Thursday, 28 April 2011

Are we of all people most to be pitied?

'And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.' 1 Corinthians 15:14-18


Easter was a good time for me.  It was nice and quiet, relaxing with family and friends and enjoying the sunshine.


Over the time of Easter I have heard loads of different things being said about Jesus and the significance of Easter.

I have heard people speak passionately about Jesus' death and resurrection and how world changing an event it really was.

I have heard people speak about it in very 'spiritual' ways, sharing how they do not believe in the reality of the Easter story, but view it in terms of a parable or message that says we can have hope for tomorrow.

I have heard some share how while they believe in the person of Jesus they do not believe he died, but rather that he grew to be an old man.

Others say he never died and went up to heaven.

I have heard some say they do not believe in any of it at all and that it is one big story, made up and of no use to us in the 21st Century.


As I have reflected on all of this, I was struck by the passage in the Bible that I have quoted at the top.

If Jesus did not die and if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then we are to be pitied more than anyone.

If Jesus was not raised form the dead, then I might as well stop everything that I am doing, because it would all be one big con, and what I believe is one big joke.

If Jesus was not resurrected then out of all people Christians are to be most miserable.  Our faith is worthless.  Everything we believe is a waste of time and all that we are doing is a waste of time.

If Jesus was not raised from the dead that all that we say about God is a lie.


It's not that Christians believe that Jesus was some kind of ghost or spirit when he came back to life.  We don't believe he was resuscitated like someone who's dead but then who's heart starts beating again.  We don't believe that he left his old body in the grave and was given a new and separate one.  No, the resurrection of Jesus is the belief that he died on the cross, was buried in the grave, but then was raised from the dead, his body TRANSFORMED into one that will never die or wear out.  It was like this body, yet somehow different.  He sat with his disciples after his resurrection and ate with them.  He still bore the wounds of the crucifixion and continues to bare them in all eternity, but he is transformed.

It is the belief that Jesus is alive, and because he lives we will live and be transformed, our bodies becoming something better, becoming something they have never been, everything about us, mind, body, soul, spirit being transformed and perfected.  Because Jesus lives, creation will one day become something it has never been; creation will one day be healed.  It is the belief that sin and its destruction, sin and its destruction of our relationship with God, sin and its bringing of death has all been dealt with by Jesus through his death and resurrection.

But if Jesus is not alive then we are screwed.

If Jesus is not alive then faith is a waste of time.

And my identity, who I am and the very essence of why I live is all nonsense and pointless if Jesus is not alive.

Quite a sobering thought...

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Dark Day

Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. They said, "We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King."
Pilate asked him, "Is this true that you're 'King of the Jews'?"

   "Those are your words, not mine," Jesus replied.

Pilate told the high priests and the accompanying crowd, "I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me."

But they were vehement. "He's stirring up unrest among the people with his teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. He's a dangerous man, endangering the peace."

When Pilate heard that, he asked, "So, he's a Galilean?" Realizing that he properly came under Herod's jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days.

Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see him, he'd heard so much about him. He hoped to see him do something spectacular. He peppered him with questions. Jesus didn't answer—not one word. But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.

Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting and jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.

Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others and said, "You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge. And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. It's clear that he's done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

At that, the crowd went wild: "Kill him! Give us Barabbas!" (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.

 But they kept shouting back, "Crucify! Crucify him!"

He tried a third time. "But for what crime? I've found nothing in him deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.

As they led him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling to the mountains, 'Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, 'Cover us up!' If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with deadwood?"
 Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.

When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."

   Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Let's see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!"

The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: "So you're King of the Jews! Save yourself!"

 Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"

 But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God? You're getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this."

 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."

 He said, "Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."

By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.

When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!"

All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.

The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Dark Night

Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation."

He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give in to temptation."

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, "Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"

When those with him saw what was happening, they said, "Master, shall we fight?" One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest's servant and cut off his right ear.

Jesus said, "Let them be. Even in this." Then, touching the servant's ear, he healed him.

Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: "What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I've been with you in the Temple and you've not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it's a dark night, a dark hour."


Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, "This man was with him!"
 He denied it, "Woman, I don't even know him."

A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, "You're one of them."

   But Peter denied it: "Man, I am not."

About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: "He's got to have been with him! He's got 'Galilean' written all over him."

Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried.

The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, slapping him around. They put a blindfold on him and taunted, "Who hit you that time?" They were having a grand time with him.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Identity

My twin bro has been posting on identity. Go here to read more on this.

He mentions some questions he asks of himself in order to understand his own identity. One of those questions is 'What do you do?'

I find this question really tough to answer.

My job is a Baptist Minister. I'm ordained as a Rev and am now church planting. People have always said that I'm a evangelist and so for a few years now that is what I have done.

But the more I think about the harder I find it to define what I do.

I'm a committed follower of Jesus. I want to live my life in a way that shows people that I am sold out for Jesus. I want to live like Him.

But I see this as a whole life thing. So every moment of every day should be a desire for this. My role is to introduce people to the love and grace of God. I'm here to bring God's love and Kingdom through my words and actions. I am called to love people unconditionally as God loves every one of us unconditionally. I am called to be an instrument of love and grace.

So when does my job stop and start? When do I go from Joe to Rev?

I'm not sure there is a distinction.

So I love because I love because I love. I don't love at certain times in certain situations.

The lines become blurred and life becomes messy between when I'm at work and when I'm not. But surely love is never 'work'? Surely it should never be like that?

What do I do? More like, who am I?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Forgiveness

As we gather pace towards the Cross I have been reflecting on forgiveness.

Jesus talks very strongly about the need to forgive others.

He calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven by God.

He calls us to forgive even when that someone has continually hurt us.

Forgiveness is tough.

Yet as we journey with Jesus towards the Cross - a place of reconciliation, healing, grace and love, a place of brutality in the consequences of sin, a place of weeping and suffering, a place were things are finished with - I wonder if we are aware of people we need to forgive?

Is forgiveness something we need to give to another this Easter time?

Are we bitter with hurt because of the pain someone else has caused us?

Do we need to be released from that bitterness and pain by offering forgiveness?

That is really easy to say right?  But not so easy to do.  Maybe not even something we want to do.  But forgiveness actually releases us to be the people we were meant to be.  With forgiveness there is healing and freedom.  And God's peace will broad over you like His Spirit did at the dawn of creation.

This is where we need God to help us, his strength to enable us to forgive.

There are circumstances so severe that forgiveness can seem impossible.  I wonder of the God of the impossible could help forgiveness flow this Easter time?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Salvation and Belief

Last Monday I had a 'Crash' evening whereby I invited a few different people to come round my home  for a meal.  As we eat someone shares for 10 minutes about a particular subject and then we discuss throughout the evening what that person has shared and see where the conversations take us.

On Monday John Colwell came and spoke.  He was one of my tutors at college and is now Pastor at Budleigh Salterton Baptist. He spoke about the Cross of Jesus.

It was a great evening of discussion, laughter and friendships.  

We discussed the meaning of salvation and being 'saved'.  John shared how salvation is never about what we do, it is always about what God does, and that is why it is grace.

So salvation is not about my faith or what I believe.  If we were saved based on what we believe then it would be down to us.  Then it would be about what we have done.  Then it would no longer be grace.

Salvation then is rather not what we opt 'into' but about what we don't opt 'out' of.

Jesus' death was for all people.  Jesus has made room for all people to experience salvation and the grace of God.  So all people have the opportunity to know the love, grace and salvation of God.  This is something God has done and only God could do.

But we can opt out of this gift of love, life and relationship with God.  We can say 'no thanks' to the gift and refuse God's grace.

We can't do anything to save ourselves, but we can refuse the gift of salvation that God has offered to us.

If I was saved because of what I believed then I would be in trouble.  We would all be in trouble if salvation was about what we believed.

