Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Committed Adultery

Most of the words were taken from Jeremiah 7 and 8 and God was speaking of Israel's rebellious ways and what I did below was take some of those words to create a poem about a woman who committed adultery and her husband is willing to receive her back if she turns from her ways

When I had loved you to the full
Then you committed adultery
You assembled yourself in the prostitute’s house
You was like a well fed lusty stallion
Going after any man you see
Shall I now remain with you
Shall I not avenge myself
But you remained proud
Comforting yourself that I would never leave
Your heart is defiant and rebellious
You have revolted and departed from me
Your ways have turned me against you
You have grown fat and no more plead the cause of the oppressed
You speak falsely and love your ways
But what will you do in the end
You were not ashamed when you committed adultery
You did not even know how to blush
What good are your sweet words to me
But if you amend your ways and walk in the old paths
Then you will find rest for your soul

K.Oni

Monday, 24 May 2010

Where Is God?

This [article was written on the] weekend of the first anniversary of 9/11 that has occurred on the Lord's day, Sunday. Therefore it seemed good to us to step back and pose the question again about the meaning of the supremacy of Christ in an age of terror.

The Supremacy of God in All Things—No Exceptions

One of the truths of the Bible that we embrace with trembling joy is the truth of God's supremacy in all things. The mission of our church is that we exist to spread a passion of the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. When we say that, we do not mean: "except in calamities," "except in war," "except when Al Qaeda blows up a building or a train," "except when cancer takes a mom or a child is born with profound disabilities." There are no "except" clauses in our mission statement.

We did not formulate our mission in a rosy world—and then get surprised and embarrassed by the reality of suffering. We did not have our head in the sand. We formulated our mission in the real world of pain and suffering and evil and death. We have seen even among our own people, some very peaceful, but also some very terrible deaths. We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things—all things—for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ—all the time. A passion for God's supremacy—Christ's supremacy (for he is God incarnate)—in all things, all the time.

Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

None of us who has lived a few decades—for me that means almost six—has embraced this mission without trembling. And none of us has lived this mission for long without tears. We have said it dozens of times here at Bethlehem, and we will say it till we die, that the joy we pursue and the joy we embrace in Jesus Christ is always—always in this world—interwoven with sorrow. There is no unadulterated joy in this world for people who care about others. The Bible describes Christ's servants like this: "[We are] sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." (2 Corinthians 6:10).
"Sorrowful yet always rejoicing." How can that be? It can be because Christ is supreme over all things forever, but suffering and death remain for a while. Life is not simple. There is pleasure, and there is pain. There is sweetness, and there is bitter suffering. There is joy, and there is misery. There is life and health, and there is disease and death. And therefore emotions are not simple. For those who love others, and not just their own comforts, this complexity means that we will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). And there is always someone we know who is weeping, and someone we know who is rejoicing. And therefore we will learn the secret of "sorrowful yet always rejoicing"—and joyful yet always sorrowing. Those amazing words that describe the Christian soul—"sorrowful yet always rejoicing"—mean that suffering remains for a while in this world, but Christ is supreme now and forever.

9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Constant Suffering in This World
The first plane that hit the World Trade Towers, Flight 11, immediately killed 92 people on board that flight. Flight 175 that hit the second tower a few minutes later killed 65 people on board. In the Towers themselves it appears now that 2,595 people perished when the Towers fell, including those who worked there or visited there, and those who were entering to save them.
Flight 77 carried 64 people when it hit the Pentagon within an hour after the first attack. Inside the Pentagon 125 people died in addition to these 64. Flight 93 with 45 people aboard turned around over Pennsylvania and was headed . . . where? The White House? The Congress? Todd Beamer and others wrestled control from the hijackers, it seems, and the plane crashed with no survivors near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. All 45 people died. The total fatalities in these terrorist events was about 2,986.

