▶More amazing music from Josh Garrels – his new album “Home”

Home – Another great album from Josh Garrels

I love track 5 – “The Arrow”

Have a listen below, he hits some pretty high notes which make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Very cool!

How do we decide what is sexually taboo in modern society?

I’m a Christian, so you will know my opinion about homosexuality – the Bible says it is abhorrent to God, pure and simple – but this article from Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald raises issues which our society must now discuss and resolve, not just on a societal level, but legally as well.

The heading to the article is: Judge compares incest and paedophilia to past attitudes towards homosexuality, claiming they might not be taboo anymore.

I completely disagree with the Judge’s comments in this article, but I also completely understand his train of thought: If we no longer apply Christian morality to homosexuality, what morality should we choose to decide how we approach other forms of sexuality?

If society now says it’s OK for adult people to have consenting homosexual sex, what moral code do we apply to other forms of sexual activity, which were previously dumped into the same category as homosexual sex?

How do we separate sexual activity which most of us find clearly abhorrent from sexual activity which is acceptable to society?

The modern arbiter is not the Christian moral code, but in fact the level of popularity of a sexual activity:

  • With the advent of the 1960s and the free love revolution, consenting adult heterosexual activity outside of marriage came out of hiding and society declared it was OK because everyone was doing it anyway.
  • Our current generation is now declaring that consenting adult homosexual activity is OK because everyone is doing it anyway.

Will incest and paedophilia become acceptable when everyone is doing it anyway?

Paedophilia in varying forms has historically been acceptable in some ancient societies, even continuing to modern society in some regions – see this article about Bacha Bazi, culturally accepted paedophilia in Afghanistan – should the law take the taboo away in this situation because everyone is doing it in this region anyway?

Or, if popularity is not going to be our arbiter, then what form of moral code should we choose, since we have now eschewed the Christian moral code?

I assume that any form of religion-based morality is now off the table, so what are we left with?

Philosophical morality based on ancient philosophical ideals?

Or modern philosophical ideals?

Should we enshrine current cultural morality in law today and use that as our guide?

But most of modern morality is based on religious beliefs – is that acceptable? Do we pick and choose what we want in our culture’s moral code, like putting together the toppings of a home-made pizza?

What happens when society has changed so much that we need to re-visit our morality again in the future? Do we just re-enshrine the morality of that future time and go on doing that into eternity?

If we are going to adopt a roaming morality like this, why have morality at all?

At least with Christian morality, we have a boundary that defines in its own terms what is right behaviour and what is wrong behaviour.

How should a post-religious, or indeed a non-religious society, define its social boundaries and moral codes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do religions die?

Andrew Brown, from the UK’s Guardian newspaper, has written a short article asking “How do religions die?”

Obviously, he writes from the perspective of an Atheist, believing that all religions are passing fads which come and go with the ages.

“If religions are born, they must also be able to die.” he says.

One interesting approach he takes in attempting to answer the question is to “think in terms of gods dying, rather than religions”

With this assertion, he posits that when a God is no longer worshipped in any form, the religion he/she embodies dies.

The question that Andrew’s article raises in my mind is: “What if there is a God who exists even if no one worships him or believes in him?”

Does a true, living God require people to believe in him for him to exist?

The Christian God, claims to have existed since before the beginning of all things:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3

And indeed, the God of the Bible passed through milennia when no one at all worshipped him or knew anything very much about him. Before Abraham’s time, no one that we know of in pre-history had created any sort of organised religion devoted solely to worshipping the creator of the world described in the Bible. People instead made religions up and worshipped stones and images of created things, rather than acknowledging the one who had actually created the world.

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah God says:

“This is what the Lord says—
    Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
    apart from me there is no God.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
    Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
    and what is yet to come—
    yes, let them foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
    No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

A little later, speaking about how a man uses a tree, he goes on to say:

15 It is used as fuel for burning;
    some of it he takes and warms himself,
    he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
    he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
    over it he prepares his meal,
    he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
    “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
    he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
    “Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
    their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
    and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
    no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
    I even baked bread over its coals,
    I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
    Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
    he cannot save himself, or say,
    “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Isaiah 44:6-20

It’s funny, isn’t it? The God described in the Bible would agree with Andrew Brown’s article: Religions rise based on the delusions of men and therefore die because they have no basis in truth or in fact.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was indeed a living God who was real and not a lie. A God who didn’t need men to worship him in order to have self-validation.

I worship that God. His name is Jesus Christ.

 

The Whole Bible in a Single Verse

The Bible is a big, complicated series of books which cover a myriad of stories and themes all dealing with God’s interaction with people and how he wants us to live.

But the length and variety of content in the Bible can make it very hard for the ordinary person to make heads or tails of what the whole thing is all about.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could have all of that information distilled down to one book of about 50 pages?

Or what about one chapter of about 1 page?

Better yet, what about an explanation of the whole Bible in a single verse?

Well, for me that single verse would come from an unlikely place:

2 Samuel 14:14

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.

These words are uttered by a wise woman to king David in an attempt to bring reconciliation between himself and his son Absalom, who had killed his brother Amnon because Amnon had raped their sister Tamar (there’s a mixed up story in itself…).

Back to the verse, though.

It breaks down into three sections:

1) We must all die.

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die.

No mucking around here, just the plain, hard-nosed fact. We must all die; it’s the only certainty in life. There is no way out for any of us; there is no way we can cheat death. But wait…

2) God doesn’t want us to die.

