Do not resuscitate

It’s one of those things you see in TV shows all the time. I’ve lost counts of the number of times a story on Grey’s Anatomy has revolved around a DNR (do not resuscitate) signed by patient, then disputed by a loved one. How about when Issy was unconscious after surgery on her brain. Alex, her new husband pleads for the doctors to do something. Insert suspenseful 2 minutes before the chief exclaims “screw the DNR” and they save her life.

It makes for exciting TV and until this morning meant little more than that to me personally. But this morning my mum signed a DNR order for my Grandma. Strangely since then all I can think about is every TV show I’ve seen when a doctor ignores a DNR and the patient miraculously survives.

This is a little different though. Firstly you may wonder why my mum signed it and not my Grandma herself. Grandma lives in the dementia ward of a nursing home. She has Alzheimer’s disease. Mum has power of attorney so this is just one among many tough decisions she has to make for her mum.

I think she’s doing the right thing. If something happens and Grandma is in a situation that requires resuscitating, even if doctors successfully revive her, she’s still going to have Alzheimer’s. She still won’t know who any of us are. She still won’t remember how to talk. She’ll still need someone to feed her. And bath her. They can revive her a hundred times over but she’s not Grandma anymore and she won’t ever be again. She won’t ever have it good again in this life. But I know where she’s going when she dies and she will have it great then!

I love her and I miss her so much. There’s never a day I don’t pray for her. Everyday the same prayer. Jesus, please make today the day you take her home.

Want to know where you’re going when you die? Find out here.

God is good. All the time.

I really love holidays. Relaxing is good but what I really like is time to think. I feel like my life at college and church is so much about learning that I barely have time to stop and process new information.

Of course the stuff I need to think about the most is often not new but the same old thoughts that often plague me. Today I sit and read ‘Knowing God’ (Packer) with a gorgeous view in front of me (pic below).

I’m reading a chapter called God Unchanging. I know God is good, but more than that I know he is God to me. This picturesque view is just one example of the good things he has given me, all of which are second to the salvation I have in Jesus. So why do I constantly doubt his goodness? Why am I so easily tempted to think he is withholding good from me?

Barth on ‘It is finished’

Jesus knew what God knew in the taking place of His sacrifice. And Jesus said what God said: that what took place was not something provisional, but that which suffices to fulfill the divine will, that which is entire and perfect, that which cannot and need not be continued or repeated or added to or superseded, the new thing which was the end of the old but which will itself never become old, which can only be there and continue and shine out and have force and power as that which is new and eternal.

Jennifer Knapp & Larry King: Why We Always Lose this Debate

Jennifer Knapp is an american Christian singer/songwriter who recently made public her relationship with her girlfriend of 8 years.

A few weeks back she appeared on Larry King with pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard. Yesterday I read a very interesting blog responding to the interview and trying to answer this question –

Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?

The post highlights 4 interesting thoughts. The first one is particular helpful I think, (although still flawed)

1. We need to shift emphasis from the truth that “everyone is a sinner” to the necessity of repentance.

“We’re all sinners” comes up again and again in discussions like this. In her Larry King interview, Knapp realized the power of having the pastor admit that he too is a sinner. Once she received this admission, she had the upper hand in asking, “Then why are you judging me instead of me judging you?”

Whenever the discussion centers on “homosexuality is a sin… but we’re all sinners,” the traditionalist inevitably comes across looking like he is singling out homosexuality as a worse sin than all the rest. His protests to the contrary always ring hollow.

But this is the wrong way to frame this debate. We are not saying that some of us are worse sinners than others or that homosexuality is a worse sin than pride, stealing, etc. We are not categorized before God as ” better sinners” or “worse sinners.” Instead, we are either unrepentant or repentant. True Christianity hinges on repentance. The pastor on Larry King Live eventually made this point later on in the broadcast, but the rhetorical damage had already been done.

If we are to reframe this discussion along biblical lines, then we must emphasize the necessity of repentance for the Christian faith. The point is not that the pastor and the Knapp are both sinners. It’s that the pastor agrees with God about his sin, while Knapp remains in her sin without repentance. That is why he is questioning her Christianity, for Christian teaching makes clear the necessity of repentance as the entryway into the Christian family.

Ultimately, the debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.

I think I want to clarify more by saying Christianity hinges on knowing Jesus as both saviour AND Lord. And its in considering Jesus as Lord that repentance needs to be discussed. None the less, it’s a very interesting read. Read the whole thing here.

To Prosperity Preachers

From John Piper at desiringgod.org

This post is the first in a series of twelve. The content comes from “Twelve Appeals to Prosperity Preachers” found in the new edition of Let the Nations Be Glad.

Jesus said, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” His disciples were astonished, as many in the “prosperity” movement should be. So Jesus went on to raise their astonishment even higher by saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” They responded in disbelief: “Then who can be saved?” Jesus says, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:23-27).

This means that their astonishment was warranted. A camel can’t go through the eye of a needle. This is not a metaphor for something requiring great effort or humble sacrifice. It can’t be done. We know this because Jesus said, Impossible! That was his word, not ours. “With man it is impossible.” The point is that the heart-change required is something man can’t do for himself. God must do it—“. . . but [it is] not [impossible] with God.”

