Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Prayer News

I am planning on writing up some reflections on the summer mission I co-lead in Montenegro this summer. But for now, I thought I'd upload the latest edition of my prayer letter which has a section about Montengro on it.

Read it here

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

In Psalm 139, King David is in awe of God and waxes lyrical about the amazingly complex and wonderful creation of a human life within a mother's womb.

Today, with the advances of technology, we are able to see life growing within a mother's womb. A great example of man using his God-given creativity for good purposes (although that same technology is used for the convenient destruction of human life).

My wife and I were at the hospital for the 20 week scan of our baby at the end of July. The detail is incredible and we didn't even have one of those special 3D scans! (the picture above doesn't do it justice) We were able to see facial features, tiny finger bones and even the chambers of the heart!!! We were amazed and incredibly excited to see our baby and we are so thankful to God for the blessing and privilege of becoming parents.

But, at the same time, I also found myself reflecting that this same technology which drew praise of God from us it the same technology which will mean many parents will choose to terminate the life of the baby because of an abnormality or genetic defect.

Nancy and I had made the decision long ago that whatever happened we would continue with the pregnancy believing that we have no right to "play God" and because we know God loves us, loves this child and we wanted to witness to His love and grace in our lives whatever the situation. As it stands we are reliably informed by the hospital the our baby is perfectly healthy so we aren't faced with any decision. But we knew we needed to have made a theologically informed decision before being faced with a very emotional situation which may well cloud our judgement.

The question I know that is always raised is; "is it loving to let a child come into this world knowing its quality of life will be poor?"

As genuine a question as that is for many, I often wonder whether if it is a just a capitulation to the world's ideas and principles for others.
It is true that love should drive our every decision, but I don't think we can judge the quality of life of a human being when there are many living examples of people who in the midst of these so-called abnormalities have led joyful, fulfilled and at times unbelievably inspirational lives.

Who is to say what God's purposes are in the life of this child, in the lives of the parents as they look after the child and in the lives of those around as they see the grace of God working? The opportunity to love the child once it is born and display the kind of self-sacrificial love of Christ to the world in doing so is surely far greater than 'loving' the child by ending its life.

Let me end this brief, and possibly very emotive, post by saying I do not in any way wish to judge anyones decisions (past or present), I hope the post does not come across that way. Any comments or questions are welcome as always.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Mumford and Sons - Awake My Soul

I think this will be my 4th and final blog post on songs from Mumford and Sons debut album "Sigh No More". If you don't own a copy, I highly recommend it.

Awake my soul is yet another interesting song. As with the other posts I have written, I am not going to comment on every word or line, but just a little section of the lyrics.

In these bodies we will live
In these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love
You invest your life

The mortality of humanity is evident all around us, you only have to turn on the news, read the BBC website or check your twitter feed to see something about a famine, a murder, or a tragic accident. We do live in these bodies and die in these bodies, 1 in 1 people die. The Bible tells us our days are like grass, we are like a morning mist that passes away.
With this in mind, it no surprise that many of those who believe there is no God try live fast and die young, or seek as many pleasurable experiences in the here and now before they disappear into the darkness. That is a consistent way to live.

Two things for us to consider though. The first is from the title of the song and the line that follows:
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your Maker
Our bodies do die, but we have eternity built into our hearts. We are made in the image of God. Our souls will go on beyond this life in the body. We were made to meet our Maker.
However much a person may deny it, the existence of God is a reality that we supress (Romans 1). We were made to know and meet our Maker. The creation around us shows His invisible qualities, His divine attributes. Supremely we see Jesus, the exact representation of His being. Jesus, the one by whom, through whom and for whom, all things were created, that includes you and I.
The question then arises, "Am I ready to meet my Maker?"
For Christians the wonderful truth is that because Jesus died and rose again physically, we have the promise of a new resurrection body, far greater than this earthly body, and we will live on the new earth forever enjoying our Maker. (See what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15).
The Bible also warns that those who do not know Jesus will also meet their Maker, but that it will not be a day of joy but a day of terror, because they will still have to bow the knee and confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, but they will not receive joyful life eternal, instead it will be just punishment.

The second thing I want to draw out briefly is the second half of the first quotation above.
There are many places where we can invest our love; spouse, children, family, friends, job, sports team, dreams, ambitions etc.
It is totally true isn't it, that where you invest your love, you invest your life? Whatever you love, you spend time on, you commit your finances to, you prioritise. In short, your actions betray your heart. Whatever it is that you love will be evident in your life.

What does your life show that you love?

This is something that has been cropping up in various places over the last year. The heart is the centre of the affections, desires and love in our lives. It is the heart the drives the will. You do what you want to do because your mind is controlled by your hearts desires.
So it is very true that wherever your love is invested, your life will be too.
Jesus makes it very clear in Luke ch10 that the summation of the law is this:

Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself

The reason this is the sum of the law is because if you love God and love neighbour your actions, your life, will be for them. Rules will not change behaviour because the heart is directs the will.
If you love God you will keep His commands. This is clear in 1 John. It is NOT if you keep God's commands you love Him. It's one-directional, because you love God, you will keep His commands, you will love what he loves and hate what He hates. You life will be invested in God because you love Him. "Where you invest your love, you invest your life" is a wonderful line, very profound.

The only place worth investing your love is primarily in God, because He is love; Father Son and Holy Spirit eternally existing in perfect loving relationship. Also because we were created out of the outflow of that love to meet out Maker and be drawn into that love. This will then flow out in love for other people.

Check out the song here