Saturday, 21 December 2013

Jealousies hatred

Jealousies hatred is worst of all
Close akin to hatred's pride.
Never a man forsook his own
So shallowly, when his own
Did take his wife, in secret bed
And dare confess, by length and pen.
The man did rise with no eyes to blink
For death now marked the one once his kin.


I knew a sad boy: His faith has gone astray

I knew a sad boy who a huge debt had to pay. Those he owe, their eyes could not look, for deep inside was shame within. That how such waves enveloped him, no reason could give and now on thin ice must tread till all is paid. But how, but how, the poor boy thought, schemes after schemes but none prevail. A job but all evaded him that now he thinks in sorrowful tone. Who this boy can help God knows. No friend in sight can make him their own, and when family apart, torn by length no where could look, save the thought of going away, to a place where prisoners are kept, or that to which no living could dwell. And worst of all, he feels depressed for all his faith has gone astray.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Do me no good

Do me no good
When good, none I have for you.
For in doing me good, when justice deserved,
It shall be like 
Burning coals on my head. 


War is boredom

War is horrific. It is bloody and in Wilfred Owen's words it leaves people 'bent double, like old beggars.. coughing like hags.' War is not only horrific but much of it consists in boredom. Owen describes the boredom of war in the trenches in his poem 'Exposure' as a soldier who in between vigilance doesn't have much to do. 'We watch them wandering up and down the wind's nonchalance, but nothing happens.'

Much of war consists in waiting; either waiting for the enemy to attack or waiting for instructions for your next attack. In between is the cold self reflection of one's own presence here in the war. Owen writes:

Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire.
Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
Northward incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles,
Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.
What are we doing here?

What are we doing here Owen asks. What is the point of this war. The war alluded to is the first world war. It was a conflict between many nations. As Thomas Hardy puts it in his poem 'Channel firing', 'And all nations striving strong to make red war yet redder.' This was the result of the first world war. It made red war yet redder. Over 8 million people lost their lives. And the bloodiest battle was the battle of Somme. Frederick Steinberger, a German officer, summed it up well. "Somme the whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word." Such an experience led many to loose their faith in humanity. To loose their faith in religion as well as political leaders, and in Western civilization. Such a view is not uncommon today as many would look upon their political leaders as the 'group of professionals least likely to tell the truth.'

The first world war was senseless slaughter; It was horrific and much more, it was boredom that made many to loose their faith in ideals, especially the ideals of the 19th century. To finish off with Owen, he writes in "Dulce Et Decorum Est":

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Romanlyrical poet Horace's Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as: "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country." Wikipedia 


An awakened backslider

But here is another poor soul, more bowed down than any which have considered. It is an awakened backslider. This man verily thought that he was a true Christian, and under that impression applied for admittance into the church, and was received, and for a season seemed to run well; but by the snares and baits of the world, and the deceitfulness of the riches, and insidious lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life, was by the degrees seduced from the paths of piety. After a while the profession of religion was laid aside as an inconvenient thing; since which time, until lately, he has been sinking deeper and deeper into the spirit of the world which lies in wickedness. But recently, by a sore visitation of affliction, his conscience has been awakened to a consideration of his woeful state, and he inquires with most earnest solicitude whether there is any ground of hope for such a backslider, who has sinned much more egregiously since he made a profession of religion than he ever did before. Now to such a one I feel authorized to say, Christ invites even backsliders like you to come and be saved. I find no clause excluding the returning backslider, guilty as he is in the sight of God. He says in regards to this man as others, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."
There is indeed mention made in Scripture of some backsliders who turned back unto perdition, and never can be renewed again unto repentance; these never come to Christ, and never truly desire to come. For them nothing remains "but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour the adversaries."
But we read in Jeremiah of the Lord calling upon his backsliding Israel to return, Jeremiah 3:12; and in Hosea, God says, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely." Hosea 14:4. This is a most gracious and encouraging promise, and we find in fact that God has received great backsliders upon their repentance, and freely pardoned their enormous sins. I believe that the deplorable backslidings of David, and his subsequent pardon and restoration, were left on record that convinced backsliders might not despair of mercy. And our Lord intimates that Peter, when recovered from his shameful fall, should make it his business "to strengthen his brethren." Some of this class may perhaps allege that they are afraid that they never were truly of the number of the Israel of God. That perhaps is a question which you will never be able to solve in this life. But as to the point in hand it matters not; if you will now come to Christ, you will be received. Come, and he will in no wise cast you out.
by Archibald Alexander - an excerpt from 

Sinners Welcome to Come to Jesus Christ

Thursday, 19 December 2013

One foot in the grave

The very old man has already one foot in the grave. It is his wisdom to know this. But the young are often under the disposition that they live forever. This is their folly. The grave takes the young as well as the old. There, you shall find no discrimination. All are welcome alike. Whether ye be old or young, barren or full of fruit, rich or poor, melancholic or happy, the grave has no eyes to see to make any sort of distinction. All must be swallowed up by him.

Death is a certainty unless by a great amount of fortune one is alive when the Lord Jesus Christ returns; otherwise everything living shall taste death, either very on in the morning or very late at night. Therefore I plead with you to consider the end of your souls. Where shall ye end up. In hell or in heaven. But some are atheist, and even more are very good friends of apathy, in-fact they are one and the same. They have no such thinking about the end of their souls in their heart. They eat and are merry and suddenly when it is all too late they die.

