Friday, 30 April 2010

Joy in poverty, sickness and failure

Many people have a small view of God, a limited view of what God can do. Dangerously, people have a limited God as the God who only bring success, wealth and health. The God who does all things for my earthly comfort and anything else that doesn't fit into those three categories they would immediately and automatically say that it is not of God's doing. Those that think such ways are defitnetly not talking about the God of the bible because He is not limited. The same God who gives health weath and success is the same God who inflicts sickness,poverty and thwarts your plans. If you don't believe me Isaiah 45:7 says
'I form the light and create darkness,I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. God is by no means limited and we ought to exalt in this because when we have such a view of God, that when sickness comes we know that this is for our good. (It doesn't mean that we shouldn't pray for healing but regardless of what happens we know that God is in control). When we fail we won't be dismayed and be tempted to commit suicide, (but we are to reflect on our actions and decisions and not just have an apathetic and fatalistic attitude). When we live in poverty, we will be content and rejoice in God our Saviour. The God who works the miraculous is also the same God who works in the ordinary. God does whatever He pleases and we can't dictate his ways. So when i get cancer or something bad happens to a family member, though i feel the pain and may not understand why, i can confidently say that God is working all things for my good. I know my destination and i know my eternal dweling place. This stage is but for a moment, though it may be barren and yields no fruit yet I will rejoice in God for I know that there is prepared for me a garden with a large mansion where the stream of life flows and the vines are filled with grapes. So in sickness I will rejoice, in poverty I will thank Him, in failure I will delight in His success. Though the battle is hard and the road rough, we have to remember that we are guided by a shepherd and the shephered guides his sheep with a rod. God loves us and keeps us but the road is not smooth as some would have it to be; what then shall separate us from the Love of God or what can separate us from the shephered, shall poeverty, sickness and failure? And though your heart may be heavy like Job because of your afflictions, think ahead to that day when you will be at the saviour's side and there you may converse with him and ask him, 'My sweet Lord, why did you let that sickness befall me and let my heart be heavy'? the sweet Lord shall look at you with a smile, stare into your eyes and say thus 'it was all for your good'. 'Are you not now safely home? Are you not now forever happy? Am I not the good Shepherd?'. I believe we all know the answers to those questions and will not your heart be delighted. God is Love and He guides His children; so let us submit to Him and remove anything that easily entangles us, for the road we walk, though it is rough and at times barren, though we may not see the sun for a while, though we may feel deserted and feel the curse of death, there is Joy throughout for those who trusts and give their souls to God for as they walk they shall sing and rejoice though they be battered, their souls shall be merry and their hearts glad for they hold on to that unwavering hope of the Love of God and the shepherding of Christ.

K.oni

Monday, 26 April 2010

Election

The doctrine of Election may be a hard doctrine for many people to accept but this doctrine is clearly taught in the scripture. When we approach the doctrine of election, we should do it in great humility and kill of any pride that may tempt us to think that God chose me because there was something in me and not in the other. In fact God chose you because of His sovereign choice according to His glorious purpose and He chose you in love. God didn’t see anything in you to love or anything that was special from the rest, but because He chose to have mercy on you and He did it in love. This should give us a deep humility and great comfort in our salvation. This doctrine was and is meant to comfort believers and to be a great motive for evangelism. For we can be confidence that there will be some of God’s children in places that are yet unreached so therefore we should make it our aim to reach those people. God does everything for the praise of his glory and to those who are elect, they are elected to the praise of his glorious grace. This doctrine is sweet and we should not shy away from it, but preach it and be confident with it.

k.oni

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A Friend Lost

I'm sorry my friend of how I played the game
With you I was apathetic and showed no concern for your soul
I was rough and out of line, out of bound now I'm out of time.
I watched as our relationship faded to the distant blue
Where Mermaids dance and no man can reach.
I'm sorry my friend but I do wish you well
I cannot come and see you there
For pride holds me here

A Christian girl that I know

The words below were the words that came to my mind of a Christian girl that I know as she waved goodbye to me.

Those pure eyes
She truly is a lady of righteousness
In whom is no deceit
Like Nathaniel of old.
Oh I pray that she may be Like Esther
and serve her Master (Christ) well

k.oni

Friday, 23 April 2010

Trusting in God's grace rather than the freedom of the will

Here's a quote from Charles Spurgeon which highlights the sovereignty of God in saving sinners. Preachers and evangelists should approach the pulpit in like manner. We all should rely on the grace of God and put our hope on the freeness of His grace rather than the freeness of man's will because in doing this, we won't be motivated to use deceptive and manipulative means to save people but rather we will present the truth plainly, loving our fellow men with genuine affections from the heart. Below is the quote.

