Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Bread of Life

More sermon notes.


The Bread of Life



Exodus 16, John 6:25-59



Why have you come to church? To worship God, give thanks and learn from Him?

Because you have to?

Company?

Curiosity?



Jesus said these people came to him not from curiosity about his miracles but because he could give them what they wanted, food. 5 loaves and 2 fishes had sufficed for 5000.

Jesus says it is not wrong to work for food, but you are interested in the wrong kind of food, this food that spoils. There is a better food, a more important food. It lasts for ever, it gives life forever. It comes from the Son of Man, Jesus.



This sounded like a very good deal indeed. No more shopping trips ever. What do you need to do to get this food of eternal life?



All you have to do is believe in the one God has sent. No hard labour day after day. Just trust the person God has sent you. He is your provider of everlasting life food.



Now come on, this is a bit much. How can we believe someone can do this for us? Prove it to us. Show us you have the power to do this. Moses gave our ancestors food in the desert,. What will you do. These folks were aware of their history, nostalgic for the good old days when God fed them 40 years with manna. Beat that Jesus.



Do not look back. Look to the here and now. Now God is giving you real bread from heaven, bread that gives life to the world and this bread is a person who comes from God.



The Jews asked for a sign. Jesus gave them an enigma, a riddle.



They did not want a riddle, They wanted bread. Give us this bread, Jesus.



Note, they still think it is a thing, not a person.



You want the bread. I am the bread. Come to me and you will never hunger, believe in me, trust me, you will never be thirsty.



Note two things. This is a conversation on two different levels. The people are of a vision limited to the physical, the here and now, daily bread. Jesus has has moved to the spiritual, Coming to Jesus, believing on Jesus, trusting Him, you will be satisfied, nourished for ever. Sunday evening attenders not the parallelism here.



God's will is this. v40, look to the Son, to me Jesus, believe in me, trust me, you will receive life eternal, satisfaction now, needs met now, and life forever.



A stupendous claim and one that was too much for his hearers.



Jesus says he is not surprised at their grumbling rejection. They say they know he has not come from heaven they know where he is from, they know his family. How can he be bread from heaven?



Jesus says they do not understand and come to him because something other than human understanding and will is necessary for this, God the Father must draw them to his Son. God must teach them They must listen to what God is saying, learn from God and come to believe in Jesus. Believe in Jesus, you have life for ever.



In the past, your ancestors ate bread from heaven, then they died. All of them except two died in the desert, rather a sore point. Why did they die? They had not believed God's promise that he would defeat their enemies and give them the land. They had bread from God but died. Now the real bread from God is here. Eat this real bread from heaven and you live for ever. Jesus, living bread from heaven. My body is the living bread. I am going to give it, a sacrifice to give the world. With some of the Jewish sacrifices the worshippers ate the meat together and rejoiced before God



Note v 51, eat the bread, Jesus, live for ever and compare with, v29, believe, v33, come and believe, v40, look and believe, v44 come to Jesus, v47, believe in Jesus. Eating the bread from heaven means coming to Jesus and trusting in Him.



v 52. They did not understand this at all. Jesus adds mystery to the puzzle.



To have life you must eat his flesh and drink his blood. He stands before them and says this. How can it be?



Eat him, drink Him, life forever, resurrection from the dead. Real food and drink are his body and blood. Jesus is real nourishment. Eat and you are in him, linked to him. Jesus has come from God the father and lives because of God his father. If you feed on Jesus you will live because of him.

Note all this feeding, eating, drinking is the same as coming to Jesus and believing in him. Trusting means eating and drinking from Jesus. eating and drinking means believing.



Jesus is the bread from heaven Eat and live forever. believe in Jesus and never die.



Practical conclusion.


Death faces us all. two things certain. You want life beyond death, eternal life, it is only in Jesus, through trust in Him. Repent and believe. tat is the first step.



Secondly, believing is receiving the bread of life, Jesus. believing is eating, drinking and being nourished, not physically but spiritually. v55 Real food and drink. Reality is not merely the physical, what we taste and touch. reality is the spiritual too.



Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread, gave thanks and said, take, eat this is my body broken for you.



Did he mean it was magically made into his body? No. It stayed real bread, but by faith, it became for them a sharing in the body of Jesus, real spiritual nourishment. Here we have a mystery. We believe that at the Lord's table, Jesus is spiritually present feeding us in bread and wine. We do not believe that a priest makes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. We have no magic words or bells to signify a miraculous change takes place and a sacrifice is being offered on an altar. No. We believe that bread and wine on a table are bread and wine. And just as bread and wine nourish our bodies, so when we eat and drink with faith in Jesus Christ, he is spiritually present in the bread and wine. (Spiritually present not, physically he is bodily in heaven, spiritually, by His Holy Spirit, he is present wit h us, nourishing us by his grace.) Just as bread and wine physically nourish us, so Christ here spiritually nourishes us. Al this is by faith in him. To believe is to come to Christ. It is to eat and drink from him. It is all by trust in him that we are nourished, satisfied by God.



The Lord's table is no magical priestly ritual with the the offering of a magic sacrifice to God. Neither is it a mere memorial with mere symbols. Here, for those who have faith. Christ is present and he feeds us.



Do you believe?



If you do, come welcome to the feast. If you have not come to Jesus as your sovereign Lord, now is the day of salvation. Come now, believe, eat and drink and live forever, satisfied by the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Very God of Very God. he calls you to his feast.
IPC 1.8.98

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Forgiveness

Being notes for a sermon 12.7.98 IPC Ealing

Matt. 18:15-35

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. Be patient with me,' he begged, and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. You wicked servant,' he said, `I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."



Introduction- Corie ten Boom and the Ravensbruck guard.



1. An obligation to forgive and to keep on forgiving.



Matt. 6:12-15 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.



To forgive is to let go, not to keep hold. Literally in English the for prefix means a negative. To forgive is not to give, not to give the blame, the punishment, the consequences.



When someone sins against you there are rules laid down by the Lord. But what if someone keeps on sinning and supposedly repenting? Note this is not about overlooking sin and not dealing with it. It is about forgiving when someone repents. The Bible always links forgiveness with repentance. Now tis is misunderstood and controversial, we shall return to it later, but I mention it now to put this parable in context.



Peter wants to know how often he has to forgive, 7 times? No 490 times says Jesus, there is a continual obligation to forgive those who offend against us.



Jesus told the story of a king settling accounts with his servants. One owed an enormous sum. 10.000 talents may be calculated at 30,000 years wages for a labourer. Say £300M. An impossible debt to repay. So the debtor and his family were to be sold into slavery so that the king got something against the debt. No income support or welfare benefits in this kingdom. The man makes a quite unreasonable response. he asks the king to be patient and he will repay all. Pigs were flying low that day. But instead of being a cynic the king was gracious. Taking pity on the man, he forgave the debt. He wrote it off. he would not call him to account for it any more. The man was free. What did he do when freed. Was he grateful, a better man. Not at all. He found a man who owed him a small sum, insignificant by comparison with his indebtedness to the king. This was not £300M but £2000. He grabs the man and throttles him demanding his money. The poor man begs the creditor to be patient but he reuses. He imprisons the debtor. The king hears and orders the man to be brought to hear that because he was unmerciful he would have to repay his enormous debt. He had been shown mercy but showed none himself. So his mercilessness would return on him. Prison and torture was his fate, Torture was used to obtain disclosure of hidden sources of money.



The lesson is that unless you are forgiving people, God will call in our debt to him.



The sum is enormous. No-one can pay. For the unforgiving there is no hope, only a prospect of eternal torture.