And there are others who are very much deluded by other religions, even some who profess faith in Christ. These kind of people understand that there is a place for the soul to rest where time ticks not. Even if it does tick, the hours shall not weary them as to bring lines upon their faces. But yet, they are very deluded because Satan has made them believe his lies. Such is every system in the world that has not this message, namely that salvation is through Christ alone. And such thing is brought about by the Spirit according to the Father's sovereign will. They are born anew. But many know this not and my only hope for the great portion of humanity is prayer and the proclamation of the truth. Although they stone me with the rocks of intolerance yet the good master cannot hold me accountable for their blood when they shall be sentenced to hell.

Death is upon us all and I do ask of you to call on the name of Jesus Christ and ye shall see that ye shall be saved.


Let me feel your existence

I want to know God. To feel his goodness and warmth over me.
I want to know the surety of his existence. For him to grant me a faith that stands in the storm.
I want to know God. But it is hard to know him if I cling on to my sins.
Both things are diametrically opposed.
Therefore I am tormented in my soul.
The world seems so pleasing and heaven is where I want to lay my head.
Both cannot be my portion.
Oh God, let me feel your existence as to banish all doubts within me.


Monday, 16 December 2013

Sin sickens the life within

Sin sickens the life within
Vomiting Spirit forced to drink
Lust's wine

Through regenerated mind. 

We should consider it shameful if we are born again that we use our body for immorality. That we who are sealed with the Holy Spirit should subject him to such torture. It is indeed a filthy thing for a man to be locked up with dung; it is infinitely much more abominable that we should subject the Spirit inside of us with our sins. O indeed there is grace and the Spirit does forgive and bring joy to our hearts even though we have caused him to be sad. Yet let us have a mind of purity about us and live our christian lives with such seriousness as to consider all unholy things as a terrible thing. If not for your sake then be mindful of the Spirit inside you.


It is nonsense to talk about man being at home in the world

My dear friend, is it not nonsense to talk about man being at home in the world? For on this blue dot, his life is but misery. Only one thing is certain for him and that his death. Yes surely he may dance late into the night and entertain himself with gold and clowns, but his end is still the same. He shall die. Let us not be as fools that stoop low to kiss the ground, and let us not be as fools who continue to jump in hope to reach beyond the sky. We are fixed on the floor of this dome and like our very first memories we shall be nothing at all. On this side of paradise there is little comfort at all, and on the other side of paradise there shall no comfort be. So what then is a man's existence? To what end should we live our lives? If suicide be no option, for in most men there is a will to live, what then to make of our lives! My hands are up in the air my friend. Let each man live according to his deluded conscience. Let him live as he pleases but let him know, that consequences and eventually death shall meet him without care.

I agree with you my friend that it is nonsense to talk about man being at home in the world. But I must qualify it a little. Indeed a man who has no virtue in his heart, that believes that no immortality (of the soul) exist, and no absolutes, as in goodness and righteousness, then this world is everything his home. But to the man who has a longing for justice and for every wrong made right one day, then it is nonsense to talk about such a man being at home in this world. For this material world offers him no consolation for the fulfilling of his dreams. On this side of paradise there is no comfort at all; but on that other side of paradise, or as my Vicar friend makes it, that when the earth is made anew, the good man, yes the born-again man shall find his home in this world, on that other side of paradise. 


The world is moving

The world is moving around me; I wanted to show something about it so I picked up my camera and took a picture of the prettiest thing. It was of my beloved. I put a frame of love around her as to show that to me, yea to me she was the most precious thing around me, especially among all the moving things in this world. Pick up a camera and take a picture of the loveliest thing to you. 



Memory memory detached from me
come once again that I may live
as me, for present innocence I be
and can walk as any man I please.
He seems, the cheerful kind
And her, charisma fills the eye.
Excuse me, please your memories give
that I may be as giddy as thee.
Memories do make us all
and when lost, 
new creatures we must all turn.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Bibliology Grounded in Christology