'I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself." My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.' (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

Embracing the Unexpected

'It feels like I’ve gone back in time’ declared a stranded journalist on Radio 4’s PM, ‘Everyone's travelling by train and talking about the Liberals winning a general election’. After the first leaders' debate Nick Clegg's popularity soared and the eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajokull grounded all air traffic across Northern Europe for the best part of a week.

The Liberal Democrats have perennially been viewed as the spare wheel of British politics. One of those features that you know are there but doesn't disrupt the normal flow of events. Yet it is events that have brought chaos to this past week and it is often the unexpected that foils the most meticulous of plans. Just as many holiday makers expected to return last weekend at the end of their Easter break, David Cameron and Gordon Brown had campaign strategies – focus group tested and ad space bought – that suddenly went out the window.

Speaking on Newsnight earlier this week the President of Iceland adopted a remarkably relaxed attitude towards the chaos that his volcano was causing. Perhaps because he had realised that sometimes things happen that we cannot foresee, and after all the volcano isn't really his. The closure of vast swathes of airspace caused mass disruption and threatened economic ruin for the already embattled airline industry, but also left me marvelling at the limits to our mastery of the universe.

A colleague commented that the world became a lot bigger this week. We have conquered the heights and the depths of the earth, we have voyaged to the moon and looked far beyond, yet so much remains out of reach. For all that our human progress has achieved so much is still unknown.

While the eruption calms, and flights resume as if nothing had happened it seems British politics has changed. Without securing the same knock out win in the second debate Nick Clegg held his own and showed that his party cannot be dismissed as an inconvenient auxiliary. As David Cameron and Nick Clegg vied to convince the sceptical public that they offered the best hope for change the three parties have had to react to events. The carefully crafted strategies and messages have had to change. Gordon Brown risks being shut out of the contest altogether; David Cameron's chief opponent is no longer Brown; and Nick Clegg is unable to avoid media scrutiny granted to the underdog.

Normality is sometimes nice, but it can also be pretty mundane. The unexpected brings things to life, who would have ever expected that the BBC would have a 'Live: as it happened' page for geological activity, or it would dominate the list of most read stories. And an election campaign that threatened to bore the electorate has come alive.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us (11v1) that ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see'. This is not blind optimism but, for me at least, it is a nudge to embrace the unexpected. Author Don Miller recently suggested we ask 'what if'? a little more. What if we accepted that we will not always know the outcome until we get there? What if in our walk with God we were prepared to take some risks? What if we allowed God to set our agenda, and not try to dictate his? And perhaps, just perhaps, if we could show the world that our faith is an adventure, and not a trap we would stand a better chance of holding their attention.

Danny Webster, Parliamentary Officer

You can post a comment about this article at:

www.eauk.org/fnt/embracing-the-unexpected.cfm

Aborting the “Wrong” Baby?

The news out of Sarasota, Florida caught many people by surprise. A doctor in the city has lost his license because he aborted what is now described as the “wrong” baby. Back in 2006, Dr. Matthew Kachinas had been asked to perform an abortion on a baby that had been identified as having Down syndrome and other congenital defects. Instead, the doctor aborted that baby’s healthy twin.

As reported in The Miami Herald:

A Sarasota doctor has lost his license for mistakenly aborting a healthy twin during a procedure targeting a deformed fetus. Immediately after the Florida Board of Medicine’s decision Saturday, Dr. Matthew Kachinas was involuntarily hospitalized because he said he planned to commit suicide. Kachinas had blamed faulty ultrasound equipment for the 2006 mistake. He was targeting a fetus with Down syndrome and signs of a heart defect.

CBS News added further details: “The woman had asked the doctor to perform a selective termination procedure on the male fetus, which had congenital defects. An ultrasound later showed that the other fetus, a female that did not appear to have medical problems, had been terminated.”


What are we to make of this? We now know that the vast majority of babies identified prenatally as carrying the genetic markers for Down syndrome are aborted. National statistics indicate that 80-90% of such babies are now aborted — meaning that we have launched a search and destroy mission on Down syndrome babies in the womb.

The situation with Dr. Kachinas reveals the horribly confused morality that marks modern America and, in far too many cases, the practice of medicine. This doctor was asked to perform what is now euphemistically called a “selective reduction.” Instead, he aborted “the wrong baby,” killing a healthy baby instead of the baby identified as carrying the markers for Down syndrome.

Consider what this means for the sanctity of human life. We are now looking at babies as consumer products. We will accept babies that meet our specified qualifications, and abort when medical tests or other factors reveal that the baby does not meet our standards. Human life is reduced to just another consumer product subject to consumer preferences and demand.

