Shameful Behaviour

Sermon preached on 13th September 2020.

Luke 13:10-17 ‘Shameful Behaviour’

The last time I entered a synagogue was in Cairo, 2007.  It was a beautiful experience and nothing much happened.  In Luke’s gospel, this is the last time Jesus enters a synagogue too.  Unlike my visit, which was quite sedate; With Jesus (as usual), it all kicks off again!

I want you to notice:

  • Last week in Luke 13:11-5 18 we read people were killed by a collapsing towew.  This week in following Luke, a poor woman was bent over for 18 years.  She never asked for anything.  Jesus called out to her.

Notice too:

  • The word Sabbath is mentioned what seems like an excessive 5 times
  • The synagogue ruler tries to publicly shame Jesus by appealing to the crowds.
  • Jesus fights unholy fire with holy fire.
  • The man, behaving like a beast, treats his ox and ass better that a human being.

This story is specially tied to the one before.  This is the example, given by Luke, of a “fig tree” that is not bearing fruit (13:6-9).  It is an example of the “That’s not right!” tragedies in 13:1-5.

Think about Sabbath:  mentioned FIVE times!!    Excessive!  Why?  To get our attention!  To get our imaginative juices flowing.

FIVE.

In Judaism, numbers are extremely significant.

Most have meaning attached that are symbolic and expressive of deeper truth.

5 in Hebrew numerology is attached to:

  • The Torah
  • 2×5 = 10 Commandments

And in this way they become symbols of God’s goodness and grace.

There are 5 Great Mysteries:

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That’s Not Right!

Sermon: September 6, 2020 watch here.

“That’s Not Right” Luke 13:1-5 (and 12:54-56; 13:6-9)

My first two years of Secondary School were at a Boys Boarding School.  It was also in the days when kids had milk at school.  We had those 1/3 pint bottles.  But sometimes the bottles arrived early and so were left outside.  In the summer, this is not a good thing.

I remember, during a break time, we were rebelling:  The milk had turned – lumpy!  There was no way I was going to drink it.  And as I stood right by the crate, in what we called the ‘Milk Rebellion’ of ‘82  The Headmaster appeared. Proper Old School.   Made Genghis Khan look like a fairy!  Hard as nails. Dipped in starch.  Hair parted like the Red Sea and socks pulled tight up to his knees! We’ll call him Donald.

He heard our squeaking and wailing and said passive-aggressively: “Is there a problem?”  He stood there, picked up a bottle, punched the foil away, and gulped down the milk.  We all looked on in astonishment.  He wiped the lumpy bits from around his mouth and chin.  And said, “Delicious, nothing wrong with that!”  And walked away, like a victorious king!

My thoughts were not quite suitable for a Sunday morning in church.

But I did think:  “That’s not right!”

Continue reading “That’s Not Right!”

The Gospel Cancels Cancel Culture

The Western world is a secular post-modern culture.  Some people alive today remember when it was different.  A time when our culture was neither secular nor post-modern.  Post-modernity is a massive cultural earthquake is continuing to take place right now!

Those of you who feel out-of-sorts!  Disorientated.  You no longer understand your grand-childrens language!  And don’t even get me started on their music!

We witnessed the decline of the church in the post-modern West!  On average: 1 join, 6 leave.

And so we get anxious; we panic, then pray, then panic again.  Our politics have become polarised.  Our social and political fabric is under enormous strain.  Every 10 years we crash into another 10 years of austerity.  We’re slowly learning that going to war does not fix our domestic problems.

If it’s not wars, it’s the banks; if not banks, it’s Brexit; If not Brexit, it’s Covid.  Then there are the “other” wars:  Race wars; Sexuality Wars; Identity wars; Political wars; Post-truth; Fake News; Authoritarian censorship; Cancel Culture.  This is what we are dealing with, and to a far great degree, our kids & grandkids.  Post-modern culture has gone and is going into warp-drive.  Elvis has left the building.

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The Church is not a Passing Phenomena!

“The Church is an entity which has outlasted many states, nations and empires, and it will outlast those that exist today.  The Church is nothing other than that movement launched into the public life of the world by its sovereign Lord to continue that which he came to do until it is finished in his return in glory.

