Archive for June, 2018

Dealing with Shame

Posted: June 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

the-heart-of-man-movie-review

Shame is that feeling that most people experience at some stage. A feeling that you just want to run away and disappear. Feelings of unworthiness attached to shame make it very difficult to accept love and kindness from others and even make us think that we don’t deserve forgiveness ourselves, and consequently are unable to forgive others.

In about a week, cinemas will be showing the movie The Heart of Man (check out the trailer). The Heart of Man is described as a cinematic retelling of the parable of the prodigal son, interwoven with true testimonials of personal and sexual brokenness. Narrative storytelling and documentary filmmaking combine to reveal the compassionate heart of God that illuminates an age-old truth: shame is not a barrier to God’s love, but a bridge to absolute transformation, victory, freedom and hope.

Check it out at a cinema near you (if you live in Australia).

As I have been working my way through the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapter 5, I’ve come to Jesus’ comments about adultery. Put simply, Jesus makes it clear that there aren’t too many people who can wriggle out of this one. So what do we do? Hide away in shame or pretend we don’t know what he’s talking about?

Receiving God’s forgiveness through confession is critical to our ability to deal with shame and guilt, and shame, when it’s handed over to God becomes a bridge rather than a barrier.

Check out my podcast here.

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A Culture of Life

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

In my last blog I talked about Jesus’ teaching about the law. I’m working my way through what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount, (recorded for us in Matthew chapter 5), and immediately after giving his summary about the law Jesus began to talk about murder. “You’ve heard it said, you shall not murder,” he explained, “but I say to you….”

What Jesus proceeded to do, was to draw  a picture of the extreme opposite of murder – extreme love.

In an effort to understand what Jesus was saying I’ve put together some diagrams that may help.  The law that Moses handed down from Mt Sinai said very clearly, you shall not murder.

THE LAW GRAPHIc1

The fence around that statement is very clear and the people in Moses’ day got the message pretty clearly.

But in time people started to knock down the fence by coming up with ideas that would help us to address what we saw as problems with this very finite law. After the fall of Rome in 410AD Christianity came up with the ‘just war’ theory to solve the problem of how to kill people if there was sound justification for war. People found reason to support capital punishment, and other laws were introduced to soften the harshness of the statement: You shall not murder.

Then we discovered that we could change our language to soften the law a little. We can talk about abortion, euthanasia, or assassination, as slightly softer ways of describing the act of killing. Ultimately we began to argue that that old law was so broken that we could just ignore it altogether.

THE LAW GRAPHIC2.jpg

As Jesus was talking to his disciples, he explained that this old law would eventually reach its fulfilment. That time came when Jesus died on the cross. That momentous event marked the fulfilment of Moses law.  What came into effect after that was the law of Christ. The next diagram shows that Jesus came and established new boundaries.

He didn’t tell us to ignore the law and become lawless. He didn’t tell us to go back to the old law with the broken down fences. He introduced a new law, which is the law of love. Here’s the diagram to represent this change.

THE LAW GRAPHIC3

Christ’s law was completely different from the old law because it focussed on the sanctity of human life. It recognised that everyone is created in the image of God and God loves each person with an inexhaustible love. Murder is no longer a relevant way of dealing with people we don’t like, because a new law is in place.

Jesus explained it by saying you don’t even call a person a fool and if someone has something against you, go and sort it out. Jesus’ law was the very opposite of murder, it was a law of extreme love.

Instead of contemplating murder, the role of the person who follows Jesus is to be a voice who lovingly and directly speaks to the worth and value of life; and actively works toward cultivating a culture of life.

I wonder what the culture of life will look like?

This is the fourth in a series I am presenting at Maida Vale Baptist Church. Read the first here, the second here and the third here. You can also listen to the whole series of messages on podcast here

It’s the Law

Posted: June 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

One day Jesus is sitting on a mountainside talking to his disciples and a great crowd of people, and he decides to address the question of the law. It’s a tricky topic, but he’s not in the habit of avoiding tricky topics, even though everyone in the crowd would have had an opinion about the law and how it was to be interpreted.

He starts off by saying: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. What was he saying? Well, here’s a way of understanding it. If there was a game of football, and part way through the game, the umpires called for the game to stop and told everyone to go home, the game would have have been cancelled – or abolished. If the game was allowed to come to its natural end, it would be fulfilled.

When Jesus came, he lived within the law of the land, and the religious law. He did not abolish the law while he was one earth. But at his death on the cross, Jesus cried out, “it is finished.” At the cross, the law had reached its fulfilment.

Jesus went on to say to the people there on the mountainside:  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. If we argue that the law is still in place we suggest that Jesus death did not accomplish all he set out to do. We’re claiming that the cross was only a partial accomplishment, which goes against Jesus’ own teaching, and the whole teaching of the New Testament, that in his death, Jesus accomplished all that God had sent him to do.

So what does that mean in practical terms? Watch out for next week’s blog when I get into the nitty gritty of observing the law.