Saturday, 30 March 2013

No more Alpha

Boy: My eyes sore with sorrow
        for alpha no longer will be here
        in the distant 'morrow

Girl: Yet do not remain with sad sad eyes
        For all things pass and grant new paths;
        Know that a future and hope ahead lies
       To restore all things through Him who died.

By Ken Oni & Carrie-Anne White 

Something in my heart that you gave to me

I've got something in my heart that you gave to me
It is sweeter than the thought of any lovely song
It keeps away the day's stormy strife
It makes my heart abound with praise



   Where did Jesus go after he died on Friday and before he rose                                             from death on Sunday?
One of the primary passages that speaks to Jesus’ whereabouts after his death and before his resurrection is 1 Peter 3:18–19, which reads (italics mine):
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.
The phrase in verse 19, “in which,” is debated by some, but it seems to refer to the Spirit mentioned at the end of verse 18. Jesus went “in” or “by means of” the Spirit (in his resurrected state, as I’ll argue below).
Beyond this we are left with a lot of questions, ones that have been discussed endlessly since early in the church’s history. For us, though, the most pressing issues on which everything else hangs are where and when Christ went and preached, and the identity of the “spirits in prison” to whom he preached.
Because the language is so strange here, it’s not surprising that there have been a lot of different views on what is going on (over 180, last I checked). Though there has been a host of suggestions offered in understanding this passage, I believe we can boil them down to just three categories, which even have variations within them.[i]
I have previously addressed these three different categories at great length. For the sake of brevity, I would like to share with you what I believe is the best explanation of this passage, which answers the question, “Where did Jesus go on Saturday?”


One view of 1 Peter 3:19, which I adhere to, suggests that Jesus, between his death and resurrection, descended into the place of the dead. This place is often referred to as Hades, which is where the dead are held until they’re judged and thrown into hell, which is the second death (Rev. 20:11–15; cf. Rev. 2:11; 20:6; 21:8).
To say that Jesus descended to the place of the dead is not the same as saying he descended to hell. The idea of Jesus descending to hell between his death and resurrection is rooted the early church doctrine of the “Harrowing of Hell” found in the Apostles’ Creed (though the originality of the phrase has been questioned). Though some that adhere to this view believe that Jesus descended to hell, not everyone who holds to this view believes so (such as Calvin).
For those that disagree, like myself, they look no further than to Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross when he told him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Hell has been called many things, but I don’t believe Paradise is one of them. This is why I don’t believe Jesus descended into hell.


One is that Jesus preached to the spirits of the people who disobeyed in the days of Noah. This preaching was either a chance to repent or a proclamation of victory over these wicked people (both are legitimate uses of the word “preach”). While the idea that people after death are given a chance to repent contradicts other Scripture (Luke 16:26; 1 Peter 1:17; Heb. 9:27) the idea that Christ proclaimed victory over these people is still possible. This leads us to the second variation of this view.
Another variation of this view is that Jesus’ proclamation to the “spirits in prison” was to the Old Testament saints, especially those who lived during “days of Noah,” who looked forward to His arrival to die, take away their sins, and open up heaven. John Calvin is a known proponent of this view, as well as many others.There are a few reasons why I see support for this position too.
First, in Luke 16, Jesus describes a holding place for those that die as believers or unbelievers. What we see observe is that the rich man who died ended up in Hades, whereas Lazarus “was carried by the angles to Abraham’s side” (Luke 16:22). At this time heaven and hell have not been opened and the people in these different places of holding are waiting for either salvation or damnation. This is the prison I believe Peter is referring to.
Second, we read in Ephesians 4:8–10 that Jesus descended and ascended. It is said of his ascension that “he led a host of captives” with him (quotation from Psa. 68). When Jesus opened heaven by his ascension, he took the Old Testament saints with him.
I believe that when Jesus went and proclaimed to the “spirits in prison” it was a victorious proclamation that those in both Abraham’s side and Hades heard. Those waiting in Abraham’s side heard his message and followed him to heaven, whereas those waiting in Hades heard it as a means of condemnation and now await the final judgment where they’ll be sentenced to hell (Rev. 20:11–15; cf. Rev. 2:11; 20:6; 21:8).
That being said, this view isn’t without its problems either. There are three difficulties with this position. First, the verb in the passage is “went” and not “went down” or “descended”. Also, the text never says where exactly the prison is located. Second, the idea also must account for the same issue as the first view that “spirits” typically refers to supernatural beings, not human spirits. Although this is the case, the grammatical range of pneuma does not exclude the possibility that the verb can refer to human spirits (Acts 7:59; Heb. 12:23). Third, as already mentioned, the surrounding text appears to refer most naturally to a time after the resurrection, not between death and resurrection. Like in the first view, though, none of the problems are completely fatal. On the one hand, it could be argued that a traditional theological doctrine(Christ’s descent into hell) has influenced the reading in some ways here. But, on the other hand, it could be argued the other way, too: the church based its position on texts like this one.