We thought that would be the calamity for this message to focus on. But God had other plans. Who can pose the question of God's sovereignty and Christ's supremacy today and leave Hurricane Katrina out of account. What happened in the last week in New Orleans and surrounding areas is different than almost anything this country has ever seen. The September 8, 1900 Galveston Hurricane may have killed more—up to 12,000, we don't know—but it did not displace hundreds of thousands and leave a major city virtually empty and paralyzed with several surrounding smaller towns even more devastated. Who can speak of the supremacy of Christ in an age of terror without considering the terror of 140-mile-an-hour winds and broken levees and floodwaters covering 80% of a great city and who knows how many people dead in their attics?
And lest we think naively in response to these calamities, as though the cost of lives was something unusual, let's remind ourselves of the obvious and the almost overwhelming fact that over 50,000,000 people die every year in this world. Over 6,000 ever hour. Over 100 every minute. And most of them do not die in ripe old age by sleeping peacefully away into eternity. Most die young. Most die after long struggles with pain. And millions die because of the evil of man against man.
Sudden calamities shock us only to make more plain what is happening every hour of every day of your entire life. Thousands perish in pain and misery every day. Probably seven or eight thousand people will have died during this worship service. Some of them are screaming out in pain just now as I am speaking and as you sit there in relative comfort. If there is to be any Christian joy in this world, along with love, it will be sorrowful joy, broken-hearted joy. What person in this room, who has lived long enough, does not know that the sweetest joys, the deepest joys, are marked with tears, not laughter?

Evil and Pain as a Pointer to the Need and Evidence for God

So even in our own experience—in our own souls—believers or unbelievers, there is a kind of witness that the world of evil and pain and misery and death is not a meaningless place. It is not a place without a good and purposeful God. Some people—not all—have found in the greatest evil—the time of greatest sorrow—the greatest need for God and the greatest evidence of God.
It happens like this. A great evil happens—say the holocaust with 6,000,000 murders. Or the Stalinist Soviet gulag with many more than that sent to their deaths. In the midst of these horrors, the human soul, that had been blithely pursuing its worldly pleasures with scarcely a thought about God and with no serious belief in any absolutes like evil and good, or right and wrong—happily living in the dream-world of relativism—suddenly is confronted with an evil so horrible and so great as to make the soul scream out with ultimate moral indignation: No! This is wrong! This is evil!
And for the first time in their life they hear themselves speaking with absolute conviction. They have a conviction of absolute reality. They know now beyond the shadow of a doubt that such a thing as evil exists. They admit that all their life up till then was a game. And now they are confronted with the stark question: If there is such a thing as absolute evil—if there is a moral reality that is above and different from the mere physical processes of evolutionary energy plus time plus matter—then where does it come from, and what is it based on?
And many people discover in this moment of greatest evil that there is only one satisfactory answer: There is a God above the universe who sets the standards of good and evil and writes them on the human heart. They are not purposeless chemical reactions in our brains. They have reality outside of us, above us, in God. Paradoxically, therefore, the times of greatest human evil have often proved for many to be times when God is most needed and most self-evidently real. Without him evil and good are simply different electro-chemical impulses in the brain of mammal primates called homo sapiens. We know—you know—that is not true.

Why Does Such a World Exist?

So we ask: Why, Lord? Why is the world you made like this? If you are God—if you are the Christ the Son of the living God—why is this world so full of terror and trouble?
Here is what I believe the Bible teaches in answer to this question. I will give two answers that are not the reason such a world exists, and then four answers that are the reasons such world exists. I deal with each very briefly and point you to the Scriptures where you can search God's word for yourself.

1. The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is not because God is not in total control.

The Bible is overwhelmingly clear that God governs everything in the universe from the smallest bird to the largest storm. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" (Matthew 10:29). "Even winds and sea obey him" (Matthew 8:27). "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will" (Proverbs 21:1). "Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?" (Lamentations 3:37). "Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?" (Amos 3:6). "He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him" (Mark 1:27). "I am God, and there is none like me . . . saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'" (Isaiah 46:9-10).

There is no person or being in the universe that can thwart the sovereign will of God. Satan is his most powerful enemy and does much evil in the world, but he must first get God's permission, and none of his actions is outside God's governance. He never breaks free from his leash (Luke 22:31; Job 2:6-7; 42:11).

2. The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is not because God is evil or unjust.

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). "Good and upright is the Lord" (Psalm 25:8) The angels cry before God day and night, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (Isaiah 6:3). And when he does things that seem evil to us, the Bible teaches us to speak to man like this: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20). God is not evil, even when he wills that evil come to pass. There are good and holy and just purposes in all he does. For those who love him he "works all things together for good" (Romans 8:28). Now and forever.
Now the four positive reasons why this world exists.

1.The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is because God planned the history of redemption and then permitted sin to enter the world through our first parents, Adam and Eve.

