Month: June 2005

Jars of clay

Well, that’s two days in a row I’ve been in hospital, not for myself in one case I might hasten to add. That, and the media coverage of the late Mr Whiteley, has reminded me that we are, in all truth, quite frail and fragile.

We wander around, in our daily lives, mostly thinking we’re invincible, that we can’t be damaged or, ultimately lose our life. We carry out our lives without giving death a second though, without stopping to to consider our mortality and finitude.

I guess this is God’s way of reminding what and who I am.


a.m.: Genesis 13 p.m.: Ephesians 6:17

In Genesis 13, Lot and Abram decided to go their separate ways as their combined number was too great for the land they occupied. Abram did this amicably, as Lot was his brother and gave Lot the first choice. Seeing the land to their east was fertile, Lot chose the wealthier option and went east, even though the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were there. Abram stayed in Canaan without challenging Lot’s choice. We read later on that Lot’s choice brought him close to disaster, while God remained with Abram.

Even today, we face the same choices. Firstly, we may have disagreements with others. Sometimes these things should not have arisen in the first place. We are called to love our neighbour, and so if a disagreement is necessary, the resolution should be a loving one. Sometimes, there can be no budging, if the disagreement is on a matter of truth. However sometimes it might even mean backing down and taking second-place if the issue isn’t important.

Secondly, sometimes we have to decide whether to go for a morally dubious job or participate in a morally dubious activity, in order to have great financial/worldly gain rather than to do what it right. Yet, what is right, what God decrees is for our own long-term good. This is not to say financial, or any other type of, ascetism has any merit, for there is nothing wrong with having money through moral activities in itself. We need to be careful what we put first in our lives though.

Ultimately, through our choices, we should place God first, for it is better to be on God’s side whatever the circumstances.


Sun, sea and sand

Just got back from the church daytrip to Littlehampton. As appears to be traditional with daytrips, we left Hounslow at a rather early 8.30am, early for a Saturday anyway! The cast consisted of most of the members, as well as many on the fringe on the church. Despite the rather unpredictable British weather, it didn’t rain, and we all managed to spend some time sitting on the beach, chatting and relaxing. After a while people became a little more energetic – I think just after lunch, and the games began, with football, non-stop cricket and rounders all making an appearance. I should have probably stayed away from the football, as I appear to have damaged my ankle in the process. 🙁 Ah well, despite the apparent injury, this was a great opportunity to get to know others in the church better, especially those who had recently started attending services. All in all, a good day was had by all. 🙂


Death and Resurrection

Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A: The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God, to all eternity.

(Questions XXXVII and XXXVIII from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)


Military Music

Not so long ago, in my more arrogant days, I used to think military music was an oxymoron, much like military intelligence. These days, I’ve mellowed slightly and I actually enjoy military music (I also think military intelligence isn’t so ridiculous either, but that’s another blog entry :)) This is fortunate, as I spent this evening at Kneller Hall, home of The Royal Military School of Music, for a concert to commemorate the end of the Second World War. The performance was very good, being performed by three bands merged for the evening, with various pieces popular around the 1940s, as well as well known brass band/military fayre. It was not just the ears which were entertained, but the eyes also, as the dress uniforms, flags/colours and fireworks were also on display. The finale was particularly rousing, with Nimrod from the Enigma Variations, the Last Post culminating in everyone rising and singing, without prompting, God Save the Queen. To top it off, the weather was glorious, and the company was relaxed. A fitting way to consider the freedom bought at a terrible price.


Possible improvement…

Well, after spending last week piled under, I wondered whether I’d be fit enough to run around for a whole hour yesterday evening on the football pitch. Fortunately, my side was populated with lean, mean, running machines so I didn’t have to run too much. It transpired that I managed to run around quite a bit anyway and even score a number of goals! Now I’m not sure if this is because I might be improving, or because the opposition were playing poorly. Who knows, hopefully the former rather than the latter! We’ll see.


a.m.: Philippians 1:12-26 p.m.: Ephesians 6:16

In his letter to the church in Phillipi, the apostle Paul writes of the joy which is his through Christ. Even though he is appears to be writing while under house arrest, with his earthly freedoms curtailed he has joy regardless of his circumstances.