Where and what Jesus did after his death and before his resurrection may never be settled this side of heaven. No position is crystal clear. They all have strengths and weaknesses. In non-essential matters as these, we need to hold them with an open hand and not a clinched fist ready to punch someone in a theological sparring match.
This post is adapted from Pastor Mark’s original post, “Tough Text Thursday: 1 Peter 3:19.” Like posts like this? Check out the whole Tough Text Thursday series on

[i] Bandstra, Andrew J., “Making Proclamation to the Spirits in Prison: Another Look at 1 Peter 3:19,” Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 38, Issue 1, 2003. 120–124.

original post at

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The hours I wasted

It is true that one of my deepest regrets in which I shall languish in misery is the hours I wasted not in prayers bit in frivolity. I will mourn the hours I did not dedicate my friends and enemies to passionate prayer, pleading to the Star of heaven to move their wills so that they may be contrite in spirit and humbled, so that they may come to the lamb and be redeemed. O the misery of the Christian that sins so that grace may abound. I know something of this misery and one ought to forsake such a devilish heart, because in the end, it adds nothing to the sweetness of your salvation, but only a fear of judgment. 


The writings of Sunny Caane (9)

Dear Sunny, My dream was of her, whom I knew not other than she was mine, and mine alone. I saw not her face but I knew that she was beautiful, a sensation, a delight, a wonder, a tower of grace, loving my appearance by planting on me kisses of joy on my manly soft lips. This made my heart be in a state of heaven, in tranquility, in awe of her feminine frame and at times question her decision of why she choose to be with me, a dust. Her ways are smooth, gentle, finer than the purest gold. I loved her more than my desire to awake, but I did awake. The traces of her touch still lingered sweetly in my memory, only desiring in this realm of reality who she may be.

It seems my dear Caane, I long for the intimacy of a woman’s touch, desiring to know her and to be known by her. But I do not desire the commitment, the centrality of faithfulness or of her to constantly intrude my space, although at times I am eagerly thirsty for this drink. These are conflicting emotions in me, a battle of the will and flesh. For why did I dream this? Why in the deep evening when all my faculties were laid to rest was my heart in a labour of love, in the garden of bliss cultivating the grounds of sweetness? 

My dear Sunny, I shall come to you in a week or so to discuss with you about the recent rise of immorality.

Your good friend


Monday, 25 March 2013

Unpaid adventurers

Let us be unpaid adventurers, disciples who turn our generation upside down. Taking no bank card with us for the labourer is worthy of his wages. Caring not for the spoils and profit save the spoils of souls from the devil’s camp. Preaching the kingdom of a loving God, the wrath of a Holy Sovereign against every act of wickedness and injustice, making known the desired reconciliation of a willing Father and the consuming compassionate heart of a dying king for his people. Let us share our private properties and personal fellowship, indulge in love, caring for the poor, the marginalised as if they were our best friends. Let us be like the daring evangelist of the eighteenth century who shook England from one end to another. People in high places despised them, academics sneered at them as fanatics, and the church closed her doors on them denying them the privilege to preach the Christ that burn like a wild flame in their heavenward heart. The movement of these few radicals, unpaid adventurers completely sold out for Christ and His glory, for the name of His Father to be hallowed made itself felt in every part of the land. They saw the passion of Paul for those who were deprived of the ministry of reconciliation, who were yet street orphans, and Paul saw the breaking heart of Christ who endured Calvary despising the shame for his lost sheep, and they ran with gospel feet fragrancing the darkness with heaven’s myrrh. Will you rise in your generation, unashamed for Christ, filled with the Spirit and dare live, I say it again, and dare live the call of him who has called you to be fishers of men and women.


