Sunday, August 07, 2016

FOR When YOU grieve

from John Piper

O Lord, God of might and mercy and mystery, you have driven the arrows of your quiver into the breast of your people, your beloved. You have filled our throat with bitterness and gall. You have made our teeth grind on gravel, and laid us down with wounds in the ashes of dreams.
You have taken away our sleep, and replaced our gladness with groaning. You have covered us with the shadows of those we love, and we have reached out in vain to touch their bodies.
Happiness has left through the window where the rain pours in, peace has put her hand on the latch, and endurance wavers at the threshold of our soul.
A voice is heard, like Rachel’s — lamentation and bitter weeping. Where is the comfort for her children, because they are no more. You have spared us — us who have lived out our days through no merit of our own, who would happily have finished our course and taken their place, but you have not spared the children, or the valiant, young lovers and your most loyal servants.
O Lord, our eyes are on you. We do not look to another for hope. To you alone. To you we cry. Remember our affliction, remember the bitter wormwood and the gall! You have not made us drink this cup in vain.
This we call to mind, and therefore we have hope: Your steadfast love, O LORD, never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. You alone, O Lord, are our portion, therefore we will hope in you.
You are good to those who wait for you, to the soul who seeks you. You are good today. You were good last Sunday. We are waiting, we are looking for the salvation of the Lord. We are not running from the yoke of this dark providence, or throwing off the burden of your good sovereignty. But we are waiting, and looking, for the yoke to be made easy and the burden light.
You do not hide yourself forever. Though you cause grief, you will have compassion, according to the abundance of your steadfast love; for you do not afflict from your heart, or grieve the children of men.
We know your heart, O God. For there is nothing in the world more bright, more blazing, more terrible, more beautiful, more bloody, more hopeful, than the revelation of your heart in the death and triumph of your Son, Jesus.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This is the great and glorious Rock where we stand — or lie prostrate — and on which we give thanks for the lives of Jamison and Kathryne and Ezra and Violet and Calvin, who did not count their lives to be more valuable than obedience.
We praise you that they did not snatch a few vain years of life on this earth in exchange for allegiance to their King, but set their faces, like flint, toward Japan and the finishing of their course and the ministry they had received from the Lord Jesus.
And we praise you that they did finish it — like your apostle Paul who wrote from Rome, “I have finished my course,” though he never got to Spain.
We stand on this mighty Rock of Christ, and his shed blood for our sins, and for the sins of the Pals family, and on his victorious triumph over death. And standing on this Rock we pray . . .
For these parents — grandparents, great-grandparents — who sit with pieces of thread in their hands from a fabric of life woven from the womb, and then consumed. Father, we ask that you would sustain in their hearts an unshakeable confidence that the countless hours of investment in Jamison and Kathryne and the children were not in vain. Because your promise in1 Corinthians 15:58 that their labors were not in vain is built with a mighty “therefore” on the massive foundation of the greatest chapter in the Bible about the blood-bought resurrection of Christ and his people from the dead.
And we pray for these brothers and sisters of Jamison and Kathryne that in spite of the sudden and horrific severing of priceless sibling ties they will feel the unbreakable bond that binds them still through the brotherhood of Jesus, who said, “Who are my brothers and sisters? Here are my brothers and sisters! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Lord, cause this family to know and feel: This circle is not broken.
And we pray for these cousins — the children. O God, make the risen, living, reigning Jesus real to them. And as they taste what we could wish no child would have to taste, grant them to know and feel that in the arms of Jesus all are well, for he did not promise, “I will be with you to the end of your life,” but “to the end of the age.” In death and life.
And we pray for the young people who remain — in this church and throughout the world — that they may find the love of their lives — their Kathryne, their Jamison — and embrace together the second proposal Jamison made — to lead the family in obedience — “whether it is life or death or discomfort or disappointment . . . to take up our cross — just as he did — to suffer and die” (April 15). Lord, in the name of Jesus, and by the blood of these five, I ask, raise up — raise up! — a legion of replacements for the global glory of his imperial Majesty, Jesus Christ. Forbid that any of your children would hear of this news, and waste their lives on trifles.
And we pray, Father, for Tony Weekly, whose head is covered with shame and whose hands are stained with blood. The heart of this family is not a vengeful heart. We pray that Mr. Weekly will find the one and only remedy for shame and guilt, Jesus. And we ask that, in time, through Christ, he would make his way to heaven, and know the indescribable miracle of reconciliation with those already there.
And finally, we pray for Japan, that the great idols of gold and silver and material success would fall before the blood of this family — that these five, even these three little ones, who have now grown to the fullness of their glory and the perfection of beauty, not through the trials of three score and ten, but in the twinkling of an eye — that these all — all five — might be found among the champions of the victory of the gospel in Japan.
In the name of Jesus and for his glory, Amen

More on the Pals Family

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Unsure about what lies beyond for YOU ?

