Month: September 2006

Faith and repentance

Q: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q: What is repentance unto life?
A: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.

(Questions LXXXVI and LXXXVII from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.)


del.icio.us

Finally gave in to the call of the geeks, I now have a del.icio.us account. After using it for a few days, I think it’s a good idea, with just the right balance of functionality versus simplicity.

I’ve now accumulated a fair number of (what I think are) interesting links, so have a look and see what you think.


a.m.: Psalm 145, Matthew 13 p.m.: Galatians 6:7-10

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Ge 8:22

Every harvest, the usual bible passages are rolled out…

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home. Henry Alford

The usual hymns arise…

Do we thank God for his promises and his provision? Are we able to glorify our maker and sustainer as we should? If we’re honest with ourselves, we know we do not. There’s something wrong with each and every member of the human race. Sin pervades our very being, disabling us from doing what we were originally designed to do – to glorify God.

Yet, even though sin polluted the world God had a plan, set before the creation of the world. He loved the world so much that he would redeem a people from sin, by the work of God the Son, who took on human flesh and went to the cross, through faith in the Son. This people have the righteousness of the Son imputed to them, and the punishment for their sin placed upon him. This people freed from the bondage of sin would be enabled by the Spirit of God to glorify God.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mt 13:40-43

One day the Son will return. He who gives us a harvest each year will carry out his own harvest. He will gather up his people, those who have faith in him, and they shall have eternal life, and he will cast out the rest into hell.

What will be our end at the final harvest?


Something old, something new

Spent the morning wandering around Kew Gardens with Nige and some of the people he’d acquainted himself with on PBase. Even though I only live ten minutes down the road, and I’ve been to Kew itself to shop, I’ve never been to the Royal Botanic Gardens. After spending the morning there, I realised I needed more time and will have to go again one day (with a macro lens) to fully appreciate the gardens.

The afternoon was spent playing football at Lampton Park with some of the lads from church and some of their acquaintances. A good run around, as well as a good way to meet other people.

The day ended with a few of the usual suspects watching a couple of DVDs. Spiderman II and The Animatrix.

I must admit, I still think Spiderman II is a great film, with plenty of depth to the story and characters, as well as great action and special effects. None of the characters are stereotypical, with a hero who has failings, a villian who has good points and a heroine with a brain and some guts. Some of life’s difficult questions are beset upon the characters, with good and bad choices made by all which weave together into an well written story.

The Animatrix helps to fill in gaps in The Matrix universe. The whole concept of The Matrix is a very clever allegory of religious thought and practice, and the Animatrix continues to weave Judaeo-Christian biblical imagery, with more Eastern religious thought as well as modern philosophical thoughts on the human condition to produce an interesting fictional world.


B flat minor…

Played snooker last night against Ed. I stormed into a 3-1 lead with some not so shoddy potting, even a colour clearance somewhere in there. However complacency kicked in/Ed picked up his game and the evening finished at 4-4 frames each.

This evening was spent learning how to play the scale of B flat minor (harmonic), amongst other things. Usually when I learn a minor scale, I think what the relative major scale is and then sharpen the seventh. However, my brain got into a bit of a twist when I thought of the relative major of B flat minor – D flat! For some reason, flat keys are really difficult on the violin! I then spent the next ten minutes in a rather frustrated state! It’s really easy on the piano! Anyway, at least I appear to be getting better at playing pieces with multiple positions required.


a.m.: 1 John 4:1-6 p.m.: Joshua 16

How can we avoid being taken in by those who what what is not from God? Firstly, we need to see who Jesus really is. There’s no denying he’s a figure in history, atheists and non-Christians accept that. It’s what the bible claims he is that is contentious, but also what allows a Christian to know the truth. Just as knowing a fake banknote is best achieved by knowing a true banknote intently, knowing the true Christ enables us to see when people are painting a distorted picture. To know Christ is to know his word. The more we know the word of God, the more we see a correct picture of him.

As our view of Jesus becomes clearer, it becomes easier to distinguish those who are not messengers from God. As our knowledge increases of the difference between the attitudes of God and those of the world, we can spot when the world’s thoughts and teachings corrupt Christian teachings. We can spot when the world’s teachings are veiled in a Christian gloss. When the glory of God is replaced with the glory of men.

To an extent we will be drawn to those who speak words which are in accord with our nature. A Christian should seek to listen to those who speak according to the word of God, but a non-Christian will seek that which is against. We need to look at ourselves as well, that we might check we are seeking that which is from God.

May we always have a true picture of Christ and his word.


