Toby Young in the Telegraph blogs on how Michael A. Nutter, the Mayor of Philadelphia is responding to rioting in his community. Makes for interesting reading a quite a contrast to our politicians.
Our politicians talk about puinshing criminal behaviour but seem unwilling or unable to face up to the issues in our communities that lie behind such blatant criminality. Is the issue that our politicians are afraid to lead on the heart issues facing our communities?
I am so grateful to God for the privilege of growing up in a stable environment and a loving home. I fear for our children who live with the consequences of broken homes and absentee fathers who feel no responsibility for the care, nurture and training of their children. The issue is not single-mothers who are doing all they can to raise their children but absent fathers who are not. God has given us the family for a purpose – our politicians need to do more to rebuild the fabric of society.
Last night we saw the collapse of law and order on the streets of many parts of London and Birmingham. As Christians how do we respond?
1. We pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2) that they may know how to deal with the unpredictable and escalating violence and lawlessness. For all in government at the local and national level as they prepare for the coming nights ahead.
2. We are not surprised by the events of the last few nights (although we are saddened and shocked) because as Christians we recognise the doctrine of total depravity when we see it. The actions of last night are not an indicator of social deprivation but of total depravity the doctrine which Wayne Grudem in his systematic theology defines as follows;
‘because of the fall and our own wilful sinfulness all mankind are thoroughly corrupt and completely evil. We are restrained from living out our corruptness to its fulness by God’s common grace.’
When the restraining power of the conscience within and law and order without are removed people are capable of committing great evils.
3. We thank God for his restraining hand that has kept our nation from a break down of law and order on countless occasions in the past. When we live at peace we are getting better than our sins deserve. When our streets are safe we remember how good God is to us and we do not take his common grace for granted. We pray that God in his mercy will restore law and order.
4. We pray for churches in the communities affected that they may speak out against such acts of evil and be salt and light. We pray in particular for those who run youth groups and clubs that interact with youth caught up in the events of last night that they may lead them to true repentance and faith in Christ.
5. We thank God for the bravery of many Police officers who have risked their lives to protect our streets. We see the image of God in their selfless acts and in their restraint. We pray for many who are working extra hours and have had annual leave cancelled to defend us.
6. We pray for those who committed these acts. That the Spirit of Christ may convict them of their sin and lead them to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.
7. We pray that justice will be done and seen to be done in the arrest of those responsible
Paul writes in Romans 13:2-3;
He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.
8. We pray for those who have lost their livelihood or their homes and possessions. That believers would be comforted and supported in their loss and that the church may act decisively to bring relief to those in their distress.
9. We pray for all Christians that they may have opportunity to speak of Christ, sensitively and wisely, in their places of work and communities today. That we may
10. For the longer term we pray for our cities and in particular the inner cities where disaffection and dissatisfaction with life leads to lawlessness, criminality, to violence and to gang culture. We pray that gospel men and women will plant churches and develop ministries to see these young men and women won for Christ.
11. We pray for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of his kingdom; for the time when he will remove all wickedness and evil from our world and for his perfect and good rule to be established in our world.
Jim Packer speaks at a memorial service in Vancover, Canada to celebrate the life and ministry of John Stott.
Ask any pastor and there are certain tragic situations and circumstances that they dread ever being expected to preach on. Dane Ortland points us to a book to be published in the US next week that, judging by the contributing authors, every pastor and would-be pastor will want to have.
The truly brave and selfless act of an ordinary hero – what we learn from events in Sydney yesterday
Yesterday in a wealthy suburb of Sydney the most terrifying events were unfolding. An 18 year old woman was disturbed in her own home by an intruder who placed a suspected explosive device round her neck.
It took the Police 10 hours to remove the device which mercifully turned out to be a ‘very, very elaborate hoax’.
The Police confirmed that a note was attached which warned that any attempt to call the police would result in the device being detonated.
The story is horrifying. But even in the midst of such darkness there is also a story of extraordinary courage and sacrifice.
Two Officers who were on general duties in the area that day responded when the woman called the Police.
“What they saw was a very distressed young lady with what we believed to be at the time an improvised explosive device attached to her body,” Mr Murdoch, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner, told Fairfax radio.
The young female officer, Constable Karen Lowden, stayed with Ms Pulver for the first two hours whilst her colleague evacuated the area.
