Saturday, 30 April 2011

Help to Keep My Hand on the Plough

I was recently asked for some prayer points. Thought I'd share them here.

Blest Pair of Sirens - Not As Weird A Title As You Might Think

If you, like modern scientifically-biased me, were a little bit confused during the Royal Wedding yesterday by the piece "Blest Pair of Sirens," fear not, I did a little research...

It was a poem written by the great Milton and set to music later by Parry (of Jerusalem fame). In Greek Mythology, Sirens were bad news, but in this poem, they are symbolic of word and rhythm redeemed and put into the service of praising God. (Milton seems to have pre-empted Piper on his explanation of 1Cor.3:21-23 ;-)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Building Up the Father's House

The book of Ruth feels like a wonderful little oasis of personal life that we can relate more easily to than all the killing and political machinations going on in the surrounding books. But let's be careful, lest we are too readily satisfied, interpreting this book in our own sentimental, romantic image and not looking for anything of greater depth.

Whilst the book is called Ruth, this is in a sense misleading, for it is about how God uses Ruth and Boaz to restore Naomi (Ru.4:14)

Monday, 25 April 2011

Neo-Evolution or Self-Deification?

Interesting TED talk. Quite why he feels you have to believe in evolution to have an opinion on the debate of human (self) improvement aka evolution, I'm not sure, but it makes for interesting listening.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Meditation: Treacherous Son of God - Beloved Son of God

If you've seen films like The Passion of the Christ, you'll have met Barabbas portrayed as something of a mad character. Symbolically and theologically, this is probably appropriate, but on the day to day surface of things, if you're going to be prominently involved in any kind of credible insurrection against the Romans, you need to have some (worldly) marbles.

So consider him a moment and his brief meeting with Jesus.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Can It Get Any Worse?

Judges 17-18

Don't know about you, but when I read through Judges, I am struck by how the people only behave (at least in public) when they have a strong leader i.e. a judge in place. Once he (or she) goes, they descend into idolatry and chaos again. There seems to be no godly self-governing principle and (therefore) no appetite for transmitting the knowledge of God to the next generation.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Abstinence of a Different Kind

Can't remember where I saw this, but made me chuckle...

Meet Samson

Judges 13-16

Most people think of the famous Bible character as having rippling muscles, rather like this:

But given the Philistines could not work out what gave him his strength, he probably looked more like this:

The Torture 40

Anyone fancy a go at this? It's all about the hills!...

Don't Moralise - Enjoy the Story

In the preface to A House For My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament, Peter Leithart makes the following comments that I found helpful:

Christians teaching the Old Testament are constantly tempted to treat it as a collection of moral fables. Abram "lies" to Pharaoh in Genesis 12, and we draw the conclusion that Abram's faith was not sufficiently strong, and that lying is a bad thing. But the story ends with Abram being treated well by Pharaoh and receiving all manner of livestock (Gen.12:16). How such an ending discourages lying is not exactly clear:

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Being a Real Man?

We had a men's night at church this evening. We ate curry, but it wasn't that spicy actually.

Some women in our church had written down what they want to see from the men, we talked about that.

We also watched the following video. Let it challenge your sense of masculinity - in a healthy way!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Moses the Modern

For those like me, i.e. on school holiday and time on their hands, this is quite amusing.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Is The Problem That We Try Too Hard to Visualise the Trinity?

An excellent post by Dave Bish. Read the full entry here.

Just Enjoy It

Judges 4-5

A couple of years ago, I was of the opinion that the only reason Deborah became a "judge" in Israel was because the men had all abdicated their responsibilities and that the whole situation was wrong. Deborah should not have held that office.

I now think I was somewhat short-sighted. That Deborah was a judge may well have been an exceptional occurrence, but it was not an evil one. Nowhere does the Bible condemn this state of affairs. For example, Isaiah does not at any point introduce his declarations of woe and judgement with the opening line: "Remember the former abominable days of Deborah?... This is like them..." I am thus of the opinion that neither should we.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Only Defence is a Good Offence

Judges 1-3

The conquest of Canaan was a Holy War, unlike any other campaign that Israel would wage in its subsequent history. After the main offensive drive, there remained pockets of resistance that were to be annihilated (believe it or not I squirm writing that).

Bonus Gospel!!

David Murray is professor of Reformed Theology at Puritan Seminary, Michigan. He has put together a series of videos that talk about the appearances of Christ in the Old Testament. He's drip feeding these out over the next couple of weeks on Vimeo:

CrossReference+ Episode 1

Monday, 11 April 2011

Looking Backwards and Forwards

The last chapters of Joshua reveal some interesting details about the history of God's people, which help us to make sense of what we'll see next in Judges and why Joshua presents such a strong ultimatum to Israel before his handover to the next generation.

You may remember that Exodus opens (Ex.1:8) with the statement that there arose a Pharaoh in Egypt who did not know (acknowledge) Joseph and what he had done for the nation. This Pharaoh had deliberately forgotten his history and so began to deal "craftily" with God's people by making them slaves.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Mafia Babies

One of the perks of my teaching job is that my pupils do recommend some great video clips for me to watch and given that most of what I'm reading in Joshua is about land divisions (and I don't have much to say about that - yet ;-), I thought I'd post this very amusing little number instead! Enjoy:

Original here.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Conquest and Compromise

Observations on Josh 4-7

As mentioned in the previous post, the people of Canaan are dreading the arrival of the Israelites. When they hear that God has dried up the river Jordan, their hearts melt with fear.

Israel consecrates itself to the Lord by mass national circumcision and Passover. Had the Canaanites had any sense, they would have seen this as their chance to strike (just like Simeon and Levi did back in Gen.34:25), but they are so awash with terror that even though the whole Israelite army gets laid out for a week like sitting ducks - they still don't try to gain an advantage.

Friday, 1 April 2011

What Took You So Long?

Observations on Joshua 1-3

God promises to establish Joshua as long as he meditates on the law and is strong and courageous. Those are the only prerequisites. His primary support is not his strategy, back up plan or wise council, but the Word of God and the good courage that comes from trusting the one who inspired it. Not much has changed. (Acts 4:29)