Category Archives: prompts

The Jealousy of God

Parking

It was a Wednesday.  Threatening to rain, I drove into a parking building.  In the absence of available public parking, I was forced to exit the building.  But in order to exit, I had to validate my parking.  $3 for not parking! Oh well… I have followed the procedure to have the charges reversed.  Thanks to Wilson Parking.

A suitable park was found on some obscure street.  Ascending the rather steep hill, I saw Albert Park.  Speakers Corner was next in view, but once there I noted the absence of familiar faces.  Trevor was first to break that absence. Then Tim.

Prayer

The three of us started praying in preparation for public preaching.  As I gesticulated, I felt a solid figure – Abraham.  The trio had become a quartet before becoming a quintet as Joseph made 5.

Preaching

Someone had a bus to catch so he was the first to climb the stairs and herald the truth of God’s Word.  Titus 2 was his text.

I was next with an expository sermon from Nahum.  I managed, in somewhat amateur fashion, to capture my own preaching:

The message I had from Nahum started by focusing on the jealousy of God for His own glory.

As I preached, a young lady sat.  And sat.  And sat.  She sat for the whole time and only after I had said my final amen, did she stand.  Walking off, she thanked Joe for our being there and agreed to read what she had previously been given.

A gardener was asked to perform his work after we were done.  Graciously, he agreed and was attentive for most of the time I was preaching.  Two young men also stopped periodically as I preached.  As they went to walk away, I diverted from my outline and appealed to them.

Abraham followed.  He didn’t get very far before the potential for rain became an event.

Prayer

Then there were four –  huddled under a tree – praying for fruit.

Sure, the jealousy of God for His own glory is not the most popular theme, even amongst those calling Jesus, “Lord”.  It is, however, a thoroughly biblical concept.  More than that, it is consistent with the very nature of God.

Rich and Poor

Preparation for the Lord’s Table

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”  2 Corinthians 8:9

Grace 

Whatever this passage has to say, it begins with grace.  Whatever truth it reveals to our hearts, it starts with grace.  Whatever hope, comfort, and strength we draw from this one verse of Scripture, it’s foundation is that of grace. 

It is not about something we deserve or could do for ourselves.  It is not something that Jesus was or is obligated to do for us as if we had some kind of merit toward God, as if God owed us something for something good we’ve done.  The benefits of this passage do not come to us because we’ve done the right thing, or held off doing the wrong thing.  

What it is about is grace.  The benefit of this passage come to us because we are not worthy, because we cannot earn it, because we do not deserve it, because we do not have any merit before God, because we’ve done nothing good.  Apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ, there’s nothing good or worthy or commendable in us, or in what we say, or in what we think, or in what we feel, or in what we do – that God owes us anything.   

Rich 

The verse, speaking of the Lord Jesus, says “though He was rich”.  What does that mean?  What does it mean that Jesus was rich?  Was He not the one who said “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”?  “Though He was rich” cannot refer to His bank balance, or economic net worth, or His asset register.   

Perhaps it refers to the glory that Jesus had with the Father.  Perhaps it refers to the pre-incarnate glory of the Son of God. 

Perhaps it has more to do with His righteousness – the fact that He had spiritual value, worth, and currency before God – in that all that He was, all that He thought, all that He felt, all that He said, all that He did – all of it was good before God, all of it was right in the sight of God, all of it was upright, noble, true, driven by a pure heart and pure motives.   

Poor 

The verse, speaking of the Lord Jesus, says “He became poor.”  What does that mean?  What does it mean that Jesus became poor?  If His riches, His wealth is not so much about physical and economic value – perhaps His becoming poor is more than just the reality that He was born and lived with the reputation of being a nobody from nowhere.  Maybe it’s even more than the reality that He hung on the cross, having been treated as a criminal, having had His clothes taken from Him, only to be buried in a borrowed tomb. 

