Archive for the ‘christianity’ Tag

When you must choose!   1 comment

A while ago someone I respect asked me if, given my emphatically stated position on keeping politics out of the church,  I thought  a pastor had any responsibility  in advising their congregations on their involvement in the political process. This caused me to think very carefully over recent months and to read fairly widely on the subject of Christians in culture and the public square. The current electoral season has generated a rash of blogs, articles and podcasts on the subject and as a consequence I have reached the conclusion that I should share four principles  I believe are firmly based in scripture and that people might find helpful:

1 God is still in charge! Presidents, Prime Ministers, politicians, pastors and the rest of us come and go but God remains entirely and eternally in control. His plan remains unchanged, as it has through the ages, and nothing can deviate Him from its fulfillment.

2 The phrase ” lesser of two evils” is not found or implied anywhere in scripture (to my knowledge). The Bible is clear that all forms of evil come from the forces of darkness and are to be resisted Ephesians 6:10-12. James 4:7

3. The scripture is full of applicable principles and I trust you will search them prayerfully as you ponder these things. In this context I want to share just one:

Know, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,

and this is what he requires of you:

to do what is right, to love mercy,

and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

4. The fact that someone comes to a different conclusion than you about the application of these, and other biblical principles, does not mean they are bad people neither does it call their relationship with Jesus into question. By God’s grace you will share heaven with many of them, and remember, when the time comes, we will stand before almighty God alone!

I am aware I have on many occasions expressed my relief at not having to make political choices since I am not s citizen. However I have no wish to use this as an excuse not to think and pray for each of you as you think and pray about the choices you must make. To finish I return to where I started, remember, in politics, as in every other aspect of life, God is still in charge and He always will be!

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Posted May 11, 2016 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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A Real Book   Leave a comment

Some times I just like to have a old fashioned book in my hands! I do believe You Version to be one of the greatest gifts that the Body of Christ has received in the recent past. His word is “a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path” to have it readily available on all our mobile devices is an inestimable blessing. However I have to be honest there are occasions when I still love to turn pages and my daily devotional is one of those times. Recently I have been using a devotional book     41uIkC0wdNL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_entitled  “Through the Bible, Through the Year.” This volume is a selection of writings from  the late John Stott.

Sometime ago I wrote that when The Father took John Stott home to be with him we lost one of the most remarkable Biblical expositors  of our generation. However Dr Stott was not just a scholar, but also a pastor with a supreme ability to make the most complex Biblical concepts crystal clear. One example to which I refer often is his masterful explanation of Jesus death on the cross for us  in ” The Cross of Christ”

“The concept of salvation may be said then to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God  sacrifices Himself for man and puts Himself where only man should be. Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone and God accepts penalties which belong to man alone”

In this devotional volume,“Through the Bible, Through the Year.” you have the chance to feed on this supreme wisdom day after day. In a single page and few verses each day he unfolds the big story of scripture in a wonderful way and the portion set for each day is brief enough to make it easy to catch up if you get behind. One reason for sharing this now is that he follows a calendar that begins in Genesis next week. The book is laid out in such a way that you can begin at anytime, but to start at the beginning has a certain logic to it! So if you are looking for a real book with pages to turn during a daily devotion, this one will not disappoint I guarantee it!

Growing Hope   Leave a comment

imgres       Family movie night at New Life yesterday and we saw a really interesting movie ” Where Hope Grows.”  (in the course of this blog I may stray into “spoiler” territory if and when I do so I will proceed this with the word SPOILER and you should stop reading at that point to avoid information that might spoil the movie for you). This is the latest offering from such movies as Courageous and Fireproof. Calvin Thompson is a single father living with his seventeen year old daughter Kate. He was a major league baseball player until his lack of performance resulted in him being kicked off the team . Since then his life has spiralled out of control, fueled largely by the contents of a bottle. At his local supermarket he meets a young man with Downs Syndrome who takes pride in his nick-name -Produce and, of course, he is responsible for the fruit and vegetable displays in the store. The movie chronicles the relationship between Calvin and this grocery store employee, Produce as they become friends and their lives become intertwined. SPOILER

 

