Thursday, July 30, 2009

What hast thou done...?

This is something I read in Simon Guillebaud’s book ‘For What It’s Worth’...that a year or two ago awoke me to the seriousness of our task on earth –the task of being Christ’s ambassadors, proclaiming the message of reconciliation, the Gospel.

You can read a little more about her here or here.

I have her autobiography to read eventually. You can borrow it if you so wish. Drop me a line...
So, this is the vision she had, and wrote down in the following description, which is quite hard hitting, so be warned... :

The tom toms thumped on all night, and the darkness shuddered around me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, and it seemed like this:

I stood on a grassy sward [meadow], and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. I drew back, dizzy at the depth. Then I saw forms of people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step . . . it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, the cry as they went over!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks, as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was simply agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I could not call. Though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.

Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood red to me, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of Hell.

Then I saw, like the pictures of peace, a group of people under some trees, their backs turned to the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes, when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it rather a vulgar noise. And if one of their members started up and wanted to go do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite ‘call’ to go. You haven’t finished your daisy chains. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get some more sentries out; but they found very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries for miles and miles at the edge.

One girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and the other relatives called, and reminded her furlong was due; she must not break the ‘rules’. And, being tired and needed a change, had to go and rest awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap; and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.

One a child caught a tuft of grass that grew on the very brink of the cliff; the child clung convulsively, and it called but nobody seemed to hear. And the little girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little cry, sprang up and wanted to go; at which her relatives reproved her, reminding her no one is necessary anywhere – the gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was – the Cry of the Blood.

Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord. And he thundered, “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth out to me from the ground.”

The tom toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shivered and shuddered around me; I heard the yell of the devil-dancers and the weird wild shrieks of the demon-possessed just outside the gate.

Amy Carmichael

Friday, July 10, 2009

John Piper on Twitter...

Found this a week or so back, John Piper, of all people, is now on Twitter. I find this quite amusing! Amusing enough to warrent a short blog post that is...

I can't just imagine him doing it...then again, they are pretty serious ones!

Check it out:

Monday, July 6, 2009

The grass withers, the flower fades...

...but the Word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8

Saw today in the "Weird & Wonderful" section of the BBC News website, that "about 800 pages of the earliest surviving Christian Bible have been recovered and put on the internet", under the headline "Historic Bible pages put online".

Now, initially, I was just going to point this out to readers just for something interesting. However, I spotted a link named "What is missing from the Codex Sinaiticus?" by a guy named Roger Bolton. Written in 2008. He writes this:

"For those who believe the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered word of God, there will be some very uncomfortable questions to answer. It shows there have been thousands of alterations to today's bible."

The Codex, probably the oldest Bible we have, also has books which are missing from the Authorised Version that most Christians are familiar with today - and it does not have crucial verses relating to the Resurrection"

This has led me on a little late night journey investigating the views and responses. I will not hide what I read has made me think.

I then though maybe I wouldn't blog upon this topic any more!

However, upon reflection, (and as WLC mentions later in the blog post) I know from my personal experience Jesus Christ is living, and the Holy Spirt lives within me. I followed this through, looking for answers. As Michael Ots said in our Events Week (2009) recently, he/we/I have no desire to believe and follow something that is not true. I am -and was sure that there was more to it than this. I couldn't turn a blind eye and write them off as rubbish. I am ans was sure that what we read in the Bible is true. That Jesus rose from the dead, and the glorious rest of it.

So, here is my brief search to find out if there is any truth in Bolton's claims. Many of my thoughts as this has taken place have now escaped me, for it is hard to put momentary thoughts down here fast enough. So give me credit for any jumps in reasoning, questioning, or whatever. Remember that thinking in the moment is easier and more extensive than I am able to convey here over an hour later. So here goes...

Firstly in response to Bolton's claims that "the Codex - and other early manuscripts - omit[s] some mentions of ascension of Jesus into heaven, and key references to the Resurrection". I opened up and went to the end of Luke. Just because I like Luke, and it seemed a good place to start.

Luke 24:1-9 -according to the Codex Sinaiticus, says thus:

24:1 But on the first of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices that they had prepared.

2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher;

3 but entering, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

4 And it came to pass as they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in bright clothing

5 and the women being afraid and bowing their faces to the earth the angels said to them: Why see among the dead for him that lives?

