Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The eye of faith

It is very easy to praise and rejoice in the Lord when everything is going well. When there is no sickness, no pain, no poverty, no suffering, and etc but blessed are those when marked with great affliction and sorrow can yet say blessed be the name of the Lord and rejoice in him as if there troubles is light and  momentary. They posses the eye of faith because there eyes are set on the things unseen.


Bless your name oh Lord

Though I have not much in me

No outward security

No money to see me through

Yet I will praise you Lord

For you have become my strength

My security and comfort

K.Oni

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Behold, you are fair, my love!


Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth
For your love is better than wine
Because of the fragrance of your good ointments
Your name is ointment poured forth

Behold, you are fair, my love!
Behold, you are fair!
Like a Lily among thorns
So is my love among the daughters

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods
So is my love among the young girls
I sat down in her shade with great delight
And her fruit was pure to my taste

I brought her to the banqueting house
And my banner over her was love
I sustained her with cakes of chocolate
And refreshed her with ointments

Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth
For your love is better than wine
Because of the fragrance of your good ointments
Your name is ointment poured forth

Most of the line for this poem is taking from the songs of solomon 1&2

K.Oni

Racial Harmony and the doctrine of grace



Last Sunday, I had the privileged to travel to London to hear Pastor John Piper preach at Jubilee church. It was great to be there and I thank God for Jubilee as they love God and are committed to racial harmony in their community. Below is a summary of what John piper preached on racial harmony and the doctrine of grace.

- We are all sinners (Rom 8:7-8. We cannot make ourselves live,(eph 2:2), Lazarus didn't raise himself from the dead (1cor 2:14), Jesus raised him. All human beings are equally dead, blacks whites and every shade in between. Hell will be totally racially diverse,(Rom 2:9)because God is no respecter of persons of who is thrown into hell. This should humble us of our own sins and make us more patience with those who sin against us.

- God Almighty before the foundation of the world chose to save you, (Acts 13:48). Those who believed where those who were ordained and that was why they believed thus it is unconditional because it is based on no spiritual or ethnic selection,(Rom 9:11). You should be watchful that there is no pride in you or despair. This doctrine is liberating for sinners because no one is to terrible a sinner to be saved because the choice has nothing to do with your deeds. If you accept Jesus, then you belong to him. This smashes the superiority of racial selection, its totally unconditional.

- In the death of Jesus, a wide door is open to all, He made salvation free to all,(Isa 55),(john 3:16). But also in God's mind, Jesus knew exactly who he was dying for,(eph 5:25),(john 10:12),(John 17).Rev 5:9 does not say that Jesus purchased the tribe but that he purchased people from every tribe. The church should be united to each other regardless of culture or ethnicity.
Interracial marriage is an issue even though people may remain silent about it but the Church welcomes interracial marriage because the church is a family that is filled with people of different ethnicity.
God paid a price to purchase his people and the price was the death of His Son,(Jesus). Therefore the racial issue is not a social issue but a bloody issue because Jesus ransomed people from all tribes. It is costly for Jesus so dealing with racial issues will also be costly for you.

- God comes to us and overcomes all our rebellion,(John 6:44). This is triumphal grace because it overcomes your rebellion. Eph 2:8, if you have faith, it's a gift, God gave it to you. Your ethnicity did not contribute to the rise of faith in your heart- non of your racism can stop God from saving you and yes this extends to the most racist person that you may know, no racist is excluded.

- God keeps his own to the very end and brings them home because what you received was a gift from God and he is committed to bring you to glory. Those who are justified are glorified,(Rom 8:30). I am justified therefore I am glorified,(Phil 1:6).

- Therefore, keep working on the racial issue and you can't always get it right because someone somewhere will always have something to say. Just keep on persevering in the hard situations, it is hard work. Keep working on it expecting to succeed and fail in reconciliation but keep going. Don't walk away from the issue and don't get sick of it, keep on persevering.

k.Oni

Monday, 28 June 2010

Are There Two Wills in God? Yes.



If you've never before heard about the existence of two wills in God, I recommend reading John Piper's article, "Are There Two Wills in God?" (which is also an appendix in the book The Pleasures of God).

In essence, what the doctrine states is that there are... well... two wills in God. The first will is his will of command (or as Edwards says below, "law"). This is expressed through God's revealed desires for people, desires such as "Thou shalt not kill," or "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The second will is his will of decree, which is the will by which God brings to pass all that actually happens, whether it accords with his will of command or not. This is also known as his secret will, since what God intends to do in any one event is unknowable to us, except for what he reveals through prophecy.

Here is the entirety of Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies #7 (reformatted a little by me,), which he wrote in defense of this notion of two wills:

The Arminians ridicule our distinction of the secret and revealed will of God, or more properly expressed, our distinction between the decree and law [of God], because we say he may decree one thing and command another; and so they say we hold contrariety and contradiction in God, as if one will of his contradicted and was directly contrary to another.