Do we recognize what this means? The abortion of Down syndrome babies is a scandal of the first degree, and this nation is growing more complacent and complicit in this scandal by the day. Beyond this, we can be certain that babies are now being targeted in the womb for reasons far beyond Down syndrome. Specialists working with autism are concerned that forthcoming genetic tests will put babies who carry markers for autism next on the list for prenatal search and destroy missions.

This news story out of Florida is a warning to the entire nation. What is the real scandal here — that this doctor was ready to kill a baby with Down syndrome, or merely that he aborted “the wrong baby?”

The answer to that question will tell us all we need to know about the conscience of the age.

article by DR. Albert Mohler
http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/04/14/newsnote-aborting-the-wrong-baby/

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Enjoying God

Jonathan Edwards preaching to his Northampton congregation on the beauty of God and enjoying Him wrote the following:

'The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean. Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives; to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labour for, or set our hearts on, any thing else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness?'

K.Oni

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/1590_A_GodEntranced_Vision_of_All_Things/

The Goldians

It was a sunny day in the town called Gold
The sun shone brightly on the overflowing fountains.
The trees swayed from side to side singing with joy,
that if one was to lie beneath its branches and shut their eyes
one can hear love itself echoed so free.
Freedom was a word that the Goldians loved,
for the Goldians are the rightful citizens of the town called Gold.
Freedom was in everything and in everything was freedom.
Freedom reigned so freely
and everyone who entered the city immediately
dropped their burdens and ran with unbeatable joy.
Freedom was in the air and in the food and in the music.
No sickness was ever found in the city for freedom cured it all.

k.oni

Monday, 19 April 2010

Serving at NWA 2010

New Word Alive 2010 was amazing. A week spent with God's people was truly delightful. Love and righteousness filled the air and one could taste the joy that will run rampant in the new heavens and the new earth. Thank you Jesus that you left the clear waters of heaven to come to this muddy sea, to sprinkle it and cleanse it by your death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

Though I was a steward and didn't get the opportunity to go to the talks I wanted to go to, yet I felt so much joy and peace and the Lord taught and showed me the joy in serving others. I loved the people I was working with and as the week went by instead of becoming more tired, my strength was being renewed.

Indeed, Jesus came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many and my prayer is that I can continue to serve people with the fullness of heart, knowing that I do it for my Lord and not for any earthly reward. Though it may be hard at times, we have a God who is great and willing to serve us for He knows that we are dust.

ken

Debating Reputation

The morning after the night before, and all the party spin-doctors are claiming victory for their side in the leaders’ debate. Last night’s meet of party heads, the first televised event of its kind in the UK , saw 9.9 million viewers tune in. It was one of the most trending topics on Twitter, and the specially designed Facebook app couldn’t handle the pressure.

The debate was about more than just the reputation of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, but it was also about less, with policy pledges and colour of ties equally enthralling commentators.

These televised debates, as well as addressing political apathy, will give us an opportunity to reckon with the personalities and hopefully character of each candidate side by side. But what role should personality and character have in the contemporary gladiatorial arena of party politics?

In Deuteronomy (1.13) we read of Moses struggling to govern the Israelites on his own so he proposes to “Choose some wise, understanding and respected [reputable] men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

While we are not Israel , God is still the Lord of all creation. As the creator and sustainer of all that is good it is right for us to affirm and engage where God is already involved. And that applies to our politicians too. We should affirm the goodness in the political leaders in our country, but also challenge them to stand up for their reputation and for what they believe is right. This also offers us a great opportunity to ask friends and family what they think Jesus was like as a political leader, because he is a King, though of a different sort of kingdom. He built up quite a reputation during and after his life. He was frequently questioned, and still is.

Today, the media regularly brings a persons reputation to the fore. The Queen of Sheba was one of the first politico-celebrity journalists. The passage in 1 King 10 illustrates her encounter with Solomon well: “When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD [his reputation], she came to test him with hard questions.”

Solomon’s reputation preceded him, perhaps because others had talked about this wise King just as our journalists report on the character and personality of the party leaders. Sheba did not believe what was reported about Solomon and had to come and test him for herself. She did this with hard questions, much like journalists question politicians today.

We should emulate Sheba ; asking questions is a good practice and is vitally important as we approach an election. As we talk about the first leaders debate with our friends this weekend, discuss why a good reputation is important. A good reputation is worth striving for because it aggregates the virtues we embody, sending a message about who we are as persons.