2. How can our debt be forgiven?



Matt. 9:2-6 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."



Jesus can forgive sins.



Matt. 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.



He gave his life so we can be forgiven. In him is forgiveness now.



Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.



Acts 5:31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.



Note he gives us repentance and forgiveness. Turning from sin is not something we can do of ourselves, We are dead in trespasses and sins. Dead men do not rise and walk, only those whom Jesus raises to new life. He can and does give repentance and forgiveness.



Acts 10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."



Acts 13:38 "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.



Eph. 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace



1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.



So enjoying the remission of our huge unpayable debt through the gift of God, his only Son, we are obligated to forgive others as we have been forgiven.



Eph. 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.



Col. 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.



Matt. 10:8 . Freely you have received, freely give.





3. Forgiveness defined



A promise not to bring the sin up to the sinner, others or yourself.





Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who 'forgives' you - out of love - takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done.- Dag Hammarskjold



Once a woman has forgiven a man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.

Marlene Dietrich



4. Grace is the key



If we do not forgive it shows we have not been forgiven. Unless grace received is shown in gracious living, we have no grace, only a prospect of judgement ahead,



He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven. Lord Herbert



Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.



Jay Adams says this is fatherly forgiving not a judicial pardon that brings initial justification. Be than as it may, we are under obligation.



5. What about forgiving the unrepentant?



We mentioned this before. it is common evangelical teaching that we are just to forgive unconditionally. After all did not Jesus do that when he prayed, Father forgive?

No, he did not. he prayed that God would forgive them . Praying for someone's forgiveness is not the same as declaring them forgiven. We should indeed follow Christ example and pray for their forgiveness, or that of Stephen, 'lay not this sin to their charge'. Now he did not say that killing did not matter. He called it sin. He did not say he forgave them. He prayed for God to be gracious to the sinners killing him. Grace is the key. The verses in Mark talk of forgiving while you pray. This is not declaring them forgiven but telling God you want to forgive them. You do not want to hold onto their sin. But until they repent and let go, you cannot have that letting go in real forgiveness which results in true reconciliation. Peace only comes when sin is dealt with. The blood of Christ deals with our sin. We must repent and confess for reconciliation with God and man. When there is repentance there will be forgiveness, then sin can be forgotten, not brought up again.



Of course, we are not God. God cannot merely overlook sin, His infinite majesty is infinitely offended by our unwarranted rebellion. He must deal with sin and he has made gracious loving forgiveness free to all who rust in Christ. But we do not have the dignity of God. We can and should overlook trivial offences. but serious matters, one's we cannot, should not let go unremarked lest their repetition cause trouble again, these we must deal with. Go tell your brother his fault. I can expect feedback after this sermon.



Forgive from the heart. Even if your brother is unrepentant you are not I believe free to call down wrath from heaven upon him . You are not to,make a lectionary of imprecatory Psalms to sort out those who offend you. you are to pray for their forgiveness,. More than that, go and ask them to repent.



Story of the old Yorkshire farmer and Hitler. Save Hitler, and if Thoo wont save him, take him home.



6. Conclusion



Are you forgiven? Do you forgive? Have you anything to put right now?

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

CHRISTIAN PREACHER CASE ADJOURNED

Colchester Magistrates today agreed to adjourn the case of Christian brother, Paul Shaw, who is accused of a public order offence relating to an election address distributed in Colchester calling - in very moderate language - for a review of whether sodomy and other homosexual acts should remain legal. It turns out that a couple of homosexual men complained to the police, leading to a completely over-the-top seach of Paul's flat and confiscation of his diaries in June.

The 'offending' words were in an election address, distributed after Paul had stood for election as an independent but when he thought a new election was imminent. He said:

"I believe for example that homosexual and lesbian acts are immoral and that the law should reflect that; by making them unlawful as they once were; and so acting as a deterrent to such behaviour.

"The concept of homophobia is nonsense and a play on words; it is not and has never been a phobia! A phobia is an un-natural fear; whereas a rejection of perverse behaviour; is a righteous godly fear; that fears to do wrong because it knows that there are consequences and punishment otherwise! This is the most pronounced example of a nation that has lost its way .."

It was the Crown Prosecutor who applied for an adjournment. This was in order, he said, to consider the case in the light of freedom of speech! The Magistrate, District Judge David Cooper, agreed. It turns out that Paul was up before him only a few months ago for preaching on the same subject, and the same thing happened, leading to the CPS withdrawing the case.

PRAY the same thing happens this time.

If you can, please come and support Paul at Colchester Magistrates Court, CO1 1FP on Thursday 23rd September 2010. The case is listed for 9.15am, but be prepared for it to be heard, as today's case was, in the afternoon.

In all, seven brethren came along today at a moment's notice to support Paul and the Gospel, so let us pray for an even bigger witness in four weeks' time!

Please continue to hold up our brother in prayer at this challenging time.

And please PRAY that justice is done and this attack on our historic freedom to preach the Gospel is defeated.



Yours in our gracious Lord's mighty name,

Stephen Green,

National Director, Christian Voice.

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From an Iraqi friend

Dear Brother



Thank you for your kind feelings



I was also reading in the Bible the words of Jesus the Christ “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ “– MATTHEW – Ch 4 – verse 4



And I agree with you my brother that without the words of the God, there is something very important missing in our lives



For Iraq the situation is getting worse day after day, the radical Muslims and the Nazi Arab baathi are killing and stealing everywhere



The weather in Iraq is as usual very hot and dusty with no rain from April to November

The weather temperature is from 48C0 to 53C0 with very few hours of electricity power available



So that we pray for the United Kingdom not to be like Iraq



God bless the United Kingdom and keep it green and filled with peace and happiness



God bless the people of the United Kingdom with his immortal words -the Bible



My greetings to all especially (name deleted)



I shall send The Bibles written in Arabic language to the address of (name deleted)either on the next week or on the week after



God blesses

(name deleted)



Baghdad - Iraq
*******************************
Pray for this man. He has left Islam but is yet to embrace the Saviour.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hope for Iraqi Christians after years of Barnabas campaigning

The Iraqi government has pledged to help exiled Christians return to their homeland after thousands were forced to flee amid intense persecution.

The new Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican, Habbeb Mohammed Hadi Ali Al-Sadr, in a statement following a meeting with the Pope last month, said the government had taken steps to preserve the country’s Christian heritage and culture.

It follows years of campaigning on behalf of the decimated Iraqi Christian community on an international stage by Barnabas Fund.

Mr Al-Sadr said: “For its part, the government has committed itself to all those who return, to give them a job, a plot to rebuild their homes and 1.5 million Iraqi dinars.”

He affirmed that the Iraqi Constitution sanctions the total equality of rights for Christians and also gave them the possibility of creating a semi-autonomous region like Kurdistan.

Anti-Christian violence


This Christian woman was forced to flee Iraq after her husband was killed
by Islamic extremists
It seems the government has finally acknowledged the problems faced by Iraqi Christians, who have been targeted in waves of savage anti-Christian violence over the last 20 years. As a result, the Christian population of Iraq has declined from 1.5 million in 1990 to perhaps as low as 400,000 today. Much of this decline took place after the invasion of 2003, with many of the remaining Christians now internally displaced.

In addition to sending practical help, Barnabas Fund has been tirelessly campaigning on behalf of the Iraqi church. Efforts were stepped up from 2003 when it became apparent the international community was unaware that a Christian presence remained in Iraq – and nobody else was speaking up for them.

