Month: March 2005

When good men do nothing

Went to the Imperial War Museum with the usual suspects today. I must admit to having a passing interest in the technology of war, and I marvelled at the technological achievements of mankind through history, as displayed at the museum. It never ceases to amaze me that the last battleships to roam the earth’s oceans could fire a 1.5 ton shell over 36km, or that the precursors to modern mobile phones were devloped to enable reliable communication on the battlefield. However, I am also greatly saddened that human nature has not changed, that these great technological advancements are abused to kill others, making it necessary for those wishing to defend themselves to also develop more advanced weapons. Yet, Easter reminds me that, although human nature will never change of its own accord, God has provided the solution.
We finished the day watching the Count of Monte Cristo at Nigel’s which was a fun film and a good way to wind down after a busy day!

a.m.: 1 Corinthians 15 p.m.: John 19:38-20:10

Not surprisingly, being Easter, both morning and evening sermons were on the resurrection, so I’ll summarise in one chunk.

Without the resurrection, as the apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthian church, there would be no hope for the Christian. There would be no Christianity without the resurrection. For, unlike almost every other religion, being a Christian is not about following the teachings of a dead man, but trusting in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin and guilt as well as the resurrection of the believer, and knowing the living Christ for eternal life. The resurrection is crucial.

So how do we know the resurrection is true?

Paul starts off mentioning the eye-witness accounts of the apostles and many others, as well as his own encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus Road. John, in his account, mentions how Mary Magdalene first found the tomb, which in first century Palestine you wouldn’t concoct, as women were considered unreliable, but John is sticking to the truth. He then goes into great detail how the burial clothes were arranged, mentioning how he and Peter had raced to the tomb on hearing Mary’s testimony. The fact that the clothes were arranged, rather than strewn about the grave, indicated the grave had not been plundered by thieves, but that they were left there deliberately. There was no sign of the Roman soldiers either who, as military men, would not have left their posts without good reason.

Later on, John and the other apostles encountered the risen Christ, not as an ethereal being, but as a living, talking, walking, eating body. The Gospels record how he invited them to touch him, to put their hands in his wounds, how he ate with them and appeared before many others.

In all of this, neither Paul nor John had to argue against those who had any evidence that Jesus was dead. There were no authorities, Jew or Gentile, who could claim to have evidence against the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though they had every motive to discredit him.

Paul also remarks that, as Christians themselves demonstrate the love of Christ to those around them, they are living proof that Christ is alive and working through them. For if Christ were not raised from the dead, it would be our own effort which on its own is incapable of sustaining itself, yet the power of Christ constrains us to do his will.

It would require greater faith to believe that Christ were not raised from the dead, than to believe he is alive.

Let us then live our lives knowing Christ and serving him, for that ultimately is our chief end.

Pizza, ma non pizza

What a wonderful day! 🙂 For the first Saturday in quite a while I had a long lie-in, finally getting up some time past noon, feeling well-rested and relaxed, yet alert and awake. I did the usual routine of showering, teeth cleaning and preparing breakfast. Breakfast was slightly different with two quarter-pounders in baps. I spent the rest of the afternoon practising the violin, although I couldn’t keep that up and played a little on the piano as well which was slightly more tuneful and fulfilling, if not as challenging. I guess once I become proficient on the violin, it’ll be as enjoyable to play as the piano.
In the evening, I travelled down to the Pizza Express in Waterloo to meet with friends, both existing and future. In a bid to make sure I talked to people I didn’t know, I sat next to two complete strangers, although it transpired I had Rosie, Luna and Alexis sat opposite me. My bid stalled slightly as the two people either side of me had started talking to those away from me, so I caught up with old friends. This wasn’t a bad thing as I’d lost touch with them and so it was good to hear what they were currently doing in their lives. Eventually I got to talk to those either side of me, to discover I was sat between a financial journalist and an accountant! Was it a coincidence I was flanked by the financially minded? I don’t know. However it was good to get to know them. Oh and the food was excellent as well – I had a fine lasagne, followed by a strawberry bombe. I thank God for such a wonderful day.

