Sunday, 23 November 2008

Becoming Like Christ by Richard J. Foster

For the Christian, heaven is not a goal; it is a destination. The goal is that "Christ be formed in you," to use the words of the apostle Paul (Gal. 4:19; all passages quoted are from the NRSV unless otherwise noted." To the Romans, he declares, "Those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son" (8:29). And to the Corinthians, he says, "All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image" (2 Cor. 3:18; emphasis added in all three). Thus the daring goal of the Christian life could be summarized as our being formed, conformed, and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. And the wonder in all this is that Jesus Christ has come among his people as our everliving Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend.

He who is the Way shows us the way to live so that we increasingly come to share his love, hope, feelings, and habits. He agrees to be yoked to us, as we are yoked to him, and to train us in how to live our lives as he would live them if he were in our place.

Now, we must insist that this way of life is reliably sustained in the context of a like-minded fellowship. Essential to our growth in grace is a community life where there is loving, nurturing accountability. Christlikeness is not merely the work of the individual; rather, it grows out of the matrix of a loving fellowship. We are the body of Christ together, called to watch over one another in love. Unfortunately, in our day there is an abysmal ignorance of how we as individuals and as a community of faith actually move forward into Christlikeness.

We today lack a theology of growth. And so we need to learn how we "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 3:18). In particular, we need to learn how we cooperate with "the means of grace" that God has ordained for the transformation of the human personality. Our participation in these God-ordained "means" will enable us increasingly to take into ourselves Christ's character and manner of life.

What are these "means of grace"? And how can disciples of Jesus Christ cooperate with them so they are changed into Christlikeness? To find out read the first comment to this article.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Temptation of Jesus by the Devil in the Wilderness

We don't know in full the anguish and suffering that Jesus felt after his 40 day fast in the Wilderness when he was tempted by Satan. One thing for sure, Satan did all in his power to seduce and bully Christ into subverting the will of the Father.This clip portrays at least a little bit of this! Regarding ourselves if we do not feel the power of temptation in our own lives we are perhaps either giving in to it that we don't notice it or Satan is happy with the way we are living and are not causing his kingdom much damage. Of course at times, as in the life of Christ,there will be times when we are not particularly battling and things are relatively calm perhaps when Satan will leave us to plan future assaults.We can also take encouragement from Christ here who did not give in but with a word was able to defeat the enemy of all our souls.Like Christ, our new nature does not want to sin (1John)though Satan will do all in his power to do his evil works. These can be most obvious things such as the sins of the flesh, but they will also include subtle sins, the greatest of which is probably spiritual pride!( By the way this was the one that got Lucifer himself). If this is our besetting sin we are in big trouble as it can often lead to justification of all manner of sins, such as the self righteous condemnation of people or groups, or even lead to so called 'holy wars' where we could feel justified in putting to death someone in the name of Christ( C.P. Crusades. What then is the solution to protecting ourselves from these attacks? My thinking is that we should stay close to Christ, watch and pray and put on humility and the whole armour of God so that we would be able to stand in that evil day.AK

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Who are the Dalits?

Cultural Structure
One of the more confusing mysteries of India is her caste system. The caste system, which has existed for more than 3,000 years, was developed by the Brahmin (priest) caste in order to maintain their superiority. Eventually, the caste system became formalized into four distinct classes (Varna).
The Brahmins are the highest Varna and are the priests and arbiters of what is right and wrong in matters of religion and society. Below them are the Kshatriyas, who served traditionally as soldiers and administrators. The Vaisyas are the artisan and commercial class, while the Sudras are the farmers and the peasants. It is said that the Brahmin come from Brahma’s mouth, Kshatriyas from his arms, Vaisyas from his thighs, and Sudras from his feet.

Beneath the four main castes is a fifth group, the Scheduled Castes. The people of the Scheduled Castes are not part of the Varna system. They are the untouchables, the Dalit.

A Dalit is not considered part of human society, but instead is considered something less than human. The Dalits generally perform the most menial and degrading jobs. Caste rules hold that Dalits pollute higher caste people with their presence. If higher caste Hindus touch an untouchable or even come within a Dalit’s shadow, they must undergo rigorous series of cleansing rituals.

Approximately 250 million Indians (a full 25% of the population), are Dalit. In a country where everybody is supposed to have equal rights and opportunities, one out of four people is condemned to be untouchable.

Although the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms for all Indians, Dalit are systematically abused. Dalit are poor, deprived and socially backward. Their most basic needs of food, shelter, and safety are not fulfilled. They also cannot access decent education and employment. The systematic denial of their basic human rights results in a lack of education, food, healthcare, and economic opportunity, thereby keeping Dalit in perpetual bondage to the upper castes.

The Dalits represent one of the greatest outreach opportunities for the world Church.They are wanting to be freed from the oppressive caste system.May the Church rise to to task and through prayer and ministry bring them into the freedom that is in Christ.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Live packed up and ready to go.

I was in my parent's home yesterday when my cousin phoned from Australia to tell my Dad that his sister Mary had just passed way at the age of 86. In the last three weeks I have also been to the funeral of my Uncle Raymond (86) and Aunt Edna
(76) as well as my good friend Jimmy who was 76.There is one thing for sure, time does not stop and death will come to us all.How then should we live? Read Jesus,read Paul:they will give us good advice! I remember reading the following piece by Jim Packer some years ago. May you be challenged by it as I was.AK

"Be wholly committed to Christ's service each day. Don't touch sin with a barge-pole. Keep short accounts with God. Think of each hour as God's gift to you, to make the most and best of. Plan your life, budgeting for seventy years (Ps.90:10), and understanding that if your time proves shorter that will not be unfair deprivation but rapid promotion. Never let the good, or the not-so-good, crowd out the best, and cheerfully forgo what is not the best for the sake of what is. Live in the present; gratefully enjoy its pleasures and work through its pains with God, knowing that both the pleasures and the pains are steps on the journey home. Open all your life to the Lord Jesus and spend time consciously in his company, basking in and responding to his love. Say to yourself often that every day is one day nearer. Remember that, as George Whitefield said, man is immortal till his work is done (though God alones defines the work), and get on with what you know to be God's task for you here and now" (J.I.Packer, "God's Words", InterVarsity Press, 1981, p.214).