Tuesday, 28 April 2009

News of Old Friends, But Not How I Would Have Hoped.

I found out from my dad in a phone call yesterday that the school in which I started my teaching career (the Alfred Barrow School) is being closed down as it, along with two other local schools, gets subsumed into a large new academy.

My father doesn't live in the area - he stumbled upon the fact when reading about some altogether insalubrious circumstances connected with the new academy in a national newspaper.

Stories like these are catalysts both for humble gratitude for all that God has done in my life thus far and for sober reflection lest I make the mistake of thinking I am immune to such folly as this.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Spirit, Mind and Body - Holistic Salvation!

Spirit - I have been saved from the penalty of sin.
Mind - I am being saved from the power of sin.
Body - I will be saved from the presence of sin.

That is good news!

(And yes I know the model is somewhat oversimplified, but I find it helpful. ;-)

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Can God the Gardener Throw His Hat Through Your Tree?

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." Jesus in John 15:2

Not all growth is good in and of itself, there is growth that hinders fruit bearing and imbalances the tree. 

For me the obvious one is knowledge. 

The fruit this gardener is looking for is the result of the Holy Spirit's activity in the life of the Christian. It is authentic when it is grounded in the truth of the Bible, born out of repentance, looks like Jesus (e.g.tastes goodgives life to those who eat it and is always there when people go looking.


If you want to meditate more on how God the gardener does his pruning, go here. This video is good too.

Friday, 17 April 2009

News in Brief

When it comes to the subject of teachers' pay rises, I can't, with any integrity, say I would feel a moral outrage if I got 10% rise more dosh, but I find myself quietly agreeing with these guys (4:50).

One of my heros! ;-)

Narnia Code

More great TV here - until 23 April 09.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tour de France 2009

I will be out of the country on expedition in East Africa with some boys from my school for most, if not all of this year's Tour de France.

One of the things I have always found curious, and in many ways amusing, is the religious-style imagery infused through aspects of the tour. Just as in football, for many, this ain't just a race, it is an identity-defining event for the onlookers as much as the participators. 

The opening sequence in the following video from the official website is a good example of this. I don't remember reading anywhere that the yellow jersey ascended to fill the universe, but I could be wrong! ;-)

That said, tis a great race, fascinating and inspirational in fact, for me it is anyway - watching who can inflict the most athletic pain and fatigue on their adversary in the bid to stand in 1st position on the podium and all the strategy and intrigue that makes up that process.

I look forward to hearing of the highlights on my return.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Psalms: 24

Psalm 24 shows us a picture of the ascension of Christ into Heaven after his resurrection.

Verses 1-2 remind us of his great acts of old, creating the whole universe - and how in that act of creation, he symbolically foreshadowed - on the third day - his own resurrection.

Verses 3-5 show us what Jesus' perfection has won - the right to enter the Heavenly Jerusalem (of which the earthly Jerusalem was and is meant to be a picture) and v6 shows us that all who are in him (those who seek out this blessed man) are partakers of the blessing that he has earned.

Moreover, have you ever wondered why Jesus was raised on the day after the Jewish sabbath (Saturday) ie on the first day of the week? (Sunday?)

In order to fulfill the way he is depicted in the Feast of the Firstfruits

Just as the first sheaf of grain from the harvest was offered in the temple on the first day of the week so that the people might be accepted by the LORD, so Jesus - raised from the dead on the first day of the week -  is the forerunner of the new humanity going ahead of us into Heaven, making us acceptable to the LORD - that one day we might follow him there!

Verses 7-10 resonate with both John's words here in Revelation and with Paul's words here in Ephesians.

He is an awesome Saviour! He is an awesome God!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Easter Psalms: 23

Much has been written on Psalm 23 and how it's a wonderful comfort to the Christian -Jesus, the good shepherd faithfully and carefully looking after his sheep. All of that is wonderfully true. However, I want to suggest that this interpretation is secondary and that Psalm 23 is primarily Messianic. Here are three reasons why:

1. Jesus is the Lamb of God, lead by his Father.

2. Any blessings Christians get from God are never direct from God they are always derived from first being in Christ the true man - the God man. He is the true man who goes ahead of the Church.  The Church follows in his wake.

3. Psalm 23 has no plurals in it.  If it was written primarily for the church - it would have had phrases like The Lord is our Shepherd... even though we walk... etc. etc. It would have had more of a Miriam's song feel about it with at least some plurals.

So in a Messianic interpretation, v1-3 depict the earthly life of Jesus and his mission, v4 his crucifixion - bleeding to death like the Passover lamb and v5-6 his resurrection, ascension, glorification and resting as the rightful ruler of everything that exists, (except God himself of course).

The derived benefit we get if we are united to Christ, who assumed the frailty of a lamb, is that if we die with him, we will also reign with him in the age to come!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Easter Psalms: 22

David knowingly prophesied much about Jesus, the king who would eventually take his place on the throne - forever. Psalm 22 is no exception. 

In this psalm, David graphically prophesies that blackest moment in the history of everything - when the perfect friendship and fellowship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which has gone on since eternity past and will go on into eternity future, was interrupted. (Interrupted sounds like such a trivial word. Only God knows how much that word cost as he poured out the Triune God's anger on the Son.)

Murdered by the human race, on the day of Passover, God the Son, in the power of God the Holy Spirit, paid the ransom to God the Father for all the rebellion and wickedness of the human race done against all three of them, so that those who put their trust in Jesus might be spared by him when he comes again in wrath finally to punish the proud and impenitent.

For those who put their trust in Jesus, He has done it. The war IS over, their hearts will be united forever by the Spirit to Jesus and his Father.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Oops... A blogging retraction

There are days when I feel like Apollos must have felt here. Going in all guns blazing and realising after the event that I had misunderstood an element of the mission and thus feeling somewhat sheepish. :-S

I only noticed it because I was listening to an audio sermon on the Ascension of Christ (not yet available on the web, otherwise I'd link to it).