The movie begins by revealing a number of lives largely devoid of hope. Calvin with no hope of any direction, Katie without hope of any change in her father, and Produce with no hope of becoming employee of the month! Calvin sees in Produce, however, an uncanny ability to remain cheerful and positive in any situation and in the end asks Produce what his secret is.  Produce never articulates any details but in time asks Calvin if he will give him a lift to church and suggests he might come in. Inevitably Calvin declines choosing rather to join his friend on the golf course. During their round his best friend confronts him as a loser detailing his lack of purpose since leaving the major leagues . Calvin’s violent response leads him into a freefall drunken binge resulting in him lying, passed out on baseball field having missed an interview for a job. As the story proceeds Calvin tentatively approaches Alcoholics Anonymous and things begin to change.

I won’t disclose any more but there are a number of notable aspects of the story. Produce gives a powerful picture of unconditional love as only a person with downs syndrome can. Anyone who has been in contact with one of these wonderful people will inevitably be engulfed in their effortless and irrepressible affection and cheerfulness. For Produce hugs are the order of the day and, as he engages Calvin in unconditional friendship it is hard to avoid being reminded of the unconditional love we are offered in Jesus. When he was asked his secret I wondered, is there anything in my life as a follower of Jesus that would prompt that  question of me?

The movie ends not with a death-bed conversion or dramatic life changes (although the end is not what I expected!) but rather in a place where all those who had no hope at the beginning of the story are granted a glimmer of that hope. Kate has her father back, and Calvin has a job. It would seem they have joined Produce at church so we see the seeds of faith beginning to sprout! Yes there is hope for Produce too, but if you want to know about that you will have to see the movie!

Posted August 29, 2015 by jolm15 in Movies

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Dark Friday?   Leave a comment

Honestly we seem have little idea what to do with this strange day we call “Good Friday.” Growing up in England it was always a national holiday. Most, if not all, businesses closed  and there was a sense of muted respect even in the lives of those for whom the message of the day was not understood. Coming to live in the US, I was initially struck by the scant attention that was paid to the day, especially by Christians. Some of the more traditional churches offered observant meditations and others held evening events but there was very little to suggest that there was anything to remember on this particular day. Remember what ?

This year, as never before, I have been impacted by the need to remember and grapple with the darkness that was such a stark reality, particularly for that little group of Jesus followers 2000 years ago. As one of them sold him, another denied even knowing Him, and all disappeared fearing for their lives, Jesus walked a lonely and agonizing path.

He endured trials that made a mockery of justice along with mental and physical abuse beyond our imagination only to be nailed on a cross. Why? Because, a few hours before, he had knelt in quiet of the garden of Gethsemane and surrendered to His Father’s plan. It was His decision and from that moment He walked with resolve and purpose into the darkness. Nothing happened by accident. He chose to grasp every moment with both hands.

So how should we, as Jesus followers today, observe Good Friday? We can learn from Peter, impetuous enthusiastic Peter who only opens his mouth to change feet! How heroic was his promise never to leave Jesus’ side but how tragic the paralyzing fear that resulted in him not only leaving him but denying that he even knew Jesus. How excruciating the moment must have been when those eyes, the eyes of his precious friend “ the Lord turned and looked upon Peter and Peter remembered”. The darkness had drawn out and revealed his self-confidence and arrogance. Not to humiliate and crush him, but to restore and heal him so he could become the pillar on which God would build the church. But for now, on the day we now call “Good Friday”, he needed to wait in the darkness and confront the truth.

There is, of course, so much to learn from Jesus. He surrendered to the will of His Father and headed resolutely into the darkness. Things did not get better. They got worse until he would gasp those final words “It is finished”. However it was that absolute trust in his Father that gave Him the strength to proceed with unwavering conviction.

We are blessed to know the next chapter and the joy and victory it brings but we should not rush past Good Friday. I believe we must pause to embrace its darkness and pain. Maybe God has something to call out of us, so that he might bring us healing and transformation. Or perhaps His purpose is to renew our confidence in Him and our perseverance so that, by truly embracing the darkness now we might celebrate an amazing Easter Sunday and be used by Him in significant ways in the future.

Posted March 29, 2013 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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