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Christmas or Xmas

English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa...

English: Christmas postcard picture with Santa Claus and holly, with message, “I bring you a Merry Xmas from” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

courtesy of “Theological Word of The Day

 

The annual holiday celebrated by Christians on December 25 celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was born somewhere between 7 and 2 BC. Dec. 25 is probably not the date when Christ was born, but was designated as such in the 4th century in order to substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. The designation Christmas comes from a combination of “Christ” with “Mass.” Often the Greek X (Chi) is substituted for “Christ” making Xmas (as was the custom in the early church when abbreviated Christ’s name). Although there is no command in Scripture to celebrate this day as a holiday, Christians believe the incarnation is the foundation to salvation and, according to many, the greatest miracle in the history of man.

 

So, Merry Xmas to all :)

 

 
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Posted by on 25/12/2013 in Gospel, history, Jesus

 

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AG:

 

This article, originally by J. C. Ryle, is an excellent and practical approach to reading the Bible.

 

Originally posted on The J.C. Ryle Archive:

1.Begin reading your Bible this very day. The way to do a thing is to do it; and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it! It is not merely meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it , which will advance you one step. You must positively read. There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer. If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read it to you. But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.

2.Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it. Do not think for a moment, that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not. Some ignorant…

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Posted by on 12/08/2012 in General

 

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St Patrick the (almost) Protestant Missionary

I am a servant of Christ to a foreign nation for the unspeakable glory of life everlasting which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Patrick

Would you believe the original St Patrick was British, not Irish?! Patty was also a bit of a maverick when it came to methodology and practice – according to Mark Driscoll. I wonder how those that have a slightly pietistic view of St Patrick would receive his like today?

Saint Patrick is not even a saint, as he was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, Patrick was not even Irish. Rather, he was a Roman-Britain who spoke Latin and a bit of Welsh.

Patrick’s unorthodox ministry methods, which had brought so much fruit among the Irish, also brought much opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Because Patrick was so far removed from Roman civilization and church polity he was seen by some as an instigator of unwelcome changes. This led to great conflicts between the Roman and Celtic Christians. The Celtic Christians had their own calendar and celebrated Easter a week earlier than their Roman counterparts. Additionally, the Roman monks shaved only the hair on the top of their head, whereas the Celtic monks shaved all of their hair except their long locks which began around the bottom of their head as a funky monk mullet. The Romans considered these and other variations by the Celtic Christian leaders to be acts of insubordination. In the end, the Roman Church should have learned from Patrick, who is one of the greatest missionaries who has ever lived. Though Patrick’s pastors and churches looked different in method, they were very orthodox in their theology and radically committed to such things as Scripture and the Trinity.

Thanks to The Resurgence team for putting together this post and others in their Vintage Saints series.

NB: This does say Patrick is a Protestant. I use this term in it’s purest sense, not in the sense that he was a child of the Protestant Reformation. He was, rather orthodox, bible & gospel focused in his message, methods and ministry – which for all intended purposes makes him more “protestant” than many today who are not part of Roman Catholicism.

I had originally titled the post as “St Patrick the Protestant Missionary” – while Patrick was a proto-type of the later protestants, to call him such is anachronistic and, technically wrong. Nevertheless, we could use more of his kind today. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

 
 

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What is wrong shall be undone

Following my note about Where did we go wrong, I leave you stuck in the mire if I stop there.

Having looked in the mirror, we have seen the enemy and it occurs that Walt Kelly was right, at least about that. So what? That knowledge does not help or heal in itself. (Aside: this is one of the key elements of the serpents initial deception – taking and eating the fruit will bring a certain knowledge, but not the kind we thought. Rather the kind that overwhelms us with our inadequacy and drives us to compensate. Whether we do that through denial, anger, guilt or imitation and cover up is, in the end, self defeating.)

The consequence of all sin, original, occasional, habitual, natural or otherwise is death. Death not just being the absence of life, or rather the absence of physical experience via my five senses. Death is the opposite of life and life is much more than taste, touch, see, hear and smell. I’ll gladly point you again to Phillip’s ‘The World Tilting Gospel‘:

People in hell exist forever, but I can’t think of any passages that refer to their existence as “life.”

Instead, as he mentions in the footnote, it is called the second death.

The conquest of sin though is promised and provided through its destruction. The first Adam brought it in and the last Adam will take it out.

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. ~ Romans 5:19

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

In the midst of God’s judgment against Adam’s sin he promises salvation – the undoing of our sin. There will be salvation through the death of a substitute and a promise of a redeemer. It is, at first, pictured tangibly when an animal is killed so that they can have clothing to protect them both from the environment and from the constant confrontation of the shame and guilt of their sin.

It is, ultimately to come through the birth of another “Adam” one who will both do what Adam did not and not do what Adam did and be victorious on all accounts. He will speak words of life, crush the serpent’s head and inaugurate the kingdom of God. Christ Alone is The True / Last Prophet, Priest & King.

Will you continue as Adam did, followed by his son Cain to constantly try to seize what God offers freely?

Will you rely on a false covering, and try to hide your sin from God through religious behaviour or moral behaviour or living the life of a so-called good person? Always be inadequate because you will always be acting independently of God?

Or, would you accept new life, be born again as Jesus once described it and die to your self, die to your schemes and plans, die to all those silly pathetic attempts you make at saving face before others and realise that God, as the author of life, is the only one who can give you life.

Don’t define your life in terms of existence or in terms of possessions or in terms of achievement.