Perhaps Jesus’ becoming poor has to do with His becoming poor in spirit.  Perhaps His poverty was spiritual.  Perhaps He became spiritually impoverished.  His being rich was a matter of righteousness, of His being righteous.  His becoming poor was a matter of unrighteousness.  His becoming poor was a matter of Him becoming sin.  This accords with a more well-known verse that tells us that He who knew no sin became sin.  To put that another way, He who knew only righteousness became unrighteousness. 

Jesus’ act of self-imposed poverty, of divine imposed poverty was one in which He became sin, He became that which is opposite and opposed to God, that which attracts the very wrath of a Holy God – this He did by bearing our sins in His body and going to the cross. 

So that… 

The verse, now speaking of us and to us says that though Jesus was rich, He became poor so that we might become rich.   

The rich that you become through the poverty of the Lord Jesus Christ, is the same kind of rich that Jesus was before He became poor.  If the kind of rich that Jesus was had to do with His righteousness, and His being righteous before God, then the kind of rich we become through His poverty has to do with righteousness, of being made righteous before God.  Yet it’s not our righteousness, it is not that we are righteous in and of ourselves, because we have no righteousness, and there are none righteous. 

The reality is that is it His record of righteousness, the rightness of who Jesus is and was, of what Jesus thought and felt, of what Jesus said and did – and the sinlessness of it all – that becomes ours, that’s credited to our accord, that’s seen as somehow belonging to us. 

By the grace of our Lord Jesus, He gives us, at great cost to Himself, the required record of his own righteousness required for citizenship and participation in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Why? 

Do you ever ask the question “Why?”  Do you ever ask “Why did Jesus become sin?” or “Why did Jesus become poor?” Or “Why did Jesus become my sin, or become my poverty?” 

In light of all this passage has to say to us about the Righteous One becoming unrighteousness, about the sinless one becoming sin, it tells us why, in three little words: For; Your; Sake. 

For your sake.  For my sake.  For our sakes.  Why did Jesus do what He did?  Why did Jesus become poor?  Why did Jesus become sin?  For you.  For me.  For us. 

This reminds me of something Jesus said as He instituted what we sometimes refer to as the Lord’s Supper.  As He broke the bread He said “This is MY body, broken for YOU.”  Though His primary purpose was to glorify God through His obedience, Jesus did what He did for our sakes, for your sake, for my sake – so as to redeem us, rescue us, reconcile us, save us, seal us, have Him for Himself.   

As we come to the table, I want us to be mindful, to carefully consider what the broken bread represents.  It represents the poverty of the Lord Jesus as He effectively became unrighteousness, and unrighteous before a righteous God.  It represents the reality that though Jesus was rich in His sinlessness, He became poor in His becoming sin, and the object of sin before a sinless God. 

Postoperative

Standing

The bladder was working. Water as solid and liquid had been consumed. How was I going to get out of this bed and to the toilet? I remember being told to ask for the assistance of a nurse at this all-important juncture.

Using a pillow to place suitable, bracing pressure on the abdomen, I used the mechanical bed to position my body for standing. However tentative, I was vertical. Steps more like shuffles, one at a time.

Trying to urinate without exerting internal pressure on my abdomen was a new challenge. Perhaps I could duo with Weird Al Yankovic for our parody – “Let it Flow“. The gas with which my abdomen had been pumped made an initial escape.

Laying

Flushing and washing, I shuffled back to the bed. Getting up was a level 1 challenge, getting back into bed would be level 2. I was exhausted but thankful for the mechanical bed.

Postoperative pain was certainly mitigated by the anaesthesia that remained in my body. But there was a lingering difficulty when it came to breathing. It felt like there was pressure being applied to my rib cage. Breathing properly, low and slow, was a painful exercise. Thankfully there was some strong pain medication, charted to help relieve postoperative pain, that was relieving the pain in my chest.

I was admitted on the Sunday. I had the surgery on the Monday.

