The Moon Is Round

A 14 year old girl who was slowly decaying from cancer was asked by her family to keep a journal. When she died, they found a note that said: “The moon is round.” As they read your journal they learnt that she meant that even when you can only see a sliver of the moon, you still know it is round. In the same way, she knew that even though she couldn’t fully understand what was going on, that God was sovereign.

That was an illustration in a talk over KEC 2012 that I was really encouraged by. I went back this year to yet again serve the senior high kids and they in turn were such an encouragement to me. One of them said one day, that in our busy city lives, when we look up at the stars we can’t see them. But when you strip away the busyness, head out into the country and lie in the middle of a field, all the glory of God’s creation is stretched out before you and you can’t help but marvel. I was so encouraged to not let my earthly life cloud my vision of God’s immense holiness and wonder.

As we sat together under the word of God we were blown away by the infinite becoming intimate as God transfers his holiness to us as we are made right by God and for God. (Isaiah 6:1-9). And how perceiving truly his holiness we should be driven to our deeds as we see the horror of our sin. We learnt how unfair the truth is. That Christ would lovingly save his enemies from what they deserved, so that we can have no punishment, no penalty but peace (Romans 5:1-11). So that even in suffering, we can have tears of joy, knowing we are united in Christ and that even our sin and shame can’t prevent him from loving us.

Even though God will continue to forgive us our sins, this grace is not a licence to sin. Instead, the old person that we were is crucified along with Christ so that we bear condemnation no more. We are made a new creation, born again, united with Christ in his resurrection. Our new selves are called to do things that are not to our earthly advantage, but these earthly risks are for eternal values. No longer does God dwell separate from us but instead with us, as the Holy Spirit, no longer slaves to sin, we are empowered to face and overcome sin. (Romans 6:1-14)

We have a God who is faithful to his promises, Merciful to his people and so we endure in the hope we have been given and are driven to share that hope.

As we were talking in our discussion group, someone said, “But we’re young and often I don’t feel equipped to tell people what I believe.” Someone pulled out Job 32:6-10:

“And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said:
I am young in years,
and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid
to declare my opinion to you.
I said,’Let days speak,
and many years teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in man,
the breath of the Almighty, that
makes him understand.
It is not the old who are wise,
nor the aged who understand what
is right.
Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me;
let me also declare my opinion.’

Advertisements

Doubts, Questions, Queries, Thoughts…

Just because I know you’re out there, I thought I’d just remind you that the ‘Itching Questions’ tab still exists.

I absolutely love questions. Even when I can’t answer them, they open an opportunity for thought.

Don’t be intimidated because I don’t know anywhere near everything and I never will.

Don’t be afraid because my aim isn’t to cut you down but to draw light on your questions/thoughts from the Bible.

Don’t hesitate because you might learn something you didn’t know before.

Don’t hold back because getting into the depths of the Bible is something I find fascinating and I can guarantee it’s worthwhile.

So there, hopefully that’s reason enough to just ask away.

Holiness in a World Where Anything Goes

Holiness: non-conformity

Today I’ll be heading off to Easter Convention which is like a big family camp that happens every year and they get all these great speakers in from every where to come and speak. This year I’ve been asked to help lead the yr 11 and 12 group, so its gonna be an exciting few days for me. When I get back I’ll let you all know how it went down.

This year the theme is….’Committment in the age of disposable love’. Don Carson, who is pretty well known in Christian circles, written like a million books. Then there’s Dale Davis, who is a Professor of the OT somewhere in America, and finally Simon Flinders, from right here in Australia, who is the Chaplain to the Australian Cricket team. So I’m really excited and thought I’d let you know what’s coming up. If you could pray that hearts would be changed and that the leaders would have energy and enthusiasm to serve these next few days.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. This who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying other.”
 Galatians 5:16-26

Young people grow up these days with little understanding of what is right or wrong. Let me justify myself with some statistics…

Australia was reported to have the sixth largest rate of teenage pregnancy among developed nations in 2003.  5% of Australian babies were reported to be born to teenage girls, while legally induced abortions were the second highest reason for girls between the ages of 12 and 20 to get admitted to hospitals.

Crime statistics present that roughly one-third of all victims of violent crime are teenagers, between the ages of 12 and 19. Need I say more?

I hope that you can agree that this has developed from the ‘relativism’ I talked about in the last post. It has led to little fundamental agreement over what is right and what is wrong. As Satre once said:

“God does not exist and we have to face all the consequences of this. It is extremely embarrassing that God does not exist for there disapears with him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. We find no values or commands to turn to”

Can we decide between right and wrong?

People who don’t believe in a moral authority follow how they feel when they make a decision. This feels right or it feels wrong. You know, the cliche ‘go with your gut feeling’.
But to be honest, feelings aren’t that reliable and change from culture to culture and person to person. Look at Adolf Hitler, he felt it was right to kill off all the Jews.

This world screams, ‘We are released from the shackles of religion and Victorian morality, we are free to believe what we like and behave how we want.’ It sure sounds attractive, doesn’t it? But are its consequences as desirable?

“for it is written:” Be holy, because I am holy.””
1 Peter 1:16

‘There is no truth except my truth and no morality except my morality.’
To be holy means to be set apart, to be different in a way that reflects God’s moral perfection in ones life. This is one of the hardest things for a Christian cos as humans we’re naturally conformist. We prefer to ‘go with the flow’, ‘follow the crowd’.

1. We Must Recognise Our Sin.

The purpose of moral law is to make us aware of our sin. In a previous post called ‘No one is Righteous, not even one’ I expand on this a little more if you’re interested. Following and perfecting this law isn’t what saves you, you can’t perfect yourself. Salvation comes through Christ alone in faith alone.
The passage above suggests that the church that Paul was writing to were becoming complacent about this. They had thought, ‘well, if we’re saved, and Jesus has got all our sins covered, past, present and future, then we can just sin all we want, he’s got it all covered.’ Paul corrects this and says that it does matter how we live.

Rotten to the Core
No matter how morally sound we present oursleves everyone is sinful and corrupt within. The recognition of sin is the first step to living differently.

A Grusome List

“The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
v19-21

Look at this list, by nature we are competitively selfish – sexual immorality, fractured relationships, pride. However, God doesn’t ‘grade’ sin, there is none more severe than any other.  And becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you are magically immune to sin

2. We depend on God’s Spirit

‘Holiness is not a self-help programme’ – Vaughan Roberts
We can’t make ourselves holy all on our own, if you want to become more like Christ, he is your call of help.

The Fruit of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is what opens up a new lifestyle. ‘A vine does not produce fruit by an act of parliament. They are the fruits of the vine’s own life.’ It is the spirit that will make real changes within a person, not following the law like they are the keys to Salvation.

3. We Must Work Hard

So like I said before, being saved isn’t the cue to go on taking it for granted.
” So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the deasires of the sinful nature.”v16
Making the decision to live by the spirit isn’t easy, but its rewarding.
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”v17
Living as a Christian is a battel between two natures, the spirit and our sinful nature. Every decision, action and thought is a moral choice as to which side you’re gonna go.
Keeping in step with the spirit means to consciously operate alongside it, the choice is all yours.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
v24-25

We need to live lives that reflect our decision to follow Christ. The Spirit works as we work. You can’t just sit back and wait for God to do it all, He works alongside us, giving us the strength to fight but we must supply the will.

The choice is yours, we can’t change on our own, follow the sinful nature or the Spirit.