thought for six, stating that only through his mission can we know the one true God. For we can only know the Father if we know Jesus Christ. He even specifically uses the title Jesus Christ to reinforce this, that he was chosen (Christ) to save his people from their sins (Jesus).
Yet, he had no reason to do this. The Son had glory before the creation of the world, he had no reason to do this. Yet, God the Father sent God the Son to save his people because of his great justice and his great love. If Christ is willing to glorify the Father, how much more should we be willing to glorify the Father instead of ourselves?

“Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?.” Charles Wesley

Camp Reunion

This Saturday was another one of those long, yet enjoyable, Saturdays. A small group of us headed off from West London to Birmingham for CCIW Week 1, Camp Reunion, rather early this morning. It was good to meet up with the friends I had made on camp, catch up with them and learn something new about them. It was also good to meet the children again, seeing how they are and how God is working in their lives. There was quite a bit of free time both for officers and children, with organised games for those who weren’t so interested in chatting with others. There was a short talk on the need to know Jesus Christ and then there was more time to play games and chat, with meals interspersed. A very tiring but enriching day.

Virtual Retail therapy

Decided to start my Christmas shopping today. Being the lazy geek I am though, I decided to it all online this year.
Usually when I go shopping, I saunter all the way to Kingston as it has the best quantity and quality of shops this side of Marble Arch. The usual approach involves a lot of leg work though as I wander from store to store trying to think of what to get various people and by the end of it I’m completely worn out.
Today was different though, I started off with Christmas cards from Tearfund as I always think Christ should be part of Christmas, and these cards all have Scriptural references in them as well as making some practical contribution to the furtherance of God’s kingdom. The Banner of Truth Trust was my next port of call, with a wide selection of good Reformed books to choose from, although I’m not mentioning who they’re for as they might read this. My final web destination was Amazon, with a little more discernment required when choosing gifts. After an hour or so browsing the web, I had purchased a significant proportion of required gifts, with only a few people left to think about. Additionally, I’m still feeling quite awake and able to do more. It was all rather easy – in fact, so easy, I even bought a little something for myself, let’s just say I now have no excuses for poor photos…

Ruth and Boaz


So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. Ruth 4:13-22

The Blogosphere

For a while now I’ve been reading other people’s blogs. Ever since I started my own blog, I’ve become interested in what other people, who I don’t know, blog about. Additionally, my blogging exploits have persuaded some of my friends to start their own blogs.
Recently I’ve been reading Jollyblogger. The author’s just started going through the five points of Calvinism which I find very interesting. It’s interesting how others approach the findings of the Synod of Dort and its relation to Scripture.
I’ve also been reading Allthings2all, initially struck by the author’s vibrant Christian life and experience, and recently been following her critique of post-modern thought. Well worth reading.
On a lighter note, a couple of the young people at my church, Ally and Dave, have their own blogs, with their eclectic mix of teenage angst and insight as they walk through life, maturing into adults with each step. It’s encouraging to see them growing in maturity, both temporally and spiritually. In addition to these blogs, Nigel has a half-blog which chronicles his life. (I say half-blog as it doesn’t have all the features you’d expect from a blog).
Finally my old mate Dave (not to be confused with Dave above) hasn’t updated his blog in ages, and I’ve stopped reading it. Update it Dave!
Of course, I don’t visit these pages manually, but use Bloglines (an RSS aggregator) to tell me when they’ve been updated, which allows me to read them only when there’s something new.

On a completely separate note, I’ve now installed Fedora Core 3 and so far – it’s brilliant! I must admit to being slightly disappointed when Core 2 was released as it had annoying bugs aplenty, whereas Core 3 has pleasantly surprised me with welcome features I didn’t expect. If you’ve ever considered having a look at Linux, this is a very good distribution to use. Highlights include Firefox, Gnome 2.8, a 2.6.9 kernel and

From a distance

I had a magnificent vantage point as the plane I was on came into Heathrow this evening. One minute I was looking across the top of the cloud layer, with a brilliant clear view of the stars. Then, as we slowly descended, I could begin to see glimpses of the lights of London in the breaks in the cloud. Before long we had completely broken through the cloud layer and I had a clear view of the Thames and the whole of west London. I could see the outlines of streets marked out with streetlights, lights of individual cars as they went about their business like ants. I know it sounds cliché, but I’m amazed how everything is brought into perspective when viewed from a distance. The vast man-made structures of London appear so small and insignificant when viewed from cloud level, even the far-off suns in their vast array appear so small, and remind me of how vast the universe is and how small I am. Even more amazing that the creator of all I saw, and everything beyond, is interested in something as small and insignificant as me and loves me.

a.m.: Romans 5:1-11 p.m.: Psalm 85

In Romans chapter 5, the apostle Paul talks about peace. Over the past few days we’ve been reminded of peace bought at the huge cost of human life, through the terrible, yet sometimes necessary, act of war. Yet this peace is temporary and does not bring us ultimate peace. For ultimate peace, we need peace with our Maker, we need peace with God.
For all our efforts though, we cannot justify ourselves before God and earn our peace with him. Our sin puts us at war with God and is too great for us to deal with. God the Father, through God the Son, has generously dealt with it, that through faith in the Son we are justified before God and find peace with God.
God had no responsiblity on his part to fulfil, he could’ve left us in our sin. As sinners, we deserve his wrath because he is holy and just and cannot tolerate sin in his presence. However, because he loved us, Christ bore our sin and so bore the wrath due for that sin.
It is an amazing sacrifice that God the Son, the creator and sustainer of the universe, gave up his glory, taking on the wrath of God, for those who put their faith in him.

A wandering minstrel I

Went rambling across the North Downs today. It was a beautiful day – Bright blue skies, not a cloud in sight, clean fresh air and nice and cool. A perfect way to enjoy God’s creation, wandering leisurely across the Surrey countryside and chatting with friends.
Got home and had a short nap before going out in the evening to meet up with some of the former members of the Harlington Singers. Even though the choir no longer exists, we still exist as a group of friends and we still meet up every now and then, as friends do. The evening was spent at The Orchard restaurant in Ickenham, with good food and good company.
I think I’ll sleep well tonight.

Reality Check

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

I attended the funeral of little Nathaniel this afternoon. Not being a parent, I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like for them to lose a child. As such, I will leave a few verses from the Bible which were read during the service and had stuck in my mind.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5