So as we ask our politicians questions and assess their reputation, ask ourselves and our friends: Why is it important? Ask them. Ask real questions and listen to what they say.

Article by:
Lauri Moyle is Fellow of the Institute for Faith and Culture

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New Word Alive

Tomorrow morning I make my way to Pwelli, Wales for the New Word Alive conference(NWA). I am indeed very excited about it as I have never been before especially to such a large conference expecting up to 4000 people. That's a lot of people and I expect the place to be packed especially the halls where the meetings will be taking place.

My journey begins at 6am, waking up and getting ready to catch my bus to parkway station and from there to Bathspa station where a lovely kind girl has offered me a lift there, otherwise I would be catching the 625am train all the way which roughly takes about 6 hours so I am very grateful for that. I'm taking with me a couple of books and those that are actually related to what I'm studying but will also be taking pride and prejudice and faith and philosophy which I'm currently reading. I thought it good to read the pride and prejudice as it only cost me 20pence and I like the way she writes. Anyway, hopefully the trip to Wales will be fun and maybe engage in some good conversation in the car and talk about religion which is my joy to talk about.

The conference actually doesn't start till Tuesday but since I'm a steward and their should be 80 of us, I have to be there a day early. we will be put into groups of about 7-20 people so looking forward to see those ill be working with. I guess one of the disadvantages of being a steward is that you might miss the live talks and seminars but we do get the CD talks for free. This is a great way to serve and though jobs like these is not particularly to my taste or my liking, I will endeavour to do my best and serve the people for the sake of Christ. I aim to do it with a cheerful smile in the hope that I may encourage others and be a light to those in the dark for I know the anguish of a troubled soul and the weary burden of loneliness.

Speakers such as Wayne Grudem,Jerry Bridges, Hugh Palmer and Rebecca Manley-Pippert are speaking and should prove exciting. Stuart Townsend is the worship leader and some rate him the best in our times.

I hope this may be a fruitful time for everyone who comes and that many may be encouraged in their faith. i pray its a fruitful time for me too, as I continue to work out my salvation in fear and trembling and sorting out the deep issues of my heart.

God bless you all
Ken

Friday, 9 April 2010

Is your heart troubled like mine?

Is your heart troubled like mine?
A once sweet tune now out of line
A city once moist now dry
Is your heart troubled like mine?

Despair and sorrow are my acquaintances
Morning till evening, they refuse to leave
Peace is far and rest is not found
Is your heart troubled like mine?

If my anguish be weighed
And my misery placed on a scale
Heavier than the sands of the seas it shall proof
Is your heart heavier than mine?

I have heard of a man above
Who took the sorrows of those not his own
I plea oh man will you have my own
Was your heart troubled like mine?

Permanence Before Experience — The Wisdom of Marriage

Rightly understood, marriage is all about permanence. In a world of transitory experiences, events, and commitments, marriage is intransigent. It simply is what it is — a permanent commitment made by a man and a woman who commit themselves to live faithfully unto one another until the parting of death.

That is what makes marriage what it is. The logic of marriage is easy to understand and difficult to subvert, which is one reason the institution has survived over so many millennia. Marriage lasts because of its fundamental status. It is literally what a healthy and functioning society cannot survive without.

And yet, modernity can be seen as one long attempt to subvert the permanent — including marriage. The modern age has brought the rise of individual autonomy, the collection of populations in cities, the weakening of family commitments, the waning of faith, the routinization of divorce, and a host of other developments that subvert marriage and the commitment it requires.

Added to this list is the phenomenon of cohabitation. The twentieth century saw the phenomenon of cohabitation become the expectation among many, if not most, young adults. But the end of the century, the progression of intimacy (including sexual intimacy) was likely to follow a line from “hooking up” to cohabiting.

A new study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics suggests two very important findings: First, that cohabiting is now the norm for younger adults. Second, cohabiting makes divorce more likely after eventual marriage.

“Cohabitation is increasingly becoming the first co-residential union formed among young adults,” states the report. The facts seem daunting. The percentage of women in their 30s who report having cohabited is over 60 percent — doubled over the last fifteen years.

Reporting in The New York Times, Sam Roberts documents the rise of cohabitation among the young. He cites Pamela J. Smock of the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center. “From the perspective of many young adults, marrying without living together first seems quite foolish,” she explains.

That perfectly captures the new logic — that it would be foolish to marry without first cohabiting. How can you know if you are really meant for each other? How can you measure compatibility without the experience of living together?

That logic makes perfect sense in a society that is increasingly sexualized, secularized, and “liberated” from the expectations of the past.