Our “Save Iraqi Christians” campaign culminated in the presentation of a 42,627-signature petition in November 2008. The British and European signatures were presented to the Human Rights, Democracy and Governance Group and the Iraqi Group of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office while Russell Broadbent MP received the signatures of Australian supporters at the Australian Federal Parliament.

Last month (July) Barnabas Fund’s International Director Dr Patrick Sookhdeo held high-level talks about the plight of the Iraqi church in Washington DC, where a prayer vigil involving senior Iraqi church leaders also took place. He said:

“This is a landmark development and we greatly welcome the government’s commitment to restoring the rights of Iraqi Christians. We are deeply thankful to the Lord that their plight has finally been recognised and we pray that there will now be a significant shift in the treatment of Christians in Iraq.”

Please pray

Give thanks for the Iraqi government’s commitment to exiled Christians and pray that the pledges made will be honoured.
Pray that Christians who have fled will have the courage to return – thereby strengthening the Iraqi Church – and that they will be protected.
Pray specifically for converts to Christianity from Islam, that they too will be granted equal humanitarian rights in Iraq.

BARNABAS FUND EMAIL NEWS SERVICE

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BROTHER ON TRIAL FOR 'HOMOPHOBIA'

A Christian brother, Paul Shaw, is up before Colchester magistrates tomorrow morning (26th) for calling - in very moderate language - for a review of whether sodomy and other homosexual acts should remain legal.

The 'offending' words were in an election address distributed in Colchester in May, as Paul stood for election as an independent. He said:

"I believe for example that homosexual and lesbian acts are immoral and that the law should reflect that; by making them unlawful as they once were; and so acting as a deterrent to such behaviour.

"The concept of homophobia is nonsense and a play on words; it is not and has never been a phobia! A phobia is an un-natural fear; whereas a rejection of perverse behaviour; is a righteous godly fear; that fears to do wrong because it knows that there are consequences and punishment otherwise! This is the most pronounced example of a nation that has lost its way ..."

Paul's court appearance - at 10am on Thursday 26th August - is a committal hearing in front of magistrates who will have to decide whether Paul has to face the Crown Court on charges of causing 'fear, harrassment, alarm or distress'. A complaint was made to the police by someone in the area and Paul was actually put in the cells and had his home searched and diaries confiscated by the Essex boys in blue.

If you can, please come and support Paul at Colchester Magistrates Court, CO1 1FP.

If not, please hold up our brother in prayer at this challenging time.

And please PRAY that justice is done and this attack on our historic freedom to preach the Gospel is defeated.



Yours in our gracious Lord's mighty name,

Stephen Green,

National Director, Christian Voice.

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The "Oppressiveness" of Civil Society

Point of View, August 20, 2010 - David T. Koyzis

In 1962, Soviet authorities permitted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to publish his first book, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. More than two decades before Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was attempting to loosen the oppressive machinery that had systematically persecuted artists and writers who were not obviously toeing the party line.

Solzhenitsyn's groundbreaking novel told of an ordinary prisoner's single day in one of Stalin's oppressive forced labour camps, a story that grew out of the author's own dehumanizing experience in the Soviet Gulag. Here prisoners worked without pay for meager rations, living under harsh and hazardous conditions with inadequate clothing and shelter. The inmates were sent here for activities that would scarcely be regarded as criminal elsewhere. Ivan was unjustly imprisoned as a spy because the authorities refused to believe he had escaped from a German concentration camp.

The tales of oppression during the last century are countless, with the litany of oppressors familiar to most of us: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Pinochet, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin. Some were motivated by sheer hatred of others—perhaps a visible minority group. Others sought to implement a grand historical vision that would liberate their people—and perhaps all people everywhere—from the oppressions of the past. The sad irony, of course, is that many efforts to end oppression engendered even greater oppression on a larger scale and with more efficient means. During their heyday hundreds of millions lived under genuine oppression at the hands of the followers of totalitarian ideologies.

What is oppression? Thus far I have used this word (or a derivative) nine times, assuming readers know its meaning. According to the OED, to oppress means to "govern tyrannically, keep under by coercion, subject to continual cruelty or injustice." There is general agreement, at least in the English-speaking world, that it is unjust for a government to infringe on such fundamental freedoms as speech, press, assembly, and religion. If Aung San Suu Kyi is kept under house arrest by the Burmese government for expressing opposing political views, we properly conclude that she and her followers are being oppressed. When the former National Party government in South Africa deliberately followed a policy of systematic discrimination against the majority of its citizens, the rest of the world correctly identified this as oppression. And, in the case of the fictional Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, unjust incarceration, coupled with severity of treatment, definitely amounts to oppression.

But what if my church community disapproves of a choice I make? If my chosen course of action was perfectly legal, is my church's expression of disapproval oppressive? Under the reigning liberal worldview, North Americans increasingly tend to assume that the law should prohibit only that which obviously harms another and that individuals must be legally free to do as they please provided no one else is hurt in the process. If government, or any other community, sees fit to depart from this principle for whatever reason, it acts oppressively. If it officially favours some personal choices over others, it is guilty of oppressing those who choose differently. If it favours (heterosexual) marriage over other sexual or nonsexual relationships, it oppresses the unmarried or the polyamorous in so doing. More significantly, if some communities impose standards on their members that go beyond the public law of the state, some will argue that the individuals penalized for breaking these standards are being deprived of their rights and are thus oppressed.

Every so often we hear of a university refusing to approve a Christian student group because the latter requires its members to be believing Christians who support the group's mission. In a misguided effort to encourage inclusivity, such universities—or their student governments—effectively discriminate against overtly confessional groups. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has decided, in the case of the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, that Hastings School of Law at the University of California may refuse to recognize any student group imposing standards of belief and conduct on its leaders. So who is oppressing whom? Is Hastings, backed by the U.S. judiciary, oppressing the CLS, or is the CLS oppressing aspiring leaders of the group?

In his defence of human rights, Michael Ignatieff, current leader of Canada's federal Liberal Party, goes so far as to argue that rights must always belong to individuals and not to groups. The very language of rights "cannot be translated into a nonindividualistic, communitarian framework. It presumes moral individualism and is nonsensical outside that assumption." Rights have meaning "only if they can be enforced against institutions like the family, the state, and the church." They function furthermore to defend the autonomy of the individual "against the oppression of religion, state, family, and group" (emphasis mine).

Of course, no one denies that members of a group can indeed suffer mistreatment at its hands. Nevertheless, there is more to Ignatieff's approach than meets the eye, as his use of the word oppression already indicates. Individuals must constantly be vigilant against the pretensions of the groups of which they are part, jealously guarding their personal freedom. Yet the word enforced necessarily implies an agent who can protect and advance this freedom over against threatened encroachment—and the only agent with this capacity is the state itself.

McGill University's Douglas Farrow notes the libertarian preference for John Stuart Mill's harm principle: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Of course, no flesh-and-blood society has ever existed for which this harm principle forms the primary (much less the sole) basis for freedom. A mature, differentiated society includes multiple non-state communities, each of which has its own identity and standards for membership. These standards necessarily impose constraints on those subject to them. To belong to an Orthodox Jewish community requires one to follow Torah and, more specifically, centuries of rabbinic interpretation of its precepts. If one violates these, one can expect to face sanctions from the community.

