Thursday, 24 April 2014

Young Shay Prince

Devoted jealousy
Furious as flame
Burned in the fancy
Of young Shay Prince.

Fragmented mind
Fullness of fright
Ran young Shay Prince
From his furious wife.

Insolence trait
Lustihood of mind
Brought young Shay Prince
To cry for his eyes.

Merciless smile
Frankness of style
A woman's scorn
Kills, as young Shay Prince torn.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

To die is no new thing

To die is no new thing.
It is as old as life.
Not a day goes by without something passing away,
Whether the skipping butterfly
Or a memory.
Even breath, smell and taste
Greet death and sometimes in a haste.
To die is no new thing,
Cheer's foe or patron, never a day cease,
That she not make a living friend.
Bereavement or songs of flower she brings,
To die is no new thing,
It is as old as life.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Nothing but the truth

A W Tozer once wrote that truth has many facets. By this he meant not that there is no absolute truth, but that truth in Christ is seen and known from any one of a multitude of perspectives, each of which can potentially add to the understanding of his truth. This is one reason why we can never own the truth of Christ, but must be continually challenged and changed by our engagement with it. It is too great for us to absorb completely or to observe from only our own perspective. The next revelation or experience may change our view radically.

This view of perspectives on truth is also important in understanding how we receive information and make judgments today. For instance, how I judge the possible guilt or otherwise of Oscar Pistorius will depend on a number of factors, including what coverage I read, hear or see of his trial. Am I swayed by his emotional condition, the aggression of the prosecutor and the brutality of his tactics, or the pain of the victim’s family? Is the commentator reporting ‘facts’, speculation or merely his opinion? As I hear his selection of the day’s events, how do I know which parts are reliable and what he has chosen to withhold?

I was struck by a recent radio report questioning who was telling the truth: the prime minister or the leader of the opposition. David Cameron had quoted official statistics on the economy’s performance which supported a positive view of the effect of government economic policies. Ed Milliband challenged those statistics and the conclusions drawn with some official statistics of his own. An expert was summoned to opine on whose conclusions were right. Both, came the answer. It depends on what measures you use over what period – it’s all in the perspective they used.

In truth, of course, the economy in its totality can only have performed in one way, but the choice of measurements used give rise to the science of spin; we lose the truth by trumping one perspective with another. We change the nature of the argument and promote perspective over substance. In order to justify ourselves and our position then and now, many resort to the trading of Truth for truths – yours and mine are both valid.

In that first Holy Week Jesus said to Pontius Pilate: “In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

Pilate, the arch-politician, answered with a question: “What is truth?” For him, as for many of us, it is the expedient, the useful, the self-protecting; ultimately, that which wards off the truth presented in Christ himself.

We rarely have the complete picture and our view may indeed change as we learn more. The truth should be a mirror in which we really see ourselves and a lens through which we see everything else, as C S Lewis once observed.

The pursuit of truth is about more than information and facts to bolster our position. If we engage with it, the truth in all its varied facets will indeed challenge our perspectives, condition our judgments and add to our understanding, leading us to encounter Christ himself more fully.

Keith Hagon is executive director of CCI, the national membership association for Christian residential ministries

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

True humility

True humility loves the hill of Calvary where the king of glory bowed his head and died.

They who are meek will rejoice that this crucified spectacle is their beloved King.

There, 'repentance will shed a contrite tear.'

There, 'faith views with joy the great atonement.'

There, 'love glows with fervent desires to the Friend of sinners.'

There, the way to go is ascertained.

There, the weak are proud. The strong submit.

There, true humility adores his bloody flesh.

There you will go, cleansing your sins

Forsaking pride, forsaking yourself.

There, those who go blind do see.

There, sin does die.

And Love does win.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

John Calvin on Lent

John Calvin, some people like him, some people hate him and some people have only heard myths about him. Whatever opinion you may hold concerning the man, he is always a man worth reading.

