I read my Bible to see what men ought to do; and read my newspapers to see what men are doing.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me; Lord renew the church that the church may renew the nation(s)
Once again the worst nightmare of any family became a reality over the pass week. Another plane crash. Initially no sightings of the ill fated plane. And then dead bodies! More dead bodies! And still more dead bodies and parts of the plane were recovered. Thus destroying the hope and sending so many families of the passengers on Air Asia QZ5081into grief and mourning. What a disaster! What a calamity! What a way to start the New Year with Pain and Suffering.
The news of the brutal murder of a retired Nurse, who was a stalwart in the community and a prominent member of the local Baptist church, sent many into shock.
What kind of evil mind could carry out this kind savagery. Her husband had left her for a short time, and came only to find his wife in blood with stab wounds and dead.
Yes, there were other stories which caught my attention, but these two really ‘rocked me’.
THE WORD OF GOD
So what Word or inspired word did the Lord send as the year closed, and a fresh new one opened its blank sheet ; already being filled with grief and pain?
Three WhatsApp messages and the reading of a very profound book by Rev. Timothy Keller, a New York Times best selling author helped enormously.
THE FIRST MESSAGE – sent to a growing number of folks on WhatsApp, most of whom are not part of this Sunday night Internet Ministry; thus opening up another avenue for ministry in this chiefly young people’s territory. To the extent that this evening one of my ‘little daughters’, who grew up in my hand and is no longer going to church, wondered, aloud, if I wasn’t too old for WhatsApp, when I requested her number with a view to encouraging her return to the God who she loves.
In terms of the content of the message, I believe you will see as the entire ‘blog’ unfolds, that the God was preparing me for the message in Timothy Keller’s book on Pain and Suffering. A Book that, so far, I am not yet finished, revisits the whole matter of the Fall of humankind, and how what took place between Adam and God, Sin- which is really rebellion against God, and deciding to be your own master – allowed entry of Pain and Suffering into the world
I woke up with this song in my heart thus morning. And then recalled a meditation by Oswald Chambers wherein he made the point that it only when we are born again that we are really convicted of sin. I pray God that as we sing this song today we will truly be convicted of sin. First ours, and then that of others. And pray boldly that both may be rooted out completely. To the glory of God.
All The Way To Calvary
All the way to Calvary, He went for me He went for me, He went for me All the way to Calvary, He went for me He died to set me free.
Although I had so many many sins Jesus took them all away And He pardoned me Although I had so many many sins Jesus took them all away And He pardoned me
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light….the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
To mistake conscious freedom from sin for deliverance from sin by the Atonement is a great error. No man knows what sin is until he is born again. Sin is what JESUS faced on Calvary. The evidence that I am delivered from sin is that I know the real nature of sin in me. It takes the last reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that is, the impartation if His absolute perfection to make a man know what sin is…..
THE SECOND MESSAGE – sent to my WhatsApp contacts, again is a preparation for the ‘revelation’ from
” Walking with God, through Pain and Suffering” , at a time when the whole world is trying to make sense of the crash and loss of life of several Air Planes; and locally everyone is trying to explain how evil, fully grown, can cause so much Pain. As is the case with cruel death of that retired Nurse in Jamaica; or the many children who killed in Newtown last year in Connecticut. One of the searching issues which Keller raises in His book, is whether our understanding of The Creator God, is that He made us so that He may provide us with a comfortable life; or whether He made us for His own Glory. The answer to which question, largely determines our response to Suffering and Pain. In this context then, Chris Tiegreen’s meditation, bookmarked by two profound questions, prepares us for a deeper understanding of God; which is precisely Keller’s intent.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher – Luke 6:40
…….Did you choose to follow Jesus just to become better or become new?. You may have a clear assumption of what a good Christian is. Scrap it. That’s not necessarily the model that Jesus puts before you. He puts Himself before us send says, ” This is what you will be like if you continue with Me and allow Me to fully train you. You will be different and you will be good; you will both be loved and hated; and you will both be blessed and crucified”.
Do not expect the Teacher to train you toward your own objectives: a comfortable life, exemption from pain, a just-above-average morality. Expect Him to train you for battle and for glory. It’s His divine challenge. Are you up to it?
Comment: This experience of ITS ALL ABOUT JESUS began last night. So there is more to write. But, have mercy, what a question to begin the except! And what an even more searching question to end it.
THE THIRD MESSAGE – again sent out on WhatsApp, poses an existential question of how do we regard Jesus? How do we see His authority? As a large part of the problem, as explained by Keller, is that in recent times – the last three hundred years or so – many persons in Western civilization, on account of advanced technology and better understanding of science, have ceased to believe in a God, whom they consider they no longer need. And further, believe that the problem of Pain and Suffering does not accommodate a belief in a good and Omnipotent God. So for them, Jesus and the Word of God, is no longer like oxygen – a matter of life and death
Thank you all for your best wishes for a New Year, blessings and expressions of appreciation. In the words of one of the greatest hymns ever written:
To God be the glory! Great things he hath done….