Is there something intrinsically oppressive in communities imposing standards on individual members? Though few would go so far as to assert this overtly, the logic of the harm principle must eventually give a positive answer to this question. If so, the state must intervene to "protect" these individuals from having to submit to standards unrelated to this principle. As Farrow correctly understands, this formulation must cut out "the oppressive middle term between the individual and the state," that is, the nonstate communities that command the loyalties of ordinary persons, thereby narrowing the range of our legitimate obligations to only two: those owed to ourselves as individuals and those owed to the state. Farrow continues: "This begs the question, however, as to what does or does not harm another, and who will decide that." Again, the state must take on this role of liberating the individual from the supposed oppression of those institutions that have come collectively to be called civil society.

Although Mill's writings strongly appeal to libertarians, Farrow perceptively concludes that "Mill's ideas aren't really very libertarian after all." Although liberalism has claimed to expand the sphere of individual competence, it has done so by reducing the multiple communities of which we are part to mere voluntary associations, which, ironically, threatens the wellbeing of the individual herself. If every constraint on the individual is potentially oppressive, and if every community is a voluntary collection of individuals, those communities not obviously contractual in character, such as marriage, family, institutional church, and state, must be viewed with deep suspicion—indeed as downright oppressive. Yet we cannot live without them.

Solzhenitsyn once wrote that "a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either." Indeed, a genuinely human society is characterized by a plurality of social forms and obligations, the most crucial of which cannot be reduced to the individual will. Not only is such a pluriform society necessary for human flourishing, but it is a potent bulwark against genuine oppression by a totalistic individualism backed by a potentially expansive state.


Copyright © 1974-2010 Cardus. All Rights Reserved.

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A Captive Audience

In July I preached for the first time to a captive audience. I was taking up my new role as a religious visitor at the local Immigration Removal Centre. It houses over 400 men, detained on average for a six week stay. They are not free to leave until their immigration status is sorted but, unlike in prison, they are free to move around inside the centre. I too, as a security cleared religious visitor can freely move around once I am locked inside. A guard from Ghana took me to the chapel and left me with a Nigerian preparing for worship. There are about 50 Christian detainees, 120 Muslims and 30 of other religions. About ten Africans gathered for a two hour service. All but three were Nigerians including Brother B who was very gifted on keyboard . We had a drummer too.. For the first hour we sang, danced and prayed with Brother S leading. It was a joyful worship time.

I was then called to preach. I told the brothers that when I am invited to be a visiting preacher, I ask the church what they would like me to preach about . I could not ask these brothers that question before I visited, so I asked them there and then. Deliverance, hope and salvation they replied. This fitted well with a sermon I had already prepared on depression. It was great to have a congregation who unprompted repeated some of the points I made, especially. ‘This too will pass’ for no condition is permanent.

I lived in Nigeria from 1970 to 1882, working firat as pharmacist at Vom Christian Hospital near Jos , Then after Hausa study in Kano, I was also the Vom Hospital chaplain. None of the Nigerian brothers were Northerners, but they told me there was one Hausa Muslim man in the centre. In the c courtyard they introduced me to T who invited me to visit him during the week

This visit was very different. I came in like any family or friend of a detainee. Unlike Sunday, I was not allowed to take anything inside except my Hausa Bible. The other Hausa books I had brought for T had to be left with security for him to get later.. I had arrived before my booked visiting hour so read my Hausa Bible until my friend arrived ,T asked me if he could have it. I said mine had some writing inside where I had made notes on words I did not know so I would get him a new Bible. He had come to England as a visitor and stayed on illegally after his visa expired. He had worked in a bar as a cleaner, . A lawyer had told him that because he had stayed in England for several years he could help him get permission to stay, T paid him over £1.000. But instead of getting permission to stay T was arrested. He expects to be deported soon. I hope to see him again before he is put on a plane to Abuja.

As I left the centre at the close of visiting time, a little boy in his mothers arms kept crying, ‘I want my daddy’. The mother was from Scotland and the father, an Afghan was detained here in London. It was heartbreaking to hear this boy refusing to be comforted as he cried for his father.

I look forward to more visits to the detainees.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Stop adoptions—or stop being Catholic

De jure I am supposed to be in a Christian country as we have an established church but de facto we are under a secular regime.
Click on title to see.

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Good work in India

Freedom Firm and the Sangli police anti-trafficking cell rescued Priya, a 15 year old girl forced into prostitution. The 45 year old brothel keeper, Suvarna Vetekar, was arrested and is now being held in prison. The Freedom Firm investigative team had located her on 11 August after learning from her that she had been in the brothel approximately 20 days.

Please pray for Priya in these early days out of the brothel as she works through all that she has experienced. Praise the Lord that a solid report was filed in this case against the brothel keeper. Please pray that the brothel keeper will be held in prison as long as possible.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Heaven What is it like?

Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Paul,2Cor. 12:4 was
caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. Phil. 1:23 I am torn
between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; h

Resurrection is our final state, but what is heaven like now? What does the future hold?

John in Rev 4 saw a door standing open in heaven, and what did he see, but a throne.

Vision of God as enthroned

Rev. 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was,
and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,

2Chr. 18:18 Micaiah continued, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with
all the host of heaven standing on his right and on his left.

Ezek. 1:26 Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne
was a figure like that of a man. Ezek. 10:1 I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse
that was over the heads of the cherubim.

Dan. 7:9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as
snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

Eternal throne of justice and power

Ps. 9:4 For you have upheld my right and my cause; you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.

Ps. 9:7 The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgement.

Ps. 45:6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom.

Ps. 47:8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.

Ps. 93:2 Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

Ps. 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Lam. 5:19 You, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.

His throne in heaven is the true temple

Matt. 5:34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;

Ps. 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes
examine them.

Ps. 103:19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Ps. 123:1 I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.

Isa. 63:15 Look down from heaven and see from your lofty throne, holy and glorious. Where are your zeal and your
might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.

Isa. 66:1 This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will
build for me? Where will my resting place be?

Throne on earth

Jerusalem. 3:17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to
honour the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.

Ezek. 43:7 He said: "Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I
will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name --neither they nor their
kings --by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places.

King Jesus to be enthroned

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his
father David,

Future throne

Matt. 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly
glory.

Hebr. 1:8 But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the
sceptre of your kingdom.

Hebr. 8:1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the
throne of the Majesty in heaven,

Hebr. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the
cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

God now reigns in heaven

Rev. 4:2-6 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the
one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were
dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals
of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne
there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures,
and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.

Rev. 4:9-10 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives
for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for
ever and ever.

The lamb is on the throne

Rev. 5:6-7 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four
living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all
the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.

The fact that he is the lamb, like a lamb that has been slain, speaks of his atonement as a theme of heaven

All creation praises God in heaven
Rev. 5:11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand
times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.

Rev. 5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them,
singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

Eternity of praise and unspoiled joy

Rev. 7:9-11 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation,
tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and
were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits
on the throne, and to the Lamb." All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living
creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God,

Rev. 7:15 Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on
the throne will spread his tent over them.

Rev. 7:17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Rev. 14:3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could
learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

He will judge

Rev. 6:16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the
throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

Rev. 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and
there was no place for them.

Rev. 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book
was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Prayer reaches God's throne now

Exod. 17:16 He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the
Amalekites from generation to generation."

Hebr. 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to
help us in our time of need.

Rev. 8:3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer,
with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.

We will share his throne

Matt. 19:28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his
glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Rev. 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down
with my Father on his throne.

Our future place

Rev. 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live
with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Rev. 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true."

Rev. 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb

Rev. 22:3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants
will serve him.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

An open letter Cameron and Clegg

This is one of my articles on iuhuru.com

The UK is experiencing something new – a real coalition in government. It is producing some interesting ideas and initiatives after so many years of New Labour, the party now in search of a leader. Before the election we knew that the real problem was the budget deficit.

