Firstly in March, students in Eurasia who were threatened with expulsion from their college if they did not give up meeting together to pray and study God's Word.
Now in April, 'the difficult situation in the university continues. Three students have been dealing with lots of psychological pressure. Dorm officials are watching them closely and their teachers have become much stricter when grading them. They have also been forced to see school psychologists and members of the school administration who think they have been brainwashed. The city mayor, officials and TV reporters are coming to talk to all students about the danger of strange religious groups. After a public meeting, the three students had private meetings with the police. The mother of one student is quite upset and has threatened to ask the college to separate her child from another student who she thinks might be influencing her child's decisions on faith. The students are exhausted and scared.
'In another incident, a student who is very active in our Christian group has been told by the dean of the department that it will be hard to get a grant to pursue her Master's Degree because of her new-found faith. This student had a dream of joining the faculty and letting God change the faculty and campus through her influence there.'
Please keep praying for these students, giving thanks to God for their faith. They are all encouraged to know that believers worldwide are lifting them up to the throne of grace.
Friday, 24 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
"Therefore it was not enough for his goodness to leave us many precious promises, but he gives us confirming tokens to strengthen us."
We gather with joy, examining ourselves to look to Christ's righteousness with trusting thankfulness, not to make ourselves sad.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Mike Reeves points out in this excellent talk on Psalm 1 [HT: Glen], that the Psalmists and inspired compiler(s) of the book of Psalms got there well before Jennens, however - what a marvellous musical story of the Messiah is the book of Psalms! I've been trying to get my students to see this for years, and delightfully they're getting it as the psalms proclaim to them Christ that they might trust and delight in Him, and proclaim Him to others.
I grew up with the psalms, singing at least 4 each week in church services, and experiencing how they point to Christ by unresolved tension, unfulfilled perfection, and the experience of the Annointed King, I didn't start appreciating how the book works until as a student I read Grogan's Prayer, praise & prophecy: a theology of the Psalms. I don't recall whether I'd now agree with all of it, but highly recommended to get you started.
It reminds me of the children's talk I gave this morning, in which (Luke 24) Jesus finds some disciples scratching their heads for what Jesus' death and reported resurrection mean, and lovingly says something to the effect of, "You ejits, I spent 2000 years telling you in advance what I'd be doing these past 3 days, and had it written in Law, in Psalms, and Prophecy - have you not read it or did you think I was having youse on??" Thankfully in grace he explained it, opened their hearts to understand it, and then (are you wishing you could've been there?) what do you think the NT letters are based on, but those first seminars in Biblical Christology?
Monday, 20 April 2009
And what we rejoice in defines us (the facebook 'like' function has hit on something!)
But ultimately, it is rejoicing in God which sustains us - "the joy of the Lord is your strength."
We are defined in Him, by Him and through Him -
it is in His image we are made, and in Christ, we become like Him.
I found a perfect tree-seat in the park yesterday. The sun warmed my arms, I'd a back-rest, a view out across the park and playground, far enough away from the football to not be bothered by it, with birdsong to listen to, this morning's sermon on which to reflect and a heavenly Father to whom to pray, by His Spirit, through the intercession of the One who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. My beech's new leaves glowed above, delightful yellow-green against the sun; occasionally a delightful little breeze sent them all vibrating without stirring the branches.
Perfect for solitude, but joy must be shared.
We have this of our Father, in Christ, who as Wisdom said,
"The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,We share our delight with the Father, in Christ caught up into the joy of the Godhead, even as His creation.
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man."
Sunday, 19 April 2009
May I read the meltings of thy heart to me
in the manger of thy birth,
in the garden of thy agony,
in the cross of thy suffering,
in the tomb of thy resurrection,
in the heaven of thy intercession.
Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,
tread down his temptations,
resist his schemings,
renounce the world,
am valiant for truth.
Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to thee,
as spiritual Bridegroom,
as Jehovah's Fellow,
as sinners' Friend.
I think of thy glory and my vileness,
thy majesty and my meanness,
thy beauty and my deformity,
thy purity and my filth,
thy righteousness and my iniquity,
Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given thyself for me,
may I give myself to thee;
Thou hast died for me,
may I live to thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.
May I never dally with the world and its allurements,
but walk by thy side,
listen to thy voice,
be clothed with thy graces,
and adorned with thy righteousness.
