Friday, March 28, 2008

Staying Together after Adultery

There's a good article on staying together after adultery in The Age today:

It's great to see this in a secular forum! So often the secular response is something along the lines of "kick 'em to the curb".

Biblically the following is relevant:
  • Jesus said divorce in the case of adultery is acceptable, but does not say it is mandatory (Mt 5:31-32, 19:8-9; Mk 10:5-9).
  • Jesus said divorce was instituted because of the "hardness of people's hearts" (Mk 10:5) but this was never God's intention.
  • God hates divorce (Mal 2:16)
  • We have all sinned. As Christians God has forgiven us our unpayable debt, we should not be "unmerciful servants" who after being forgiven our unpayable debt, do not forgive others their smaller debt to us (Mt 18:21-35)
  • We should forgive as the Lord forgave us (Col 3:13)
  • If a non-believer wants to divorce a believer, the believer is not under any obligation (1 Cor 7:12-16)

I think a good rule of thumb is this, a marriage isn't over until God says so. There are clear scriptural guide lines that should cover the majority of cases (1 Cor 7 is good on this topic). Beyond that I think a good application of "...what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Mk 10:9) is to say that UNTIL God says to let go, hang on. If God joins together, only He has the right and the ability to seperate.

My understanding is that there may come a time when God says to let go. Only He knows the full outcome before it happens. Only He knows whether your spouse will repent or not. Only He knows the good that you may do in the meantime by hanging on and fighting (e.g. 1 Cor 7:16). But until such a time as He says to let go (and says so a few times, and this sits comfortably with a few wise counsellors) we should proceed from the conviction that God's ideal is the restoration of the marriage and we should work towards that end.

We do not lose anything by "putting all your eggs in God's basket" and trusting Him for marital reconciliation in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, even when it is excruiatingly painful. He is faithful and works "all things together for good for those who love Him" (Rm 8:28), whether that means persevering in loving and honouring our spouse in a broken marriage or whether it means being divorced. God is more than capable of healing whatever pain is sustained under either circumstance. We can absolutely trust Him to care for us and carry us through such times of trial when we are being obedient to His will.

God bless,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And can it be...

I love Charles Wesley's hymn "And can it be" from 1825, something that as a mid-20s chick I may be fairly alone in, but nevertheless it moves me!

What follows is my attempt to restate the lyrics in a way that young people might more readily identify with. Musically I don't think they'd work though!!!

Is it really true that I should be richer
Because of the blood of Jesus?
He died FOR ME, even though I've caused Him so much pain
FOR ME, even though all my sins dragged Him to the grave
Whoa! Such AMAZING love! How can it be true??
That you, the one and only God, died for me????

Whoa! Such AMAZING love! How can it be true??
That you, the one and only God, died for me????
Whoa! Such AMAZING love! How can it be true??
That you, the one and only God, died for me????

He left His throne in heaven
He left freely because His grace is so huge!
He let go of everything except love,
And poured out His blood for our helpless race
It's all out of mercy, so gigantic, so free
And that mercy, that AMAZING, AMAZING mercy found me!

I lived a long time with my spirit in chains
Bound up in sin and darkness
Light from your eyes brought me back to life
I woke up, my prison cell was flooded with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free
So I left my prison and I followed you

I don't fear condemnation anymore
Jesus and all His followers are my family
I live a new life in Jesus, He's my head
I'm clothed in His divine righteousness
I approach God's throne with boldness
And claim the victor's crown because of Christ

I really love this hymn, it's so pertinent too, at this time of Easter.

God bless,

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My big question this Easter

I only have a short post for this Easter period. This year I'm a bit disappointed I guess about Easter... and that flows out of the question, what is the most glorifying way to remember what Christ did for us?

It's a question I don't have an answer for. Yesterday I went to both a protestant and a catholic Good Friday service. There were elements in both that I found good and that I felt glorified Christ, but still there was something lacking.