Economies are necessary. Government borrowing is out of control. We even subsidised banks for fear of financial collapse. The big battle as ever is where the cuts come and who is to pay more. With an increase in VAT we will all pay more in indirect taxes. My pay slip shows I pay over a quarter of my income in direct taxation. Nearly another quarter is taken by indirect taxation.
Two areas for economies I favour have yet to be tackled. First, the growth of the public sector. People want the state to take care of them and provide public services. They would rather rely on the state than trust in God for security and take personal responsibility. The state encourages this idolatry. It grows and grows, controlling just about every aspect of life and encouraging dependency. Shrink the state, encourage people to work and the economy will be transformed.

But asking politicians to shrink the state and curtail its interference in all of life is asking the turkeys to vote for Christmas. We do not need the ridiculous expense of devolved government in Scotland and Wales. Get rid of it. Leave the European Union, a leviathan not to be trusted for it has no audited accounts. Let Westminster take full responsibility and get back to governing the UK on its own. If the Celtic fringes do not like this, let England give them their freedom and be economically richer for it. (Apologies to Her Majesty for suggesting this diminution of the last remnants of empire).

So, get rid of devolved government and back to being a sovereign state instead of a province of the EU. Shrink the public sector, all those unnecessary bums on public seats enforcing myriad regulations and collecting statistics. First of all, sack anyone who tells a poor person they will be better off out of work and on benefits. Of course, if you are to do this you will have to radically reform the system so that people realise that work is better than dependency. I speak from personal experience. I have had two employees, both single mothers, who were informed that the way out of their financial difficulties was not to earn more and manage their debts better but simply to stop working and take the hand outs on offer. One left my employ. One has gone part time and joined the black economy on the side. Neither of them wanted this advice. Both of them wanted to work for me full time. The system stinks. Reform it. Of course we must take care of those in real need but too many people play a system, which does not encourage them to take responsibility for their own finances.

Next, reform housing benefits. The neighbouring house to ours is newly enlarged so that the owner can get more rent from his property. Tenants are always on housing benefit. He can charge them a commercial rent. I am enriching this landlord through my taxes when the state subsidises his tenants. This is a factor in the increase of house prices over the years. Our property is now worth ten times what we paid for it in 1984 but my salary has only risen nearly five fold in that time. High rents are a factor in our shortage of affordable accommodation. Reform this subsidy of rented housing and rents will be reduced and housing prices fall making housing more affordable. So I suggest for starters a big increase in the taxation of the landlords’ rental income and property taxes on houses that are not owner occupied.

Do I ever expect this to happen? Of course not. Not when our politicians often come from that small proportion of the population who have more than one property to call home. Members of Parliament get the biggest housing benefits of all.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Pentecost