Tuesday

Mobility had improved significantly, necessitated by a regime of self-imposed fluid replacement. Sure, getting up and down, in and out of bed, remained a low-level challenge, nothing my postoperative body couldn’t handle. It seemed there was another reason why getting up to go to the toilet was such an exhausting endeavour. It had to do with the breathing. Between attending nature, I was getting oxygen through a nasal canular, with my spirometry and blood pressure remaining relatively low.

And yet, I was discharged. Initial conversation with the initial consultant seemed optimistic. Surgery went well. I was independent and mobile. Further recovery would be made at home. Low-grade analgesics were prescribed. Pushback One: That wouldn’t be enough pain relief. A new script issued with next level drugs.

There were no further instructions given, at least not straight away. I asked the nurse to take the anchor out and attend my dressings.

Packing my things, I let my ride know to come get me. Packing my things was exhausting. By the time my ride got there, I was in a lot of pain and was apparently looking pale. Heeding her guidance, I began reconsidering the wisdom of the consultant. Further heeding her guidance, I cleared the bed and lay down.

Charles

A man with brown skin in a yellow high-vis knocked, entered, and sat in the corner. His initial assessment was that I was looking pretty white. Upon iteration, he upped his diagnosis to looking pretty under the weather, questioning the discharge order.

I had decided I would stay, that I would put my foot down. The second conversation with a second consultant resulted in a rescinding of the discharge order, on the grounds of my concerns with painful breathing. Off he went to do the necessary paperwork. He soon returned with questions, “Is it the pain that makes you want to stay in?”, “What if we gave you something stronger?”

Even though, at this stage, I would have happily remained an inpatient, the pain was the main concern – now addressed with the offer of something harder. A new script in hand, including the requisit paperwork for a controlled medication, I was discharged – officially.

View previous post.

War

The second in a series of short essays for a course in Ethics. 

How is a Christian to relate to the reality of war?

“…for his own glory and the public good… [God] has armed [civil magistrates] with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.”[1]

“It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto… they may lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.”[2]

The reality of war is rooted in the nature of government as ordained by God and armed by Him with the power of the sword.  That God has done this is established in Romans 13:1-4.  While the Confession is perhaps referring to the exercise of capital punishment in both defensive situations (i.e. “for the defence of them that do good”) and offensive (i.e. “for the punishment of evil doers”), there is no reason to limit the exercise of the sword to the sphere of domestic relations.  Rather, “…this responsibility from God also provides justification for nations to engage in armed conflict (“to bear the sword”) in order to protect their citizens from evildoers who would attack them from outside the nation, including a defence against armies sent by other nations when those armies are “those who do evil (1 Pet 2:14) in the pursuit of such a war.”[3] The second paragraph of the same chapter of the Confession asserts that not only may Christians be involved in the exercise of the sword in domestic affairs, but may also “lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.”

While there is divergence with regard to a Christian view of war, it would appear that the Confession would support the Just War Theory. The concept of Just War is built on several presuppositions, namely[4]:

  • some evil cannot be avoided;
  • the just war position is normative for all, Christian and non-Christian alike;
  • this theory does not try to justify war, rather it attempts to bring war within the limits of justice so that if everyone were guided by these principles, many wars would be eliminated;
  • the theory assumes that private citizens have no right to use force.

This theory, from the outset, “sees war as evil” (Feinberg, 652) and must met several criteria in order to qualify as an ethically permissible “just war”.  Criteria has typically been considered under the categories of jus ad bellum (i.e conditions that must be met before war can be deemed just) and jus in bello (i.e. the conduct and aims of the war). 

Conditions that must be met before war can be deemed just include the following[5]:

  • There must be a proper or legitimate authority who has responsibility for judging whether the other criteria are met.
  • War must be the last resort.
  • Insofar as possible, a formal declaration of war is required.
  • There must be reasonable hope of success.
  • There must be some proportionality between the good objective hoped for and the destruction involved in achieving it.
  • There must be a just cause.
  • The war must be fought with the right intention.

