Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Would you pleasure me a quote or two from my current reading, Spiritual Theology by Simon Chan to bring some enrichment to your soul
How is it, then, that Christians have come to see pride as the first of the deadly sins? “Pride is the beginning of sin,” according to Augustine. It is “undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself.” By making the self supreme, pride perverts the truth of who we really are (only the creator can be supreme, not the creature)… Pride is the sin of the devil, who, according to John Milton, would rather rule in hell then serve in heaven…

The Cure for Pride: If pride is the cardinal sin, humility is the only way forward. Scripture counsels humility (Jas. 4:6; I pet 5:5-6) and warns against having too high an estimate of oneself (Rom 12:3). Calvin understood the importance of humility: “if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer Humility.” Calvin realizes that the sinner does not willingly abandon his pride and seek after the true knowledge of God unless he is “overwhelmed by the awareness of his calamity, poverty, nakedness, and disgrace.” Quoting Augustine, Calvin adds, “When anyone realizes that in himself he is nothing and from himself he has no help, the weapons within him are broken, the wars are over.”

…But it was left to the monastic tradition to specify how these counsels are to be carried out in practice. The Rule of Saint Benedict sets out systematically to teach the monks the way of humility in twelve steps…The first step is for the monk to “keep the fear of God before his eyes” by remembering the commandments, meditating on the terrors of hell for the disobedient and constantly examining oneself.

Are we willing to search out the power and presence of pride in our own hearts and purge our souls, with all necessary measures, of its destructive effect? Knowing our consumeristic attitudes to faith and relationship with God…I wonder?


C.S. Lewis wrote that pain was “God’s megaphone to the world.” When we learn lessons while experiencing pain it seems that the lessons linger longer in our often dull minds.
Currently, and this is seriously random I know, I have a mouth ulcer on the very end of my tongue that is exceedingly painful. Often one can forget that one has a tongue in their mouth unless they are using it intentionally (dubiously or otherwise). This is not the case for me at this time; I am excruciatingly aware of my tongue—its outline, how much I use it when I talk, what letter sounds are made by the very tip of the tongue. This pain in my tongue is enlightening me even though I am finding no enjoyment in it whatsoever.

So with the pain of life, God certainly doesn’t allow us to experience it because He receives some cheap thrill as we battle through it. There is a spotlight (or highlighter) effect with pain. (Please remember that so much pain is due to sinfulness: our own, our loved ones’, or the sinful structure of secular reality) God can bring such an edge to what He is shaping in us or seeking to mould in us if these things are encountered ‘painfully.’
I have to say that several of the lessons I learnt last year (see earlier blog) were learnt within a larger framework of pain. There were probably other things that were of great importance to me last year but they do not linger in my mind with the same intensity because they did not come with, or because of, pain.

I pray that you would have the maturity and depth of person to become ‘bigger’ this year whenever you are in pain. Seek the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of pain. Growth is so important if we are to be more beneficial to society and to change lives—Pain can either grow the soul or shrink the soul it is very much up to us!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Things I've Learnt

The length of a year does not vary much at all from one to the next, well about 18 hours I guess from a long one to a short one. Yet, even with such regularity in the length of each year one can learn exceedingly different amounts from one to the next. I have always said in the years around my 21st birthday I learnt more than almost all the years leading up to that time. Of course that is not true, but it just felt like it.
In many ways no one ‘out there’ may really even care what I have learnt this year, but I thought I would write down the top three in case anyone wanted a little read:
Fatherhood is Glorious
This year our beautiful boy Malachi was born. For the 9 months that Kiralie was pregnant I felt like such a spectator, desperate to show my love to this ‘bump’ in some way possible. But you never know until the little one appears what it actually will be like when you are a father. My conclusion—absolutely amazing. The gift of parenting is a watershed for new realms of loving, both the giving and receiving of it. The positives overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives. I cannot express all that is truly wonderful about this calling.
Things almost always take longer
This year I have begun to grasp more clearly than ever before that things almost always take longer than you expect or plan. The wife and I set so many timelines and deadlines along with our expectations about when things would become clear or be settled and, more often than not, we were way off. Things happening normally involve decisions made. The more complex, or important, the decisions and outcome of things taking place the longer they seem to take. Patience is vital and hope must remain or else the ‘heart becomes sick.’ (Proverbs)
Trust God Alone
No matter how much we want to put our trust in men (includes women) ultimately we must stand upon our assurance that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and is working in ‘all things for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.’ Don’t put all your eggs in any man’s basket. I have learnt that it can take just the misinterpretation of a sentence in a conversation to change a person’s understanding of you. The consequences of this can be immensely painful, and without hope that He who is able to do all things will come through in a divine moment I am not sure how one can get by. All leadership is human and they need the grace to be so; I think the only way this is possible is if your trust is primarily and finally in God.

For each of you may 2008 be known for devotion to Christ and His Kingdom along with resounding testimony of His marvellous work for His children to the Glory of His name.

Love and Knowledge

Had the joy of preaching at our church on the last Sunday of the year. Always feel at the end of the year it is good to turn our attention to the year ahead and to ponder over things which we may make primary aims in the new ‘season.’ My heart was drawn to Philippians 1 and most particularly Paul’s brief prayer in verses 9-11.

Gordon Fee “ suggests that the substance of these three verses could almost serve as a compendium of Pauline Ethics: here is a prayer for love with discernment, for an ability to choose and identify what is best, and for the kind of Christ-empowered life whose fruit will endure in the presence of the Lord.
In other words Paul is praying for several glorious things all of which revolve around this hub of love. Paul prays that we would love with a Christ-like love, a ‘Christian’ love so to speak. A love, which is distinct from secular love; and the one thing that essentially distinguishes this love from any other is that it is built upon knowledge—knowledge of God.

Paul’s prayer is as relevant and important today as it was over 19 centuries ago. D.A Carson commenting on this prayer pulls no punches as he writes this:
The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.
When it comes to knowing God, we are a culture of the spiritually stunted. So much of our religion is packaged to address our felt needs—and these are almost uniformly anchored in our pursuit of our own happiness and fulfilment. God simply becomes the Great Being who, potentially at least, meets our needs and fulfils our aspirations.

The word Paul uses here as he seeks the Lord on ‘our’ behalf is a knowledge that is built upon a relationship with God, a deep inner knowledge of Him built upon a healthy, biblical ‘fear of the Lord’.
Will you heed this prayer? Will you love more and more? Do you dare to know the Lord as He is, allowing His startling uniqueness and majestic Lordship to grip your heart and claim all that you are so you stand out like ‘shining stars’? If you will I can hear even now as the great apostle shouts ‘Amen!’ and the Lord smiles with favour.