Monday, 30 November 2009

When 'The Man' comes around :Johnny Cash

This is an awesome song and video. It speaks of God's judgement when 'the man comes around'. I take 'the man' referred to here as being the same that both Daniel in the O.T. and Jesus in the gospels refers to as the 'Son Of Man':

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

The 'Son of Man',the Judge, is of course 'the Christ' or 'Messiah' himself who will come one day, sooner or later, to judge the world in righteousness. We should therefore be wise to heed the words of the ancient prophet who warns:'prepare to meet your God'.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Cause-Driven Church-What does a healthy church look like? by Erwin Raphael McManus

The early church existed with a dynamic tension: it was both expanding and consolidating - growing and unifying. The Bible tells us that first century believers “shared everything in common” and that “the church was being added to day by day.” We want our church to live in this same tension.

This tension is illustrated by two biblical images - the body of Christ and the army of God. The body of Christ is centered on community; the army of God is centered on cause.

Healthy community flows out of a unified cause - not the other way around. Jesus called his disciples and said, “Follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.” This was not an offer of community. “Follow me and I will give you something worthy of giving your life to” is a statement of cause. But the neat thing is, when they came to the cause, they found community like they never knew could exist. That’s the power of the church.

One danger of the American church is that we often try to offer people community without cause. Without cause, you’re just another civic organization. You don’t have life transformation.

Jesus said, “I have come to the world to seek and to save that which is lost.” The cause of Christ is accomplished by expanding the kingdom of God.

Communicating the gospel in a postmodern context can make us feel forced to compete with the entertainment industry. You might be able to compete if you have millions of dollars and that level of expertise. Most of us don’t. We have only one advantage that neither Hollywood nor MTV has. We have the presence and power of the living God!

Why in the world would we eliminate God’s power from our core strategy and actually move to a deficit rather than to an advantage

Friday, 20 November 2009

THE BRANCH :Fom 'The True Vine' by Andrew Murray

Here we have one of the chief words of the parable—branch. A vine needs branches: without branches it can do nothing, can bear no fruit. As important as it is to know about the Vine, and the Vinedresser, it is to realize what the branch is. Before we listen to what Christ has to say about it, let us first of all take in what a branch is, and what it teaches us of our life in Christ. A branch is simply a bit of wood, brought forth by the vine for the one purpose of serving it in bearing its fruit. It is of the very same nature as the vine, and has one life and one spirit with it. Just think a moment of the lessons this suggests.

There is the lesson of entire consecration. The branch has but one object for which it exists, one purpose to which it is entirely given up. That is, to bear the fruit the vine wishes to bring forth. And so the believer has but one reason for his being a branch—but one reason for his existence on earth —that the heavenly Vine may through him bring forth His fruit. Happy the soul that knows this, that has consented to it, and that says, I have been redeemed and I live for one thing—as exclusively as the natural branch exists only to bring forth fruit, I too; as exclusively as the heavenly Vine exists to bring forth fruit, I too. As I have been planted by God into Christ, I have wholly given myself to bear the fruit the Vine desires to bring forth.

There is the lesson of perfect conformity. The branch is exactly like the vine in every aspect—the same nature, the same life, the same place, the same work. In all this they are inseparably one. And so the believer needs to know that he is partaker of the divine nature, and has the very nature and spirit of Christ in him, and that his one calling is to yield himself to a perfect conformity to Christ. The branch is a perfect likeness of the vine; the only difference is, the one is great and strong, and the source of strength, the other little and feeble, ever needing and receiving strength. Even so the believer is, and is to be, the perfect likeness of Christ.

There is the lesson of absolute dependence. The vine has its stores of life and sap and strength, not for itself, but for the branches. The branches are and have nothing but what the vine provides and imparts. The believer is called to, and it is his highest blessedness to enter upon, a life of entire and unceasing dependence upon Christ. Day and night, every moment, Christ is to work in him all he needs.

And then the lesson of undoubting confidence. The branch has no cure; the vine provides all; it has but to yield itself and receive. It is the sight of this truth that leads to the blessed rest of faith, the true secret of growth and strength: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

What a life would come to us if we only consented to be branches! Dear child of God, learn the lesson. You have but one thing to do: Only be a branch—nothing more, nothing less! Just be a branch; Christ will be the Vine that gives all. And the Vinedresser, the mighty God, who made the Vine what it is, will as surely make the branch what it ought to be.

Lord Jesus, I pray Thee, reveal to me the heavenly mystery of the branch, in its living union with the Vine, in its claim on all its fullness. And let Thy all-sufficiency, holding and filling Thy branches, lead me to the rest of faith that knows that Thou workest all

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

What lies beyond the grave?

A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to
Leave the examination room and said,
'Doctor, I am afraid to die.
Tell me what lies on the other side.'
Very quietly, the doctor said, 'I don't know.'
'You don't know? You're, a Christian man,
and don't know what's on the other side?'

The doctor was holding the handle of the door;
On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining,
And as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room
And leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said,
'Did you notice my dog?
He's never been in this room before.
He didn't know what was inside.
He knew nothing except that his master was here,
And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.
I know little of what is on the other side of death,
But I do know one thing...
I know my Master is there and that is enough.'

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bruce Springsteen: Rock & Redemption by Dr Gary Burnett

Who is he & why does it matter?