Come to Jesus Christ and buy

Without money come to Jesus Christ and buy

Life abundant

Love unending

Hope abounding

Grace sufficient

Mercy plenteous

Sin forgiving

Burden bearing

Soul healing

Conscience cleansing

Freedom living

Faith enormous

Joy incessant

Pain persevering

Heart renewed

Shame disappearing

Kindness dispensing

Gentleness displaying

Peace proclaiming

God glorifying

Spirit exalting

Cross carrying  

Happiness delighting

In all that God is for you

Come to Jesus and buy all these goodness for free.



Sunday, 24 March 2013

My grey faith

I have thought a lot about writing an article for the magazine I help put together every quarter. Many times I have put pen to paper and written about university life, my testimony and my faith. I have dismissed them all for one reason or another. As I approach the end of my time at university, I feel now is an appropriate time to share a little of my journey with God over the past six months.

For those of you who know my family, you will know how very fortunate I am to have such wonderful parents, and to have had such a safe and happy upbringing. To an extent, there is little to complain about. Paradoxically, but equally as valid is the reality that life is, at points, extremely hard. The past two and a half years in Bristol have proved to be the happiest to date. It has been, and is continuing to be, a wonderful experience.

Last summer, as I approached what I have found to be the most busy and stressful term of my degree so far, something in me shifted. It is extremely hard to pin down or articulate, but I began to find myself becoming angry. This wasn’t an ‘I’ve stubbed my toe or misplaced my keys’ kind of anger. This was a deep-rooted, painful anger that grew in me as if from nowhere, with no real stimuli. It was directed at God entirely. I became embittered by unanswered questions and unanswered prayers, dissatisfied at the ‘copy and paste’ Christian answers I received that “the world isn’t as God intended”. I knew all that, I have been in church my whole life. It wasn’t enough. I wanted to know why hell existed, why bad things happen to good people, why God wasn’t intervening in areas where he was being cried out to. I began directing my anger inwards, frustrated at myself for being a product of the church, regurgitating Christian clich├ęs in situations I didn’t understand. I look around my church here in Bristol with its 1000 strong congregation as people throw their hands in the air, praising God for all His goodness, and I am angry at them too. As Philip Yancey states in his book ‘Disappointment with God’, “You can’t have it both ways...If God gets credit for the survivor, he should also get blamed for the casualties.”

Irritatingly, Martin, our student minister, makes it mandatory for student leaders to attend the Woodlands weekend away. I am a student leader. I begrudgingly took my baggage, both physical and emotional to Chepstow, and there spent a frustrating weekend around wonderful but overly joyful Christians. I listened to the sermons, I joined in discussions, and all the while I got angrier. That day we had been on a walk through the countryside, fumbling over rocks alongside the river. I had been told that every year there’s always one person to slip in the mud. Unsurprisingly it was me. As I slipped, I went to grab onto a branch which, unbeknown to me, was rotten. It crumbled in my hand, and a furious family of woodlice were revealed as I fell into a puddle of mud. This serves as an accurate metaphor for my faith. I trusted it to be strong, but when I really tested it, it crumbled and I fell.

Later that evening, I sat with Martin as I shared the overwhelming pain that filled my heart. I was trying so hard to find answers and search for God. At no point have I stopped attending church, seeing my mentor, or surrounding myself with helpful and encouraging people. As we talked, I told him I felt unequipped as a student leader and I needed to stop. There was no way I could lead a group of Christians when my faith was in tatters. As I cried, Martin told me this:

“I had a picture a few years ago of a fabric factory. It was my factory, and I was standing outside it having my photo taken for the press. It was full of beautiful materials and huge rolls of silk. I was so proud. What I didn’t know was that behind me, someone had planted a bomb inside, and in doing so, destroyed everything. I walked around my factory, desperately trying to collect and restore the burnt and ruined fabrics, attempting to sew back together a roll, at least one roll. What I realised was that this factory represented my faith. I was so proud of it all, and in an instant it was gone. And I had to answer to God because he was the author and perfecter of it. Ashamed, I presented to Him the ruins of my single roll, badly sewn and burnt. God turned to me and said that it was enough. It was enough.”