In 2 Timothy 1:9 the apostle Paul said, "[God] saved us and called us toa holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began." In other words, before there was any world or any sin in the world, God planned saving grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That means that God knew Adam would sin. He was already planning how he would save us.
Therefore Adam's sin was part of God's plan so that God could reveal his mercy and grace and justice and wrath and patience and wisdom in ways that could have never been revealed, if there were no sin and no Savior and no history of salvation. God's aim for this fallen world is that he be known more fully, because knowing God most fully is what it means for us to be most fully loved. If you turn to Christ, you will discover in God more wonders in this fallen world than could be imagined in any other world.

2.The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is because God subjected the natural world to futility. That is, God put the natural world under a curse so that the physical horrors we see around us in diseases and calamities would become a vivid picture of how horrible sin is. In other words, natural evil is a signpost pointing to the horrors of moral evil.

Before I say another word, hear this word of clarification: some of the sweetest, most humble, godly, Christ-exalting, heaven-bound people carry some of those signs. Listen to Romans 8:18-21:
The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
In other words, God subjected the creation to futility and bondage to decay and misery and death. He disordered the natural world because of the disorder of the moral and spiritual world—that is because of sin. In our present condition blinded by sin and dishonoring God every day, we cannot see how repugnant sin is. Hardly anyone in the world feels the horror that our sin is. Physical pain we feel! And so it becomes God's trumpet blast to tell us that something is dreadfully wrong in the world. Diseases and deformities are God's portraits of what sin is like in the spiritual realm. That is true even though some of the most godly people bear those deformities. Calamities are God's previews of what sin deserves and will one day receive in judgment a thousand times worse. They are warnings. And that is true even when they sweep away Christ-followers and Christ-rejectors.

Oh, that we could all see and feel how repugnant, how offensive, how abominable it is to blackball our Maker, to ignore him and distrust him and demean him and give him less attention in our hearts than we do the carpet on our living room floor. We must see this, or we will not turn to Christ for salvation from sin. Therefore, God mercifully shouts to us in our sicknesses and pain and calamities: Wake up! Sin is like this! Sin leads to things like this. (See Revelation 9:20; 16:9, 11.) The natural world is shot through with horrors to wake us from the dreamworld of thinking sin is no big deal. It is a horrifically big deal.

3. The reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is so that followers of Christ can experience and display that no pleasure and no treasure compares to knowing Christ. That is, the loss of every good thing in this world is meant to reveal that Christ himself more than compensates for all losses.
We see it in the New Testament and the Old Testament. The apostle Paul says, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). The superior worth of Christ is magnified because in all Paul's losses, he experiences Christ as all-satisfying.
The prophet Habakkuk said it with amazing and painful beauty:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Famines, pestilence, persecution—these happen so that the world might see in the followers of Jesus and discover for themselves that God made us for himself and that he is our "exceeding joy" (Psalm 43:4) and at his right hand are pleasures for every more (Psalm 16:11). The losses of life are meant to wean us off the poisonous pleasures of the world and lure us to Christ our everlasting joy.

4. Finally, the reason this terrorized and troubled world exists is to make a place for Jesus Christ the Son of God to suffer and die for our sins. The reason there is terror is so that Christ would be terrorized. The reason there is trouble is so that Christ could be troubled. The reason there is pain is so that Christ could feel pain. This is the world God prepared for the suffering and death of his Son. This is the world where God made the best display of his love in the suffering of his Son.
Romans 5:8, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." All his suffering was the plan of God to reveal redeeming love to us. The sovereignty of God, the evil of the world, and the love of God meet at the cross of Christ. Listen to this amazing statement from Acts 4:27-28 about God's plan for the suffering of his Son—for you! "Truly in this city [God] there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." All the scheming, all the flogging, all the spitting, all the beating with rods, all the mockery, all the abandonment by his friends, all the thorns in his head, all the nails in his hands and feet, the sword in his side, weight of the sins of the world—all of it according to God's plan. For you to see God's love more graphically.

God's deepest answer to terrorism and calamity is the suffering and death of his Son. He entered into our fallen world of sin and misery and death. He bore in himself the cause of it all—sin. And he bought by his death the cure for it all—forgiveness and everlasting joy in the age to come.

On his behalf I invite—I urge—you to receive him as your Savior and Lord and the supreme Treasure of your life.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org.

Friday, 21 May 2010

What to pray for?

