Christian Philosopher & Professor Doug Groothuis owns a supermarket chain in Ireland! Read All About It!

On a recent visit to the beautiful land in Western Europe closest to the USA east coast, Ireland; I frequently came across an ad for a european supermarket which caused me continual double takes each time I saw it. The ad, among a series of ads, for ‘Love Ireland Like Aldi’ (and why wouldn’t you? – Love Ireland – that is) feature more than a passing resemblance to the jacket of a book I have been slowly making my way through.

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on arrival in Dublin’s fair city ……..

It’s the well written and helpful big book by Christian Professor and Philosopher Douglas Groothuis (pronounced grote-hyce apparently). I bought the book mid way through 2013 and have got through almost half of it. It’s good. Very good. Let me just say I am no academic by any stretch of the imagination but as time goes by, I am beginning to know exactly what I don’t know. Previously I knew I knew next to nothing but increasingly I know what the nothing, I know nothing about, is. I could have written that more simply but I enjoyed the ‘word-mess’ too much. For those still reeling, here’s what I mean. In the past, I didn’t know enough of anything and didn’t even know what kind of things I didn’t know but with increasing knowledge I now have a better sense of all the areas that can be known but that I do not know. That’s much simpler I am sure you will agree (perhaps not). I’m in a bit of a silly mood today. Recovering from a bug – maybe still slightly feverish.

All the jumble about knowing and not knowing above is simply to say that when I say a book is good or very good I am usually saying it is helpful to me. Books that I read and consider helpfully good tend to do a number of things. They stretch me with new knowledge, give my current level of knowledge a work out, and confirm my knowledge as being fairly on track with another body of knowledge. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith is all of these things for me at this stage. It’s enlightening me, improving the rigour of my current thoughts and generally encouraging me with the warm glow of shared orthodoxy. That’s a warm glow not a pompous glow. There is a difference. More on pomposity in another blog post.

It is a delight to see a christian take his not inconsiderable brain and apply it to the work of looking at the philosophical ‘legs’ which support the christian faith and in fact demand faith in it, and do it all so reasonably. Groothuis brings an overarching sense of reasonableness to the whole affair and that spoke to me.

Doug Groothius 1

It also highlights how important and adventurous it can be to engage with other perspectives who approach their task of (counter) apologetic (defense) or even polemic (attack) in a reasonable manner.

I will, I’m sure, revisit you with some further thoughts from the book but suffice it to say it is a ‘good read and keep’ reference book as part of your library. (You are building a little library I hope? Let’s talk again about this.) The book is available from Amazon UK, Amazon Us or the Book Depository – shipping free from the UK all around the world. I got it at the bargain price of 15 english pounds. Cheap for a hardback reference book by an academic weighing in at 752 pages. I love a bargain. Oh dear just feeling hungry.  Maybe I should head down to Doug’s supermarket and get some bread and treats in. Well done brother and thanks you for your labours. Doug blogs intermittently, relative to some others I frequent, over at The Constructive Curmudgeon. He is straight talking, you may not always agree with him, he is experienced and therefore has a perspective that is not soaked with naivety. He is political with a big P. He loves Jazz and is quite spiritual about it. But most of all he is a fellow labourer in the fields of the Lord. Hope his next book jacket gets hijacked by another supermarket. Look forward to seeing it while driving by – anywhere in the world.

Choosing the wrong one – everytime

The more popular / successful / cool / street creddy

Versus

The less popular / successful / cool / street creddy

Guess which ones I chose?  Everytime. 3D Loser me.

of course it's all relative except the Jesus piece.

of course it’s all relative except one.

Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) V Robin Hood (Patrick Bergin)

Rafa Nadal V Djokovic

Star Trek V Babylon 5

Rafa Nadal V Federer

A bug’s life V Antz

The Prestige V The Illusionist

Wyatt Earp V Tombstone

Turner & Hooch V K9

Volcano V Dante’s Peak – who cares? who knows?

John McEnroe V Jimmy Connors

Big (Tom hanks) V Vice Versa (Judge Reinhold)

Blur V Oasis

Robbie Williams V Gary Barlow

Bjorn Borg V Ivan Lendl

Sean Connery V Roger Moore

Roger Moore V George Lazenby

Sean Connery V George Lazenby

Zola Budd V Mary Decker

Sebastian Coe V Steve Ovett

and yet, and yet I did choose Christ.