More sermon notes

Deut 16:9-12
Pentecost means 50 days, from Passover.
Lev. 23:16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then
present an offering of new grain to the LORD.
Same as Feast of Harvest
Exod. 23:16 "Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops
you sow in your field. "Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year,
when you gather in your crops from the field.
Same as Feast of Weeks
Exod 34:22 "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the first fruits of the wheat
harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
Num. 28:26 "On the day of first fruits, when you present to the LORD an
offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do
no regular work.
Deut. 16:10 Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a
freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you.
One of three annual feasts.
Deut. 16:16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God
at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks
and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed:
Pledge of full harvest to come. Trust in God for full harvest.
Offerings presented. Proportionate.
Rejoice
Remember
Rest
Obey
Done at time of 1st temple.
2Chr. 8:13 according to the daily requirement for offerings commanded by Moses
for Sabbaths, New Moons and the three annual feasts --the Feast of Unleavened Bread
, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles.
After exile, remember Law giving
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Peter explained it in terms of Joel, day of Lord.
Reading Calvin to prepare a sermon I came across this.
The violence of the wind had the effect of making them afraid. For we are never
rightly prepared to receive the grace of God unless the vain confidence of the
flesh has been mastered. For as by faith we have open access to Him, so it is that
humility and fear open the door for Him to come to us. He will have nothing to do
with proud and careless men who please themselves.
On Acts 1:2
Since no man is excluded from calling upon God the gate of salvation is set open to
all. There is nothing else to hinder us from entering, but our own unbelief.
On Acts 1:21.
This could be called Calvin's free offer of the Gospel!
The Observance of Pentecost in the Early Church
Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University
The earliest references to the observance of Pentecost in the early
Church come down to us from the second half of the second century. The lack
of information for the previous period does not mean that Pentecost was not
observed. The incidental references to Pentecost in the New Testament that
we examined in chapter 6 as well as the earliest accounts of its observance
in Christian literature suggest that the feast had been widely observed
from apostolic times.
Season of Rejoicing. Pentecost was regarded in the early Church as
a fifty-day period of joy and triumph during which Christians were to
refrain from kneeling and fasting. As noted above, the earliest reference
to the celebration of such a period, as we have seen, is found in the
apocryphal Acts of Paul (about A. D. 180), where we read: "While Paul was
in prison, the brethren, since it was Pentecost, wept not neither did they
bow the knee, but they stood and prayed rejoicing. "28
From about the same time, a fragment of a lost book about Passover
by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (about A. D. 130-200), says: "Pentecost, in
which we do not bend our knees, because it has the same value as the Lord's
day. This custom started in apostolic times. "29 This passage is interesting
because it derives from apostolic times the practice of not kneeling during
Pentecost.
By the end of the second century we find in the writings of
Tertullian (about A. D. 160-225) numerous admonitions to refrain from
kneeling and fasting during the season of Pentecost. In his treatise On
Fasting, Tertullian challenges the argument that all the feasts have been
abolished by posing these rhetorical questions: "Why do we observe the
Passover by an annual rotation in the first month? Why in the fifty ensuing
days do we spend our time in exultation?"30 The point of Tertullian's
argument is that the Old Testament feasts can hardly have been abolished if
Christians were still observing them. The passage shows that Pentecost was
viewed as an unbroken period of rejoicing.
Tertullian expresses the same view of Pentecost in his treatise On
Baptism: "Pentecost is a most joyous space for conferring baptisms. "31 What
makes Pentecost a most joyous season are the events commemorated during
this period. Tertullian mentions specifically four of them: (1) the
resurrection, which was repeatedly proven among the disciples; (2) the
ascension; (3) Christ's promise to return to gather His people; and (4) the
descent of the Holy Spirit. 32
Standing in Prayer as an Emblem of the Resurrection. The
celebration of the fifty days as a joyful period in which it was forbidden
to fast or to kneel is well attested by such writers as Epiphanius, Basil
the Great, Hippolytus, and Jerome. 33 The custom also is mentioned in the
apocryphal Testament of the Lord: "At Pentecost let no one fast or kneel.
For these are days of rest and joy. Let those who bear burdens of labour
refresh themselves a little in the days of Pentecost. "34 The Apostolic
Constitutions go so far as declaring guilty of sin those who fast during
the days of Pentecost, because on those days Christians ought to rejoice
and not to mourn. 35
The reason for not fasting or kneeling during the days of Pentecost
is clearly given by Augustine: "The period of fifty days we celebrate after
the Lord's resurrection, represents not toil, but rest and gladness. For
this reason we do not fast in them; and in praying we stand upright, which
is an emblem of resurrection." 36 By standing in prayer during Pentecost,
Christians were honouring not only the resurrection of Christ but also the
future resurrection of the believers. In his treatise On the Holy Spirit
Basil explains more precisely the eschatological meaning of standing: "All
Pentecost is a reminder of the resurrection expected in the age to come. .
. . On this point the rules of the church have educated us to prefer the
upright attitude of prayer, for by their plain reminder they, as it were,
make our mind to dwell no longer in the present but in the future. Moreover
every time we fall upon our knees and rise from off them we show by the
very deed that by our sin we fell down to earth, and by the loving kindness
of our Creator were called back to heaven." 37
Mood rather than Mode of Observance. The foregoing references
describe more the mood of the Pentecost celebration than the manner of its
observance. Early Christian writers often tell us that during the fifty
days of Pentecost Christians did not mourn, fast, or kneel; but they do
not tell us what distinctive religious services were conducted either
privately at home or publicly at church.
During the first three centuries, apparently only a few distinctive
religious ceremonies were associated with Pentecost. One was the
administration of baptism. Tertullian explains that Passover was the ideal
time for baptism because at that festival "the Lord's passion, in which we
are baptised, was completed." 38 After Passover, Tertullian says, "Pentecost
is a most joyous space for conferring baptisms." 39 Presumably the reason
is that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost could remind the
baptismal candidates of the baptism of the Spirit that was to accompany
their baptism by water.
It should be noted that the administration of baptism in early
Christianity was usually an annual event, because it took at least a year
to prepare for baptism candidates coming from a pagan background. While
believing Jews could be baptised immediately, as at Pentecost, because they
already had a Biblical faith and practice, pagan converts could be baptised
only after months or even years of instruction into the Christian faith.
Special Scripture Readings for Pentecost. A valuable source of
information on the observance of Pentecost in the early Church are the
lectionaries, that is, manuals containing specific Scripture readings
assigned to the feasts in the year. Though the lectionaries for the feasts
are not extant before the ninth century, they do reflect liturgical
traditions that go back to early Christianity. Some of them are quite
revealing for an understanding of the meaning of Pentecost in the early
Church.
The earliest lectionaries are in the Syriac language, a branch of
Aramaic that was extensively used in early Christianity. From the second
century onward, Syriac was used in translations of the Bible and in the
production of Christian literature. The early Syriac Lectionary lists
thirteen Biblical passages to be read on the final day of Pentecost. Each
passage is accompanied by a brief annotation, which explains the reason for
the usage of the passage.
"Job 32:6 to 33:6 (The Spirit gives wisdom);
Daniel 1:1-21 (Ten days put to the test);
Joel 2:21-31 (cf. Acts 2);
Judges 13:2-25 (Birth of Samson, the Nazarite, drinking no
wine);
1 Samuel 16:1-13 (Unction of David);
Jeremiah 31:27-37 (New Covenant);
Isaiah 48:12 to 49:13 (The Lord assembles Israel, new Covenant);
Genesis 11:1-9 (Tower of Babel, 'antitype' of Pentecost story in
Acts);
Exodus 19:1 to 20:17 (Gathering around Mount Sinai and the
giving of the Ten Commandments);
Psalm 47 (Responsively v. 8 'God reigns over the nations');
Acts 2:1-21 (Pentecost-story).
1 Corinthians 12:1-27 (The working of the Spirit);
John 14:15-27 (Promise of the Paraclete)."40
The comments given in brackets for the choice of the periscopes
reveal that Pentecost was seen as a feast that commemorated the new
Covenant, the giving of the Law, the outpouring of Holy Spirit, and the
bestowal of spiritual gifts. Presumably, these were some of the themes that
were expounded during the religious service. The choice of the Old
Testament readings suggests that Christians viewed the old covenant
established at Sinai through the giving of the Law as a type of the new
covenant fulfilled on the day of Pentecost through the giving of the Holy
Spirit.
The Greek lectionary mentions the following Scripture readings from
the Old Testament:
"Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29 (The seventy elders on whom the
Spirit is laid);
Joel 2:23-32 (cf. Acts 2);
Ezekiel 36:24-28 (Gathering of Israel, a new Spirit is put in it)."41
Of these Scripture readings, the most interesting is the one from
Numbers 11:16-29, where we are told that a part of the Spirit of Moses was
laid on the seventy elders. In a sense, this is one of the best types of
Pentecost story in the Old Testament. The seventy elders played also a
significant role in preparing the Israelites for God's revelation at Mount
Sinai (Ex 19: 7) and for leading them into the covenant commitment (Ex
24:9). Apparently, some Christians saw in that story a foreshadowing of the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Goudoever lists several other early Christian lectionaries which
mention the reading of Exodus 19 for the liturgy of Pentecost. On the basis
of these he concludes: "One of the most striking agreements between the
Church and the Synagogue lessons is the reading of the Revelation to Moses
on Mount Sinai. The story is considered by the Church fathers as the Old
Testament 'type' of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Christian
Pentecost Day." 42
Augustine offers a suggestive comparison between the giving of the
Law at Sinai and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost:
"In former times Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai and he proclaimed
the commandments of the Lord before the people. There God came down to the
mountain, here the Holy Spirit came to be visible in tongues of fire. There
thunder and voices, here fishermen sparkling with various flaming tongues.
This is what the divine passage said, 'when the days of Pentecost were
fulfilled.'" 43
Later Developments. Beginning from the fourth century, the liturgy
of Pentecost became very elaborate. The same was true for all the religious
feasts. The freedom and financial support that Roman emperors gave to the
Church influenced church leaders to develop more elaborate rituals, often
in imitation of pompous pagan rituals. The observance of Pentecost began
with an all-night vigil during which several masses would be read, the
baptismal fountain would be blessed, the baptismal candidates would be
confirmed, and numerous prayers and songs would be offered. 44
During the Middle Ages, various customs developed as part of the
celebration of Pentecost. The dove as symbol of the Holy Spirit was widely
used to re-enact in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit on
Pentecost. When the priest arrived at the altar, he sang in a loud and
solemn voice: "Come, Holy Ghost" (Viene Sancte Spiritus). Then,
immediately, a blowing sound was produced in the church. According to
Francis Weiser, "This noise was produced in some countries, like France, by
the blowing of trumpets; in others by choirboys, who hissed, hummed,
pressed windbags, and rattled the benches. All eyes turned toward the
ceiling of the church where from an opening called 'Holy Ghost Hole' there
appeared a disc the size of a cart wheel, which slowly descended in
horizontal position, swinging in ever-widening circles. Upon a blue
background, broken by bundles of golden rays, it bore on its underside the
figure of a white dove.
"Meanwhile, the choir sang the sequence. At its conclusion the dove
came to rest, hanging suspended in the middle of the church. There followed
a 'rain' of flowers indicating the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and of water
symbolising baptism. In some towns of central Europe people even went so
far as to drop pieces of burning wick or straw from the Holy Ghost Hole, to
represent the flaming tongues of Pentecost. This practice, however, was
eventually stopped because it tended to put people on fire externally,
instead of internally as the Holy Spirit had done at Jerusalem. In the
thirteenth century in many cathedrals of France real white pigeons were
released during the singing of the sequence and flew around the church
while roses were dropped from the Holy Ghost Hole." 45
Like Easter, Pentecost in time came to include pagan superstitious
practices associated with ancient Spring festivals. "In many places,"
Weiser writes, "all through Pentecost night could be heard the noise of
shooting (Pfingstschiessen) and cracking of whips (Pfingstschnalzen). In
pre-Christian times this observance was held to frighten harmful powers
away from home and harvest; in Christian times it assumed the character of
a salute to the great feast. The modern version of the ancient Spring
festival (maypole and May Queen) is connected with Pentecost in many
sections of Europe. The queen is called 'Pentecost Bride' (Pfingstbraut).
Other relics of the Indo-European Spring festival are the games, dances,
and races held at Pentecost. This tradition used to be most popular
everywhere in the Middle Ages, and still is in central Europe. In England,
Pentecost Sunday was a day of horse races, plays, and feasting (Whitsun
Ale). In Germany, too, people would hold banquets (Pfingstgelage) and
drink 'Pentecost beer.'" 46
The production and sale of a stronger "Pentecost beer," known in
England as "Whitsun Ale," was an important part of the Pentecost
celebration which involved local churches. In his book The Christian Year,
Edward Horn writes: "This was one of the 'parish ales' which were parochial
festivals featured by ale which was stronger than usual, and which was sold
by the church warden who used the proceeds for the repairs of the church or
for distribution to the poor. These ales were of social importance in
England in the middle Ages and were usually held in the churchyard or a
nearby barn. Colleges and universities used to brew their own ales and
raise money by holding their own ales. Such celebrating was not restricted
to England and the (Lutheran) Saxon General Articles in 1557 inveighed
against the excesses of the 'Pfingsttänze, Pfingstschiessens,
Pfingstbiers.' But, while the English reformers tried to suppress these
social activities, Luther could see no harm in them, and most Lutheran
orders ignored them." 47
Colonial America was not without its Pentecost's frolics. The most
important celebration in colonial New York was on Capitol Hill in Albany,
which was known as Pinkster Hill, from the German word for Pentecost,
"Pfingsten." It was a slave frolic. "The Negroes kept up the fun for a
week, dancing, eating gingerbread and drinking in honour of their legendary
'Old King Charley.' They used cast-off finery to bedeck themselves and
consumed so much liquor that the bacchanalia had finally to be suppressed.
On Long Island the festival was observed by whites as well as blacks; in
parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland, usually by Negroes only." 48
The degeneration of the Feast of Pentecost from a celebration of
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into an occasion to seek for the
infilling of alcoholic spirits and the pleasure of games, dances, and races
is a sad commentary on the perversion of a Biblical feast. Our challenge
today is to reject the secularisation of God's Holy Days by rediscovering
their meaning and relevance for our Christian life. ##
Conclusion. The observance of Pentecost in the early church was
characterised by a mood of rejoicing during the fifty days following
Passover. What made Pentecost a most joyous season were the events
commemorated during that period, namely, the resurrection, the ascension,
the promise of Christ's Return, the inauguration of Christ's intercessory
ministry, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Christian
mission.
To express their joy and gladness, Christians refrained from
kneeling, fasting, and mourning during the fifty days of Pentecost. By
standing for prayer and singing, Christians were honouring the resurrection
of Christ as well as the future resurrection of all believers.
Like the Jews, Christians had few distinctive ceremonies associated
with Pentecost. One of them was the administration of baptism to those
candidates who for months or years had been instructed into the Christian
faith. Being the celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,
Pentecost could remind the baptismal candidates of the baptism of the
Spirit that was to accompany their water baptism.
The Scripture readings for the last day of Pentecost were mostly
Old Testament passages dealing with the new covenant and the giving of the
Law at Sinai. This suggests that Christians viewed the covenant that God
established with the Israelites through the giving of the Law at Sinai as
foreshadowing the new covenant that God established with the spiritual
Israel through the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Gradually Pentecost, like Easter, degenerated into an occasion to
seek for pleasure rather than the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
Drinking, dancing, playing, and feasting became the popular way to
celebrate the feast. To a large extent, this trend has continued to our
times. God's Holy Days have largely become an occasion to seek for personal
pleasure and profit, rather than for the peace and power of God's Spirit.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harvest