But however, if they will call this a contradiction of wills, we do certainly and absolutely know there is such a thing, so that it is the greatest absurdity to dispute about it.

We and they [know it was] God's secret will that Abraham should not sacrifice his son, but yet his command was to do it.
[We] do certainly know that God willed that Pharaoh's heart should be hardened, and yet that the hardness of his heart was his sin.
We do know that God willed that [the] Egyptians should hate God's people. Psalms 105:25, "He turned their heart to hate his people and deal subtilely with his servants."

We do know that it was God's will that Absalom should lie with David's wives. 2 Samuel 12:11-12, "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes and give them unto thy neighbor; and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun."

We do certainly know that God willed that Jeroboam and the ten tribes should rebel.
The same, we know, may be said of the plunder of the Babylonians; and other instances might be given. The Scripture plainly tells us that God wills to harden some men (Romans 9:18), that Christ should be killed by men, [etc.].

Article By: Tyler Kenney

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Meeting John Piper


The three amigos from Bristol town headed towards the north of London to meet and hear him whom they have admired for so long and indeed that admired person was John Piper; but all three are very much aware that Pastor John is a servant of the Lord and that Piper is nothing (1cor) but it is God who causes the increase in case if any one should think us of idol worshipping.

The journey took two hours and I slept for half of it sitting in the back with a comfy pillow on my head while I dreamt of being a king and having a beautiful queen at my side (that was a joke), I just slept. Any ways we arrived at the church and to my surprise there meeting place was in a cinema which was really cool though I was tempted to buy a popcorn and a coke but that would only make worship very difficult. Two cinema screens were almost full and the church was very welcoming.

The service began and I was touched by the passion of the leaders and how they loved God and his glory. The congregation was very joyful in their praise and the congregation was also racially diverse which was going to be the focal point of pastor John's sermon. We broke bread together and the bread was indeed tasty; there was a desire in me to eat more than my portion but such behaviour is unwarranted and scripture forbids me.

Then Pastor John came to preach on racial harmony and it was awesome and edifying. I will summarise his points at a later date on my blog as I took some notes. The meeting ended and we all went to the premier bar where there was cake and yummy sweets and I was delighted. There we met and spoke with John piper and before approaching him, we had wondered what our opening line should be. At this point we had made a few friends, and one guy from Oxford came to have lunch with us and I loved him with all of my heart. We approached Pastor John and asked him quoting him from his own sermon that ' we don't know what you feel about the prosperity gospel', but he didn't get the joke so I took the pleasure in explaining it to him and he said that 'then you must know how I feel', and in a most dramatic voice he said 'hatred' and we laughed because that's the reaction we wanted and then he laughed. Then we talked about his sermon and took some advice from pastor John and after we went to Mcdonalds (but not with John Piper) and I don't know what you feel about Mcodnalds but whatever it is, one things for sure, I love their big macs.

John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel

K.Oni

Friday, 25 June 2010

Imagining that Jesus is Lord


This has been a week of attention grabbing headlines! There’s been a mix of controversy (the budget), firsts (a woman Prime Minister for Australia), endurance (longest game of tennis is history), expectation (Glastonbury), arrivals (a new version of the iPhone), regret (if you’re General McChystal) and nail-biting moments (if you’re an England fan).

As I attempted to choose one of these events to reflect on in this week’s FNT article, I began imaging Jesus being involved in each of these situations. I imagined him sitting in a Westminster café debating the budget and being at a barbeque chatting about what to expect from Julia Gillard. I pictured his eyes moving from left-to-right-to-left-to-right at Wimbledon and him setting up a tent at Glastonbury . I thought about him having a look at a friend’s new iPhone, eavesdropping on the conversations taking place in the White House and sharing the anxiety, pain and jubilation of football fans throughout the world.

Imagining Jesus in those situations seemed both natural and unnatural, he seemed to fit and be a misfit at the same time. However, as I let my imagination run freely (and begun to ponder the theological merits of this exercise), another attention grabbing headline struck me, a headline from almost two-millennia ago. The headline was simple, yet stark, “Jesus is Lord”.

To say Jesus is Lord is to acknowledge Jesus’ rightful place as ruler over everything. It’s a phrase that I often sing and I frequently refer to Jesus as Lord in my prayers. However, it’s a phrase that I find both natural and unnatural; it seems to fit and misfit at the same time. When I’m at church it fits so naturally, but the fit doesn’t seem quite as snug as I sit on the tube reading the newspaper.

The challenge and encouragement is this: there is no need to simply imagine that Jesus is involved in each of the aforementioned situations – he is involved. He is Lord and he reigns over everything! The fact that I found it difficult to think of Jesus being involved in some of these events and wasn’t quite sure if he fitted is a problem. It’s my problem and probably results from the fact that all too often I put Jesus in the ‘church-shaped box’ I’ve constructed for him. Subsequently, I regularly fail to remember that Jesus is involved in everything; I forget that amongst the chaos Jesus is Lord, and I am guilty of denying his Lordship over my own life.

