Month: February 2005

a.m.: John 17:13-19 p.m.: 1 Corinthians 7:17-35

As Jesus prays in the garden, he prays that his followers might know his joy within them. He asks that they might be set apart from the world. For the world hates them because they will not conform to the standards of the world, but God’s standard as revealed in his word. Through the power of the Spirit working, by his word, those who follow Jesus Christ are set apart to be holy, to be sanctified, to become more like Christ. Yet, they are to remain in the world, that through them, the world might know God and glorify him. For through all of this, they might have joy, a contentment from God which fills their soul regardless of their circumstances.
If we claim to follow Jesus Christ, our lives should reflect the will of God, for the Spirit indwells all those who follow the Son and sanctifies them. We should know him, by his word, the bible. Do we know the word of God and carry out his will? For only by knowing the word of God can we know how we may do his will, how we may be holy and sanctified, and so glorify him and have joy.
If we do not do his will, we should ask if we really are his, or whether our claim is false.


Krakhozia

The day started off in a mildly frustrating manner as I drove to Kingston-upon-Thames in order to do some shopping. I needed a new chin rest and shoulder rest for my violin, so I wandered to Hand Music to purchase these items. This first annoyance was that one of the main car parks in Kingston was shut, so traffic backed up to Hampton Wick adding a good twenty minutes to my journey. The second annoyance was that Hands Music only had a chin rest, having sold out of shoulder rests. Ah well, in the grand scheme of things, it could be worse.
The afternoon showed some improvement as I managed to beat David by 5-1 frames in snooker, although I think he’s improving as almost all the frames went down to black-ball games.
Rounded off the day at Sarah’s to watch The Terminal on DVD with some of the usual suspects. Quite an amusing and moving film, which considered many of life’s questions and problems, from love in its various forms and corruptions, to friendship and trust and personality differences and traits, both good and bad. After the film, we discussed various issues and maybe learnt something new about each other. A good day in retrospect. 🙂


Obsolete Skill

Calliope, Muse of epic poetry

You are ‘Latin’. Even among obsolete skills, the tongue of the ancient Romans is a real anachronism. With its profusion of different cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a language; it is a whole different way of thinking about things. You are very classy, meaning that you value the classics. You value old things, good things which have stood the test of time. You value things which have been proven worthy and valuable, even if no one else these days sees them that way. Your life is touched by a certain ‘pietas’, or piety; perhaps you are even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain fascination with the grotesque and the profane. Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad transplant. Your problem is that Latin has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
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Irresistible grace

Q: How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A: We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q: How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A: The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q: What is effectual calling?
A: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

(Questions XXIX, XXX and XXXI from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)


Condemned to dehydrate or starve

One of the good things about the blogosphere is that you get to read about stories from around the world which don’t make an appearance in mainstream media. In her blog Allthings2all, Catez highlights the plight of Terri Schiavo in Florida, USA, a woman who is awaiting judgement as to whether she lives or dies. However, the judgement is not to determine if she has committed a crime or not, but to determine whether she wants to live or die.

On one side, her family is putting forward the case that Terri wants to live and they will take care of her. On the other side her husband is putting forward that she is in a persistent vegetative state and wants to die. There are doctors on both sides of the argument, as well as lawyers.

Looking at the information on the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation web site, provided by those wishing to keep Terri alive, she seems to be quite significantly brain damaged, but importantly, not in a persistent vegetative state. This can be seen in her reactions to her surroundings, to her family and friends, as well as the fact she is not on life support, but merely on a drip which is only given to her at meal times.

The fact that she is not on life support means that the only way to ‘allow her to die’ is to withhold the drip from her, meaning she would have to suffer from acute dehydration and starvation before she dies. Yet, from the evidence, I think she should be fed and watered, as is the right of any human being. It would seem the only argument to leave her to die is because she is an inconvenience, but this alone is not sufficient grounds.

No human being should be made to think they should be dead just because they are an inconvenience to others, let alone actually left to die.


