Category Archives: Feuer!

Hang on to your magic carpet!

Serkan was a magic carpet rider. He came from a long family line of magic carpet riders; and as such he was respected and well known.

One day he was travelling from his hometown to the near-by mountain range, in order to milk the goats and feed the flock. As he surveyed the rugged and sandy countryside he thought about magic carpet flying: “I wonder where this power comes from?”

So he fancied himself to some unchartered musings about the origin of these powers. Particularly one line of thought reappeared: “the power must be with me”. The more he thought on this, the more truthful it appeared to him. He got bold: “I don’t think I need this rugged rag any longer!”, he exclaimed triumphantly.

Certain that his new found conviction would measure up to reality he stood up from his seated position and stepped towards the edge of the flying rug. As he saw the ground move ever so quickly underneath him, some slight doubt crept in, and so he resolved to keep one hand on the tapestry.

And then he did the unthinkable: fully convinced that the magic of the ride would lie within himself he pulled the carpet underneath himself out, chin high, chest out, expecting to hover alongside the old, stinking rag.

He didn’t even last a split-second.

There was Serkan, hanging onto his magic carpet, being dragged through the air. It was a sight for sore eyes, to be sure. The Bedouin shepherds underneath him could not help but crack into laughter: “look at this fool, he thinks he’s a falcon.” And “the fool” hang on for dear life.

Ok, so this story is just fiction. Not even all elements of the story hold up to magic carpet stories. But I have made that story up to illustrate a point:

The magic of flying through the air lay in the carpet. Our anti-hero was defined over and against the magical instrument, he was a “magic carpet rider”. Apart from this (albeit fictional) phenomena he would not have ever known anything about magic carpet riding, true?

Now, I have met and read of many a person that takes on the name of a follower of Jesus Christ (aka Christian). Where on earth do they get this idea from that such a person ever existed? If you ask them why and what they believe they would sight something out of the Bible, or at least speak of an “experience” that, upon closer examination, unmasks itself as a personalized version of what has been read in the Scriptures.

I have never heard anyone, who claims to be a follower of Christ, to have come to his knowledge about Him by mere contemplation … or maybe the reading of tea leaves.

No.

Knowledge of God (Yahweh) and Jesus Christ is, at least in its essential details, inalterably connected with the Bible. The definition of these two realities comes from this book. God has, in a special way (apart from nature, which is a general revelation), revealed himself to mankind. And He did so in language, a medium with rules and regulations precisely because one cannot just do with it whatever fancy dictates.

Apart from the Bible there is no Christianity.

Why? Well, because the very existence of that term and its essential features comes from the Bible. And, for this term to mean anything at all, it comes from a “natural reading” (a reading that takes into considerations the rules and regulations) of the language contained therein.

That associative title, Christian, would be devoid of any reality and sense if the Bible was just a mere story book, to be interpreted by shear whim. The title relates to a very definitive body of knowledge that, apart from Scripture, is just non-existent.

So now, when there are people that claim to be Christians, and yet deny the truthfulness and veracity of the Bible, then they act like Serkan in my story above: they are pulling the magic carpet out underneath them.

The result?

The same as in the story. Once they have no ground to stand on any longer they fall. However, because they do realize their dilemma, they still keep one hand on the carpet; a witness to their folly.

The world looks at this and reacts like the Bedouin shepherds. People are not stupid when it comes to intellectual dishonesty. They laugh at this “Christianity” (of course, without discernment generalizing all into this) and put it aside as yet another assault to reason.

They turn around and leave. Wagging their heads. Shacking off the life saving message as a joke (considering the witness given to them by liberal Christianity that is understandable).

And then they die into terror.

And you want to be responsible for that?

Please stop kidding yourself and stop lying to others. Unless you are truly convinced of the truthfulness of Scripture stop calling yourself what you are not.

You are not a “liberal Christian”. You are not “enlighented”, in fact, to quote Paul in Romans 1:21, you are “futile in [your] thinking, and [your] foolish heart [was] darkened”.

Not light but darkness. Not wisdom, but folly.

And please, hear me on this: I am not after you as a person. I don’t get kicks out of attacking an individual. But what grates my carrot is the philosophy you subscribe to. It is inconsistent, intellectually dishonest, wilfully misleading and serves to erode the one message that does have the power to save (c.f. Romans 1:26-27).

Do yourself, and the world, a favour and stop pretending. It will be easier for all involved.

And it might just lift the veil you are wearing. Maybe then you can see the truth, in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6).

So, hang on to your magic carpet!

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Christ is deeper still!

My friend Josh sent me this piece in a mail tonight, after we had been talking about … well, basically living the Gospel and finding ones identity in Christ alone. I will noly post the link to the site where the article comes from. But do yourself a big favour and read it, it’s very much along the lines of what we have been talking about of late (also over at Tyrell’s blog).