John then shared this story:

'I have wrestled with a form of chronic depression throughout adult life...During one sustained bout of acute depression two very dear friends invited me and my wife to stay with them until I could cope again with everyday life (without their generosity I would probably have needed to spend time in hospital). Returning from an evening service of communion, these friends, together with my wife, determined that I too should share in communion. They produced bread and (very excellent) wine, and we celebrated while squatting around their coffee table. Any who have any experience of serious depressive illness will understand that, at the time, I was entirely without any form of religious feeling - indeed it was a struggle to believe at all. Yet as we sat around that table I realised, perhaps truly for the first time, that the bread and wine, and the body and blood of Christ that the bread and wine re-presented, were there on the table for me whether I 'felt' anything - or even 'believed' anything - or not.  In the absence of any 'feeling' or faith, I recognised the significance of grace that evening more deeply and truly than ever before.'

Friday, 15 April 2011

Suffering

'Then Jesus said to them, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'  Luke 9:23

'Self denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism (denying yourself certain pleasures).  It is not suicide, for there is an element  of self-will even in that.  To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us.  Once more, all that self-denial can say is: 'He leads the way, keep close to him'...To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ.  When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity...which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.'

'Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship...Following Christ means...suffering because we have to suffer...Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.'

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship pp 42-46

Bohoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor who was a founding member and part of the Confessing Church who spoke openly against Adolf Hitler and Nazism during the Second World War.  He was arrested in April 1943 and then hanged to death on April 9th 1945.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

What is God like?

Have you ever wondered what God is like?

Have you got a picture of God in your mind?

If you ever think about the concept of God are there certain images and ideas that come into your mind?

I want to give you some images of God. I want to share with you what I believe God is like and paint you a picture of God.


'...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.'

'Jesus...was...in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.'

'Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone." The Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good, or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. He looked round at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.'

'Jesus said..."Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."'

'When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."'

'Jesus wept.'

'...he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet...'

'"This is my command: Love each other."'

'Jesus...knelt down and prayed...And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.'

'So the soilders took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went to the place of the Skull...Here they crucified him.'

'Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.'

'Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you".  They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." When he had said this he showed them his hands and feet...he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.'


So often we assume God should be 'like this' or should be 'like that'. But God has shown us who he is. And we see exactly what God is like as we look at Jesus. God is the One who heals, laughs and weeps. He is the One who is angry at injustice.  He is the One who shares our pain, hunger and temptation. He is the One who prays.

He is the One who hangs naked and bleeding on a cross.

He is the One who dies there.

He is the One who rises from the dead and calls us to join him in this new resurrection life.

Here we have a picture painted of who God is. How does that look to you?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Judas

There are times I feel like I almost hate him.

I know we are mates, but that almost makes it worse. If he was a stranger I could get on with my life, do my thing and not get so worked up about the way he is. But it's because he is a friend that I get so angry with him.

And I'm disillusioned. This is not how things were meant to go.

I committed myself to him, to following him and doing whatever he told me. I gave up so much to do all this, and now I'm feeling like it was a waste of time.

I'm starting to think he's not right in the head.

Don't get me wrong, when I first signed up it was all good. The twelve of us are all really different, and yeah, we have argued a lot, but in the early days it was great. We'd be healing people, driving out demons, baptising people and seeing thousands of people coming to listen to Jesus. There was buzz, excitement and recognition.
So I thought the revolution was on its way. I was getting ready for the fight. I was getting ready for the power and the wealth when the Romans were kicked out and when I took my place as one of the chosen leaders in Jesus' inner circle.

I was getting ready to be given the spoils just like in the old days when God wiped out cities and gave Israel their money and possessions.

But it hasn't been going the way I thought it would.

Jesus keeps talking about dying. I don't get it.

He keeps saying that it is the weak and suffering that will get everything. Well I'm weak and I'm suffering, so where is my wealth and power? I don't see his promises coming through.

I thought Jesus was the powerful Messiah sent from God who was going to come and get our land back and sort everything out, but the more time I spend with him the weaker he seems. Always giving special attention to the down and outs. What's the point? They won't be able to help.

And then there is his favourites, Peter, James and John. Always taking them off for little chats and prayer times. Why aren't I involved? I've got more skills than all of them combined.

I know the religious leaders hate him, and I'm starting to see why.