Curious limp

I appear to have developed a slight limp from playing football yesterday. I’m not sure how it happened, as I received a few kicks to the legs during the game, but I am certainly limping today. I don’t suppose wandering around, on a rather chilly snowy evening, in just my football gear locating a luthier helped. However, my violin (it’s mine now :)) is now having a new bridge and a new set of strings fitted to it.


a.m.: Matthew 7:7-12 p.m.: Luke 7:36-50

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Mt 7:12

The statement above is probably quite familiar to a lot of people. It is known as the “Golden Rule” to many, yet when understood, is actually impossible for us to keep in our fallen state.

For a start, it is not a prohibitive law of God. Unlike “You shall not steal” and “You shall not murder”, which many people could have some claim to keeping, this law is prescriptive. This is much more difficult to keep, as it requires that we look out for the needs of others, sometimes in cases where someone in need is unable to ask. How do we know we have seen to the needs of all those who we can help?

As we are, our own selfish desires all too often over-ride any concern for others. Sometimes we are blind to the needs of certain people, and sometimes what we think people need is not. When we are told to do to others what we would have them do for us, it requires that we understand other people, to know what they need, rather than assuming their needs are the same as ours.

It is very important that we view this command in context. Jesus prefixes the commandment with “So in everything”, indicating a precondition. We are told to “Ask…Seek…Knock…”, to become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, that he will give us his Holy Spirit that we might be able to follow his commands in his strength. For without his enabling, this commandment is impossible.


…from every nation…before the throne…

After spending the day recovering from the past week, my brother, his wife and myself headed down to Bristol for the evening. The reason for going west was a ‘Chinese evening’ at Totterdown Baptist Church, organised primarily by my sister.
It was an informal event, attended by those from the church, as well as people on the ‘fringe’ – those who didn’t usually attend the church. Around the hall were various Chinese related objects, including a Chinese language Bible. Sometimes we forget that the Gospel isn’t just for those in the English speaking world, but for everyone, so this was a good reminder of the global nature of God’s purposes. There was a Chinese meal, with plentiful amounts of food – of which some of the overflow is now sitting in my fridge! Afterwards, were various competitions to see who could juggle/spin plates/hula best, although not all at the same time. A fun evening where people could get to know each other and where those outside the church could observe Christians in their natural environment, with maybe a glimpse of heaven.


Wladyslaw Szpilman

Usually, on a Friday evening, quite a few of us help to run youth clubs at churches in the area. Since it’s half-term, we were granted some respite and so we piled round my place to chill, chat and watch a DVD. After a brief perusal of my DVD collection, we decided to watch The Pianist. I must say this is a great film. Following the trials and tribulations of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist, during the Second World War in Warsaw, we are confronted with the horror of the holocaust, contrasted with the beauty of the music of Chopin. It opens with a routine day for Polish Radio in 1939, rudely interrupted by war.
The full extent of human depravity is allowed to surface in the events of the war, from the sheer lunacy and evil of the Nazi ideology and practice, to the failings of common people when faced with difficult choices. Yet, even when surrounded by difficult circumstances, there are also those who do what is right – and not necessarily where you think you’d find them. The final minutes of the film are seemingly like the opening minutes, with a routine day for Polish Radio, as if nothing unusual had happened between 1939 and 1945. In all of it, the characters are real, none of them are perfect, none of them do what is right in everything they do, and yet, by the grace of God, they all carry out acts of kindness in varying degrees.


Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Augustus M. Toplady


Square one

A few months ago, I was rooting around my parents place and came across my sister’s violin. I can’t remember the last time my sister played it, but it’s been a while. Anyway, after confirming she had no desire to play it, I carried back to London with me with the intention of learning to play it.
Now, I’m not entirely tone deaf, having been the accompanist on the piano for the Harlington Singers, so at least I should have a fighting chance learning how to play the violin…or so you would think.

Today was my first real lesson. After finding and arriving at the location where my new violin teacher teaches, we spent a while finding out what previous musical experience I had and if any of it would be useful. After ascertaining that some of it would be useful, it came to practicalities. On the piano, to play a note, you wander up to it and you just hit a key. On the violin, you need to tense up the bow, apply stuff to it, tune up the violin, adjust the shoulder rest, get the violin into position, hold the bow just so and then you can play a note. Then there’s actually making a sound by applying bow to string with just the right pressure and angle and drawing it across the string in a smooth consistent motion. By the end of the lesson (about an hour) I’d played two distinct notes. This might be trickier than I thought.


a.m.: John 17:11-12 p.m.: Revelation 7:9-12

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays for all his disciples, both those who were following him at the time and those who would follow him in the future.