6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he spoke to you while he was yet in Galilee,

7 saying of the Son of man that he must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and rise on the third day

8 And they remembered his words,

9 and returned from the sepulcher and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

Ressurection? It seems the Codex Sinaiticus would agree... (notably pretty similar the Bible I have in front of me, if you'll excuse the changing of the word 'sepulcher'...) If it was not 12:47 then I would continue to find more references (I am now tempted to go find another...yes 2 Corinthians 5:21, and all the wonderful rest of it either side, is there! Haha! Christ is Lord! He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God! See left picture to prove it!)

There are more questions Proffeser Erhman raises (who is cited by Bolton), which do indeed need answering, relating to why anti-sematic books such as the Epistle of Barnabas is found collated alongside the rest (which initially makes me think how by the time it was produced, more such 'Epistles' could well have been written. But see the later point* for more on the) but my next step was looking up a bit about who Bart Ehrman is (Via his Wikipedia page!), and found there a debate transcript between William Lane Craig. And here I find that I can rest assured there are answers to Bolton/Erhman's comments.

As mentioned earlier, Craig speaks:

"As a result of my studies, I became even more convinced of the historical credibility of that event. Of course, ever since my conversion, I believed in the resurrection of Jesus on the basis of my personal experience, and I still think this experiential approach to the resurrection is a perfectly valid way to knowing that Christ has risen. It’s the way that most Christians today know that Jesus is risen and alive. But as a result of my studies, I came to see that a remarkably good case can be made for Jesus’ resurrection historically as well"

This quote fills me with confidence, it rings so true of the thoughts in my head and heart.

And reading on, he says this about Erhman and his arguments:

"I was stunned to discover that the philosophical argument he gives for this claim is an old argument against the identification of miracles which I had studied during my doctoral research and which is regarded by most philosophers today as demonstrably fallacious. So as not to steal Dr. Ehrman’s thunder, I’ll wait until he’s presented his argument before I show where the fallacy lies."

I look forward to reading the rest of the debate. As I skim through, I see that again Erhman has some good points. Though some pretty shocking ones too. I encourage you to have a read to.

*On second read, while Bolton does argue that this is a big problem for us, see this quote from him later on in the article:

"But the picture is complicated. Some argue that another early Bible, the Codex Vaticanus, is in fact older. And there are other earlier texts of almost all the books in the bible, though none pulled together into a single volume."

This is not exactly 'the oldest manuscript' but the 'largest AND oldest' manuscript. Not exactly what he made out at the start -"probably the oldest Bible we have". There are older copies, just not all together as this seems to be. This is not therefore, the 'be-all and end-all' as it is made out to be.

So, after this search, I -and hopefully you- have increased in my confidence in Hebrews 4:12, that the word of God is living and active, it is trustworthy, and we can pray with confidence, as I feel compelled to now...

Thank you Father, that you loved us so much that you gave your Son, so that we might be reconciled to you. Thank you that You live -you came and died and rose again- and that I can be so sure of that, through the Bible and your Holy Spirit. Thank you... :D

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die...

“The ultimate answer to the question, Who crucified Jesus? is: God did.”

Whilst browsing the internet when I should be in bed, I discovered a great opportunity for you (few) readers...

Instead of browsing Facebook for an hour a day, you can now download for FREE John Piper's short(ish) book on 50 reasons why Jesus came to die. Why not read one each day for the next 50 days?!

That sounds like a good idea for a blog...check back sometime soon to see if I've been able to follow through this idea I have as I write which is not et fully thought through....

Anyway! Head here to download this great resource to feast on the truth of the Cross.
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Colossians 2:13-15 example that really stirs me to realise the awesomeness of the cross -not a defeat, but a victory! Death has lost its sting! We are now more than conquerors! He has triumphed over sin in the cross....

"The death of Jesus is of foremost importance for the world. And the central issue of Jesus’ death is not the cause, but the meaning—God’s meaning.

In this book, revised and updated from the previously published The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper has gathered from the New Testament fifty reasons behind the crucifixion of the Christ. Not fifty causes, but fifty purposes—in answer to the most important question facing us in the twenty-first century: Why did Jesus suffer and die? "