CHRIS TIEGREEN Jan. 1
VERSE: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End
There is no greater claim to authority than this. Those who would take the words of Jesus as good suggestions, spiritual advice, recommendations for s moral and happy life, or any other such expression of human wisdom must consider this verse – He is the Alpha and Omega….. When this truth grips us discipleship takes off. There can be no casual reading of the Gospels when we understand that the words of Jesus are words not only of a great Teacher but God Himself….
Ask yourself these probing questions. Do you hear His words casually, as though they are mere suggestions? Or do you voraciously consume His teachings as the key to life, depending on it for your very existence? Are His words like a fragrant aroma – pleasing, but not entirely necessary? Or are they like oxygen – a matter of life and death? They were true before the foundation of the world and they will be true for all eternity. Savor them well.
SO WE COME TO KELLER’S ” WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING”.
As reported above I have not yet finished the book. But as I have read and have been ‘touched by a word’ I have Tweeted. So here goes:
@lucienforJesus: If you are looking for a book to help you counter the #Prosperity Gospel, Timothy Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is it
@lucienforJesus: Unlike the current moment in which the existence of suffering and evil makes Christian faith vulnerable to criticism and doubt …#Keller
@lucienforJesus: ….early Christians pointed to the pain and adversity of life as one of the main reasons for embarking on the faith #Keller.@Petchary
@lucienforJesus: Suffering dispels the illusion that we have the strength and competence to rule our own lives and save ourselves #TimothyKeller
@lucienforJesus: People ” become nothing through suffering ” so that they can be filled with God and His grace. #TimothyKeller @FaeEllington @souldancing
@lucienforJesus: Before we get the joy and love that help us to face and overcome suffering, suffering must first empty us of our pride…… #TimothyKeller
@lucienforJesus: . idea of Deism is that God created the world for our own benefit and now it operates on its own, without his constant or direct involvement
@lucienforJesus: If you believe that the world was made for our benefit by God, then horrendous suffering and evil will shake your understanding of life. #TK
@lucienforJesus: JRR Tolkien The Lord of the Rings – Always after a defeat and respite evil takes another shape and grows again. #9/11 #ISIS #Thank ForJesus
@lucienforJesus: Evil is the condition which results when some good thing that God made is twisted or corrupted from its original design or purpose……
@lucienforJesus: …..#Augustine and later #ThomasAquinas #FreeWill #TimothyKeller….so now we get a glimpse of why certain things happen
@lucienforJesus: So there can be good without evil, but evil, being parasitic, cannot exist without the good on which it preys…..#Eureka #TimothyKeller
@lucienforJesus: One the deepest desires of the human heart is for love without parting – Timothy Keller. Only the Resurrection of Jesus gives that assurance
It’s hard and perhaps a bit dishonest to try and summarize what one has gleaned from a book which has so much more to reveal. But already one can see that the thrust of the book is to counter the growing phenomenon in Western Cultures, with devastating effects on families, community and institutions, of the notion that Deism, which is a unconscious indifference to God, or Atheism, which is a manifestly conscious rejection of God, can serve mankind as well as Traditional and Bible based Christianity at any time. But especially in times of Pain and Suffering. Keller addresses, as C.S. Lewis did, The problem of Evil – adequately described by JRR Tolkien in one of the Tweets above. And also the Problem of a ” moral outcry against evil and injustice’, when Atheism, properly and honestly understood, has to ‘borrow its sense of morality from God’. And based on this argument, advances the position that, the ‘Nones’ – those who do not believe in any religion – have lost the philosophical debate, and are now in retreat, contrary to what people like Keron King would have us believe, The next fall back position is to assert that God ‘probably’ does not exist…and the same verdict holds here too
On the positive side of the discussion, is that assertion that Christianity did a better job of assisting persons in times of Pain and Suffering ; from both the doctrinal position of the joys promised in the Resurrection of Christ. And the practical experience of having Christians minister to persons in the times of plagues and other trials, risking and sometimes sacrificing their own lives, while the ” ancient humanists’ ran away to ‘save their own skins’; the philosophy of the age, which is rapidly taking over the minds of Western culture. The paradox being that Christianity flourished in the early days of Western Civilization for these reasons, but is under ‘pressure’, in the present age, as many are asking ‘ why would a good and omnipotent God allow suffering”.
The final point, so far in the book, is that The Fall explains much of human suffering and pain. Even the existence of death. And thus, as fellow travellers in this age of The Fall, we need to be mindful of the power of God, in and through Christ Jesus, to ‘make all things new”; whether in this age, or in the age to come. And that promise is the ultimate consolation, which ‘ parting from loved ones’, through evil, brings. Whether in Indonesia, or in a sleepy village in the western part of Jamaica.