The answer, to the question.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain�
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

‘Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace�
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray�
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Charles Wesley

Dyma gariad

Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,
Tosturiaethau fel y lli:
Twysog Bywyd pur yn marw�
Marw i brynu’n bywyd ni.
Pwy all beidio – chofio amdano?
Pwy all beidio – thraethu’I glod?
Dyma gariad nad ‘n angof
Tra fo nefoedd wen yn bod.

Ar Galfaria yr ymrwygodd
Holl ffynhonnau’r dyfnder mawr;
Torrodd holl argaeau’r nefoedd
Oedd yn gyfain hyd yn awr:
Gras – chariad megis dilyw
Yn ymdywallt ym� ‘nghyd,
A chyfiawnder pur – heddwch
Yn cusanu euog fyd.

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Loving kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God�s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

William Rees
trans. William Edwards

Up bow, down bow, up bow, down bow…

Not sure if I’m getting the hang of this violin. Today’s lesson was consolidating everything I’ve been taught, and hopefully learnt, so far. Starting with basic bowing on open strings, with various up bow and down bow combinations. Next up was the basic one octave D major scale, both ascending and descending. Finally playing some of the pieces in the book, more as a practice in playing the notes rather than reading music as, to be honest, reading one line of music with only a treble clef and two sharps is dead easy. Although, the concept of semi-tones on the violin takes on a greater significance than on the piano, as it is much easier to get it wrong on the violin! All in all though, after a month’s worth of lessons, I know more and am able to do more than when I started, which must be a good thing.


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies.

a.m.: Mark 10:32-45 p.m.: 1 Peter 3:15

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mk 10:45

In the last weeks before his crucifixion, Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples what will happen and why.

He tells them that he did not come to liberate people from the Imperial Roman occupiers. He did not come to be an earthly king to replace Caesar. Nor did he come primarily to tell people how to live, or to set a good example.

Rather, he will die in the place of his people, that he will take on the the punishment due for their sins thereby setting them truly free. He tells them he is giving up his life, voluntarily, of his own accord. Elsewhere, he says that no one has forced him to do it. He does this because of his great love, he is willing to do it. He tells them is paying the ransom for his people. All of us, by sinning, have built up a huge debt, a ransom, before God, which we are unable to pay off. Only God himself, the person of Jesus Christ, is able to pay that debt.

Do we understand the mission of Jesus Christ?

Is evolution true?

This evening I went to a talk given by Paul Garner of Biblical Creation Ministries on the subject of evolution vs creation, from a scientific viewpoint.Ask the average layman in the street the above question, and the answer is almost always a certain ‘yes’. Most people don’t have the foggiest idea about it, yet alone have any comprehension it might be wrong. Many people think this is a religion vs science issue, or faith vs reason, when it is nothing of the sort. Subjecting the theory of evolution to scientific reason can show it to be deficient. The talk this evening covered a few areas of science where evolution is inadequate.

Straightforward arguments such as gaps in the fossil record, where, if evolution were true, you wouldn’t expect to find these gaps, raise doubts. After all if all life is a result of gradual changes, you would expect to find the links between one species to another.

The concept of evolution gradual improvements by small mutations appears to be flawed, as mutations observed today in the copying of genetic code result in loss of operation. This can be seen most markedly in genetic diseases such as spina bifida.

Additionally, many complex creatures we see around us defy the idea of gradual improvement. If they only had particular functions in full operation, they would not be able to function as a whole.

On the flip side of mutations is natural selection, but this doesn’t demonstrate evolution in any way. For the fittest (or most well suited) to survive, it must already exist. The only thing that will happen is that those not so well suited will eventually dwindle in numbers and possibly die out. In other words, everything that has survived, existed in the first place, and due to variations dying out, the gene pool is reduced.

Finally, there is the question of how did life start in the beginning, which has not been fully answered in evolution. Scientific experiments have only managed to produced amino acids – the building blocks of life – not life itself, and even then only with specific conditions. Looking at these specific conditions, they are only assumed to be representative of the earth before life.