In addition, it can also make talking about Jesus seem unnatural; however, if I live my life knowing, and continually thinking that, Jesus is involved in everything, talking about him becomes much more natural! After all, surely if Jesus is Lord over everything, it would be odd not to talk about him?

So, as I remember that Jesus is not only involved in every attention grabbing headline, but Lord over everything I am reminded that “the earth is the Lords and everything in it” (Psalm 21.1) and I should be a responsible steward of all that he’s lent me. I am reassured that he holds far greater power than any earthly ruler and that he’s right there beside me when I’m exhausted and struggling to endure. I am challenged that my dreams and expectations must come second to his and that I shouldn’t be jealous of my friend’s shiny new iPhone! As I think about regret that General McChystal is probably feeling I am reminded not only of God’s forgiveness but that if ‘Jesus is Lord’ over my life, my words should reflect him. And when it comes to England vs. Germany on Sunday.

Phil Green, Public Theology Research Assistant

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Conversion by Jonathan Edwards



'Tis most certain, both from Scripture and reason, that there must be a reception of Christ with the faculties of the soul in order to salvation by him, and that in this reception there is a believing of what we are taught in the gospel concerning him and salvation by him, and that it must be a consent of the will or an agreeableness between the disposition of the soul and those doctrines; so that the disposition is all that can be said to be absolutely necessary. The act cannot be proved to be absolutely necessary; that is, it can't be proved that there is not the disposition before there is an act because it

is said by some that [the fact that] a man can't be saved before he has actually believed, if he is come to years of discretion, is plain by Scripture. But I say, no plainer than that a man must actually live a holy life before he can be saved; for the Scripture in many places speak as plainly about the necessity of a holy life as of believing. But by those expressions concerning a holy life, we can understand nothing else but a disposition that would naturally exert itself in holy [living] upon occasion; so we say of the believing disposition.

And as sometimes a person has this disposition within 'em who have in times past felt the quickest: exercises of it, yet may not sensibly feel them for some time; so a man may have the disposition in him for some time before he ever sensibly feels them, for want of occasion and other reasons. 'Tis the disposition and principle is the thing God looks at. Supposing a man dies suddenly and not in the actual exercise of faith, 'tis his disposition that saves him; for if it were possible that the disposition was destroyed, the man would be damned and all the former acts of faith would signify nothing.

Those particular acts our divines describe may possibly be necessary thus, that it is impossible for such a disposition to be in the mind, in such circumstances, without its being exercised in such particular kind of actions; which must be determined by plain consequence of nature or else by Scripture. The Scripture indeed, in many invitations to Christ, doth make use of the words "come," "believe," "trust," "receive," which without doubt signify those actions that are aptly represented by these expressions. It need not be doubted but that many of the ancient Jews before Christ were saved without the sensible exertions of those acts in that manner which is represented as necessary by some divines, because they had not those occasions nor were under circumstances that would draw them out; though without doubt they had the disposition, which alone is absolutely necessary now, and at all times and in all circumstances is equally necessary.

This is furthermore certain and evident concerning conversion, or a true reception of Christ, if it be actual: there must be a dying unto sin and an emptying of self that Christ may be all in all, what in the Scripture is called "hating our own life."

It is you my Lord

This is a poem about a person who is fighting his feelings because love for somebody else is taking over their love for the lord and the person wrestles to have the love of the Lord first and foremost in their heart and the love of others will be secondary but not dominating.

Oh, why do I love you
My heart is heavy for you
I thirst for your presence
Like an empty man
I desire you like a young child
Longing for his mothers arms
I cannot sleep and my dreams are constantly of you
I awake and I cannot shake this weight.
Oh my Lord, I feel the hurt this is to my soul
I want you more and I do pray my Lord
That you may be heavy upon my heart
For your yoke is light and your burden easy
Your presence is constant and you will not reject me
I am weary and do not want to make her an idol
It is you I truly thirst for
Satisfy me that I may glorify your Name.

K.Oni

Mistakes, consequences and forgiveness



For one month and 29 days now, a damaged oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has been pouring oil into the sea, polluting the water. On Wednesday, BP’s boss Tony Hayward agreed to pay a minimum of $20 billion into a compensation fund for the victims of the oil spill. And, after a number of failed attempts to contain and stemming the huge flow, BP’s latest containment device finally seems to be making a difference. But for many, it’s simply too little, too late.

In amongst all the hysteria, speculation and confusion about who said what to who, and who is responsible for what, it strikes me that there’s a rather important question that’s not really being addressed, either by the media or by our governments.

That is, How do we handle notions of responsibility in a compensation culture?

In this case, just as with many situations where a beautiful relationship has gone belly-up, the offended party (pretty much the entire USA in this case) is eager to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the offender (BP) and demand reparation. And, indeed, what’s wrong with wanting to see things put right? What’s wrong with wanting people to somehow pay for the harm that they have done to us?