Here the link: http://christisdeeperstill.blogspot.com/2008/07/reformed-sociology.html

Be blessed and stay tuned, there will be more about this.

because of our compassionate God.

Thomas

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Dear friend, how is your dying?

One thing in advance: No! I am not depressed or have a negative view on life! To be quite honest, I love life, as much as God gives me the strength to, and as much as i can see Him working in it. Life is good, God created it, he gave it to me as a gift and He sustains it. I am thankful for every minute i get, every breath i can take, every thought i get to think (though i would love there to be more godly ones). I am so thankful for each day. A great part of the reason why i am so thankful and content with all is what i want to bring before you here.

Origins
I was recently again speaking with a brother who suffers from cancer. We had a long talk about faith and what reality has become. In our time together i was thinking about reality had become for him and how that was any different from where i am at.
On the outside there are some obvious differences: I am younger than he is, i am (as far as i know) healthy, he has cancer, he is married, i am not, etc. Death has just become a reality for him, not that he will die now, but if the treatments should fail he knows what the end of that is. So he lives a different life now. The day before he heard about this diagnosis he was a normal guy with a family, planning to get ahead in life, attending church, making plans for the future, dreaming dreams of his kids growing up, and all that. The next day all this comes tumbling down, like a house of cards. What has changed?

Well, he now has more information about when his death might happen. Maybe he can’t count on another 30-40 years anymore and rather has to plan around 5-10, unless God’s plan includes a full recovery (which in his case is, humanly speaking, likely). All life comes to an abrupt standstill, as if running against a wall of stone.
“How would i react? What would i say? Would i still be content in Christ?” Questions like those come into my mind all the time. Ministering to people in need also ministers to me. It’s a by-product of walking in the light (1 Jn 1).

So the question is still “what has changed in his life?” You see, i wanted to find out with what i can encourage him. But how do you encourage a guy who faces death? And then it hit me, right there: nothing has really changed. “Woah, hang on, but you can’t say that!” Well, think about it, we are all dying. That is the unfortunate reality. You never think about it, because you love life more, but if there is one thing for sure on this earth, it is that everybody has to die. And who guarantees you another day? I mean, really, don’t we live as if there is a Hezekiah kind of guarantee (who was given 15 years) of a set time, “at least another 20 or 30 years”. We all have a “best before” date. But nobody will ever know when that is, only God knows.

You see now, knowing this stops him to be a freak in this society. He is not the abnormal guy anymore, he is now the guy who actually has come closer to reality than you or i have come so far. I know, he is sick, i am not. So from that vantage point i seem to be further away from that reality, but that is not true. My life is in God’s hand, all days have been written out already (Ps 139:16). It might well be that i am going home to Jesus before he does. There are no guarantees.

The so what
“Ok, that just sounds a little pessimistic and morbid”, you might think. I hope to show you how seeing this encouraged me to live a life more to God’s glory than before (and i hope i could pass that on to my friend as well).

The one question that will inevitably arise out of this is “what sort of life would you live if you knew you were to die tomorrow?” Have you ever thought this? I have before this. But as quickly as this thought came, as quickly did i burry it again, because the answer to this is uncomfortable. The answer to this would include me doing what i actually knew i have and should do. It would mean that i stop living selfishly and stop investing in my little straw kingdom. You see, we don’t like that. So we live on, in a fantasy world we created for ourselves. We live as if we were to live forever on this earth, in this form with all we have now. Whether you are Christian or not, you should be able to see how silly this assumption is. We all know that death comes to all. It is part of life, part of our human condition of sinfulness, as direct result of Adam’s and our sin.

Are you seeing already where this is going? If i stop living my life as if i have another 40 years (which i might, or might not) and start living as a “dying man amongst dying men”, then my days will be much fuller with ministry to others. I believe this understanding should get even the most lethargic pew warmer of his behind and finally begin to be what he is called to be, an “ambassador for Christ” (2 Cor 6:20). A similar answer we can find in 2 Peter 3:11-12. The Apostle is showing how the second coming of Christ will make an end to what we now see. No timeframe is given. It could be today, or in thousand years, or whenever. In other places we read about Christ’s coming “like a thief in the night”. It will be unannounced and sudden.

Your life might find it’s earthly end then, whenever that is. Or it might find its end here on this earth tomorrow in a car accident, a stroke, cancer, HIV related issues, a house breaking … the possibilities are endless. There is not a guarantee. Please understand this. It is very important to understand God’s gift of life, every day anew. This is important to understand His never ending grace and mercy, every day anew.