These arguments are amongst many and I realise I could go on for ages, but these arguments are significant and show significant problems with evolutionary theory. I also realise I am a qualified mathematician and not a qualified biologist/geologist, whereas Paul Garner is. If you get an opportunaity to listen to Paul Garner, or to read his works, he is more likely to be explain it better than me.

Given the evidence which life leaves behind, it is hard to conclude it evolved. It is possible to argue that the evidence is more in line with the theory that everything was created and designed by God, than to argue it evolved through a sequence of chance events. Even some ardent evolutionsists refer to life as being well designed, or having the appearance of design.

Is it not therefore possible that there is a designer and that life was designed?

What is certain, is that we cannot believe the theory of evolution to be certainly true.

Standing and staring

Instead of writing about my antics today, I thought I’d have a look around my blog roll and comment on what’s been happening – if anything, I’ve noticed some haven’t changed in the past fortnight, so I’ll ignore those.

From the top:
Reading Alison’s day to day happenings is almost akin to trying to pin down the wind. She is always doing something, and her record of it is like a fast rushing wind. Saying that, at least she managed to take time out see Hotel Rwanda with us. An intelligent thinking young lady.

Luke has been singing the praises of PHP over C#. Although to be honest, I’m not convinced C# is any good anyway, so not much convincing needed here. Maybe I’m just too sceptical of Microsoft and their whole .net plan?

Catez has managed to cover the Terri Schiavo case in the States, as well as run a Christianity and Science showcase and make a substantial critique of the Living Church of God within the past few days! The showcase has produced some good articles by fellow bloggers, demonstrating that science and Christianity are both reasonable, yet both have an element of faith. I remember reading an article on the Worldwide Church of God and its reconciliation with orthodoxy, but never realised the Living Church of God, which is currently in the news, was a cultic offshoot. Above all, Terri Schiavo’s life hangs on the decisions of others, when it shouldn’t be up for debate at all. There are very few legitimate cases for killing someone, and this isn’t one of them.

Being a Calvinist, I find the blogging of this Lutheran interesting, and in many areas very similar to what I understand of the bible. Being a former Anglican, he also has an interesting insight into the current tussle between non-biblical and biblical factions of Anglicanism. It does seem odd to me that the North American Anglicans, who number just under 3 million can cause such a rift within a group of over 50 million, the majority of whom are biblical. However, I’m not an Anglican, so what would I know?

Dave writes on how we might engage the pluralistic society we live in with the Gospel of Christ. Not that we would shrink away into a Christian ghetto, but that by the power of God we might change our society for God.

It’s encouraging to see young minds developing, sharing their thoughts with the world. All too often, we can just rely on the media to supply us with information without thinking about it, so it’s good to start thinking at an early age.

Gervase (unusual name!) is a geek through and through and proud of it. As such, I find his musings on Mozilla/Firefox, time and motion studies and all manner of geek things to be most interesting.

Dean treads the fine line of constructive criticism of church web sites. Personally, I find his criticism very useful and have implemented some of his suggestions at the HWEC web site. However, he seems to be getting some flak for his advice. Ah well, can’t please everyone all of the time.

David (there are a lot of ‘Dave’s about!) blogs on all manner of things. I find his posts on the internet (especially blogging) in the hands of a Christian interesting and helpful. He certainly seems to have his finger on the pulse and many Christians who use the internet would be well advised to read this blog and find out how they may use it effectively for the glory of God.

Finally J Richards is a Christian who blogs about almost anything which he considers worth blogging. As such, he is a good yardstick to which I can compare my own blogging habits. Sometimes I find it hard to know when I’m being really dull and boring, so by seeing what I find interesting to read on other blogs, I might have some insight into what other people find interesting in my blog – if anything. 🙂

So there you go, a short run-down of my blog roll.

Spring cleaning

In Luke 5:1-11, we see Jesus interacting with Simon (also known as Peter).