In his famous Institutes of the Christian religion, John Calvin gives us his opinion on lent. He writes:

Then the superstitious observance of Lent had everywhere prevailed: for both the vulgar imagined that they thereby perform some excellent service to God, and pastors commended it as a holy imitation of Christ; though it is plain that Christ did not fast to set an example to others, but, by thus commencing the preaching of the gospel, meant to prove that his doctrine was not of men, but had come from heaven.
And it is strange how men of acute judgment could fall into this gross delusion, which so many clear reasons refute: for Christ did not fast repeatedly (which he must have done had he meant to lay down a law for an anniversary fast), but once only, when preparing for the promulgation of the gospel. Nor does he fast after the manner of men, as he would have done had he meant to invite men to imitation; he rather gives an example, by which he may raise all to admire rather than study to imitate him.
In short, the nature of his fast is not different from that which Moses observed when he received the law at the hand of the Lord (Exod. 24:18; 34:28). For, seeing that that miracle was performed in Moses to establish the law, it behoved not to be omitted in Christ, lest the gospel should seem inferior to the law. But from that day, it never occurred to any one, under pretence of imitating Moses, to set up a similar form of fast among the Israelites.
Nor did any of the holy prophets and fathers follow it, though they had inclination and zeal enough for all pious exercises; for though it is said of Elijah that he passed forty days without meat and drink (1 Kings 19:8), this was merely in order that the people might recognise that he was raised up to maintain the law, from which almost the whole of Israel had revolted.
It was therefore merely false zeal, replete with superstition, which set up a fast under the title and pretext of imitating Christ; although there was then a strange diversity in the mode of the fast, as is related by Cassiodorus in the ninth book of the History of Socrates: “The Romans,” says he, “had only three weeks, but their fast was continuous, except on the Lord’s day and the Sabbath. The Greeks and Illyrians had, some six, others seven, but the fast was at intervals. Nor did they differ less in the kind of food: some used only bread and water, others added vegetables; others had no objection to fish and fowls; others made no difference in their food.” Augustine also makes mention of this difference in his latter epistle to Januarius.  Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Ch. 12.20)

Perhaps like Calvin's day, a superstitious observance of lent has prevailed in our day with many practicing lent as a way of earning some meritorious favor from God. Perhaps many do not view it this way, namely as earning favour but as showing themselves and the world that they can abstain from some sort of activity that has a hold on their souls. And some no doubt view it as a season where they take on a spiritual discipline such as fasting and prayer thinking that they are performing some excellent service to God. And some just do lent because it is what to do at this period of year. 

Whatever your reason is, do not think it as imitating Christ in the wilderness, for Christ did not fast in the wilderness as an example for us to follow. 

We are to always be reforming our lives. We are to always be giving up the luxuries of the world which leads us to sin, and to always be self-denying. 

And for all heaven sake, remember Christ. Remember his gospel that it is not works or keeping the law that saves us, but faith in Christ atoning death and Resurrection. 


Monday, 7 April 2014

9 Lessons God Teaches Us Concerning Sickness


1. To make us think, to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body – an immortal soul, a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery – and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.
2. To teach us that there is a world beyond the grave, and that the world we now live in is only a training place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.
3. To make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously. Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?
4. To make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.
5. To send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.
6. To make us pray. Too many, I fear, never pray at all, or they only rattle over a few hurried words morning and evening without thinking what they do. But prayer often becomes a reality when the valley of the shadow of death is in sight.
7. To make us repent and break off our sins. If we will not hear the voice of mercies, God sometimes makes us “hear the rod.”
8. To draw us to Christ. Naturally we do not see the full value of that blessed Savior. We secretly imagine that our prayers, good deeds, and sacrament-receiving will save our souls. But when flesh begins to fail, the absolute necessity of a Redeemer, a Mediator, and an Advocate with the Father, stands out before men’s eyes like fire, and makes them understand those words, “Simply to Your cross I cling,” as they never did before. Sickness has done this for many – they have found Christ in the sick room.
9. To make us feeling and sympathizing towards others. By nature we are all far below our blessed Master’s example, who had not only a hand to help all, but a heart to feel for all. None, I suspect, are so unable to sympathize as those who have never had trouble themselves – and none are so able to feel as those who have drunk most deeply the cup of pain and sorrow.
Summary: Beware of fretting, murmuring, complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit.Regard your sickness as a blessing in disguise – a good and not an evil – a friend and not an enemy. No doubt we should all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a “need be” in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

How Old Is Infant Baptism?

