Friday, October 19, 2007

I AM the Light of the World

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

My Dad's church is doing a series on the "I AM" statements of Jesus. A wonderful idea. My Dad is speaking on the second of these phrases "I AM the Light of the World" this Sunday. When he was telling me this, it got me thinking about what it means. I figured I'd record briefly some of my thinking's about it.

Well first of all it is important to note that the heart of the gospel is the truth about Jesus. In fact the heart of the bible is truth; and truth is Jesus. Everything we read from the bible points to Jesus.

The context of Jesus' statement about being the light of the world is in relation to
John 7:2. The Feast of the Tabernacles was near and one of the aspects of the this feast was the burning of candles. By doing this the Jews were recalling the fact that God had been a light to them in the wilderness when they had come out of Egypt. He led them by the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). God has always been a Light to his people (Numbers 14:14)

When Jesus says he is the Light of the World, He is saying that he is the fulfilment of that light of God. The light that Jesus brings is not a candle type light - it is a blazing fire. A brilliant light, like the light of the sun. Like the pillar of fire or the cloud of glory. Malachi puts it well when he calls Jesus the "
Sun of righteousness". Christ came into the world blazing with the glory of God. The glory of God is the goodness of God.

Jesus says in Luke 4:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

This is what it means for Jesus to be the Light of the World. It was about bringing life.
John 1:4 describes Jesus this way, "In him was life, and that life was the light of men."

Jesus came to give us abundant life, shining light in the midst of our darkness (
2 Corinthians 4:6).

The thing about light is that it is the complete opposite of darkness. It is the opposing force. The opposing force that ALWAYS wins out.
Rev 21:23. Light exposes darkness
John 3:19-20, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

I listened to a Greg Boyd sermon this morning on my way into work and he spoke about a cockroach infestation he once had in his closet. He was always fascinated that when he turned the light on they would scarper. They could not handle the light so they fled. So many times our lives can be full of cockroaches, things that we let fester in the darkness. pride, lust, greed. We must expose them to the light, the light of Jesus. Jesus says he is the light of the world, but we must open our hearts to this light and let him expose our darkness. It can be such a hard thing to do, but it is so true that when truth is brought in, the father of lies scarpers.
One point about this example is that the Light exposes the truth. The truth that there are cockroaches in the closet. The truth that we are sinful men. Fallen, diseased and broken. Jesus being our light is not Jesus showing us a good way to live so we can be happy, it is Jesus showing us Himself and his truth and therefore our need. Our need that is Him. Our darkness so that we focus on his light. his marvelous light, the light that took away the
power of sin and the sting of death.

Another thing light does is it helps us grow. Just as plants need light to grow, so we need to light of Jesus to grow in Him. We need his light to shine on the very darkest places to first expose them, and them the light will cause us to grow. The presence of Jesus purifies us and changes us from the inside out. He, as the word, is "the light to our feet and the lamp to our path(s)" (
Psalm 119:105) We need to constantly look to Jesus. All of our being needs to be pointed towards him.

This light also brings reassurance. As my favourite
Psalm says
"The Lord is my LIGHT and my salvation, whom shall i fear."
Whom shall i fear? no-one. The powers of darkness have been defeated. The Lord doesn't teach us about the light, show us the light, tell us were the light is; He IS the light. Everything good and perfect and beautiful and radiant and majestic comes from Him. He is.

The important thing for us as believers who are living for Jesus; as the truth is revealed in us, we are commanded to not hide this light. We are to let is shine in every area of our lives, so that others may see. It doesn't matter how much light we have, it matters what we do with the light we have.
If we hide it, we loose it. People need the light. Praise Jesus that we can be used to reveal it to others in the smallest and biggest ways. From words of encouragement, acts of kindness to sacrificing our lives for others in the name of Jesus. May his glorious light shine.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rest

“ My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” (Psalm 62:1).

On the right handside of this blog you can see that there's a verse of the day. When I looked today, the above is what was there.
Last night we had our worship time together as we do every Wednesday. I was taking the worship and I have been hearing from Jesus over the last few days about rest in Him, and also our need for Him.
I was talking to a friend the other day and he was telling me how much he has realised lately just how much he needs Jesus. He has been reading the word not so much to learn about Jesus or to find out new things, but because he needs it. It's his food.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

It got me thinking about the importance of scripture and also the importance of just spending time with God. proper time. My friends words had put me to shame. This is because I had gotten up that morning and read the bible (I'm reading Romans at the moment) and then I went all the way into work listening to worship which I love doing. When my friend had spoken about his desperation for Jesus I realised that I had taken for granted my whole morning. I had enjoyed it and I know how important it is for me that I start my day reminding myself of what I live for; however I forgot that I NEED it. It's not an optional extra to read scripture and spend time with God, it's a necessity. i can't function if I don't.