- From the Valley of Vision (BOT)
Friday, 17 April 2009
The theory explains why Lewis breaks the laws of a fantasy world by inserting Father Christmas into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for example. Knowing the Chronicles practically by heart (I've a wonderful mother who read them to us on Sunday afternoons, and later I recall reading Price Caspian 6-8 times in one year), I find it a compelling theory.
What I don't like is the hype of calling this a code, to unlock Narnia. It isn't a code, showing a deeper meaning. It merely helps us see Lewis' thought behind some of the ideas he put in the stories, to appreciate his thought rather than dismissing it as random. As such, it's wonderful to appreciate Lewis' brilliance more.
Why not delve into Lewis' essays on literature, or other works? I do esteem his last novel, 'Til We Have Faces, as the best fiction he wrote. It masterfully weaves together his love for classics, for myth, for apologetics, and his incredible writing skill - simply marvellous! And beautiful. Lewis himself said it was one of his favourite works.
A Christian complains he cannot pray. 'Oh, I am troubled with so many distracting thoughts, and never more than now!' But has he put into your heart a desire to pray? Then he will hear the desires of his own Spirit in you. 'We know not what we should pray for as we ought' (nor how to do anything else as we ought), but the Spirit helps our infirmities with 'groanings which cannot be uttered' (Rom. 8:26), which are not hid from God. 'My groaning is not hid from thee' (Psa. 38:9).
God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. These desires cry louder in his ears than your sins. Sometimes a Christian has such confused thoughts that he can say nothing but, as a child, cries, 'O Father', not able to express what he needs, like Moses at the Red Sea. These stirrings of spirit touch the heart of God and melt him into compassion towards us, when they come from the Spirit of adoption, and from a striving to be better.
'Oh, but is it possible', thinks the misgiving heart, 'that so holy a God should accept such a prayer?' Yes, he will accept that which is his own, and pardon that which is ours. Jonah prayed in the fish's belly (Jon. 2:1), being burdened with the guilt of sin, yet God heard him. Let not, therefore, infirmities discourage us. James takes away this objection (James 5:17). Some might object, 'If I were as holy as Elijah, then my prayers might be regarded.' 'But,' says he, 'Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are.' He had his passions as well as we, or do we think that God heard him because he was without fault? Surely not. But look at the promises: 'Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee' (Psa. 50:15). 'Ask, and it shall be given you' (Matt. 7:7) and others like these.
God accepts our prayers, though weak, because we are his own children, and they come from his own Spirit; because they are according to his own will; and because they are offered in Christ's mediation, and he takes them, and mingles them with his own incense (Rev. 8:3).
'Lord, I believe' (Mark 9:24), with a weak faith, yet with faith; love thee with a faint love, yet with love; endeavour in a feeble manner, yet endeavour. A little fire is fire, though it smokes. Since thou hast taken me into thy covenant to be thine from being an enemy, wilt thou cast me off for these infirmities, which as they displease thee, so are they the grief of my own heart?
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Friday, 10 April 2009
Thursday, 9 April 2009
On a mantlepiece high and dry.
Put some sea in a bottle
And I would live there
No cork would stop me,
No land to lock
Flying grey salt crashes wet
Wind whistles around gorse, whips up
White dance unorchestrated
While bass lines roll firm through feet from peaks gazing over the bay.
Trap me in a bottle where sea mists up valleys to cloud-etched tor,
as much as in a glass I may bear,
where tears merge with sea air.
But do not lock me free by flat land,
for from my walled heart's well would burst a note to shatter glass and
send the sea crashing out to flood, to bury what I keen.
What if... after the Priest and the Levite had passed the Jew stranded by the side of the road, someone came by who really wanted to stop and help especially as he was a friend, but his pony was on a headlong rush with a a herd of elephants intimidatingly thundering on his tail, and by the time he spotted the friend in need of help, he couldn't possibly rein his charging beast over out of the way of the stampeding elephants, to stop? What if, furthermore, with the herd of elephants filling the ravine all rushing in one direction, there was nowhere to turn round and go back? I bet he'd have felt awful about it all the way home.
Substitute appropriate 21st Century setting and you get my thoughts on the way back from North Wales, specifically after spotting some friends at the side of the M54, just too late to do anything about it with a juggernaut bearing down behind. Even merits a rare emoticon :( But better, see here for the real thing, here soon for a download of Don Carson on the parable at NWA, of which Adrian gives a taster.