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Showing posts from October, 2015

Two thing are necessary

We're reading through Luke and Acts at church, and in Luke 10:38-42 comes a clash between Martha and Jesus over Mary not helping out in the kitchen when Jesus' visits but instead sitting at Jesus' feet. An invitation, as my friend Joe preached recently, not to choose between busyness and contemplation, but to 'rest inwardly' on Jesus. How I need that!

Some further scribbles from my notebook...

What does Jesus talk to Mary about?
We know from chapter 10:22 that Jesus alone makes his Father known.
And given chapter 11:1-13 is an invite to speak to the Father I think we can conclude that's what Mary is hearing about. That's the necessary thing. Without this we have nothing else.

And so I need to be in the the sound of the gospel - whether as I read the Scriptures myself, as I read them with others and we apply the gospel together, under preaching, through baptism, the Lord's Supper and the prayer of the church family. By all and every means possible my dul…

To end all wars

I listened to a revisited Radiolab episode at the weekend 'Update: New Normal'. It began with the question - will we ever stop going to war? The observation offered was that a 20+ years ago we were optimistic, but now 80-90% don't think we'll ever stop. What do you think?

A century ago the first world war was thought of as 'the war to end all wars' but this has plainly not proved to be the case. Wars have increased not decreased. One nation or cause attacks others, and their allies dive in to pursue justice. Just wars are responses to unjust action. Honorable people fight on our behalf - lest we forget. I breathe a sigh of relief not to live in an age where I'm called on to fight, and give thanks for those who have fought for our freedom and for others.

Can we change? 
The Radiolab episode tells the story of a company of Baboons, granted a plentiful supply of food they appeared to become less violent. It's said that the reason there are so many wars in …

The Marmite Moment of Faith

I've come across these three observations lately on Christianity and Secularism. Food for thought.
Christianity and the University experience notes that evangelicalism, in Universities, seems to equally produce activism and drive people away in equal measure."Evangelicalism... is a destabilising influence... triggering enthusiastic activism and disillusioned withdrawal in apparently equal measure."Charles Taylor in A Secular Age says the desire to move from monastic seriousness and popular nominalism about faith to a reforming call for everyone to be serious and consistent and zealous about their faith has led to more secularism... this includes a shift from meaningful cosmos to silent universe, and the shifting of meaning from 'out there' to within me. Is nominal faith so bad? How much do I really understand of my faith? How consistent is my walk really?Steve Bruce suggests that the charismatic renewal ought to be interpreted as sucess for secularism rather than…

Knowledge of sin is a gift

One says "Church talks about sin too much. I don't like it."
Another "You don't talk about sin enough - I've been so unaware of my sin in recent months. You've failed me."
Another asks "What sin are you into at the moment?"*

Call it, as Spufford does, the HPTFTU. Call it the many names it's given in the Bible. Call it sin.

In an age ('human history') that trivialises sin, that sees it clearly in others... the knowledge of sin, my sin, is desperately needed.

The story of Old Testament Israel can serve us in seeing this.

Twice Paul asks "What advantage in being a Jew?" in Romans 3:1 and 3:10.

Firstly, much advantage - because they had the oracles of God. Paul's approach is Biblical Theology as he retells the story of Israel in Romans 1-3, how they betrayed God, how he gave them over to their sin, how his arms were wide open to receive them in repentance but they received his kindness as freedom to harden their heart…

The Exodus is good news

Chapters 1-19 God hears, remembers and saves his people from their slavery to Egypt. They're broken spirited and unable to save themselves. Their salvation doesn't overcome their slavery to sin which becomes very evident as they begin to travel in the wilderness. The serpent out there is struck down, rescue from their serpentine heart will require an even greater salvation. What is pictured here will come to pass as the Father sends his Son to bring many adopted sons to glory...  with life from the true Lamb, the true Rock, the true Bread, the true Moses...
Chapters 20-24 God comes down and meets his people at the mountain - he rescued them for himself. As rescued people he calls them to reflect him to the world. "Be holy and I am holy." How? By providing for the widow, the orphan and the foreigner among you who can't provide for themselves. This is what the Triune God is like. He did this for his people. Could they now walk in his footsteps? God will meet his peo…

The Gift and the Galatian Problem in my Heart

Paul writes to his friends in Galatia and in verses 1-10 offers a substantial opening to the letter.

1-5 Paul, the Galatians and his gospel
First century letters begin with the sender, then introduce the audience.

Paul is an apostle - sent by God to people with the gospel.
The gospel concerns
Jesus who gave himself for our sinsJesus whose death was to deliver us from the present evil age (whatever that might be)Jesus who was raised by his FatherThat this was the Father's will.That this is for the Father's gloryThat this is grace. Gift.6-10 An astonishing situation
Paul observes that his friends have turned from the Father who called them in Christ. They have deserted God. A desertion, forsaking, betrayal, a relational abandonment. The evangelical who looks picky about doctrine might be that, but really their goal is to ensure that we are true to God the Father of Jesus. We can be lacking in some knowledge and still be knowing the same person, poorly. But there comes a point whe…

A Wilderness of Mirrors

I received a review copy of A Wilderness of Mirrors from Mark Meynell and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

It's obvious in reading the book that Mark Meynell loves words and culture and people. It's a well written, accessible look around our world that gets under the skin of our cynical age. Mark helps us to see how the Christian faith then speaks to the issues he explores. A keen observer who, as his subtitle implies, wants us to trust again.

This video gives a feel.

One of the observations that particularly struck me was the contemporary love of conspiracy theories - because these give the opportunity to find significance in otherwise meaningless tragic events. As we suspect there is significance in life, but where to find that is important, A Wilderness of Mirrors helps us find better answers.

I've read and appreciated James Smith's How (not) to be secular and Charles Taylor's A Secular Age recently. A Wilderness of Mirrors is more accessible and more engaging.

Sharing your faith at University

Evangelism, or proselytising, sounds spooky, weird, and manipulative, and the kind thing you’d do to people you don’t like. Our society hates the idea of imposing your beliefs on others, though have you ever tried that? Like getting your flatmates to do the washing up?

A few comments to begin with.
You're not selling Jesus. I've worked in sales, it can be a dirty business though there's nothing inherently bad about selling things. But Jesus isn't a product for sale - he's a person to meet. It's different.Calling people ‘non-Christians’ is plain rude. No one self-identifies that way in our society, so it’s lazy and a power play to define others by not being like you. Christians are 1-2% of the population at best, defining people as "not us" is arrogant. And counterproductive if you want people to explore faith and change who they follow.Having a ‘mission week’ sounds colonial and oppressive. Would you want to be on the other end of someone's missio…

God present. God absent.

I'm chewing on Luke's account of Jesus' resurrection in Luke 24:13-27.

The presence of God in his absence
Jesus draws near to Cleopas and his friend as they walk home from Jerusalem after that Passover weekend. They've done this before, year after year, no doubt. But this time is different. They're going in the absence of Jesus - he might never have walked this road with them before but now they feel themselves without him. Derelict.

Reflecting on Jane Dorn's photography:
Emanating from Dorn’s photographs is a disquieting sense of impermanence as one beholds these derelict structures once erected as assurances of permanence... Dorn writes: "...through the camera, I see not what is present, but what is missing. I see evidence of absence through the presence of what remains." They're despondent. Derelict from the absence of Jesus. Absence is grief.

They'd hoped in Jesus but now he's gone. The reader knows better than they do - Luke's repo…