This was one of the most important moments of my journey in faith. Martin received this picture shortly after their 11 year old son was killed in a hit and run accident. As we sat in tears, Martin told me that if I needed to stop being a student leader, then that was okay. He then added that if I were to continue, my tiny ball of burnt, crumbled faith would serve as an incredibly powerful image of what it means to truly follow Jesus. We’re so proud aren’t we? We’re so proud of what our faith says and how it impacts others. About our prayer lives and our acts of service. There is a lot to be said, I think, for the humility found when we accept that God is hard to understand, and not everything is black and white. If we're hurting, let’s be real about our pain. It takes a lot to lay yourself bare to those around you, and admit that being a follower of Jesus can be hard. I walked away feeling free. Not because all was right with God, but because I had found revelation in Martin’s story. I feel compelled to encourage you that wrestling and doubting and questioning God is healthy. I sense time and time again that we feel pressured that our faith be a spotless beacon of light in great darkness. The reality is that however hurt or angry we are, God uses it. I actually think that often our suffering speaks louder than when we shout about how good God has been to us. The bible is full of these people - Job as he grieved, David as he cried out to God, Jacob as he wrestled with the angel, Thomas as he doubted. It’s a timeless feeling and it’s as real today as it was then. I have spoken in past tense for much of this article, but I am very much in the same position. I still am angry and hurting, and my misshapen faith leaves much to be desired, but at least it’s my own. For the first time, I feel a release in being completely honest about my faith.

I am still a student leader.

 By Eleanor Shakespeare



Saturday, 23 March 2013

Who, without dying enters these gates

Who, without dying enters these gates?

Overlooking, shall collect the pride man's wage.

For once the master bequeathed his law   

That death is the bill to enter his gates.  

Her evening beauty

Can I be moved anymore by what I see?
My eyes bend in admiration at her ingratiating frame.
Her evening beauty, conspicuous melody does play,
fascinating my humanity, lifting hands of thanks to God alone.
That her serene magnificence,
Twice a week’s twilight on my heart does gloss,
my mortality hallowed, sunken in her heaven’s simplicity,
ascends a smile in me never to fail, when her I see,
whose beauty I have made my rest.


Friday, 22 March 2013

Graciously assertive

This week saw an historic double – the inauguration of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th pope, and the enthronement of the Justin Portal Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. But this week also saw an ironic double playing out. On one of the days that separated these moving occasions of leadership succession, the iconic red briefcase and the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer made their way to the Houses of Parliament to deliver the spring Budget. On the same day, the United Nations launched ‘International Happiness Day’, just as Premier Radio’s Well-being Week hit its mid-point. My day of happiness started well; very well, in fact, but I did wonder how much happier I would be after the Budget...
I had been invited to be a studio guest on the live late-night radio show, so after a very full day at the office, punctuated by a spontaneous ‘happiness’ lunch, I headed home to prepare for the late night show. That afternoon, my Twitter feed had kindly offered me the ‘Budget at a glance’ so I did just that; glanced at it. Later that evening, as I thumbed through the Measuring National Well-being report produced by the Office for National Statistics, double-checked the briefing notes and the sample questions for the radio programme, my thoughts drifted briefly back to the Budget, but then turned to the additional briefing from the organiser of the up-coming radio show. Part of it read:
“Listeners/callers obviously have views that are consistent with or contradict your perspectives and are happy to express them. Some may be a little aggressive or overly-assertive, given their conviction. Don’t bite the bait.  Take a breath, be gracious and offer a response. In other words, be gracious – but appropriately assertive – with your answer.  I know that this is ‘old hat’ to some of you, but I offer a few thoughts for those for whom this is new.  Whatever you do have a great time on the show!”
The advice to be graciously assertive turned out to be timely advice. Clearly callers were not happy with the Budget and a whole raft of other things, and the UN’s ‘happy day’ didn’t even get a mention! The radio programme is over, but I’ve held on to the ‘graciously assertive’ mantra, a reminder that “a soft word turns wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) and how important – that is unifying and mature - it is to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15).  When the former Archbishop of Canterbury was asked what advice he would offer to his successor, he said: “Find what nourishes you and make room for it.” More timely words, perhaps?
The advice to be graciously assertive was not only timely for me this week, but it was easy to take, because the sender modelled it so well. I wonder what last-minute briefing Pope Francis the First and Rev Justin Welby were offered this week that they might be holding onto in their respective new roles, and if those who offered it are modelling it too? Few people will have the opportunity to be Archbishop of Canterbury and even fewer will be considered to become the pope. But to be graciously assertive is an opportunity that is open to all, both to say it, but more importantly to demonstrate it. And unlike a seasonal Budget statement or a designated day, its impact can be life-changing and ongoing for those who choose to demonstrate it, as well as for those who receive it. 
Rev Katei Kirby, partnership officer at the Methodist Church.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A rubish lover