To pray to God is a wonderful thing. Prayer is a marvellous thing that God has given us and we ought to take full advantage of it. The bible tells us that if we ask anything that is in line with God's will then it will be given to us but how do I know what God's will is? God's will is found in the bible so that next time you are praying, open up your bible and turn to any chapter you want e.g. Ephesians 1 and use that as your prayer points. You will be amazed at how much further you can spend in prayer and how biblical your prayers are. It also helps in memorizing bible passages too so your killing two birds with one stone. Why not give it a go =)

K.Oni

Gone

This poem is about a man who heard the news that his wife has been in a car crash and she is in the emergency treatment room. He rushes there immediately and was able to see her and stand beside her. He is broken and holds her hand then he had to leave while the doctors operate. ( This is meant to be sang or read in a very emotional way).

I’ve seen you smile
I’ve watched you laugh
I held you when you cried
Your love is keeping me back

I’ve watched you fight
Holding tight, I gripped your hands
I kissed your head
It will be fine, its alright

Just gone past midnight
Its all in the air
I Buried my face
Death is here

I’ve seen you smile
I’ve watched you laugh
Now I say goodbye
Your love is keeping me back

Her love is keeping him back from going crazy and loosing his own life because its not what she would have wanted. They once upon a time had this conversation that if one of them should die, the alive spouse would have to continue on living for the both of them. He now has to go back to an empty house, a house that is filled with her smell and toppled with her sweetness. He sleeps alone but could find no rest for his soul. Many thoughts ran through his mind and he would constantly stare at the bright picture that was facing him. Those lovely eyes and warm smile he will experience no more, death has robbed him of his love and it was bitter. Life itself was sour and nothing could console him. He then turned to his left unable to look at the picture in front of him and there he saw a small box with a note that she had left for him. He leaned over unwillingly, thinking whether he should open it tonight or in the morning. He opened it and there was for him a cross, a wooden cross that was to be placed on the neck and the note she had left said ‘What can separate me from Christ, shall death or sickness’, the note was signed off saying ‘Matt I Love you, trust in Jesus’.

K.Oni

Three short poems

Here are three short poems that I wrote, I tried to make them rhyme.

Crafty spiders and
Hectic mices
Avid roaches and
Resting roses
Laid beside
Esther and me
Y because its where we live


Blood blood blood and blood
She screamed from the top of her lungs
Yelling and belling ringing and filling
The streets with her aching voice.
Nobody listened nobody cared
For this was sally you see
Silly she is, very silly you see
Blood blood blood and blood
She screamed from the top of her lungs

I played the fool I played my part
I fancied her and gave it away
With a smile and twinkling eye
Invited her to the night
Where we may dine and catch a dance
I played the fool I played my part
I fancied her and gave her my heart

K.Oni

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Sovereignty of God and Prayer

I am often asked, "If you believe God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11) and that his knowledge of all things past, present, and future is infallible, then what is the point of praying that anything happen?" Usually this question is asked in relation to human decision: "If God has predestined some to be his sons and chosen them before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4,5), then what's the point in praying for anyone's conversion?"
The implicit argument here is that if prayer is to be possible at all man must have the power of self-determination. That is, all man's decisions must ultimately belong to himself, not God. For otherwise he is determined by God and all his decisions are really fixed in God's eternal counsel. Let's examine the reasonableness of this argument by reflecting on the example cited above.

1. "Why pray for anyone's conversion if God has chosen before the foundation of the world who will be his sons?" A person in need of conversion is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1); he is "enslaved to sin" (Romans 6:17; John 8:34); "the god of this world has blinded his mind that he might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (II Corinthians. 4:4); his heart is hardened against God (Ephesians 4:18) so that he is hostile to God and in rebellion against God's will (Romans 8:7).

Now I would like to turn the question back to my questioner: If you insist that this man must have the power of ultimate self-determination, what is the point of praying for him? What do you want God to do for Him? You can't ask that God overcome the man's rebellion, for rebellion is precisely what the man is now choosing, so that would mean God overcame his choice and took away his power of self-determination. But how can God save this man unless he act so as to change the man's heart from hard hostility to tender trust?
Will you pray that God enlighten his mind so that he truly see the beauty of Christ and believe? If you pray this, you are in effect asking God no longer to leave the determination of the man's will in his own power. You are asking God to do something within the man's mind (or heart) so that he will surely see and believe. That is, you are conceding that the ultimate determination of the man's decision to trust Christ is God's, not merely his.