Reacting to the research findings, Professor Kelly A. Musick of Cornell University asserted, “The figures suggest to me that cohabitation is still a pathway to marriage for many college graduates, while it may be an end in itself for many less educated women.” The study report affirmed her assessment: “Cohabitation is increasingly becoming the first co-residential union formed among young adults . . . . As a result of the growing prevalence of cohabitation, the number of children born to unmarried cohabiting parents has also increased.”

But, as this new report suggests, cohabiting before marriage does not lead to a stronger and more permanent union. Instead, the experience of cohabiting weakens the union. As Roberts reports: “The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found.”

Pamela Smock argues that the research will fall on deaf ears. “Just because some academic studies have shown that living together may increase the chance of divorce somewhat, young adults themselves don’t believe that.”

That may be true, and it surely captures the spirit of the age. The experience of cohabiting just makes sense to many young adults. Their logic is that marriage is what happens after a relationship becomes sexually intimate and is found to be adequately fulfilling — not before.

They do not know that what they are actually doing is undoing marriage. They miss the central logic of marriage as an institution of permanence. They miss the essential wisdom of marriage — that the commitment must come before the intimacy, that the vows must come before the shared living, that the wisdom of marriage is its permanence before its experience.

Cohabitation weakens marriage — even a cohabiting couple’s eventual marriage — because a temporary and transitory commitment always weakens a permanent commitment. Having lived together with the open possibility of parting, that possibility always remains, and never leaves.

This research might not alter the plans of many young couples, who are not likely to read, much less be advised by such research. But it does affirm what makes marriage what it is, and what weakens and destroys marriage as an institution.

From a Christian perspective there is more, of course. We are reminded of marriage as God’s gift and expectation, and of the divine goodness of it. We are also reminded that it is our Creator, and not we ourselves, who knows that we need permanence before experience. We need marriage.

Article by Albert Mohler

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/03/02/permanence-before-experience-the-wisdom-of-marriage/

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Spiritual Gifts: An Implication for Unanswered Prayer

First, let’s just remind ourselves of some truths about spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians 12. Then we will notice a simple implication for unanswered prayer.

1. God wants us to know about spiritual gifts.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed” (1 Corinthians 12:1).

2. Objective truths about Jesus govern subjective spiritual experiences.
“No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

3. Different Christians have different spiritual powers given to them by the Holy Spirit.
“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4).

4. For example, these different spiritual powers include the following:
“Wisdom . . . knowledge . . . faith . . . healing . . . miracles . . . prophecy . . . ability to distinguish between spirits . . . tongues . . . interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

5. The Spirit of God is sovereign over when and to whom he gives such powers.
“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

6. The aim of all the gifts is the common good of the church.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

7. The variety of gifts is like the variety of our body parts, such as eye and ear, hand and foot.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:14).

8. Therefore, if a spiritual power is not used, it’s like the human body not hearing.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? (1 Corinthians 12:17).

9. Therefore, we should avail ourselves of the spiritual powers God gives us through others.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
Now consider the implications of this for unanswered prayer. There is more than one reason why we may pray for things and yet not receive them. Reasons may include 1) because we don’t trust God (James 1:6); 2) because the answer would not glorify Christ and sanctify us as much as something else (2 Corinthians 12:8-10); 3) because the answer is coming later than we think (Joseph waited 13 years before he saw the reason for his afflictions, Genesis 37-50).

But here is a reason we may not think of very often. God may intend to give us the blessing we long for not directly in answer to prayer, but indirectly in answer to prayer—through the spiritual gifting of another believer. And the reason we don’t receive the blessing is that we don’t avail ourselves of the power God intends to channel through the gifts of his people.

For example, the gifts Paul mentions include wisdom and healings and miracles. This implies that God intends that sometimes wisdom and healing and other sorts of miracles come into our lives through other believers ministering to us. If this were not true, there would be no point in spiritual gifts. They are one way God brings about the “common good” of the church.

If we pray and pray for some change we want to see, but we never consider seeking the ministry of a fellow believer, we are like the eye that says to the hand, “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
So in your small groups (which is the most natural place for such ministry to happen), seek the fullness of God’s “good” (1 Corinthians 12:7), and minister to each other—and seek to be ministered to—in this way.

Seeking all his fullness with you,

Pastor John

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Of First Importance — The Cross and Resurrection at the Center

The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines — a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine, but is centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as the apostolic preaching makes clear, the Gospel is the priority.