The center of all theology, of the entirety of the Christian faith, is Christ himself. The Christ-event—in particular his death and resurrection—is the center of time: everything before it leads up to it; everything after it is shaped by it. If Christ were not God in the flesh, he would not have been raised from the dead. And if he were not raised from the dead, none of us would have any hope. My theology grows out from Christ, is based on Christ, and focuses on Christ.
Years ago, I would have naïvely believed that all Christians could give their hearty amens to the previous paragraph. This is no longer the case; perhaps it never was. There are many whose starting point and foundation for Christian theology is bibliology. They begin with the assumption that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. I can understand that. Starting one’s doctrinal statement with the Bible gives one assurances that the primary source of theology, the scriptures, is both true and trustworthy. I don’t start there, however. I have come to believe that the incarnation is both more central than inspiration and provides a methodological imperative for historical investigation of the claims of the Bible.
Sometimes the reason why doctrinal statements begin with scripture is because the framers believe that without an inerrant Bible we can’t know anything about Jesus Christ. They often ask the question, “How can we be sure that anything in the Bible is true? How can we be sure that Jesus Christ is who he said he was, or even that he existed, if the Bible is not inerrant?”
Inductive vs. Deductive Approaches to Inerrancy
My response to the above question is twofold. First, before the New Testament was written, how did people come to faith in Christ? To assume that having a complete Bible is necessary before we can know anything about Christ is both anachronistic and counterproductive. Our epistemology has to wrestle with the spread of the gospel before the Gospels were penned. The very fact that it spread so fast—even though the apostles were not always regarded highly—is strong testimony both to the work of the Spirit and to the historical evidence that the eyewitnesses affirmed.
Second, we can know about Christ because the Bible is a historical document. (Even if one has a very low regard for the Bible’s historicity, he or she has to admit that quite a bit of it is historically accurate.) If we demand inerrancy of the Bible before we can believe that any of it is true, what are we to say about other ancient historical documents? We don’t demand that they be inerrant, yet no evangelical would be totally skeptical about all of ancient history. Why put the Bible in a different category before we can believe it at all? As one scholar wisely articulated many years ago, we treat the Bible like any other book to show that it is not like any other book.
Warfield’s Two Premises
We are not asked to take a leap of faith in believing the Bible to be the word of God, or even to believe that it is historically reliable; we have evidence that this is the case. I enlist on my behalf that towering figure of Reformed biblical scholarship, Benjamin B. Warfield. In his Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, Warfield lays out an argument for inerrancy that has been all but forgotten by today’s evangelicals. Essentially, he makes a case for inerrancy on the basis of inductive evidence, rather than deductive reasoning. Most evangelicals today follow E. J. Young’s deductive approach toward bibliology, forgetting the great, early articulator of inerrancy. But Warfield starts with the evidencethat the Bible is a historical document, rather than with the presupposition that it is inspired. This may seem shocking to some in the evangelical camp, but one can hardly claim that Warfield was soft on bibliological convictions! Let me prove my point with a lengthy quotation from his Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948), p. 174:
“Now if this doctrine is to be assailed on critical grounds, it is very clear that, first of all, criticism must be required to proceed against the evidence on which it is based. This evidence, it is obvious, is twofold. First, there is the exegetical evidence that the doctrine held and taught by the Church is the doctrine held and taught by the Biblical writers themselves. And secondly, there is the whole mass of evidence—internal and external, objective and subjective, historical and philosophical, human and divine—which goes to show that the Biblical writers are trustworthy as doctrinal guides. If they are trustworthy teachers of doctrine and if they held and taught this doctrine, then this doctrine is true, and is to be accepted and acted upon as true by us all. In that case, any objections brought against the doctrine from other spheres of inquiry are inoperative; it being a settled logical principle that so long as the proper evidence by which a proposition is established remains unrefuted, all so-called objections brought against it pass out of the category of objections to its truth into the category of difficulties to be adjusted to it. If criticism is to assail this doctrine, therefore, it must proceed against and fairly overcome one or the other element of its proper proof. It must either show that this doctrine is not the doctrine of the Biblical writers, or else it must show that the Biblical writers are not trustworthy as doctrinal guides.”
Notice how often Warfield speaks of evidence here as the grounds for believing in inerrancy. The evidence is historical, exegetical, and doctrinal. Two statements stand out as crucial to his argument: “If they [the biblical writers] are trustworthy teachers of doctrine and if they held and taught this doctrine, then this doctrine is true…” and “If criticism is to assail this doctrine… It must either show that this doctrine is not the doctrine of the Biblical writers, or else it must show that the Biblical writers are not trustworthy as doctrinal guides.” Warfield’s argument is one of the most profound paragraphs ever written in defense of inerrancy. If you’re reading this quickly, go back and let it sink in for awhile.
Metzger’s Challenge: The Bible Doesn’t Affirm Its Own Inerrancy
In 1992, when Bruce Metzger was on campus at Dallas Seminary for a week, delivering the Griffith Thomas lectures, students would often ask him whether he embraced inerrancy. Frankly, I thought their question was a bit uncharitable since they already knew the answer (he did not). But as one who, like Warfield before him, taught at Princeton Seminary, and as a Reformed scholar, Metzger certainly had earned the right to be heard on this issue. His response was simply that he did not believe in inerrancy because he felt it was unwise to hold to any doctrines that were not affirmed in the Bible, and he didn’t see inerrancy being affirmed in the Bible. In other words, he denied Warfield’s first argument (viz., that inerrancy was held by the biblical writers). It should be pointed out that Metzger did not disagree with Warfield’s second argument. In other words, he had a high view of the Bible, but not as high as, say, the Evangelical Theological Society, precisely because he did not think that the biblical writers held to the doctrine of inerrancy.
The Role of 2 Timothy 3.16
I felt the import of Metzger’s argument even before I had heard it from him, because I had long ago memorized the passage from Warfield quoted above. When I was working on my master’s degree in the 1970s, I was convinced that Warfield’s twofold argument needed to be examined and either affirmed or rejected. So I wrote my master’s thesis on an arcane point of Greek grammar. It was entitled, “The Relation of Adjective to Noun in Anarthrous Constructions in the New Testament.” I chose that particular topic because it directly affected how we should translate 2 Timothy 3.16. Should we translate this verse “every inspired scripture is also profitable” with the possible implication that some scripture is not inspired, or should we translate it “every scripture is inspired and profitable,” in which case the inspiration of scripture is directly asserted? I spent over 1200 hours on that thesis, working without the benefit of computers—in the Greek New Testament, in the Septuagint, in classical Greek, in the papyri—to determine whether adjectives in anarthrous constructions (constructions in which no definite article was present) could be predicate or whether they had to be attributive. All of this related to 2 Timothy 3.16 because the adjective “inspired” was related to the noun “scripture” in an anarthrous construction. Further, of the dozens of New