But there is a difference, thankfully. He actually chose me and that’s why I came to choose him. Good job too, with my track record – I probably would have chosen Buddha, Muhammed, David Koresh, or that man the beatles went to see (Alan Partridge line).

Thank you Father for choosing me, in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit.

not because of anything in me

not because of anything in me because I wasn’t even born when I was chosen

Ephesians 1 (sourced electronically  from Bible Gateway)

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Electronic Text sourced from

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ephesians%201&version=NIV

How can we reconcile the Old Testament God and the New Testament God?

I think it would be good for you to hear what D.A. Carson has to say to this important question. Most christians struggle with this issue theologically (what they believe to be true about God) and therefore pastorally (in terms of how they support fellow christians and respond to non christian inquiries and needs.)

For the longest time, after conversion to Christ, I thought that generally speaking, Jesus in his teaching was saying things that were making life more easy. He was moving us ( us being all people who come across his teaching) away from the entirety of  the Jewish law – so filled with obligations. In a complicated sense, I thought he was telling us or more precisely asking us (he is so nice) to just love God with everything we have and to just love our neighbours as self. Just love. We gentiles and the entire West love ideas about Love. We think we are good at it. That’s how we evaluate everything. We are so often mistaken. But it is a reflex at work within so many of us.

In those former years, I naively thought: Old Covenant Law = hard times for Jews where as Jesus’ teaching = easier times for Jews and Gentiles. There is a very real sense in which this couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus in his use of the ‘Love Law’ – Love God – Love People was not laying on us some kind of easy hippy vibe, like love was the easiest thing in the world. Jesus was driving us to a place of hopelessness not comfort. Actually he was, among many things, driving us to the knowledge of how hopeless our situation actually is. He was taking us to a desolate hopeless place where surpisingly hope would be waiting to ambush us. But you only get there by journeying on the road of the knowledge of hopelessness and despair.

Hopeless_by_psdholic

Instead of making things easier he just kept increasing the demands. His ‘Love Law’ was  the most beautiful of the beautiful and the highest of the high. All true. Our sense of (self) righteousness and our memory of life before the rupture in Edens grassy meadows attracts us to this Love Law – the rightness of it, the very warmth of it. This is partly because in the west we fail to see the devasting truth and impossibility of the Love law.  We have been softened by the ‘Jesus demands very little’ mantra – ‘do him a favour – just follow him’ whispers. But Jesus in his extraordinary distillation of the entire law of God expands its claim on us and drives us forcefully off a high ledge we never could have stayed standing on. Never could but foolishly we thought we just might.  So Jesus perhaps confusingly teaches a harder law with a grace never before encountered. There is something about the grace that conceals or blurs that line between hope and despair. You hang out with Jesus as he beigns to invade your life – he is a king, kings invade – you will feel despair and hope. If you are on a journey twoards Jesus and you feel both of these things – rejoice – the kingdom of God is not far from you.

The hope eminates from him to you because although he is never less than the Judge, he is so much more. The despair eminates from you toward him because the life of after the rupture in Eden courses relentlessly through your veins. Jesus is nearby, speaking an impossible law to sinners, a lost people, homeless and refugees; a long way from Eden. Although he says his burden is light his beautiful Love law lights up the sky while darkening the ground of men.

He touches our necrosing hearts, deceitful above all things, with demands that will illuminate our true situation – despair and hopelessness. He knows how to speak the language of the flesh. Adultery is a weapon of choice. Hard demands for frail humans about old fashioned adultery (the flesh and sweat kind) get transformed and appropriated for ‘mind adultery’ – where everyone keeps their clothes on but all are found guilty. He is ramping things up and we are all in trouble.

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the only way is up – baby

Because of the glaze that infects the eyes you can miss Jesus bringing this heavier law – yes more ethically beautiful but so deadly on the back. Somehow I missed for years so much of this deadliness, this call to all hearers towards impossible holiness. Looking back I can now see that his sermon on the mount  is equal parts beautiful and deadly. Saw some of this but certainly missed the whole. I thought his Law was the easy one not the impossible one. By easy I mean achievable.  Just love the Lord your God completely and just love your neighbour as you already love yourself. Somehow that seemed refreshingly easy.Do-able.