I think we take Good Friday for granted because we know what happened three days later. Maybe His death doesn't seem so awful, so evil and so reprehensible because we know He was raised from the dead on the Sunday.

But for that three days, no one knew He would rise. His body lay rotting in a tomb for three days. For three days He was "with the dead". His disciples and His family would have experienced this as a very real, very normal (although traumatic) death.

If you are anything like me, because we can't see Him in flesh and blood today, it is easy to romanticise Jesus and focus more on His divinity, failing to see how human He was too. And so how heinous His murder was.

I'm really praying this Easter that I can come to learn more of the significance of what He did on the cross. That I might learn how I can best glorify Him and bring Him honour at this time. Quite frankly, I rather wonder whether there is anything that we can do that would bring sufficient glory to His name for what He did at Calvary.

Maybe all we can do is, with Paul say, 'I resolve to know nothing ... except Jesus Christ and him crucified' (1 Cor 2:2)

God bless,

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Worth a read...

Just a quick post - I really appreciated the following piece in today's Age:

It is SO refreshing to hear a man's perspective on the sexualisation of our culture and the tension between the fact that it is at once arousing but also annoying for men to be bombarded by these images.

I think I especially liked the piece as it was in a secular forum, I often hear this from Christian sources, but within the secular world I've found it rare!

God bless,

Friday, March 14, 2008

In the world but not of the world...

As Christians we are called to live out our lives in the midst of a culture that is predominantly antagonistic towards our beliefs. Often this antagonism is hidden and implicit rather than in your face, but however it manifests itself, the worldly culture is not the culture of the Kingdom of God. The most difficult part of this is that although we know that we are not supposed to live as the world lives, there is so much in the worldly culture that appeals to our sinful nature. So we are at war, not only against the outward influence of the world, but our own flesh's desire to be part of that world and partake of a myriad of sinful behaviours.

There is good sense in restricting ourselves from partaking in those external things that most appeal to our sinful nature to lead us into sin. For instance, if we have an abusive relationship with alcohol, then it is wise to not go to bars and lovingly hold glasses of scotch in our hands. Proverbs 5 talks about this in the context of adultery, "Keep to a path far from [the adulteress], do not go near the door of her house" (v8). Verses 3-4 are also instructive, "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword." The things that are most dangerous to us are those that have the appearance of being good. Within this context it would further be an appropriate application to say that Christian people should avoid getting too close to non-Christian members of the opposite sex EVEN IF (and perhaps especially if) they think it is an opportunity to share the gospel. So many people's lives are shipwrecked on that doozy of a lie. They draw close to someone, emotionally invest, thinking they are just "loving as a brother/sister for Jesus' sake", and then end up in sin and walking away from God.

But we can take seperation from the world too far... There is a fascinating story in today's Age about a reclusive Jewish community in Melbourne, they go far far beyond the requirements of the Torah. In their zeal to maintain holiness they go so far as to segregate boys and girls from the age of 8. They do not use their wife's first name in public, only around their own children. They do not use the first name of other women to whom they are not married, to do so they see as the beginning of an illicit relationship. When the children are 16 they are sent overseas to seminary until they marry, at which point they are informed about sex and are then allowed to pursue secular university education and work. Men look at the ground as they walk, for fear of looking at a woman. Women dress conservatively, cover their hair (or shave it off once they are married, and wear wigs/scarves). They believe that, "if we want our children to uphold our religion the way we believe it, to the dot of the law, dress code etc, the only way is to isolate children from all outside influences".

This is so sadly mistaken, because the other side of this story is that the reason this group made the paper today, is that one of the female teachers in their segregated school has been accused of sexually abusing some of the girls. Now I know the atheist jihadists will see this as a vindication of their view that "fundamentalist" religion is the cause of all suffering. However, the truth is simply this, unfortunately, when we try to remove ourselves from influences that we think will corrupt us, we forget that sin comes with us into our segregated communities, because we have sinful natures! In the world or out of it, as long as people are there, before Christ returns, there will ALWAYS be sin issues.

