Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Tidbit from Bonhoeffer

I've embarked on the epic journey of reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. An epic journey, because this book has a total of 542 big, well-crowded pages! So far, the first 124 pages have been inspiring, challenging, edifying and fascinating (that's a long list of adjectives, but they all apply to this book :). The following passage, quoted by Bonhoeffer, is one of those profound ones that inspire reflection. My response to it was, first, to read it to my family :). Second, to jump on blogger.com to post it! Please bear in mind that Bonhoeffer had known the Bible, the Gospel, and Christian theology a long time previous to writing this quote. He had preached many times in churches, completed a degree in theology, written doctoral and post doctoral theses on the Church, and acutely examined the state of the western church. So with all this in mind, we read the following, written by Bonhoeffer himself, about himself:

I plunged into work in a very unchristian way. An... ambition that many noticed in me made my life difficult... Then something happened, something that has changed and transformed my life to the present day. For the first time I discovered the Bible... I had often preached. I had seen a great deal of the Church, and talked and preached about it - but I had not yet become a Christian... I know that at that time I turned the doctrine of Jesus Christ into something of personal advantage for myself... I pray to God that that will never happen again. Also I had never prayed, or prayed only very little. For all my loneliness, I was quite pleased with myself. Then the Bible, and in particular the Sermon on the Mount, freed me from that. Since then everything has changed. I have felt this plainly, and so have other people about me. It was a great liberation.

And later on he says:

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands. This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it. But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament... And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way - and this has not been for so very long - it becomes every day more wonderful to me.

How true are these thoughts. We can try to determine where we want to find God, and in what aspect we want Him in our lives. But this is not the God of the Bible! This is not our Lord and Saviour, Who has redeemed us from the bondage of sin and death, and is calling us to a wholely new, resurrected life in Him alone. As Bonhoeffer said, the start... and the daily continuation... of this journey is not immediately congenial, for it involves a breaking, and it involves losing faith in the goodness of man, and seeing the death sentence which is on this world, and these bodies of sin. These quotes of Bonhoeffer really inspired some thought provoking questions. Am I pursuing the theology and knowledge of Christianity alone, whilst not truly knowing Him? Am I trying to find God where He is congenial to me, instead of going to the cross and seeing the Truth? Thank God, the answer to all of our questions is found in the Lord Jesus, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Quick Post

Caught up in the busyness of daily commitments with family and friends, the days have flown since my last post! Just wanted to pause briefly, to share a poem that is... well... so very true for every Christian. It is from Roy Hession's book, We Would See Jesus (a book, by the way, which I've found to be very encouraging and helpful).

Under the law with its ten-fold lash,
Learning, alas, how true,
That the more I tried the sooner I died,
While the law cried, You! You!! You!!!

Hopelessly still did the battle rage,
"O wretched man" my cry,
And deliverance I sought by some penance bought,
While my soul cried, I! I!! I!!!

Then came a day when my struggling ceased,
And trembling in every limb,
At the foot of the Tree where One died for me,
I sobbed out, HIM! HIM!! HIM!!!

God bless you as you seek Him. The way is narrow and difficult... there are so many obstacles... our fleshly hearts are stiff-necked, cold and proud... the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak... the battle for our souls is ever raging... but HE IS SUFFICIENT AND HAS WON THE BATTLE! Praise His name!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Summer Memories

Well, we have entered the chilling, foot-numbing, finger-cramping days of winter! During this time of year, it is a warming activity to reflect on hot summer days, blooming flowers and sunshine. Today I tried to condense the photos of many summers into a small collection... but with little success...
Bebe - a poddy lamb

Lotus, and 1 day old Charlie

'Heff" short for Heifer - the name stuck!
My little poddy girl, Bessie
Merrylegs sunbaking
No, he's not dead :)
Bessie - next summer
Pie and Penny

'Mum' and Caramello - he nearly died from paralysis tick
and we nursed him... it was a miracle!

My great grandmother's rose... called the 'Nona Rose'

Glenlyon Dam
A curious little oddity!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

First Priority

Over the last couple of days, Mum, Dad and I have been 'delving'into some articles of A W Pink. This is a portion from one, 'First Things First'.

What is it to put first things first? First and supremely to give God Himself His rightful place in our lives and render to Him that which is His due. "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last"(Isa. 44:6). The great "I am"is self-existent and self-sufficient. Because He is the First, He should be first served. The world had its beginning from Him; we had ours, and therefore at the beginning of the year, and of each day, it deeply concerns us to take Him along with us. God is the sum of all excellence, being inexpressibly blessed in Himself. How He should attract us! God is possessed of infinite benevolence, which is guided by unerring wisdom, and He has all-mighty power at His disposal. What an Object for our most fervent affections! Shall, then, every glittering toy become a rival to this transcendently glorious Being and rob Him of our hearts?

Let us form the habit (if we have not already done so) of directing our first conscious thoughts unto Him who has preserved us through the night. Begin the day by definitely bringing the Lord God before your heart, contemplate His glorious attributes, prostrate your soul before Him in worship, adore Him for His glorious perfections. Say with holy David, "My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee" (Psa. 5:3). Nor will this be either difficult or irksome if we turn the eyes of our souls unto Him: it is beholding the beauty of the Lord which puts in tune the strings of our harps, and enables us to make melody in our hearts unto Him. Nor is this all: by doing obeisance we promote obedience. By solemly paying homage to God and rendering to Him the honour which is due his great name, we strengthen the obligations taht we lie under to observe His statutes and keep His commandments. By our humble and frequent adoration of His perfections, conformity to His will will be easier, for His authority over us will be more strongly felt.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,and all these things shall be added unto you"(Matt 6:33). God is to be given the preference above all others. Let not any business prevent our seeking communion with Him nor hinder the maintenance of it. There are many things we would like to do, but other things deter us. We wish to visit a dear friend, but the pressure of other concerns thwarts us. But this must never be the case with our seeking unto God: that is the "one thing needful"to which everything else must be made to give way. It is not at all necessary to our highest good that we be great in the world or advance our estate in it to such and such a pitch - but it is absolutely essential that we obtain God's favour and keep ourselves in His love. No worldly business whatsoever can serve to excuse our attendance upon God; nay, the more important our worldly business be, the more need have we to apply ourselves to God by prayer for His help in and blessing upon it...

How often the words of Jesus to the Church in Ephesus should speak to us! We may do good works, or patiently endure, or discern false prophets, or suffer for Him. But still He may say "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (Rev 2:4).
I pray that we may all "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works." That we may "love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might"(Deut 6:5).
He is our first love... as we turn our eyes upon Jesus and see His love for us expressed on the cross, may our hearts be melted and filled with His love... and a great love for Him.