Don't be . From one who has been on the lonely road for over 50 years I know I have had, not only a travelling companion, but the best travelling companion one could hope for and way beyond what one could wish for  . I have my doubts but I know whom I have believed  and I look to him to carry me just as he has done every day.
Jesus promises us a place in heaven , relief from the burdens of this life and our careless strayings with forgiveness,, if we just ask Him .  May God show you His great blessing this day !

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Monday, March 04, 2013

The good shepherd

 Heard a Shakespearean actor ask this week ( on ABCTV) how he could get the audience to identify with " Hamlet".  Hamlet is not someone we easily identify with ,  just like we don't easily identify with herd like behaviour. Hamlet's  tragedy is one of histories greatest tragedies because it doesn't involve semigods and because its a joint failure . Like Adam and Eve they didn't really help each other . Good intentions abound , but evil therby hangeth round.
I thought of a possible answer to the actors question "by seeing Hamlet the man  as,  a bit sheep like " . Whether we like it or not we all get caught out as herd members some time .In this case above cows will have to do .
Only God knows how anyone could love sheep - they are so easily led and so stupid. Yet Jesus spoke so lovingly about US being like them . And he was not alone to do so . The 23rd Psalm is a down to earth witness to a vision so powerful and so punchy that only a pedant could miss it .
Jesus view of " the creatures "too is always a realistic. Seeing someone else in the mirror , while not ideal  can be liberating provided you don't get pedantic and deterministic. We as humans can do better and we should try .In another twist its a condition  we  share with sheep that those who follow the goodshepherd himself  are like sheep to the slaughter . The big paradox is how is  he is still able to look after them then .
Following the shepherd , rather than feeding on the edge of everything leads to green pastures,  still waters , abundance and a rested soul . If you don't know that comfort , maybe its time to stop being overly vulnerable . Revisit the territory you started in , be more critical of all the reactionaries around you ; enjoy both the past , the present and what's still to discover in walking in His way ?
How many people die or are maimed by fear ? : How many people get lost  because they are always exploring beyond the boundaries identified as safe . A war against everything . Hamlet is seriously stupid stuff; Reactionary stuff that we are , in a power game sharing sense ,are all capable of .
Hamlet isn't safe. In some ways his problem was inside him and in some ways it was because he sought what he didn't have that he bought bread in a place that would never satisfy - he went beyond the boundaries to get it . He went over the edge , with the help of his wife who honestly seemed to think she could help him overcome his weaknesses - his lack of confidence in himself . Weakness is always present in every couple-- something to be owned and not always to be overcome  . She knew he had weaknesses . Instead of accepting his weaknesses and hers (their joint sense of impotence ?) they together sought a solution that was never going to work.
Fear is Ok if its a real thing. Its not always the problem to be rooted out either,  but it is generally something to be faced? :  If you don't want to see what it really is and how close  , you will limit yourself and your vision of a growing future .
It's great to be in a place of security.  Infact it's neccessary to be  in a place of security to really explore the places and spaces around you  . To know the value of what you have discovered beyond yourself , you have to know what home is.We all live with abundance and scarcity and we all have to live within the space we are given .The paradox is of course that we have to know which boundaries are real and closed and which are open to those who would dare to explore them. In another wonderful truth  we have been given a unique place to explore which means we can feel very lonely in it .Do good  in your space .  Life is short - wander but don't get lost .
Where do you fit in - comfortably and honestly ? Read Psalm 23

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Antidote to hate speech

Like a lot of good medicine it's already in your cupboard . You just have to make sure the label is still correct for the purpose , its not gone off. and you don't listen to the TV or someone other than the source . If you do the latter,  chances are you will pay too much and miss the real remedy.
Hate is a serious matter
Jesus said that "anyone who hates his brother is a murderer " . Infact, while you may think you obey all the commandments ( I never kill anyone 5th) you're wrong . Last time you "thought hate "you had a problem .Verbal assault is in Western Culture as bad as physical assault - same story. Lucky we can't read minds or we would all be in jail !!!!