What I am saying is that it is not the doctrine of God's sovereignty which thwarts prayer for the conversion of sinners. On the contrary, it is the unbiblical notion of self-determination which would consistently put an end to all prayers for the lost. Prayer is a request that God do something. But the only thing God can do to save a lost sinner is to overcome his resistance to God. If you insist that he retain his self-determination, then you are insisting that he remain without Christ. For "no one can come to Christ unless it is given him from the Father" (John 6:65,44).

Only the person who rejects human self-determination can consistently pray for God to save the lost. My prayer for unbelievers is that God will do for them what He did for Lydia: He opened her heart so that she gave heed to what Paul said (Acts 16:14). I will pray that God, who once said, "Let there be light!", will by that same creative power "shine in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6). I will pray that He will "take out their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26). I will pray that they be born not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God (John 1:13). And with all my praying I will try to "be kind and to teach and correct with gentleness and patience, if perhaps God may grant them repentance and freedom from Satan's snare" (II Timothy 2:24-26).

In short, I do not ask God to sit back and wait for my neighbor to decide to change. I do not suggest to God that He keep his distance lest his beauty become irresistible and violate my neighbor's power of self-determination. No! I pray that he ravish my unbelieving neighbor with his beauty, that he unshackle the enslaved will, that he make the dead alive and that he suffer no resistance to stop him lest my neighbor perish.

2. If someone now says, "O.K., granted that a person's conversion is ultimately determined by God' I still don't see the point of your prayer. If God chose before the foundation of the world who would be converted, what function does your prayer have?" My answer is that it has a function like that of preaching: How shall the lost believe in whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher, and how shall they preach unless they are sent (Romans 10:14f.)? Belief in Christ is a gift of God (John 6:65; II Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 2:8), but God has ordained that the means by which men believe on Jesus is through the preaching of men. It is simply naive to say that if no one spread the gospel all those predestined to be sons of God (Ephesians 1:5) would be converted anyway. The reason this is naive is because it overlooks the fact that the preaching of the gospel is just as predestined as is the believing of the gospel: Paul was set apart for his preaching ministry before he was born (Galatians 1:15), as was Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5). Therefore, to ask, "If we don't evangelize, will the elect be saved?" is like asking, "If there is no predestination, will the predestined be saved?" God knows those who are his and he will raise up messengers to win them. If someone refuses to be a part of that plan, because he dislikes the idea of being tampered with before he was born, then he will be the loser, not God and not the elect. "You will certainly carry out God's purpose however you act but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John." (Problem of Pain chapter 7, Anthology, p 910, cf. p 80)

Prayer is like preaching in that it is a human act also. It is a human act that God has ordained and which he delights in because it reflects the dependence of his creatures upon Him. He has promised to respond to prayer, and his response is just as contingent upon our prayer as our prayer is in accordance with his will. "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (I John 5:14). When we don't know how to pray according to God's will but desire it earnestly, "the Spirit of God intercedes for us according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27).

In other words, just as God will see to it that His Word is proclaimed as a means to saving the elect, so He will see to it that all those prayers are prayed which He has promised to respond to. I think Paul's words in Romans 15:18 would apply equally well to his preaching and his praying ministry: "I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles." Even our prayers are a gift from the one who "works in us that which is pleasing in his sight" (Hebrews 13:21). Oh, how grateful we should be that He has chosen us to be employed in this high service! How eager we should be to spend much time in prayer!

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org.

Bearing one another's burdens

At the end of a week of political turmoil, even those of us allied to the losing side will welcome the establishment of a government that can do what governments should do: govern. But, while we in the UK have been holding our breath, the rest of Europe has been rushing forward into an uncertain future.

‘Events’, the worst enemy of many a politician, have gone ahead of the Clameron administration, staking out its course: deficit reduction, fiscal constraint, cuts, cuts, and more cuts. Oh, and a few tax rises – National Insurance, probably VAT, corporation tax. “The British Prime Minister,” wrote civil rights activist James Baldwin in 1980, “is a grotesque anachronism, and the world is not holding its breath waiting to see what will happen in England; England's future will be determined by what is happening in the world.” His rhetorical point was this: even great states can not be isolated from external events, and their sphere of activity in which they hope to act to shape their common life can not be defended from external forces which supersede the power of the nation state.