More sermon notes

Gen. 8:22 "As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
read Lev 23 9-22, 23-44
Exod. 23:14-17 "Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.
"Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast,
as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that
month you came out of Egypt. "No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Celebrate
the Feast of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field.
"Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your
crops from the field. "Three times a year all the men are to appear before the
Sovereign LORD.
Unleavened bread = Passover =First fruits
Harvest = Weeks = Pentecost
Ingathering = Tabernacles
Exod. 34:22 "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the first fruits of the wheat
harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
Lev. 23:10 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land I
am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the
first grain you harvest.
Deut. 16:15 For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place
the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in
all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
Emphasis on rejoice D12 one place. 14 if too far
Remembering
Redemption
Ps. 67:6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.
Ps. 85:12 The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its
harvest.
Emphasis on land and God's salvation tied to land of Israel
Ps. 107:37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest;
NT looks to a different harvest
Matt. 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the
workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into
his harvest field."
He had called fishermen to a different harvest.
At the end a gathering in.
Matt. 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the
harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then
gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
Matt. 13:39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of t
he age, and the harvesters are angels.
Parable of tenants showed harvest not coming from Israel
Matt. 21:34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants
to collect his fruit.
Matt. 21:41 "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and
he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop
at harvest time."


Rom. 1:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to
c
home to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might
have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

Day of Pentecost gathers first fruit. Now time to gather in more, until last day.
Harvest of judgement to come.
Rev. 14:15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to
him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to
reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe."

harvest of righteousness

2Cor. 9:10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also s
supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your
righteousness.

Gal. 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap
a harvest if we do not give up.

Hebr. 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on,
however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been
trained by it.

James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Providence of God The greatest comfort in this world

More sermon notes.


Ps. 62:11-2 One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are
strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

Ps. 62 is a psalm of David.
David up against it and near to falling
Ps. 62:3 How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down-- this
leaning wall, this tottering fence? Ps. 62:4
They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; He is the king but uneasy lies
the head... Surrounded by lying, deceitful people
Ps. 62:4 they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their
hearts they curse.
So can he put his trust in people, no. People are not to be trusted
Ps. 62:9 Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a
balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.
The king may be rich but does he put trust in wealth to protect him? No.
Ps. 62:10 Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your
riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
So if you are up against great difficulties, adverse circumstances, and people or
possessions are no help, what do you do?
Ps. 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
Ps. 62:2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be
shaken.
The leaning fence finds stability on the rock. David is a rickety fence. God is a
castle fortress in whom he can be safe.
He encourages himself to trust in this God who alone gives hope for the future
Ps. 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
God gives him confidence that he will not fall
Ps. 62:6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be
shaken.
He has confidence, not from self but from God.
I am amazes at the faith of the atheist, faith in self to survive, but my future
depends on God
Ps. 62:7 My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
I can run to the rock and be safe.
Prov. 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and
are safe.
He trusts and encourages others to trust whatever their situation.
Ps. 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for
God is our refuge.
Ps. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
What is it about God that gives David this confidence?
Ps. 62:11,12 One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God,
are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Our God is strong, our God is loving.
This is the providence of God.
The Heidelberg catechism defines it like this
27. Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?

A. God's providence is His almighty and ever present power,[ whereby, as
with His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and
so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren
years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty,[3] indeed,
all things, come not by chance[4] but by His fatherly hand.[5]

We have a loving Heavenly father who rules and controls the world he has made for
the purposes of his glory and our good. Our world is not ruled by evil or by chance
but by our powerful, loving Father in heaven

Where do we best learn that God is strong, loving and in control?
At the cross, the death of the son of God.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The death of Jesus on the cross was no accident, no tragedy, but God's great plan
for our salvation.
This is what Peter and John confessed
Acts 4:27 -28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and
the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom
you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Men plotted to do evil but God meant it for good. God is so in control that he can
use the acts of evil men to accomplish his purposes.
Were these men forced? Was Judas compelled to betray? No. They act as responsible
agents but God is controlling it all for his purposes.
Men may plot evil. God uses it for his salvation.
Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery to be rid of him. They intended evil. What
did God intend? Joseph told his brothers
Gen. 45:5 -7 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for
selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For
two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there
will not be ploughing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a
remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen. 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Only a mighty sovereign loving God, who controls all his creation can do this, and
do it without violating the wills of people who remain responsible for their actions.