"For in him we live, and have our being." (Act 17:28)

That sums up our great need. It is in Him that is every good thing that flows into and from us. Now to go further into the importance of spending time with our heavenly father we look at Jesus and see how important it was to Him.
In Mark chapter 1 he tells the story of Jesus teaching in the synagogue, possibly for the first time, He healed someone (interesting that he healed someone on the sabbath and no one went nuts that day). After they spent time there (he was with his disciples) they went to Peters house and Andrews house where Peters mother in law was sick. Jesus healed her (he liked and still likes to do that). The next day (when the sabbath was over) people turned up from all over the place to see Jesus to be healed. Family's and Friends brought their loved one's to be healed. And Jesus healed them. Now the remarkable part of this passage is verse 35

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

Jesus bailed. He left everyone. I'm not exaggerating to say he left everyone unbeknownst to them as when they finally find him they say in verse 37 "everyone is searching for you".
The incredible thing about this is that Jesus made a habit of it.

"Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
(Luke 5:15-16)

There are many other incredible stories about Jesus leaving people at what we would think are the strangest times. The reason for all this is that he needed to speak to his father.

I'm going to steal a passage from the current book I'm reading (Jesus unplugged) that i think captures this need so well.

Jesus separated himself for prayer so often, and yet few ask, Why? Was he hoping God would tell him what to do, fix his problems, give him courage, or charge his batteries? What was he doing, and what was happening when he prayed?
Yes, he checked out (left) when he was tired, when he was grieving, when he was under pressure, when he was struggling with decisions, and - in the end - when he had to face death. Yes, slipping away for prayer was not a habit, nor was it a compulsion for Jesus it was standard operating procedure.
Certainly prayer was essential to Jesus's life and work. and the heart of his prayer was his intimate relationship to his Father. Jesus called God "Abba", which means Daddy, an unusually casual address, and some might even say an irreverent one.
But the familiarity of this language witnesses to his closeness to God and how often they talked. Jesus checked out and talked to "Daddy" even when it created tension with those around him, and even when they complained about it as an inconvenience or interruption.
Jesus could live with being disappointing and confusing to people, even those closest to him, but he could not go on without checking out regularly and unapologetically.
Dr. Baxter Kruger and I (the author of the book, not me unfortunately!) were discussing this chapter, and he asked me "How did Jesus survive the accusations and attacks? He stood up in the truth of who he was in the face of constant hate and harassment. I mean, they tore him down every day. How do you endure that?" It was a rhetorical question. baxter knows how, and I know how, and after reading this chapter so do you. How else could he have done it? It was by checking out for prayer.

Jesus, seated at the right hand of the father, after knowing everything that we have to go through and more on this earth says this:

"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest."

(Matthew 11:28)

I know I want to rest in him. In good times and bad. Coming to him is not an optional extra like I have already said, we need it, no matter what our circumstances our. Praise Him that we can come to him and be truly satisfied.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust".

(Psalm 91:1-2)

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Problem Of Evil/Pain...

I've always thought theology was important. Not so much the learning of theology but more the learning of God. Who God is. "The most important aspect of faith is our mental picture of God". I'm eternally grateful for the theology of the church I just left. The main leader had a very interesting grip on the kingdom of God and all the things that flow from that. I have always thought that God is not the author of pain, and have been a firm believer in free-will. The reason I do my job is that I know God wants to use me to bring hope to those around me, that goes for all aspects of my life. I know so many times I'm unfaithful in this, but Jesus leads me on. The kids I work with are so damaged. Their lives have been nothing but a move from one rejection to another and I know that I can genuinely tell them that there is a hope. Jesus is their hope. And their abuse was not part of some divine plan for their life. It is an abomination and God weeps at it. He wants them to know that he has something something that no-one can take away from them...assurance, hope and joy in Him. Him who has loved them more deeply than we can ever know. I have never been able to understand how people could believe in a God who would orchestrate evil for his ultimate glory. I thought most people who thought like this were in a minority of Jesus loving people. I was wrong.
The reason why it is now in the forefront of my mind again, the actually theology of it is that I have moved church in the last few months. I now attend a wonderful church that my girlfriend introduced me to. I know God has brought me there. The teaching is excellent. However the theology is quite different. They would have a theology that would include predestination so naturally this can creep into some of their teaching. I do not object to this, as this is what they believe so I respect it. I'm also thankful for the fact that this is challenging what I have always been taught. I have been reading countless articles on the internet in relation to all things about the will of God etc. There is so much scripture that can point to both sides of the arguement. My quest at the moment is to scripturally figure out what I believe. I don't want to find scriptures that fit into my arguement. I want scripture to teach me about the heart of God. I do have my opinions and I think they are fundamental in my relationship with God, however, like I just said....I want scripture that will support this (or perhaps not - something that I admit I greatly fear).
So many people, non-believers and believers alike are confused by the idea that God could select certain people to go to heaven, and gladly send others to hell. And a God who is LOVE but creates tragedies to teach us all a lesson of His glory or that "he is enough". He is truly enough, but does that mean he would allow a woman to conceive after she has given up hope, only to have the baby die from complications during the birth? john piper thinks so. He preaches a short 3 minutes here. I don't think this true. I can't see how it's God’s will for tragic events to happen. The God that I have seen in my relationship with Him is a loving, compassionate God who is alive and present with us right now. He grieves with us, He changes with us, He loves us. I have also seen this God in the scriptures.
Anyways, I'm not giving much scripture here to back up anything I'm saying. My point of this post was to just say where I'm at and that I'm searching for the truth in it. I just bought Greg Boyd's book "Is God to blame" to see what he has to say. I've also been reading a lot of Piper to see what He has to say. And plenty more in between. I think Jane is a saint of patience putting up with my "oh, guess what I read today", "what do you think of this", "could you please make me tea and bring me some fig rolls as i solve peoples view on God". I'll update with my thoughts as i barrel through the book. Although, I'm actually reading another book at the moment called "Jesus Unplugged"...that deserves its own special post. I'm loving it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