OK, so having said that I still think there is a good argument for Christian schools, and other methods of living "not of the world". Particularly with children, it is scary how impressionable they are, and I think it doesn't matter which school you send them to all children will be indoctrinated. Every school will have a prevailing philosophy and agenda which it is trying to push. Recent comments from the federal Education Minister's advisor suggested that they saw Christian schools as subversive to the cohesion of society because Christian schools would not promote the secular "doctrines" of abortion, free sex and evolution that were necessary for the smooth operation of society. I think if I have the choice between my children being indoctrinated with the doctrines of abortion, free sex and evolution compared to grace, love, forgiveness, service, love, love, (did I mention love?) I'd choose the later everytime. I do not want my children growing up believing that sexual immorality is normal and appropriate. It isn't. It's enslaving (and I say that out of painful experience not just 'high ideals') and sinful, whether or not our society realises it.

For this same reason I am careful about what television I watch, because I am conscious of how much of an impact secular media has made on the way I think. Many of the strongholds and deceptive philosophies that I have fought against, and still fight against were formed in me through watching popular media. Based on the Romans 12:1-2 principle, "You are what you eat" (The Bec Paraphrase), I choose to abstain from junk food (worldly media) and eat healthy (bible, christian books/blogs, bible, bible, bible etc). I particularly don't watch things that promote/depict violence or sexual immorality. (For this reason, I am in NO hurry to watch Underbelly! ;-)) I also don't listen to secular music if I can avoid it, since so much of the content falls into the following categories, (a) idolatry of love; (b) idolatry of sex; (c) disrespect of women, authority etc. I am quite capable of coming up with enough sinful and rebellious thoughts on my own, I don't need any help with that!

In all honesty, I can see a point where this might make evangelism difficult. In not engaging the culture I live in, perhaps this makes relating to non-Christians more difficult. However, this hasn't been my experience to date. The times I clash most with non-Christians ideologically is over issues of trusting God versus doing things in my human strength, my relationship with money particularly has come up a number of times in this context. After all why does one need to worry and grasp after riches when we have a Father who graciously provides all that we need? I can't remember the last time I lost a conversation over whether or not I had seen such and such on telly, or whether or not I liked a certain song. In all honesty I've probably always been a bit different from "everyone else" anyway, I guess being different and seperate because of my Christianity mightn't feel that weird because I've always been an outsider. So if I'm going to be a weirdo, why not be a weirdo for Christ?

God bless,

Monday, March 10, 2008

The truth about abortion

If you have any doubts about abortion the following link speaks for itself:

Don't view while eating. Kids shouldn't see it either.

God bless,

Friday, March 7, 2008

Christ preached to the dead

This semester I'm doing two subjects - Christology and Public Communications. Happily most of the assessment is presentations and reading summaries, I only have to write one essay and that's not due for another forteen weeks! SOOOO I have decided to take full advantage of the opportunity by picking the trickiest essay topic off the list, something that I'll actually have to think about, something I can get my teeth into!!

Consequently, I've picked the topic about Christ's descent to the dead. I've started reading and MAN is a literal interpretation of this AWESOME. There's this odd bit in 1 Peter 3, verses 18-21:
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Preaching to the dead??? Weird! So far what I have read suggests the following:
  • That Christ's descent to the dead is comforting, because this is part of the human experience, and so there is nothing and no where where Christ hasn't been "one of us" - so upholds incarnational theology as He did the whole lot, conception, birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and death; so He shared in the common experience of life. Of course after all this came the resurrection, which we will all share in when His kingdom comes.

  • That Christ's entering into death is life entering into death. Death is utterly conquerered because the Lifegiver has entered into it.

  • That God's grace is bigger than we can imagine. We think that He can't save those who were dead, but even death cannot stop God's grace.