In this post I talked about how Jesus is our mediator pleading our case before the Father. I slipped into using the term mediator in the sense of negotiator, as if there is still work for him to do.

That is wrong. For those who are in Christ, there is nothing left to plead or win for us. The Father is not sitting there in Heaven wondering whether to do good to his people and having to be cajoled by Jesus to do so. Jesus has done it all. The Death, Resurrection and final Ascension of Christ are the guarantee of that. He sat down. His work is DONE.

Jesus is the eternal man as well as the eternal God and his rightful place is Heaven. (for more on this, compare the man described here in Ezekiel and here in Revelation. They are the same man are they not? The same Jesus.)

Jesus, the eternal man, is the proof that the human race was always meant to dwell in the presence of the living God. Humans are not some foreign import into Heaven, (like some exotic fruit from a foreign land that can't be cultivated in our home soil). Heaven is the TRUE home for the whole human race.

We are all wanderers and strangers in this life, whether we are Christians or not. The question is will we hear Jesus beckoning us home and humble ourselves or will we in the madness of sin refuse him, remain hostile to him and so remain outside his love forever in Hell?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Religious Services or Cleaning Services? Which would you choose?

In these credit crunch times, The National Secular Society is calling for the NHS to save £40 million per year by no longer paying for hospital chaplains. More info, including a revealing 4:43 interview here.

I'm not entirely sure what I think. History is littered with disasters from when the church and state have teamed up together, but that doesn't make it a bad idea per se. Moreover, I am suspicious of the NSS's agenda, using an uncertain financial climate to try and airbrush Jesus out of all life.

What I do know is that people need more than sterility to survive and thrive and at this point in time, knowing that whilst there will be many who proclaim a false gospel, there will also be many who proclaim the truth and so save some and I am happy for my taxes to be used to that end.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Commons Watch - April 09

Some important pieces of legislation are currently going through Parliament that you should strongly consider contacting your MP over.

The first is on free speech and people being allowed to be true to their consciences when talking on matters of sexual orientation. More info here.

The second relates to assisting someone in suicide. When you don't know Jesus and you've got people feeding you attractive but foolish arguments like this one.  It's hard to see how assisting someone to commit suicide can be anything but a loving thing.  Only a strong, loving, Jesus-centred and prayerful opposition has any hope. More info here.

Email your MP here.  

Alternatively, hand write a letter and send it to:

Mr R. Wilson MP (or whoever your MP is)
The House of Commons

Out of interest, you can check out Mr Wilson's rate of correspondence to letters from constituents here.  Although at 299th place, he is still considered a good corresponder!

See how he has been voting in Parliament here.  It's encouraging in my opinion!

Here's a copy of the letter I wrote today and have just posted. It took me 10mins to write:

Whatever your party political persuasion, let's give him encouragement to vote in a way that Jesus would be pleased with!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Moses and Aaron - A Picture of Divine Revelation

Ask most Biblically literate Christians how the life of the Old Testament figure Aaron was a picture of Christ and you will no doubt get back the reply that he was the first person to hold the office of High Priest in the nation of Israel, and they'd be right.

But there is something else that is significant too and should not be quickly overlooked. Aaron's role as mediator for the people was bigger than just rites of sacrifice and atonement. Consider the following...

It is a strange thing that whilst he is one of the key figures of the Exodus period of the Old Testament, Aaron is nevertheless only personally attributed with saying four specific things in the Bible. All of them relating to dubious or unfortunate circumstances.

Yet type Aaron spoke into a bible search engine and you can see that he was anything but a man who barely opened his mouth. So what's going on?

Aaron was Moses' mouthpiece. Moses was not a confident public speaker and asked that someone else represent the LORD to the people. The LORD graciously allowed him this and used it as an illustration to show the human race how he relates to them. What do I mean by this...?

Moses received the oracles of God to be passed on to the people. However, the people heard those oracles not from Moses directly, but through the mediation of Aaron. Note that Aaron is considered such a faithful mediator, that the Bible says Moses said to the people, not Aaron said. In essence, whilst Aaron has a will of his own, he nevertheless submits himself to the task of being Moses' loud-hailer. Whilst Aaron was physically addressing the people of Israel and Pharaoh's court, not Moses, it was nevertheless as if Moses himself was doing the talking, (e.g.).

There's a picture here of the Trinity. Just as Moses and Aaron are one in mind and message to Israel, so too the Father and the Son are one in the unity of the Spirit delivering the Gospel to the whole creation.

So when the Word of the LORD appears and speaks or the Angel of the LORD appears and speaks, it is Jesus appearing on on behalf of the Father, submitting his will to speaking all the words the Father has commissioned him to speak. He is so faithful, it is as though the Father himself were speaking in person. This is not Chinese whispers. Jesus does not mishear the Father. The pattern continues all the way through revelation history, and into Jesus' earthly life.

So the next time you come across Aaron in your Bible reading, don't just remember him as the man with many flaws, (e.g.) but be reminded of Jesus and all his tender care for you as your mediator before God the Father -in faithfully communicating to you all that the Father would have you know in making a way for you to be perfect before the Father and in pleading your case before him that you might one day see the Father and the Son together - face to face.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Jesus Christ - The Revelation of God to ALL Our Senses.

He is the Image of God So behold him.
He is the Word of God. So listen to him.
He is the Wisdom of God. So know him.
He is the Aroma of God. So be awakened by him.
He is the Power of God. So feel him.
He is the Lamb of God. So feed on him.
He is the Glory of God. So worship him.
He is the Love of God. So adore him.
He is Life from God. So live in him.