I know he's a friend, and I know I thought he was the Messiah sent from God, but everything is changing and maybe I need to do something about it?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Guest Post: Powerful Compassion

GUEST POST: I am Tom, Joe's twin brother. You can read my blog Journey to Disbelief here.

I do not believe in god. I do not believe there is an eternity out there for us when our bodies fail and seep into the earth once again. I do not believe we are merely animals though, biologically programmed to eat, sleep and procreate. I believe in our humanity and the power of love and compassion.

I am a bruised, battered and scarred human being. I used to believe god could bring me hope and healing from the darkness, as I did not have the strength to do it alone. There was healing. There was redemption. For a time. There was also transference. Instead of being utterly extreme at partying, I became utterly extreme at proselytizing. For a time. I mellowed and asked more generous and loving questions about life, faith, belief and love. The more I asked the more my journey took me to disbelief.

I am yet to find peace. I found peace briefly when I was a Christian. I also found peace with when I realised I no longer believed. Throughout it all, I have yet to find peace with my identity. Something I grapple with and mull over and think far too much about.

I do not believe atheism is right or wrong or belief in God is right or wrong. I believe in unconditional love and being the shoulder to cry on, the hand to hold, the emotional punch bag so someone you love doesn't hurt themselves.

The scars on my arms remind me of times when I hated myself. The areas where there are no scars remind me of the times a friend took my emotional pain on their shoulders. Those moments continue to astound me as to the power of love humans can share.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Depression

On 5 Live this morning they are talking about depression and how there seems to be an increase in the prescription of anti-depressants by doctors for people in the UK. Go here to listen.

They have called the phone in 'Unhappiness or depression?'

Interesting title.

I wonder if unhappiness should not even be linked with depression in this way. Depression is something far deeper and darker than unhappiness. And maybe that is where the problem lies and the lines have been blurred.

People often assume happiness is the goal of humanity. You often here the phrase 'I don't mind what they do as long as they are happy.' And so we measure everything by happiness and how happy a society is. And I think happiness is important. Jesus speaks about being 'blessed' in Matthew 5; the word blessed can literally be translated in the Greek as 'happy'.

In western culture we often associate happiness with money, sex and power. 'When I win the lottery...', 'Did you pull last night...', 'If I was famous...'

Yet we see throughout history, in our own experiences and in the lives of others today that the pursuit of these things never actually brings real happiness. They become our 'god', but this god can never make us more human, but actually de-humanises us. And so we are unhappy.

The blessed or 'happy' ones according to Jesus are the meek, sorrowful, poor, hungry, merciful, peacemakers, pure in heart and persecuted.

So I think unhappiness and depression are two very different things.

Depression is an illness. Depression is so very tough. Depression is something that people must not fear talking about and getting help with.
I know people who suffer with depression and it is not anything to do with unhappiness in the way western culture often defines it. Depression is darkness.


The Bible is filled with stories and verses that deal with this kind of thing. The Psalms are filled with lament. Isaiah 53, understood to be about Jesus, speaks of him as being 'a man of sorrows'.

It is good to know that there is help, support, advise and treatment for people who are suffering from depression. My hope is that those who are suffering may, each day, have a glimmer of light that will eventually burn brightly and banish the darkness.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Something Beautiful

'I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.' C.S Lewis

Beauty can be very subjective. I believe this is a beautiful picture:




Beauty can be manipulated.

Did you know that BOTH the before and after photo's above were manipulated and changed by computer software...

Beauty can be hard to define.

But I believe Christianity is beautiful. I believe that through it your heart can be captivated like when you witness the dawn of a new day and are mesmerised by the power and beauty of the sun rising over the landscape.

I believe that in Jesus your eyes are opened to the beauty around you and within you. As the sun rises and its rays shimmer off the morning dew on the petal of a flower, so can Jesus astound you with his love and beauty as it shimmers and shines before your eyes. The warmth of a hug or kind word; the embrace of another as you body shakes through grief; the unseen sacrifice for others in slums and rubbish dumps - this love can captivate the darkest heart.