It has his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  In spite of the crimes, blunders, compromises, and errors by which the story has been stained and is stained to this day, the Church is the great reality in comparison with which nations and empires and civilisations are passing phenomena.

The Church can never settle down to being a voluntary society concerned merely with private and domestic affairs.  It is bound to challenge in the name of the one Lord all the powers, ideologies, myths, assumptions, and worldviews which do not acknowledge him as Lord.

Continue reading “The Church is not a Passing Phenomena!”

A Word for Our Times – Why the Gulag Archipelago is a must read!

I am just starting the audio version of the Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and the Forward by Jordan Peterson is simply magnificent.  Below is the video recording of Peterson reading his own Forward, but I would advise getting the book whether in print or as I have, audio – This is supremely important today in the Western world, as a neo-Marxist tyranny threatens everything and everyone once again.  To quote Peterson on this point, “The hypothetically egalitarian, universalist doctrines of Karl Marx contained hidden ­within them sufficient hatred, ­resentment, envy and denial of ­individual culpability and responsibility to produce nothing but poison and death when manifested in the world.”

 

 

First, you defend your homeland against the Nazis, serving as a twice-decorated soldier on the Eastern front in the criminally ill-prepared Soviet Red Army. Then you’re arrested, humiliated, stripped of your military rank, charged under the auspices of the all-purpose Article 58 with the dissemination of “anti-Soviet propaganda”, and dragged off to Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. There, through the bars of your cell, you watch your beloved country celebrating its victory in the Great Patriotic War. Then you’re sentenced, in absentia, to eight years of hard labour (but you got away easy; it wasn’t so long ­afterwards that people in your ­position were awarded a “tenner” — and then a quarter of a century!). And fate isn’t finished with you yet — not by any means. You develop a deadly cancer in the camp, endure the exile imposed on you after your imprisonment ends, and pass very close to death.

Despite all this, you hold your head high. You refuse to turn against man or God, although you have every reason to do so. You write, instead, secretly, at night, documenting your terrible experiences. You craft a personal memoir — a single day in the labour camps — and, miracle of miracles! The clouds part! The sun shines through! Your book is published, and in your own country! It meets with unparalleled acclaim, nationally and internationally. But the sky darkens, once again, and the sun disappears. The repression ­returns. You become (once again) a “non-person”. The secret police — the dread KGB — seize the manuscript of your next book. It sees the light of day, nonetheless; but only in the West. There your reputation grows beyond the wild­est of imaginings. The Nobel committee itself bestows upon you its highest literary honour.

Continue reading “A Word for Our Times – Why the Gulag Archipelago is a must read!”

Bring Them Home

 

From the Description:

About a year ago I gave a workshop at the European Leadership Forum (ELF) on what I believed were the factors behind the emergence of Islam in the 7th century, employing only historical critical analysis to do so. That workshop was uploaded onto the ELF YouTube site (FOCL) just 2 months ago, and already over 116,000 people have viewed it, pushing it up to the 5th most viewed video on the FOCL channel.

Why would so many people watch a 2.5 hour lecture on such a boring historical subject, unless they found it important, or controversial…most probably it is the latter. The ELF is about to convene once again this week, so I thought it appropriate to upload that workshop on to my Pfanderfilms site as well, not only because it has proven to be so popular, but because this is the very subject we are discussing here on this site.

So, I asked permission to do so from FOCL, and they willingly agreed. This then is the 2.5 hour video concerning what I believe happened in the 7th century which created what we now know today as Islam. It is a long video, so go get some coffee, then sit back and put your feet up, and see if what I say in this workshop matches what you already know transpired historically in that part of the world, and at that time.

When you have finished, I would be interested to know whether you likewise agree or not.

© Pfander Centre for Apologetics – US, 2020 (28,170) [Music: “small adventure”, by Rafael Krux, from filmmusic-io – License CC BY]

Every four days it kills more than the virus

A great video by the guys at Speak Life  by Glen Scrivener (who has featured on this blog before here and here).  The video is called ‘Numbers’ but my title is taken from a line later in the poem that should cause us to wonder what it could possibly be!!

 

Numbers. That’s what we get, each day we’re beset with numbers.

Numbers doing what numbers do, Numbing the me, numbing the you, Numbing our sense of the she and the he, Numbing the sense that THEY are me.

With numbers ‘They’ stay ‘THEY’, It’s what numbers have allowed.