Testament grammars I checked, not one gave any actual evidence that adjectives in such constructions could be predicate. A predicate adjective would be translated as an assertion (“every scripture isinspired”) while an attributive adjective would be translated as a qualification or assumption (“every inspired scripture”). I felt an obligation to the evangelical community to wrestle with this issue and see if there was indeed genuine evidence on behalf of a predicate “inspired.” I charted out over 2200 Greek constructions in the New Testament, as well as countless others in other corpora—all by hand—then checked the primary sources a second time to make sure I got the statistics right. When an ice storm hit Dallas in the winter of 1978–79, cutting down power lines in our neighborhood, I had to work by lamplight for a week to get the first draft of the thesis in on time. My conclusion was that “inspired” in 2 Timothy 3.16 was indeed a predicate adjective. And I supplied over 400 similar examples in the appendix to back it up! These 400 examples had never been discussed in any New Testament grammar before. I believed then, and I believe now, that supplying this kind of evidence is a worthy use of one’s time. The main part of the thesis ended up being the first piece of mine accepted for publication. It appeared inNovum Testamentum (one of the world’s leading biblical journals) in 1984 as a lengthy article. And the editors kept my opening comment that my motivation for the article was to help resolve some disputes about bibliology raging at the time in American evangelical circles.
I mention the above autobiographical note for two reasons. First, the question of the nature of the Bible has been, and still is, a very precious issue to me. Obviously, to spend over 1200 hours on where to put the “is” in one verse of scripture shows that I regard such a text to be rather significant! And that such a passage is a major verse on verbal inspiration should show that this doctrine is important to me. Second, the conclusion I came to is equally important: I can affirm, with Warfield, that the biblical writers do indeed embrace a high view of the text of Holy Writ. To be sure, this verse is not all there is in defense of inerrancy. But it is a crux interpretum, deserving our utmost attention. I must therefore respectfully disagree with Professor Metzger about Warfield’s first argument.
Christological Grounds for a High Bibliology
Where does this leave us with reference to inerrancy? I arrive at inerrancy through an inductive process, rather than by starting with it deductively. My epistemological method may therefore be different from others, but the resultant doctrine is not necessarily so. At bottom, the reason I hold to a high bibliology is because I hold to a high Christology. Jesus often spoke of the Bible in terms that went beyond the reverence that the Pharisees and Sadducees had for the text. They added traditions to the Bible, or truncated the canon, or otherwise failed to handle scripture appropriately. Jesus had a high view of the text, and it strikes me that I would be unwise to have a view different from his. Indeed, I believe I would be on dangerous ground if I were to take a different view of the text than Jesus did. Thus, my starting point for a high bibliology is Christ himself.
Some may argue that we can’t even know what Jesus said unless we start with a high bibliology. But that approach is circular. Making a pronouncement that scripture is inerrant does not guarantee the truth of such an utterance. If I said the moon is made of green cheese, that doesn’t make it so. At most, what such pronouncements can do is give one assurance. But this is not the same as knowledge. And if the method for arriving at such assurance is wrongheaded, then even the assurance needs to be called into question. A web of issues brings about the deepest kinds of theological assurance: evidence (historical, exegetical, hermeneutical, etc.), affirmations, the role of the Spirit, etc. One does not have the deepest assurance about inerrancy simply by convincing himself or herself that it must be true. Indeed, I would argue that such a presuppositional approach often caves in on itself. Now if inerrancy is true, what harm is there in examining the data of the text?
Now, someone may say, “But how do you know that Jesus actually held to a high bibliology unless you start with that presupposition? How do you know that the Gospel writers got the words of Jesus right in the first place?” I think that’s an excellent question. I would use the criteria of authenticity to argue that he did indeed hold to a high view of the text. The criteria of authenticity, when used properly, are criteria that Gospels scholars use to affirm whether Jesus said or did something. Notice that I did not say, “Gospels scholars use to deny whether Jesus said or did something.” The criteria of authenticity should normally be used only for positive results. To take one illustration: The criterion of dissimilarity is the criterion that says if Jesus said something that was unlike what any rabbi before him said and unlike what the church later said, then surely such a saying is authentic. I think this is good as far as it goes. It certainly works for “theSon of Man” sayings in the Gospels. The problem is that the Jesus Seminar used this criterion to make negative assessments of Jesus’ sayings. Thus, if Jesus said something that was said in contemporary Judaism, its authenticity is discounted. But surely that would create an eccentric Jesus if it were applied across the board! Indeed, Jesus said things that were already said in the Judaism of his day, and surely the early church learned from him and repeated him.
How does this apply to Jesus’ bibliology? Since his statements about scripture are decidedly more reverential than those of the Pharisees or Sadducees, the criterion of dissimilarity requires us to see that Jesus did, indeed, hold to a high bibliology. Of course, I am not arguing that the average Christian for the past two thousand years needed to think about whether Jesus said something. But I am arguing that even the evidence from a historical-critical perspective points in the same direction. And I am arguing that in the modern world, and even postmodern world, for evangelicals to ignore evidence is tantamount to a leap of faith.
I must confess that I did not at first embrace a high bibliology because of applying the criteria of authenticity to the sayings of Jesus. No, I initially embraced a high bibliology because I believed that the Bible’s testimony about itself was sufficiently clear and certainly true. But when I came to grips with Warfield’s inductive approach and Metzger’s denial of Warfield’s first argument, I realized that, for those engaged in serious biblical studies, historical evidence needed to be assessed before dialogue with those of a different perspective could begin. The fact that many evangelical students abandon inerrancy may in part be due to them not wrestling with more than a fideistic claim. What harm is there in adding historical evidence to one’s arguments for a doctrinal position? Why are so many afraid, or unprepared, to do so? The impression this gives to many students is that such views are defenseless.
Incarnation as Methodological Imperative
Permit me to address one other issue. If Christ is at the core of our beliefs, then the incarnation has to loom large in our thinking about the faith. When God became man and invaded space-time history, this served notice that we dare not treat the Bible with kid gloves. The incarnation not only invites us to examine the evidence, it requires us to do so. The fact that our religion is the only major religion in the world that is subject to historical verification is no accident: it’s part of God’s design. Jesus performed miracles and healings in specific towns, at specific times, on specific people. The Gospels don’t often speak in generalities. And Paul mentioned that 500 believers saw the risen Christ at one time, then added that most of these folks were still alive. These kinds of statements are the stuff of history; they beg the reader to investigate. Too often modern evangelicals take a hands-off attitude toward the Bible because of a prior commitment to inerrancy. But it is precisely because I ground my bibliology in Christology rather than the other way around that I cannot do that. I believe it is disrespectful to my Lord to not ask the Bible the tough questions that every thinking non-Christian is already asking it.
By Daniel B. Wallace.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Painting or photography