I once knew a boy who did not know how to love. He understood not the intricacies of intimacy or how to respond to others in love. The boy, very much loved by others as he perceived for he often felt the soft touch of a friend upon his shoulders when he was weak with a fever, and such comfort made him warm on the inside. But, he did not know how to touch others with such gentleness and care for he feared that such kindness was meaningless. At times his friends would call him and beseech him to venture out with them, but he never once called them for he did not know how to invite others to share in his special visiting places. He would rather go alone, although in those moments when he did say yes to endeavour with his friends, he felt love deep in his soul, for it was for fellowship that humanity was made. Nevertheless the boy knew not how to call for help. On occasions when he was asked about his day, the poor boy would dismiss the question in very brief words and then go away or he would quickly return the question. One thing that was surprising about the boy was that he loved to listen to the interesting thing about people’s lives but he himself did not know how to share about the sweet happy things which had occurred in his day. He kept it all bottled up in his boyish heart, only to be told by his pen to the paper or soon to be forgotten. He knew not how to love and with every fancy, with someone who has taken the height of his imagination, the land where he dwells the most, he soon despise them. Not in a bitterish way, but the kind where he thinks that it is useless to approach them because they must hate him or that their relation towards him will all be out of sympathy and pity. He hated such notions and for friendship to spring from such sentiment but he himself did not know how to maintain any loving activity for he fears that he would not know how to treat others correctly. So the boy naturally withdraws, wishing and willing to be left alone and at the same time hoping for some soul to desire to have him by their side. Such is the way of the boy that he truly is a friend of contradiction. He desires love but knows not how to show it. Something it seems holds him back and in speaking with him I fear that it is a dread of being vulnerable. There is a real pride about him but at the same time a deep humility. I felt it as I spoke to him. His soft eyes and springily smile were something of a welcoming feature but yet there was a mystery, a farness to his person. In truth, the boy admitted that he was a rubbish lover and knowing that he possessed much sunshine in his soul, he simply did not know how to make others see his light. Only his own soul have enjoyed such fellowship and others have felt its scattered rays. There is hope yet for the boy and one believes that in pursuing him and praying for him to be free from his penitentiary fetters, he shall be the best lover of us all. 

Resting on God's power

Have you ever thought that the fact that God is all powerful is a consolation for your soul? How often are we discouraged when we look at a situation and think that this is impossible. Remember Moses, who was a friend of God and had the great privilege of God burying him himself, was apt to be discouraged with seeming impossibilities.

Moses, fed up with the complaints of the faithless Israelites concerning their food supply, came to God questioning God's ability to provide. Moses says "The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, 'I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!' Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?"  Numbers 11:21-22.

In plain language, Moses is saying that he could not see how the people of Israel, being so numerous could be fed for a month with such small supply. In effect one could say that how do you expect me to feed five thousand men with two loaves and five fishes.

Are you currently in a season in your life where you are very discouraged at what seems to be an impossibility?  You cannot see beyond the horizon of this unfeasibility. If you are fear not, for this is what the Lord said to Moses, "Is the LORD's hand shortened?” Numbers 11:23.

Here is a question for your consideration and which shall prove to be your consolation. In effect the question is, is God able to do the impossible? What will your answer be? And if it is yes as all wise children would affirm, then the next question is, is He willing?

If you are not a child of God, if you are an orphan then you have all reasons to believe that all of God's power is against you. In order to flee from this awfulness, you need to come unto his side by believing in His dear Son who died for you. But if you are already his child, sealed with his Spirit of love that makes you say, Abba, then fear not, for all of God's power is for you. If he did not spare his own beloved Son but gave him up for you, how shall he not freely give you all things! Only a heart of unbelief will believe contrary that God the Father is on the side of His children. O do away with your unbelief.

God's power is therefore a consolation for the believer. Remember that it was God who parted the red sea, who brought Isaac out of a dead womb. There are no impossibilities with God. As one writer puts it, He can subdue a proud heart. He can raise a dying church. Christ born of a virgin! The wonder-working God that wrought this can bring to pass the greatest seeming impossibility.

Therefore my friends in the faith, rest your heads on God’s loving power. For it is he who can do more than we ask or think.





