'Surprised by Joy'
Monday, 23 May 2011
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.
C S Lewis -
'Surprised by Joy'
'Surprised by Joy'
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15–16
There are times when life gets so hard that you feel unable to pray; you may even feel you no longer have any faith. It seems as if the Savior is far from you and that you no longer belong to the Savior, or that you never were on the right track to begin with. It’s as if you were in hell, gripped with fear and a sense of being lost. You may even wish you had never been born. The pain is too great, the future too hopeless.
How I would love to direct you in such a way that all darkness is taken away from your soul! But such agony cannot be blown away with one stroke. For that, we have to wait for a time of grace. Yet, even now the Savior can give you much, but only if you become quiet and place your hope in him. If you remain childlike about your condition, you will not think that everything is lost – even when you hear discordant voices inside you. The Savior is there to comfort you. And if you are unable to become quiet, don’t worry. The harm is not irreparable. Inability is not a sin. The Savior loves you, if only because of your sighs.
Remember, Jesus came into the flesh, into your very need, so that you may know that God is not indifferent to your suffering. You sigh and weep, you are miserable, you mourn for the Savior. That is all right, as long as you do it in the right way. The Savior did not say: “Blessed are those whose cause is right.” He did say: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn” (Matt. 5:3–4). Believe it!
If you can’t feel the Savior, then all the more believe in him. Those to whom God’s love is nearest are precisely those who don’t see and yet believe (John 20:29). The same is true of those who don’t feel and yet believe. The enemy often wreaks havoc on our feelings; but he can’t touch your faith. The devil cannot own your faith –unless you give in.
Sometimes you will feel that you have no faith, and yet deep down you still believe. Believe then in your faith. Things will get better. Christ is there, even if he is somewhat hidden. Don’t even be afraid of hell – he is there too. Anyone who sighs and longs will not be lost. It is for our sake that the Lord reveals his glory. Remember, the Savior intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:34) and cannot help but intervene with his assistance if you have a longing in your heart.
Johann Christoph Blumhardt
Sunday, 8 May 2011
THE POET DOWN
for Patrick Kavanagh
for Patrick Kavanagh
He sits between the doctor and the law,
Neither can help. Barbiturate in paw
one, whiskey in paw two, a dying man:
the poet down, and his full caravan.
They laugh and they mistake the lash that lurks
in his tongue for the honey of his works.
The poet is at bay, the hounds baying,
dig his grave with careful kindness, saying :
‘Another whiskey, and make it a large one !’
Priests within, acolytes at the margin
the red impaled bull’s roar must fascinate -
they love the dead, the living man they hate.
They were designing monuments - in case -
and making furtive sketches of his face
and he could hear, above their straining laughs,
the rustling foolscap of their epitaphs.
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Wednesday, 4 May 2011
A TIMELESS TEACHING
These are words we need to be reminded of over and over again as we seek to follow the way of the Master. Such extraordinary forbearance is impossible through human resolve alone and with this in mind He has sent the Holy Spirit "to lead us into all truth". Only through His supernatural power can we ever hope to even come near to the standard of living being set out here. This teaching is timeless...its implication is radical...here from the lips of Jesus is a truly life altering principle.
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
When I arrived at work the other morning I was greeted with the news, “So they got Bin Laden” My first reaction was of slight incredulity as he has become an elusive icon for violent Islamic fundamentalism over the last 15 years and has been pursued for all of that time by the Americans . Two days ago in a heavily secured compound in Pakistan, elite members of the U.S. SEALS unit stormed the building shooting the terrorist leader through the head. Even the death of such a patently dangerous man should cause us to stop and reflect on the whole issue of the taking of a life. On Facebook I exchanged thoughts on this subject in response to a post by an idealistic (I don’t use that word condescendingly)) young woman who felt that any killing is wrong and there should be a better way. My mind recalled that incredible Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who during the Nazi regime joined a group who planned to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer described himself as a Christian pacifist but was prepared to live with the consequences of killing Hitler for the sake of the greater good. As it happened Bonhoeffer and his companions were arrested and executed before they could carry out their plan.
Men like Gandhi and Martin Luther King eschewed violence even in the face of very forceful confrontation taking Jesus’ teaching of ‘turning the other cheek’ literally. So through the ages followers of Jesus have responded differently to the problem of evil and the proper response of a child of God to violent attack. My own thoughts on this run along the lines of two possible courses of action at a personal and a governmental level. While Jesus certainly taught non-confrontation in his Sermon on the Mount there is a clear passage in Romans 13 which allows the governing authority to ‘wield the sword’ against wrongdoers. It seems to me that the individual is called to live a peaceful life where we forgive those who wrong us and we do not return evil for evil. In society however it seems that the government has a duty of care towards its citizens to protect them from violent people and those who would do harm. In this context the death of Osama Bin Laden was a justifiable act against a man who had not only admitted his part in the mass murders of thousands of people, but had openly gloried in those terrible acts.
The Bible tells us that God does not delight in the death of the wicked and neither should we. Every mans death is a stark reminder of the present bind of sin upon this whole earth and even the death of a wicked man should give us pause for thought. Bin Laden ended up with his warped philosophy after many twists and turns in his own life and it must be said, the sometimes indefensible activities of Western powers in his own homeland. While his perception of injustices heaped against his people may have been correct , the resolution of them through violence and killing led to his involvement in one awful atrocity after another, with a huge cost in innocent lives lost. The challenge now for the Americans after this coup is to proceed with graciousness and caution not getting caught up in triumphal boasting or reacting gleefully to the death of their greatest enemy. As the philosopher Nietzsche warned, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. "