The Apostle Paul affirms this priority when he writes to the Christians in Corinth. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul sets out his case:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Paul points directly to the events of the cross and resurrection of Christ. He is not concerned with just any gospel, but with the only gospel that saves. This is “the gospel I preached to you,” Paul reminds the Corinthians. The same Paul who so forcefully warned the Galatians against accepting any false gospel reminds the church at Corinth that the very “gospel I preached to you” is the gospel “by which you are being saved.” Their stewardship of the gospel is underlined in Paul’s words, “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”

Paul’s statement of priority is a vital corrective for our confused times. Without hesitation, Paul writes with urgency about the truths that are “as of first importance.” All revealed truth is vital, invaluable, life-changing truth to which every disciple of Christ is fully accountable. But certain truths are of highest importance, and that is the language Paul uses without qualification.

And what is of first importance? “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” and “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of the Christian faith. Without these, there is no good news — no salvation.

Paul gets right to the heart of the matter in setting out those truths that are “of first importance.” Following his example, we can do no less. These twin truths remain “as of first importance,” and no sermon is complete without the explicit affirmation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So it was then, so it is now, and so it ever shall be until Christ claims his church.

As Paul reminded the Corinthians — and now instructs us — the Gospel is at the center of our faith, and the cross and the empty tomb are at the center of the Gospel. “So we preach, and so you believed,” Paul encourages us. [1 Cor. 15:11]

May the power of the cross and the victory of the empty tomb fill every pulpit, every pew, and every Christian heart — and may the Good News of the Gospel be received with joy by sinners in need of a Savior.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. [1 Corinthians 15:56-58

article by Albert Mohler

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Do not be a stranger

Oh my lover, do not be a stranger to me
Do not be the poison that flows in my vein
Wont you be to me like the month of April
When the flowers begin to bud and blossom
But you are out of tune with nature
My heart buds and blooms for you
The warm blood of love leaps through my veins
Each return of spring arouses my love for you
Oh my lover, do not be a stranger to me!

K.oni

The kiss from my Lord

I’ve felt the kiss from my Lord,
the kiss at conversion
That reconciled me to my God.
The kiss still lingers and is yet warm
And shall grow hotter still
For he has accepted me,
though vile as I am,
through rich grace he has clothed me
Balmed me with his own hands in the oil of righteousness
Now he walketh me in pastures green
By still waters he restores my soul
I pant for him day after day
Waiting for him at the table of communion
Till he comes and comfort me with the kiss of reception

k.oni

This came about from reading a daily devotion from Spurgeon

A prayer for my soul

My Father God I approach thee
With nothing in my hands
My request I withhold and stand still
To enjoy your presence is my only desire
For with this I am satisfied all my days

I love you Lord Jesus like I love nothing else
Take all that I have and be all to me
I long for a community a people totally devoted to you
A house full of love and of a common purse
A morning started with prayer and ends the night
I love you Lord Jesus like I love nothing else

Holy Spirit, fill me once again
Renew in me the thirst for righteousness
Pour in my heart the Love of God
Teach me for you are my counsellor
Let me see the glory of my redeemer

k.oni

5 reasons why we should get involve

Throughout church history, individual Christians have always been championing campaigns for social justice in their communities or worldwide. They have made it their duty to penetrate the places where injustice is at large and due to their evangelical convictions have sought to do something about it. They were not content with the current situation and willed to change it, dedicating themselves to it. They were rooted on gospel principles as well as seeking to change policies that could alleviate and eventually eradicate the sufferings. The most famous example is William Wilberforce dedicating all his life and political career to the abolishment of the slave trade. In parliament, there was a group of them known as he ‘Clapham Sect’ and usually mocked in the press and in parliament as the ‘Saints’. John Wesley, three days before his death wrote to Wilberforce to assure him that God had raised him up for his “glorious enterprise” and to urge him not to grow weary of well doing. Due to their perseverance in the cause for Justice, the slave trade was finally abolished in 1807 and finally their emancipation in 1833. If we are in the cause of social justice and if the current situations seems hopeless and we feel helpless and the devil whispers in our hears ‘what’s the point? your attempts are meaningless’. Let us remember those words from Wesley to Wilberforce, ‘do not grow weary of doing good’. And let us remember Wilberforce himself and how he persevered and let us remember that we have a Great God who works all things according to his purpose.

If today, we are to fight for social justice, we need to maintain a healthy balance of enthusiasm for evangelism and social action, for both go hand in hand. Our Lord often Healed the sick but also made it his constant aim to preach the good news.
“Whence, then this pronounced humanity? - this passion for social justice, and sensitivity to human wrongs? There is but one answer commensurate with stubborn historical truth. It derived from a new social conscience. And if that social conscience, admittedly, was the offspring of more than one progenitor, it nonetheless was mothered and nurtured by the evangelical revival of vital, practical Christianity - a revival which illuminated the central postulates of the new testament ethic, which made real the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of men, which pointed the priority of personality over property, and which directed heart, soul and mind, towards the establishment of the kingdom of righteousness on earth”. John Stott wrote of John Wesley that ‘Wesley was both a preacher of the gospel and a prophet of social righteousness’.