Jesus is telling people the word of God, but because of the vast crowd, he has to get into the boat of Peter and go off shore so that he might be heard by everyone. Once he had finished telling the people the word of God, he approached Peter and asked him something unusual. What Peter was asked to do was in itself nothing unusual, as he was a fisherman, so putting out his net was usual. What was unusual was that this carpenter from Nazareth had told this professional fisherman to let down his nets. Peter pointed out he had caught nothing all night, after all, they were more likely to catch something during the night when it was quiet than during the day. Yet, Peter respects his Master, so does what he says.

From Peter’s reaction to the events that follow, it would seem that whilst Peter respected Jesus, he had little idea of who he was. On seeing the huge haul of fish, Peter realised this carpenter is more than what he appears to be. All of a sudden, Peter realises this carpenter has great insight, and the power to control nature. Whereas he refers to Jesus as Master prior to the event, he now refers to him as Lord. This acknowledgement of deity is taken further as Peter becomes aware of his sinfulness in the presence of God’s holiness.

In his love, Jesus does not condemn them, but comforts them and tells them they will catch men. At this, the new found faith of Peter, and some of his fellow fishermen, in Jesus the God-man, causes them to drop everything and follow Jesus.

Have we discovered who Jesus is? Have we discovered how sinful we are? Will we do his will?

Hotel Rwanda

If you haven’t seen Hotel Rwanda, you must. Nothing I say can do this film justice. Set during the Rwandan civil war in the mid 1990’s, it tells the true story of a hotel manager in the capital city Kigali. It is an amazing film, yet a tragic retelling of the ability of human nature. It demonstrates the horrific acts which human nature is capable of, at all levels, as well as the incredible acts of kindness and heroism. I was struck by the humility of one of these heroes, Paul Rusesabagina, and his strength of faith. His ability to thank God for every day that he was given, despite the constant struggle to maintain the lives of those he loved dearly and those under his care, as well as witnessing the atrocities happening all around him. In the West, it can be so easy to forget about the world around us, even to think that such atrocities could never happen here. Even though the genocide in Rwanda happened only 11 years ago, we forget so easily. How easily we forget the horrors perpetrated in Europe only 60 years ago. I am glad I saw this film, yet deeply saddened by it. However, I trust we will never forget what has happened, and that we will learn from even our darkest moments. May I thank God for every day he has given me.

The scale of D major

Another Tuesday, another violin lesson. Things seem to be progressing though, even though this was my third lesson. I can now bow all four strings with some competence, in both up and down bow movements. I’m also able to play B, E, C#, F#, G and D, which means I am now able to play a D major scale, albeit one octave. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do the exercises in the book which required one to draw a line of treble clefs, minims, crotchets and quavers. I might’ve gone slightly potty otherwise. Only downside to all of this is that my left shoulder is now killing me from being held in a rather unnatural position for an hour, which appears to be affecting my typing speed. Saying that, it’s a lot less painful then the football game yesterday where I managed to get a ball to my head twice, with quite considerable force applied. I did manage to score a few goals though, which is some consolation I guess.

Right or Left Brained?

You Are 80% Left Brained, 20% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

If you’re left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

If you’re right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Persuasive? Not sure about that. The rest of it sounds accurate though. 🙂

a.m.: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 p.m.: Ephesians 5:22-33

Is it possible to know the big picture? Can we know the plans of God?

The bible, through the philosopher in Ecclesiastes, tells us that God has the whole picture. God himself is the artist, and has set out everything in place, from births and deaths to when to laugh and when to cry. Contrary to the post-modern thinking of this age, which says there is no meta-narrative, or story upon which our lives are interweaved.

As human beings we don’t know what God has set out. We become frustrated in not knowing the big picture, because of our separation from God. This same frustration bears out that their is a story upon which our lives are a part. With hindsight, we can see how God has worked in the past, performing his purposes.

Yet, we are not called to understand the big picture, but to trust God who has the big picture to show us our place in the big picture. As human beings we can become very much preoccupied with trying to know why things happen, whereas very often we should spend our time determining what our reaction should be and to do it.

The philosopher points out that we find satisfaction in doing God’s will, by doing good. Yet, as fallen human beings, in our our strength we cannot do that, and need to trust in Christ for our salvation from sin, that his Spirit will enable us to do good. We may even get a glimpse of the bigger picture.

Yg bS pU YfL