Criteria for the right conduct of war are as follows[6]:

  • There must be a limited objective in waging the war, namely, the restoration of peace.
  • The immediate object is not to kill or even injure people, but to incapacitate or restrain them.
  • Direct attack on non-combatants is illegitimate.
  • One is obligated not to inflict unnecessary suffering.
  • Indirect effects upon civilians must be justified by the principle of proportionality, i.e., the evil averted or the good attained justifies the action.

With regard to those persons featured in the New Testament who were militant by profession, they are never told to resign from their positions, but are rather exhorted to abound in compassion (Luke 3:14).  Additionally, “The NT church included many soldiers on active duty and saw nothing morally inconsistent with Christians serving as military professionals.”[7] 

In sum, how ought the Christian relate to the reality of war?  For one, war is a last resort and as such, the church must insist that all other diplomatic means are employed.  Secondly, there is scope for members of the church to be involved in the military. Third, Christians may serve in active duty in combatant roles given the above criteria of a Just War (with both categories of criteria being substantially satisfied) though they would be compelled to advocate the extending of mercy and sparing of “innocents” such as those serving in non-combatant roles and civilians.

[1] LBC 24:1

[2] LBC 24:2

[3] ESV Study Bible, 2554

[4] Feinberg, 653

[5] Feinberg, 654-655

[6] Feinberg, 655

[7] ESV Study Bible, 2554

Gender

The first in a series of short essays for a course on Ethics.

Explain and demonstrate from Scripture a Christian understanding of gender (sex – male/female) and discuss the implications of this on our culture’s current “gender debate”.

Gender is established in God’s sovereign act of creating man in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7, 21-23).  In this a male/female distinction is established.  Genesis 1:27 is a fundamental text because of the closeness of association between God creating man in his own image, and His creating them male and female.  The creating of man at the start of the verse need not be understood as being synonymous with male (i.e. it would not be right to translate it as “God created males in his own image”).  Rather, it is the collective humanity that God creates in His own image.  This collective humanity is created male and female.  The use of the word translated “them” means that man is neither androgynous nor hermaphrodite.  Rather, it is right to think that God creates human beings and that whether male or female, they bear His image.  There is no scope within the creation account to suggest non-binary gender distinctions.  As Kevin de Young has written “The Bible knows no other gender categories besides male and female. While men and women in Scripture may express their masculinity and femininity in a wonderful diversity of ways, Scripture still operates with the binary categories of men and women. You are one or the other.[1]” Jesus Himself affirms the origin of maleness and femaleness in God’s creative design (Matthew 19:4).

The fall of man into sin has obviously had a significant impact on creation in that through it, it is subject to futility (Romans 8:20).  Again, Kevin de Young asserts “The anomaly of intersex individuals does not undermine the creational design, but rather gives another example of creational “groaning” and the “not the way they are supposed to be” realities of a fallen world.” Though this is the case, and it must be taken into account, there is nothing in the biblical record that supports gender fluidity or non-binary gender distinctions. Granted, although Paul distinguishes a naturalness from an unnaturalness when it comes to the use of one’s body and human sexuality, there is nothing to suggest that naturalness/unnaturalness gives rise to a substantial change in the biological realities of binary gender.  

de Young is not so naïve as to suggest that there are not individuals who struggle at a profound level with the issues of whether what they think and feel accords with the biological gender assigned to them at birth.  Rather, he asserts “The question is whether the is of our emotional or mental state equals the ought of God’s design”.  In other words, he does not allow the existential or situational perspective to confuse the normative perspective on issues of gender. 

de Young concludes his article by saying “I have not begun to answer all the important questions about pastoral care, counsel, and compassion for the hurting and confused.”  In this, he acknowledges that though we stand on a solid foundation of God’s truth concerning gender, we have obligation to approach the issues is raises with Christ-like compassion, especially when acknowledging the hurt and confusion from which gender confusion can arise as well as result in.

