Friday, August 19, 2011

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges

Jerry Bridges has that wonderful knack of clearly and simply pressing home the Scriptures deep into your heart. This volume is not for the faint hearted. Not that there is anything intellectually difficult in any of it, but it gets to you as he confronts the sins that we so easily tolerate. Before the author get to the heart blows he warms and instructs the heart on the basis of the gospel. This is thoroughly Biblical and practical and will benefit everyone who reads it and is ready to go to their knees in confession and repentance. There is also an accompanying study guide that would be useful for any small group to consider.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We can fix it - No you can't

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Your words are filled with good intention when you say to the nation we will fix this broken society but they are arrogant words and words that will add further pain to a society longing to be fixed. Just look at the past - have you or your previous PMs made even the slightest dint on the breakages of our nation. Please look and acknowledge - some of the laws that your government has passed has added to the pain of our fractured land. Acknowledge - as human beings we don't have all the answers, in fact we have very few. But the God of the Bible not only has all the answers but all the power to turn back and really fix our broken land. If your cabinet would sit down with a Bible and read and listen then maybe you would be given the privilege to lead a turning around of the nation that will be noted in history. God does tell us why there is all this mess going on and how it really can be fixed. Your longing for stronger families and community and society is good to hear. And you will be glad to know that God has lots to say on each of those. In fact the whole message of the Bible is God's plan for a new community where the diverse and different live side by side as family. The Bible's message is that Jesus Christ can mend our hearts and bind us together. What our nations needs is not a list of rules and reform but repentance, a humbling of itself before God.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Psalm 33v12a
Praying for you and the others at No.10

Responding to the Riots

The whole nation and beyond were shocked at the recent riots in London and in other locations throughout the UK. We weep with those who have lost loved ones, their homes or livelihoods.
The response to these events has been interesting. Many of the people of these areas broke out in understandable rage, others resorted to the blame game and the government began its chant of we can fix it. Amidst all the voices that were heard responding to the events - not one voice rose up to communicate what God says about such matters. I guess that is part and parcel of the problem - that so very few in our land have even the slightest notion what the living God says about anything.
So here are a few Biblical directions to guide our thinking:
1. The Bible is true. We didn't need the sinful activities of opportunist and scheming looters to tell us that but their actions confirm what God has said. II Timothy 3 v1ff But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God....
The looters love for self was apparent in every shop front smashed and every item stolen - I love me and I will get for me whatever I like and whatever it might mean for anyone else. A young woman defiantly said - we want to show that we can do what we want - I think that falls in the arrogant category. As we watched the young oversees student be picked up and then robbed - one word echoed in our minds - heartless.
So these sad events don't loosen our faith - they confirm it.
I can't help wondering if such lawlessness is not also a measure of the handing over of God of our nation. A nation that wants to live without God may be merciful shown - this is what it would be like to live without God.
2. What's the sin under the sin. It is obvious that stealing, arson, murder is wrong - the Bible says so. But what is fueling such mayhem. Yes no doubt the economic and social climate does have a bearing on such events. But that is not the root reason that so many would stoop to such atrocities. The root sin is connect to the first commandment - no other gods before Me. The god of sinful man is self - I must have, this will make me happy, if I had that item I would be acceptable. The "must have" pangs of our society is a God shaped thing. And when it is not filled with God sinful man will do anything to fill that aching gap. If only men and women could see - we weren't made for things - iphones, designer labels - but for the living God.
When we get to the sin under the sin - it puts us all on a similar footing with the looters. We are sinners needing the emptiness of our lives filled.
3. Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible calls us to pray for those in government. How they need our prayers. Pray that they would be humble to see that they can't fix it. Pray that someone will bring them the wisdom of the Word of God and the leaders of our nation would lead the nation in repentance.
And we shouldn't be despondent about the angry mobs. Prior to the revival of the 1700s the nation was in a similar low with regard to crime, violence and morality. Maybe the day is not far off when the transforming power of God will come again to our land.
The looters are not scum, feral, or morons - but human beings, created in the image of God, they have worth and value. We should weep that God is not glorified as He should be and that so many are heading for a lost eternity and cry to God to save many.
And in case any are feeling a little smug thinking - I am better than they are, I am no looter? Really? So you have never grabbed the good name of someone else in a morsel of gossip? So you have never burnt down someone's character by not standing up for them in a conversation when you knew what others was saying was wrong?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

This Momentary Marriage, John Piper

Every now and then you find a book on marriage that is different from all the many others that have been published on this subject - and this is one of them. Of course you wouldn't expect anything else from John Piper. This book like all his books comes from the anvil where he has hammered out what the Word of God says. Even when you don't necessarily agree with his conclusions you can't help but honour a man who so honours the word with deep reflective study.
The basic thesis of this book is that marriage has its ultimate point in something much greater, that it is a parable of something of everlasting permanence,i.e. the love of Christ for His people.
The book comprises 15 chapters dealing with all the usual matters concerned with marriage. The chapters always have some practical insights that many readers will not have previously considered.
While I really enjoyed and hopefully benefited from this book there were several areas where I was not in agreement with the author. The author argues for example that there are never any grounds for divorce and that a marriage can end whenever we find that Jesus love for His church has ended. While not agreeing with Mr Piper's conclusion I think that his arguments should help us hate divorce and should stir up couples to do all that is possible to flee from something that God says He hates.
Being a Baptist pastor the writer fails to see the dimension of God's covenant when it comes to the comments concerning raising children. If this matter, which I believe is of vital importance, can be remembered by the reader then there is much that will be of help in this book.
This book definitely goes on my list of books for people taking marriage preparation or marriage recovery classes.