But how do we cope when it’s clear that things will not be as perfect as they were before a tragedy? The water will never be as clear or as clean, those heading to the beach will have to make new plans, and gulf coast wildlife will be scarcer.

No matter what BP do now, they can’t turn back the clock and undo the mistakes they made, and I can’t help but imagine how much Mr Hayward must want to (almost literally) wipe the slate clean. There’s only one who can truly do that – God, who through Christ forgives our sins and lets them fade forever from his mind. But that doesn’t mean that our actions don’t matter - forgiven or unforgiven, our mistakes come with consequences. Like BP, we may have to pay a financial price, for others it can mean a term in jail or the premature ending of a relationship.

But we will never lose God – he sticks to us like glue, and he can help us to weave a new path through the mess we’ve made and out the other side. It might not be the path we planned but we won’t be walking it alone, and we can trust that one day, God’s promises to us will be fulfilled. At the end of the Bible, the one seated on the heavenly throne says ‘See, I’m making all things new!’ (Revelation 21:5).

So we can we can be confident that one day things will be as good as new - the waters will run clear, creation’s original plans will be realized, and life will flourish in abundance.

Article by:

Anna Drew, Lead Media Officer for the Methodist Church in Britain.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Jump


Last week as a church student group, a couple of us went to a place called Jump. It was a kids play centre and had laser quest too. It was an awesome time as we all acted like kids again. Below is something that I wrote the morning after as I like to keep a track, like a diary of things i get up to or feel.

It is the best of things this morning to approach my Lord in prayer, though early as it is, it is indeed wonderful and a pure delight. Though I know not what to pray for, yet I will to pray with the book of Romans open in front of me. I must confess that I had many things on my mind, a certain person was on my mind, the poor also and some other things that made it uneasy for me to sleep. Nonetheless the Spirit inside of me drove me to pray.
The night before was awesome, like a kid I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Jump. Playing laser quest and going through obstacles sure challenged my fitness. The people I was with made it a delight, I enjoyed my time and played a friend at football and he won. I met a guy who studied physics and philosophy and we chatted for a while. He loved social Justice and he saw things from my perspective as I gave him a more biblical portrayal of things and how the bible maintains a healthy balance between evangelism and social justice. The night then faded away and I was giving a lift home.

K.Oni

Be alive

Oh how I weep uncontrollable at my sins. I have but pity for Christians who do not taste the goodness of the Lord, that are carnal because they have set their minds on the flesh. I plead with you to turn, for you have died to sin, and have been set free. Have this mind in you, the mind of Christ. For you have been raised with him, united with him in his death and certainly united with him in his resurrection. Christ no longer is dead but alive, he died to sin and the live he now lives he lives to God. Therefore in the same way, live your lives to God, be dead to sin and use your body as instruments of righteousness.

K.Oni

From death to live

The passages below,(some are paraphrases) shows that as Christians that we should live for righteousness and be dead to sin. Our struggle with sin can be overcome because Christ was crucified and he was raised from the dead, therefore we too have the Spirit of holiness in us and whatever is your struggle, you can overcome.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been free from sin.

The death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he now lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Grace leads to righteousness and the law leads to death. The grace of God sets me free, the law holds me under sin.

We died to sin, how can we live any longer in it.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace.

K.Oni

Thursday, 17 June 2010

John 6:66

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, preaching on the passage from John 6:66, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” said, The defection in this case was on account of doctrine... The truth was too hard for them, it was not to be borne with. “It is a hard saying. Who can hear it?” A true disciple sits at the feet of his Master, and believes what he is told even when he cannot quite comprehend the meaning, or see the reasons for what his Master utters; but these men had not the essential spirit of a disciple, and consequently when their Instructor began to unfold the innermost parts of the roll of truth, they would not listen to His reading of it. They would believe as far as they could understand, but when they could not comprehend they turned on their heel and left the school of the Great Teacher. Besides, the Lord Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and of the need of the Spirit of God, that men should be led to Him, “for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” Here our Lord uttered a bit of old-fashioned free-grace doctrine, such as people nowadays do not like. They call it “Calvinism”, and put it aside among the old exploded tenets which this enlightened age knows nothing of. What right they have to ascribe to the Genevan reformer a doctrine as old as the hills I do not know. But our Lord Jesus never hesitated to fling that truth into the face of His enemies. He told them, “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Here he tells them plainly that they could not come unto Him unless the Father gave them the grace to come. This humbling doctrine they could not receive, and so they went aside. (CHS, Sermons, 28, 111-2)

taking from http://vintage.aomin.org/doctrineofman.html

Staying Awake this summer



This summer a group of us will be reading through the letters of Paul. The aim of this is to help us stay awake for the summer. You may wonder, what does staying awake mean? basically at the last Christian union meeting we were warned of the danger of falling asleep over the summer term, of neglecting God's word and church and practical duties which would lead us to backslide and fall asleep. So to help us stay awake I thought it good that it may be of use to create a face-book group that aims to encourage us to read our bibles, pray, be zealous for good deeds, bringing Christ in all we do and etc over the summer terms. So far we have begun to read through Romans and what a joy it has been. We read a chapter a day and hopefully in the coming weeks I'l post up things that I have learnt and also questions that people may have and attempt to answer it. Feel free to join the fb group too. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=132909050053867&v=info&ref=ts#!/group.php?gid=132909050053867&v=wall&ref=ts


