Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Operation World

Recently (this or last month) the latest version of Operation World has been published.
Operation World has been a great tool for praying for the nations, and encouraging a missionary heart.

On each Nation it contains, containing history, political info, analysis of religions, and denominations, people groups, answered prayers and prayer points and more.

With the events of 9-11 shortly after the last major revision, it isn't hard to see why this latest addition is needed more than every to keep up with the developments in the World.

Please join me in praying for the nations, that they may see his glory.
" ... And they shall declare my glory among the nation" Isaiah 66:19
 "I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations." Psalm 108:3 
"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth." Isaiah 12:5

The Pilgrim's Progress

I have been reading an abridged simplified version of the Pilgrim's Progress to the kids.
It reminded me of this quote from it, which my Grandparents also have in a picture frame in there house:
"and all their talk at the table was about the Lord of the hill; as, namely, about what he had done, and wherefore he did what he did, and why he had builded that house; and by what they said, I perceived that he had been a great warrior, and had fought with and slain him that had the power of death, but not without great danger to himself, which made me love him the more" (
I hope you all know the longing to which Bunyan alludes.

Also found a useful article entitled: Why Evangelicals Don't Read Pilgrim's Progress (And Why They Should)
In Hebrews 11, the author conducts his great survey of pilgrims. He describes these Old Testament saints as strangers and pilgrims on earth, with no abiding city, relying on faith in the promises of God, knowing that their inheritance was something better than this present world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection (Part 1)

I recently started reading this new book by Don Carson "Scandalous". Having owned and read many Carson books I didn't expect to be disappoint. Well so far it looks very good, and that's from the 1st Chapter, when I was looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd.

The first Chapter on Matthew 27:27-51a which is titled "the ironies of the cross" picks on four ironies, or even double ironies, from the Crucifixion of Jesus. Carson here offers four points of irony, where Jesus is mocked by various people before and during his crucifixion.
  1. The man who is mocked as king - is king.
  2. The man who is utterly powerless - is powerful.
  3. The man who can't save himself - saves others.
  4. The man who cries out in despair - trusts God.
In exactly what he is mocked, he is actually in truth doing what they say - yet they don't realise it. They mean the opposite, but unwittingly tell us the truth.
Take for example the soldiers who mocked Jesus as King and put a crown of thorns on this head. They didn't realise that in his death he was actually showing he is the King.
Also the case of "He saved others, but can't save himself. ... Let him come down now from the cross"  - yet it is by not saving himself that he saves others.

I remember preparing some thoughts for a Bible Study on the similar passage in Mark's Gospel, but I hadn't quick come to terms with what it was teaching, and how it was - think partly working out how to understand the point of some Narratives besides just their description of what happened.
Carson does well with this passage in making it clear.

On 10 in 2 - thoughts about some Christian goal setting

Just read this article in my latest copy of the briefing. (It seems most parts of the "Up Front" section of the Briefing have appeared previously on the blog
In the "10 In 2" article, Ben Pfahlert talks about his goal of trying to reach 10 people in 2 years with the gospel.
I have previously read of similar goals taken on by "trainees" - but that was talking about China! (see Brother Yun "The Heavenly Man"). I think they had a much high target, but they were going on a full time mission so that might be expected.

I think this general idea is good. Whether others make this commitment or a similar one is good.

Of course, a necessary factor is our dependence on God. God gives the results. It is God who draws people to himself. But on the other hand, not to plan, not to dream for God's Kingdom probably means that we are complacent or love this life too much, and possible have the wrong sort of dreams.

But is making plans like this risky? Should we aim at things we can't control?
Two points:
(1) John Piper, arguing against the idea that God is a risk taker, says that we can be risk takers because God isn't. God is in control, he has our future in his hands, so what do we have to loose? We can only gain. If we loose friends and money in the process, then we haven't lost anything in eternal terms (c.f. 1 Cor 15). On the other hand we will be gaining "friends for life" - eternal life that is.
(2) Even though we can't control the out come, we have been given this mission anyway (Matt 28:18-20). But we need to say more. Some one has said "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Making goals and plans and praying about them helps us to focus, and be diligent. Yes, God can use us in unexpected ways, and despite our efforts, and using it all to teach us hard lessons. We might find there are hard lessons we need to learn before we can really go on with our plans. But these are not points against it. Paul made plans and was deliberate about using his time and energy for the gospel.

I have been forming plans in the back of my head, especially after using the "Christianity Explained" course. Maybe I should commit instead of letting them just float around.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some thoughts for politicians on Euthanasia, and Bob B's current Bill

Here are some thoughts I sent in letter form, minus some details.

