Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Godly Sorrow

This verse came up in our Sunday morning adult class.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,... (2 Corinthians 7:10a)

It reminded me of another verse from our last Wednesday night's study,
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zecharaiah 12:10b)

Those who remember their salvation experience; that moment when God first opened the eyes of our hearts and brought us into His Kingdom, may remember that the most common manifestation of that moment is tears. Tears of joy over what Jesus has done, but tears of grief over what made it necessary -- the individual sin of each one of us. It is the stark and sudden realization that Jesus died because of the way I am and the way I have been.. He was pierced because of me, and the sorrow of that moment of realization is overwhelming -- Godly sorrow.

I remember a woman who had just come to faith. She was the same age as me. But she asked, with eyes full of tears, "John, I feel like my entire life up to now has been wasted. Has it been?" What could I say? No, it had not been wasted. God had known about this moment since before the foundation of the world, and it had all been according to His will, His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). I was reminded of that wonderful phrase from the book of Esther, and said that who knows but that God had brought her all this way, to this point in her life, ...for such a time as this.

I too, from time to time, used to wonder what my life would have been like had God not waited 45 years to reveal Himself to me.. But then I catch myself and say, "No... He brought me to that point of Godly sorrow at the time of His choosing, and that must necessarily have been exactly the right time.

So there is no regret.

Take Care

Monday, 30 March 2009

What I Did For Earth Hour

Earth hour was the hour between 8:30 and 9:30 one day last week when people were asked to dim all non-essential lighting for one hour to raise awareness of global warming. First of all, let me say that I always turn off non-essential lights, a habit I began learning about 6o years ago from my dad, who was always bellowing, "Who left this light on."

But I did earth hour one better. I dimmed all my lights from about 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM the next day. In fact, maybe I'll do that from now on.

I sure feel good I'm doing my part. It's really good for the conscience.

Take Care

(File in, "Silly and meaningless symbolic gestures to assuage the conscience and make you think you are actually accomplishing something" department.)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

When Churches Become Corporations

Or, When Clergy Become Accountants

The diocese of London (England) wants to sell a former church, St Mark’s North Audley Street to an entrepreneur to be used as a spa. The congregation has already, apparently, been ousted from the building. The Archdeacon of Charing Cross insists on the necessity of the move, citing the expense of restoring the building, as well as the fact that the area is served by three other Anglican churches with "thriving congregations."

The key is that, although it is not mentioned, I suspect these three thriving congregations are Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), home of the Alpha Course, and a couple of its plants. In fact, Nicky Gumbel, the driving force behind Alpha, has publicly expressed the desire to save St Mark's and renovate it at HTB's expense. Here is an excerpt from a letter from Mr Gumbel to the aforementioned archdeacon:
We remain ready, willing and able to take on the work St Mark’s needs to survive. Our interest in St Mark’s and our desire to see it become a home to a worshipping community again is public knowledge;

We are overflowing at both HTB and St Paul’s Onslow Square and would like to start satellite services in St Mark’s. Our experience at St Paul’s has shown that these fill up very quickly. The Sunday congregation at St Paul’s has grown from zero to a thousand people in the last eighteen months. We think we could do something similar at St Mark’s and we would be willing to discuss the issue of renting the building. Mr Hammer’s solution is not the only solution. As you know we have a strong track record of restoring churches and maintaining them for Anglican worship. We are offering to do this with St Mark’s North Audley Street.

The emphasis in the quote above is mine, but wouldn't we all love to see church growth like that. Knowing the Alpha course and Nicky's teaching, I'm confident that such growth is a result of the true preaching of the gospel, not just pandering to itching ears.

It is frustrating to see those we may have trusted in the past show themselves to be more interested in buildings and assets than true Christian mission, but I believe that those who desire to remain faithful to Christ and his message need to not let such things distract us from our true task, that of making disciples. I'm sure these distractions delight the enemy no end.

Read the full story here...
h/t Stand Firm

Take Care

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Government Funds Study to See Where Sun Will Rise Tomorrow

Well, not quite, but check out this story...

Killer Whales Increasing in Hudson Bay

Now, I do not mean to make light of a genuine enviromental problem. Nor do I mean to dispute at this time whether or not we have a global warming problem. But what got me about this story are these quotes regarding the, "Global Warming and Arctic Marine Mammals" study by federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans...
The study receives close to $100,000 a year, provided mostly by the government of Nunavut.
So far, Ferguson said, the data has confirmed for researchers what northerners have said all along.
"It really surprised us, and confirmed what the traditional knowledge was, that there's more killer whales."

Studies... don't you just love 'em? Why don't they just take the $100,000 a year, give it to the residents who already have the information (and who could probably use the money), and say, "Thank you very much." ;)

Take Care

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

OK, So I Was Thinking...