K.Oni

Monday, 14 June 2010

Submission and Headship in the Home where I Grew Up

By John Piper

Last Sunday's message was on the meaning of submission in marriage. I did not have time for this closing illustration. So consider this an application at the end of that message. The point is that my mother's submissive role in relation to my father was not owing to lesser competencies. It was owing to the God-given nature of manhood and womanhood and how they are designed in marriage to display the covenant relationship between Christ and the church.

I grew up in a home where my father was away for about two-thirds of each year. He was an evangelist. He held about twenty-five crusades each year ranging in length from one to three weeks. He would leave on Saturday, be gone for one to three weeks, and come home on Monday afternoon. I went to the Greenville airport hundreds of times. And some of the sweetest memories of my childhood are the smile of my father's face as he came out of the plane and down the steps and almost ran across the runway to hug me and kiss me (no skyways in those days).

This meant that my sister and I were reared and trained mostly by my mother. She taught me almost everything practical that I know. She taught me how to cut the grass without skippers and keep a checkbook and ride a bike and drive a car and make notes for a speech and set the table with the fork in the right place and make pancakes (notice when the bubbles form on the edges). She paid the bills, handled repairs, cleaned house, cooked meals, helped me with my homework, took us to church, led us in devotions. She was superintendent of the Intermediate Department at church, head of the community garden club, and tireless doer of good for others.

She was incredibly strong in her loneliness. The early sixties were the days in Greenville, SC, when civil rights were in the air. The church took a vote one Wednesday night on a resolution not to allow black people to worship in the church. When the vote was taken, she stood, as I recall, entirely alone in opposition. And when my sister was married in the church in 1963 and one of the ushers tried to seat some black friends of our family all alone in the balcony, my mother indignantly marched out of the sanctuary and sat them herself on the main floor with everyone else.

I have never known anyone quite like Ruth Piper. She seemed to me omni-competent and overflowing with love and energy.

But here is my point. When my father came home, my mother had the extraordinary ability and biblical wisdom and humility to honor him as the head of the home. She was, in the best sense of the word, submissive to him. It was an amazing thing to watch week after week as my father came and went. He went, and my mother ruled the whole house with a firm and competent and loving hand. And he came, and my mother deferred to his leadership.

Now that he was home, he is the one who prayed at the meals. Now it was he that led in devotions. Now it was he that drove us to worship, and watched over us in the pew, and answered our questions. My fear of disobedience shifted from my mother's wrath to my father's, for there, too, he took the lead.

But I never heard my father attack my mother or put her down in any way. They sang together and laughed together and put their heads together to bring each other up-to-date on the state of the family. It was a gift of God that I could never begin to pay for or earn.

And here is what I learned — a biblical truth before I knew it was in the Bible. There is no correlation between submission and incompetence. There is such a thing as masculine leadership that does not demean a wife. There is such thing as submission that is not weak or mindless or manipulative.

It never entered my mind until I began to hear feminist rhetoric in the late sixties that this beautiful design in my home was somehow owing to anyone's inferiority. It wasn't. It was owing to this: My mother and my father put their hope in God and believed that obedience to his word would create the best of all possible families — and it did. So I exhort you with all my heart, consider these things with great seriousness, and do not let the world squeeze you into its mold.

http://www.desiringgod.org/

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Surprised by Joy

As a young child, I always went to church and as I grew older, there was an emptiness inside of me that craved after pure joy. Joy that would last a joy that gave my soul peace, but I sought it in everything, everything else but Jesus Christ. Like Wilberforce, I was a man whose soul was drawn to heaven. many things I would do, like follow my desires and go with the crowd. I thought in them pure joy could be found but time and time again, it left me empty like a woman who constantly day after day goes to the well to fill up her bucket. This unfound joy led to the gradual misery of my searching soul. I could not enjoy the companies of others with a pure affection, though I had many friends, My love for them was not deep. I kept relationships at skin deep because I did not want them to know of my misery. I came to university with this burden, and the craving still remained. I saw beauty in everything, but where was its source. Is there an ultimate beauty? If there is then pure joy must be found there too. One day I was reading the scriptures and a passage came to me, John 10:10- 'I have come that they may have life and life to the full'. How can I receive this fullness of life? I pleaded in prayer and in a moment a supernatural peace and great love and joy filled my soul and I now knew that pure joy came through Jesus Christ and I concealed defeat to my emptiness.