“She was not wearing any protective clothing or equipment, she wasn’t trained as a negotiator, but she made the decision herself, this young officer, to stay with Madeleine and make sure she tried to remain calm and she wasn’t left alone, provided moral support for her, and she did an outstanding job in that regard.”
That this Police Officer choose to risk her own life for a stranger is an inspiring example of the fact that we still see the image of God in the lives of ordinary people.
The BBC website reports
“The New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione commended Constable Lowden for her “truly brave and selfless act“.
Mr Scipione said he had spoken to the officer and congratulated her. “She is a humble, quietly-spoken woman who did not see herself as a hero,” he said.”
As Christians we mourn over such a shocking example of depravity in our world and we marvel at the extraordinarily ‘selfless act’. We find in it the echoes of Christ’s work of selfless humility and maybe too we can take this opportunity to remember that the call of duty is that we too be willing to lay down our lives in the service of our great Commissioner even as we humbly serve.
How would you know that someone was really afraid to die?
At a superficial level we are tempted to think of it in terms of a fear of the moment of death itself. Perhaps the last few weeks of a terminal disease or the moments on board a plane as it plummets to the ground after a major malfunction. It’s this kind of fear of death that made Woody Allen quip ’I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’
So when we think of the fear of death we tend to reduce it to the fear of dying. But I’m not sure that does it justice. I want to argue that the fear of death is a much bigger idea that pervades more of life. It’s better expressed in another quote this time of Leo Tolstoy who said
My question – that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide – was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man … a question without an answer to which one cannot live. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?’ It can also be expressed thus: Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy.
To the secularist the vague notion that maybe we actually live on in the afterlife has been rejected. So what hope now? Well we find the fear of death at work in surprising ways. In the vain hope that we can continue to be present, if not in reality, then through a computer programme that interacts on Facebook, etc., on our behalf. That, if you like, pretends that we have not gone forever.
So here we find the fear of death expressed in surprising ways as exemplified in this TED talk by Adam Ostrow entitled After your final status update
The fear of death is seen in increasingly desperate attempts to hold onto life. In our unwillingness to leave this life.
How do we respond as Christians?
It’s easy to want to laugh, maybe it all makes us want to cry but surely it reminds us that our message of the one who has defeated death and promised life to all who are in him is a message every human soul is primed to need to hear.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says in chapter 3:10-11
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart
It is that burden we see expressed in the world and it is that burden that only the gospel answers. Peter in his first letter writes;
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you
Let us then be bold to continue to speak of him who alone has beaten death and conquered the grave. The one who alone has the answer to the fear of death however it might reveal itself.
Bloggers love to make lists and blog-readers love to read them. It would be easy (and probably helpful) to create a list of the biggest battles Christians face in being the Christians they want to be. Battles with pride, lust, materialism. etc. but there is something that such an approach would actually mask and it’s this; there is only one problem Christians face and that is the struggle to believe the gospel. At the heart of all issues of sanctification is the battle to believe.
Tim Keller highlights what Martin Luther describes below when Keller says the problem with Christians is that we believe and yet don’t believe the gospel at the same time. The goal of Christian thinking and living is to work out the gospel in all of its dimensions. That is Paul’s message in Romans 12v1-2. Here is Luther from his Preface to Galatians commentary;
There is a righteousness that Paul calls “the righteousness of faith”. God imputes it to us apart from our works–in other words, it is passive righteousness…So then, have we nothing to do to obtain this righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only–that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation! Now God sees no sin in us, for in this heavenly righteousness sin has no place. So now we may certainly think, “Although I still sin, I don’t despair, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.” In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed a sinner in this life of mine and in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God.
Christians never completely understand [this] themselves, and thus do not take advantage of it when they are troubled and tempted. So we have to constantly teach it, repeat it, and work it out in practice. Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression. Nothing gives peace like this passive righteousness. The troubled conscience has no cure for its desperation and feeling of unworthiness unless it takes hold of the forgiveness of sins by grace, offered free of charge in Jesus Christ, which is this passive or Christian righteousness….Once you are in Christ, the Law is the greatest guide for your life, but until you have Christian righteousness, all the law can do is to show you how sinful and condemned you are. But if we first receive Christian righteousness, then we can use the law, not for our salvation, but for his honor and glory, and to lovingly show our gratitude.
- Church Planting
- Global Church
- Jesus Christ
- Medical ethics
- Social media
- Suffering Church
- The Christian Life
- Transforming Society
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010