Saturday, 25 March 2017

Church attendance and marriage breakdown

From a report in the US...
...we know that culturally conservative white Americans who are disengaged from church experience less economic success and more family breakdown than those who remain connected, and they grow more pessimistic and resentful.

Friday, 3 March 2017

The only power that can sudue human hearts

The Word of God is the only power that can subdue the rebellion of our heart. There is a power in our fallen nature which revolts against divine truth, and which nothing human can overcome. No teaching of man will do it, not even that of your father or mother. The teaching of the church and of the most beloved pastors will not do it, nor time-worn tradition, which is the teaching of the ages. All this is as powerless as the slen-derest thread to lift the weight which presses us down. To make the King-dom of God enter our hearts we need a battering-ram that can overthrow the strongest walls, and that ram is the Word of God.

— Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigne as quoted by George Grant

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Why you should get married ASAP!

This from Al Mohler:
Study after study reveals that young Americans are achieving adulthood, if at all, far later than previous generations now living. The average age of marriage for young Americans fifty years ago was in the very early twenties. Now, it is trending closer to age thirty.

Why is this important to us all? A stable and functional culture requires the establishment of stable marriages and the nurturing of families. Without a healthy marriage and family life as foundation, no lasting and healthy community can long survive.

Clearly, our own society reveals the delay of marriage and its consequences, but we are hardly alone. Many European nations display similar patterns of delayed adulthood, with ominous economic, political, and social implications.

And the way forward? Obviously if you've been dating/going out for a while, you need to get a ring and put it on her! Alternatively, find out her name and ask her. Al Mohler also has some very wise advice here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Celebrating Lent properly

Tomorrow (Ash Wednesday) marks the start of Lent and in the next few weeks, it’s likely you’ll hear the question “What are you giving up for Lent?” How should we as Christians celebrate Lent? How can we celebrate it without the feelings of sombreness, despair and guilt that the season is often associated with? A couple of thoughts on this issue.

First, the way that the above question is phrased (What are you giving up?) gets us off on precisely the wrong note. It focuses on abstinence rather than activity, and on us rather than on Christ. If you're going to “do something” for Lent, make sure the focus is not on self-deprivation or inactivity. Instead, focus on devoting yourself positively to something spiritually beneficial such as half an hour reading your Bible or some other Christian book, a few minutes praying or meditating on and memorising some Psalms. Pursue abstinence or self-deprivation only if it helps you pursue these positive goals. Miss a meal, withdraw from Facebook or get up a bit earlier, for example, so that you can have more time to read and pray.

Second, remember that Sunday is still the Lord’s Day, i.e. Resurrection Day, even during the period of Lent. Strictly speaking, of course, the Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter aren't part of Lent at all. Do the sums: Ash Wednesday (1st March) to Holy Saturday (15th April) is 46 days; take away the 6 Sundays and you're left with the 40 days of Lent. Sunday is still a day of celebration, so let's keep it that way. Don't let Lent leak into Sundays. And one way to ensure this is by being at church every Sunday (including the Sundays in Lent) where we sing songs of praise and celebrate Holy Communion with joy.

Third, don't judge others who do things differently from you. Of course, it's possible to observe Lent in a spirit of more-pious-than-thou self-righteousness. It's also possible that not observing Lent may reflect an attitude of indifference and laziness with regard to our Christian discipleship. I'm not sure which is worse, and, thankfully, those are not the only options. But we all need to beware of assuming that we know why people are doing things differently from ourselves. The Apostle Paul's comments in Romans 14:3, though not written with Lent in mind, are certainly relevant here: “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.”

May you have a meaningful Lent as you celebrate it properly!

Parish article for the week beginning 26th February 2017 AD (with thanks to SJ)

Monday, 27 February 2017

When shaming is appropriate

Even though the experience of shaming will be painful, we can affirm a group's shaming when (1) the action in question is something God would consider shameful [such as sexual activity outside marriage], and (2) the intent of the shaming is restoring the person to right living and right relationship with God and others. This "reintegrative" shaming is restorative and temporary. 

Tragically much of the shaming in the world today falls short of both ideals

Ministering in Honor-Shame cultures by Jayson Georges and Mark D. Baker