Upward call to Heaven (7)

School has finished for Easter. Amelia won the goodness award as in each semester a prize was given to the student who displayed the most natural act of charity. Some try very hard and it can be noticed immediately that their kindness was forced, but with Amelia everyone could see that her charity flowed from her Christ besotted heart. Her speech in winning the prize was full of humility, so much so, that one wanted to lavish her with more prizes and applause for being such a perfect painting of Christ himself. Amelia would be the first to mouth her own sinfulness, and declare that it was all an act of grace, and it is due to nothing in her. Mother watched Amelia with tender eyes, drawn into this young quiet beauty, which I imagined must remind Mother of her younger self. My head was full of other things, like, if I was one day to marry Amelia, something of an impossibility, then I believe I would be marrying Mother herself.

“Jeremiah,” said Mother, “It makes me glad that you have a friend such as Amelia. She is kind and gentle, a good influence to you. She was nothing like I was when I was her age.”

“Haven’t you always been good Mother? I imagined that Amelia must have reminded you of your younger self.”

“No, no dear child. At her age I was a friend of the world. I despised those who were too heavenly minded to care about the vices of this world. On Sunday mornings, I would deliberately break the Sabbath by doing all of my homework, for in our household it was forbidden to read anything else on a Sunday but the bible and theology. I hated such rules for I would rather be reading one of Shakespeare’s sonnets or lose my mind in Homer’s Iliad. My child, I dare say it but at her age I don’t think I ever did anything good that was not tainted with selfishness. This is why I marvel at Amelia, that at such an age she has already the maturity and kindness of a well-lived saint.”

“I never knew Mother that you were such as I was.”

“I was worse and this is why I instruct you as I do so that you will not make the same mistakes I made.”

Mother stroke my soft black hair kissing my forehead before we departed. But before we left Mother and I had the opportunity to congratulate Amelia on her award.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Joy of confession 24

Sinner: It seems my dear Christ, that all I appear to give are ashes compare to the glory which you have given to me. I wish to give my all but it seems that I am being held back by something intangible, something deep inside me which keeps me still and ineffective. This thing, which in itself is to be pitied and lamented is the gross fear that I shall fail again. I see the horizon of my weaknesses and feel that they are impossible to walk. I long to give you gold, to give you the beauty of my worship, but to me all of my serving seems awful, something to be stamped on by pigs. Dear Christ what can I give to you? For each day I am far from you I lose my humanity. There is no joy for me in this world, no comfort when you are not shining in my soul. What can I bring to so loving a friend, what more can I say, He has been faithful and I have been faithless. I feel that now I cannot do anything. Nothing at all – I am as it is a disappointment. If your head should be bowed in disappointment when you see me in the new earth and you pass by me, I shall know that you have done me no wrong. My sinful soul deserves such acts of judgement.

Sir: O poor child, young lamenting sinner. Come hitherto and let me embrace you as Christ would embrace you if He were here in person. O child, it was not for our profits that Christ took on flesh but it was for our misery and shame. There was nothing we could bring to the divine hands to make him come, except his own love, his own infinite love for you that made him come. It was a plot of free grace which made him, your dear Christ become the greatest of sinners on that cross and you the holiest person to ever live. Poor child now rich in Christ, there is nothing of worth that we could bring Him, just come with your ashes, come with your empty hands and He shall fill you. Come as you are with your broken heart. It is clear that you love Christ or you would not be so broken. But come now as you are and accept his merits on your behalf. Bring that to him, bring his own sacrifice to him, and bring his own righteousness to him.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Emancipation given at a price

In tears the Father led his lamb to be slaughtered. It was either his one and only Son or a great portion of humanity. This leading of his Son was met with a broken heart when in that final hour, the father had to unleash his knife deep into his beloved’s chest, watching as the running blood drained away his precious boy’s life. Such was the pain of the moment that the sun forsook her light to welcome in the sorrow of darkness.  Emancipation given at a price. Therefore, in holy contemplation, let us sweetly pursue the theme of God’s salvation. Let us survey all of his tender mercies, let us remember that there is no pardoning God like Him.  

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Feelings closed

Though I try to run and hide
 having no sniff of her fragrance
 yet upon any discuss had, friendly or friendless
 my soul is always impressed with her -
awakening in me those feelings closed
 releasing a paradise
culminating in extinction.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

An exposition: Psalm 20

In this blessed Psalm, David instructs the people on how to pray for their king.