BSE

After a rather busy week, I wasn’t looking forward to getting up early to travel down to Grove Chapel, Camberwell for ‘Banner South East’, organised by the Banner of Truth Trust. I wrenched myself out of bed at around 8.15am, met up with some of the usual suspects and headed into London. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in Camberwell Grove without getting lost and with a very short journey time of about 40 minutes!

I was glad I’d got up early though, as the day was good. There were two talks on growing closer to Christ, both of which focused on seeing what Christ has done. To try and understand the enormity of God the Son becoming a man and dying that we might not. For Jesus Christ was no mere man, but God in the flesh, the creator and sustainer of the universe. Jesus Christ was the perfect man, without spot or blemish of sin. He deserved nothing but praise and glory, but instead took on the sin of his people out of his great love and grace.

For I deserve nothing but the wrath of God for my sin, but through his great sacrifice, I gain that which I do not deserve – to be made right with God. If Christ did that for me, then he deserves my whole life. There is nothing I should withhold from him.

This was a great reminder of what Christ has done for me.

As well as the biblical exposition, it was great to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. A good, if exhausting day!


Is Islam evil? Discuss.

Or not as the case might be. It would seem that the recent decision by Pope Benedict XVI to quote Emperor Manuel II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire by saying, and I quote,

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

has caused a bit of a furore in the Islamic world. If someone had said that about any religious leader important to the West, there would’ve been discussion and dialogue, with people at least saying “Yes, no or maybe!”

The response of the Islamic world seems to be one of non-discussion. There have been lots of calls for the Pope to apologise for his words, but very few rebutting the argument. Is submission without reason the true face of Islam? The response to heresy we are used to when Christianity is attacked is not a call for an apology, but a call to apologetics – a reasoned defence of the faith. I may not think the Pope is right a lot of the time, but my response is not to silence his words, but to argue against them from Scripture and with reason.

This is a great opportunity for the defence of Islam, and for discussion and dialogue. Will ignorant silence triumph over intelligent discourse?


Constantly changing position

Despite my lack of practice on the violin, I seem to be progressing at a reasonable rate. I’m currently trying to get into the habit of shifting position at will when a piece requires it. It’s easy enough to achieve in a scale as it’s all very predictable, but in a piece of music, it isn’t always so obvious. Hopefully I’ll get some practice in a knock this on the head as it’ll make my playing ability much wider.

Played snooker this evening with Ed and Dave. We broke the weird deadlock with Ed and I having 3 frames each and Dave walking off with the wooden spoon. Ed and I decided to have a decider, which Ed won, ah well. 🙂


The Aviator

Saw The Aviator this evening. As a film it’s good, but coupled with the remarkable story of Howard Hughes, industrialist, engineer, filmmaker and aviator, this was a very interesting film to watch. The film cruises through his life, from glimpses of Hughes’ childhood, through his film making days, his purchasing of TWA and founding Hughes Aircraft, as well as the various women in his life, from his mother through Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner.

His life as one of a man who was driven and able to accomplish much with his gifts and talents. He had strange almost contradictory behaviour, from taking all the risks in flying his own development aircraft, to taking as few risks as possible with personal hygeine. He was the common man, yet at the same time a very uncommon man. Here was a man who was popular with ladies, but ultimately growing old alone.

The film takes us thourgh his life at a good pace, and giving enough of a glimpse to appreciate the moments depicted. It shows us a man who is able to control his actions and speech to great effect, as well as a man whose mind plays tricks and occassionally misfires.

Worth watching.


a.m.: Proverbs 14 p.m.: Exodus 20:14

What is it to be truly wise? The books of Proverbs is a microcosm of the whole biblical outlook.

He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him. Pr 14:2

A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. Pr 14:16

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. Pr 14:26

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Pr 14:27

A fear of the Lord is to be truly wise.

This is not a cringe-worthy fear, where one is afraid of being zapped for upsetting a god.

To fear God is to acknowledge him for who he truly is. For he is not vindictive, waiting to pounce at the smallest opportunity. At the same time, we need to avoid the other extreme of seeing him as ‘all matey’. Rather, he is the almighty God, who is holy and just, whilst loving and gracious.

For we indeed are only able to walk uprightly through his love and grace. For he is able to work in us that which is pleasing in his sight by his grace.

We get a true glimpse of God’s holiness and what it is to be holy by the power of his Spirit working in us, convicting us of sin and enabling us to live holy lives.

Those who fear the Lord have a security of a God who has their best interests at all times.

