Monthly Archives: October 2012

For Whom Would Calvin Vote in the US Election?

The other day I reflected how it must be difficult for committed Christians to vote in the US election (and in most other countries) as neither candidate has a well developed biblical worldview. ( See “Rulers Beware”). So I thought, who would John Calvin vote for if he could?

While living in the city of Geneva (now in Switzerland), Calvin made sure the poor didn’t starve or get turned away from hospitals. He promoted job growth and interest-free charitable loans, and taught the wealthy to lead humble lifestyles and avoid expensive jewellery so they could use their money to give generously to poor refugees fleeing religious persecution.
Calvin’s system worked so well that there were no beggars on the streets, and in 1554 one observer called Geneva “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.’

From: Crossfield.com Charity and the Protestant Reformation

From a social justice perspective Calvin may have been attracted to the Democrat point of view. “Obamacare” may have been a positive measure in his eyes and even investing in jobs growth would have received a warm response. (I’m sorry, American brothers and sisters, Calvin had a definite socialist slant!)

However I am also sure that “gay marriage” and the right to abortion would have horrified him.

This highlights the dilemma for the conservative evangelical Christian. The polarisation of policies in which there is good and bad on both sides makes voting such a treacherous issue. Each way I turn there is a nasty compromise. My vote may save a child from abortion but if the social policies are absent he may be left to a life of unemployed crime with minimal healthcare. I know that that is facetious but I am trying to make a point: to vote in a God honouring way is nigh on impossible if there is not a God honouring candidate for whom to vote. That means men and women need to stand up as candidates for the whole counsel of God – not just the ear tickling policies. This would give Christians someone to vote for – even if they weren’t elected.

Categories: Calvin, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Inspiration from Psalm 3

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

People sometimes say, derisively, “religion is a crutch.” I have no hesitation in saying they are right. My faith is a crutch. It is something for me to lean on because I know that in myself I do not have the resources or strength, because of my brokenness, to be renewed.

I, with David, acknowledge that God (in Christ), is my shield and defender.  Without that crutch I would have been flat on my face a long, long time ago!

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Two More Teresa Quotes

I have two more quotes from the amazing Counter Reformation reformer, Teresa of Avila – a most unusual source for a Calvinist!

If I were to give advice, I would say to parents that they ought to be very careful whom they allow to mix with their children when young; for much mischief thence ensues, and our natural inclinations are unto evil rather than unto good.

She understood sin. The other quote which really puts our brokenness into perspective:

I am quite certain that great evils would be avoided if we clearly understood that what we have to do is, not to be on our guard against men, but on our guard against displeasing Thee.

Teresa of Avila The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus . Kindle Edition.
Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Teresa of Avila, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Worship or Entertainment?

Music and Worship Picture: Wikipedia

I was listening to some secular music that came from my daughter’s collection. Some of the music had the feel and sound of contemporary worship songs. This led me to thinking how many modern Christian songs have a main stream sound. (Don’t even get me started on the “Jesus is my boy friend” style lyrics!) Now don’t get me wrong. I believe music is a God’s gift to man and has a wide range of functions from worship, education , to entertainment. The question that crossed my mind however was, “Is it appropriate to use worship songs as entertainment or background music (musak) when essentially our minds are engaged elsewhere?” Does this use of Christian music honour God?

To be honest I am very uncomfortable when we use worship songs as part of the background noise of our lives without taking notice of what the words are declaring. Worship is giving God the honour that is His due. We do that with our hearts and lives and with our work and quiet moments. Is it right then to treat music and words so glibly?

Sometimes when I am in my car by myself and there is worship music playing it can be a special moment. God draws me close and my heart is lifted towards Him. That is because I am having time alone with God – nothing is distracting the attention that God deserves. But am I wrong in thinking that there are moments in the hurley-burley of our lives when using worship songs as fill in noise, is not appropriate?

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

A Prayer: Dust and Life.

My soul is so easily entertained,
by everyday things:
Amusing titbits,
diverting trivia and
inane time wasters .
My heart can be so shallow
and fickle,
that where treasure
should  live
there is dross and detritus –
the dust of life.
 
Fill me
Oh God with
You.
Your Spirit,
Your Word,
Your Life.
 
Enliven me
with what is real
and eternal.
Empower me to leave
the dust behind.
Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rulers Beware

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.      Psalm 2:10 & 11

While reading Psalm 2 this morning I was overcome with an overwhelming conviction of the foolishness of leadership in many of our democratic countries.