Define your life, by experiencing life as it was meant to be, in the fullness of joy through Jesus alone.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:11-12

But, when shall these things be? Ah, that is for another post, in the interim, have confidence that:

if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you in Christ?

 
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Posted by on 29/02/2012 in General

 

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How does communion provide comfort in the midst of pain and suffering or other problems?

1 Corinthians 11:26 – For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

We practice and observe this ordinance and “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Our remembrance of what Jesus has done, in the past, is in anticipation of what he will do, in the future.

It is because of what he has done, in the past, that we have a hope, in the present, for him to do something else, in the future.

He was successful in his campaign to die for our sin, rise from the dead & ascend into heaven. We do not need to linger, staring into the sky wondering what happens now.

Am I to continue in my pain, suffering, difficulty – Does he not care? Will he put it right?

“… is everything sad going to come undone?” – as Sam said to Gandalf in Tolkien’s LOTR

Those without God are left in the opposite condition. For you have no basis upon which to say that any experience of pain or suffering is wrong – the fact that you can & do, is attributable to the promise of God in Christ – that he will return, fill the earth with his glory and set it aright.

Examine yourselves friends – ask, Who is Jesus to you? Historical figure, famous teacher, or misguided martyr? These provide you no hope and no promise.

If, though, with the eyes of faith, you see he is Lord of all, has paid the ransom of your sin and declared you adopted into his family, then come and receive this small supper as memorial of his gift of life and hope and be filled with anticipation.

 
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Posted by on 21/11/2011 in church, worship

 

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Looking at Spiritual Growth as if through a matrix

You think that’s air that you’re breathing? ;)

Sometimes the business of spiritual growth is a bit of an intangible, unobtainable, clichéd carrot on a stick that religious elites use to chastise the unenlightened. Or so it might seem.

Have a look again at that passage in Galatians 5:16-26, this time check it out through a lens of biblical theology (i.e. the repeated and progressive unfolding of God’s revelation in the Bible) and see if some of the pieces start to fall in place. Biblical spirituality is not some aloof, monastic experience. It’s a bread and wine thing – something you can eat and drink in real life. But, if you can swallow the red pill for a second and take another look, you might see how the entire Bible points us towards this.

Consider the growth of a child – those around the child notice the child’s growth. The child is not conscious of their growth though – but it is happening. Growth is organic, it not constructed.

Growth is slow and growth is permanent. Except for the mysterious case of Benjamin Button, once you grow, you don’t get younger.

However your externals do change. Your preferences for clothing fashions, the cars you drive, houses you live in – all of these change according to your tastes, the environment, condition of the economy etc. However, if all you have are Spiritual externals, then you are going to fluctuate and go back and forth and up and down.

Eventually you are going to fail completely to keep up that external appearance and our true nature and it’s inevitable works of the flesh will be manifested and we will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Instead, we must turn, repent, and come under the influence of the Holy Spirit – not the external, impotent efforts of our flesh.

A. Conduct – v.16
A command is spoken by God intended to create true life – Spiritual life.

B. Conflict – v.17
The man of flesh, the first Adam rebels against God’s Spirit – conflict results

C. Construction – v.19-21a
The man of flesh wants to create his own law and ascend to God on his own terms. In fact, he wants to take the place of God.

D. Consequence – v.21b
God tests man’s law and it fails. Instead of being a true law of righteousness it leads follows into the wilderness of disobedience where they perish because of their unbelief and rejection of God’s Spirit.

C`. Cultivation – v.22-23
The man of Spirit – the second Adam, produces the fruit from the tree of life which fulfills God’s law and writes God’s law onto our hearts and transforms us from the inside out.

B`. Crucifixion – v.24
The man of Spirit – responds to the conflict of the man of flesh and defeats him through a substitutionary death. For it is not behaviour change that redeems and transforms the man of flesh – but death to sin and new life in Christ.

A`. Conduct – v.25-26
Those risen with Christ – alive in the Spirit are the only ones able to live in God’s covenant and enjoy the life of righteousness. Which is evident in worship, fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Have you experienced the “matrix?”

Some related posts:
How are you growing?
Book Review of The Bible Matrix
When did the Reformation stop… for you?

 

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Memory Problems

One of the things that might be holding you back from growing in your faith is a memory problem. What memory problem? I’m not talking about something you have forgotten, I’m referring to something you need to forget or you won’t be able to move forward.

Paul says if he is going to be all God wants him to be he’s not going to waste any more time on yesterday.

Philippians 3:13 “This one thing I do, forgetting what is behind.”

God spoke to Israel through Isaiah and said:

Isaiah 43:18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!”

Forgetting isn’t so easy though. It seems that whatever we try to forget we actually end up remembering and recalling more intensely. So how do I forget “what is behind“?

To forget, in this sense, really means, don’t let the past affect you anymore. Don’t let it control you or have power over you or manipulate you. Learn from the past without dwelling on the past, let it go and move on. Don’t keep obsessing about it.

Some of you might be continuing to rehearse things in your heart that God has long since forgiven and forgotten. We hang onto things from our past that can become handicaps that keep us from moving forward. Don’t become paralysed through unbelief. God’s forgiveness is available to you through Christ. When He “forgets” your sin, He no longer allows it to affect your relationship with Him. But it’s not just the hard and painful things you need to forget. We have memory problems.

It’s just as important to put any successes behind you as it is failures. The problem with success is that it tends to make you complacent and fills you with pride. Then you stop growing and learning.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” ~ Luke 9:62

What do you need to forget?

 
 

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