I’ve seen Bruce play on a few occasions since then, most recently a couple of months ago. On 12 July this year I went down to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play the RDS in Dublin. It was a fine evening and I got myself a prime spot leaning against a barrier about 30 yards from the stage. I’d got there early about 5pm so there was a bit of a wait before Bruce appeared, to rapturous applause at the appointed time of 8 o’clock. And to my absolute delight, there, in the middle of Dublin on the 12th of July – what did he kick off the concert with – a song from his 1984 Born in the USA album entitled – “No Surrender”. I turned excitedly to point out the significance of this to my new found friends on either side of me, one, a Dubliner, the other a guy from Limerick, but they looked at me as if I was mad! Never mind, I liked it!

As we made our way out of the RDS after 11 o’clock, after Bruce had given us over 3 hours of his magic, I overheard a couple talking in front of me. One said to the other “that was like a religious experience, wasn’t it?”

He was right, of course – it was like a religious experience. We all felt it – the power of the music, the sense of community, the recogition in the songs of the desperateness of the human condition, the sense of darkness, the failure – and yet the aspiration, the hope for something better, for redemption, and, yes, the joy and celebration. A bit like church, then, on its better days!

Increasingly, I think, Springsteen is deliberately aiming his performances as something more than just music performances with the realization that what he does, both as a song-writer and a performer has the power to touch people quite deeply and inspire them. Springsteen commentator Jimmy Guterman says “Springsteen may not believe he can heal his audience through his art, but it’s clear he thinks his job is to make people feel more human, feel more alive, feel more understood”. Eric Alterman, another Springsteen commentator reports of having been at a concert – the “music filled every crevice of that small hall with rock’n roll so powerful and majestic, it grabbed your soul out of your body and scrubbed it clean before putting it back in”

At times during the concerts these days, Bruce becomes a gospel preacher, exhorting and whipping up the emotion of his audience. This has been going on for quite a few years now - in the highly acclaimed Reunion Tour of 1999, when he and the E Street Band came together again after an 11 year hiatus, Entertainment Weekly said the tour was “as much travelling tent revival as reunion tour”. Z Magazine said “as we come to the end of the 20th C, it’s increasingly difficult to believe in the power of rock & roll to change lives. But with the current Bruce Springsteen tour, the tradition rediscovers a glorious, life-affirming eloquence”.
And in case you’re wondering, there’s seems to be no send-up or irony intended when Springsteen goes into preacher mode – it seems like he feels he’s tapping into a rich vein of American heritage, which is entirely appropriate to utilize in his very different context. Preacher Springsteen.

Now, for for those of you who are not a big Bruce fans, or are unfamiliar with him, let me give you a brief introduction, before talking about the spiritual elements in Springsteen’s body of work.

Introduction to Bruce Springsteen

Born in 1949, in New Jersey, Springsteen was raised a Roman Catholic. His early life was marked by struggles at school with both fellow pupils and the nuns, and at home by a difficult relationship with his father. By the time he was 16, he was leading bands and recording songs and by the time he was 21, a music critic was saying, “"I have never been so overwhelmed by totally unknown talent”. In 1972 Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia with the help of John Hammond, who had signed Bob Dylan to the same label a decade earlier, and in 1973 released his first 2 albums to critical acclaim but not much commercial success. It was around this time that music critic and producer Jon Landau said famously, "I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time."

With the release of Born to Run in 1975, Springsteen finally found success. With its panoramic imagery, thundering production, and desperate optimism, many people would rank this among the best rock and roll albums of all time and it is possibly Springsteen's finest work. It established him as a major rock artist and later that year, Springsteen appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. He had arrived in the public concsiousness and within 9 years, after he released his Born in the USA album, one of the best selling ablums of all time, Springsteen had become a house-hold name and one of the most highly visible figures in popular culture.

25 years later, after some 30 albums, Springsteen seems as popular and relevant as ever. To be sure, the 1990s were a period when he admits himself “some people would say I didn’t do my best work”. But after he re-formed the E Street Band in 1999 and embarked on a triumphant tour, he returned to major success with a series of critically acclaimed and popular albums in the last 7 years.

This last decade has seen Springsteen become more and more active politically, supporting Amnesty International and the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barak Obama. During the Obama campaign he appealed for "truth, transparency and integrity in government”...he said “our freedoms have been damaged and curtailed by eight years of a thoughtless, reckless and morally-adrift administration.”

This year has seen Springsteen play to over 2 million people already. The concert I attended in Dublin in July is typical where I saw people of all ages from children to senior citizens enjoying the fun. There’s a wide appeal in Springsteen’s music and performances, which have the power to draw in people of all ages and background.

The first 11 comments are the continuation of this great article.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Belief in God :What Jacques Derrida and St Paul DON'T have in common.

“…I confirm that it is right to say that I am an atheist. I can’t say myself I’m an atheist as a position. I am. I know what I am. I am this and nothing else. And I am identical with myself as an atheist and nothing else. I would never say. This would sound obscene. I wouldn’t say I am an atheist. I wouldn’t say I am a believer either. These statements which I find absolutely ridiculous! I am. I know that I am. Who knows that? Who can affirm and confirm this I am a believer? Who could say I am an atheist?

The belief in God is naive and totally inauthentic. Now, in order to be authentic, the belief in God must be exposed to the absolute doubt…” — Jacques Derrida

For the full audio C&P

'God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us'.
For the full passage of Romans 8 C&P