Another example of the world’s horrendous plight…

Burl Barer writes of what can only be described as a most despicable and gruesome crime. The murdered gentleman is the grandfather of a member of a message board that I am a member of, and I was horrified as I read these graphic details. Please note that the material contained within the link may offend some readers.

Just goes to show the extent of a few things:

  • The loyalty of a child to his or her parents, even thought what his or her parents ask for him or her to do is morally bankrupt. When a parent has such an influence on the behaviour and conduct of a child, such actions cannot be surprising, especially when the parents justifies the request with an incentive
  • The extent of apostasy and sin in this world. Justifiably so, the family of the murdered man would be aggrieved and outraged at the heinous act. I don’t know what the result of police investigations was, but I can imagine that correct justice would be what the family demanded.

With what happens in the world, it’s not surprising that people struggle to see where God is in this world, and if there is a God, why  he’s not active in the world. Such an example of this doubt is summed up in a lyric from a great song by Dave Matthews Band called Seek Up (which in itself portrays the sorry state of affairs in the world and seems to be a snapshot of a typical person struggling to find God):

If at all God’s gaze upon us falls it’s with a mischievous grin, look at him

Is that what he’s doing? The Bible tells us that’s not what he’s doing – God is not far off in the distance; he does care about the people he created. Sin is a reult of what happens when people deny the existence of God as authority and ruler over their lives and decide that life belongs to them. That’s why he sent Jesus – as a sacrifice for our sins and to deliver the promise of eternal life, which far surpasses our earthly mortal lives.

As a Christian, this is what I believe and have faith in. If you’re not a believer in God, or wondering why the world is as it is and are struggling to reconcile it with the presence of God, I have no way of making you decide to do what I have done. The choice is yours to make.

SOAP: Philippians 2:12-30

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:12-30

OBSERVATION: Paul has some interesting things to say about how the people of Philippi should act as a response to what he has said about Christ (hence the “therefore” at the beginning of the passage). Especially noteworthy is a call to stand out in the world (v15). The second part of the passage indicates how important partnership in the Gospel is to Paul, and the thankfulness that he has that he has people under him that can continue his tangible work.

APPLICATION: What does it mean to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”? I’ll have a think about it and read what others have said, but I know that it’s not Paul saying that your salvation depends on what you do (for the Gospel is all about what Christ did for us). It’s the part about fear and trembling that I’m not too sure about, since the general connotation of fear and trembling is when a person is scared of something. But why would someone want to be scared in this situation?

PRAYER: My prayer is that God would help us all to be the people he wants us to be, in terms of living first and foremost for His glory and setting ourselves apart from the desires of this world.

Social networking and the world wide web

Lauren sent me an invite to Facebook last night, and, despite personally oathing that I’d never look at the place, I joined up.

I like the way it’s set up in that it is much more real than Myspace, and you can easily track down old friends from school. This is because you’re displaying your actual name as opposed to some fluffy pseudonym/nickname. I really think that it’s a valuable attribute in terms of putting yourself on the line and making yourself accountable, and I’ve only ever seen a similar feature on the Sydney Anglicans message board (of which I am a member) Sure, it has some fluffy features built in, but it looks like a more legitimate website that’s useful for finding people you haven’t seen for ages.

Which leads me to say a little bit on the usefulness of these online communities. Whilst they can be a nice sort of release from the pressures of everyday life, too much of it can be harmful (just like too much of most things can have negative consequences). I know that it has at times dragged me away from more important aspects of my life such as reading the Bible, family, and basically my real life.

It’s important to be in touch with the Internet and the extent to which it influences our lives, but not to let it become our lives, in which case it becomes an idol. It can be both a valuable learning and fact finding tool, but at the same time, with the wide range of unsavoury sites available for browsing, a poison that can destroy lives and relationships. Where do you stand?

SOAP: Philippians 2:1-11

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:1-11

OBSERVATION: This passage is a great example of 2 things:

  • The embodiment and outworking of love between those who claim Christ as their Lord, that being an attitude of selflessness, humility and unity. It’s such a contrast from the typical “me first” mentaality of the world we live in.
  • The embodiment of who Jesus is. It’s a snapshot of the Gospel, telling us who Jesus is and why people should acknowledge who he is.

APPLICATION: Since this is a rather practical passage, it encourages and challenges me to consider how I interact with people at church, whether I seek to elevate their needs above my own (be it tangibly in their presence, praying for them, etc.) Also, I know that I hold statements of faith such as verses 6-11 as truth, but do I seek to make that truth known to those who don’t believe it? I need wisdom to know how to do so, and the boldness to actually put such actions into practice.

PRAYER: I pray that all believers would cast aside the “me first” mentality and a dopt a “you first” mentality as they seek to not only live as Christ did, but speak the truth of Christ to all they meet.

The week ahead

Has been a rather busy weekend, and I’ve fallen behind a bit on the SOAP. I’ll definitely be getting back on track starting from tomorrow, plus will compile some other thoughts based on some goings on this weekend.

The injustice of human justice…a preview

I’ll elaborate more on this later, but given the press regarding the court cases of known identities (eg. Glenn Wheatley, Matthew Newton et al) versus the regular Joes of Australia, it’s strange how it can appear that generally favouritism is shown to those who have the fortitude of a household name, and that punishments hardly ever fit crimes (which is nothing new, of course).

Stay tuned 🙂

SOAP: Philippians 1:18-30

SCRIPTURE: Philippians 1:18-30

OBSERVATION: Paul doesn’t fear death – in fact he seems to embrace it, for it is to him preferable to life on this earth (v23) Yet again we see how other person focussed he is, when he states that for those he writes to, it is more beneficial for him to remain alive andfor God to work through him and his mortal body.

Paul delivers a great exhortation as well – for the people of Philippi to proceed in unity of spirit and truth (v27) in order to glorify God and honour the Gospel that they believe. Of particular note are calls to stand firm in the fact of opposition – it will not be easy to live according to the Gospel. A very noteworthy verse is v29, where Paul reminds the readers that their salvation in Christ is not just about mere belief, but about suffering for His sake, something that Paul knows full well about.

APPLICATION: I’d say this passage challenges me to rejoice in my sufferings, just as the previous reading did. But it takes suffering to a whole new level – to that of sacrificing one’s life for the Gospel. History is full of martyrs – would I boldly proclaim the Gospel with the knowledge that my life would be endangered by that, or would I suppress the truth in cowardice to protect myself? I need to stand firm, contend for the faith with all my fellow siblings in Christ, and be confident that whatever happens to my mortal body. my eternal deliverance is secured.

PRAYER: My prayer is that all believers would embrace and rejoice in the chance of suffering, not seeing it as a punishment, but as a building block of hope and strength in Christ. May the Lord comfort all those suffering for His sake, and encourage them further on towards the prize of eternal life.