Ultimately, we cannot truly fear God in our sinful unrepentant state. We can only have a true understanding of what it is to fear God through the grace and love demonstrated in his Son, through the great sacrifice that all might be saved through faith. In this way, we become a new creation, renewed in our minds through the work of the Spirit, that we might rightly fear the Lord, and so attain the wisdom which comes from God alone.


Happy birthday mum!

I was glad my car is now back in working order as I travelled back to Bristol for my mum’s birthday. For some reason, public transport is even more difficult when it’s long distance and short-notice, so I was glad of my own method of transportation.

The weekend in Bristol was relaxing with the whole family in attendance and a take away from Nandos to celebrate mum’s birthday – nice and easy to both prepare and clear away! We chatted and had fun over the meal, and pored over old photograph albums. For some reason, my brother looked naughty in all his photos! Afterwards, we settled down in front of the TV to catch the last night of the proms on the BBC. A particularly good vintage thought my mum.


Carless…

One of those weeks and it’s not quite over yet. The week started with me dropping the car off at the garage as there’s oil getting in the cooling system – thought of blown head gasket/cracked cylinder head/oil cooler gone – hopefully it’ll be the last option as the other two are really expensive to fix!

Spent Monday evening playing snooker against Dave and Ed. Dave vs Ed 2-0, me vs Dave 2-0, Ed vs me 2-0. Zero sum game. 🙂 Sampled the local pan-Asian restaurant which was rather pleasant and then caught the train home. To be honest, the train wasn’t as bad as I remembered it to be, it just doesn’t give you much flexibility. I can get to work and back on the train without too much hassle (although more hassle than the car), but going anywhere which isn’t radial to Central London from where I am takes a lot of effort.

Due to lack of car, I cancelled my violin lesson on Tuesday, as public transport from Staines to Teddington and then Teddington to Isleworth is more than I can bear after a day at work! This did mean I could spend the evening playing music for fun and having a play with Google Calendar, which I’ve used to implement a dynamic calendar on the church web site. I also needed to do my clothes washing, but without my car, I made a visit to the local corner shop. OK, a box of 16 tablets of Ariel non-bio in the corner shop costs the same as 48 tablets of Fairy non-bio at Tesco, but that’s the price you pay for being immobile – not quite what you want and more expensive to boot. (Yes, I understand the volumes of the local shop are a lot smaller and they need to make a living. I can also understand why some people – myself included – prefer large supermarkets)

On Wednesday I was still lacking a car, although work colleague who lives nearby was kind enough to give me a lift to and from work. The garage phoned and reckoned it was a crack in the oil cooler, so they’d ordered the parts and would be fitting them. I’ve resigned myself to not having a car now, and spent the evening listening to a broadcast of Mahler’s second, from the Proms, on the radio.

It’s now Thursday and I have my car back! Yay! I don’t think I’d realised how attached to my car I’d become. I guess it’s not the car itself which I’m attached to, but the freedom of mobility it gives me. Anyway, it now has a new oil cooler, a well-flushed cooling system and a replenished dose of oil. Only £300 as well, so I can recommend Barry Symons of Maidenhead. 🙂


a.m.: 1 John 4:1 p.m.: Joshua 14

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 Jn 4:1

When John writes this verse, he is not writing just to pastors, elders, deacons, but to all Christians. These are not optional words, but the word of God for all Christians.

For we are not to believe everything we are told – whoever may tell us it. Whether it is in the pulpit, the media (Christian and secular), people we know or through any other way.

Instead, we are to listen to what has been said, think about it and compare it with what God’s word says. Christianity is not about switching off your mind – far from it, but it renews our mind by the power of the Spirit working in us.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Ac 17:11

Christians should have the same mindset of the Bereans. They even compared what the apostle Paul said with the Scriptures.

This is not to say we should actively spend time hunting down heresies, but deal with them as we come across them in our daily lives. This also means our knowledge of the Scriptures is important, that we might know the truth, and that they might effectively shape our thinking.


Shorter days

A fairly lazy Saturday, getting up at around lunchtime as I’d arranged to play snooker in the afternoon with Robin. Met up at the snooker hall with Robin, Jason and David for a game of doubles. After deciding on some fairly even teams, David and I vs Robin and Jason, we play three fairly scrappy frames, finally ending in a 1 1/2 frames each draw – time had run out on parking ticket so called the last frame a draw.

The evening was spent with the usual suspects to watch The Pianistagain}}! It would seem the usual suspects consist of such a large group of people that the majority of the group who saw it this time weren’t around the last time I saw it. A good film regardless, and worth seeing again.