Consider the plight of the Greeks. Protest they might (though not many of them actually are), but their own government’s economic plans are not now at the bidding of the voters, but of the German government, the IMF and the European Central Bank who between them have created finance facilities of nearly one trillion dollars. This will enable ailing European governments (the ‘Greek’ bailout is not for Greece alone, but for Spain , Portugal , Ireland ), to borrow from other sources than the cautious bond markets. Those funding the bailout will bear great risk, and so the quid pro quo is that they get a hand on the tiller of economic policy.

Sovereignty is the price of economic survival. European Commission President Jose Barroso said, "Economic policy isn't a national, but a European matter. No modern economy is an island. When a member state doesn't make reforms, others suffer because of that." On the other hand, it’s not surprising that many in the UK are breathing a sigh of relief that we’re not part of the euro-area.

There’s an analogy here – and perhaps something more than an analogy – worth reflecting on. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”, wrote Paul to the Galatians (6.2). Yet even in the church, it is common to prefer a semi-detachment similar to Britain ’s relationship with Europe . We like to form the associations and friendships which are convenient or felicitous, not those that have the potential to slow us down or inveigh against personal freedoms. We valorise the prospect of living in Christian community, but recoil from – if not ignore – the demands of its reality. When did you last personally give money to someone in your church in need? Have you rejected the opportunity to spend time with a valued friend in order to spend it with a lonely, but difficult, church member? Have you ever been humble enough to ask a brother or sister to bear your burden with you?

If you are like me, then you will find community to be a difficult vocation. As a mild and un-ideological euro-sceptic, observing an unfolding crisis, I am reflecting on what this might mean for transnational relationships. Is it possible that we would ever be asked to form bonds that do not serve the national interest? And is shared self-interest the only basis for political and economic community?

Paul Bickley, Senior Researcher, Theos – the public theology think thank

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Pride, Failure and the Gospel

As I sat in the exam room starring at my blank answer sheet, I said to myself ‘not again’. ‘How is it that I can’t remember anything, maybe I should have spent much more time doing more revision’. I contemplated about the future and I resented the day the exam results will be published. A feeling of sadness and failure laid heavy upon my shoulder. Nobody likes a failure and even more this would always be in people’s heart and this broke my pride. Failure is something I have become accustomed to, it has become a friend, a disliked friend. The shame of telling those who had put such high hopes in you is a painful process and one just wants to hide and tell them that everything is ok but in the end truth is found just around the corner. So what hope is there to banish this feeling of a wounded pride and the shame of failure, what comfort can one receive that may elevate the soul to humility and thankfulness. The answer my friend is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel that call sinners by grace and freely bestows upon them the gift of faith and perfect merit in which they did not deserve. God Loves me despite my failures and in the process of my walk with Him He sanctifies me and improves me to be more like Christ. Pride and failure are defeated by pure love and free acceptance.

Three hours later, my answer sheet was full of answers but not totally satisfied but delighted that I did all I could and hope that enough was done on my part to merit a pass.

K.Oni

Monday, 10 May 2010

Chaos, Confusion and Coalitions

All night long I searched and I scoured, I flicked between television and online coverage, I rummaged through my twitter feeds, in the forlorn hope of finding something that would explain it all. But as the results came rolling in and the blue column overtook the reds and the yellows never really took off, I could not find a theme to explain what was going on.

This election campaign has been unusual and failed to conform to the pattern of previous years. The leaders' debates shook up the electoral dynamic and gave Nick Clegg a platform he would not otherwise have had. His ratings rocketed and for a while it seemed as though everyone agreed with Nick. And the abuse of parliamentary expenses still hung as a dark cloud over the reputation of politicians, and trust in politics descended into deep disenchantment.

So as I settled down to watch the grandiose election night specials there were two themes vying for the limelight. Would Cameron be the 'change we can believe in', or would Nick Clegg bring coalition government to the British Parliament? It all felt simple enough, if Cameron won then the theme of the election was change, if Clegg's rise forced a hung parliament, then coalition, and the need to work together, took centre stage.

But that wasn't how things stacked up. The exit polls were vindicated as seats started to declare; Cameron had not received a ringing endorsement from the electorate and would be short of an overall majority. Yet it was the Liberal Democrats who once again surprised, as they will have less seats in the new parliament that they did in the last.

So I tracked through lists of target seats and projected swings and tried to work out what was happening. But there was no pattern, the Conservatives would secure a shock win, and then fail to pick up a vulnerable seat next door. The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives traded seats and confusion reigned.