The earliest explicit mention of infant “baptism” in the history of the church is from the African church father, Tertullian, who lived from about A.D. 160 to about 220. He was born in Carthage, studied in Rome for a legal career and was converted to Christianity in about 195. He was the first Christian theologian to write in Latin and exerted significant influence through his apologetic works.
The work, de baptismo (Concerning Baptism) was written, evidently between 200 and 206. In it Tertullian questions the wisdom of giving baptism to infants. He says,
According to everyone’s condition and disposition, and also his age, the delaying of baptism is more profitable, especially in the case of little children. For why is it necessary—if [baptism itself] is not necessary—that the sponsors should be thrust into danger? For they may either fail of their promise by death, or they may be mistaken by a child’s proving of wicked disposition…. They that understand the weight of baptism will rather dread the receiving of it, than the delaying of it. An entire faith is secure of salvation! (de baptismo, ch. xviii)
What we see here is that the first explicit witness to infant baptism does not assume that it is a given. In other words, at the turn of the third century it is not taken for granted, as it is 200 years later when St. Augustine addresses the matter. Tertullian speaks the way one would if the practice were in dispute, possibly as a more recent development.
When we look at the New Testament, the closest thing to infant baptism that we find is the reference to three “households” being baptized. In 1 Corinthians 1:16, Paul says, “Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.” In Acts 16:15, Luke reports concerning the new convert, Lydia, “When she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.’” And in Acts 16:33, Luke tells us that after the earthquake in the jail of Philippi, the jailer “took [Paul and Silas] that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his [household].”
It is significant that in regard to the family of the Philippian jailer Luke reports in Acts 16:32, just before mentioning the baptism of the jailer’s household, “[Paul and Silas] spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” This seems to be Luke’s way of saying that hearing and believing the word is a prerequisite to baptism. The whole household heard the word and the whole household was baptized. In any case, there is no mention of infants in any of these three instances of household baptisms, and it is an argument from silence to say that there must have been small children. It would be like saying here at Bethlehem that a reference to Ross Anderson’s household or Don Brown’s or Dennis Smith’s or David Michael’s or David Livingston’s or dozens of others must include infants, which they don’t.
Yet from these texts, Joachim Jeremias, who wrote one of the most influential books in defense of infant baptism, concluded, “It is characteristic that Luke could report the matter thus. For by so doing he gives expression to the fact that ‘the solidarity of the family in baptism and not the individual decision of the single member’ was the decisive consideration” (Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, 1960, p. 23, quoting Oscar Cullman, Baptism in the New Testament, 1950, p. 45). I would rather say that the entire drift of the New Testament, and many particular sayings, is in the opposite direction: it is precisely the individual in his relation to Christ that is decisive in the New Testament, rather than solidarity in the flesh. “It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants” (Romans 9:8).
Pastor John Piper

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Pity the Fool

Pity the Fool
It’s April Fools’ Day, and whatever its origins, the Scriptures have something to say about playing the fool.
There is uncertainty about how and when people began mocking the fool on the first day of April. Many think it goes back to sixteenth-century France when the nation changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian. April 1 had been the end of a weeklong festival celebrating the coming of Spring and with it the new year. Now the new year changed to January 1. Some refused to make the switch, or lived in rural areas and didn’t get the word, and were mocked as fools by those who made the change.
Others think the origin may be in a scribal error in Chaucer’s Canterbury Talesthat had readers thinking the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” — and the fox’s fooling of Chauntecleer the vain cock — occurred on April 1 (when Chaucer actually meant May 2). Still others connect the day to celebrations in ancient Rome, Persia, and India.
But however murky the true origin of April Fools’ Day, what’s clear enough is the Christian teaching about what makes a person truly foolish.

Wisdom: The Skill of Living

The Book of Proverbs provides the Bible’s densest teaching about wisdom and folly, and what quickly becomes plain is that the biblical concept is radically God-centered.
God himself is the source of wisdom. Thus, it is the fool who says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:153:1), and Proverbs gives us the refrain, “the fear of the Lᴏʀᴅ is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:72:58:139:1015:33). True wisdom begins with God and has its constant source and supply in God. So, says Tremper Longman, Proverbs teaches us that “relationship precedes ethics” (Intro to the OT, 269).
According to Longman, “wise” is the biblical word to “describe the person who navigates life well” (How to Read Proverbs, 13). Wisdom is
the skill of living. It is a practical knowledge that helps one know how to act and how to speak in different situations. Wisdom entails the ability to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves. Wisdom also includes the ability to interpret other people’s speech and writing in order to react correctly to what they are saying to us.
Wisdom is not intelligence pure and simple. . . . Biblical wisdom is much closer to the idea of emotional intelligence than it is to Intelligence Quotient. Wisdom is a skill, a “knowing how”; it is not raw intellect, a “knowing that.” (14–16)
The biblical concept of wisdom is, in large measure, analogous with the idea of maturity. The wise person is one who is mature in his knowledge of God — based on God’s self-revelation — as well as his understanding of himself and his surroundings. The wise person is able to “navigate life well,” in the real world, as defined by God in the Scriptures.