We need a new social conscience and that will come from the word of God. Below are five reasons that should convince us of why we should get involve in social action and care for justice.


1. A Fuller Doctrine of God

We need to remember that God is a God who is concerned for the whole of human kind. God is not a tribal deity like Israel of old tended to make him out to be but He is also God of the whole earth. When God chose Israel, God didn’t loose all interests in all the other nations for Amos proclaims the word of the Lord to the people of Israel “ Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites (or Ethiopians)?… Did I bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete) and the Arameans from Kir?” (Amos 9:7). Neither should God just be alienated to the realms of religion as if God's chief concern is primarily religious things such as worship and prayer, hymn books and rituals. Of course God is concerned about these things as long as it relates to all of life lest we be condemned as the Pharisees for their hypocritical ways.
God also cares about justice everywhere, and throughout the old testament God is constantly denouncing Israel and the nations for their injustice. God does not remain silent about it and neither should we. God cares about all the different aspects of human living and having this fuller view of God would mean that we can see beauty in all of human life and strive to bring God’s rule in whatever area we might be endeavouring in.
John Gladwin sums up why Christians should be engaged in the fight for justice everywhere because in his God’s people in God’s world: “It is because this is God’s world, and he cared for it to the point of incarnation and crucifixion, that we are inevitably committed to work for God’s justice in the face of oppression, for God’s truth in the face of lies and deceits, for service in the face of the abuse of power, for love in the face of selfishness, for cooperation in the face of destructive antagonism, and for reconciliation in the face of division and hostility”.

2. A Fuller doctrine of human beings

Secular humanist at times appear to be more humane than Christians in their cause for humanity but if asked why are they are so committed to the humankind, they are likely to reply with Julian Huxley that it is because of the human potential in the future aeons of evolution. The inadequacy of this as a basis is obvious. If the unimpeded progress of evolution is our chief concern, then why should we care for the disabled, or senile, the psychopath or the starving? (John Stott). Would it not make logical sense to send them to the dungeon of euthanasia but thank God that their ‘hearts is better than their heads and their philanthropy than their philosophy’.
With the Christian view, this is not the case. For we believe that we are all made in the image of God (though fallen) that we are godlike beings. We serve are fellow humans because of what they already are not what they may become, so we can look at the senile and see the glory of God in them. We are concerned for their whole beings, their soul, body and mind.

3. A Fuller Doctrine of Christ

Many have tried to reinterpret the biblical Jesus and have come up with different variations of who the real Jesus was. Sadly, many have wandered from what the new testament clearly presents of a radical Jesus who in his paradoxical fullness was both the suffering servant and king. Those who have erred from the clear representation of Jesus from the new testament have provided us with the ascetic Jesus, the sufferer, the monarch, the revolutionary, the guerrilla, the socialist, the wonder drug. This representations are wrong and we need to immerse ourselves in the Jesus of the bible who left the safe abode of heaven and emptied himself to serve sinful humanity, who dedicated himself to the will of God, healed the sick and proclaimed the good news. The Jesus who bore our sins in his own body and commissioned us to go into the world as the Father sent Him.
Therefore we are to go into the world as Christ came into the world. “In evangelism it will mean entering their thought world, and the world of their tragedy and lostness, in order to share Christ with them where they are. In social activity it will mean a willingness to renounce the comfort and security of our own cultural background in order to give ourselves in service to people of another culture whose needs we may never before have known or experienced. Incarnational mission , whether evangelistic or social or both, necessitates a costly identification with people in their actual situations”, John Stott. d

4. A Fuller Doctrine of salvation

Salvation goes beyond the scope of self redemption. Biblical salvation is concerned with all of life and the eventual redemption of all God’s creation. We must move past the self tendency of minimizing salvation to a mere passport to heaven or self reformation. ‘For salvation is a radical transformation in three phases, beginning at our conversion, continuing throughout our earthly lives and brought to perfection when Christ comes’, John Stott.