And then I realised: why should the entire country behave as one? I thought back to what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 12ff), when he reminded them that the body is made up of many parts. Many parts that are different, yet part of the same body. As this train of thought took over the patently obvious dawned on me. No two constituencies are the same and every candidate provokes a different response. Democracy is not just a way of aggregating the views of many different people to a single sound-bite. Perhaps in the process we can falsely get the im press ion that once the votes are counted, they all lead to the same singular outcome.

Sometimes I struggle with difference. I want things to conform, I want nice, simple, understandable concepts that fit into convenient boxes. Unfortunately for me, that does not reflect the world that I live in. It doesn't apply to politics and it doesn't apply to the church.

This indecisive election result half-heartedly points to change and reluctantly requires cooperation. Yet maybe in the midst of the chaos that lingers in the aftermath, we can think again about difference and confusion, and hear Ecclesiastes tell us (8v17), ‘No-one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.’

Confusion and complexity reflect our differences, and difference shouldn't be a threat, otherwise we would be afraid of everyone but ourselves. Difference should be a commodity that we cherish and value, that we protect rather than stifle.

What would a political system resemble if going off message was the norm and not a catastrophe? Come to think of it, though I ask the question of our politicians it applies equally to the church. Sometimes we can be so sure of what we believe that we hide from dissenting voices. But as we look to our political leaders to come together and put aside their partisan priorities for the good of the nation, let us look a little closer. And think about how we can embrace the complexity and accompanying confusion of living in a world that cannot be boiled down to the lowest common denominator. Where politics isn't all about uniform swings. And church unity is about our diversity as much as our similarity.

Article by:
Danny Webster, Parliamentary Officer

www.eauk.org/fnt/chaos-and-confusion.cfm

In Awe of Jesus Christ

One reason to admire and trust Jesus above all other persons is that he knows more than anyone else. He knows all people thoroughly, their hearts and their thoughts. "He knew all men" (John 2:24). "You, Lord, . . . know the hearts of all men" (Acts 1:24). "And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?'" (Matthew 9:4). There is no one who perplexes Jesus. No thought or action is unintelligible to him. He knows its origin and end. The most convoluted psychotic and the most abstruse genius are open and laid bare to his understanding. He understands every motion of their minds.

Jesus not only knows all people thoroughly as they were and are today, he also knows what people will think and do tomorrow. He knows all things that will come to pass. "Jesus, [knew] all the things that were coming upon Him" (John 18:4). On the basis of this knowledge, he foretold numerous things that his friends and enemies would do. "[Jesus said] 'There are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him" (John 6:64). "From now on," he said, "I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am" (John 13:19). The reason he foretold these things, he explains, is so that we might know that "he is" - is what? That he is the divine Son of God. "I am" is the name for God in Exodus 3:14 and the designation of deity in Isaiah 43:10. Jesus knows all that will come to pass, and, to help our faith, he says, "Behold, I have told you in advance" (Matthew 24:25).

Jesus simply knows all things. Thus his disciples said, truly, "Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God" (John 16:30). The extent of Jesus' knowledge was a compelling warrant for faith in his divine origin. At the end of his time on earth Jesus pressed Peter, "'Simon, son of John, do you love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, 'Do you love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You' (John 21:17). Peter did not conclude from Jesus' knowledge of his heart that he knew all things; rather he concluded from the omniscience of Jesus that he knew his heart. "You know all things," is a general and unqualified statement that John's gospel presses on our minds.

The greatest thing that can be said of Jesus' knowledge is that he knows God perfectly. We know God partially and imperfectly. Jesus knows him like no other being knows him. He knows him the way an omniscient Person knows himself. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27). No one but Jesus knows the Father immediately, completely and perfectly. Our knowledge of the Father depends wholly on Jesus' gracious revelation; it is derivative and partial and imperfect.

Nothing greater can be said about the knowledge of Jesus than that he knows God perfectly. All reality outside God is parochial compared to the infinite Reality that God is. What God has made is like a toy compared to the complexity and depth of what God is. All the sciences that scratch the surface of the created universe are the mere ABCs compared to Christ's exhaustive knowledge of the created universe. And this knowledge of the created universe is as a dewdrop on a blade of grass compared to the ocean of knowledge that Jesus has of the Being of God himself. God is infinite. The universe is finite. Knowledge of the infinite is infinite. Therefore to know God, as Jesus knows God, is to have infinite knowledge.