Currently we have a Humanist/Christian and a Mormon battling it out for the Presidency of the USA. I would suggest that neither position can uphold or honour a Biblical framework. We see the values that are held seep through when one party debates whether God should be mentioned and the other treats the poor as dirt. In the UK God hardly gets a mention. Whereas in Australia the Prime Minister is an atheist and her opponent, a Catholic whose faith does not inform his policies or manner to any large degree.

Biblical wisdom is in short supply or politicians fear to reveal it because it is politically unpopular. Either way, Godly wisdom isn’t used to inform the momentous issues, social, economic and ethical,  of our age.

Psalm 2 reminds us who is really sovereign and in control. It also reminds us of the consequences if we fail to recognise God’s sovereignty. Read it and be reminded – it is, frankly, chilling.  In the meantime most Christian politicians tiptoe around the controversial issues or limit their ethics to those acceptable to the party – the standard model being, for right wing parties, personal ethics such as abortion and homosexuality, and for left wing parties, social issues such as injustice and the poor. Both ends of the spectrum require an informed input from Christian leaders – not just those that the party deems as acceptable.

The decline of faith and Biblical literacy in the West has a lot to do with the current diabolical state. For many believers the “personalisation” of faith stifles their voice and prevents them speaking out on the big issues.

What is the answer? A beginning, I believe is for pastors to teach Biblical truths – personal and social. They need to speak out for God – not parties. Christians need to be equipped to declare the truth and consequences of Psalm 2. A failure to recognise God’s sovereignty over all things leads to human arrogance, pride and ultimately, judgement. The Christian voice should be a prophetic one. This will seldom be popular (which is a clue as to why we don’t hear it from our politicians). I am not saying the Christian should impose his or her will on an unbelieving society but he or she must declare the consequences and suggest Godly alternatives.

Psalm 2 also speaks of blessing. This was true in King David’s day and was fulfilled in Jesus. For those who have the courage and faith to celebrate God’s claims there is blessing, both now and forever. “Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.”

If ever there was a time for Christians to call out to their societies to take refuge in God and His Word, it is now.

Categories: Bible, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Flowers and Faith

 

Categories: Bible, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Photo | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tough Times

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

The Road Will Not Always Be Easy

I find this one of the most confronting passages in Scripture because it tells me that rough and tough times are part of the Christian’s journey. There will be sadness, sorrow and pain on our pilgrimage through this world. Worst still, we can’t expect a bed of roses as a matter of course. In fact, easy times will be the exception rather than the rule.

This truth was brought home to me recently through a number of circumstances: a young child fighting cancer, another with leukemia and a parent with a fatal illness. Three families – three battles – three pictures of overwhelming sadness; good people going through exceptionally difficult struggles.

But there is also the promise of this text. Through these struggles, God’s love upholds us – enables us to bear these griefs – but even greater, they enable Christ to be revealed in our lives. Tough love!

Christ is also the ultimate hope. The struggles won’t last. The grief will not remain. After the pilgrimage is ended there is a place of completion and perfection awaiting God’s children. Joy and fullness will be the result. That is worth holding out for!

In the meantime, the journey may get very rough at times.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Why Does Creation Matter?

In his thought provoking book Seven Days That Divide The World Dr. John Lennox concludes in an appendix challenging Theistic Evolution:

And why does it matter anyway? Is this not a case of Christians getting involved in an irrelevant sideshow? I do not think so, especially in light of the current insistence on the part of many atheists that there is nothing special about human beings, since they have been produced by precisely the same blind and unguided process as any other species. The status of human beings is no small matter.

Zondervan. Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (p. 166). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Dr. Lennox reminds us that if we compromise the truth of Scripture we leave fissures that others will exploit in their attempt to destroy God’s truth.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Creation, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Be Holy

In 1 Peter 1:15 & 16 he writes:

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

This is a direct reference to Leviticus 11:44 &45. Holiness is such a foreign concept for our age. The spirit of our times is, “if it feels good, do it!”  Principles, values and consequences have very little place in our Western lifestyle. It would be easy to drag out a litany of examples but sadly I don’t need to because we are all fully aware of what I mean. It is pervasive.

But the biggest tragedy is that God’s children are not immune. We too are tainted by our age. Statistics show that lifestyle choices in the church are not radically different from the rest of the world.

God’s command is an immensely important one. We are to be holy because we are called to reflect the one who redeemed us. Our lives are to be witnesses of God and what he has done in Christ. Our lives are called to be living examples of the power of the gospel.

When we fail to grow in holiness our lives mock God. By not growing in holiness our lives say to the world, “Really, the gospel is not that influential. The power that Paul speaks of is not that life changing.”

The most powerful witness that the body of Christ has, is to live the radical life changing power of the gospel! All our words,sermons and pamphlets will come to naught if our neighbours do not see the change the gospel has wrought in us.

Categories: Bible, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.