5. A Fuller Doctrine of the Church

‘Many people think of the church as a kind of club, rather like the local golf club, except that the common interest of its members happens to be God rather than golf. They are religious people who do religious things together’, John Stott. The church needs to recover its biblical identity and save itself from wrong portrayals it manifest to those who are on the outside. The church has a double identity which is that 1. the church is a holy people called to be separate from the world and 2. The church is full of worldly people in the sense that we are not yet taken out of the world but are called to witness and serve.
The church is a people belonging to God, that they may declare the praise of Him who called them out of darkness into His wonderful light. The church is to manifest the Love of God, to live as aliens and strangers in the world but yet living such good lives that the pagans, though hey may not accept the church’s standards may see their good works and glorify God on the day he visits them. Therefore let us be active in our communities and seek to fight against injustice collectively as well as individually. We must aim to influence our societies with the view of reforming it not redeeming it because individuals are redeemed which thus lead to the transformation of society.

With the current political situation in the UK, with corrupt politicians, Christians should get involve and demonstrate gospel integrity rooted in evangelical convictions. Christian students should be active in their SU if time permits to fight against inequality and injustice. Let us take the initiative and penetrate all areas with the evangelical conviction that our God is a God of justice who at the same time forgives wrongdoers due to the effective work of Christ on the cross.

My prayer is that as Christians we may have great enthusiasm for evangelism and social action, caring for the soul as well as the physical. May God bless all our endeavours in reaching out to our fellow man.

k.oni

Materials was taken mainly from John Stott’s book called ’Issues facing Christians today’.

The God-man Jesus and the scoundrel Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman seems to enjoy stirring up controversy. He annoyed many Christians with his best-selling anti-church, anti-God trilogy His Dark Materials. And it’s evident that he was out to provoke when he made comments like, ‘my books are about killing God,’ and, ‘I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.’ He’s admitted that the latter comment, at least, was intended to wind up the reporter. Often he insists that he’s simply telling stories, not preaching an atheist message.

Still, it’s hard to think that Pullman ’s new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, is merely telling a story. Even the title seems calculated to inflame Christians, and it’s surely no accident that it’s being published in Easter week.The story itself is a curious mixture of respectfully retelling some parts of the Gospel accounts while mangling others.

Pullman says he decided to write about Jesus after Rowan Williams asked why he’s never done so. He went back to the Gospels and read them in different versions, and then re-read Paul where he was struck by many more references to ‘Christ’ than to ‘Jesus’. Pullman claims that Paul wasn’t interested in Jesus the man, only the divine Christ.

So he decided to rework the story of Jesus to focus on this perceived tension. In his version, Mary gives birth to twins: Jesus and Christ. In the wilderness Jesus is tempted not by the devil, but by his brother. Christ wants Jesus to build a powerful church which could spread throughout the world being a force for good. Jesus flatly rejects Christ’s pragmatism; he is an idealist who preaches the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God .

Christ, however, is approached by a mysterious stranger who encourages him to see the spiritual ‘truth’ beyond the sometimes inconvenient historical events. Eventually, the stranger seduces Christ into betraying Jesus (who loses his faith) and then deceiving the disciples into thinking that Jesus has risen from the dead.

Pullman’s point is that what we read in the Gospels is not what actually happened. The real historical Jesus has been smothered by inventions of the early church – in particular the incarnation and the resurrection. Pullman ’s Jesus is an extraordinary man, but he’s nothing more than that. He does no miracles, makes no claims to divinity and remains irrevocably dead after his crucifixion.

This is a well-worn attack on the Gospels, though Pullman gives it a provocative new coat of paint. It’s a great shame that he evidently has no idea of the very impressive evidence for the reliability of the gospels.

It’s interesting to see how, despite Pullman ’s tinkering with the Gospel accounts, Jesus remains a profoundly compelling character. When he prays in Gethsemane and concludes that God is not there to hear him, it feels like a grating contrast with what we’ve seen of him earlier in the book.

It’s also fascinating that Pullman seems unable to tell the story without occasionally bringing in some very mysterious goings on, which do appear to be miraculous or angelic, even though he tries to deny or redefine such things. It feels like there are times when he’s had to struggle hard to come up with a different interpretation of the events.

Pullman's gospel fairy-tale is hardly a threat to a Christian's faith, but it could well be a stimulus which starts many people thinking. The fact that an atheist like Pullman is trying so hard to explain away the divinity of Jesus should drive people back to the Gospels, to see for themselves what the truth really is.

Tony Watkins
Tony Watkins is a writer and speaker on culture, and Managing Editor of Culturewatch.org. He has written a number of article on Philip Pullman as well as, Dark Matter: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Philip Pullman (Damaris, 2005).

If you found this review interesting and would like to continue to explore the issues raised by this book, read the review written by Phil Green (Public Theology Research Assistant at the Evangelical Alliance).

Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ was published by Canongate on 31 March 2010.