Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Compromise is not an option!

The first two chapters of Judges have really convicted me about the sin in my life.

So at the start of Judges the people are entering the promised land, Canaan. God has explicitly, repeatedly told Israel that when they enter a city, they must utterlly destroy the people there.

1v28When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.
[This pattern is true for Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali.]
2v1Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, 2and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you."

The more I've thought about this, the more it's gripped me. Israel are God's people. He tells them to be holy, not to allow any uncleanness in their land, because they belong to a holy God. So the locals must be destroyed. And Israel think, "Ok, so we've conquered these lands now, and we're really strong - we won't kill the locals, we'll keep them as slaves. We know what God said, that these people will lead us astray, but we're strong - we can contain them.". But God says NO - I gave you a specific command to get rid of them. You haven't obeyed it, and don't think I'm going to give you the strength to contain people I told you to detroy!!

What a clear rebuke to me. Why do I keep favourite sins in my life, thinking I'm strong, I can handle it, it won't take over? How ridiculous! God says to get rid of ALL sin in my life. If I think I can keep some little ones for myself, then He isn't going to give me strength to deal with them! God doesn't give us power to manage sins, but to pluck them out! God has redeemed me, made a covenant with me, and called me to live a holy life, because He is holy. So NO sin is acceptable.

Praying that the LORD will continue to deal with the areas where I compromise on holiness!

Friday, June 23, 2006

If I should die, think only this of me...

I've found the text I want for my funeral...

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,
that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we
believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep
. 15For this we declare to you by
a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of
the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself
will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel,
and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise
first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with
them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess 4)

Wow! What a fantastic hope we have in the Lord!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

If we can eat prawns, why is gay sex wrong?

So reads the subtitle of John Richardson's excellent little booklet, "What God has made clean". In it he addresses the growing movement of Christians who defend homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice, who argue that we cannot stand on the Laws of the Old Testament against homosexuality, because we clearly don't hold to other levitical laws (such as not eating prawns, not wearing clothes of differing fabrics, etc).

He explains how we should approach the levitical laws, and why some of them are relevent to us today whilst others aren't. Aside from the sexuality issue, it's really helpful to see why some laws still stand, while others have been abandoned. He also gives Biblical reasons why homosexuality cannot be a lifestyle choice for a Christian, taking us right through the Bible to explain this.

This booklet is helpful in understanding what the Bible says about sexuality, and defending our standpoint. I probably wouldn't give it to a friend who was struggling with these issues - it's more of a theological standpoint than a pastoral aide. But it is good to see this issue addressed in a clear, sensible way (without the unhelpful comments that sometimes appear in Christian books on the subject, like 'get yourself a husband/wife and you'll be ok!).

Other good stuff on the issue: True Freedom Trust produce some excellent booklets, IVP's Straight and Narrow is helpful, and 'Still Learning to Love' is really good addressing the whole issue with great insight and sympathy.