K.Oni

wrath of God

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive with Christ- by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2

Consider how awesome our God is and consider how awful we are. The first three verses of Ephesians 2 focuses on the wretchedness of man and how utterly they deserve wrath because they are nothing else but children of wrath. if God should have left all men to continue in their state, they would have all received nothing but wrath. It amazes me that those without Christ and those who do not know God show contempt at the wrath of God. They ridicule it and mock it, they say well if God is a God of love, then how can he be wrathful? for then how should God deal with the sins of men. Should he pass it by and show indifference like so many of them do? Should he ignore the cries of justice and not uphold his glory? God is not like you and will punish you and your sins. He bends his bow and points his arrow at wickedness and the target is your heart. That pool in which flows all manner of godlessness, that pool in which the devils swim. Your heart is filthy and it pollutes the earth, yea it touches also upon the whole universe and to the molecule. Do you think that the sun shines on you willingly if it were not for the sovereign hands of God the hosts of heavens should have long attacked you with its full weight and it would have been their delight. Yea it would be the delight of the earth to spill you out. Consider the depths of your depravity and weep- weep with sackcloth and ashes upon your head and it is in this pitiful condition that God so loved you, yea He loved you with all his weight that He thought it good to send his Son to die for you. And not just to die for you but also to cleanse you and make you clean, that now your heart should be righteous and you should be the blessed man. Is this not wonderful and should you not rejoice at such an undeserving mercy. But many mock it because of their perverse hearts and cling to their sins and do not accept the free offer of love.

K.Oni

Faith

There may undoubtedly be such a thing as is called the testimony of faith, and a sort of certainty of faith that is different from reason, that is, is different from discourse by a chain of arguments, a certainty that is given by the Holy Spirit; and yet such a belief may be altogether agreeable to reason, agreeable to the exactest rules of philosophy. Such ideas of religion may be in the mind, as a man may feel divinity in them, and so may know they are from God, know that religion is of divine original, that is, is divine truth. Yea, this faith may be to the degree of certainty, for he may certainly intuitively see God and feel him in those ideas; that is, he may certainly see that notion he has of God in them. The notion of God, or idea I have of him, is that complex idea of such power, holiness, purity, majesty, love, excellency, beauty, loveliness, and ten thousand other things.9 Now when a man is certain he sees those things, he is certain he sees that which he calls divine. He is certain he feels those things to which he annexes the term God; that is, he is certain that what he sees and feels, he sees and feels; and he knows that what he then sees and feels is the same thing he used to call God. There is such an idea of religion in his mind, wherein he knows he sees and feels that power, that holiness, that purity, that majesty, that love, that excellency, that beauty and loveliness, that amounts to his idea of God.

Now no man can say such a thing cannot be. A man may see a beauty, a charmingness, and feel a power that he can no way in the world describe. 'Tis so in corporeal beauties, in beautiful charming airs, etc., but more in those ideas that are very much abstracted from body. Then this is granted, that he may feel such an excellency that may amount to his idea of God.

But then, you'll say, God and religion are the same! I say so much that religion is tinged with a divine color and is of his air; and there is all the question, whether it has divine excellencies or no. There is a certain property is seen and felt in religion by faith, that is altogether ineffable, and can't be called either power, or beauty, or majesty (because neither of these half imply it), but rather divinity, which strongly certifies the mind that it is divine.

Now no man can deny but that such an idea of religion may possibly be wrought by the Holy Spirit. 'Tis not unphilosophical to think so. And if there actually is such a thing as we have shown may be, it may very significatively be called the testimony of the Spirit. This way of knowing or believing is very differing from all other kinds of knowledge or belief. It is not by discourse, neither is it by intuition as other intuition. Neither can this kind of faith, or this sort of knowledge, be exercised in any common objects; for there are [in them] no such distinguishing amiable properties, of such a force as to bear down the mind at such a rate as do the divine properties.

By Jonathan Edwards

Friday, 11 June 2010

The New Testament and the New Government

On Tuesday I attended ‘A Service For the New Parliament’ in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey. It included parliamentarians across the political parties, and a number of them read the Scripture readings and led prayers. The Address was given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and leaders of other denominations, including the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster , Vincent Nichols, participated.

The principal reading was the classic ‘God and Caesar’ passage in Matthew 22.16b-21. ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ The statement is frequently used by commentators to justify a separation of ‘religion’ and ‘politics’, but that divide is an enlightenment construct, not a New Testament one. Sitting in the service, I again reflected on what the New Testament’s view on government is. It’s not possible to set out a comprehensive theology of government here, but it is possible to put three building blocks in place.

It’s crucial, firstly, to reject the idea that the New Testament and politics are un-connected or even incompatible. Jürgen Moltmann comments ‘Its subject alone makes Christian theology a theologia publica, a public theology. It gets involved in the public affairs of society. It thinks about what is of general concern in the light of the hope of Christ for the kingdom of God .’ In Matthew 22 Jesus is clear that Caesar has some legitimate authority, but under God’s authority. In the words of Richard Bauckham, ‘Jesus’ point is not that God has no rights over Caesar, but that God’s rights do not exclude Caesar’s.’

