Friday, 30 April 2010

Caption competition: leader debates

Not having a TV license, I'm catching the party leaders' TV debates a bit at a time after they're live, on iplayer. So it was with much amusement that I saw the opening freeze shot for yesterday's debate:

Clegg: We're the only ones who have told you the details of what we would cut - 50% waste, 50% waste in all past governments: look, we don't need 2 legs: think how much we could save by only using one!
Brown: I agree with Nick.
Cameron: Give me strength!

Caption competition open!

[Please note: bad language and character assassination attempts not welcome. Keep the humour good!]

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Voting to love your neighbour - with your mind

With the UK General Election coming up, I've drawn together some resources Christians may find useful. Useful, that is, if you want to think, seeking to use your mind (as well as will and emotion) to love your neighbour in how you vote.

Interview with Wayne Grudem on politics and the Christian, by Adrian Warnock:

How should Christians vote in 2010?
by Dr Jonathan Chaplin, Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, on "To prepare for their upcoming electoral choice, Christian communities should seriously engage in discerning the defining issues of this election. ... For the sake of 'the welfare of the city'."

Also, from the Christian Institute - voting and the Bible in 210 seconds:

Mentioned in the above video, the Christian Institute has produced an election briefing in which it analyses party manifestos on a few specific issues most Christians will care about, though it leaves the vast majority of items: immigration and asylum, social care, economy, national business ethics, etc., etc., up to the individual to research. Some things are clearer than others.

To think through more of the theory behind the different parties (ha, traditionally, anyway):
Power Against People: A Christian Critique of the State, by Philip Vander Elst, on,
contrasting with

State Expectations, by Paul Bickley, on

And for a few interesting personal takes:
[I may start posting some thoughts of my own at some point, but for now, they're mostly being spent in discussion with my housemate!]

Monday, 26 April 2010

Quote of the Day: Pursuit of perfection

Particularly for preachers, pastors & pastors-in-preparation - but the rest of us, too. Because God has said, 'No one who abides in him keeps on sinning.' [1 John 3.6] Pursuit of perfection?
Any pursuit of perfection that is not awash in the grace of God displayed on a little hill outside Jerusalem is bound to trip us up.
Read more from Don Carson in the latest Themelios (issue 35).

Friday, 23 April 2010

Cyborg & Avatar: what's wrong with us?

What have the Navi in common with Arnie, or Cyborgs with Jake?

Cameron doesn't seem happy with humanity, whether the threat or rescue plan involves evolving technologically into a better species. Why do we have this malaise about our humanity? One might say that the humans with the disatisfaction are more likely to breed well and thus perpetuate the psychological phenomenon. And yet animals don't appear to have existential or racial crises of conscience.

Perhaps, it's the truth that we surpress which bubbles up to the surface of the swamp and stinks - just every so often. That uncomfortable scent of a memory that God had a better plan for us than this.

I confess that I haven't yet seen Avatar. But Vinoth Ramachandra (Sri Lanka) has got round to watching it, and reflects on how - when that memory wafts painfully up our nostrils, that all is not well with the human race - there is a solution, better than cyborgs and avatars. Better than spiritual escape to outside our world, or technological domination from the future. Better than fleeing pain to enter a perfect virtual world. One from outside our world, entering our world fully and in pain to redeem this physical world to what it should be. Read on chez Vinoth...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Quote of the Day: Un-messianic sense of non-destiny

The West worships the individual; from the cradle to the grave it tells us all how special and unique each of us is, how vital we are to everything, how there is a prize out there just for us. Well, the world turned for thousands of years before any of us showed up; it will continue turning long after we've gone, short of the parousia; and even if you, me, or the Christian next door are tonight hit by an asteroid, kidnapped by aliens, or sucked down the bathroom plughole, very little will actually change; even our loved ones will somehow find a way to carry on without us. We really are not that important. So let's drop the pious prayers which translate roughly as `Lord, how can a special guy/gal like myself help you out some?' and pray rather that the Lord will grow his kingdom despite our continual screw ups, that he will keep us from knocking over the furniture, and that, when all is said and done, somehow, by God's grace, we will finish well despite our best efforts to the contrary.
From Carl Trueman, An Unmessianic Sense of Non-Destiny, Reformation 21 (April 2010). Read the whole article for mid-life crisis reflections on the individual, destiny and church.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Where is your God?