David begins his instructions for the people to pray for protection. Vs 1. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! Calamity may fall at any time. It may come at whatever hour providence as appointed it, but man is often unaware so it is wise that when these sudden irritations befall a king that His God should be ready at hand to answer him. Furthermore, in that disastrous hour it is imperative that his God is able to protect him. May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! We as civilians and citizen of a democratic state should pray for the welfare of our prime minister even though we may disagree with many of his policies. If we find him to be against the very principles of our religion, we are to pray for him because our Christ as commanded us to pray for our enemies, and to always pronounce a blessing on their wayward head.

Vs. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion. David tells his people where the source of his protection should spring, namely that help should come from the sanctuary and support from Zion. By sanctuary is meant the holy place, meaning either the tabernacle where the ark was, or from God's own dwelling place in the highest heaven. The sanctuary is to be the place where help is sent to redeem the king. Why from the sanctuary? It is the holy place, it is the place where God dwells and all things which proceeds from the sanctuary can only be to the good of God's friends.

Help is sent from the sanctuary but support is sent from Zion.  Zion is a name applied to Jerusalem and in the prophets it is written that the LORD of hosts dwells on mount Zion (Isa 8:18). What better place to receive support than the place where the Almighty dwells. My friends, if there is a choice of where to receive help, I will always choose to receive support from the camp of God with its fifty men than from the palace of Satan with its millions of followers.

After asking God to send help from the sanctuary and help from Zion, we should turn our plea to the ears and mind of God that he should Vs. 3 remember all of the king's sweet offerings and regard with favour all of the king's burnt sacrifices. When a Father detests the gift from his children it is usually due to the fact that the gift brings such indignity and lack of honour to the home. The child displays his lack of care and waywardness, therefore the Father is fit to curse the son and gift. But how happy is the child that realises a marvellous smile on his father’s face when his father accepts his gift. Such a son is happy and departs his Father’s presence with a wide beam. Likewise, it is a good thing for the saint when he comprehends the sunshine of heaven upon their dearth sacrifice. For what does God need who has all the riches of the universe? He needs nothing at all and yet he accepts our contrite sacrifices and offerings!

Vs 4. May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your plans. God is not a genie who blindly grants the desires of the wicked. He is the Almighty God who fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Hence it is requested that may God give the King whatsoever he has set his heart upon and may God accomplish all the king's desires.

Because of the goodness of the Lord towards the King, the congregation now exhort their own soul Vs. 5 to shout for joy over the king's salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! In all of their excitement they are still prone to declare with a throng and love that may the LORD fulfil all of the King's petitions. Here is a people that love him who is in charge of their government. They have no unscrupulous eye for his ill but a awe-inspiring heart for his affluence. They understand that his success is ultimately because of the favour from heaven, and it is there where they turn their eyes for help. They stay away from the fountain of adultery by not thinking that their king is God but only Yahweh is God alone. We Christians in our sweet fellowship should undertake the same principle in looking for the blessedness of our prime minister, interceding on his behalf for this wicked generation; and for God to himself turn the heart of the prime minister to follow heavens principles. David loved the Lord, therefore his desires were slanted with heavens inclinations, but a man who acknowledges not heaven, the best prayer we can be praying for them is for them to have this delicious heart that would rather spent a day in the courts of heaven than ten thousand pleasurable days on a paradise on earth.

In a previous Psalm (18) David has already said that great salvation God brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. David in this psalm expresses the same faith. He has listened to the request of his people and being moved by their zealousness for his welfare, he responds with an assurance that is full of delight and surety. David says Vs. 6 "Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand". David's response encourages his people that their prayers are not without hope, that indeed he too believe wholeheartedly that God will answer their petitions. They had previously requested of God that he may answer their prayer from the sanctuary and from Zion. David declares that God indeed will answer from his holy heaven and save him.

Vs 7. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but the Israelites will not be of a fool's faith, for they trust in the name of the LORD their God. The same principle is true of the Christian! Why should one trust in the strength and wisdom of the world rather than on the cross of Christ? For there is no other name by which men can be saved, so why waste precious life on trusting on anything else other than the name of Jesus! Let us not be fools but rather, let us trust in the name of Christ for all things, because the end of the other things are clear, namely that those who trust in those other things Vs.8 will collapse and fall.

