Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Silence of God

More on the Holy Week theme -- a beautiful presentation of one of my favourite songs: Andrew Peterson's The Silence of God

Easter Saturday

Just written ..
I often think that the first Easter saturday must have been the most miserably dreary day in history. Still excruciatingly numb from the horrors of the crucifixion, the disciples had no understanding of the glories that were waiting for them just one sleep away. and yet, somewhere beyond the fabric of their world, the greatest miracle ever was just getting set up (so to speak!)

My coin is spent, my hands are bare,
My life is like a played out tune
Stopped on a fading dissonance
Beneath a hostile, careless moon.

I have no eyes for any joy
Grated by soulless circumstance
And pirouettes would stub my toes
Before I had the heart to dance.

There is no hope. But hope, near dead,
Brims with a promise scarcely heard
Here, in this sorrow, wholly dark,
The shining whisper of Your word.

After despair, when tears are dried,
Comes the long burden of the night
Dawn is as hollow as a tomb
A pointless mockery of light.

And yet, and yet, and yet, and yet ..
Here, neither known or understood,
Stark at the crazy root of things
Knowledge remains, that God is good.

Knowledge remains, that promise holds
Here at the heartless hub of things.
The worst is done, the night is come.
Then why this sense of waiting wings?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Black and White

No, not my thinking!! Photos!
Let me explain. In our family room, on the wall opposite the kitchen door, we have a group of black and white photos. A used to be into b&w photography in a big way, and had his own darkroom. Times change.Now all our photography is digital, we each have a camera and get a lot of fun from it, though our photographic "styles" are very different! At the moment we are in the process of replacing the photos on the wall (something we do periodically) and so are picking out a few photos, converting them to greyscale, enhancing them and printing them.
Thought you might like to see a couple ..



Michael card and sara groves with one of my favourite songs ..

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Passion in the Apocrypha?

Last week I was preparing a bible study on the crucifixion narrative in Matthew's gospel. Searching for some fresh insights, I came across this:

There are also striking parallels between the narrative in Matthew 27 and Wisdom of Solomon 2:10-20. This writing in the Apocrypha was probably composed a few decades before the birth of Jesus. The passage in Wisdom is as follows:

10 Let us oppress the righteous poor man; Let us not spare the widow, or regard the gray hairs of the aged. 11 But let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless. 12 Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. 13 He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. 14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.

16 We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. 17 Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; 18 for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. 19 Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. 20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected."

( )

Presumably many of the Jewish readers of Matthewe's gospel would be familiar with this. Something to ponder.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Something on prayer

I have just joined a new forum for Aussie Christians, and I was asked to post something on prayer. This is what came to mind:

I was asked to write something about prayer, which is a huge topic (and I don’t know what sort of thing you had in mind!)

So what came to mind was the simplicity of prayer. I have a growing conviction that we make prayer a lot more complicated than the bible does. When I look at some significant answers to prayer in my own life, none of those prayers had anything ‘magic’ about it, Ever noticed how, when you’re seriously engaged on some issue, techniques and other people’s systems tend to get thrown overboard?

I think it is significant that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray they didn’t get a lecture on developing more impressive faith or get shown some deep doctrinal secret, they got given a model prayer whose most outstanding characteristic is its .. simplicity! What do we find here?

# an acknowledgement that we come in prayer to a father who loves us
# He is holy, and He is about the business of His kingdom, and expects us to want that too – our values in prayer should be kingdom values
# We can bring Him all our human needs (daily bread) we don’t have deny our humanity or spiritualise everything. He knows what we are and he knows how needy we are (do we?)
# we always need forgiveness (and we are never so messed up that we can’t ask for it)
# we need His protection

I think the heart of prayer is nakedness – to seek God in that way is to take off all our pretenses and simply be our needy selves before him.
If there’s a second principle it is to let our prayer be Spirit-led. Half the time we don’t even know how to pray for the things that are most important to us .. so why not acknowledge that as part of our neediness and let Him teach us that too?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Other Authors -- These Strange Ashes