Secondly, we should recognise that there is a legitimate role for political authority. Government is part and parcel of the created order. It’s a thoroughly good thing. Politics is about organising our economic, social and cultural life. It’s about restraining evil and promoting the common good, not just the interests of those in power. The positive view of government in the New Testament is evident in texts like Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2.1-8.

Thirdly, we should keep politics in its proper place. The role of the political authorities is an important one, but it’s not all-important. The critical view of governing authorities is evident in passages like Revelation 13. Governments can claim too much. Karl Barth makes clear that the ‘civil community’ can ‘only have external, relative, and provisional tasks and aims’. The fifth article of the Barmen Declaration rejected, against Hitler, the idea that the state should usurp the functions of the church by becoming the ‘single and total order of human life.’

In these interesting political times, what are the implications of these theological reflections? Let me highlight just two.

In the Clegg-Cameron press conference in Downing Street on 12th May, the new Prime Minister said that ‘Our Liberal-Conservative government will take Britain in a historic new direction, a direction of hope and unity, conviction and common purpose.’ The emphasis on common purpose here, and the wider national interest elsewhere, is important, and it should remain central to the coalition, but it’s important to avoid deifying the national interest at the expense of wider global responsibilities, especially to the worlds poorest.

Secondly, in the debate about political reform, the question of church-state will no doubt be re-examined. It’s possible to take a position on either side of that debate with theological integrity, but it’s crucial to avoid slipping into the trap of believing in the possibility of secular neutrality. The idea that the secular state can be morally and religiously neutral or wholly impartial is a myth. In its actions, governments, of whatever colour(s), preference some notions of the good over others, and rightly so. ‘Salvation’, according to Stanley Hauerwas, ‘is a concrete alternative that the world cannot know apart from the existence of a concrete people called church.’ To think that the church can love God or neighbour without being concerned to shape notions of the good or the policies which result is to live in unreality.

On Tuesday Sir George Young MP, Leader of the House of Commons, led the congregation in the parliamentary prayer. ‘Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her Government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.’

In our democracy all of us, elected politicians or not, have the opportunity not only to pray the parliamentary prayer but to contribute, through our engagement, to the vision contained within it.

Let it be so.

Paul Woolley, Director of Theos - the public theology think tank

Monday, 7 June 2010

ENTHUSIASM

John the Baptist was a person greatly moved by the Spirit. He preached to the people in a very earnest manner, warning of their danger, calling upon 'em to fly from the wrath to come with great pathos, manifesting his great engagedness not only in words but deeds: his incessant labor and great self-denial and great boldness in his work, fearing none, reproving great and small, whereby the people, seeing and hearing, were mightily moved. Christ therefore says concerning him, Matthew 11:7 and Luke 7:24, "What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" Which seems to imply that there is such a thing as men's being mightily moved and actuated by something that is pretended to be the Spirit of God, but yet is vain and empty as the wind, exceeding unsteady, and soon comes to nothing, though violent; and that the persons that are the subjects of this emotion do show their great weakness in yielding to it, and being governed by [it]. Such there were, many of them, in the primitive ages of the Christian church. Christ denies John the Baptist to be such a one.

By Jonathan Edwards

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The celestial gate

My dream is light
But I have to fight
I took my flight
And what a plight
A pilgrim’s day
On the narrow way

All the while
My cross I took
I strolled along
And met some saints
We sang sweet songs
To our Lord above

What is this?
In front of us
You don’t belong to our Lord
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ
Be gone and depart from our path
Still he lingers
Still he stays
Perseverance is what we say
On our knees
Though we are weak
Jesus Christ is all we need

Now he’s gone
Some bread in front
We eat for a while
On the narrow path

The gate is nigh
We ran with awe
Unbeatable joy
The celestial gate
Is gold and tall
There we saw
St peter and John
They led us
To the presence of our Lord
Who crowned us all
With a golden crown

K.Oni

How shall I approach you

How shall I approach you

How shall we greet

what will I say

And what shall we do

All this I wander

Yet we are to meet

How shall I approach you

Yet I do not know

I wish I could say all that's in my heart

That you may feel my thoughts for you

K.Oni

Disconnected

We are by nature disconnected from God, the human story begins with God creating man in His image for his glory. Man was and is to worship and dwell in the presence of God. The relationship was healthy. Man walked in the coolness of the day with God who shaded them with many delights. Was your heart not satisfied Adam and Eve? You were connected and you were meant to enjoy each other forever. You were connected so why have you become disconnected, why is this now the human story when it was not so? It was because you chose another way you chose the way of disconnection. You did not follow the way of God or His truth but you chose the lie, you believed the serpent and followed the desire of your own flesh; you chose your way and have become disconnected- you made us all disconnected. I cannot blame you, for your story is my story. I too have have waked my own way and chose the path of disconnection. I chose the flesh rather than the Spirit, I rejected Him and loved my disconnectedness.