[1] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2016/09/08/what-does-the-bible-say-about-transgenderism/ retrieved 18-10-2017

but

by Brendon Ward

 

Rich in mercy

Grace and love

Born again

From above

 

Once was dead

Now alive

Raised with Christ

At the Father’s side

 

Coming ages

He to show

His grace and kindness

To those who know

 

Saved by grace

Through faith alone

Gift of God

In His Son

 

Not of works

Lest I boast

His workmanship

To glory boast

 

Called to works

Which He ordained

Before the world

Was ever framed

 

Once

Once was dead
Tresspass and sin
Without hope
Without Him

Once this world
It’s course I walked
It’s judgement judged
It’s talk talked

Once that prince
To obey
Now still seen
Now displayed

Once by passion
I was led
Stony heart
Stony head

Once desire
Carried out
By will of heart
By what I felt

Once like all
In Adam-head
To sin alive
To God, dead

Once

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quill/ 

 

https://helenmeikle.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/daily-prompt-ill-keep-my-ballpoint-thanks

https://leigharobbins.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/about-love/

http://rugby843.blog/2017/07/08/daily-promptquill/

https://mydailylifeinkochi.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/can-i-quill/

https://lovelymesince2007.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/the-knock-when-i-was-quilling/

https://harlematl.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/a-diary-of-a-single-man-a-fathers-day-after-thought/

https://adewumipeterblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/a-book-written-with-a-quill/

 

Fix You

Fix You

Cover by Brendan Malone and Joe Zambon

When you try your best, but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I
Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face and I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

The Church

In practical terms this means that the church is built on the New Testament Scriptures. They are the church’s foundation documents. And just as a foundation cannot be tampered with once it has been laid and the superstructure is being built upon it, so the New Testament foundation of the church is inviolable and cannot be changed by any additions, subtractions or modifications offered by teachers who claim to be apostles or prophets today. The church stands or falls by its loyal dependence on the foundation truths which God revealed to his apostles and prophets, and which are now preserved in the New Testament Scriptures.

John StottStott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (Kindle Locations 1529-1533). Inter Varsity Press UK. Kindle Edition.

Concussion

It’s been an irksome few weeks.

The BlackoutRegular readers of this blog will be aware that on 1 September 2016 I had an MVA: Motor Vehicle Accident.  This MVA resulted in the writing off of the vehicle in which it occurred.

The immediate impact that it had on me was that of whiplash, as per the agreement of multiple physicians that I have seen since the accident.

The Neurologist’s Opinion

Though this be the majority opinion, there have been some doctors (a General Practitioner and a Neurologist) that suspect it might  be worse than that.  Their suspicion is that I had a complex partial seizure.   The neurologist ordered a series of tests (some of which are yet to happen) and suggested I avoid driving for at least 6 months.

So the warring question has been:  What is it?

One of the reasons for the suspicion of seizure is that I sustained no head trauma, that is, I didn’t actually hit my head.  The question that arises from that is: Can I get a concussion without hitting my head?

Dr. Google seems to suggest that it is quite possible, especially given the initial diagnosis of a whiplash injury.

This is the direction Dr. Google pointed me in:

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur after an impact to the head or after a whiplash-type injury that causes the head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but they can cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. (Healthline, 2016)

Concussion – Expected Recovery Time

It’s been 68 days since the MVA.  Expert medical opinion suggests that the effects of a concussion would last a few weeks, but its been 9 weeks and 5 days, and still the headache, and neck pain persists.

The doctor I saw yesterday isn’t alone in suggesting that I have something called Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion. (Mayo Clinic, 2016)

This describes my experience with a great degree of precision.

It also provides a window of relief.  The prospect of having had a seizure, and the long-reaching consequences, has been a source of nagging fear and frustration.  If, however, the diagnosis of post-concussive syndrome sticks, then the fear and frustration are unsubstantiated, at least in part.