Crazy? I know. But, wonderfully, the arrival of Jesus also brings more light, more warmth and more hope than ever seen or felt before. Light, heat and hope are only useful and savored by those in the dark, in the cold and in despair. His arrival ultimately is not to condemn. He makes that plain. But the condemnation was already in place. That’s why he has come. You only hear about the cancer treatment after you hear about the cancer diagnosis. But in his coming and in his teaching he is  escalating everything. Maybe the letter of the law gets flexed (we like that) but the spirit of the law goes stratosphheric in its expectations (we miss this).

Condemnation is the polluted water we swim in, the polluted air we breathe and the polluted life we live. Jesus enters into our polluted water, air and life to save us. When the lifeguard grabs you in the ocean, pulls you close to himself and secures you to his frame you can be sure you were drowning. Jesus is the greater life guard. Jesus is the padre who has come to visit a condemned man – rightly convicted, guilty, awaiting certain punishment and death. But the condemned man recognises the Padre – he looks a lot like the Judge. How can the Judge be the Padre? What is he doing now? – Crazy padre! He is swapping his robe for that of the condemned man and goes to the gallows in his stead.

Calvary

                                                                 Calvary

How shocking is that? Very. So Jesus and the agenda of God in the gospel is ramped. Brim-filled with impossible Law, condemnation, wrath, judgement, fierce holiness and love, grace, hope and rescue. In the gospel, through Jesus breathing his last on calvarys polluted hill, the holy love of the holy God is wonderfully holding back punishment from those who deserve punishment (that’s mercy) and providing love, forgiveness and adoption for those who don’t deserve it (that’s grace).

This song of worship from some years back captures that shocking meeting of wrath and mercy. Shocking but so wonderful in providing a way where there was no way. Come & see. Come and see that the LORD is good.

There was another John Locke – you know!?

JohnLocke-ActionsOfMen

John Locke 1632 – 1704                                                                        Image source – click image

I think I have heard that somewhere before. Oh yes – Jesus the Saviour King.

Words of Jesus of Nazareth (0 – 33 AD approx and now alive for evermore)

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

From Mecca to Calvary – the story of God being kind to Thabiti Anyabwile

This brother is an incredible blessing to me though I have yet to meet him. His is a testimony to the gracious, saving hand of God in Christ. He is my go-to person when I need to think carefully and deeply on matters related to race, church life (commitment and discipline) and Christ honoring manhood.

click on picture to hear Thabiti’s journey from Islam to Christ

Click the book to go to an excellent written interview with Trevin Wax about Thabiti’s book – the Gospel for Muslims

Thabiti blogs at Pure Church – click Pure to find.

Click to link to Pure Church blog

Click to link to Pure Church blog

It is what someone says it is. IMHO.

‘The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions’ is a great sermon in my humble opinion. Someone has said it is the greatest recent message on missions. I wouldn’t argue with that.

I had ‘manish flu’ one recent Sunday. It was nothing as severe as ‘man flu’ which we men know is almost fatal. Almost – because we seem to rally on day 5 or thereabouts. Amazing. Our powers of recovery are astounding (high dose of irony at work here).

Consequently I couldn’t get out to church. So I loaded this sermon up and spent the hour ironing work shirts, (“it was the fever that made me do it guv – honest”). What with the stubborn creases – is there any other kind? – and the holding back of tears of joy & worship I was challenged and emboldened. But most of all I was reminded who is in charge of everything, including missions and how he is delighted to use the redeemed donkeys of this world in his work in the field of missions among the reached and magnificently among the unreached.

hearts in need of a haven

hearts in need of a haven

Please do watch it – and let the bits of theology, if any, that are not yours brush past you so that you can be caught up in the vision of this glorious task.

I hope this will be the first of many in a series on missions. This brother David Platt is interesting and I like him. But his apparent ‘sold-outness’ for God challenges and scares me. He is imho not a cool man. I like the uncool. I am uncool. Cool is quite overated. Here is a wonderful message – uncool in the 21st century by a lovely uncool brother.

