Monday, 30 November 2009

Deeper than shame; further than far, far away

Matt Redman's new song:
Who, O Lord, could save themselves
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still.

You alone can rescue
You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us
Led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise

You, O Lord, have made a way
The great divide you healed
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, Your love goes further still

We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes
You're the giver of life.
[HT: Dan Hames]

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Quote of the day: Not because of me

"Look, don't believe in Christ because I'm a marvelous person with wonderful experiences and morality. Look at Christ, because you and I both are so sinful and so prone to evil that we need a Saviour."
- Michael Horton, in
an interview with Christianity Today which is well-worth reading.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The irony of saying there is no God

I was watching a Horizon programme which I'm told will be interesting on linguistics, which I find fascinating. But I've just stalled on the opening premise, which is the complete mystery of how humans uniquely have the innate ability to speak! "How did this ability evolve? Why is it uniquely human?" "When you start to think about it, it seems miraculous!" "We know an enormous amount about the first few fractions of a second at the commencement of the universe, but we really know very little at all about what makes us human and where language comes from."

There's an elephant in the room. He's called the Word. We're made in His image. In the image of a God who spoke and the universe happened. We're his testimony to the rest of creation, to the animal kingdom, of who he is - truth in community, the one who speaks graciously to make covenants which depend entirely on his speech-action, the one whose words always does exactly what he sends it to do. He breathed into us his breath, and we became different to the animals. We speak, we communicate, we commune. We are in the image of the God who is self-revelatory community.

We have rejected the author of our speech, the Word, so our speech is frustrated, and we mis-communicate and lie. We have refused the one who spoke in self-giving love to build the universe, and we use words to hate and murder rather than to love and build up. We are like the talking animals C S Lewis portrayed in
The Last Battle: we refuse to worship the Word, the one who gave us his breath, so we become dumb. So when he wanted to redeem us to restore that image, the Father sent the Word, who took the lies, the mocking, the murder, and the broken communication of silence into his very heart, so that together they breathed again into us, dumb and bestial as we are, to give us his Spirit.

"How did this ability evolve? Why is it uniquely human?"
"When you start to think about it, it seems miraculous!"

Sometimes it really seems like we're sitting in a room, chatting, and asking aloud, "Why is this room so cramped? How did it become so dark and smelly in here?" "It seems almost miraculous!" But above all, let no-one whisper that there may be an elephant in the middle of the room. That's not scientific; we don't believe in elephants.

As C S Lewis said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because
I see it, but because by it I see everything else." But for 'Christianity', replace it with Christ himself, the Word, and the one the universe is bursting to reflect and praise.
"From the mouth of babies and infants you have ordained praise, to silence the enemy."

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Trinity is good news!

I deleted a comment yesterday, which is rare, but I won't allow spam by unitarians pointing to videos denying the eternal deity of Christ, and the Trinity. This new & readable article by Tim Chester on goes some way to explaining very positively why the Trinity is good news. Amen!

We aren't embarassed of this reality, nor do we keep it as a slightly curious hidden gadget no-one knows how to use. We rejoice in it, celebrate our life in it, embody it as His people, and worship the one true and triune God: Father, Son and Spirit.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Three in One, One in Three

Three in One, One in Three, God of my salvation,
Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,
I adore thee as one Being, one Essence, one God in three distinct Persons,
for bringing sinners to thy knowledge and to thy kingdom.

O Father, you have loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;
O Jesus, you have loved me and assumed my nature,
shed your own blood to wash away my sins,
wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness;
O Holy Spirit, you have loved me and entered my heart,
implanted there eternal life, revealed to me the glories of Jesus.
Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise you,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous,
so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.

O Father, I thank you that in fullness of grace
you have given me to Jesus, to be his sheep, jewel, portion;
O Jesus, I thank you that in fullness of grace
you have accepted, espoused, bound me;
O Holy Spirit, I thank you that in fullness of grace
you have exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me, subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with him for ever.

O Father, you are enthroned to hear my prayers,
O Jesus, your hand is outstretched to take my petitions,
O Holy Spirit, you are willing to help my infirmities, to show me my need,
to supply words, to pray within me, to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication.
O Triune God, who commands the universe,
you have commanded me to ask for those things that concern your kingdom and my soul.
Let me live and pray as one baptised into the threefold Name.

- From The Valley of Vision, puritan prayers [BoT]

Monday, 9 November 2009

Quote of the day: God for scumbags

An unusual source for today's quote of the day: from the News Quiz on Radio 4 -
God spends all his time hanging around prisons waiting for scumbags to find him."
Spot on, in so many ways! But there are a great many more prisons around than he might have meant - people trapped in povery, in oppression, in despair, in consumerism... And not only external forces imprison us: everyone becomes a prisoner to the desires to which we give in [2 Pet.2.19] And we all know how that works - they're not our most wonderful, selfless, godly desires! If we're honest, those things aren't just us on a bad day - they're the emprisoned us spilling out when unguarded. We're emprisoned and we're scumbags.
So the good news! "God spends all his time hanging around prisons waiting for scumbags to find him." Or as God said through a poet a long time before the News Quiz was recorded:
"You who seek God, be encouraged, for the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." Psalm 69.32-33
How come? Does it seem a bit strange of a holy God to hang around our sordid prisons, our hearts which fester, our minds which leak scum, so that we could find him? And who would want to find God in such a state?? Wouldn't we rather run away and hide from God if we're in that condition?!

Ah, but when God came to earth, it turned out that he'd rather emprison himself, absorb all our filth and take the whole sentence himself, to set this scumbag prisoner free. That's not just a God who hangs out around prisons vaguely hoping someone might find him. That's the God who moved heaven and earth to break into the prison and rob it of all its prisoner scum. This is the God who lived perfectly as a man in order to take away our prison uniform and give us his own clothes to wear. Here is the God whose Son agreed to be murdered so that his murderers could be adopted as sons.

I worship that God, not a holy philosophy for people with uncharacteristic moments of weakness, but the God and Father of our Master Jesus who came [as Mark recorded]
'not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'
The God revealed in Jesus explodes the walls of our inner hatred and self-reliance, plunders the prison, and takes us as free prisoners of Jesus. Our old prison ID is gone. There weren't multiple new IDs available, though: just the One. So from now on, it's not prisoner #57829. It's Jesus. If I'm free in the presence of the kind of God who hangs out round prisons looking for scumbags like me, it's because he's given me Jesus' identity. Hallelujah!