When the leaders of all the major parties demand silence as the price of political involvement, where do you go? Margaret Sommerville has some great thought here.
I have great admiration for my mother. I know she put up with a lot! There are other mothers in my life, aunts, grandmothers, whom I also have benefited from in tremendous ways. And as I watch my wife with wonder at all she has done and does do for our three children, I am amazed. She is an incredible person. And as I want to show, it is appropriate to say, she is god-like in what she does, to God’s glory.
Today is a special day in many families. It is Mother’s Day. For some this reminds them of their own mothers. For others it reminds them of their children. For others this is a time of anticipation, and yet again, for others a time of sorrowful remembering of what might have been. No matter where we fall in the spectrum, we want to understand how Christians ought to view this day. We all know what motherhood looks like. We may not be mothers, by choice, gender, or circumstances, but all of us either have mothers, or are married to mothers, or are mothers.
First of all, there is a promise (and probably a prodding for children and husbands) in the Bible that godly mothers are worthy of praise. Children will “rise up and call her blessed” and her husband will “praise her” publicly (Prov. 31:28). Children are to “honour” both their father “and Mother.” Mother’s Day is a supremely Biblical concept. So it is right that on this day (as on every day) we show great appreciation for the great sacrifices and love and care that mothers everywhere show. But that is not as far as we want to go. There is much more. Christian mothers have an added joy. All Christians live their lives to the glory of God, as Paul puts it, “whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And the great work of Mother’s is actually picked up by the prophet Isaiah as a picture that glorifies God. In Isaiah 66:7-14, the prophet uses motherhood as the perfect picture of the glory of God in the work of Salvation. Did you know that?
Do you long to know how to please God? To know when God will be pleased with you? Do you desire to grow deeper in your understanding of the Christian faith? Questions like these motivated me to begin a fresh study for myself in the foremost letter of the New Testament.
There may be no better place to go to discover the richness of the Christian faith, than the book of Romans. Historically, it has been one of the most transformative of books. It was the means God used for the conversions of Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther and John Wesley. It has been instrumental in my own life as well.
Situationally, it really speaks well to us today. The people of Rome were a minority group in a relatively tolerant culture. Rome permitted all faiths to be practiced privately, on the condition that one bowed the civic religion, swearing, “Caesar is Lord”. Today, we live in a relatively tolerant culture, where all is permitted in personal faith, as long as you bow to the civic religion in public expressions, “Naturalism is Lord.”
Thematically, Romans is a missionary support Letter. Paul is planning a missionary journey to Spain, and he covets their support and prayers in sending him off. But he knows that the Romans are a small, weak group, fighting amongst themselves on the relationship of Jew and Gentile to the gospel of God, concerning his Son, Jesus Christ. Paul writes to clarify the meaning and nature of the gospel, with the promise to evangelize, Rome, and use his apostolic gifts to strengthen the church, solve their main difficulties and the request that in return they encourage him and send him on to Spain.
The controlling theme of the letter is Paul’s understanding of the gospel, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” he declares, “because it is is the power of God for salvation unto all those who believe, the Jew first, and also the Gentile. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written ‘the righteous shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:16-17).
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Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow, grow, grow, says the children’s song. Can it really be that simple? Thascius Cyprian was born around AD 200 was from an upper class family and received the best of classical education, rising in his career as a Rhetorician in Carthage, North Africa. At the age of 46 he came across a pastor named Caecilius, who shared the gospel with him and he was soon soundly converted. He began to write effective Christian treatise and became a ‘best-seller’ in the young Christian community. Just two years later, he would become the key Christian leader of this important city, being ordained as the Bishop of Carthage. Unfortunately it was just then that one of the most brutal official persecutions of Christians broke out under the Emperor Decian and he would become a martyr of ten years of ministry. Cyprian’s pastoral heart is seen even before his ordination, as many people in the churches sought him out for spiritual instruction. One piece of correspondence preserved for us is an excellent small treatise written to his friend Donatus, who asked him to write concerning the spiritual life. What advise would this educated, worldy-wise pastor give? Continue reading
Recently member’s of the Mormon faith came to my door, encouraging me to read from the book of Mormon. I explained that I was a Christian and believed God’s complete word was recorded in the Bible. They argued that the BoM was “another testament of Jesus Christ” and that I should give it a try. They gave me their testimony, that they felt the truth of this book “in their gut” and explained that the God would reveal the truth of it to me as well through a “burning in the bosom” if I would but give it a try. Do we propagate our Bible in the same way? Do we believe it is true because of a feeling of indigestion? Continue reading
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh month, of the eleventh day of 1918, the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front took effect, effectively ending World War One. Armistice day was a cause for great joy. The end of any armed conflict and the avoidance of future conflict continues to be a cause of great Joy. As our troops slowly come home from Afghanistan and Lybia, we are thankful and celebrate with them. But we also remember what they have accomplished, and we remember those who will not be coming home.
The peace of 1918 did not last. As another Great War came and went, followed by significant and costly conflict from Korea to Afghanistan, Canadians and many others around the world have declared November 11th Remembrance Day. We remember, on this day each year, the sacrifice of so many, who gave up peace to take up war, who lost their lives, their liberties and their own pursuit of happiness, so that we might enjoy ours.
Why must their be war? It is one of the great facts of life that separations and conflicts characterize human society. This is one of the great impacts of the Fall of the human race from harmony with God into sin and rebellion: “God made humankind upright, but they have sought many evil schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
Until all people turn their hearts back to their creator, and we are restored to His perfect peace, we will have to deal with the “evil schemes” of many people and nations. This will result in wars and rumours of wars. God is good, however, and his mercy is poured out on us, in what theologians call “common grace”. He makes his rain to fall on the just and unjust alike.
One of the great graces of God, is that he has given us government, an agency which is “instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). Its purpose is twofold, (1) first, to give “approval” to good behaviour (Romans 13:3) and (2) second, to carry out “God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). The agents and ministers of government who commend good and punish evil are “ministers of God” (Romans 13:6).
We thank God, for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy. We thank God for peace, and for good government. We also thank those who faithfully defend those freedoms, and our governments from those who wish to exercise their “evil schemes”.
Until the war drums beat no longer and the battle flags are furled, we will remember and be thankful for the sacrifice of Military, Paramilitary and RCMP members who have put their lives at risk, and who have sacrificed their lives, so that we may live. God grant his peace to each member of our armed forces, and may the prince of peace soon return and end war for all time.