He asks the Father to protect them, just as he has protected them. This should be a great comfort to those who have faith in him. We are not left to fend for ourselves against the world and Satan, but God the Father provides for our every need, protects us and is able to deliver us. By his power, we are able to persevere to the end and glorify him.

He asks the Father that we might be one, just as he and the Father are one. Not that we should have superficial unity with those who claim to be Christians, but that we should have a genuine unity with all those who follow Jesus Christ and hold to his word. Something that will only be true of those whose walk is close with God.

He then refers to Judas Iscariot, giving us a sober reminder that not all who say “Lord Lord!” and do many things in his name will be truly his. After all, Judas spent a good few years as part of the twelve disciples, going from town to town preaching the Gospel. At the Last Supper when Jesus said one of the twelve would betray him, the disciples didn’t say “It’s that Judas – you can tell from a mile off”, rather Judas was indistinguishable from the rest, that they answered “Surely not I, Lord?” Judas himself may well have thought he was a follower of Christ. After all, he did what the other disciples did, he looked like them and talked like them. Are we like that? We should be careful that our claim to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, by the grace of God.


Religious hatred

Just got back from an evening organised by the Christian Institute intended to brief Christians on the proposals by the British Government to introduce an incitement to religious hatred bill.

This bill was first proposed in 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. At the time, the Home Secretary argued a law was needed to address the many reports of attacks on mosques and physical and verbal attacks on people because of their religion.

On the face of it, it sounds like a good idea. After all, Christians are told to “love your enemies” Mt 5:44. With a little thought, the bill turns out to be half-baked and unreasonable.

For a start, the very reason the bill was proposed was because of physical and verbal attacks committed against Muslims and mosques, yet there are already laws which cover attacks on people and property, for whatever reason – regardless of religion. Why do we need a new law to cover what is already covered?

Further examination of the proposed bill reveals it will severely limit freedom of speech. The proposed bill will amend Section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986 to read:

  1. A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if�
    1. he intends thereby to stir up racial or religious hatred, or
    2. having regard to all the circumstances the words, behaviour or material are (or is) likely to be heard or seen by any person in whom they are (or it is) likely to stir up racial or religious hatred.

It will criminalise “inciting religious hatred” which is legal speak and could well cover saying something which could be considered insulting to a religious group, which would include saying a religious group is wrong. Before you know it, a Christian would not be able to quote words of Christ such as “no-one come to the Father except through me” Jn 14:6, which in its very essence rejects the claims of all other religions, and is likely to be insulting to someone who holds a deeply held alternative view. Not many people like being told they’re wrong. It would mean that other religions and even atheists would not be able to make disparaging comments about Christianity or other religions.

Additionally, the bill does not define a religion and effectively requires that judges and the Attorney General become theologians. This leaves the system open to abuse from cults and sects, especially those of a litigious nature.

This would appear to be just another instance of political-correctness gone mad, but if this bill goes through, the right to freedom of speech of both Christians and non-Christians will be severely curtailed. Indeed, a basic Christian desire to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ will become increasingly difficult – after all, the truth is insulting to many people.

Are we going to do something to stop it? Or will telling the truth be stopped?

More information about this bill can be found at the Christian Institute’s website.


Jehoshaphat

“Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures for ever.” 2 Chronicles 20:21


Brave New World


You’re Brave New World!

by Aldous Huxley

With an uncanny ability for predicting the future, you are a true psychic. You can see how the world will change and illuminate the fears of future generations. In the world to come, you see the influence of the media, genetic science, drugs, and class warfare. And while all this might make you happy, you claim the right to be unhappy. While pregnancy might seem painful, test tube babies scare you most. You are obsessed with the word “pneumatic”.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Seems about right. Whilst I preferred Nineteen Eighty-Four as a book, I think Brave New World is more in line with the problem of the human condition and where it will lead us. Saying that, I read it years ago, so maybe I should dig it out and read it again?


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