told you so

So looks like I called it exactly right. I'm rather proud of myself, especially cause everyone told me I was off my banger thinking England would beat the aussies and especially that France would send the Kiwi's packing. But it happened. The rugby world cup has just redeemed itself. There is a great article about the French game here.

School reunion was great fun. Most people haven't change a bit. The first two people I met said the following quotes "You've changed most out of everyone here" and: "you haven't changed a bit". I fear the former had a problem in finding a way in starting our conversation! was great to see everyone. Funny how most people genuinely haven't changed. Was a very late one...4am, i'm not used to that carry on anymore so I was pretty tired this morning. Was great to see that no one got absolutely hammered drunk. refreshing to have some nice genuine conversations with people. 10 years later and some guy asked could he meet me to talk about religion, he said "I'm a catholic and I'm not into your stuff, but i'd like to talk to you about God and stuff". I'll have to make sure that happens, it'd be great to chat to him.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rugby World Cup

I won't disgrace my blog by commenting on Irelands farcical tournament. What I will do however, as the England Australia game has just started is predict that England will win. The only reason i'm writing it down is that when then win and people join me in saying I told you so, I will actually have told you so. They will be lying, as technically England haven't got a chance and they will have said that, but I just fear that they'll win because they're so crap. No reasoning behind it, I just think they'll win. I also think France will take New Zealand, they'll turn in a show like they did in the '99 world cup and the all greys will be crying all the way home. I also have to add that it's a disgrace that France sold themselves out by giving cardiff a quarter final. they are paying for it now in that France, at home in the FRENCH world cup, have to play a game in Cardiff. go figure. Argentina and south africa to win tomorrow.

School Reunion

so tonight is my 10 year school reunion. A strange thing it'll probably be, seeing people that I haven't seen for 10 years. especially because we lived in each others pockets for 6 years. I'm kindof looking forward to it but also slightly apprehensive. I'm also a bit embarrassed, mainly because I had some genuinely brilliant friends in school and I'm not really in touch with any of them anymore. I know all our lives have taken very different courses, it's just a shame that I'm not friends with them anymore. Really hope everyone is doing well. It'll be wierd finding out if people had to get babysitters for the evening, or are living abroad or have left a spouse at home. It'll be pretty fascinating what life has brought to these people over the last 10 years. There's a few people I can't wait to see. Thinking about tonight makes me realise what an amazing journey God has brought me on over the last 10 years. One that I'm so so thankful for. The only downer is that I'll be missing the France New Zealand game tonight which bites. I predict France to do what they did in '99 and take the all greys.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Welcome to me....

It's difficult welcoming anyone to a blog whilst presuming that no-one is reading! Blog world is a strange place, one that I will hopefully be grateful for. The reason I have started this blog is mainly to use it as a place to write down and formulate my thoughts; specifically my thoughts about Jesus and all other things coming from Him.
The idea to start a blog came from my interaction at another blog. I was googling the sovereignty of God and I came across some guys blog. He is very articulate and obviously wants to get to know God better, however upon reading his posts I felt sad that this guy was writing about God in a way in which i thought he was doing Him a disservice. I wrote on his blog with some thoughts and he subsequently annihilated me, and ultimately called me a heretic. Obviously i didn't particularly appreciate this but I figured I'd take my friends advice and not continue to discuss things with him as it was pointless to try by-pass his arrogance. That is were the idea to start a blog came from. My friend suggested that I write down my thoughts on my own blog rather than someone elses. He was dead right. He's a clever little fella. So thats what I plan to do.
As you can see this is actually my second post, my first one below, is Psalm 27; my favourite psalm. I figured I'd start off blog world with that Psalm that declares so well the truths of who God is to me.
oh and my name is Fergus and its nice to meet myself!

Psalm 27

Of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life —

of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.