Firstly, the chief source of his joy is Christ. Paul knows the joy of sins forgiven, the joy of the gospel. Through this, he takes great joy in making this gospel known to all around, even though he is in chains. He isn’t sitting there bemoaning the fact he’s under arrest, he is neither self-pitying, nor self-praising. All he is interested in is making Christ known.

Secondly, he takes joy in the fact that fellow Christians are praying for him and through the work of the Spirit in him. He knows that God is in control and will do what is right and will answer the prayers of the saints accordingly.

Finally, he knows that Christ has conquered death, and so he has nothing to fear form death. In a way, he is left in a win-win situation. If he stays on earth, he is able to continue spreading the gospel for the benefit of others. If he is called to heaven, he will be with his Saviour, leaving him to say:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Php 1:21

If we are Christ’s, we also have this joy – if we don’t stifle it. Oh that we would know Christ and experience his joy.


Thirty-two degrees

Well, it appears summer has finally arrived. Today the sun was blazing, and the the temperature at midday reached a rather warm 32°C. What better way to spend it than playing snooker with David in a darkened hall. 🙂 The eventual score was 7-2 frames to me, which isn’t too bad considering we haven’t played in what seems like months!

We then trundled up to Hayes Town Chapel for their anniversary celebrations (217 years to be precise), where Andrew Davies spoke about the Moravians, which incidentally had influenced the Wesleys, who had preached in Hayes and by whom the chapel was founded.

After the service and the fine refreshments, a group of us wandered down to Marble Hill in Twickenham to relax and chat, whilst having some food on the grass and maybe play some games. A fine way to spend a hot summer’s evening.


The tru (sic) Commandments Given unto Christ Jesus

I was handed a curious piece of paper last night as I turned up for youth club. Apparently it was found in the church letterbox by another youth leader. It was titled “The tru Commandments Given unto Christ Jesus”.

Glancing at these nine commandments (yes, nine), I wondered if it had been copied from somewhere, although I wondered what source would only list nine commandments. It was interesting that here the commandments were given to Jesus whereas in the Bible, Jesus, being the Son of God, gives out the commandments.

Looking at it, there was nothing wrong with the commandments listed, although it was notable in the commandments it didn’t list. They all addressed how one should behave towards oneself and to others, which is very noble, but none of them addressed our relationship with God. In the bible, when asked by a teacher of the Law, Jesus clearly puts God first in his list.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mt 22:36-40

After all, as Jesus says, this summarises the Law, as given in the Ten Comandments in the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments, given by God to the Jews at Sinai, starts off with the first four commandments dealing with man’s relationship with God.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me…
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol…
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God…
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy… Ex 20:3-8

After which, our relationship with others is dealt with.

Of course, I have no idea who put this piece of paper through the church letterbox. It is evident they have realised we should have moral direction, but they appear to have missed the main point of the commandments given in the bible. Yes, we should have a moral code, but not just in our relationship with ourself and others, but in our relationship with God.

At the end of it, the moral code of God will show us we are sinners, unable to keep his moral code, and in need of salvation for our sins. Only Jesus Christ can and does offer this salvation. If we construct our own moral code which we are able to keep, we deceive ourselves. It will not do us any favours on the day of judgement.


Universal atonement?

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday evening on our experiences of the theology of those around us. In particular, we had both come across those who believed in universal atonement – that everyone will go to heaven. Such people were found everywhere, there were regular churchgoers as well as those who had never set foot in a church, and then all those in between.

It was more disturbing to hear regular churchgoers espousing universal atonement, as it left you wondering if they paid any attention in church, especially if they attended a church which taught the bible. For the bible teaches nothing of universal atonement, but quite clearly says atonement is limited.

Yet, if you point this out, more likely than not you’re treated as if you were from the devil or something. If you mention that the bible says all sinners will go to hell, because God is holy and cannot stand the presence of sin, you’re looked at as if you’re heretical, as if it’s something you want to happen because you’re malicious or something.