Another friend of mine was just 2 weeks ago diagnosed with HIV. He is a child of God, a pastor in fact, who got this disease not because of anything he had done wrong. He went through so many difficult situations in the past two years: he lost two children in infancy, his grandmother (who raised him) died, his wife suffered from depression because of the loss of the children, he got sick all the time. And now this. What does a guy like that say about life, reality and God?
With tears in his eyes he stood before me, after he just heard the news of his test results. He said to me “Thomas, you know, my life has changed so much in the past two years. I realize now that everything has been given by God. I don’t just know it, i know it now. All things come from Him, every day is a gift, and all things in that day”.

I was fighting my tears as i tried to encourage him. Inside of me i was broken because of this tragedy, after all he went through and after all his faithful and godly example. But i was also broken over the this man’s faith and love for God, which put my own life in the correct light. You see, he began to live according to reality, i was still living in my self-created dream world. But my saved and changed nature screamed out that he is right! He is so right!

What it is about
There is so much more one could (and maybe should) say about this. I have only started touching the surface of a deep, deep ocean of truth. One thing is realized is that it is not really about how i live (please track with me on this now), but about how i die.

Why is that?

Firstly because of what have said until now, the reality of living each day as another present from God. But there is also another reason: you can live a fantastically Christian and churchian life, just to fall away on the last lap, deny the faith and your creator. This happened so often in history. Take Charles Templeton, for example. What does his life now mean? He died not being able to ever repent again. And on the other hand you get the people like the mother of one of my seminar y professors, who died with the Bible open to God’s promises, praying for her children (even though they only got saved after her death). Her faithful dying (over the course of her life) left such a huge impact in many peoples lives.
So i ask you again: how is your dying? Are you busy faithfully following God, being overwhelmed by His great gifts He gives every day: live breath and everything (Acts 17:25). Are you living in faith to His promises? Do you really know these two things, that God is good and that He is sovereign (as another seminary professor’s last sermon outline read)? How will people look at your dying in hindsight? Will it be with apathy because you lived a life all for yourself and by yourself? Or will they remember you as content in God, thankful and cheerful for all you received from Him. Will they remember you as praying for others and calling them to faith in the one reality most people don’t want to open their minds to? Will you die with your Bible in your hand and God’s promises in your heart?

And just to balance this out again. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, you understand that eternity awaits every human being, either heaven or hell. We are all eternal beings. We all live with, marry, speak to, sit next to, walk past eternal beings. As a believer in the fact that Christ has died for your personal sins, you know that He has bought forgiveness and sonship for you, by His blood and death. As a believer in God’s unfailing promises you know that you have an eternity with Christ to look forward to. As a worshiper of the risen Christ you understand that you will rise to eternal life with Him on that last day. As a faithful son of God you know that this world is only a passing stage, a pilgrimage. You are greeting from afar the promises of life eternal, at the fountain of life, in the fully revealed glory of God.

You see, dying is not so bad a thing anymore, is it? Know that if you are covered in Christ, if your found in Him and known by Him, this world is as bad as it gets. An eternity of glory, love, light and perfection awaits you.

But if you are an unbeliever, than this world is as good as it gets. If you are there, cancer and HIV will mean the end of this world for you. There is no hope. But in Christ, there is hope abounding; never ending hope!

So, dear friend, how is your dying?

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The Amazing Graciousness of Grace

My pastor and friend Josh sent me this quote this morning. I was so encouraged by it that i decided to share it with you. We will have a series around that very topic soon. I am so excited!

“How can we recover the new affection for Christ and his kingdom that so powerfully impacted our life-long worldliness, and in which we crucified the flesh with its lusts?
What was it that created that first love in any case? Do you remember? It was our discovery of Christ’s grace in the realization of our own sin. We are not naturally capable of loving God for himself, indeed we hate him. But in discovering this about ourselves, and in learning of the Lord’s supernatural love for us, love for the Father was born. Forgiven much, we loved much. We rejoiced in the hope of glory, in suffering, even in God himself. This new affection seemed first to overtake our worldliness, then to master it. Spiritual realities—Christ, grace, Scripture, prayer, fellowship, service, living for the glory of God—filled our vision and seemed so large, so desirable that other things by comparison seemed to shrink in size and become bland to the taste.
The way in which we maintain ‘the expulsive power of a new affection’ is the same as the way we first discovered it. Only when grace is still ‘amazing’ to us does it retain its power in us. Only as we retain a sense of our own profound sinfulness can we retain a sense of the graciousness of grace.”

Sinclair Ferguson

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looney tunes

I think as a believer one should at times listen to the many voices of unbelief and see how they mount their attacks on God, faith and us. Even better than that is to read the responses of serious believers that take things at their merit and don’t respond only emotionally.

If you have not yet heard of Hitchens here is a short intro to him.

After that read this response to his book. It’s great (Frank Turk thought so too).

As humans we are so easily sold for clever sounding arguments by people with British accents. We look at a guy that has a higher IQ and conclude that everything he says must be coated in gold.