But that is not what God desires;

Good news. God wants us to live. He isn’t uncaring and distant.  God knows we must die, but he doesn’t want us to come a sticky end. He wants better for us. He is on our side! He has always been on our side!

3) God has fixed the problem.

rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.

Not only does God not want us to die, he has actually done something about it. This section encompasses the history of Israel and the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.

Abraham, Moses, the people of Israel – all were chosen to reveal God to the world. They are a part of the way he devised so that people didn’t have to remain banished from him.

They prepared the way for Christ, who finished the job by dying in our place to pay for our sins and to remove the separation between God and people.

God has devised ways, outlined throughout the Bible, which have taken away our state of banishment from God.

Jesus said…, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:24-26

Whoever believes in the name of Jesus Christ for salvation is forgiven and has his sins removed. His banishment is removed. He is restored to close relationship with God and can enter into his presence with confidence and without fear. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

I dunno about you, but for me it can’t get any simpler.

The whole Bible explained in a single verse.

And, if you take time to think about it, you can gain a whole lot more insight into God’s character, his motivation and his relationship with us from this simple passage.

So, what can we take away from this?

My response in a word: Yay!

Are you a player or a pretender?

Many people in Australia identify themselves as Christians.

Many people in Australia also like to follow football.

If you are going to call yourself a footballer, BUT

  • you don’t know the rules of football
  • you don’t sacrifice your own time to do the things footballers do
  • you don’t go to weekly training sessions
  • you don’t have the boots and gear for playing football
  • you don’t turn up to play football each weekend with the team
  • you don’t work as a team on the field
  • you don’t listen to your coach and captain

then you are not a footballer.

 

If you are going to call yourself a Christian BUT

  • you don’t read the Bible
  • you don’t know what Jesus Christ actually taught in the Bible
  • you don’t sacrifice your own time to do the things Christ wants you to do
  • you don’t try to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ
  • you don’t meet regularly with Christians to encourage each other in your faith
  • you don’t talk to God or listen to him when he tells you how to play the “Christian’ game
  • more importantly, if you have not actually and specifically decided to stop living a life that is not pleasing to God
  • and if you have not accepted God’s offer of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • and if you do not have the Holy Spirit living in you (Romans 8:9)

then you are not a Christian.

We are perfect in Christ!

I’ve just been researching a sermon and I came across this gem from C.H.Spurgeon:

Perfection in Christ

It’s a sermon he delivered on July 3 1898.

Here’s a brief extract:

When Jesus died, each one of us who believe in Jesus died in Him. And when He suffered, we suffered in Christ. Our sins were laid on Christ’s head and now, Christ’s merits are laid on us… Believers are, in Christ, perfect—every one of them!
I tell you, Christian, you are complete in Him, you are perfect in Christ Jesus! Having been washed in His blood, clothed with His righteousness, united to His  Person, you are, this moment, perfect in Him!
 

As Spurgeon goes on to say – “Does not this startle us?”

It’s worth thinking about.

 

 

Why are Christians so annoying?

What is the deal with Christians anyway?

They are like uber-persistent, irritating little terriers nipping at your heels- they won’t go away even if you kick them across the room.

Well, from the perspective of a Christian it is simple.

Our whole purpose in life is to be witnesses to what we have seen and heard and experienced in regard to the veracity of the claims of Jesus Christ.

We don’t believe in ideas. If we believed in Jesus Christ as an idea, most of us would stop being Christians within six months.

We believe in the real, often life-changing  experience of of the living Jesus Christ in our lives.

I know that a common response to this is to say that we are brainwashed, gullible fanatics, but honestly, we’re not, (well, maybe some of us are, but then some of you are too).

  • We are just as clever as some of you.
  • We are just as dumb as others of you.
  • We are just as noble and good as many of you.
  • We are just as evil and sinful as others of you.
  • When you ridicule us, we understand – it sounds stupid to us too.
  • When you try to reason with us, we understand, we reason the same way ourselves.

The only difference between us is that we are making the claim that we have actually really met God, not because we are different from you or better than you, but just because we have met him.

We bear witness to the fact that he truly is real, in spite of how silly and unsupportable and illogical it all sounds.

It doesn’t matter what you might say in counter to our claims, our own eyes and our own ears and our own experiences, multiplied by the millions of people who share these experiences, keep reinforcing in us every day what we would all too easily abandon if it were not thrust upon us afresh each time we encountered God.

We bear witness to the fact that God is real and that Jesus Christ is his Son and that he offers all men eternal life if they change their minds about him and accept his offer of eternal life in him.

Essentially, we are witnesses.

  • If you disagree and abuse us, it is no skin off our nose.
    We are simply telling you the truth we have come to know.
  • If you delude yourself into thinking that we are all deluded, it is no skin off our nose.
    We are simply telling you the truth we have come to know.

And we have to keep telling you this because we really, truly have seen and heard and experienced the truth of Jesus Christ, plain and simple.

There doesn’t have to be any religious bells and whistles surrounding it. These facts stand without the need for ceremony or ritual.

If we were not to persist in this ‘delusion’ then we would be lying to you.

We are persistent because God is persistent in interweaving his presence in our lives – he won’t let us forget about him.

Our message is this: Jesus Christ is real. He died in our place to make us right with God, that includes you if you accept his offer. He loves you and wants you to live forever with him. All you have to do is change your mind, believe in him and follow him for the rest of your life.

That’s the point of view from a Christian perspective.