This poem, by the famous 19th century missionary, Amy Carmichael, is in some ways one of the scariest I have ever read. it demands everything. And yet, when we come to the place where nothing makes sense, and we feel like God has taken a U-turn in our lives, away from His promises, this is comfort.God never took His eye off Job, and His purposes for us are sometimes so different from our purposes for ourselves (and I mean our "good" purposes, not just self-indulgence) .. On Monday night in our small group we were looking at John 11 and I suggested that often we come asking God for a renewal, a refreshing, a bit of water for our drought, when what He wants to give us is death and resurrection ..

"'But these strange ashes, Lord, this nothingness,
This baffling sense of loss?'
Son, was the anguish of my stripping less
Upon the torturing cross?
Was I not brought into the dust of death,
A worm, and no man, I;
Yea, turned to ashes by the vehement breath
Of fire, on Calvary?
O son beloved, this is thy heart's desire:
This, and no other thing'
Follows the fall of the Consuming Fire
On the burnt offering.
Go on and taste the joy set high, afar,--
No joy like that to thee;
See how it lights the way like some great star.
Come now, and follow me."

--Amy Carmichael

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's official!

I now have my letter from the college board to say I have been officially approved for graduation!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I know I had already fulfilled all requirements, but there's still this little corner of my mind that didn't believe it could actually happen. In 1975, for personal reasons which involve other people to some extent, but also my own mental and emotional state at the time which left me unable to complete the basic workload, I left uni without a degree, and a firm belief that I had failed and was incapable of ever getting a degree. Years passed. I got married, had kids, brought them up, dealt with some heavy issues in my life, mainly to do with abuse, and felt like a failure. I didn't know who I was meant to be, or what God had created me to do. So long as my kids needed a mum that gave me a sense of purpose, but my kids were growing up and I wasn't sure what came next. Crafts and sports, the typical time-fillers for womenwith time on their hands, are two of the things I have the least interest in (probably only equalled by my total disinterest in the business world.)

Then, in 2000 I went to a conference, in Brisbane, that changed my life. There was a session where a man, on his knees in front of 3,000 people, apologised to women for the way the church has treated them. All I could do was cry and cry, it touched so many places where I had been deeply hurt. And it was as I dealt with the aftermath of this that God spoke to me, plainly and clearly, and told me to get a degree in theology!

Well, it took a while to get things sorted out, but here I am with my BTh completed. It hasn't been easy, I have had to face a lot of my personal 'monsters' along the way, and there were moments where God got me through in such a way as to confirm that this was His calling (One outstanding example was the semester I really struggled with a pinched nerve in my back (so bad that I had my exams postponed for medical reasons) and came out with 2 HDs (high distinctions) -- I had been within a hairsbreadth of tossing in the whole thing as impossible!

So, here I am, 53 years old, and waiting to see what God is calling me to. I have no idea what happens next, and I still have no clear idea whether I should do my Masters, but it's an exciting journey. When I was 16 and a new christian, I looked around the church I was in and saw the attitudes of the older people. I prayed that I wouldn't become like that, but that middle age would find me doing new things for God and not becoming too "comfortable" in my faith. I guess I can say God has answered that prayer!

Other Authors -- The Apologiist's Evening Prayer

A conversation yesterday about the dangers of making our own theology into an idol, reminded me of this poem. I think Lewis nails it: after all the danger of idolatry is not so much that our image of God is wrong in itself (it may be quite biblical as far as it goes) but that we think that this particular aspect is all there is to Him. Now, though we see truly when we see God revealed in Jesus, yet we see in part, through a glass darkly, for we do not yet fully know...

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seem to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity
Thou, who wouldst give no other sign, deliver me

Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all me thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee
O thou Fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle's eye,
Take me from all my trumpery lest I die.

-- C S Lewis