Interestingly enough, in God’s economy it is not the wise or intellectual that receive His grace, but the foolish and lowly. Why? Because you are only created. You are not God, you do not deserve glory!

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1Co 1:26-29)

Ultimately, it is pride that gets the better of you, because HAVE BEEN GIVEN much BY GOD (…). You did not get your intelligence, it was given to you.

But you choose to waste your briliant mind on the things of this world, trying to find people to stroke your inflated ego like granny’s favourite kitten.

Watch this guy not getting it either. Apparently he managed to get about 23.000 people to ‘blaspheme the Holy Spirit’, in an attempt to reserve front row seats for the train to hell (www.blasphemychallenge.com). I just want to add this: your words do not mean anything!

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is not uttering the words, but it is the willful rejection of the Gospel, over and over and over and over and over again … until your dead heart has grown accustomed to the taste of its foulness.

If you want to know what gets you, finally and ultimately away from God’s grace, read Hebrews 5:11-6:8. But then you have to taste first, something you don’t want to do … at least until God gets hold of you.

grace and peace

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On being inappropriate …

“All we need is love” (the Beatles playing in the background). True. Specifically, there are two types of love that ought to define our lives: 1. The Love for God 2. The Love for our Neighbour. What we don’t need (but regularly display instead of the other two) is love for self.

Now, we have a Zeitgeist in these days that demands from us to be ‘loving’, respectful and appropriate. There is nothing wrong with that. It is even Scriptural and wrapped up in many passages, such as Mat 22:37-39, Phil 2:3, 1 Th 5:14, etc. We are to even love our enemies.

Does that now mean that I have bought into the post-modern, relativistic mush of political correctness? Does it mean that David, when he ranted about the God-haters and asked Him to destroy them, was sinning and in fact being selfish, small minded and malignant?

No! Of course not.

David was called ‘the man after God’s own heart’, despite him not being without sin. In this his was not sinful, he was more concerned about the glory of God’s name than about his reputation. He called a spade a spade. He called truth what it is, namely, truth.

The Oxford Learner’s dictionary as: “the truth the real facts about a situation, event or person”. So we are dealing with facts here. Truth cannot contradict itself. That is what is so insane about our current correctness: two mutually exclusive things cannot both be true at the same time!

 And yet, for the sake of being correct we throw away any reason, never mind biblical truths. There is a word which i have noted to be the word of this age: dialog.

Apparently this word transcends truth, because we are dialoging with Islam about our common (?) grounds, we dialog with Catholics about our common (?) faith. One thing that is common (!) in all of this is that some people seem to be convinced that there can be fellowship between light and darkness.

I want to note here that those people (most of the time) are in fact themselves in darkness; blind people speaking about the light. I am convinced that true biblical faith does not grope for common ground where there is none. We are obsessed with who God is and not with mushy humanistic hippieness.

The global village is not a mass orgie. The global village is a boiling pot filled with sinners and saints. Biblically there are only two type of people: children of Satan and children of God. If you belong to the former, you should turn away from yourself and the lie of worldy satisfaction. YOu should turn to Christ, your only hope. If you are of the later kind, join me in speaking the truth.

Speaking the truth means, nowadays, to be inappropriate. We are not called to be politically correct, but to speak the Word of God without adultery.

t

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Unbeatable children…

I have just finsihed reading a news item about the 2 year old boy they found in a fridge in Bremen, Germany. It is sick and sad, to say the least. Living in Africa, this is not shocking, however. News of this type are our daily bread here …

What caught my mind in this was the responds of the German Government, when they said they would step up their attempts to the planned “Frühwarnsystem zur Unterstützung vernachlässigter und misshandelter Kinder” (a system that alerts the authorities to abandonded and abused children).

Mein Kind ist unschlagbarKnowing the political and anti-Christian landscape there this surely includes disciplining your own. In fact, last year’s visit alerted me to some public posters that proudly read: “My child is unbeatable”. The image was a happy dad gently handling his kid while playing with him. The message is clear: do not discipline your children.

I have been a little out of step with the current affairs in my home country, but would really like to know if disciplining ones chidren is already a reportable offence. If not yet, it will be soon. Just consider the recent development on homeschooling!

It’s anti-authoritarian, anti-christian, anti-God and ant-life.

You don’t believe me? Go visit this beautiful country of mine and look at the youth and the schools. It’s a dog eat dog world. We are now reaping the results of disciplineless child rearing!

And it’s bound to get worse.

At the end, we (as upcoming parents) have to decide whether we follow God’s commands (i.e. choose life – Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 29:17) or whether we conform with this world (i.e. choose death for us and our offspring – Proverbs 5:21-23, 12:1).

God is sovereign over ever instance of our lives, surely, we don’t want to mock him …

in Christ

t

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