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci has been praised vociferously as the best known work of art in the world. Leonardo painted his masterpiece between 1503 and 1506. Three hundred years later, when Paul Delaroche, the painter saw the first camera image, he said, from today, painting is dead.

Delaroche said what he said because he believed that the purpose of painting is representation, namely that paintings should represent reality. One can understand why Delaroche said what he said because after-all a picture from a camera without editing shows reality more than any artist ever could.

But is the purpose of painting mere representation? Absolutely not; as the purpose of photography is not just representation. Both mediums since its conception have tried to shape the real world according to the intentions of the artist and the consumer.

Therefore painting is not dead but still very much alive today as painters have spread their wings to reach new landscapes of presentation. Teenagers are still choosing to study art for their GCSE's. Latin can be considered to be dead but canvasses are still filled with the strokes of the painter's oils.

I also think that painting is considered more precious today because with the widespread usage of photography, common and available to almost everybody, painting, good painting of one's self or of one's own environment is rare to find or have readily available without having to pay a huge sum of money.

Painting is creation. The artists begins with a blank canvas and paints from the inside out. Whereas the man with a camera has all the world drawn for him and only needs to put a frame to that part that he desires, or at times move the world about and then put a frame upon it.

One can simply pick up a camera and forever put a frame around that moment, but with painting such an activity is not possible. A good painting like a good photograph are both admired today because both are two different mediums that produces/communicates two different ends. They compliment each other and as such, photography could not dig the grave for painting to sleep in but rather provided a platform for painting to spread her wings and reach new heights.

It is not a question of either or, but of both and. The world happily exists today with both mediums and humanity and the arts are the beneficiaries.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

I feel dead

I feel the distance
like walking on a long road to Australia from Bristol.
I feel the hopelessness
like the poor monkey that tried to capture the moon.
I feel the silence
like the hurricane crashing into a house made of straws.
I feel dead

like the breath of every man installed in a grave.


Monday, 2 December 2013

If I should be on top of that mountain

I fear that if I should be on top of that mountain and the devil should tempt me to jump off, knowing that it is written that the angel of God will catch me. Although I know very well the lies of his words, yet I may fall of anyway; for such is the vanity of life at present that death seems like a luxurious beach. A better place than this desert.  


Sunday, 1 December 2013

A will to pass you by

For days, I did endure a will to pass you by in my daily thoughts.
My mind stayed true and ears unheard your enchanting tone.
But when my eyes, a pitiful lad - saw you so far but clear
It no longer could remain its pact.
It lingered and desired quick, 
Persuading the heart to break its fast, 
And beat so fast for such a wondrous thing. 


I know their sufferings

Exodus 3:7  Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings... 

Whilst the Israelites where wasting away under the heavy blows the Egyptians dealt to them daily through the yoke of slavery, there was one in heaven who knew their sufferings. I suppose that God kept his eyes on them daily, that at last the heaviness did not sink his people into the sea of extinction. Through providence God did not allow his people to perish. But there came a day when the tears were too much. All of heaven lamented at such cruelty and God heard the cry of his people, because for long they had beat their chest looking beyond the Egyptian grey sky for help and for deliverance from slavery.

It is perhaps true that those whose backs have become red with stripes believed that their cries were now smoke rising in vain hope to reach the sun. They lamented their portion and sigh at the far-ness of God, the God of their Fathers. 'He was there for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Where is he now?' The Egyptians must have taunted. 

But nonetheless the daily stripes and heavy yoke still made them scream for deliverance towards heaven. What else can a man do in such an hour! Even an atheist is sure to utter a silent cry even if he does not believe. Or else he may as well thrust his head upon the sharp sword. But it is said of God himself that he knew their sufferings. Yes he knew it intimately, he knew it in the foreshadowing of his own precious son being under the heavy blow of man's evil.

God always knows the sufferings of his people. Time and time again God hears the cries of his afflicted ones. The sleeping mother though asleep will always hear the cries of her precious infant. And although if she leaves him a while to cry himself to sleep, yet after a time and the infant cries is still as energetic as it was at first, the mother would rise knowing that something was of a serious matter. She would at once provide comfort.  Now after much crying, God heard the sobbing of the Israelites in slavery and surely my suffering friend, he will hear yours too. 

Notice that deliverance to the captive Israelites was not  immediate. The Israelites suffered for years upon years, until a day came when God bid their saviour to rise and set them free. Moses was their deliverer. This is always the case with all God's children, namely that God will always hear your cry and will in a day soon or near come and deliver you. In those tearful periods, in those moments of sighs and heavy hearts, all you need is faith in his goodness that he is indeed coming.

He may come like a thief in the night. Do not abandon your house of hope for he knows your sufferings. 

He delivered Christ from the ultimate tyranny, namely death and sin. He has promised to do the same with you. Whatever your present sufferings whether guilt, debt, or whatever, know this, namely that God will deliver you.

He knows your sufferings. 


Friday, 29 November 2013

Extinction in a generation?

