Archive | August 2009

The Deprived Lawbreaker

rman5571l

Whilst reading The Cross of Christ by John Stott (pg.120), I came across the following extract from C.S. Lewis’ essay “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” – it’s quite an interesting read. C.S. Lewis shows that by taking away human responsibility, by blaming things of backgrounds or genes etc., we are taking away the very thing that separates us from the rest of creation – we become ‘a mere object, a patient, a “case”.’

To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better’, is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.

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Have Godly Pride

This verse struck me today:

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. (v17)

It’s difficult to digest at first. Is Paul telling me to be proud? Even after all he’s been talking about in Romans? Pride points to self, it’s all my doing. But Paul talks about Godly pride – pride that is pointed towards our Father “in Christ Jesus”. Just like a father is proud of his son when he takes his first steps or rides his bike without help – this is selfless pride. The sort of pride that brings us to tears.

Up to this point, Paul has been at pains to point to God – to point to His righteousness and our lack of it as human beings without Christ. It is this constant looking to God for our strength (Psalm 61) in the tasks he asks us to accomplish for his glory that brings this sense of pride in his work through us.

What a glorious God we have who, although we are weak, sinful and prone to wander, will still use us in glorious and mighty ways. We should be proud of his work through us in Christ Jesus, as he goes on to say:

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me…by the power of the Spirit of God. (v18-19)

Have godly pride.

Faith is a Refusal to Panic

Today I read chapter ten of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ amazing book, Spiritual Depression. This chapter has affected me more than any of the other chapters because of how close it describes me.

Two weeks ago I received a threatening letter from a collection agency demanding that I pay what I supposedly owed them. The following weeks would be the scariest of my life. I was in constant terror of phone calls, of the door knocking of letters addressed to myself. I’d never experienced such panic, such terror like this before – it was a totally new experience. I physically shook and found it hard to sleep at nights, I scared my family half to death.

I was a wreck. But this morning I had a letter through the post from the company who passed on my details to the agency apologizing for all the trouble. Through a minor error, an address was switched to mine on their computer system.

But before I had received the letter, I had read this morning chapter 10, “Where is Your Faith?” and suddenly it made sense. I have always known that God allows trials into a Christian’s life, but I didn’t expect it to be something like this! I’ve asked myself, what did I expect? Some giant catastrophe? I don’t know, but a computer error was not that.

The passage the chapter is based on is Luke 8:22-25:

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

It’s amazing how you can read a story again and again and yet it only means something to you when you experience it – I’ll never take this story for granted again! But the most poignant phrase that truly spoke to me was this:

Faith is a refusal to panic

Lloyd-Jones embellishes this phrase to the point where I see that I lost my head. I actually allowed this small situation to control me. Just as the disciples lost their heads in the storm, so did I two weeks ago. I know that I’ve learned something today, and that is to trust in God, even if he seems to be careless of my situation, as Jesus seemed to be, asleep downstairs.

Today your mercy calls us
To wash away our sin.
However great our trespass,
Whatever we have been,
However long from mercy
Our hearts have turned away,
Your precious blood can wash us
And make us clean today.

Today your gate is open,
And all who enter in
Shall find a Father’s welcome
And pardon for their sin.
The past shall be forgotten,
A present joy be given,
A future grace be promised,
A glorious crown in heaven.

Today our Father calls us;
His Holy Spirit waits;
His blessed angels gather
Around the heavenly gates.
No question will be asked us,
How often we have come;
Although we oft have wandered,
It is our Father’s home.

O all embracing Mercy,
O ever open Door,
What should we do without you
When heart and eye run over?
When all things seem against us,
To drive us to despair,
We know one gate is open,
One ear will hear our prayer.

Oswald Allen (1816-1878)

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