Friday, 31 October 2014

Today is reformation day. I too will be reforming my life

Today is reformation day. I too will be reforming my life. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Today, I will be nailing my one thesis on the wall in my room.

As one writer has written, that 'at the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.'

Perhaps in a few years, as I consider this one thesis that I nailed on the wall in my room, that it would lead to the greatest transformation of my life in regards to my relationship with God. That this act of will, will culminate in me being more holy, and enjoying Christ Jesus as the supreme treasure of my life.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Intolerant views should be eliminated

Post: "Intolerant views should be eliminated."
Response: I saw this statement yesterday in the comments of some news about a Christian... and no doubt we all increasingly see these kind of statements frequently posted around the Internet. IN fact, these are the kind of statements where I have seen people receive hundreds of "likes" on progressive-leaning news websites like Huffington Post, especially when they are talking about the views of theologically conservative Christians. It really appears that the persons who make such declarations, and their followers, fail to see the sheer irony in these statements. For to "eliminate" a view is somehow to believe that certain views are so unworthy of public discourse that such person(s) should not have the freedom of conscience to hold such views or speak about them publicly to anyone else. Now, if I understand tolerance correctly, all Christians I know of firmly believe in freedom of conscience. That is, they will disagree wholeheartedly with a false view of the world, but they allow for others the freedom of conscience to hold such bad ideas. Faith is a supernatural work of God in the heart and not something that can be coerced by the sword.  But the new kind of so-called "tolerance" appears to embrace an a kind of "enforced tolerance" ethic which is obviously so muddled in self-contradiction that it should not even bare mentioning. But the new believers of such views seem to sit comfortably within their self-contradiction. It does not seem to bother them that their position defies all reason or logic, even when plainly pointed out.
These contradictions run deep: Ideas they like should be made mandatory and what they don’t like should be banned: There’s an underlying fascism that runs through those who hold these views. It’s not enough for them to embrace gay marriage; everyone else must be forced to love gay marriage. It’s not enough for them to make sure the speakers on campuses conform to their beliefs; speakers who don't hold their views must be shouted down or banned from speaking. It is not enough that they believe in abortion rights but everyone else must be required to pay for their abortions.  While they may not use the sword to accomplish their goals they seem to be comfortable letting a judge friendly to their cause make a judicial fiat to outlaw free speech.
Consider this: Those who want to eliminate Christian views, by default, believe their own views are right and the Christian views are wrong. "Oh my, how narrow." And more often than not, they believe their views are morally superior to the Christians views. Wouldn't it be better to be open and honest and simply say, in love, that we sharply disagree with one another, rather than force our opponent and their views off the map? True gold fears no fire. The more our opponents work to undo Christianity the more they will realize they are kicking against the goads. 
Let's pray for wisdom as we enter this new era as to how we might engage and love our friends who are influenced by such views.

In the late evening

In the late evening, when sleep has
come upon me, I tell my hands that now is the hour to leave our work alone. We must rest our mind and go softly into
that land of dreams, where our beloved comes to us willingly, showering us with kisses. 



Mind love

It has become apparent to me that mind love needs to be
shown in a physical way. It is better to be extreme in
displaying love, that is, to show fantastic delight through
physical expression than to hide it secretly in ones mind.
This is because the object of your love will feel the warmth
of your love, rather than feeling the breeze that accustoms
the grey skies.  For although the sun shines beyond it,
yet it is no good in providing warmth for humanity.


He was very zealous in his cause

He was very zealous in the cause he
affected to serve. Her love was written in indelible
characters upon his heart; but when they first met, he
greeted her with skeptical contempt. This was because she 
had once betrayed him, violating all of his decencies. 


Beautiful Woman

Beautiful Woman

God did put you forth as the standard of beauty

To walk upright in his statutes and ordinances

To live pure in heart and in submission to his will.

Beautiful Woman

Whose beauty surpasses the sun

That angels in heaven muse among themselves about

The surpassing worth of your glory

Which shines above all the daughters of eve.

Beautiful Woman

God is indeed your shepherd

Who has prepared a banqueting table before your enemies

That you should eat and fill yourself with his delights

And no arrows by night nor bullet by day shall harm you

Because you are protected under the shadow of the Almighty.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

How Ought We to View Other Men's Sin?

"...we are but dead men until God quickens us by his grace alone...we never cease fighting against God until he has brought us to his obedience by the Holy Spirit... 
...we see secret compacts, poisonings spittings, malices, treasons, and wicked practices. To be brief, we see some so devilish that they fling themselves altogether headlong, as though they meant to make war willfully against God. These are things that may astonish us. And although we are dull, yet we ought to have some remorse when we see things to be so disorderly in the world. Nevertheless, St. Paul says that if we consider what is done, and how all things are turned upside down, and what license the world takes to itself to resist God, it behooves us to apply the same to ourselves and to conclude thus: The same could happen to me, and just as much as I see to be the case in them that are most wretched. For when we look on the diseases that are around us how some are eaten with cancers and other evil diseases, and others have the worst possible sickness, we must look at ourselves and say, As ill, and even worse still, could happen to me, if God had not taken pity on me.  For all of us carry the seed of them about us, and that not only in our bodies. there may be some diversity of constitution so that some are stronger and more robust than others, but the soul of man is utterly corrupted and marred. So then, the sins that reign in us are all of them warnings to make us cast down our eyes and be ashamed before God and his angels, and even to cause us to hate and utterly abhor our persons.
Thus you see why St. Paul has added here that the devil is at work still.  He uses the word 'now', as if he should say, 'My friends, if in looking upon your present state, you find anything well, and that the same keeps you from humbling yourselves thoroughly and feeling how miserable you would have been if God had not shown pity and mercy towards you, see what is happening all about you; see how the unbelievers behave themselves, and you shall find them to be like wild beasts and enemies of their own salvation. You find them stark mad against all right. In short, you shall see such great enormities as shall shame men and make them say, Alas, is it possible that it should be thus? And so you see what you are. Do not say, Fie upon you, you wicked man! You may well find fault with such a one, but you must, at the same time, add presently for a sauce to season it, How great God's mercy been towards me!.
Let us never condemn the sin, then, that we see everywhere, without considering at the same time that if God had not checked us, we would have fallen as deeply as we see others have fallen; and therefore let it stir ourselves up immediately to pray God that he lead us not into temptation, [Matt 6:13] and let us acknowledge God's infinite goodness, in that it pleases him to check us in such a way that we do not fall into the horrible pits that we see all around us. For when we look upon the most wicked folk in the world, and even upon such as we are driven to abhor as monsters, we must (as I said before) conclude thus within ourselves, 'Alas, as much would have befallen us, if God had not remedied it'. And so you see how we ought to bring this teaching into use."
- John Calvin, Sermon on Eph 2:1-5, From John Calvin's Sermons on Ephesians