...and that often means a new blog is coming. But you already know that, because here you are... reading it.

I was thinking about creation, and the first two verses of Genesis chapter one, and the old earth vs young earth camps of what peoiple call creationism. Frankly I don't like the term, "creationism." It reduces the concept to a mere belief, or doctrine. I consider creation a fact, so I normally just refer to it as that -- creation. I don't so much mind being called a creationist, but I don't like refering to what I believe as "creationism." That's just me. And frankly, I don't take a particularly strong position on young vs old creation. Creation, as I said, is a fact. Young or old? Those are beliefs.

But here is what I was thinking.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)

When did God create the heavens and the earth? Why, in the beginning, of course. When was the beginning? Well, the Bible doesn't say. It could have been a few thousand years ago, as some believe, or it could have been billions. We are just not told.

But create it He did. At some point in the past, God said, "Let there be stuff!" And there it was... stuff! All made up of atoms and molecules that weren't there the instant before He spoke. If you'd have been there, you would have looked around in amazement and said, "Where did all this stuff come from?" And God would have said, "Me!" Or in Quebec He would have said, "Moi!" (Because I think God is at least bilingual, probably multilingual. Or really, if you get right down to it, He would be omnilingual, if that is a word. Just another omni to describe Him.)

OK, so then, at some point, the earth (we're talking about the earth here, not the rest of the universe) was formless and empty. When was that? Well, again, we don't know. We're not told. All we can assume is that it was some time after the beginning, and some time after it was created. And for what length of time after the beginning was the earth formless and empty? Again, don't know. Seems to me it could have been minutes, could've be eons.

But I'm looking at this from an evangelistic point of view. There are certain things that are in-house discussions. That is, certain discussions, certain subjects, need not be raised in the context of introducing new people to our Christian faith. We need not jump too quickly to defend our personal positions in these matters, no matter how strongly we hold them. One of these subjects,. for instance (and I am in agreement in this with J.I. Packer), is the details of 5- or 6-point Calvinism. Another, I think, is this matter of old vs young earth creation. The bottom line is that whether we believe creation occurred thousands or billions of years ago is, especially from an evangelistic point of view, a secondary matter. It is a discussion that can just confuse, or even turn off, someone who is taking the first steps toward an investigation of Christianity.

The important thing is that they first meet Christ, and it is doubly important that we don't stand in the way of that. They can develope their own opinions on secondary matters later.

Take Care

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Anglican diocese to defy ban, perform same-sex blessings

Full story Here...
The Anglican diocese of Ottawa has come up with one of the most wierd and confusing examples of convoluted thinking and twisted logic I have ever seen.
In 2004, the worldwide church called for a moratorium on the rite...
But Archdeacon Ross Moulton of Ottawa said what his diocese is doing does not violate the moratorium because performing the ceremonies will help the diocese understand whether it is the right path to take.
"There is nothing in the moratorium that says we cannot continue to discern," he said.

That is akin to saying, as I commented here... that there really is nothing wrong with rape if it is just a part of a 'discernment process' to determine whether sexual assault is really wrong.

It would make a novel defence, wouldn't it?

Take Care

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Do Not Despise the Day of Small Things

In our Wednesday night study of the minor prophets, we came to Zechariah chapter 10, including the following;

So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.
"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' "
Then the word of the LORD came to me: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.
"Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. Zech 4:6-10)

Our notes included an excerpt from Matthew Henry's commentary, on verse 10a, "Who despises the day of small things?..." It brought to my mind what is happening in the Anglican Church in Canada these days. Faithful people are boldly and bravely leaving the churches they have known, in many cases, as their church homes for years, because they see a spreading falling-away from the true Christian faith in favour of a culturally driven social spirituality. In some cases there are court cases pending over the ownership of land and buildings, but in others the faithful are meeting in school lunchrooms or town libraries under the banner of the Anglican Network in Canada (I link to both the Network blog and website at the bottom of my own blog below).

In several cases, the leaders of certain dioceses have made a point of mentioning that the Network numbers are a small and insignificant percentage of the national church, but I would like to quote Matthew Henry both as an encouragement to those who are remaining faithful in the face of official apostasy and as a caution to those who would seem to consider them as no more than a minor nuisnace;
"In God's work the day of small things is not to be despised. Though the instruments be weak and unlikely, God often chooses such, by them to bring about great things. As a great mountain becomes a plain before him when he pleases, so a little stone, cut... without hands, comes to fill the earth (Dan 2:35). Though the beginnings be small, God can make the latter end greatly to increase; a grain of mustard seed may become a great tree. Let not the dawning light be despised, for it will shine more and more to the perfect day. The day of small things is the day of precious things, and will be the day of great things."

Take Care

Monday, 2 March 2009