Will you trust in your wealth? Wealth perishes. Will you trust in humanity? Humans after a brief period decay. Will you trust in philosophies? Death will make you depart from them. Everything save those anchored in the sea of Christ will perish. Under the canopy of time they will fall and collapse and those who trust in them. But those who stand on Christ and are rooted in him will rise and stand upright. Time will never bury them. Therefore it was wise for these citizens to trust in the name of the LORD their God who is Christ. A shepherd should exalt his flock to forsake idols and always turn and trust in the living God. David encourages his country to do this likewise shepherds should direct their flock’s eyes to the one who sits on the throne in heaven.

Approaching the end of their prayer for the King, the congregation return to their first petition but worded in a different manner. They say with all confidence, Vs.9 O LORD, save the king! If the king is to be saved, it must be by God. No chariots, no Horses but God alone. Even we cannot save the king ourselves, only God can. Here is a humble conclusion for us to note, that if our current ministers in government is to be saved, it will be by God alone. Although we may take part in discussions and petitions, and in arguments, yet our greatest weapon for their salvation is prayer. Our earnest prayers will indicate that truly we are pathetic and God is competent. It is a miserable vision when many have abandoned the secret room of prayer and only provide time to arguments and petitions and works in redeeming their wayward government. These things are good but when prayer is abandoned for these works then one has committed that treacherous sin of idolatry. Only God can save and may he answer you when you call!


The most offensive verse in the Bible

......When Piers or Larry or Tavis or Rosie or Ellen or The View or whoever tried probing me about homosexuality, or wifely submission, or any other area where God has spoken (to the world's consternation), I think I'd decline the worm altogether. I think instead, I'd say something like,

"You know, TaPierRosEllRy, when you ask me about X, you're obviously picking a topic that is deeply offensive to non-Christians — but it's far from the most offensive thing I believe. You're just nibbling at the edge of one of the relatively minor leaves on the Tree of Offense. Let me do you a favor, and just take you right down to the root. Let me take you to the most offensive thing I believe.

"The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies.
"That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

"Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

"Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator's design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

"So yeah, insofar as I'm consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards, all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I'm wrong.

"To anyone involved in the doomed, damned you-shall-be-as-God project, that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.

"But if I can say one more thing, the first noun in that verse — beginning — immediately points us forward. It points to the end. And the end is all about Jesus Christ. That takes us to the topic of God's world-tilting Gospel, and that's what we really need to talk about."

I mean, why quibble about minor offenses, when we know how to take them right to the mother lode of all offense — that God is God, and we are not?
By Dan Philips

Monday, 4 March 2013

In lust

In lust no honour shown
Wanting thee, not soul but your flesh to own
To have. Indulge in pleasures which shows
That God to me remains unknown.


The sweetness of assurance

And at present, it is becoming extremely difficult for me to believe or see that my Christianity has any effect at all. For there is no effect without a cause. I sincerely believe that the cause of Christ is formed in me, yet perhaps it has all been in vain in bearing lasting fruit. Yet I do not doubt my assurance of heaven, of one day walking on the golden pavements of the new earth. The sweet seed of assurance has grown to be a mighty tree in my heart. I know that Christ lives in me and amidst the forest of barrenness, yet I see prickles of heaven's light in all my gravely disposition. I am assured of heaven and yet my eyes cannot see the beauty of my future glory. O Christ, come and remove the veil of self-pity from my earthly laden eyes and turn the brow of my eyes towards your outstanding beauty. I say in the depths of my heart, that never have I produced anything good, or when I survey the vast wonders of the manifold works of others, I lament in pity, desiring to put down my pen, imagination and will. But you have taught my heart to continue, rejoicing in others, esteeming them better than myself and yet to keep going, caring not for man's attention or for that feminine fancy. You have in a dream of reality brought me to eat of that golden fruit of assurance which never diminishes my future hope of sitting with you on your heavenly throne.


Friday, 1 March 2013

But me

The ringing bell draws everyone out

But me

Everyone is on the table eating dinner

But me

Sitting comfortably and playing games

But me

Hearing about each other’s day

But me

They all make tomorrows plan

But me

Hugging as one family before they sleep

But me

Who feeling very sad, would be all alone

No reason why but because its me.

Dedicated to excellence

I ought to be dedicated to excellence, that everything I do is done to the best of my ability. We ought to give all to God and do all as if ...