Monday, 27 October 2014

Lately I've been thinking

And she's a beauty
She'll make a perfect queen
I want to see her every morning
Before I leave,
Leave her with a kiss
Then tonight we get to tease
Cuz lately I've been thinking
Something better for you and me,
Calculating plans
Your father says its alright. 
And she's a beauty
She'll make a perfect queen. 


Miscellanies 91: For a month my soul has been troubled

For a month my soul has been troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this ache'? But from this ache I have learnt so much. So much that will only tend to my future good. So much that will only benefit all my relationships and the future ones to come. This ache was a neccesity. It was his megaphone to awake me from my slumber. It was his medicine for me to get well again. But I am still in bandages. I am still healing; still recovering from my nausea. Sometimes deep into the night I hold my heart because it is extreemely painful, it hurts deeply. I ask the Lord to take this feeling away from me, but he tells me that his grace is sufficient for me; or at least I know that that is what he is saying. I tell him that I feel alone. He replies that he alone is sufficient. I remind him that it is not good for man to be alone. He tells me to wait. I tell him that I cannot see a future for me. He tells me to trust him. That even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death that I should fear no evil. I tell him that I am in that valley right now. He tells me that I am overexagerating. I tell him that I am weak, that I can break at any point now. He asks me a question. Have you ever lost your faith in your weakness. I tell him never entirely. There is always a flickering flame no matter how weak. He tells me that he will never blow it out. Soon enough he tells me that he will add more coal to my fire. I tell him that I need to burn again. I have been luke-warm for too long, I need to burn and blaze. He tells me that there is a season for everything. I tell him that this is one of my darkest seasons. I feel so alone but not empty. I feel weak to temptations and I cannot get rid of my old sins. He tells me there is grace and mercy enough for me. He tells me to fight and overcome. I tell him that I fear that I may never overcome. He tells me that it will not be in my strength but in his. I tell him that I believe.


Stop blaming the victims

Can rape ever be the fault of the victim? If you have been reading the papers this week, it seems some people believe so.

Sheffield United’s Ched Evans was convicted of rape and ordered to serve five and a half years in prison for raping a 19-year-old woman. Having served less than half of that sentence, he has now been freed and a debate has opened up about whether he should be allowed to return to the club.

Except that’s not where the discussion ends. Now, the nature of the incident is being examined by people across the land, piecing together the information they know in order to distinguish if he did in fact rape his victim, despite a court of law ruling that he had.

Through it all, Evans and his girlfriend, who has stood by him, have protested his innocence. This week, he self-published a video on YouTube, expressing his regret for his “infidelity” and stating his love and commitment to partner Natasha Massey.   

The BBC was forced to apologise yesterday for Michael Buerk’s comment on the Radio 4 programme Moral Maze, which suggested the young woman has no credit in this case because she had “drunk so much that she could barely stand”.

But what of this victim? During the programme, Buerk admitted she is “hiding like an IRA informer in official anonymity” and is “being hounded by internet trolls”.

One poll claims that 50 per cent of women believe rape victims are to blame for their attack. Those aged between 18 and 24 were the most likely to have these views. Shockingly, 24 per cent of those in this age group added that wearing a short skirt, accepting a drink or having a conversation with the attacker made the victim responsible in part.
Is this how we are called to treat victims?

Somewhere in the UK there is a young woman who is hearing celebrities, footballers and the press say she is to blame for the attack she faced. Somewhere in the UK there is a young woman reading the hateful tweets and death threats. Somewhere in the UK there is a young woman who hears on the BBC that she has “no credit” to call this abuse because she had drunk too much.

We have a responsibility to try to stop suffering. We are called to do what we can to end it – whether that suffering is distant, where we give money to the work of charities in the developing world, or closer to home, like donating to foodbanks or becoming a foster carer.

The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 teaches to help those who are suffering. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

The victim of this crime is suffering today. What are we going to do about it?

While joining the debate on Evans’ future is relevant, considering whether the victim is to blame is not. We should be denouncing rape in all forms, all situations and all places. We should be praying for those who persecute. We should be praying that victims know their value to God.

Jesus stood up for the needy, the vulnerable and the abused. Let’s follow his example in our discussions today.
Amaris Cole is editor of the Evangelical Alliance 

Dedicated to excellence

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