The Folly of Not Navigating Well

Meanwhile, the fool does not possess such skill. He does not navigate life well in God’s universe, from God’s perspective, in God’s categories. The very essence of foolishness is the suppression of God’s truth (Romans 1:18).
Folly is not just silly, but sinful (Psalm 69:5107:17Romans 1:22). Fools desperately need to “learn sense” (Proverbs 8:5), but instead they hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:22). They are complacent (Proverbs 1:32), easily frustrated (Proverbs 12:16), reckless and careless (Proverbs 14:16), and crooked in speech (Proverbs 19:1). Fools are prone to “a hasty temper” (Proverbs 14:29), “anger lodges in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Fools “walk into a fight” and invite a beating (Proverbs 18:6).
The fool despises instruction, even from the ones who love them most (Proverbs 15:5), and thus brings misery to his own biggest fans (Proverbs 17:21).
While the wise have learned the beauty and value of righteousness, “doing wrong is like a joke to a fool” (Proverbs 10:23). While the wise are able to hold back quietly, “a fool gives full vent to his spirit” (Proverbs 29:11). And as Jesus taught, while the wise are “rich toward God,” the fool presumes on “many years” and “lays up treasure for himself” in this life (Luke 12:19–21).
A fool is “like an archer who wounds everyone” (Proverbs 26:10) and “like a dog that returns to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11). It is better to meet up with “a she-bear robbed of her cubs” than a fool in his folly (Proverbs 17:12).

Prideful, Mouthy, and Alone

Because the biblical notions of wisdom and folly are God-centered, at the very heart of folly is pride and self-sufficiency. The fool is arrogant, and the arrogant are fools. The fool says in his heart there is no God — and sees no need for God, quite frankly. The fool is “wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:12), “right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 12:15), and “trusts in his own mind” (Proverbs 28:26). He feels that he has all his ducks in a row and doesn’t need others’ input — especially not God’s instruction.
The fool is more the talker, less the listener. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2). “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Proverbs 18:7). He is one “with many words” (Ecclesiastes 5:3) and “multiplies words” (Ecclesiastes 10:14). “The woman Folly is loud” (Proverbs 9:13). The fool “gives an answer before he hears” (Proverbs 18:13).
While the wise aggressively listen and long for the counsel of others — and “the wise of heart will receive commandments” — ruin comes to “a babbling fool” (Proverbs 10:8). It is “the mouth of a fool” that brings ruin (Proverbs 10:14).
The fool not only suppresses his need for God’s words, but also for the counsel of others. “A wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). Keeping company with the wise is essential in learning wisdom (Proverbs 13:20). Fools would rather talk than listen. They may say they love to “have others in their lives,” but they don’t really want to hear any correction. They would rather utter slander (Proverbs 10:18) than heed reproof (Proverbs 15:5).
While wisdom leads to life (Proverbs 3:1816:22), folly ultimately leads to death (Proverbs 5:2310:21).

All the Treasures of Wisdom

For the Christian, the radical God-centeredness of wisdom in the Proverbs takes a radically Christ-centered shape in the New Testament.
Jesus himself, as the fullest and final revelation of God (John 1:18Colossians 1:15;Hebrews 1:1–3), is now-revealed as the secret to true wisdom. As the God-man, he is the perfect embodiment of divine wisdom in human form — he is the life of God in the soul of man — and in him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). To those who are perishing, “the word of the cross is folly,” but to those who are being saved, it is God’s power and the paragon of wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18).
If wisdom is the ability to navigate life well, in God’s world, on God’s terms, now we see that it can mean nothing less than having him who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” the only one through whom we may come to the Father (John 14:6). And so to present anyone truly wise, truly mature, it is “him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom” (Colossians 1:28).
Only in Jesus can those born into folly, increasingly manifesting foolishness, on a crash course for destruction, be set free to true wisdom and ultimate life. “We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). But Wisdom himself saved us (Titus 3:4–5).
Only in Jesus can we truly have Wisdom and then be sufficiently changed to not merely mock folly, but pity the fool.
By David Mathis

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 ...