Just when I thought it was impossible to be shocked any more…
(HT: Christine Happ)
Cristina Odone in the Telegraph puts the case for taking on the National Secular Society
(HT: Westminster 2010)
Dame Joan Bakewell, once a powerful voice in the campaign for the sexual revolution of the 1960′s, has again (see my earlier post) voiced her dismay at the outworking of the sexual ‘liberation’ she advocated for so long. This time the focus of her concern are the televised performances of Lady Gaga.
On it’s impact on today’s youth she comments ‘I perhaps overrated romance rather too much, but I don’t know whether they overrate sex too much these days, I’ve no idea. What harm it will do, I just don’t know.’
It seems, sadly a little too late in the day, she has accepted that the desire for ’freedom’ from sex within marriage has been a destructive freedom for through it we have begun to destroy ourselves. The truth is that we never find freedom when we run from God we only find that we have unleashed a force in our society that we are unable to control which begins its inevitable effect of corruption and destruction.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Pray for our children.
A fascinating article in today’s Telegraph on the rise of Christianity concludes:
‘Church attendances, in freefall for so long, have started to rise again, particularly in Britain’s capital city. Numbers on the electoral rolls are increasing by well over two per cent every year, while some churches have seen truly dramatic rises in numbers.’
(HT: Brian Law)
The Bible contains surprising verses, even offensive verses, passages of the Bible that seem to be at odds with our understanding of the way the world should work and God behave.
Exodus 20:5 is one such verse;
I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.
If you’re a Christian you probably, like me, find a verse like that a little unsettling. What can such a verse mean?
1. It can’t mean that God actually punishes innocent people for the sins of an earlier generation. After all Deuteronomy 24:16 makes clear that ‘Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers.’
2. Rather through this verse God warns Israel that as Stuart comments;
‘God will indeed punish generation after generation if they keep doing the same sorts of sins that prior generations did. If the children continue to do the sins their parents did, they will receive the same punishments as their parents.’
Ryken notes that;
‘God never condemns the innocent only the guilty. Here it is important to notice something that is often overlooked — namely, how the threat ends. God says that he will punish three or four generations “of those who hate me” (Exod. 20:5). The children hate God as much as their fathers did (which, given the way they were raised, is not surprising).’
And here is his sobering conclusion
‘As parents plan for the future, they should be more concerned about the second commandment than they are about their financial portfolio. This commandment contains a solemn warning for fathers. When a man refuses to love God passionately and to worship God properly, the consequences of his sin will last for generations.
The guilt of a man who treasures idols in his heart will corrupt his entire family, and in the end they will all be punished.’
The second commandment in action
And then in the news today we find something that seems in every way to be a fulfilment of this warning in our own times. Dr Helen Wright, President of the Girls’ School Association, in a speech to be given tomorrow warns that the consequences of parents not knowing right from wrong are falling on their children.
‘I have a deep worry that some parents have been so deprived in their own lives of education and values, that they no longer know right from wrong and that they are as a result unwittingly ‘indulging’ children in some parallel universe where it is acceptable to let young children wear make-up and provocative clothing.
“If parents can’t see anything wrong in dressing up their children in ‘Future WAG’ T-shirts and letting them wear make-up, high heels and ‘mini-me’ sexy clothing, then something is intensely wrong in our society.’
Cecil B. De Mille the director of the Hollywood blockbuster, The Ten Commandments, described the folly of ignoring God’s 10 commandments in this way – he said ‘It is impossible for us to break laws; we only break ourselves upon them.’
The Telegraph reports on how a Christian couple, on leaving their church’s prayer meeting, found themselves coming to the assistance of Stephen Lawrence as he lay bleeding to death. Rather than ignore the cries for help from his friend they stopped, comforted and prayed for Stephen in his last few minutes on earth.
“I put my right hand on his back and left hand on his head. I could feel he was still breathing as his back was going up and down. Stephen was unconscious.
“I was praying over him in a whisper, I said things like ‘bless him Lord Jesus, heal him. Have mercy on him’.
Who knows what God may call on you to do when you next leave a prayer meeting and who knows how your prayers may be called upon to shape the eternal destiny of a victim of such a tragedy.
Baroness Warsi, in an article in today’s on-line edition of the Telegraph, writes in glowing terms of religious freedom in Pakistan. She even claims ‘The idea of unity through diversity runs through Pakistan’s history and helps to define its society today.’
Clearly, the Baroness is either ignorant or in denial over the persecution of minority faith communities in Pakistan who face the threat of being arrested under Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law. Far more reliable a guide to the true state of affairs in Pakistan are the comments of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom;
In Pakistan, blasphemy allegations, which commonly are false, result in the lengthy detention of, and sometimes violence against, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and members of other religious minorities as well as Muslims on account of their religious beliefs. Because the laws require no evidence to be presented after allegations are made and no proof of intent, and contain no penalty for leveling false allegations, they are easily used by extremists to intimidate members of religious minorities and others with whom they disagree. They are also often used by the unscrupulous simply to carry out a vendetta or gain an advantage over another.
Given that the Baroness writes ‘I went to a bishops’ conference and said that this Government would “do God”.’ she could write a piece in the national press next time on the steps she intends to take to put pressure on the Government of Pakistan to amend it’s legislation to prevent systematic persecution of non-Muslims and at the same time she might take the opportunity to put political pressure on other Islamic states that have either Blasphemy laws or apostasy laws that make conversion from Islam to any other faith a crime with severe penalties.
Let’s be honest, how many of us have ever even heard of a NOT-to-do list let alone tried to make use of one? In a blog post in the Daily Telegraph Daniel H. Pink (author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) argues the case that in a world of too many competing priorities, to quote Tom Peters, ‘what you decide not to do is probably more important than what you decide to do.’
The key insight of both Peters and [Jim] Collins is that we spend too much time on addition and not nearly enough on subtraction. Yet it’s only by taking away what doesn’t matter that allows us to reveal what does matter.
That’s why a couple of years ago I began using a hybrid of the Peters’ and Collins’ techniques – a combo of a to-don’t and stop-doing list. I revisit the list more than once a year, but I don’t craft a new one every day. Instead, I post it on the wall next to my desk where it’s always in view and revise it when circumstances demand.
Let me share with you what’s been on the list:
• Don’t answer email during peak morning writing hours;
• Don’t accept meetings or conference calls initiated by others that you wouldn’t have initiated yourself;
• Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon;
• Don’t go to sleep after 11pm.
Pink’s examples in his NOT-to-do list are a good starter but they are limited to general principles of working practice. I wonder how we could extend them to strategic priorities in our work? A NOT-to-list could be extended to help us choose between good, yet competing, options and opportunities at work and become an ally in that battle to say ‘no’ to people (see this blog post on the issue).
How might that work?
Maybe our list of what we do NOT do could include;
Decisions as to where we will NOT put our energies to ensure that we can focus them elsewhere.
A decision NOT to let my sermon preparation time suffer in my role as a church pastor might mean agreeing NOT to accept any more than ‘x’ speaking invitations in a quarter or year. Learning to say no to some things is certainly helped if we have already committed NOT to do so too!
A decision NOT to give time to developing one ministry area (by ideally delegating it to another) so that I can invest more energy in a different area.
And so on.
Then of course there is the option to publish our NOT-to-do list. That would be an interesting thought that colleagues and for me my congregation knew what I wanted them NOT to ask me to do!
Thanks to Eddie Arthur for the link
Never mind ‘the Beast’ Christine Odone spots an elephant in the room.
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