God is in control and man is responsible
Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.
This is the last phrase of our Psalm. it teaches human responsibility as well as
divine sovereignty. God is strong, loving and in control, yet we are responsible
for what we do. We will be held to account. no-one can say I sinned because God made
me do it.
Judas betrayed Jesus for the money. For 30 pieces of silver. Did God make him do it?
No, but God overruled and used the greed of Judas for our salvation. Judas knew he
was responsible. That is why he hanged himself.

We find it impossible to reconcile these two things that the Scriptures teach,
divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We do not have to reconcile them We
only have to believe them both for our comfort and our good because God tells us
both are true.
The best illustration is in Paul's shipwreck.
Acts 27:22 -25 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you
will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose
I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, Do not be afraid, Paul. You must
stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail
with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen
just as he told me.
Take courage for God is in control for our salvation

Acts 27:30-31 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat
down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow.
Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the
ship, you cannot be saved."

God will save but he will do it through the skill of the crew. God who orders what
will happen also orders that it will happen through responsible human action.
So you see this is no fatalism. It does not say. ke sira sira whatever will be will
be. It trusts God and acts. It doesn't say God will save people without our help.
It
says God will save people when we pray and preach the gospel for these are the means
he will use to accomplish his purposes.

Our God is strong, loving and in control. We are to trust him no matter what. this
is the trial of faith. Will we trust in God, in his promises, his word, his salvation
when things go well or will we neglect him?
When things go badly will we complain why this has happened to us or will we trust
in the loving providence of God?
We live in a fallen world which is in rebellion against God. Things go wrong. Big
things, little things. Is your hope and confidence in God alone?

How does this teaching help us?
28. Q. What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and
still upholds them by His providence?

A. We can be patient in adversity,[1] thankful in prosperity,[2] and with a
view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and
Father that no creature shall separate us from His love;[3] for all
creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so
much as move.

patient in adversity
Job 1:21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Ps. 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let
the righteous fall.
Rom. 5:3 -5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know
that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope
. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

thankful in prosperity
1Ths. 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in
Christ Jesus.
with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and
Father that no creature shall separate us from His love;
Rom. 8:38 -39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love o
f God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

for all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so
much as move.
Prov. 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
Matt. 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall
to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your
hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the
presence of the LORD.
God is in charge, not Satan
Prov. 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a
watercourse wherever he pleases.
No matter who wins the general election, God is in charge.

"A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly
troubles." b.b.warfield

Do you know this God as your loving heavenly father? Come to him now through his
Son.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Convinced civility

These are sermon notes.

1 Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give
an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect,

Peter writes to suffering Christians facing opposition. Tempted to keep a low
profile but told to be ready to speak out, yet with gentleness and respect.
Not well known characteristics of bold witnesses.

.......... everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
W B Yeats The Second Coming

The medium often is the message. World full of good communicators of bad ideas.
Gerry Adams, Martin McGuiness, while the children of the kingdom often do not come
across well, Ian Paisley

Civility is public politeness, a kinder gentler people. It is a fruit of
the Spirit. But people who are civil often lack strong convictions and
those with strong convictions lack civility. We need both civility and
passionate conviction, a convinced civility.

It means treating all people, especially those with whom we differ with courtesy
because they too are made in the image of God, marred though it be.

Hebr. 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy;
without holiness no one will see the Lord.
We need a convinced civility.

One biblical book that helps us to move thoughtfully in the direction of
living as servants of God is 1 Peter.

From what we know about the civility, or lack of it, in the apostle Peter in
his earlier days of ministry, as explained in the Gospels (recall who cut off
the priest's servant's ear? => John 18:10), these words in 1 Peter carry
authentic weight as someone, who through his growth in Christlikeness,
exhibits much more of an appreciation of the fruit of the Spirit in this
sphere "convinced civility".

What convicted civility is not
Civility is not relativism. It does not mean we cannot criticise wrong things. We
can approve that people have the right to say some things without agreeing that what
they say is right.
Not non-judgemental It is not refusing to proclaim standards by which conduct is to
be judged. No-one can be non-judgemental.
Accept the person, not the sin. See them for their potential, not their sinfulness.
The judge who was Christlike.
Not a mere evangelistic strategy.

Characteristics of convinced civility
Opposite of a Crusading spirit
Thought they had a good cause and went about achieving their aims in a godless
brutal way. In fact the cause was also wrong. But a crusading spirit says, We are
in a battle for the soul of the nation. No compromise with error. No surrender. The
devil loves pluralism and toleration. Liberal crusaders have different slogans,
Nothing must stop our pursuit of social justice, God wants us to empower the poor,
the task is too urgent to worry about niceties.
Seeks change in all of life
God cares about public as well as private righteousness and morality
He wants Christians to be agents for change.

But those of us who delight to proclaim God's sovereignty, holiness, justice and
wrath need also to do it in a way that is God like in terms of his love and
gentleness., a God who is slow to anger, and often takes a lot of time to change s
stubborn hearts, a God who brings about change without writing off people as junk.
Modest
We need a modesty about what can be done and be faithful where God has placed us
with the resources available to us. There has only been one true Messiah.
The place to learn civility
The church is the context to learn public righteousness. We should learn it first
in the family then in the church where views may differ but are expressed with respect.
The family gives us some problems in this area for we have a bad of strong love and
a familiarity which can lead to a lack of civility, especially among our children.
I'll kill him for using my mug. We start to learn in the family and learn more in
the church.
If we cannot live work and speak together with convinced civility as a people of God
our testimony to the world will not be credible. Why have we not had a credible
testimony to many Muslims. They look to the nation. We need to point them to the
church.
Choose words carefully
The Crusader believes the cause is so important any means may be used to attain the
end including abusive speech. Story of the stones thrown by the black boy.

Remember we are all sinners
Concentrate on your own sinfulness and the other person's humanity

Ps. 139:19 -24 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you
bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your
name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against
you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if
there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Listen. Learn to find good things in those from whom you differ.
Learn to appreciate diversity need to disentangle it from false religions and value
systems but God loves diversity
Rev. 5:9-10 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to
open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for
God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a
kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
Difficult but essential
All sexuality is warped sexuality. No-one is either gay or straight. Question the
terminology. Just because someone has a different view of reality do not let them
judge yours to be a phobia.
Be honest, be frank but you do not have to sniff every dustbin in town to know what
rubbish is. There is a way of talking about sexuality which is unacceptable.
Scripture is not prudish but neither does it take delight in erotic titillation.
Remember we all have things of which we are ashamed.

The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.
Eph. 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into
him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

We are triumphant in Christ
We are to proclaim His victory and authority
but without triumphalism

We are sometimes good prophets but poor priests for we fail to identify with people
and where their problems are. Listen and identify. The leader is affected by the
people. Jesus was. He wept.

We stick to issues not scoring points off people
We show appreciation of the good things in their lives
We confess that we are sinners and they fall short of their own standards Garba
We point them to the sufficiency of Christ
We demonstrate his love in our community
give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

We live in the time of God's patience. He is patient with us and works slowly.
He draws straight lines with crooked sticks

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