The topic of Euthanasia, I think it is a very serious issue.
The push for Euthanasia doesn’t take into account recent improvements in palliative care. My father’s experience as a GP is that people don’t really want to end their lives - they just want to avoid the suffering. Better access to and understand of palliative case is really what is needed, and would effectively make the case for Euthanasia pointless.
Some others argue for Euthanasia based on the desire for autonomy – I think this is really an ideological battle – with no real care for the people in question. The probably with complete autonomy is that it is driven by individualism. While a person’s individual nature is important, it ignores that we are created for relationships, we are born into families, live in communities – what affects us affects those around us and vice verse, and this fulfil part of what it means to be human. We shouldn’t go the other extreme and only say the community overrides the person in an absolute way – be we should see the interdependence that is part of our lives.
One of the problems Euthanasia poses is the pressure to end one’s life. It may be seen as an obligation. Pressure can come from a range of directions: ones family either directly, or from a sense to not be a burden on them; from medical staff; from fear of suffering, especially when palliative care is not well provided; also from insurance companies. Studies in countries such as the Netherlands show that there are cases of involuntary Euthanasia (which we should probably really call Murder) are happening by medical staff. Also that palliative care tends to go backwards, and those who support or performing the case are seen as selfish and not caring for the people involved.
While it seems Bob Brown has mentioned his bill is only about allowing the territories to have their own say just like the States – he is really just justifying the means by the end. He personally is for Euthanasia and probably sees this as the easiest way in Australia. I think it is a serious enough issue for the Federal to implement such laws as it currently has, which it is constitutionally allowed to do. Is it not for such cases that the Government has this power and responsibility?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Roots of Endurance

The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce.
By John Piper.

Review (Part 1 of N, where N is approximately the equal to the number of chapters).

I thought for this book I might blog as I read through it, as I find helpful and interesting ideas.

The setting for Piper's book:
Our time is marked by emotional fragility. We shatter easily when misfortune comes our way. In the face of sustained contention, we have little ability to withstand the onslaught, let alone surmount it with joy.
So Piper goes in search of the "root" of endurance. What is it that gives Christians endurance in the life of Godliness, and endurance in the face of opposition:

In his search Piper finds Newton, Simeon and Wilberforce as:
Men who rose to the challenges before them. Men who endured trial after trial, year after year. Men who weathered life-long opposition with joy in Christ.

Newton was a slave trader who found "Amazing grace", and later became a pastor and authored that well-known hymn.
Simeon was a pastor who endured much opposition. For his first 12 years out of 54 at the same place, his "pewholding" parishioners boycotted his services.
Wilberforce is well known for his battle to first abolish the slave trade, and then slavery itself from Britain and its colonies - but what gave him the power to endure what became a very long battle?

In his introductory chapter, what I find very interesting, and indeed Piper was surprised by this - justification by faith is the root of endurance for these three warriors of the faith, especially for Wilberforce:
The deepest root of endurance for Wilberforce - and Newton and Simeon shared this view entirely - was the precious and powerful experience of the justification of the ungodly by faith alone (Romans 4:5) - leading necessarily to a life of glorious freedom in the never-ending battle against sin and injustice.
Piper (and I) knew somewhat of Newton's finding of "Amazing grace", but new little of the cause of Wilberforce's and Simeon's endurance.
I did not realize that both of these men would make the cross of Christ so vital to the root of their endurance, and that Wilberforce in particular would focus on the very nature of justification as the linchpin of endurance in righteous living.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another reason why it makes sense for Christians to be pro life.

In the US it seems that being a Christian doesn't mean that you are pro-life.

To argue the case from the Bible, I thought a key passage to point to was Psalm 139.
Recently I saw the title of a message by John Piper which refered to John the Baptist. Hmmm.
John the Baptist in-utero leaps for joy at the sound of Mary (and Jesus in-utero).

Luke 1:39-45 (ESV)
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tony Abbott's opinions

Tony is entitled to his own opinions (about sex) -here. I think I agree with his "rules", but not his apparent idolising of virginity.
it is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don't give it to someone lightly
Of course I maybe taking him out of context - like some other people.
It's also possible for people who weren't virgins to have a God honouring marriage.

I think my thinking and theology relating to this topic may well differ.
Of course, marriage is pointing to the greater reality of Christ and his bride, something much greater. And its our behaviour within marriage that helps point to this greater reality. (There is also the wedding dress if you catch my meaning - See Rev)
Well, back on Earth, I think our main problem with our attitude to sex is our selfishness -the other stuff are the symptoms.
For Christians its also trusting God's design for marriage.

Turning the other cheek

Here is an interesting article on The Age website exploring Jesus and Violence.

I'm not sure if I agree with him using Jesus as a model for non-Christians and non-violence, but I think he gets most things right. Maybe also how the resurrection connects with living as important aspects missing. The resurrection also means that Jesus will return to judge and hold people accountable (and also us for whether we turn the other cheek or not).

It remains clear that those who claim to follow Jesus cannot do so while ignoring his commands, let alone the way he lived. As my friend Jarrod often says, ''killing for Jesus makes about as much sense as shagging for celibacy.''
It seem to imply that true "fundamentalist" Christians are not the sort to be worried about. Its the ones how don't take him seriously enough who are the problem.