Living small? No problem – on condition there is a toilet (Episode 1)

Palm trees, blue skies, brick chimneys – all things of beauty. Hang on a minute, is this a cute little house I see before mine eyes, the gable window towards me?

Simply beautiful! Beautiful & simple.

Simply beautiful! Beautiful & simple.                            Click each image on this post to find source

The thing is I love the idea of living in small places. In houses – the loft or the basement continually whisper to me “live here! live here!”. I like boats, trains, plains, campervans and yurts – for their potential to be a permanent home for me. Dr.  Freud would have a field day analysing what that’s about. As a christian I may be able to help him – later. As a christian I should also be prepared to live anywhere and grow to love it for Jesus’ sake. A typical house presents that type of challenge for me. I don’t desire it but could do it – for Jesus’ sake. Sounds weird – I know. This little house in the pictures above looks a challenge in the opposite direction – a beautiful challenge. I am assuming, however, that there is some kind of toilet. I am also assuming it doesn’t look like the one you might have in your house. It doesn’t need to be. Toileting is a function of the body. A toilet only needs to be functional. But it needs to exist – indoors – preferably – please please. But its existence really is a deal-breaker for me.

I am not sure why I love the idea of living small. There is something about closeness and compactness. There is something about living in a space which is so small, relatively speaking, you end up doing a lot of your living outside of it. It forces you to look out while in and get out when in – weather permitting. But it’s the smallness which acts as the agitator in this process and therefore the small space heightens the sense of preciousness of the in and the out. For me the small expands life. I seem to have some inside (pun intended) information on this. I have dabbled in living small, so I know what I’m talking about.

Colourful & cozy - what more could you ask for?  (Tell me more whispers Dr. Freud)

Colourful & cozy – what more could you ask for? (Tell me more whispers Dr. Freud.)

For me the small inside space forces and energises a relationship with the big outside space. That’s pretty special. But there has got to be something else at play in this ‘loving the small living space’ thing. I think there is something about safety and warmth. Both are desirable for human living, indeed human flourishing. I certainly desire both safety and warmth. Both tangibly and spiritually. I also find both of them being maximised spiritually in my ongoing life with Jesus. And yet because I experience them in him, I must also not desire them in a physical sense so much that I wouldn’t be prepared to live without them for his sake. In fact, Jesus gives me good reasons to expect that both my safety and warmth will be challenged and even taken away from me for his sake. He even goes further to say that I should actively give them up, pursue a life without them for his sake. [Matthew 16:24-26 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?]

When someone wishes to take them from me I should give him more. Undermine him, subvert him by giving more than he demands. [Matthew 5:38 38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.”[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.] Let my surrendering, my cheek-turning be so resonant and expressive of my allegance, dependence and joy in Jesus that the demander or thief (sounds like commander-in-chief – let’s leave that for another post) is beautifully assaulted with a huge picture of Life & Love as it was meant to be. The huge picture I am boldly promoting would in fact be pretty small because it’s distilled through me (humble donkey remember!) But nevertheless, it would be an example of the ordinary living in and through and for the Extraordinary. Because the surrender is really for the One who is worthy – Jesus is the Wothy One – it might be tiny but it would be like pure gold – 24 Karat.

Chuchill made famous Never Surrende rspeech - here he is on a gold coin - see the link? you now know how my brain works

Chuchill made a famous  “We will never surrender” speech – here he is on a gold coin – see the link of oppositeness to my point? You now know how my brain works.

Surrender for the sake of Jesus is a beautiful surrender. Sweet in the now, in the tomorrow and in the hereafter. In the now and the tomorrow it is sweet but not sweet only – it can often be bitter. Bitter & sweet. Surrender for the christian evokes the inner joy of obedience to Jesus but is often won in the crucible of external suffering. For the christian, surrender and suffering are seldom far apart. Like for Jesus in the garden of gethsemane. “Father if it be possible for this cup to pass my lips (suffering) yet not my will but yours be done (surrender)” Words of Jesus in Luke 22:41-42

And he (Jesus) withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

So while I love, prefer and feels safe and warm in the small living space I want to be willing to surrender to Jesus in all things for his sake. Anything done for his sake is like a man throwing away his seeds – into a soil so rich and fertile, so warm and safe.

John 14:2 – “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (words of Jesus). You’ve guessed it – “can I have the small one please?”