  • It upholds Christ as the ONLY way to salvation, by giving those born before Christ the same opportunity to believe/not believe, rather than allowing that some could be saved by following the law. Eschatologically I don't think this presents many problems, presumably as long as the souls in question made their response to Christ before being resurrected and judged at the end then it would "still count"? I also do not think that this means that all the souls preached to WERE saved. If you like Arminian thinking then not all of them would necessarily have believed what they heard, why would deception necessarily end at death? It says these souls were "in prison" not that they were in the presence of God. If you like Calvinist thinking then there is no guarantee that God had predestined all of them. Further if you are a Calvinist then it shouldn't bother you so much that they were dead when they were saved -- how and when God saves is up to Him.
I got really really excited when I was reading about this the other day. It is so disappointing that this idea of Christ's descent and preaching to the dead has not been understood literally. Generally I really believe that there is NO way that we can add anything to the idea of God's grace (other than by going universalist - but then universalism isn't grace it's unjust permissiveness) the human inclination would always be to try and limit grace or make it dependent on works to make it fit the way we see life. So although I haven't finished reading or forming my thoughts on this, I would say that it probably be better to err on the side of believing that God is a loving and compassionate God who loves everyone! Those who have died as much as those who are living (and given His position sitting outside of time in eternity, wouldn't we all appear to be alive at the same time, and dead at the same time?) and wants just as much to save them as He does us?

I am also wondering whether there is a relationship between the above passage from 1 Pt 3 and the following from Mt 27:51-53:
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Another weird passage. Although the timing implied in the verse is a bit weird... Did those who were raised, raise when the curtain in the temple was torn in two? And then hang around at the cemetery (or first century equivalent) until the Sunday morning, when they then went into Jerusalem? Or did they raise when Jesus rose? If so were they the souls of the dead that Jesus preached to when he descended to the dead?

This is a bit of a mess, clearly I have lots left to investigate!! But already I'm loving this new angle I'm seeing on God's grace. I find it SO easy to underestimate His grace - it's just seems too amazingly good to be true! The more I come to know Him, the MORE gracious, MORE loving I see that He is.

Jesus is amazing! :-)

God bless,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

What is beauty for you?

Nivea is doing a thing on their website where they ask people to upload photos and make a comment about what they think beauty is.

This seemed like a good opportunity to talk about Jesus in a secular forum. Frankly I'm not overly optimistic that they'll actually use it, but this is what I submitted (with the pic to the right):

Beauty is a signpost
Beauty is a homing beacon that calls us home to where all the beauty came from -- the person of Jesus Christ. We are each made in the image of God, as such the beauty of each person reflects the beauty of God.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE (10 Mar): They did use it ->

God bless,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Reading the Bible in Context

This is very amusing, and makes its point very well! It's a wonder to me that he could keep a straight face! :-)

God bless,

Sunday, March 2, 2008


This is just a quick post, I had an amazing day today, saw the "above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine", and am just amazed at how God is moving.

My boyfriend and I have just got involved with a church that works on the multisite model, and they had their first service today at the new site in our area. We have been feeling called over the last few months to become involved and so it was awesome to finally be there today and see the vision come to be.

The expected numbers were 200 committed to the new site, however the turnout this morning was 750! And they had to turn away 50 cars, because there wasn't room to park! And it turns out that 500 of those who made it into the building are committed to the new site. As the venue only seats about 350 (there were people hanging off the balcony and standing room only!) they've decided that from next week (i.e. the second week that the site will be operating) that we'll have to go to 2 services!!

I am just so excited to see what God will do in the area through this church, and to be one of those "unworthy servants" that He will use to do it. I have a great sense of expectation, not in the church itself so much, but in Christ who "is building His church". It will be exciting and challenging to be involved in the work that God is doing in the area of Melbourne. Also feel very much at peace that this is our home, and where He has called us to be.

So yes, it's an unrestrained "Wooooohoooooo!" on my part! Our God is an AWESOME God :-)

God bless,