We can’t make ourselves stop treasuring money above Christ. But God can. That is good news. And that should be part of the message that prosperity preachers herald before they entice people to become more camel-like. Why would a preacher want to preach a gospel that encourages the desire to be rich and thus confirms people in their natural unfitness for the kingdom of God?

A secular marriage??

I was having a conversation last night about marriage in which I made the claim that there is no such thing as a secular marriage.  Here’s my explanation –

The marriage relationship is the shadow of the ultimate marriage of Christ and his bride, the church. At its very essence marriage is about God and it brings into being a relationship which is a reflection of his love for his bride.

Even a marriage (including civil unions) between people who deny God take this relationship and mimic it (albeit with distortions). They may deny that marriage as an institution is rooted in who God is, but their denial doesn’t make it any less factual.

There is no marriage that is nothing to do with God, because without God, marriage does not exist.

Am I wrong??

Reflections on Mark 15:33 – 41

The Death of Jesus

33At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

There’s been a few moments in my life when this passage has had a strong impact on me. The most recent was last year during a class at college. We had spent the term looking at Colossians 1:15 – 20 which talks about Christ, the one by whom ‘all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible … all things were created by him and for him’.

After a few weeks of considering Christ as the creator of all things, we watched the scene of his death in ‘The Passion of the Christ’. I’ve seen the movie a few times and I’ve always found it a little unsettling, but this day was very different. I came to the conclusion that its inadequate to say that Jesus died for me. Because he didn’t JUST die. He was tortured, and humiliated. He was everyone’s enemy. And during this, while his was nailed to a cross, he calls to his father and he is mocked some more. He didn’t just die for me.

He also didn’t just die FOR me, he died because of me. Isaiah 53 says ‘We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’.

Watching the portrayal of this scene from Marks gospel I felt the full weight of that, probably for the first time. I don’t think I had ever really considered before what my part was in Jesus’ death. It’s easy to remove myself from it or to think that if I were there I would have been one of the good, faithful women who had followed him and cared for him. But I realized that it’s much more likely that I would have joined those mocking Jesus that day. In fact I did join them, because his death was a culmination of everyone’s sin, including mine. My sin isn’t just something that happens in my life, years after Jesus’ death – I was right there in the midst of it all, because he was wearing MY sin on the cross. Jesus, the one who created all things, who gave all people breath, breathed his last because of my sin.

So that was quite an overwhelming and emotion hour not just for me, but my whole class. After class I sat with some friends just trying to work out what it was that we were feeling and how to pick up and get on with our day. I see the answer in this passage. While it reminds me of the magnitude of my sin and the part my sin played in Jesus’ death, it also shows me the power of his death and why I don’t have to worry about those things too much.

At first it may not seem that impressive that when he died the curtain in the temple was torn in two, but it’s a beautiful sign of what happened in that moment. When I become a Christian one of the first things that really amazed me was the size and the power of Jesus’ ability to forgive us. I had being struggling with the thought that my sin was too big for Jesus to forgive.

But here we see not just any curtain, but a massive 3-inch think curtain that separated sinful man from a Holy God, spontaneously tear in two. And we see a centurion, a Roman soldier who was there to take part in the crucifixion, confess ‘surely this man is the son of God’. Jesus’ death is powerful enough to abolish the divide between us and God, and powerful enough to make the most unlikely people confess that he is Lord, and powerful enough to forgive even my sin.

I was to reflect on what this passage means to me for our Good Friday service. To me it means that Christ was tortured, humiliated and died not just for me, but because of me and that this it’s powerful enough to bring me forgiveness. Surely that means I owe him my life. Because surely this man IS the Son of God.

Year 3, Day 1

Technically I’m 2 days in but it was day 1 that makes me think I’m in for quite a year. We started third year with 2 hours of Doctrine lectures and ‘Eschatology’ is the subject for this term. About half way through lecture 2, the line in my notes that blew my mind was something along the lines of

The Messiah Jesus is the eternal mediator and we shouldn’t anticipate an unmediated relationship with the Father in the new creation.

Well. That’s new – at least for me. Certainly looking forward to the rest of the year!

Christian Suffering

Dear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don’t be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler. But if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

So those who suffer according to God’s will should, in doing good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.

1 Peter 4:12 – 19

Calvin on repentance

My love/hate relationship with Calvin continues. Here’s some more of the stuff I love –

Accordingly, we must strive toward repentance itself, devote ourselves to it throughout life, and pursue it to the very end if we would abide in Christ. For he came to call sinners, but it was to repentance [cf. Matt 9.13]. He was sent to bless the unworthy, but in order that every one may turn from his wickedness [Acts 3:26; cf. ch 5:31]. Scripture is full of such testimonies. For this reason, when God offers forgiveness of sins, he usually requires repentance of us in turn, implying that his mercy ought to be a cause for men to repent.

*  *  *  *  *

Therefore, I think he has profited greatly who has learned to be very much displeased with himself, not so as to stick fast in this mire and progress no farther, but rather to hasten to God and yearn for him in order that, having been grafted into the life and death of Christ, he may give attention to continual repentance. Truly, they who are held by a real loathing of sin cannot do otherwise. For no one ever hates sin unless he has previously been seized with a love of righteousness.