I look at the world and it is broken; broken in so many ways. Adam do you see the consequence of your rebellion, your rebellion has become my rebellion and I have become a slave. A slave to my rebellion. Look Adam, look; can you see the disparity, the brokenness, death and war. The seasons bring forth no harvest and men have become unkind. Even their best deeds is nothing but filthy rags. We are disconnected, disconnected from God and from each other. Do you not hate your enemies? do you not think of evil things in your heart and disregard God? Do we not know the law in our heart and yet disobey it? O Adam, we are disconnected. if I could tun back time I soon would have grabbed the serpent's head and tell him to keep quiet and to hush his lying mouth. But God works all things according to his purpose!

I have heard Adam that God Himself has bridged our disconnection that even though our rebellion grieved him dearly so that He was sorry that he created us yet I have heard Adam that He loves us so much that He Sent forth His only Son, the only man who was never disconnected apart from his cross when he bore our rebellion to die for us and connect us to our father once again. This re-connection promises that everything will be made new and the lion will eat grass with the lamb once again. And to be connected is very simple; it is trusting our Father on what he has done for us and turning from our rebellious ways. Although His Son died for us, he did not remain in the grave but he was raised back to life on the third day. O Adam is this not wonderful.

K.Oni

psalm 131

I love psalm 131 and would recommend all to commit it to memory. its a humbling prayer and one that exhorts God for his greatness and the willingness of the individual to still and quieting their soul. Time and time again I sit in deep humility and would repeat this psalm and remember to put my Hope in the LORD

My heart is not proud O Lord
My eyes are not haughty
I do not concern myself with great matters
Or things to wonderful for me
But I have stilled and quietened my soul
Like a weaned child is my soul within me
O Israel put your hope in the Lord
Both now and forevermore

K.Oni

Seeing you

Seeing you is a delight to my soul

Your fragrance so rich and sweet

You are clothed like the flower of the field

And your simple beauties like the lilies

My passion for you as the Sun to the day

You are marvellous and your eyes shine like the stars

Your face gleam like the twinkling stars

Seeing you is a delight to my soul

K.Oni

Tears, questions and theology

As I write this article, police are piecing together the events that led up to Derrick Bird’s horrific shooting spree. As this tragedy unfolded in Cumbria on Wednesday, shock and disbelief were quickly followed by tears and questions. Perhaps the most prominent question was ‘Why?’ Why did this 52 year old taxi driver start killing people? It’s a question that may never be fully answered, and even if it is, I doubt we’ll ever be able to understand it.

This weekend, it is likely that the focus of the ‘Why?’ question will move from Derrick Bird onto God - especially if there’s a Christian in the room. Why does God allow things like this to happen? So, if that ‘Christian in the room’ is you, what’s your answer going to be?

My suggestion is this: Don’t provide an answer to their question!

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t respond, that would be rude, just don’t respond with an answer! If we’re honest, we’ve all probably tried that, and however ‘right’ our answers were, I doubt they were that helpful.

One of the most famous examples of Jesus confronting tragedy is when he arrived in Bethany to be greeted by a distraught Mary and Martha. Their brother had just died. Like today, people were asking questions, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37) Jesus had the answers, and in this case he also had a very tangible solution, but first, “…he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled,” and then, he wept (John 11:33-35). If we discuss the ‘suffering questions’ without feeling the pain what we say will come across as academic and theoretical. Nine times out of ten, that’s not what people want at moments such as these. Genuine empathy can lead to a healthy discussion.

Secondly, join them in asking questions; this can be a lot more helpful than trying to provide answers. It is my experience that in situations such as this answers do not necessarily increase understanding, but asking questions can increase our faith. This approach appears to be extremely biblical – just flick through the Psalms and the books of Job and Ecclesiastes. Their authors ask many questions of God and about their experiences of life, which contains so much pain and injustice. Attempting to provide an answer is almost certainly the fastest way to end a conversation, asking genuine questions can lead to a healthy discussion.

There’s a danger that we associate theology with ‘knowing the answers to the God-questions’. That both diminishes the depth and misses the point! The word ‘theology’ is made up of two Greek words, one meaning God, the other meaning words, discourse and thinking. Theology is about discussing the things of God, not simply presenting answers. It’s not primarily about coming up with formulas and answers; it’s about increasing our faith in, and deepening our relationship with, the Creator.

Asking questions doesn’t necessarily result in increased confusion and doubt. Take a closer look at the Psalms and books of Job and Ecclesiastes. In all three examples, the questioners seem to end up with a greater respect of, and faith in God. As we wrestle with the ‘God-questions’ with our colleagues, friends and family, it gives us all an opportunity to discover more of the things of God – wherever we currently are on our faith journey.

Phil Green, Public Theology Research Assistant