I believe that God, Father, Son and Spirit, is beyond the definition of beautiful. As we gasp and struggle for words when the sun blazes in its rising, so much more are words hard to find when describing the beauty and love of God.

As the sun rises and vanquishes darkness, enabling us to see, so does God drive back the darkness and reveal the truth of all around. Yet when the sun rises here, it has set somewhere else, bringing light here, but leaving darkness somewhere else. God however brings light to all nations, one day extinguishing darkness forever; the darkness of death and sin, the darkness of hate and injustice, the darkness of bigotry and violence, the darkness of poverty and oppression. One day all this darkness will be gone and His Light will shine forever.

And surely this is something we can all find beautiful.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Most Hated Family

Last night I caught up on iPlayer the Louis Theroux film on his return to the Westbro Church in America. It was called 'America's Most Hated Family in Crisis'.




What a fascinating documentary.

Without doubt these guys are in a cult. Without doubt they have lost the plot and become a caricature of themselves. But what is interesting is how their views and ideas are not too far away from many within some evangelical circles. John Piper writes after the Japan earthquake:




  1. The end-time earthquakes in the book of Revelation...are meant as calls to repentance—to warn people who deny Jesus Christ that a day is coming when unbelievers will cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16).
  2. The end-time earthquakes in Matthew 24:7-8 are meant to be interpreted as “the beginning of the birth pangs.” That is, they are a wake-up call to this world that God's kingdom will soon be born. So be alert and prepare to meet Jesus Christ.
  3. God's unilateral taking of thousands of lives is a loud declaration that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). The message for all the world is that life is a loan from God (Luke 12:20) and belongs to him. He creates it and gives it and takes it according to his own will and owes us nothing. He has a right both to children (2 Samuel 12:15) and to the aged (Luke 2:29). It is a great gift to learn this truth and dedicate our lives to their true owner rather than defraud him till it is too late.
  4. The power felt in an earthquake reveals the fearful magnificence of God. This is a great gift since “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Most of the world does not fear the Lord and therefore lacks saving wisdom. The thunder-clap summons to fear God is a mercy to those who live.
  5. When the earth shakes under our feet there is a dramatic sense that there is no place to flee. In most disasters the earth is the one thing that stands firm when wind and flood are raging. But where do you turn when the earth itself is unsafe? Answer: God.

I have many problems with much of written here. Go to this link to read the whole article.

What Piper says here is no different to some of the views and opinions coming out of Westbro. This idea that God brings judgement and 'makes' earthquakes happen. And these ideas are offensive to the Gospel of Jesus.

So while I watched this documentary and was dismayed at their ignorance, bigotry and hatred, I could also see that they are merely a product and caricature of some forms of evangelical Christianity.

My concern is that people will watch this documentary and think that all Christians think like this.

Fascinating isn't it!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Transocean gives Bonuses after Gulf of Mexico BP spill...!

Transocean, the offshore drilling firm responsible for the huge oil spill in the gulf of Mexico in April 2010, have paid its top executives bonuses for its 'best year' of safety...

Read here for more on this story.

This story makes me really angry. The report states that taking into account the disaster in Mexico, the company has provided an exemplary safety record and therefore the bonuses are credible and right to pay. I believe this is yet another example of the powerful manipulating a situation to satisfy their greed. Lies and robbery.

The poor will be impacted most likely for generations because of the disaster. It will be the poor who continue to suffer because the fishing industry has been destroyed, the tourist industry has been severely effected and because the poor have no way of turning the situation around.

These super wealthy executives will continue to feed off the poverty and disaster and continue to amass every increasing wealth in a bid to satisfy their desire for more.

I write this as one who is the top 10% of wage earners in the world. You read this as someone who is most likely in the same category. And so I write this and recognise my own failings and need to do better, to be fairer, to seek the cause of the most poorest with a bigger heart and in more sacrificial and better ways. But I write this also believing that it is right to stand up and say when something is wrong, when something is against the heart and will of God.

The poor affected by this spill will not see the bonuses. The will see poverty and suffering.

Come Lord Jesus.