Therefore let us bow down and worship Jesus Christ. If we are impressed with the scholarship of man and the achievements of scientific knowledge, then let us not play the fool by trumpeting a tiny chirp and ignoring the thunder clap of omniscience. Jesus alone is worthy of our highest admiration. Jesus alone is worthy of our trust. He can show us the Father (Matthew 11:27). He can give us irresistible wisdom (Luke 21:15). He can see how to make all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). None of his judgments about anything is ever mistaken (John 8:16). He teaches the way of God with infallible truthfulness (Matthew 22:16). Trust him. Admire him. Follow him.

In awe of Jesus,

Pastor John

Saturday, 8 May 2010

some favourites sayings from proverbs

A wise man will hear and increase learning

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

My Son if sinners entice you, do not consent

But whoever listens to me will dwell safely

And will be secure, without fear of evil

Trust in the LORD with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding

Honour the LORD with all your possessions

And with the first fruits of your increase

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding

He who does so destroys his own soul

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil, pride and arrogance

And the evil way

Why should you my Son be enraptured by an immoral woman

And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?

K.Oni

How wretched I am

Below is the feeling of a person who feels his own misery after drinking deep at the sinful things of this world.


'Where do I begin my Lord? It feels as if our relationship is severed. I've never felt like this, I have failed. That peace with God I cannot find. Is it forever lost? have I blown it? as my lamp-stand been removed? I don't know where to turn but to the things of this world to ease the pain within, the pain of loosing the sweet peace with my precious saviour. I feel no joy when I turn to the bible, that feeling of wantonness of great delight in the things of God have diminished and so much have I grieved the Holy Spirit that He shrieks within me and must not want anything to do with me and with my stupid ways. Were not salvation by the pure grace of God I should think that long ago the Holy Spirit would have packed his bags and left me just after a minute of entering my heart. Oh how wretched I am, How wretched'.

Indeed if salvation were by works, who can be saved? but if by grace then even the worst sinners can be saved and happily enter heavens shores unblemished and spotless due to the righteousness of Christ that is imputed unto him. So in your despair take courage and trust in Him who sanctifies.

K.Oni

Friday, 7 May 2010

Crushed

Though the tempest blow and the waves crush me

Though the darkness linger and the light far off

Though the devil mocks me and makes much of my failure

Yet I will remember Him who binds up the broken hearted

And proclaims freedom for the captives

Be still My soul in your light but momentary trial

For He will bestow on you a crown of Beauty

And your mourning will be replaced with the garment of praise

K.Oni

Beautiful

She was beautiful and she smelled like the flowers from the Garden of Eden

Her sight is full of simplicity and her smile warmer than the coolness of the sun

Her eyes reflected all that was ever true and lovely of this blue planet

Oh! see how my heart weakens at the sight of her beauty

She is to me like Eve and my Rebecca

She is the sensual delight of the abase angels

Is this to me a divine encouragement?

Or a temptation from the pits of hell?

Day after day the conflict rage within my soul

Pleading with strong tears for guidance from the throne of grace

I am besotted with her vivacious smile

And my longing never cease

k.oni

A N T H E M Strategies for Fighting Lust

I have in mind men and women. For men it's obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When I say "lust" I mean the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. So here is one set of strategies in the war against wrong desires. I put it in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.

A - AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say "possible and reasonable" because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say "unfitting desire" because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. "Avoiding" is a Biblical strategy. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness" (2 Timothy 2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14).

N - Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. "In the name of Jesus, NO!" You don't have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Strike fast and strike hard. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7).

T - TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying "no" will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts "deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them "passions of your former ignorance" (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, "NO!"

H - HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, "I tried to push it out, and it didn't work." I ask, "How long did you try?" How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all our might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.

E - ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don't say, "That's just not me." What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don't be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart - more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don't have: "Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.

M - MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus' sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.

Fighting at your side,

Pastor John

Saturday, 1 May 2010

What's your name He humbly cried
What's my gain she graciously smiled
Precious stones and the finest wheat
Such things will fail, what more can you offer me
A heart of love, I'll forever treasure thee
When it fails your treasure shall flee
Indeed my love, lets live this life
While the sun shines
Will you be to me a queen this day
This day I'll be the queen you seek

k.oni