Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where is Home?

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was quizzed by Andrew Marr (check out 0.24s into the clip) on his Sunday morning show over the cufuffal regarding her expenses for her 'second home'. His first question went straight to the heart of the issue, and also happens to be at the heart of the back end of Philippians 3:

"Where is home?"

Potentially the perfect illustration?! But just a few hours too late to make it into my talk. Marr's point was simple: you can't have two homes. And that seems to be Paul's reminder to the Philippians as he calls them to stand firm in Christ: 'but our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ...' (3v20), in stark opposition with those whos minds are set on earthly things (3v19). Where is home?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Passports stamped 'Heaven'...

'Each successive generation of the church has the privilege of living as though it were the generation that will greet the returning Christ.'

I enjoyed this quote from the late, great F. F. Bruce on Philippians 3v21; it brings home the reality I think Paul is trying to convince the church in Philippi of. He is quite bluntly reminding them that their citizenship is in heaven; that is where they belong, that is where they are going, and therefore their lives should be heavenbound-shaped.

Philippians chapter 3 seems to be a crucial lesson in standing firm (4.1), and one of the ways you stand firm is by having a clear understanding of where, as a Christian, you're headed. His model of discipleship is one of straining forward, every muscle and fibre working towards the goal of heaven. The danger of Philippians 3 seems to be mindsets that are in opposition to that: both a kind of religious perfectionism highlighted by his strong negatives in 3.12 & 13, and a wordly here-and-now grab-it-all approach seen in those whom he calls 'enemies of the cross of Christ' (3.18).

The solution is remembering your citizenship is in heaven - not of Philippi or Rome, London or Earth. We await a Saviour, who will transform our bodies of humiliation to be bodies of glory, for He is the name above all names to whom everyone will one day bow. Because that is our destination we can live Christ-minded sacrificial, neck-on-the-line striving for the gospel lives that Paul advocates in the rest of the letter.

I'm challenged by this. We often talk about living in light of eternity, but for Paul this means a very practical change in our priorities and goals here and now. One of the striking things about his letter to the Philippians is that, whilst soaked in the language of Christian love, joy, and delight, Paul sees this happening in the face of cross-shaped living: standing up for the gospel, facing hardships, and foregoing 'rights'.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Post of Two Songs...

One of the hymns we were playing around with tonight is this classic. I love the language of the first verse, and I think his fifth verse, also below and often missed out of hymnals, is a gem too.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,

Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Lyrics: Robert Robinson

And for something completeley different:

"Instead she likes tulips, cos they're approved by John Calvin...
I think my wifes a Calvinist, she only reads an ESV...
I only catch her reading Romans 8.28 through 30,
and reading Wayne Grudum's theology...
But that's ok, I didn't choose her - she chose me"

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FREE at Bath...

Last night I got back from a week with Bath CU, helping out with their FREE week. Amazing to see God's grace at work, getting to know some of the guys stuck in to being God's mission team on the campus and seeing the fruit of God's work through them.

It was fantastic to see the FREE Mark gospels being used and students being exposed to Jesus: people reading the gospels with mates, talks preaching Christ from Mark, turning to the word to answer hard questions...

All the usuals of campus life: student union coffees, lots of curry-from-a-jar-with-rice meals, but the deep joy of knowing that life is being offered to a desperate world, of seeing brothers and sisters going all out for the cause of Jesus... thank you Bath CU, thank you LORD!