 Jesus doesn't make it any easier either  . He says IF  you call someone a fool you are in danger of hell fire. Name calling - ever don e any of that ? No I don't wanna know . This paragraph  is too long already for all the things I said I shouldn't have -.. this week. Jesus is not about telling tales but moving on on this .
So what do we do about it ?  Context - help in history . Jesus could be talking about  same old stuff in the 10 commandments too. Negative has positive spin you know ( copyright EA) . The eighth is  destroying a person by writing off their reputation.

Sin is serious and we should hate it and prosecute it . The sinner on the other hand,  is precious, redeemed and redeemable .Protecting every persons reputation is all of our jobs ,. And, by the way,  we are all sinners, so its everyone's interest to be careful.  Death by stoning can happen before justice gets a word in edgeways. Maybe the Eight commandment needs more attention that the fifth (killing) ? The issue of protecting person hood ( Slander Libel and so on )  is so precious that its got a whole commandment attached to it ( 8th ). If you slander someone publicly you should correct it publicly because someone's whole life may be at stake if you don't . Sin is that serious .

What if there  is injustice and  you are angry about that ? Ah read the posts here at Do good . And remember this . Its sometimes OK to be angry . "Be angry but don't sin" ; "Don't the sun  go down on your anger"  . Some good types of anger get going slowly;  God gets angry at sin. Be a straight shooter and don't shoot yourself in the foot -follow His lead  . Hate the sin and love the sinner - there is the antidote .
Does it work ? Of course it does-- lots of people around you use it everyday.  Bless you !
And if you find you don't like yourself ? Practice  doing good  anyway ,.God helps those who admit they have a problem and you have made the first step !!!!!! we wish you well !
The answer then is to face the hate and anger inside you. Its not likely to be the problem of those outside you as much as it is but your problem . No matter how big your rant and how much power you have,  you can't solve the problem till you know what it is - till you face the truth --recognise that its your problem .

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Truth and Beauty

Many of us would say on this most strange , but delightful of intersections
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ".
If that be so, then it is quite reasonable to conclude that we are made in the image of our Creator .( What do we do then with "terror" , you might well ask - I suggest that like good rationslists we leave it aside for a moment . We might find out more if we pursue one line now and WAIT till we get back to that subject too - waiting a beautifaul act in itself? )

Surely none of us can really fully describe Beauty !
A great series of images of these deeply hidden companions are in Isaiah 28:1 .;33:17 ;44:13 and 53:2 ..
I always think beauty is something mostly hidden . Pilate thought truth too was hidden, so what hope have we got ?
There are TIMES though, when our senses together say "its there" .
Sure our senses are unreliable, but God forbid we think our only refuge is in our own wisdom and words .
Moderns have great trouble admitting they have seen it or felt it or smelt it because its all supposed to be just maths: one plus one equals two and so on.
No this sort of conclusion is not right ; The sum is indeed greater than the sum of the parts.
The created order speaks strongly of beauty and we should share our appreciation of it - even if we don't understand it.
We don't all worship in ration churches do we ? Ones where the chorus is - "Oh though predictableness , oh though ordinariness, and our song shall ever be' We don't know we aren't sure "
It was that beautiful man of later history who said "I am the way, the truth and the life ".
others said about him and history ? how beautiful are the feet .........
and even later ....beyond our limits and failings ....there is ...Grace and Truth together (in one package ) John 1:17 .

Monday, August 03, 2009

Doing the impossible !

Remedies for distraught parents with bullied children, according to even our best psychologists last week, were given the name "impossible". The only answer which actually works is, I think ,the impossible one ; The one about "loving your enemies" . Jesus's words .
You don’t believe me? Remember Martin Luther King? It was he who reminded a whole generation of angry Americans,who were provoked to anger on a daily basis, that impossible love actually works. But to actually make it happen though, most of us need something a lot stronger than our own best intellectual and wilful efforts ; especially the bit about selling those amazingly impossible options to our children.
Have you tried it?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fear Not

We hear those words and that great idea at Christmas time - if we are really listening- and not worrying. Those angels said it to the shepherds .....why worry .

"Its easy for shepherds " we might say -- we've got things to prepare, places to go, relatives to meet wow ( now that is a worry!)
Those shepherds had nothing better to do ??........More, they got some music too-Who wouldn't enjoy a song out there -
It seems they knew how to have fun ... waiting and sharing, becoming some of the few who heard and followed at the time.

Take time to remember -find something better to do in a quieter place ; sit under the stars and wait
If God is really in charge - as long as you listen to Him - you haven't got a worry in the world .
If you don't think God is really in charge - you have got a lot to worry about!