Yet, limited atonement can be seen in even the oft quoted parts of the bible – this is not a strange minority teaching.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jn 3:16

If anything, it appears to be more malicious to tell people “you’re OK and will go to heaven regardless” of whether they’ve had their sins dealt with by the Christ, as they’ll have rather a nasty shock when they stand before God at judgement.

It is because we love people that we tell them the truth, that atonement is limited to those who put their faith in Christ for the remission of their sin. To do anything else would seem to be nothing short of leading them personally to hell.


What’s your theological worldview?

You scored as Reformed Evangelical. You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God’s Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical

96%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

71%

Neo orthodox

68%

Fundamentalist

68%

Emergent/Postmodern

39%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

36%

Classical Liberal

21%

Roman Catholic

18%

Modern Liberal

14%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

That’s more like it…


a.m.: Ecclesiates 5:18-6:12 p.m.: Ephesians 6:15, Romans 5

The philosopher in Ecclesiastes continues to point out that a life without God is a meaningless life. Even though everything anyone has is provided by God, not everyone is happy.

God provides some with money, some with food, some with work, whilst others do not have such things in abundance. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, as they are provided by God. Yet, those financial wealth are not necessarily happy and will pursue more wealth in pursuit of happiness, those with plenty of food might not be happy and may overindulge in food thinking they will be happy and those who overwork themselves to gain happiness but are not happy. For our happiness cannot be provided by these things alone, and it is our folly if we pursue happiness through them.

Our ultimate happiness can only be supplied by God, by knowing him. We can only know God through his Son, for we are sinners and need our sins dealt with by Jesus Christ. For this is eternal life, that we know God and his Son Jesus Christ. Once we have this happiness, our attitude will be that of gratitude for all that he gives us and satisfaction in these things, seeking to glorify him in everything we do, and thereby having joy. To know that God provides all good things for our enjoyment, but not to be our idols. For God alone should occupy the highest place in our lives, with all other things coming after him.

Without God, one can be unhappy with all the money, all the food, all the work the world can offer. With God, one can be happy with all the money, all the food, all the work the world can offer.

Without God, one can be unhappy without all the money, without all the food, without all the work the world can offer. With God, one can be happy without all the money, without all the food, without all the work the world can offer.

Ultimately, a life which glorifies God and finds enjoyment in him is a meaningful life.


Hyde Park Corner

A rather lazy day today. I had intended to play snooker with David in the morning, but for some reason the snooker hall now has a policy of opening at noon. I guess they figure people would rather spend their summer mornings enjoying the sunshine, rather than sat inside a dark smokey hall. I figure I’d beg to disagree, but maybe they’re right…especially as I then proceeded to spend the afternoon in and around Hyde Park with Nigel and a few others. Although I think the sun spotted it, and disappeared for a while. A good day though, with plenty of time just to chat and relax and take lots of photos. I think this photography lark might be becoming a favourite hobby.


What is Your World View?

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative

63%

Fundamentalist

38%

Romanticist

38%

Postmodernist

25%

Idealist

13%

Modernist

13%

Existentialist

6%

Materialist

0%

What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com

Not entirely sure what these results mean.. 🙂


Episode III

Well, finally got to see Revenge of the Sith this afternoon. One by one everyone around me was seeing it while I was busy, I was beginning to think I’d end up going to the cinema on my own to see it! Fortunately, David hadn’t seen it yet, so we went to the Vue cinema in Staines with the hope that George would adequately fill in the gaps between the prequels and the original series. To be honest, my expectations weren’t high after the first two prequels, although everyone who had seen the third one said it was good, even the ones who didn’t have that much interest in it.

As the closing frames of the deathstar loomed, I felt everything had fallen into place. Whilst Star Wars was an epic series of films, the story was not quite Shakespeare, so in its context, Episode III was a good film. To its credit, even though you knew what was eventually going to happen, sometimes what happened didn’t happen quite as expected. It successfully bridged the gap in the films, with plenty of special effects and the odd bit of philosophy and political comment thrown in for good measure. An entertaining film, which successfully immerses you in its universe for a couple of hours.


l R c vqkTMXXhbNMZPPCN