Photo of George CareyHave a read of this report from the Daily Telegraph: ‘Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, warns Christianity “a generation away from extinction” in Britain. Clergy are now gripped by a “feeling of defeat”, congregations are worn down by “heaviness” while the public simply greets both with “rolled eyes and a yawn of boredom”, he said.’

Lord Carey goes on to say how in particular ‘we’ have let down young people and that we must deploy ministers to get children and youth back into church.

There’s much here to admire. Lord Carey may no longer be Archbishop of Canterbury, but it still takes courage for such an establishment figure to point out just how bad things are. But he’s quite right: Christianity is a generation away from extinction in the United Kingdom. This is something both very old and very new.

Let me explain.

On the one hand, this is a very old truth. Christianity is always a generation away from extinction. This was true just after Peter preached in Acts chapter 2 and people turned in their thousands to the Lord Jesus. This was true as people were converted in droves during the Evangelical Awakening. And it is true as people turn in hordes to Jesus in China today, unreported as that is by the BBC. The people of God is always one generation away from extinction.

This is because of the reality that our heavenly Father calls individuals by name from our death in sin into having faith in his Son. As the example of Jacob and Esau shows, faith is not a genetic inheritance, notwithstanding the preciousness of being raised within a Christian family. God has no grandchildren. In consequence, the gospel must be preached afresh in each generation, to each generation, without the assumption that somehow faith becomes automatic.

Yet this is easily overlooked and Lord Carey is quite right therefore to remind us that preaching the gospel is constantly necessary, because new generations are constantly arriving. He is also right that if we have so allocated resources that the gospel is not preached to each generation then we have indeed failed, and at the most fundamental level, because we have failed to carry out the great commission. This may be an old truth, but it is a vital one. Lord Carey has got us smelling the coffee.

But there is also something new here. This is more, it seems, than the salient fact that each generation must be evangelised anew. Lord Carey talks about a defeated clergy and a laity full of heaviness. Observationally I think this is by and large true – although there are remarkable exceptions. But I want to draw a distinction here.

Is it…

Clergy and laity are heavy and defeated in their emptying churches because they have tried evangelism and it has failed?

Or is it…

Clergy and laity are heavy and defeated in their emptying churches because they have not tried evangelism?

It may, of course, be both, and I accept that as we talk about defeated and heavy clergy and laity we are talking in generalisations. Even so, I think a key underlying question as we look at ‘extinction in a generation’ is: Have we as the Church of England actually preached the gospel?

I haven’t seen Lord Carey’s full text, but it intrigues me that his criticism apparently focuses on the lack of resources allocated to youth work. Even if that were true (the conservative evangelical churches I know do try in this area), the issue is not whether we have bodies on the ground in youth work on Friday nights. The issue is whether those bodies on the ground know the gospel personally, understand it intellectually and care enough to share it.

This means that Lord Carey’s misgivings are perhaps more serious than even he realises. The issue of extinction cannot be separated from whether we have been preaching the gospel. It means the term ‘gospel’ cannot simply be a fashionable, on-message word one throws into discussion papers from Church House. It must be given the concrete meanings that it has in the Bible. John Calvin, thinking of Luke 24:46f, insists that ‘repentance and forgiveness of sins’ is the sum of the gospel. So too did the Lutheran Reformers, and so too does the Church of England in the Homily on Repentance.

Candidly, are we in the Church of England as a whole discussing the gospel in those terms? If we aren’t, do you think this might have something to do with Lord Carey’s observation about ‘defeated’ and ‘heavy’?
Even more seriously, if parts of the Church of England are not evangelising the coming generations, so that ‘extinction’ stares us in the face, then should we not be worried that extinction, spiritually speaking, is already here: is it that there will be no one in the pews in 30 years’ time, because the gospel is not in the pulpit now?

Let’s smell the coffee again.

By Mike Ovey

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Saturday, 23 November 2013

Design, the Designer, and a Singing Lion

Design, the Designer, and a Singing Lion

Neo-Darwinian evolutionists of our day do not deny that the natural world has many characteristics that give the appearance of design. They call this a case of “apparent design,” denying that it is “actual design”; in other words, the depth, complexity, and integration we observe in nature simply looks like the product of an intelligent designer but they aren’t. Rather, they are the outcome of purposeless natural processes that have been plugging along, unguided, for eons. (A naturalistic orchestration Richard Dawkins has called the “blind watchmaker.”) By contrast, Intelligent Design proponents observe the appearance of design in nature and attribute it to an intelligent agency.
I spend much time pondering how the same observations in nature can produce such drastically opposing viewpoints concerning the origin, complexity, and diversity of life. Nothing strikes me as more absurd than seeing the world as a fortuitous accident, claiming that the laws of nature alone have produced sentience and human rationality from nonliving matter. But in the end, metaphysical pre-commitments, not everyday sense, tend to rule one’s perspective on such things. If you are a materialist, only material explanations will do, and anything else is ludicrous; repugnant, even.
I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, this time aloud to my son (what a delightthis is!). A passage in The Magician’s Nephew is startlingly relevant to this worldview dichotomy. For context, the scene (which gives me chills every time I read it) involves Aslan’s creation of the world of Narnia from a dark, formless place to one filled with light, life, beauty, and the self-awareness of certain chosen creatures. There are several human witnesses to the musical unfolding of his magnificent creation, but one of them perceives things very differently than the others:
When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, [Uncle Andrew] had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing–only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to.
May you hear the Lion singing and embrace the song in all its splendor.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Joy of confession: No good for God

A poor sinner once wrote to his preacher with these words:

Dear Sir, Someone always told me to look where I want to go. But the question is where do I want to go. I know as a christian the answer is I want to go to Jesus. I should look to Jesus. But do I really want to go there. In my more spiritual time, when I had little of the world in me, and I had the beauty of Jesus in my soul, my answer would have been I want to look to Jesus to be exactly like him. To go where he is. But now, I have nothing but sadness in my heart because of my sins. Jesus is far gone from my sight and I am really apprehensive to go where he is because he might say to me those terrible words, 'depart from me ye cursed of my father.' I tell you Sir that I am worse than those who have been diagnosed with depression, for mine is a spiritual depression, a long recession in God's economy. But I do have those moments when I see sunshine through the small holes of my prison. At times, a little rain simmers through and I have a little hope again. But it does not last because I am the kind who has a weak will. Who is no good for the world. Yea, I am no good for the world because I am not good for God. These are really sad words that I am writing, but it all flows from my heart. From a depressed dead heart. I do have debts to pay, many of them owed in love but in my current condition I do not know how to go about it. O for pity Sir, for heaven to remember me. Do write to me soon Sir on how to be encourage again. 

From one whose name not worthy to be mentioned
A fallen saint.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A question to charismatic churches

In his (John MacArthur) book, Strange fire, MacArthur asks those who are part of Charismatic churches to ask themselves these questions:

1. Why does the modern version of speaking in tongues parallel pagan worship practices? (This came in the context of him quoting an orthodox priest who queried that, "If the possessed voodoo priest says: 'shiri-bo-bo-bo-boh' in a staccato stammer over his black whisk he holds, and the possessed Christian born-again Christian rattles: 'shla-ba-ba-bah-shlabalika' over his Bible, what can be the difference.")

2. How can a God of order be honored by confusion and disarray?  (This question comes in the context of given an account of an event that happened in a pentecostal prayer meeting in which a "Spirit-filled" woman fell down in ecstasy and knocked over a boy who was speaking in tongues. After crashing into the pews, the boy got up, nursing a bloody lip, and lamented, 'Oh why?' in his own native language). How can the Spirit be responsible for this kind of mayhem.

I am currently reading Strange fire in the hope of reviewing it. Whilst reading it I will continue to ask questions that the author raises to those who are Pentecostal/charismatic.


Monday, 11 November 2013

Love, a confusing emotion

For Gerad, love was a confusing emotion. One day it satisfies and on another day it strips his heart bare. He wanted out sometimes and he would often say, 'Love is too hard.'

Often she would call him and tell him time and time again her problems. She would constantly despair of the disorder of her soul as incurable. He always offered her his ears and even more, he always made his shoulders available for her to cry on. 

But his heart was crumbling too. 

Bottling up everything, especially his own problems had reached its limit and Gerad knew that at any minute everything could spill over. 

But Gerad loved her.

Gerad knew that love offers life. It lightens the dark moments and his presence always made her smile. He tells himself that love covers a multitude of sins whenever she forgets to ask about him and his troubles. It was always about her – so self-centered. He always took a sigh to swallow his own madness and always, always focused on her.

His love was a love that gave but never received. 'Giving love its is own reward', he often said to himself. 'It is not about me. But about her.' 

'To love her,'  Gerad reminded himself every morning, that 'I must daily forgive her, for love is not possible without the healing work of forgiveness.'

'Some people,' he tells himself 'have turned their hearts away from tenderness because they have a defensive hardness – but I must always be tender towards her. I must always cry over her misery and adopt it as my own. Perhaps I need another friend, one who can hear my heartache, but she takes up too much of my time. She is needy and I must be there. Loving her is sacrifice.'

Gerad's love is not the kind that is easily found in our society. Time and time again, voices have told him that his love for her is unhealthy. That he is loving the unlovable, that he lets her desires take over his own, that his love is surely one-sided. Why love someone who does not love you back is the common refrain. But in his heart he always answered saying, 

'My love is not determined by self-interest, nor wanting an appreciation or even recognition for its service. My love is free even when it bleeds.'  


Where have all the Godly Men Gone?

Where have all the godly men gone? These days I ponder that question with increased frequency and concern. If the lack of godly men were only a matter of personality or ministerial preference, then little would be lost. Such is not the case, though. The church is in great need of awakening and renewal; and, in the spirit of Richard Baxter, its greatest need might well be godly men.
Not that long ago, “man of God” was a common and honored descriptor in the church. The phrase ranked alongside “great preacher,” “brilliant theologian,” or “gifted writer” in frequency and surpassed them in value. Now, it seems as though the designation “man of God” has gone the way of the bus ministry and the youth choir—a largely passé referent to a bygone era of church life.
It is as though someone snuck into the shopping mall of the Kingdom and changed all the price tags, upsetting and inverting God’s value system. We have increased the mundane and ancillary aspects of Christian ministry, all the while cheapening its true virtues and values. In God’s economy, though, character is valued over talent, and holiness over giftedness.


Why is there a dearth of godly men? Admittedly, godliness is nearly impossible to measure, and godly men are nearly impossible to quantify. Yet, three factors seem especially to contribute to the paucity of godly men.
Many churches don’t seek men of God. Given the complexity of modern ministry, many churches prioritize giftedness and experience above godliness in their candidates for ministry. Churches often look for competent administrators, capable speakers, polished people skills, a cute family, and other secondary concerns before assessing the heart. Like ancient Israel, we have the propensity to look on the outward; all the while God looks on the heart.
Many ministries no longer necessitate godliness. There may now be more distance between the minister and the congregation than ever before in the history of the church. Through the years, pastors have lived among their people (New Testament), by their people (parsonage), and near their people. Now, everything from the size of the church to the expansion of auxiliary campuses has created distance between the pastor and his people. Moreover, video-screen pastors often have no relationship at all with their people.
An overcommitted laity does not desire personal interaction with their ministers, and overcommitted ministers have less time for personal interaction anyway. Though social media grants the appearance of personal engagement, the truth can be altogether different. The distance between the pastor and his people means there is less life-on-life engagement and less moral accountability one with another.
Ministry “peer pressure” is not toward godliness. The “peer pressure” of ministry is oriented toward events, products, conferences, and materials. It is as though the paraphernalia and garnishes of ministry have displaced the more biblical and eternal aspects, like godliness. Perhaps this is why Matthew Henry lamented some preachers who, “when in the pulpit, preaching so well that it is a pity they should ever come out; but, when out of the pulpit, living so ill that it is a pity they should ever come in.”[1]