A video worth playing a couple of times, on which to ponder:

Bish informs us it comes to us courtesy of UCCF Relay workers Millie (performer), Rael (poet) and Andy (director/cameraman).

[HT: Dan Steel]

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Comfort food

What is your only comfort in life and death?

That we with body and soul, both in life and death, are not our own, but belong to our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all our sins, and delivered us from all the power of the devil; and so preserves us that without the will of our heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from our heads; indeed, that all things must be subservient to our salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures us of eternal life, and makes us sincerely willing and ready, from now on, to live to him.

[The Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 1, de-individualised]

Better than chocolate. Should be turned into a congregational song, I think!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Meet the family

A triad well-worth meeting, introduced by Andy Shudall:

QUADTYCH: ...pared and set free!

POOR TRAIT: 'Year in, year out. This is my home. This is my heart.'

PRODIGAL: Discover how prodigal this prodigal is.

[Thanks, Andy.]

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Have you heard the good news?

One of the best posts I've read in a while, from Dave Bish: Have you heard the good news?

With lyrics from Galatians, set to a melody by Luther, arranged by Reeves, kicked off with an intro by Pascal: but all of Christ, and I'm grateful to Dave for treating us to it. Make it yours.
Christians find themselves not in possession of a get out of jail free card, but caught up into the relationships of the members of the Triune God. In the Son, with the Spirit of the Son in their hearts, considered by the Father to be his son. And this is no legal fiction but the realisation of the perfect and eternal purpose of the Father’s grace in his Son by the Spirit. His design is that the Christian might know him, just as his beloved Son does - joined to Christ, found in Christ - and in the gospel this is accomplished - we die with him, we rise in him. Everything in him. Is it good to be a Christian? Yes.

A Christian is someone in Christ. Good men would wish that this were true, and it is.
Read the whole thing: please.

Beneath the cross? No fear!

I love radio, and particularly at the moment BBC Radio 3, 4 and 2, depending on the mood and in that order. Earlier today BBC Radio 3 was playing various lamentations, judged appropriate for the Saturday of Easter. I switched over. I just can't keep myself mournful on the Saturday of Easter. I do find some aspects of the church calendar tradition very helpful to our corporate memory. And it is not that I don't consider it right to grieve over the ongoing presence, corruption and effect of sin and the curse: but death, hell and sin are now subdued - all grace is now to Jesus given; and so I plead the atoning blood, and by his grace receive his heaven! How can I be gloomy when that is the reality of the universe, and applied to me by the Spirit of God?

Of course, you may say that Christ's death was indeed a sorry affair, at that we await Easter Sunday. But we don't! We cannot view Christ's death without the resurrection - the cross is empty; it is finished! It is no longer gloomy, beneath the cross.

Rather this, which I discovered and sang on Friday, by Keith & Kristyn Getty (2005):
Beneath the cross of Jesus I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy that calls me as I am,
For hands that should discard me hold wounds which tell me come.
Beneath the cross of Jesus my unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus, His family is my own.
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams; Now, one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonour the ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus, see the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus, the path before the crown,
We follow in His footsteps where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us to be His perfect bride.
Beneath the cross of Jesus, we will gladly live our lives.
[Music here - clip of mp3 streamed or sample the whole score with Sibelius Scorch (free) here.]

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Timely new Driscoll title

I wish I'd spotted this earlier today - but a great new Driscoll book is out: Sweetheart. The review's worth reading.