Each life lost is lost in the crowd. The shroud of death enfolds the heap, Costs it cheap.

We try to weep but numbers can put us all to sleep.

Except for those who we have known, Our flesh and blood, our very own, Who, when exhaling final groans, heard our goodbyes on the phone.

And then were buried all alone. How can each loss be shown?

Each mum, each son, each dad, each wife, Each irreplaceable, iridescent life.

Each gift a vast amount. Each ONE too much to count. Beware the numbers, our dose each day, Until we’re numbered all away.

Until we’re deadened to the toll, Till each one’s lost into the whole. But no.

Awake my soul.

Make each figure strike, Like spurs in my flesh, to stir me afresh, To see galactic worth distilled in each daughter of earth, in each son brought to birth, And near infinite crime in snuffing them out.

Let me shout to the skies with full-throated cries, and, desperate—despise—when the least of them dies.

And when COVID is done, May the numbers not numb May we wake from our slumber And number each one.

Because some day soon you will hear that the peak is long past and we’ve got the All Clear.

The lockdown has lifted and friends can draw near. And we will cheer. But let’s be clear, The numbers are not what they appear.

Each year, in this land, understand we have FOUR Covids. In This Nation, 200 000 terminations. A four-fold pestilence devours these isles, the dead in piles, a hideous mount.

But do THEY count?

In heaven’s account but what will WE say? Each day, 550 slain. They are Abel. We are Cain. And righteous blood cries out in vain. It does not enter our calculation.

We deem it beneath our briefing the nation. We only make public explanation of THESE when disEASE is pursuing. But not when the deaths are All OUR doing.

And maybe you say, “It doesn’t compare.” I say: That’s fair. Cos with the virus we were afflicted, this black death is self-inflicted. Are you convicted?

I’ll depict another figure, this one’s bigger. As I bring this number, I hear you numbing, You are. You’re ahhing and umming, You’re drumming your fingers. Your mind is elsewhere. There you go with that thousand yard stare. Are you there?

By June, worldwide, half a million have died of COVID. As I’ve said, each ONE dead is plenty.

But if we’re counting in millions, abortion’s killed 20. And that’s just by June. It’s not stopping any time soon. Every four days it kills more than the virus.

Let this truth fire us: in 96 hours it devours just the same. But without the fame. This, friend, is our silent shame. So awake my soul.

Make each figure strike, Like spurs in my flesh, to stir me afresh, To see galactic worth distilled in each daughter of earth, in each son meant for birth.

And near infinite crime in snuffing them out.

Let me shout to the skies with full-throated cries, and—desperate—despise, when the least of them dies. And when COVID is done, May the numbers not numb May we wake from our slumber And number each one.

 

 

Glen Scrivener is an Australian author and speaker living in the UK.

Speak Life is a UK based charity that resources the church to reach the world.

Biblical Theology – by BW III

The whole house shook as the package hit the floor with a resounding thud!  In a few months I am teaching a module to undergraduates in Biblical Theology, and I could think of no better resource to add to my own notes and books from teaching in previous years, than this beautiful beast of a book by the great theologian Ben Witherington III.  His 2019 published work is called, ‘BIBLICAL THEOLOGY – The Convergence of the Canon’ and rocks up at nearly 500 pages!!

Continue reading “Biblical Theology – by BW III”

A Pentecost Sermon: Uniting Some Biblical Strands

 

“When the Day of Pentecost arrived…”

Pentecost….from the Gk meaning 50th.  50th what?

50th day after Passover.

In the OT it is called The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot).

A national holiday of rest, offering and celebration of the harvest (Lev. 23).

 

Now that’s interesting.

On the day of rest and offering and celebration:

On the one hand liberation and exodus from tyranny in Egypt.

On the other, the first fruits of the harvest in field and herd in the land.

 

The disciples were all together, 50 days after Jesus’ death and resurrection;

Just a few days after Jesus had ascended to the Father (Acts 1).

With final instructions to bear witness to Jesus, here, there and everywhere (Acts 1:8).

OK, Ok, but first they needed to replace Judas; and Mathias became an apostle.

What did Jesus mean when he said we would be clothed with power? 

Anyway, until then….

Continue reading “A Pentecost Sermon: Uniting Some Biblical Strands”

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