Monday, 11 August 2014

Spurgeon the diagnostician...a kind of spiritual 'Dr House'

Many Christian believers regret that 'things are not what they were'. The sense of God's presence is lost,   the pleasure from meeting with fellow believers is gone, or there is a just a perversive apathy about spiritual things. In the August 15th  Morning by Morning with Spurgeon, he comes up with three possible diagnoses,

1. A neglect of prayer. 'A negelcted closet is the cause of all spiritual decline.'
2. Idolatry. 'The heart has been occupied with something else, more than with God.'
3. Self confidence and self righteousness.  'Pride is busy in the heart'

Not an exhaustive list no doubt, and each point needs careful unpacking. Indeed I'm only too aware of patients who self diagnose on the basis of an internet search. But it's a good staring place to help us understand the coldness of our hearts. Think about it, chat these three through with an older wiser believer and...
'do not rest satisfied with wishing for a return to former happiness, but go at once to seek your Master and tell him your sad state.....Do not sit down to sigh and lament,  while the beloved Physician lives there is a certainty of recovery of the worst cases.'  Spurgeon.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Lift up your soul!

Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143.8

It been great reading though the Psalms again. And what a helpful prayer this is to take into to any new day.

I was especially struck by the last phrase, 'for to you I lift my soul'. What might it mean to lift the soul?

A good starting point is the ESV study Bible  (by the way an excellent resource, and a very reasonably priced App at £ commission honest). And there I note that the phrase suggests 'deep dependance and allegiance'. That was helpful, but I wanted to get at the active idea behind the phrase, what is the 'lifting' all about? A cross reference took me to Psalm 25.1, To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. And there the comment is, 
'The Hebrew expression occurs in many places in the is an idom for, 'I direct my desire'
Ah, here's the active component, for I need to direct and guide my desire. It seems that so often our Christian lives stall because of an  undue emphasis upon grace and a fear of anything that might be perceived as 'trying harder to be a believer'. We are naturally attuned to shy away from any effort as justifying us before God, but we misunderstand the subsequent responsibility we have to 'make every effort' (2 Peter 1.5) to grow.

To lift up our soul then is to consciously take time and moments out in our normal everyday to acknowledge our total dependance upon God. It means to take our desires and longings and to redirect them in a way that brings pleasure to God. That does not mean that everything becomes 'religious', but rather that how I relate to others, how I do my work, how I care for my home and garden, how I stand up for justice, how I become a mouthpiece for the gospel, how I live, matters. To lift up my soul is to bring all of my life to God.

It is about prayer. Both the allocated personal times and the moment by moment chatting to God.

'The phrase ( 'lift up our soul') portrays prayer as an act in which individuals hold their conscious identity, their life in hands stretched out to God as a way of saying that their life depends completely and only upon the help of God.'  James Mays Psalms.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The unexpected Jesus

The Unexpected Jesus | Library | Centre for Public Christianity

Worth a look at this short clip of Francis Spufford whose book Unapologetic is (amongst much else) an assertive rejection of the New Atheism. Spufford's Christanity is not neat and tidy but his observations about Jesus are incisive and compelling.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Great War

I was glad to go to the Imperial War Museum in London today, exactly 100 years from our declaration of war. Very struck by the gallery of paintings, and especially this one by C R W Nevison. It was titled, Paths of Glory in an ironic sense with sad, bloated, decaying corpses of two Tommies, lying neglected behind the lines. It was censored at the time and hence was not granted permission to be displayed (although the artist ignored the censor). Interestingly the censor was quite happy to have images of dead German soldiers displayed. The pity of war indeed.

Photo taken today....


A message from the other side

No, not that side! But thank God got through surgery ok yesterday. And thanks to all for love support and prayer.