“Man of God” is a biblical designation granted to Old Testament giants like Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, and Elisha. In the New Testament, Timothy is the singular designee. The title was not merely honorific. It was a lofty and noble designation—granted to men with lives that merited it.
In the context of I Timothy 6, the title “man of God” is associated with action. It is found in a list of admonitions, commands, and encouragements that flow both descriptively and prescriptively. Paul instructs Timothy that the man of God is known for fleeing from immorality, fighting for the faith, and for following after Christlikeness. Moreover, II Timothy 3:15–17 links the adequacy of the man of God with the power and authority of holy Scripture.
Clearly, the New Testament prioritizes godliness in the life of the minister. The qualifications for ministry found in I Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9 deal almost exclusively with character, with little reference to giftedness beyond the ability to teach. Thus the timeless ministerial admonition, “Beware of letting your talent gain you a ministry position that your character cannot keep you in.”


In the main, the modern church has most everything it needs—save revival. We have more conferences than ever, but fewer conversions. We have more books and blogs than ever, but fewer baptisms. We have more products and paraphernalia than ever, but little power. Indeed, we have a surplus of resources, but a deficit of revival.
Of course, revival is a work of the Holy Spirit, initiated and carried forth by God. At the same time, we cannot expect God to bless our shallowness, staleness, and carnality. Perhaps revival will not arrive in the pew until it first arrives in the pulpit. It may well be that the greatest need of the church is godly men who shepherd the flock of God with holiness and grace.


Where have all the godly men gone? I am not exactly sure, but I pray God will call forth a new generation of men consecrated in heart and devoted to his glory. As the hymn of old begs, “Rise up, O men of God! The church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great!”[2]

[1] Matthew Henry, Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible: Matthew through John (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1859), 229.
[2] William P. Merrill, “Rise Up, O Men of God.”
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Friday, 8 November 2013

The writtings of Sunny Caane - On death's doors

Men must live their lives as if death may come at any hour. With this view should incline them to live their lives with all seriousness leaving nothing half undone. Everything must be completed, everything that can be attended to must be attended to, for at any hour, death may strike her fatal blow. But men are far from this wisdom. Only a few have this perspective in their hearts, but many are friends of vanity and of time.

I have many times thought that death's hands was knocking on my door. But when I opened the door, it was but the wind against my roof. At times I sigh and at other times relieved because I was not ready to die. For to die unprepared is to die with fear.

I feel now as the man with the ten thousand talents worth of debt. I am on my knees pleading, 'have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' But we know that such large debts can only be paid back if one has the means to a large fortune. For even if I was to work four hundred years, I should never pay my bill. In this regard, I am hopeless lest my creditors have an eye of mercy.

But my flames are flickering, almost put out. The hour of death is upon me and I shall be my own executor. My name should be thrown in with uselessness and remembered with the dogs. I am but hopeless incarnate, forlorn displaying and misery travelling.

I had lived my life with death far from my eyes as to leave many things undone. I wish I completed a story. I wish I did something good. But now I live too cold to be warmed by the sunshine of love. I keep myself in the shade of isolation. I was a fool to think that time was my friend, but now my own time I must shorten.

I bid you farewell Sunny, I bid you a long farewell.

Roscoe Johnson


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Only one thing

Only one
can unlock
the key
to my heart.

There is
one thing
the end
of a
lonely road.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Miscellanies 89: We shall never get it quiet right

It is true that we shall never get it quiet right until the earth is made anew. After the April showers comes the blooming flowers of May. We see here only the shadow of the throne, but there we shall see it absolutely. Here we are still under the tutelage of faith, there we shall see with our own eyes.

Saints will cry here, but there, no weeping shall ever fall on nature's ears. It is a paradise that our weary feet is voyaging to, but here we must bear a little while with the thorns that pricks our pilgrim's feet. It is true that men here are more ready to conceal their lust, but there, there shall be nothing to confess.

So while we live here in great anticipation of our future glory, we must be full of love and honesty. We must be ready to reveal our defeats than to hide our shame. We must be ready to mourn for our speck than to make known by gossip the huge log in our brother's eyes. We must be ready to have a tremendous patience with the church, for you see, that whilst here on foreign shores, we shall never get it perfectly right. As God has abundant grace for us, we must have grace for the church. She is the darling Jesus died for and we must die for her too. 

Let not the darkness of the world kill your spirit, but rather create a light through it, a light of path for it through the light that shines in you. Today you may come across hopelessness, but you have hope. You may shake hands with depression, but you have joy. You may sit next to powerlessness, but you have power. You may work with impurity, but you have purity. You may hear about slavery, but you have freedom. And of course you know that all these good things which the world lacks belongs to Christ, and because you are in him, he has given them to you.

O we shall never get it quiet right, but we can do a lot of good. 


I am empty without you my Lord

I am empty without you my Lord Without you I am nothing.  May I not forget you when I wake May I keep you with me through the day And may I ...